« PreviousContinue »
go; during which time they receive entertainment, according to their persons, but want not. Once a year the Panieses use to provoke the people to bestow much corn on the sachem. To that end, they appoint a certain time and place, near the sachem's dwelling, where the people bring many baskets of corn and make a great stack thereof. There the Panieses stand ready to give thanks to the people, on the sachem's behalf; and after acquaint the sachem therewith, who fetcheth the same and is no less thankful, bestowing many gifts on them.
When any are visited with sickness, their friends resort unto them for their comfort, and continue with them oftentimes till their death or recovery. If they die, they stay a certain time to mourn for them. Night and morning they perform this duty, many days after the burial, in a most doleful manner, insomuch as though it be ordinary and the note musical which they take from one another and altogether; yet it will draw tears from their eyes and almost from ours also. But if they recover, then because their sickness was chargeable, they send corn and other gifts unto them, at a certain appointed time, whereat they feast and dance, which they call commoro. When they bury the dead, they sow up the corpse in a mat, and so put it in the earth; if the party be a sachem, they cover him with many curious mats, and bury all his riches with him, and inclose the grave with a pale. If it be a child, the father will also put his own most special jewels and ornaments in the earth with it; also he will cut his hair, and disfigure himself very much in token of sorrow. If it be the man or woman of the house ; they will pull down the mats, and leave the frame standing, and bury them in or near the same, and either remove their dwelling or give over housekeeping.
The men employ themselves wholly in hunting, and other exercises of the bow, except at sometimes they take some pains in fishing. The women live a most slavish life; they carry all their burdens; set and dress their corn, gather it in, and seek out for much of their food; beat and make ready the corn to eat, and have all household care lying upon them.
The younger sort reverence the elder, and do all mean offices, whilst they are together, although they be strangers. Boys and girls may not wear their hair like men and women, but are distinguished thereby.
A man is not accounted a man till he do some notable act, or show forth such courage and resolution as becometh his place. The men take much tobacco, but for boys so to do, they account it odious.
All their names are significant and variable; for when they come
to the state of men and women, they alter them according to their deeds or dispositions.
When a maid is taken in marriage, she first cutteth her hair, and after weareth a covering on her head, till her hair be grown out. Their women are diversely disposed, some as modest, as they will scarce talk one with another in the company of men; being very chaste also; yet other some are light, lascivious, and wanton. If a woman have a bad husband, or cannot affect him, and there be war or opposition between that and any other people, she will run away from him to the contrary party, and there live, where they never come unwelcome ; for where are most women there is greatest plenty.
When a woman hath her monthly turns, she separateth herself from all other company, and liveth certain days in a house alone; after which, she washeth herself, and all that she hath touched or used, and is again received to her husband's bed or family. For adultery, the husband will beat his wife and put her away, if he please. Some common strumpets there are, as well as in other places; but they are such as either never married, or widows, or put away for adultery; for no man will keep such a one to wife.
In matters of unjust and dishonest dealing, the sachem examineth and punisheth the same. In case of theft, for the first offence, he is disgracefully rebuked; for the second, beaten by the sachem, with a cudgel on the naked back; for the third, he is beaten with many strokes, and hath his nose slit upwards, that thereby all men may know and shun him. If any man kill another, he must likewise die for the same. The sachem not only passeth sentence upon malefactors, but executeth the same with his own hands, if the party be then present; if not, sendeth his own knife in case of death, in the hands of others to perform the same. But if the offender be to receive other punishment, he will not receive the same but from the sachem himself, before whom, being naked, he kneeleth, and will not offer to run away, though he beat him never so much, it being a greater disparagement for a man to cry during the time of his correction, than is his offence and punishment.
As 'for their apparel, they wear breeches and stockings in one, like some Irish, which is made of deer skins, and have shoes of the same leather. They wear also a deer's skin loose about them like a cloak, which they will turn to the weather side. In this habit they travel; but when they are at home, or come to their journey's end, they presently pull off their breeches, stockings and shoes, wring out the water, if they be wet, and dry them, and rub or chafe the same. Though these
be off, yet have they another small garment which covereth their secrets. The men wear also, when they go abroad in cold weather, an otter, or fox skin on their right arm; but only their bracer on the left. Women, and all of that sex, wear strings about their legs, which the men never do.
The people are very ingenious and observative; they keep account of time, by the moon, and winters or summers; they know divers of the stars by name ; in particular they know the North Star, and call it maske, which is to say, the bear; also they have many names for the winds. They will guess very well at the wind and weather beforehand, by observations in the heavens. They report also, that some of them can cause the wind to blow in what part they list - can raise storms and tempests, which they usually do, when they intend the death or destruction of other people, that by reason of the unseasonable weather, they may take advantage of their enemies in their houses. At such times they perform their greatest exploits, and at such seasons, when they are at enmity with any, they keep more careful watch than at other times.
As for their language, it is very copious, large, and difficult, as yet we cannot attain to any great measure thereof; but can understand them, and explain ourselves to their understanding, by the help of those that daily converse with us. And though there be difference in an hundred miles distance of place, both in language and manners, yet not so much but that they very well understand each other. And thus much of their lives and manners.
Instead of records and chronicles, they take this course : where any remarkable act is done, in memory of it, either in the place, or by some pathway near adjoining, they make a round hole in the ground about a foot deep, and as much over, which when others passing by behold, they inquire the cause and occasion of the same, which being once known, they are careful to acquaint all men, as occasion serveth therewith : and lest such holes should be filled or grown up by any accident, as men pass by, they will oft renew the same: by which means many things of great antiquity are fresh in memory. So that as a man travelletlı, if he can understand his guide, his journey will be less tedious, by reason of many historical discourses which will be related to him.
For that continent on which we are, called New England, although it hath ever been conceived by the English to be a part of the main land adjoining to Virginia, yet by relation of the Indians it should appear to be otherwise ; for they affirm confidently that it is an island,
and that either the Dutch or French pass through from sea to sea between us and Virginia, and drive a great trade in the same. The name of that inlet of the sea they call Mohegan, which I take to be the same which we call Hudson's river, up which Master Hudson went many leagues, and for want of means (as I hear) left it undiscovered. For confirmation of this their opinion is thus much; though Virginia be not above an hundred leagues from us, yet they never heard of Powhatan, or knew that any English were planted in his country, save only by us and Tisquantum, who went thither in an English ship; and therefore it is more probable, because the water is not passable for them, who are very adventurous in their boats.
Then for the temperature of the air, in almost three years' experience I can scarce distinguish New England from Old England, in respect of heat and cold, frost, snow, rain, wind, etc. Some object because our plantation lieth in the latitude of two and forty, it must needs be much hotter. I confess I cannot give the reason of the contrary; only experience teaches us, that if it do exceed England, it is so little as must require better judgments to discern it. And for the winter, I rather think (if there be difference) it is both sharper and longer in New England than Old; and yet the want of those comforts in the one, which I have enjoyed in the other, may deceive my judgment also. But in my best observation, comparing our own conditions with the relations of other parts of America, I cannot conceive of any to agree better with the constitutions of the English, not being oppressed with the extremity of heat, nor nipped by biting cold, by which means, blessed be God, we enjoy our health, notwithstanding those difficulties we have undergone, in such a measure as would have been admired had we lived in England with the like means. The day is two hours longer than here when at the shortest, and as much shorter when at the longest.
The soil is variable, in some places mould, in some clay, and others a mixed sand, etc. The chiefest grain is the Indian maize or Guinea wheat; the seed-time beginneth in the midst of April, and continueth good till the midst of May. Our harvest beginneth with September. This corn increaseth in great measure, but is inferior in quality to the same in Virginia; the reason I conceive is because Virginia is far hotter than it is with us, it requiring great heat to ripen. But whereas it is objected against New England, that corn will not grow there except the ground be manured with fish: I answer, that where men set with fish (as with us) it is more easy so to do than to clear ground, and set without some five or six years, and so begin anew, as in Vir
ginia and elsewhere. Not but that in some places where they cannot be taken with ease in such abundance, the Indians set four years together without them, and have as good corn or better than we have that set with them; though indeed I think if we had cattle to till the ground, it would be more profitable and better agreeable to the soil to sow wheat, rye, barley, peas, and oats, than to set maize, which our Indians call Ewachim ; for we have had experience that they like and thrive well; and the other will not be procured without good labor and diligence, especially at seed-time, when it must also be watched by night, to keep the wolves from the fish, till it be rotten, which will be in fourteen days, yet men agreeing together and taking their turns, it is not much.
Much might be spoken of the benefit that may come to such as shall plant here, by trading with the Indians for furs, if men take a right course for obtaining the same; for I dare presume upon that small experience I have had to affirm, that the English, Dutch, and French return yearly many thousand pounds profit by trade only, from that island on which we are seated.
Tobacco may be there planted, but not with that profit as in some other places, neither were it profitable there to follow it, though the increase were equal, because fish a better and richer commodity and more necessary, which may be and there are had in as great abundance as in any other part of the world ; witness the west-country merchants of England, which return incredible gains yearly from thence. And if they can so do, which here buy their salt at a great charge, and transport more company to make their voyage than will sail their ships, what may the planters expect when once they are seated, and make the most of their salt there, and employ themselves at least eight months in fishing, whereas the other fish but four, and have their ship lie dead in the harbor all the time, whereas such shipping as belong to Plantations may take freight of passengers or cattle thither, and have their lading provided against they come? I confess we have come so far short of the means, to raise such returns, as with great difficulty we have preserved our lives; insomuch as when I look back upon our condition, and weak means to preserve the same, I rather admire at God's mercies and providence in our preservation, than that no greater things have been effected by us. But though our beginning have been thus raw, small and difficult, as thou hast seen, yet the same God that hath hitherto led us through the former, I hope will raise means to accomplish the latter.