“from Of Plymouth Plantation” by William
[Their Safe Arrival at Cape Cod] But to omit other things (that I may be brief) after long being at sea they fell with that land which is called Cape
Cod; the which being made and certainly known to be it, they were not a little joyful….
Being thus arrived
in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them
over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet
on the firm and stable earth, their proper element….
But here I cannot
but stay and make a pause, and stand half amazed at this poor people’s present condition; and so I think will the reader,
too, when he well considers the same, Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation
(as may be remembered by that which went before), they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh
their weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succor. It is recorded in Scripture as
a mercy to the Apostle and his ship-wrecked company, that the barbarians showed them no small kindness in refreshing them,
but these savage barbarians, when they met with them (as after will appear) were readier to fill their sides full of arrows
than otherwise. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and
violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast.
Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men, and what multitudes
there might be of them they knew not. Neither could they, as it were, go up to the top of Pisgah to view from this wilderness
a more goodly country to feed their hopes; for every which way they turned their eyes (save upward to the heavens) they could
have little solace or content in respect of any outward objects. For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a
weather-beaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hue. If they looked
behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all
civil parts of the world….
[The First Encounter] Being thus arrived at Cape Cod the 11th
of November, and necessity called them to look out a place for habitation (as well as the master’s and mariners’
importunity); they having brought a large shallop with them out of England, stowed in quarters in the ship, they now got her
out and set their carpenters to work to trim her up; but being much bruised and shattered in the ship with foul weather, they
saw she would be long in mending. Whereupon a few of them tendered themselves to go by land and discover those nearest places,
whilst the shallop was in mending;….
After this, the shallop
being got ready, they set out again for the better discovery of this place, and the master of the ship desired to go himself.
So there went some thirty men but found it to be no harbor for ships but only for boats. There was also found two of their
houses covered with mats, and sundry of their implements in them, but the people were run away and could not be seen. Also
there was found more of their corn and of their beans of various colors; the corn and beans they brought away, purposing to
give them full satisfaction when they should meet with any of them as, about some six months afterward they did, to their
And here is to be
noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next
year, or else they might have starved, for they had none nor any likelihood to get any till the season had been past, as the
sequel did manifest. Neither it is likely they had had this, if the first voyage had not been made, for the ground was now
all covered with snow and hard frozen; but the Lord is never wanting unto His in their greatest needs; let His holy name have
all the praise.
The month of November
being spent in these affairs, and much foul weather failing in, the 6th of December they sent out their shallop again with
ten of their principal men and some seamen, upon further discovery, intending to circulate that deep bay of Cape Cod. The
weather was very cold and it froze so hard as the spray of the sea lighting on their coats, they were as if they had been
So they made them
a barricade as usually they did every night, with log stakes and thick pine boughs, the height of a man, leaving it open to
leeward, partly to shelter them from the cold and wind (making their fire in the middle and lying round about it) and partly
to defend them from any sudden assaults of the savages, if they should surround them; so being very weary, they betook them
to rest. But about midnight they heard a hideous and great cry, and their sentinel called "Arm! arm!" So they bestirred them
and stood to their arms and shot off a couple of muskets, and then the noise ceased. They concluded it was a company of wolves
or such like wild beasts, for one of the seamen told them he had often heard such a noise in Newfoundland.
So they rested till
about five of the clock in the morning; for the tide, and their purpose to go from thence, made them be stirring betimes.
So after prayer they prepared for breakfast, and it being day dawning it was thought best to be carrying things down to the
boat. But some said it was not best to carry the arms down, others said they would be the readier, for they had lapped them
up in their coats from the dew; but some three or four would not carry theirs fill they went themselves. Yet as it fell out,
the water being not high enough, they laid them down on the bank side and came up to breakfast.
But presently, all
on the sudden, they heard a great and strange cry, which they knew to be the same voices they heard in the night, though they
varied their notes; and one of their company being abroad came running in and cried, "Men, Indians! Indians!" And withal,
their arrows came flying amongst them. Their men ran with all speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence of God
they did. In the meantime, of those that were there ready, two muskets were discharged at them, and two more stood ready in
the entrance of their rendezvous but were commanded not to shoot till they could take full aim at them. And the other two
charged again with-all speed, for there were only four had arms there, and defended the barricade, which was first assaulted.
The cry of the Indians was dreadful, especially when they saw the men run out of the rendezvous toward the shallop to recover
their arms, the Indians wheeling about upon them. But some running out with coats of mail on, and cutlasses in their hands,
they soon got their arms land let fly amongst them and quickly stopped their violence….
Thus it pleased God
to vanquish their enemies and give them deliverance; and by His special providence so to dispose that not any one of them
were either hurt or hit, though their arrows came close by them and on every side [of] them; and sundry of their coats, which
hung up in the barricade, were shot through and through. Afterwards they gave God solemn thanks and praise for their deliverance,
and gathered up a bundle of their arrows and sent them into England
afterward by the master of the ship, and called that place the First Encounter….
[The Starving Time]But that
which was most sad and lamentable was, that in two or three months' time half of their company died, especially in January
and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases
which this long voyage and their inaccommodate condition had brought upon them. So as there died some times two or three of
a day in the foresaid time, that of 100 and odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these, in the time of most distress,
there was but six or seven persons who to their great commendations, be it spoken, spared no pains night nor day, but with
abundance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds,
washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which
dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the
least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren; a rare example and worthy to be remembered. Two of
these seven were Mr. William Brewster, their reverend Elder, and Myles Standish, their Captain and military commander, unto
whom myself and many others were much beholden in our low and sick condition. And yet the Lord so upheld these persons as in this general calamity they were not at all infected either with sickness
[Indian Relations] All this while the Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show themselves aloof
off, but when any approached near them, they would run away; and once they stole away their tools where they had been at work
and were gone to dinner. But about the 16th of March, a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken
English, which they could well understand but marveled at it. At length they understood by discourse with him, that he was
not of these parts, but belonged to the eastern parts where some English ships came to fish, with whom he was acquainted and
could name sundry of them by their names, amongst whom he had got his language. He became profitable to them in acquainting
them with many things concerning the state of the country in the east parts where he lived, which was afterwards profitable
unto them; as also of the people here, of their names, number and strength, of their situation and distance from this place,
and who was chief amongst them. His name was Samoset. He told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native
of this place, who had been in England
and could speak better English than himself.
Being after some time of entertainment and gifts dismissed, a while after he came again, and five more with him, and
they brought again all the tools that were stolen away before, and made way for the coming of their great Sachem, called Massasoit.
Who, about four or five days after, came with the chief of his friends and other attendance, with the aforesaid Squanto. With
whom, after friendly entertainment and some gifts given him, they made a peace with him (which hath now continued this 24
years) in these terms: That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of their people. That if any of his
did hurt to any of theirs, he should send the offender, that they might punish him.
That if anything were taken away from
any of theirs, he should cause it to be restored; and they should do the like to his. If any did unjustly war against him,
they would aid him; if any did war against them, he should aid them.
He should send to his neighbors confederates to certify
them of this, that they might not wrong them, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace. That when their
men came to them, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them.
After these things he returned to his place called Sowams, some 40 miles from this place, but Squanto continued with
them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed
them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to
unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.
[First Thanksgiving] They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses
and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some
were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took
good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl,
as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides
waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a
peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely
of their plenty here to their friends in England,
which were not feigned but true reports.