Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with all haste, and running into the wigwam, took a scarletcolored coat, and brought it out, swinging it round among the people as they were scuffling, and cries, "King Charles! King Charles I"—intimating thereby, that as they all were King Charles's subjects, they ought not to contend; which broke up the fray, and they became peaceable and friendly together for that time. This coat and gun were likely sent by King Charles to Ninicraft, to engage his fidelity and friendship more strongly to the English.

As I have mentioned the hot-house into which Ninicraft was at this time retired, it may not be amiss to acquaint my reader with the make, use, and design of the hot-houses among the aboriginal natives in this country, and perhaps in others also. They were made as a vault, partly under ground, and in the form of a large oven, where two or three persons might on occasion sit together, and it was placed near some depth of water; and their method was, to heat some stones very hot in the fire, and put them into the hot-house, and when the person was in, to shut it close up, with only so much air as was necessary for respiration, or that they within might freely draw their breath. And being thus closely pent up, the heat of the stones occasioned them to sweat in a prodigious manner, streaming as it were from every part of the body; and when they had continued there as long as they could well endure it, their method was to rush out and plunge themselves into the water. By this means they pretend a cure of all pains and numbness in their joints, and many other maladies.

Another instance of the remarkable interposition of Providence in the preservation of these few English people in the midst of a great company of Indians. The attempt was strange and not easily to be accounted for, and the event was as strange. The Indians renewing their insults, with threatening speeches, and offering smaller abuses, the English, fearing the consequences, resolved, these sixteen men and one boy, to make a formal challenge to fight this great company of Indians, near or full out 300, in open pitched battle, and appointed the day for this effort. Accordingly, when the day came, the before-mentioned Mr. Terry, living on a neck of land remote from the other English inhabitants, just as he was coming out of his house in order to meet them, saw 30 Indians, with their guns, very bright, as though they were fitted for war. He inquired from whence they came. They replied, from Narragansett; and that they were Ninicraft's men. He asked their business. They said, to see their relations and friends. And for what reason they brought their guns 1 They replied, Because they knew not what game they might meet with in their way. He told them that they must not carry their guns any farther, but deliver them to him; and when they returned, he would deliver them back to them safely. To which they consented, and he secured them in his house, and withal told them they must stay there until he had got past the fort; as he was to go by it within gunshot over a narrow beach between two ponds. The Indians accordingly all sat down very quietly, but stayed not long after him; for he had no sooner passed by the fort but the Indians made their appearance on a hill, in a small neck of land called by the English Indian-head-neck. And the reason of its being so called was, because when the English came there, they found two Indians' heads stuck upon poles standing there. Whether they were traitors or captives, I know not. When they at the fort saw those 30 Indians that followed Mr. Terry, they made a mighty shout; but Mr. Terry had, as I observed, but just passed by it.

However, the English, as few as they were, resolved to pursue their design, and accordingly marched with their drum beating up a challenge, (their drummer was Mr. Kent, after of Swanzey), and advanced within gunshot of it, as far as the water would admit them, as it was on an island in a pond, near to and in plain sight of the place of my nativity. Thither they came with utmost resolution and warlike courage and magnanimity, standing the Indians to answer their challenge. Their drummer being a very active and sprightly man, and skilful in the business, that drum, under the overruling power of Providence, was the best piece of their armor. The Indians were dispirited to that degree that they made no motions against them. The English after inquired of them the reason of their refusing to fight with them, when they had so openly and near their fort made them such a challenge. They declared that the sound of the drum terrified them to that degree, that they were afraid to come against them. From this time the Indians became friendly to the English, and ever after. In this instance also God appeared for the defence of this small number of English people in their beginnings; for it was not the rattling, roaring sound of the drum, which doubtless they had heard before this time, but Divine sovereignty made this a means to intimidate them, and restrain their cruel and barbarous dispositions.

Of which I shall briefly give an instance. As all the tribes of Indians in this country were mostly divided into distinct societies, and under some great sagamores or kings, or under petty sachems or princes, by what account we have of them, they were perpetually engaged in wars one with another, long before the English settled on Block Island, and perhaps before any English settlements were made in this land, according to the Indians' relation, as some of the old men among them informed me, when I was young. The Indians on this island had war with the Mohegan Indians, of whom mention is made before, although the island lies in the ocean and open seas, four leagues from the nearest main land, and much farther distant from any island, and from the nearest place of landing to the Moheague country forty miles, I suppose at least, through a hideous wilderness, as it then was, besides the difficulty of two large rivers. To prosecute their designed hostilities, each party furnished themselves with a large fleet of canoes, furnished with bows and arrows. Their arrows were pointed with hard stones somewhat resembling flint, and fastened in the end of their arrow in this form <1 , or much like it, so that if it entered into the flesh it was difficult to get it out. They had hatchets and axes of stone, with a round head wrought curiously, standing considerably above a groove made round it, to hold the handle of the axe or hatchet, which was bent in the middle and brought the extreme parts and bound them fast together, which were their handles to hold by and do execution with these their weapons of war. It happened that at the same time the Mohegans were coming in their fleet to invade the Block Islanders, they were going with their fleet to make spoil on the Mohegans. Both being on the seas, it being in the night and moonshine, and by the advantage of it the Block Islanders discovered the Mohegans, but they saw not the islanders. Upon which these turned back to their own shore, and hauled their canoes out of sight, and waylaid their enemies until they landed and marched up in the island, and then stove all their canoes, and drove them to the opposite part of the island, where, I suppose, the cliffs next the sea are near, if not more than two hundred feet high, and in a manner perpendicular, or rather near the top hanging over, and at the bottom near the seashore very full of rocks. They could escape no farther. Here these poor creatures were confined, having nothing over them but the heavens to shelter or cover them, no food to support them, no water to quench their thirst. Thus they were kept destitute of every comfort of life, until they all pined away and perished in a most miserable manner, without any compassion in the least degree shown to them. They had indeed by some means dug a trench round them toward the land, to defend them from the arrows of their enemies, which I have seen, and it is called the Mohegan Fort to this day.

I have given this short tragical narrative to show the barbarous and cruel disposition of these salvages one towards another, which many of our poor captives who have been so miserable as to fall into their hands have experienced in multiplied instances ; some of which may afterwards be briefly related in the following part of what is intended by the author, in this his short historical account of the English slaughtered by the French and Indians in their interest, more especially in the eastern parts of this country. For, as if the heathen were not sufficiently prompted by the fierceness and inhumanity implanted in their nature, to perpetrate and renew their massacres on the English, therefore their jesuitical missionaries instigate them to newly-devised tortures, which the French promote, and with great pleasure and satisfaction are the spectators, if not actors therein; for we are deemed heretics by them, and it is well known that a governing principle in the church of Rome and all her votaries is, that the least act of clemency is too good for heretics. From whence the long experience of this land has abundantly verified that great truth, that "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

Before I enter upon the depredations perpetrated by the French and Indians in the eastern parts of the Massachusetts and New-Hampshire governments, I shall give my reader a brief account of remarkable passages relating to Mrs. Hutchinson, who came into this country under a religious character, probably not very long after the church at Boston was settled. She was a gentlewoman of prompt parts, and at first in great esteem with the good people there. But (whether before or after her coming hither, is now uncertain), she had imbibed some errors subversive of religion, and of a very dangerous tendency; and being of a more tenacious and resolute temper and disposition than is commonly found among those of her sex, she gave the Church, with some others that joined with her in sentiment, not a little trouble, by advancing Antinomianism and Enthusiasm, and other errors, much like the Separatists among us at this day; until the Church and Court fearing the consequence, the Court ordered her to depart out of the government of the Massachusetts. She accordingly removed tb Khode Island; but making no long stay there, she went farther westward to a place then called East Chester, now in the eastern part of the province of New-York, where she purposed to settle herself; but not to the good liking of the Indians that lived back in the woods, as the sequel will prove.

In order to pursue her purpose, she agreed with the before-mentioned Captain James Sands, then a young man, to build her house, and he took a partner with him in the business. When they had near spent their provisions, he sent his partner for more, which was to be fetched at a considerable distance. While his partner was gone, there came a company of Indians to the frame where he was at work, and made a great shout, and sat down. After some time, they gathered up his tools, put his broad-axe on his shoulder and his other tools into his hands, and made signs to him to go away. But he seemed to take no notice of them, but continued in his work. At length one of them said, Ye-hah Mumuneketock, the English of which is, "Come, let us go," and they all went away to the water side, for clams or oysters. After some time they came back, and found him still at work as before. They again gathered up his tools, put them into his hands as before they had done, with the like signs moving him to go away. He still seemed to take no notice of them, but kept on in his business, and when they had stayed some time, they said as before, Ye-hah Mumuneketock. Accordingly they all went away, and left Jiim

« ZurückWeiter »