From Of Plimouth Plantation (1630-1650), From BOOK ONE, CHAPTER 10 (Showing How They Sought Out a Place of Habitation, And What Befell Them Thereabout)



BEING thus arrived at Cap-Cod ye 11. of November, and necessitie calling them to looke out a place for habitation, (as well as the maisters & mariners importunitie,) they having brought a large shalop with them out of England, stowed in quarters in ye ship, they now gott her out & sett their carpenters to worke to trime her up; but being much brused & shatered in ye shipe wth foule weather, they saw she would be longe in mending.  Wherupon a few of them tendered them selves to goe by land and discovere those nearest places, whilst ye shallop was in mending; and ye rather because as they wente into yt harbor ther seemed to be an opening some 2. or  3 leagues of, which ye maister judged to be a river.  It was conceived ther might be some danger in ye attempte, yet seeing them resolute, they were permited to goe, being 16. Of them well armed, under ye conduct of Captain Standish, having shuch instructions given them as was thought meete.  They sett forth ye 15. of Novebr: and when they had marched aboute ye space of a mile by ye sea side, they espied 5. or 6. persons with a dogg coming towards them, who were salvages; but they fled from them, & rane up into ye woods, and ye English followed them, partly to see if they could speake with them, and partly to discover if ther might not be more of them lying in ambush.  But ye Indeans seeing them selves  thus followed, they againe forsooke the woods, & rane away on ye sands as hard as they could, so as they could not come near them, but followed them by ye tracte of their feet sundrie miles, and saw that they had come the same way.  So, night coming on, they made their randevous & set out their sentinels, and rested in quiete yt night, and the next morning followed their tracte till they had headed a great creake, & so left the sands, & turned an other way into ye woods.  But they still followed them by geuss, hopeing to find their dwellings; but they soone lost both them & them selves, falling into shuch thickets as were ready to tear their cloaths & armore in peeces, but were most distresed for wante of drinke.  But at length they found water & refreshed them selves being ye first New-England water they drunke of, and was now in thir great thirste as pleasante unto them  as wine or bear had been in for-times.  Afterwards they directed their course to come to ye other shore, for they knew it was a necke of land they were to crosse over, and so at length gott to ye sea-side, and marched to this supposed river, & by ye way found a pond of clear fresh water, and shortly after a good quantitie of clear ground wher ye Indeans had formerly set corne, and some of their graves. And proceeding furder they saw new-stuble wher corne had been set ye same year, also they found wher latly a house had been, wher some planks and a great ketle was remaining, and heaps of sand newly padled with their hands, which they, digging up, found in them diverce faire Indean baskets filled with corne, and some in eares, faire and good, of diverce collours, which seemed to them a very goodly sight, (haveing never seen any shuch before).  This was near ye place of that supposed river they came to seeck; unto which they wente and found it to open it selfe into 2. armes with a high cliffe of sand in ye enterance, but more like to be crikes of salte water then any fresh, for ought they saw; and that ther was good harborige for their shalope; leaving it further to be discovered by their shalop when she was ready. So their time limeted them being expired, they returned to ye ship, least they should be in fear of their saftie; and tooke with them parte of ye corne, and buried up ye rest, and so like ye men from Eshcoll carried with them of ye fruits of ye land, & showed their breethren; of which, & their returne, they were marvelusly glad, and their harts incouraged.

After this, ye shalop being got ready, they set out againe for ye better discovery of this place, & ye mr. of ye ship desired to goe him selfe, so ther went some 30. men, but found it to be no harbor for ships but only for boats; ther was allso found 2. of their houses covered with matts, & sundrie of their implements in them, but ye people were rune away & could not be seen; also ther was found more of their corne, & of their beans of various collours.  The corne & beans they brought away, purposing to give them full satisfaction when they should meete with any of them (as about some 6. months afterward they did, to their good contente). And here is to be noted a spetiall providence of God, and a great mercie to this poore people, that hear they gott seed to plant them corne ye next year, or els they might have starved, for they had none, nor any liklybood to get any till ye season had beene past (as ye sequell did manyfest).  Neither is it lickly they had had this, if ye first viage had not been made, for the ground was now all covered with snow, & hard frozen.  But the Lord is never wanting unto his in their greatest needs; let his holy

name have all ye praise.

The month of November being spente in these affairs, & much foule weather falling in, the 6.of Desemr:  they sente out their shallop againe with 10. of their principall men, & some sea men, upon further discovery, intending to circulate that deepe bay of Cap-codd.  The weather was very could, & it frose so hard as ye sprea of ye sea lighting on their coats, they were as if they had been glased; yet that night betimes they gott downe into ye botome of ye bay, and as they drue nere ye shore they saw some 10. or 12. Indeans very busie aboute some thing.  They landed aboute a league or 2. from them, and had much a  doe to put a shore any wher, it lay so full of flats.  Being landed, it grew late, and they made them selves a barricade with loggs & bowes as well as they could in ye time, & set out their sentenill & betooke them to rest, and saw ye smoake of ye fire ye savages made yt night.  When morning was come they devided their  company, some to coaste along ye shore in ye boate, and the rest marched throw ye woods to see ye land, if any fit place might be for their dwelling.  They came allso to ye place wher they saw the Indans ye night before, & found they had been cuting up a great fish like a grampus, being some 2. inches thike of fate like a hogg, some peeces wher of they had left by ye way; and ye shallop found 2. more of these fishes dead on ye sands, a thing usuall after storms in yt place, by reason of ye great flats of sand that lye of.  So they ranged up and doune all yt day,  but found no people, nor any place they liked.  When ye sune grue low, they hasted out of ye woods to meete with their shallop, to whom they made signes to come to them into a creeke hardby, the which they did at high water; of which they were very glad, for they had not seen each other all yt day, since ye morning.  So they made them a barricado (as usually they did every night) with loggs, staks, & thike pine bowes, ye height of a man, leaving it open to leeward, partly to shelter them from ye could & wind (making their fire in yemidle, & lying round aboute it), and partly to defend them from any sudden assaults of ye savags, if they should surround them.

So being very weary, they betooke them to rest.  But aboute midnight, they heard a hideous & great crie, and their sentinell caled, “Arme, arme”; so they bestired them & stood to their  armes, & shote of a cupple of moskets, and then the noys seased.  They concluded it was a companie of wolves, or such like willd beasts; for one of ye sea men tould them he had often heard shuch a noyse in New-found land.  So they rested till about 5. of ye clock in the morning, for ye tide, & ther purposs to goe from thence, made them be stiring betimes.  So after praier they prepared for breakfast, and it being day dawning, it was thought best to be earring things downe to ye boate.  But some said it was not best to carrie ye armes downe, others said they would be the readier, for they had laped them up in their coats from ye dew.  But some 3. or 4. would not cary theirs till they wente them selves, yet as it fell out, ye water being not high enough, they layed them downe on ye banke side, & came up to breakfast.   But presently, all on ye sudain, they heard a great & strange crie, which they knew to be the same voyces they heard in ye night, though they varied their notes, & one of their company being abroad came runing in, & cried, “Men, Indeans, Indeans”; and wth all, their arowes came flying amongst them.  Their men rane with all speed to recover their armes, as by ye good providence of God they did.  In ye mean time, of those that were ther ready, tow muskets were discharged at them, & 2. More stood ready in ye enterance of ther randevoue, but were comanded not to shoote till they could take full aime at them; & ye other 2. charged againe with all speed, for ther were only 4. had armes ther, & defended ye baricado which was first assalted.  The crie of ye lndeans was dreadfull, espetially when they saw ther men rune out of ye randevoue towourds ye shallop, to recover their armes, the lndeans wheeling aboute upon them.  But some runing out with coats of malle on, & cutlasses in their hands, they soone got their armes, & let flye amongs them, and quickly stopped their violence.  Yet ther was a lustie man, and no less valiante, stood behind a tree within halfe a musket shot, and let his arrows flie at them.  He was seen shoot 3. arrowes, which were all avoyded.  He stood 3. shot of a musket, till one taking full aime at him, and made ye barke or splinters of ye tree fly about his ears, after which he gave an extraordinary shrike, and away they wente all of them.  They left some to keep ye shalop, and followed them aboute a quarter of a mille, and shouted once or twise, and shot of 2. or 3. peces, & so returned.  This they did, that they might conceive that they were not affrade of them or any way discouraged.  Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enimies, and give them deliverance; and by his spetiall providence so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurte, or hitt, though their arrows came close by them, & on every side them, and sundry of their coats, which hunge up in ye barricado, were shot throw & throw.  Aterwards they gave God sollamne thanks & praise for their deliverance, & gathered up a bundle of their arrows, & sente them into England afterward by ye mr. of ye ship, and called that place ye first encounter.  From hence they departed, & costed all along, but discerned no place likly for harbor; & therfore hasted to a place that their pillote, (one Mr. Coppin who had bine in ye cuntrie before) did assure them was a good harbor, which he bad been in, and they might fetch it before night; of which they were glad, for it begane to be foule weather.  After some houres sailing, it begane to snow & raine, & about ye midle of ye afternoons, ye wind increased, & ye sea became very rough, and they broake their rudder, & it was as much as 2. men could doe to steere her with a cupple of oares.  But their pillott bad them be of good cheere, for he saw ye harbor; but ye storme increasing, & night drawing on, they bore what saile they could to gett in, while they could see.  But herwith they broake their mast in 3. peeces, & their saill fell overbord, in a very grown sea, so as they had like to have been cast away; yet by Gods mercie they recovered them selves, & having ye floud with them struck into ye harbore.  But when it came too, ye pillott was deceived in ye place, and said, ye Lord be mercifull unto them, for his evs never saw yt place before; &, he & the mr. ate would have rune her ashore, in a cove full of breakers, before ye winde.  But a lusty seaman which steered, bad those which rowed, if they were men, about with her, or ell they were all cast away; the which they did with speed.  So he bid them be of good cheere & row lustly, for ther was a faire sound before them, & he doubted not but they should find one place or other wher they might ride in saftie.  And though it was very dark, and rained sore, yet in ye end they gott, under ye lee of a smalle iland, and remained ther all yt night in saftie.  But they knew not this to be an iland till morning, but were derided in their minds; some would keepe ye boate for fear they might be amongst yeIndians; others were so weake and could, they could not endure, but got a shore, & with much adoe got fire, (all things being so wett,) and ye rest were glad to come to them; for after midnight ye wind shifted to the north-west, & it frose hard.  But though this had been a day & night of much trouble & danger unto them, yet God gave them a morning of comforte & refreshing (as usually he doth to his child-dren), for ye next day was a faire sunshinig day, and they found them sellvs to be on an iland secure from  ye Indeans, wher they might drie their stufe, fixe their peeces, & rest them selves, and gave God thanks for his mercies, in their manifould deliverances.  And this being the last day of ye weeke, they prepared ther to keepe ye Sabath.  On Munday they sounded ye harbor, and founde it fitt for shipping; and marched into ye land, & found diverse cornfeilds, & title runing brooks, a place (as they supposed) fitt for situation; at least it was ye best they could find, and ye season, & their presente necessitie, made them glad to accepte of it.  So they returned to their shipp againe with this news to ye rest of their people, which did much comforte their harts.

On ye 15. of Desemr: they wayed anchor to goe to ye place they had discovered, & came within 2. leagues of it, but were faine to bear up againe; but ye 16. day ye winde came faire, and they arrived safe in this harbor.  And after wards tooke better view of ye place, and resolved wher to pitch their dwelling; and ye begane to erecte ye first house for comone use to receive them and their goods.


Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (The Renewable Anthology of Early American Literature by Jared Aragona) is free of known copyright restrictions.

Share This Book