harvest, and returned in safety. The governor caused their portion to be daily given them, or some had starved.

“ The want of bread had abated the strength and flesh of some, had swelled others; and had they not been where are diverse sorts of shell-fish, they must have perished. These extremities befell us in May and June; and in the time of these straits, the Indians began to cast forth many insulting speeches, glorying in our weakness, and giving out how easy it would be ere long to cut us off ; which casions us to erect a Fort on the hill above us.'

This Fort being built, served also, thenceforward, as the place of public worship.

Now again harvest time had come, but with it little relief for the present and apprehended necessities of the colony. "Our crop proving scanty, partly through weakness to tend it, for want of food, partly through other business, and partly by much being stolen, a famine must ensue next year, unless prevented. But by an unexpected providence come into our harbor two ships.” One of these was the Discovery under Captain Jones, on her way from Virginia to England. Of her, though the Pilgrims seem to have obtained little bread, yet they brought a store of knives and beads, which enabled them to trade with the Indians for corn, and thus helped to save them from destruction. The food thus obtained during the winter, by expeditions of great difficulty and danger, amidst freezing weather, was divided from time to time among the people.

Meantime the miserable Colony under Weston, at Wessagusset, in Massachusetts Bay, having spent all their bread and corn, and being so despised and hated of the natives, for their ill and dishonest conduct, that they could gain no supply from them, thought of making a foray upon them and taking it by force. But first the overseer determined to ask advice of the Colony at Plymouth, being persuaded thereto by some more honestly minded. The main question in the letter, which was sent with speed by an Indian messenger,

was whether he should take the corn by violence, on the promise afterwards to make restitution. The answer was not delayed, and was such as the known piety and wisdom of the Colony would lead us to expect.

The moral superiority and power of the Pilgrims was on such occasions signally displayed, as well as their sagacity and judgment. After serious consultation together, the Governor returned a warning, signed by many of the company, that their violent intentions were contrary both to the law of God and nature, and against that propagation of the Gospel which they were bound to seek, avoiding whatever might prejudice that great object. The Governor bade them remember that their case was no worse than that of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, who had but little corn left, and were forced to live on ground-nuts, clams, muscles, and such other things as naturally the country afforded ; all which things they had in abundance at Wessagusset, with oysters in addition, and therefore necessity could not be said to constrain them to their intended violence. “Moreover, that they should consider, if they proceeded therein, all they could so get would maintain them but a small time, and then they must perforce seek their food abroad ; which, having made the Indians their enemies, would be very difficult for them, and therefore much better to begin a little the sooner, and so continue their peace; after which course they might with good conscience desire and expect the blessing of God; whereas on the contrary they could not.”

This friendly advice and warning changed, for the present, the resolution and temper of the adventurers; but by the month of March the plantation was utterly broken up in less than a year after it was started. “And this,” remarked Governor Bradford, “is the end of those, who being all able men, had boasted of their strength, and what they would bring to pass, in comparison of the people of Plymouth, who had many women, children, and weak ones with them."

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Up to the month of April, the pressure of want among the Pilgrims continued, and now was increasing. “No supply being heard of, nor knowing when to expect any, we consider how to raise a better crop, and not languish still in misery.” It was determined that at this seedtime every family should plant for themselves, and even the women and children went into the field to work, so that more córn was planted than ever.

“ But by the time our corn was planted, our victuals are spent : not knowing at night where to have a bit in the morning, and have neither bread nor corn for three or four months together: yet bear our wants with cheerfulness, and rest on Providence.

“ Having but one boat left, we divided our men into several companies, six or seven in each: who take their turns to go out with a net and fish, and return not till they get some, though they be five or six days out ; knowing there's nothing at home, and to return empty would be a great discouragement. When they stay long or get but little, the rest go a digging shell-fish. And thus we live the summer; only sending one or two to range the woods for deer, they now and then get one, which we divide among the company; and in the winter are helped with fowl and ground-nuts."

By the middle of July the colonists seemed brought to the end of all their hopes, almost to utter desperation. “Notwithstanding our great pains and hopes of a large crop, God seems to blast them and threaten sorer famine by a great drought and heat, from the third week in May to the middle of this month, so as the corn withers, both the blade and stalk, as if it were utterly dead. Our beans also ran not up according to their wonted manner, but stood at a stay, many being parched away, as though they had been scorched before the fire. Now were our hopes overthrown, and we discouraged, our joy being turned into mourning.”

To add to their distress they heard of a ship in which


supplies were coming to them from England being in company with another ship only 300 leagues from the coast, and then for three months waited for her in vain, beholding nothing but the signs of a wreck upon the shore, which they judged must be the ruins of that ship. All things put together, it seemed as if God had turned against the colony, and would be favorable no more.

Yet they were not so discouraged as not to wait upon God, but so as to wait only upon him. To him, as their sole refuge, they fled, individually and unitedly.

“ These and the like considerations,” says Mr. Winslow, moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before him, but also more solemnly to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end a day was appointed by public authority, and set apart from all other employments; hoping that the same God which had stirred us up hereunto, would be moved hereby in mercy to look down upon us, and grant the request of our dejected souls, if our continuance there might stand with his glory and our good. But Oh the mercy of our God! who was as ready to hear as we to ask ; for though in the morning, when we were assembled together, the heavens were as clear and the drought as like to continue as ever it was, yet (our exercise continuing some eight or nine hours) before our departure the weather was overcast, the clouds gathered together on all sides, and on the next morning distilled such soft, sweet, and moderate showers of rain, and mixed with such seasonable weather, as it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived. Such was the bounty and goodness of our God.”

Perhaps a more remarkable instance of God's interposi-. tion in answer to prayer is not to be found on record. The showers came, said Governor Bradford," without any thunder, wind, or violence, and by degrees and that abundance


that the earth was thoroughly soaked, and the decayed corn and other fruits so revived as was wonderful to see, the Indians were astonished to behold, and gave a joyful prospect of a fruitful harvest.” The interposition was as clearly from God as when Elijah prayed of old and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruits.

It happened that the day when this solemn fast was appointed, and the whole Colony were assembled in prayer, a number of the Indians were in at the Pilgrim settlement, among whom was Hobbamock, or Hobomok, the friend of the colonists, and who died, as some earnestly hoped, a believer in the Pilgrims' God. Hobbamock and the Indians, observing these holy exercises in the middle of the week, remarked that it was but three days since Sunday, and could not tell what it could mean. Hobbamock demanded the reason of a boy whom he met, and, being told, communicated it to the natives; and their astonishment may easily be conceived, when, having been instructed as to the purpose of the day and its services, as a time for the Pilgrims to humble themselves before their God, and to seek his mercy in prayer for rain, they saw what followed ; saw

; the clouds gather and the rain begin to fall. “He and all of them,” says Mr. Winslow, “admired the goodness of our God towards us, that wrought so great a change in so short a time.” And well they might admire it. Even their own dark belief in the Great Spirit made them feel that it was the Pilgrims' God, hearing, answering, and providing for them.

If the excellent Robinson had heard of this affecting interposition and proof of God's goodness, and its effect upon the minds of the savages, what tenderness and grief he must have felt when he wrote to the Church in regard to the first Indians killed in the conflict with Standish in March at Wessagusset, “O how happy a thing had it been, that you had converted some, before you killed any!" But the missionary spirit of the Pilgrims was destined not to bear

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