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Farther account of Master Weston's settlement, and the
movements of the Indians against him-ASPINET, the Nauset, supposed to be engaged in that affair-His tribe and power—Provocations from the English Magnanimous revenge of the Sachem-His hospitality and kindness-Friendly intercourse with PlymouthIs visited by governor Bradford-By captain Standish -Is suspected of hostility by Plymouth, and pursued by Standish-His death-Career and character of IrAnough, the 'Courteous Sachem of Cummaquid'-Ís suspected and pursued-His death.
Having necessarily, in the course of justice to some individuals heretofore noticed, animadverted on the early Indian policy of Plymouth, we shall devote this chapter to the further consideration of certain facts bearing upon that subject, and especially as connected with the case of Weston. These facts cannot be better set forth, than they are in the lives of two among the most remarkable natives who held intercourse with the Government in question.
One of them was ASPINET, the first open enemy, as the Pokanoket Sachem was the first ally, whom the Plymouth settlement had the fortune to meet with. He ruled over a number of petty tribes, settled in various parts of what is now the county of Barnstable, all of whom are said to have been ultimately subject, or at least subsidiary, to Massasoit. The principal among them wer the Nausets, at Namskeket,* within the present limits of Orleans, and round about
* A spot chosen with the usual sagacity of the Indians, and which at some period probably subsisted a large population with its immense stores of the sickishuog, or clam. A thousand barrels annually are said to have been taken there in modern times, merely for fish-bait. Mass. His. Coll.
the cove which separates that town from Eastham. With this tribe Aspinet had his residence.
Aspinet, we have observed, was the first open enemy of the colonists ; and it will be admitted, that his hostility was not without cause. Of the twenty-four Indians kidnapped by Hunt, in 1614, twenty belonged to Patuxet, (or Plymouth,) and the residue were the subjects of the Nauset chieftain. When the Pilgrims came over, six years after this abominable outrage, it happened, that upon landing in the harbor of Cape Cod, before reaching Plymouth, they sent out a small party in a shallop, to discover a proper place for a settlement. These men went ashore a little north of the Great-Pond, in Eastham, and there they were suddenly attacked by the Nausets. The assailants were repulsed, but the English retreated in great haste.
Unquestionably, these men acted in obedience to the orders of Aspinet, instigated, as he must have been, by the remembrance of Hunt's perfidy. Winslow, in his RELATION, gives an affecting incident which occurred subsequently at this place, going to illustrate, very forcibly, the effect of such atrocious conduct on the disposition of the natives. “One thing," he says, “ was grievous unto us at this place. There was an old woman, whom we judged to be no less than a hundred years old, which came to see us, because she never saw English; yet could not behold us without breaking forth into great passion, weeping and crying excessively. We demanding the reason of it ; they told us she had three sons, who, when Master Hunt was in these parts, went aboard his ship to trade with him, and he carried them captives into Spain, by which means she was deprived of the comfort of her children in her old age !” The English made what explanation they could of the affair, and gave her a few “small trifies, which somewhat appeased her."
The expedition alluded to in this case, which took place in the summer of 1621, was occasioned by the absence of an English boy, who had strayed away from the colony at Plymouth, and was understood to have fallen into Aspinet's hands. The accident gave that sachem an opportunity of gratifying his revenge, which to him might have appeared providential. But he was too intelligent a man to confound the innocent with the guilty; and too noble to avail himself of a misfortune, even for humbling the pride of an enemy. When, therefore, the English party, on this occasion, having landed on his coast, sent Squanto to inform him amicably of the purpose for which they had come,--and with instructions perhaps to appeal to his better feelings,--he threw down his enmity at once with his arms. “ After sun-set,"—is the minute but touching description given of this singular scene : “ Aspinet came with a great train, and brought the boy with him, one bearing him through the water. He had not less than an hundred with him, the half whereof came to the shallop-side unarmed with him; the other stood aloof with their bows and arrows. There he delivered up the boy, behung with beads, and made peace with us, we bestowing a knife on him; and likewise on another that first entertained the boy, and brought him thither. So they departed from us."* It was indeed a magnanimous revenge.
After this auspicious interview, a friendly intercourse was maintained for more than a year
between the English and the Nausets. Supplies of corn, beans and other provision, were obtained of them to a large amount, at a period when the colonists were reduced almost to famine. The trade was conducted on both sides with justice, and therefore with confidence. Governor Bradford, when he touched at Namskeket, was treated with the highest respect. On one occasion, his shallop being stranded, it was necessary to stack the corn which had been purchased, and to leave it, covered with mats and sedge, in the care of the Indians. The Governor and his party travelled home, fifty miles, on foot. The corn remained as he left it, from November to the following January, and when another shallop touched at Nauset, it was found in perfect safety. All this is attributed to Aspinet; “ The Sachim," we are told, “ used the Governor very kindly.” The Indians were promised a reward for taking future good care of the corn; “ which they undertook, and the Sachim promised to make good !" And again,“ the Sachim sent men to seek the shallop," and then sent the shallop to Plymouth within three days.
* JOURNAL OF A PLANTATION.
He manifested the same good feeling and good faith at other times. When Standish landed at Nauset, in the winter of 1622-3, an Indian crawled into his shallop about dusk, as it lay in a narrow creek, and carried off some beads, scissors and other small articles. The captain soon discovered the theft, and taking some of his crew with him, he went immediately to Aspinet, made his complaint, and demanded, with some bravadoes, that either the articles or the criminal should be delivered to him forth with. The Sachem took no offence at his plainness of speech; but not being prepared to give satisfaction on the instant, very composedly offered his visiter the hospitalities of his wigwam till the matter could be settled as it should be. These were rejected, and Standish returned to his rendezvous' on the shore. The next morning, Aspinet made his appearance. He came marching down to the shore, with considerable pomp and circumstance, attended by an escort of his subjects, probably numerous enough to have overwhelmed the little party of Standish, and never at any former time found wanting in courage. But the object was to do justice, and not to enforce wrong. He approached the captain and saluted him by thrusting out his tongue, “that one might see the root thereof, and therewith licked his hand from the wrist to the finger's end, withal bowing the knee, to imitate the English gesture, being instructed therein formerly by Tisquantum.” His men followed the example as well as they were able, but so awkwardly, with all their
zeal, as to furnish no little amusement for the civilized spectators of the scene. Aspinet now gave up the stolen articles, observing that he had beaten the thief soundly, and “seeming to be very sorry for the fact, but glad to be reconciled.” The interview closed with a liberal provision of excellent bread upon his part, which he had ordered his women to bake and bring in whatever quantities it was wanted.
But notwithstanding all the pains which the chief of the Nausets took to maintain a good understanding with his new neighbors, he was destined to incur their suspicion, and to meet with a miserable ruin under the weight of their hostility. When the English visited Massasoit, in his sickness, early in 1623, that chieftain disclosed to them, by the medium of Hobamock, the particulars of an extensive combination, reported to be formed among the Indian tribes, " against Master Weston's colony at Weymouth," as Winslow expresses it," and so against us." The Massachusetts Indians were ringleaders in the affair, it was said; but Aspinet, and the sachems of many other settlements, including even Capawack, (Martha's Vineyard) were charged with being privy to it.
Whether they were so or not, need not be discussed, and cannot be decided. It is observable, however, in relation to Aspinet, that the evidence of Massasoit, which was the only evidence in the case, went to show, that the men of Massachusetts," were the authors of the intended business.” This very much confirms our conclusion to the same effect, in the Life of Chickatabot. But, granting all that is charged, it may easily be imagined how much provocation the Indians had received from Weston's notorious banditti, and how much reason they had to make common cause against them in their own self-defence. Winslow himself bears witness, that immediately after Weston's settlement was commenced, “the Indians filled our ears with clamors against them, for stealing their corn, and other abuses; as also that the Plym