Of the nature and manners of the people
It resteth I speake a word or two of the naturall inhabitants, their natures and maners, leauing large discourse thereof vntill time more conuenient hereafter: no|we onely so farre foorth, as that you may know, how that they in respect of troub|ling our inhabiting and planting, are not to be feared; but that they shall haue cau|se both to feare and loue vs, that shall inhabite with them.
They are a people clothed with loose mantles made of Deere skins, & aprons of the same rounde about their middles; all els naked; of such a difference of statu|res only as wee in England; hauing no edge tooles or weapons of yron or steele to offend vs withall, neither know they how to make any: those weapōs that they ha|ue, are onlie bowes made of Witch hazle, & arrowes of reeds; flat edged trunche|ons also of wood about a yard long, neither haue they any thing to defend them|selues but targets made of barcks; and some armours made of stickes wickered to|gether with thread.
Their townes are but small, & neere the sea coast but few, some cōtaining but 10. or 12. houses: some 20. the greatest that we haue seene haue bene but of 30. hou|ses:if they be walled it is only done with barks of trees made fast to stakes, or els with poles onely fixed vpright and close one by another.
Their houses are made of small poles made fast at the tops in rounde forme af|ter the maner as is vsed in many arbories in our gardens of England, in most tow|nes couered with barkes, and in some with artificiall mattes made of long rushes; from the tops of the houses downe to the ground. The length of them is common|ly double to the breadth, in some places they are but 12. and 16. yardes long, and in other some wee haue seene of foure and twentie.
Page 25In some places of the countrey one onely towne belongeth to the gouern|ment of a Wiróans or chiefe Lorde; in other some two or three, in some sixe, eight, & more; the greatest Wiróans that yet we had dealing with had but eighteene tow|nes in his gouernmēt, and able to make not aboue seuen or eight hundred fighting men at the most: The language of euery gouernment is different from any other and the farther they are distant the greater is the difference.
Their maner of warres amongst themselues is either by sudden surprising one an other most commonly about the dawning of the day, or moone light; or elsby ambushes, or some suttle deuises: Set battels are very rare, except it fall out where there are many trees, where eyther part may haue some hope of defence, after the deliuerie of euery arrow, in leaping behind some or other.
If there fall out any warres betweē vs & them, what their fight is likely to bee, we hauing aduantages against them so many maner of waies, as by our discipline, our strange weapons and deuises els; especially by ordinance great and small, it may be easily imagined; by the experience we haue had in some places, the turning vs of their heeles against vs in running away was their best defence.
In respect of vs they are a people poore, and for want of skill and iudgement in the knowledge and vse of our things, doe esteeme our trifles before thinges of greater value: Notwithstanding in their proper manner considering the want of such meanes as we haue, they seeme very ingenious; For although they haue no such tooles, nor any such craftes, sciences and artes as wee; yet in those thinges they doe, they shewe excellencie of wit. And by howe much they vpon due considera|tion shall finde our manner of knowledges and craftes to exceede theirs in perfe|ction, and speed for doing or execution, by so much the more is it probable that they shoulde desire our friendships & loue, and haue the greater respect for plea|sing and obeying vs. Whereby may bee hoped if meanes of good gouernment bee vsed, that they may in short time be brought to ciuilitie, and the imbracing of true religion.
Some religion they haue alreadie, which although it be farre from the truth, yet beyng at it is, there is hope it may bee the easier and sooner reformed.
They beleeue that there are many Gods which they call Mantóac, but of dif|ferent sortes and degrees; one onely chiefe and great God, which hath bene from all eternitie. Who as they affirme when hee purposed to make the worlde, made first other goddes of a principall order to bee as meanes and instruments to bee v|sed in the creation and gouernment to follow; and after the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, as pettie goddes and the instruments of the other order more principall. First they say were made waters, out of which by the gods was made all diuersitie of creatures that are visible or inuisible.
For mankind they say a woman was made first, which by the woorking of one of the goddes, conceiued and brought foorth children: And in such sort they say they had their beginning.
Page 26But how manie yeeres or ages haue passed since, they say they can make no re|lation, hauing no letters nor other such meanes as we to keepe recordes of the par|ticularities of times past, but onelie tradition from father to sonne.
They thinke that all the gods are of humane shape, & therfore they represent them by images in the formes of men, which they call Kewasowok one alone is cal|led Kewás; Them they place in houses appropriate or temples which they call Mathicómuck; Where they woorship, praie, sing, and make manie times offerings vnto them. In some Machicómuck we haue seene but on Kewas, in some two, and in other some three; The common sort thinke them to be also gods.
They beleeue also the immortalitie of the soule, that after this life as soone as the soule is departed fiom the bodie according to the workes it hath done, it is ey|ther carried to heauē the habitacle of gods, there to enioy perpetuall blisse and hap|pinesse, or els to a great pitte or hole, which they thinke to bee in the furthest partes of their part of the worlde towarde the sunne set, there to burne continually: the place they call Popogusso.
For the confirmation of this opinion, they tolde mee two stories of two men that had been lately dead and reuiued againe, the one happened but few yeres be|fore our comming in the countrey of a wicked man which hauing beene dead and buried, the next day the earth of the graue beeing seene to moue, was takē vp agai|ne; Who made declaration where his soule had beene, that is to saie very neere en|tring into Popogusso, had not one of the gods saued him & gaue him leaue to retur|ne againe, and teach his friends what they should doe to auoid that terrible place of tormenr.
The other happened in the same yeere wee were there, but in a towne that was threescore miles from vs, and it was tolde mee for straunge newes that one beeing dead, buried and taken vp againe as the first, shewed that although his bodie had lien dead in the graue, yet his soule was aliue, ānd had trauailed farre in a long broa|de waie, on both sides whereof grewe most delicate and pleasaūt trees, bearing mo|re rare and excellent fruites then euer hee had seene before or was able to expresse, and at length came to most braue and faire houses, neere which hee met his father, that had beene dead before, who gaue him great charge to goe backe againe and shew his friendes what good they were to doe to enioy the pleasures of that place, which when he had done he should after come againe.
What subtilty soeuer be in the Wiroances and Priestes, this opinion worketh so much in manie of the common and simple sort of people that it maketh them ha|ue great respect to their Gouernours, and also great care what they do, to auoid tor|ment after death, and to enioy blisse; althought notwithstanding there is punish|ment ordained for malefactours, as stealers, whoremoongers, and other sortes of wicked doers; some punished with death, some with forfeitures, some with beating, according to the greatnes of the factes.
And this is the summe of their religion, which I learned by hauing special fa|miliarity Page 27with some of their priestes. Wherein they were not so sure grounded, nor gaue such credite to their traditions and stories but through conuersing with vs they were brought into great doubts of their owne, and no small admiratiō of ours, with earnest desire in many, to learne more than we had meanes for want of per|fect vtterance in their language to expresse.
Most thinges they sawe with vs, as Mathematicall instruments, sea compasses, the vertue of the loadstone in drawing yron, a perspectiue glasse whereby was she|wed manie strange sightes, burning glasses, wildefire woorkes, gunnes, bookes, wri|ting and reading, spring clocks that seeme to goe of themselues, and manie other thinges that wee had, were so straunge vnto them, and so farre exceeded their capa|cities to comprehend the reason and meanes how they should be made and done, that they thought they were rather the works of gods then of men, or at the least|wise they had bin giuen and taught vs of the gods. Which made manie of them to haue such opinion of vs, as that if they knew not the trueth of god and religion al|ready, it was rather to be had from vs, whom God so specially loued then from a people that were so simple, as they found themselues to be in comparison of vs. Whereupon greater credite was giuen vnto that we spake of concerning such mat|ters.
Manie times and in euery towne where I came, according as I was able, I ma|de declaration of the contentes of the Bible;that therein was set foorth the true and onelie God, and his mightie woorkes, that therein was contayned the true doctri|ne of saluation through Christ, with manie particularities of Miracles and chiefe poyntes of religion, as I was able then to vtter, and thought fitte for the time. And although I told them the booke materially & of itself was not of anie such vertue, as I thought they did conceiue, but onely the doctrine therein cōtained; yet would many be glad to touch it, to embrace it, to kisse it, to hold it to their brests and hea|des, and stroke ouer all their bodie with it; to shewe their hungrie desire of that knowledge which was spoken of.
The Wiroans with whom we dwelt called Wingina, and many of his people would be glad many times to be with vs at our praiers, and many times call vpon vs both in his owne towne, as also in others whither he sometimes accompanied vs, to pray and sing Psalmes; hoping thereby to bee partaker of the same effectes which wee by that meanes also expected.
Twise this Wiroans was so grieuously sicke that he was like to die, and as hee laie languishing, doubting of anie helpe by his owne priestes, and thinking he was in such daunger for offending vs and thereby our god, sent for some of vs to praie and bee a meanes to our God that it would please him either that he might liue or after death dwell with him in blisse, so likewise were the requestes of manie others in the like case.
On a time also when their corne began to wither by reason of a drouth which happened extraordinarily, fearing that it had come to passe by reason that in Page 28some thing they had displeased vs, many woulde come to vs & desire vs to praie to our God of England, that he would preserue their corne, promising that when it was ripe we also should be partakers of the fruite.
There could at no time happen any strange sicknesse, losses, hurtes, or any o|ther crosse vnto them, but that they would impute to vs the cause or meanes the|rof for offending or not pleasing vs.
One other rare and strange accident, leauing others, will I mention before I ende, which mooued the whole countrey that either knew or hearde of vs, to haue vs in wonderfull admiration.
There was no towne where we had any subtile deuise practised against vs, we leauing it vnpunished or not reuenged (because wee sought by all meanes possible to win them by gentlenesse) but that within a few dayes after our departure from euerie such towne, the people began to die very fast, and many in short space; in so|me townes about twentie, in some fourtie, in some sixtie, & in one sixe score, which in trueth was very manie in respect of their numbers. This happened in no place that wee coulde learne but where wee had bene, where they vsed some practise aga|inst vs, and after such time; The disease also so strange, that they neither knew what it was, nor how to cure it; the like by report of the oldest men in the countrey neuer happened before, time out of minde. A thing specially obserued by vs as also by the naturall inhabitants themselues.
Insomuch that when some of the inhabitants which were our friends & espe|cially the Wiroans Wingina had obserued such effects in foure or fiue towns to fol|low their wicked practises, they were perswaded that it was the worke of our God through our meanes, and that wee by him might kil and slai whom wee would wi|thout weapons and not come neere them.
And thereupon when it had happened that they had vnderstanding that any of their enemies had abused vs in our iourneyes, hearing that wee had wrought no reuenge with our weapons, & fearing vpon some cause the matter should so rest: did come and intreate vs that we woulde bee a meanes to our God that they as o|thers that had dealt ill with vs might in like sort die; alleaging howe much it would be for our credite and profite, as also theirs; and hoping furthermore that we would do so much at their requests in respect of the friendship we professe them.
Whose entreaties although wee shewed that they were vngodlie, affirming that our God would not subiect him selfe to anie such praiers and requestes of mē: that in deede all thinges haue beene and were to be done according to his good pleasure as he had ordained: ād that we to shew our selues his true seruāts ought ra|ther to make petition for the contrarie, that they with them might liue together with vs, bee made partakers of his truth & serue him in righteousnes; but notwith|standing in such sort, that wee referre that as all other thinges, to bee done accor|ding to his diuine will & pleasure, ād as by his wisedome he had ordained to be best.
Page 29Yet because the effect fell out so sodainly and shortly after according to their desires, they thought neuerthelesse it came to passe by our meanes, and that we in vsing such speeches vnto them did but dissemble the matter, and therefore came vnto vs to giue vs thankes in their manner that although wee satisfied them not in promise, yet in deedes and effect we had fulfilled their desires.
This maruelous accident in all the countrie wrought so strange opinions of vs, that some people could not tel whether to think vs gods or men, and the rather because that all the space of their sicknesse, there was no man of ours knowne to die, or that was specially sicke: they noted also that we had no women amongst vs, nei|ther that we did care for any of theirs.
Some therefore were of opinion that wee were not borne of women, and the|refore not mortall, but that wee were men of an old generation many yeeres past then risen againe to immortalitie.
Some woulde likewise seeme to prophesie that there were more of our gene|ration yet to come, to kill theirs and take their places, as some thought the purpose was by that which was already done.
Those that were immediatly to come after vs they imagined to be in the aire, yet inuisible & without bodies, & that they by our intreaty & for the loue of vs did make the people to die in that sort as they did by shooting inuisible bullets into them.
To confirme this opinion their phisitions to excuse their ignorance in curing the disease, would not be ashemed to say, but earnestly make the simple people be|leue, that the strings of blood that they sucked out of the sicke bodies, were the strings wherewithal the inuisible bullets were tied and cast.
Some also thought that we shot them our selues out of our pieces from the pla|ce where we dwelt, and killed the people in any such towne that had offended vs as we listed, how farre distant from vs soeuer it were.
And other some saide that it was the speciall woorke of God for our sakes, as wee our selues haue cause in some sorte to thinke no lesse, whatsoeuer some doe or maie imagine to the contrarie, specially some Astrologers knowing of the Eclipse of the Sunne which wee saw the same yeere before in our voyage thytherward, which vnto them appeared very terrible. And also of a Comet which beganne to appeare but a few daies before the beginning of the said sicknesse. But to exclude them from being the speciall an accident, there are farther reasons then I thinke fit at this present to bee alleadged.
These their opinions I haue set downe the more at large that it may appeare vnto you that there is good hope they may be brought through discreet dealing and gouernement to the imbracing of the trueth, and consequently to honour, obey, feare and loue vs.
Page 30And although some of our companie to wardes the ende of the yeare, shewed themselues too fierce, in slaying some of the people, in some towns, vpō causes that on our part, might easily enough haue been borne withall: yet notwithstanding because it was on their part iustly deserued, the alteration of their opinions gene|rally & for the most part concerning vs is the lesse to bee doubted. And whatsoe|uer els they may be, by carefulnesse of our selues neede nothing at all to be feared. The best neuerthelesse in this as in all actions besides is to be endeuoured and hoped, & of the worst that may happen notice to bee taken with consideration, and as much as may be eschewed.