Related Texts

Texts Related to the Works of Sarah Orne Jewett

Accounts of Passaconaway and the Pennacook

related to "The Old Town of Berwick," and The Tory Lover

from Thomas Morton (1575-1646)
New English Canaan (1637), Book 1
Edited by Charles Francis Adams, Jr.
Burt Franklin: New York, 1888, 1967.


Of their pretty conjuring tricks.

     If we doe not judge amisse of these Salvages in accounting them witches, yet out of all question we may be bould to conclude them to be but weake witches, such of them as wee call by the names of Powahs; some correspondency they have with the Devil out of al doubt, as by some of their accions, in which they glory, is manifested. Papasiquineo (1), that Sachem or Sagamore, is a Powah of greate estimation amongst all kinde of Salvages there: hee is at their Revels (which is the time when a great company of Salvages meete from severall parts of the Country, in amity with their neighbours) hath advaunced his honor in his feats or jugling tricks (as I may right tearme them) to the admiration of the spectators, whome hee endevoured to perswade that he would goe under water to the further side of a river, to broade for any man to undertake with a breath, which thing hee performed by swimming over, and deluding the company with casting a mist before their eies that see him enter in and come out, but no part of the way hee has bin seene: likewise by our English, in the heat of all summer to make Ice appeare in a bowle of faire water; first, having the water set before him, hee hath begunne his incantation according to their usuall accustome, and before the same has bin ended a thick Cloude has darkened the aire and, on a sodane, a thunder clap hath bin heard that has amazed the natives; in an instant hee hath shewed a firme peece of Ice to flote in the middest of the bowle in the presence of the vulgar people, which doubtles was done by the agility of Satan, his consort.

     And by meanes of these sleights, and such like trivial things as these, they gaine such estimation amongst the rest of the Salvages that it is thought a very impious matter for any man to derogate from the words of the Powahs. In so much as hee that should slight them, is though to commit a crime no lesse hainous amongst them as sacriledge is with us, as may appeare by this one passage, which I wil set forth for an instance.

     A neighbour of mine that entertain'd a Salvage into his service, to be his factor for the beaver trade amongst his countrymen, delivered unto him divers parcells of commodities fit for them to trade with; amongst the rest there was one coate of more esteeme than any of the other, and with this his new entertained marchant man travels amonst his countrymen to truck them away for beaver; as our custome hath bin, the Salvage went up into the Country amongst his neighbours for beaver: and returned with some, but not enough answerable to his Masteers expectation, but being called to an accompt, and especially for that one Coate of speciall note, made answer that he had given the coate to Tantoquineo, a Powah: to which his master in a rage cryed, ["]what have I to doe with Tantoquineo?["] The Salvage, very angry at the matter, cryed, ["]what you speake? you are not a very good man; wil you not give Tantoq. a coat? whats this?["] as if he had offered Tantoquineo the greatest indignity that could be devised: so great is the estimation and reverence that these people have of these Iugling (2) Powahs, who are usually sent for when any person is sicke and ill as ease to recover them, for which they receive rewards as doe our Chirgeons and Phisitions; and they doe make a trade of it, and boast of their skill where they come: (3) One amongst the rest did undertake to cure an Englishman of a swelling of his hand for a parcell of biskett, which being delivered him hee tooke the party greived into the woods aside from company, and with the helpe of the devill, (as may be conjectured,) quickly recovered him of that swelling, and sent him about his worke againe.


Of their duels, and the honourable estimation of victory obtained thereby.

     These Salvages are not apt to quarrell one with another: yet such hath bin the occasion that a difference hath happened which hath growne to that height that it has not bin reconciled otherwise then by combat, which hath bin performed in this manner: the two champions prepared for the fight, with their bowes in hand and a quiver full of arrowes at their backs, they have entered into the field; the Challenger and challenged have chosen two trees, standing within a little distance of each other; they have cast lotts for the cheife of the trees, then either champion setting himselfe behinde his tree watches an advantage to let fly his shafts, and to gall his enemy; there they continue shooting at each other; if by chaunce they espie any part open, they endeavour to gall the combatant in that part, and use much agility in the performance of the taske they have in hand. Resolute they are in the execution of the vengeance, when once they have begunne; and will in no wise be daunted, or seeme to shrinck though they doe catch a clap with an arrow, but fight it out in this manner untill one or both be slaine.

     I have bin shewed the places where such duels have bin performed, and have fuond the trees marked for memoriall of the Combat, where that champion hath stood that had the hap to be slaine in the duell: and they count it the greatest honor that can be to the surviving Cumbatant, to shew the scares of the wounds received in this kinde of Conflict, and if it happen to be on the arme, as those parts are most in danger in these cases, they will alwayes weare a bracelet upon that place of the arme, as a trophy of honor to their dying day.


Of the maintaining of their Reputation.

     Reputation is such a thing that it keepes many men in awe, even amongst Civilized nations, and is very much stood upon: it is (as one hath very well noted) the awe of great men and of Kings. And, since I have observed it to be maintained amongst Salvage people, I cannot chuse but give an instance thereof in this treatise, to confirme the common receaved opinion thereof.

     The Sachem or Sagamore of Sagus made choise, when hee came to mans estate, of a Lady of noble discent, Daughter to Papasiquineo, the Sachem or Sagamore of the territories neare Merrimack River, a man of the best note and estimation in all those parts, and (as my Countryman Mr. Wood declares in his prospect) a great Nigromancer; this Lady the younge Sachem with consent and good liking of her father marries, and takes for his wife.(4) Great entertainement hee and his received in those parts at her fathers hands, where they weare fested in the best manner that might be expected, according to the Custome of their nation, with reveling and such other solemnities as is usuall amongst them. The solemnity being ended, Papasiquineo causes a selected number of his men to waite upon his Daughter home into those parts that did properly belong to her Lord and husband; where the attendants had entertainment by the Sachem of Sagus and his Countrymen: the solemnity being ended, the attendants were gratified.

     Not long after the new married Lady had a great desire to see her father and her native country, from whence shee came; her Lord willing to pleasure her and not deny her request, amongst them thought to be reasonable, commanded a selected number of his owne men to conduct his Lady to her Father, wher, with great respect, they brought her; and, having feasted there a while, returned to their owne country againe, leaving the Lady to continue there at her owne pleasure, amongst her friends and old acquaintance; where shee passed away the time for a while, and in the end desired to returne to her Lord againe. Her father, the old Papasiquineo, having notice of her intent, sent some of his men on ambassage to the younge Sachem, his sonne in law, to let him understand that his daughter was not willing to absent her selfe from his company any longer, and therefore, as the messengers had in charge, desired the younge Lord to send a convoy for her; but hee, standing upon tearmes of honor, and the maintaining of his reputation, returned to his father in law this answere, that, when she departed from him, hee caused his men to waite upon her to her fathers territories, as it did become him; but, now shee had an intent to returne, it did become her father to send her back with a convoy of his own people; and that it stood not with his reputation to make himself or his men so servile, to fetch her againe. The old Sachem Papasiquineo, having this message returned, was inraged to think that his young son in law did not esteeme him at a higher rate then to capitulate with him about the matter, and returne[d] him this sharpe reply; that his daughters bloud and birth deserved more respect then to be so slighted; and, therefore, if he would have her company, hee were best to send or come for her.

     The younge Sachem, not willing to under value himselfe and being a man of a stout spirit, did not stick to say that hee should either send her by his owne Convey, or keepe her; for hee was determined not (5) to stoope so lowe.

     So much these two Sachems stood upon tearmes of reputation with each other, the one would not send her, and the other would not send for her, least it should be any diminishing of honor on his part that should seeme to comply, that the Lady (when I came out of the Country) remained still with her father; which is a thinge worth the noting, that Salvage people should seeke to maintaine their reputation so much as they doe.


1. This Sachem, "the most noted pow-ow and sorcerer of all the country," is better known by the name of Passaconaway. There is quite an account of him in Drake's Book of the Indians (B. III. ch. vii.). He is the Pissacannawa mentioned by Wood in his Prospect (p. 70), of whom the savages reported that he could "make the water burn, the rocks move, the trees dance, metamorphize himself into a flaming man." Morton says of the Indian conjurers, "some correspondency they have with the Devil out of all doubt;" Wood, to the some effect, remarks that "by God's permission, through the Devil's helpe, their charmes are of force to produce effects of wonderment;" Smith declares of the Indians, "their chiefe God they worship is the Devil" (True Travels, vol. I. p. 138); Mather intimates that it was the devil who seduced the first inhabitants of America into it (Magnalia, B. I. ch. i. p. 3), and Winthrop, describing the great freshet of 1638, records that the Indians "being pawawing in this tempest, the Devil came and fetched away five of them" (vol. i. p. 293).

     See also Gookin's Indians, I. Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. i. p. 154; Young's Chron. of Pilg., p. 356; and Champlain's Voyages, vol. iii. p. 171. Champlain says the Indians do not worship any God; "they have, however, some respect for the devil."

2. [Iugling.] See Supra, III, note I.

3. In regard to the Indian Powaws, priests, or medicine men, and their methods of dealing with the sick, see the detailed account in Champlain's Voyages, vol. iii. pp. 171-8; Josselyn's Two Voyages, p. 134; Wood's Prospect, p. 71; Williams's Key, ch. xxxi.; Gookin's Indians, I. Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. i. p. 154; Young's Chron. of Pilg., pp. 317, 357; Lechford's Plaine Dealing, (Trumbull's ed.) p. 117; Parkman's Jesuits in North America, pp. lxxxiv-lxxxvii; also Magnalia, B. III. part. iii., where Mather says: "In most of their dangerous distempers, it is a powaw that must be sent for; that is, a priest who has more familiarity with Satan than his neighbors; this conjurer comes and roars and howls and uses magical ceremonies over the sick man, and will be well paid for it when he is done; if this don't effect the cure, the 'man's time is come, and there's an end.'" For a summary in Indian medical practice, see further, Ellis's Red Man and White Man, pp. 127-33.

4. Passaconoway, already referred to (Supra, p. 150, note), dwelt at a place called Pennakook, and his dominions extended over the sachems living upon the Piscataqua and its branches. The young Sachem of Saugus was named Winnepurkitt, and was commonly known among the English as George Rumneymarsh. He was a son of Nanepashemet, and at one time proprietor of Deer Island in Boston Harbor. (Drake's Book of the Indians, ed. 1851, pp. 105, 111, 278.) The incident in the text has been made the subject of a poem, The Bridal of Pennacook, by Whittier, and Drake repeats it; but as Winnepurkitt is said by Drake to have been born in 1616, and to have succeeded Montowampate as Sachem in 1633, and as Morton, at the close of the present chapter, declares that "the lady, when I came out of the country [in 1630], remained still with her father," the whole story would seem to be not only highly inconsistent with what we know of Indian life and habits, but also at variance with facts and dates.

5. [not determined.] See Supra, III, note I.


Edited by Terry and Linda Heller, Coe College

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