Gambar halaman

and many more such things among them, for he knew that outward comfort and decency must be secured, before the moral and intellectual life can be begun. He met with an early disappointment in one of the first reforms which he urged upon the Narragansetts. It would seem that in a climate which produces December like ours, no great length or depth of argument would be required, to persuade men and women to wear clothes. But beyond this, it was the first step towards decency of life and conduct, which were but too little esteemed among the Varragansetts. They early seized upon this as the most characteristic difference between themselves and the English. It was not the colour of the skin, or the use of fire arms which distinguished them from the “coat-men ” or “clothed” men from beyond the sea. Until he could accomplish this, little else could be done. Williams more than once refers to this subject briefly, but in such pointed and emphatic terms, as prove that without this first lesson, nothing, he believed could be taught of Christian cleanliness of living. He was not prepared for the obstinacy with which the Narragansetts rejected the ordinary comforts of civilisation. Probably they found it easier to force their way through swamps and thickets, and to make stealthy approaches to their game or their enemies, in the old national costume. But even after they had fire arms and better pathways, they persisted in it, and did not even appreciate the capacious pockets which afforded such convenient receptacles for stolen goods. So long as their tribal existence lasted, they clung to their old habits, and with them kept their grossness and their vices. They appreciated English arms, boats, iron ware and trinkets, but nothing could persuade the Narragansetts to any change in their moral or social habits. So it was in all other things. By the influences which have been described, all efforts for the civilisation of the Narragansetts were wholly thwarted. The conduct and example of too many of the whitemen with whom they were in contact, counteracted all moral teaching. The settlers cared little about the Indians, save with a view to their own profit, or their own safety. With their ample supply of 'strong waters,” they began unconsciously but effectively, the extermination of the native race. Quaker, Baptist, and Antinomian—men of all opinions or of none, were rivals, as they thought in trade, but really in extirpation. They began to redress the inequality of power so soon as they had gained a foothold on the soil.

(1) Key, p. 65. (2)See his letter to Gen. Court of Mass., ()ct. 5, 1654. Narr. Club Pub., VI.

276. (3) Even the few who had been taught to wear white men's clothes, took them

off, and covered them up, when it rained, and put them on again when the weather became dry. Key, p. 108.

Against all these hostile forces, Williams still cherished his hopes, and was but slowly undeceived. Even those in Massachusetts who had attempted similar work, saw his failure with complacency, and were content to ascribe it to his heretical opinions. Eliot seems to have thought that it was because he worked on the first day of the week.” Eliot asked a Narragansett Sachem, “why they did not learn of Mr. Williams, who had lived among them divers yeers?” He answered that they did not care to learn of him because “hee is no good man but goes out and workes upon the Sabbath day.” Those who have read anything of the real acts and characters of the inferior Narragansett Sachems, will feel little doubt that this was merely a pretended reason given by some fawning sycophant, who sought to gain favour or a gratuity.

How long Williams persevered, we are not informed. But at length he began to lose the hopefulness of his earlier years. The Narragansetts listened quietly and decorously to him, as they would not to any Puritan missionary. He made friends but not believers. Neither Williams nor any other has recorded the fact that a single Rhode Island Indian was a con

(1) Gookin, in Mass. Hist. Soc. Pub., 1st series, I. 210. (2) See “Bloody Tenent yet more Bloody," in Narr. Club Pub., IV. 373; also

note citing p. 31 of Shepard's “Clear sun-shine.” Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d series, IV. 61, 135, 136, 137.

vert to Christianity. The enthusiasm of his earlier writings declined, as his prospects faded away. Unsupported and discouraged, he abandoned the work as hopeless. He saw the barbarism and indecency of the Narragansetts as they really were, and the gulf of two thousand years which parted them from the Englishmen of his day. He could not teach them truthfulness—the first virtue of civilisation. In April,” 1649, he wrote: “I believe nothing of any of the barbarians on either side, but what I have eye sight for, or English testimony." His conviction of their treachery grew stronger as years went on. At last, in 1665, he gave utterance to his despair, in language not unlike that of Church, describing them as a "barbarous scum and offscourings of mankinde.” Fifty years went by, before any one took up the burden where Williams had laid it down.

Besides his benevolent works, Williams assumed political duties which he never abandoned to the end of his days. Ile was ever mindful of the safety and peace of his Plantations. Ile alone could conduct an interview with the Narragansetts, or allay their irritation when they felt aggrieved. His influence with Canonicus and his successors, he used to the uttermost for the security of New England, as well as of his own people. He was better qualified for this than for any other work,- appearing at his best in his dealings with the Narragansetts, and at his worst in his controversies with his own Townsmen in the Proprietary meetings. His courage was of the highest order, and he had need of it soon after his arrival at Mooshassuc. His neighbors were "a frontier people.” “l'pon the express (1) Gookin, in Mass. Ilist. Soc. Coll., 1st series, I. 210. “God hath not yet advice of your ever honored Mr. Winthrop, deceased, I first adventured to begin a plantation among the thickest of these barbarians." Though he had little to expect from the gratitude of Massachusetts, he hazarded his life, to prevent a league between the Narragansetts and the Pequots, and to establish a firm alliance between them and the English. The colony of Massachusetts "used him as instrumental to the peace, and speeding of the English planting in this country.” No event in our early history exhibits higher courage and wisdom, than does the journey of Williams, unarmed and alone, into the midst of the excited Pequots who were labouring with all their savage arts of persuasion, to draw the Narragansetts into war. During three days and nights, his life was not for a moment secure. "The Pequots," says Williams, “who sought the Narragansetts' league against the English had almost ended my life and work together.” The moral force of civilisation here gained its first victory over the native barbarism. The Narragansetts had not long to wait, before they had reason to rejoice that they had listened to his friendly counsel. During the gloomy years whịch followed, until the towns were united under the Earl of Warwick's charter, (A. D. 1647), Williams acted upon his own responsibility and judgment, with no advice or support from within or from without the colony, during the most gloomy apprehensions of savage war. 3

honoured him, or any other in that colony that I can hear of, with being instrumental to convert any of those Indians.” Also Bentley's “Salem,”

in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st series, VI. 250. (2) Narr. Club Pub., VI. 177. (3) Letter, Oct. 5, 1654. Narr. Club Pub., VI. 274, 276. (4) See R. I. Col. Records, II. 135–38. Letter to Sir Robert Carr, March 1,

1665. Callender's Ilist. discourse, A. D. 1739, p. 139. (5)See letter to Gen. Court of Mass., Nov. 15, 1655. Narr. (lub Pub., VI. (1) Letter to Gen. Court of Mass. Oct. 5, 1654. Narr. Club Pub., VI. 269. (2) See letter of Oct., 1051, p. 231. (3) Williams to Gen. Court of Mass., Oct. 5, 1054. Narr. Club Pub., VI.

“I have been more or less interested and used in all your great transactions of war and peace, between the English and the matives, and have not spared purse, nor pains nor hazards, (very many times), that the whole land, English and natives, might sleep in peace securely.”

In their disunited condition, before the first charter, the towns could devise no measures of safety, or defence. After the Pequot war, through the authority of Canonicus, the influence of Williams, and the ignorance of the Indians that the men of the Plantations were banished and unsupported, they enjoyed tolerable quiet until 1643. The enmity of Massachusetts and her greed of territory, made her government reckless of any means which might be employed against the feeble colony on Narragansett Bay, and had well nigh brought it to a premature end. Zeal for sound doctrine kept equal pace with a hankering after the property of others. Winthrop says candidly, "the place,” (Warwick), “was likely to be of use to us," "for an outlet into the Narragansett Bay.” It was intolerable that any stranger on their borders should possess a tract which would be valuable to the magistrates. The elders were equally scandalised that it should be in the hands of one who interpreted the Scriptures in a sense different from their own. It was therefore determined in Boston, with admirable logic, to bring Gorton to trial, for misunderstanding the prophecies, and to seize upon his property as a preliminary proceeding. The invasion of Warwick, the arrest of Gorton, and the spoiling of his goods were disastrous in ways other than those which had been foreseen. The prisoners were carried by Boston officers, through the “Towne Streete” of Providence, with every circumstance of insult to its jurisdiction. Worse than this, the Indians now saw the facts as they really were. The inferior Sachems and the baser class among their subjects had been appalled at the murder of Miantonomo. They stood in awe of the power which had struck down the great Sachem of the Narragansetts, and they made haste to court its protection. The blow was, (on a second thought), a fortunate one for themselves. They knew that if they could get rid of the grant to Gorton, Massachusetts would gladly stand in his place. They knew also, who could give the best gratuities on a new purchase, and who could secure them impunity for their thefts. In 1643, Socononoco and Pomham desired to be received under the jurisdic

269, 270. (4) Narr. Club Pub., VI. 269–70.

(1) Compare page 95, ante.
(2) Savage's “Winthrop,” II. 102.
(3) Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 3d series, I. 111.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »