Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER IV.

KING PHILIP'S WAR.

EARLY in the history of New England, efforts were made to win the Indians to the Christian faith. The Governor of Massachusetts appointed ministers to carry the gospel to the savages. Mr. John Eliot, the apostle of the Indians, was a minister at Roxbury. Moved by the pitiful condition of the natives, he acquired the language of some of the tribes in his neighborhood. He went and preached to them in their own tongue. He used to make a missionary tour every fortnight, and he visited all the Indians in the Massachusetts and Plymouth Colonies. His zeal led him into great dangers.

I have not been dry night or day,” he once wrote, " from the third day of the week unto the sixth ; but so travel, and at night pull off my boots, wring my stockings, and so continue.” He printed books for the Indians. Many of them listened to his sermons in tears. Many professed faith in Christ, and were gathered into congregations. He gave them a simple code of laws. It was even attempted to establish a college for training native teachers. But this had to be abandoned. The slothfulness of the Indian youth, and their devouring passion for strong liquors, unfitted most of them for the ministry. No persuasion could induce them to labor. They could be taught to rest on the Sabbath ; they could not be taught to work on the other six days. These were grave hinderances; but, in spite of them, Christianity made considerable progress among them. The hold which it then gained was never altogether lost. And it was observed that in all the

misunderstandings which arose between the English and the natives, the converts steadfastly adhered to their new friends.

A few of the Indians became preachers ; among the most noted at a later period was Samuel Occum, who visited England, composed poetry, and was called the Indian Whitefield.

Several hymns composed by Indians were used in the churches. The best known is that beginning,

“ When shall we three meet again ? "

It was composed by three Indians at the planting of a memorial pine on leaving Dartmouth College, where they had been receiving a Christian education. The stanzas which follow are particularly fine :

“ Though in distant lands we sigh,

Parched beneath a burning sky,
Though the deep between us rolls,
Friendship shall unite our souls;
And in fancy's wide domain,
There we three shall meet again.

“ When the dreams of life are fled,

When its wasted lamps are dead,
When in cold oblivion's shade
Beauty, health, and strength are laid, –
Where immortal spirits reign,
There we three shall meet again.”

These Indians, it is said, afterwards met in the same place and composed another hymn, which is as beautiful and touching. It begins :

“Parted many a toil-spent year,

Pledged in youth to memory dear,
Still to friendship's magnet true,
We our social joys renew;
Bound by love's unsevered chain,
Here on earth we meet again.”

1675.

King Philip's War.

119

But we must leave this pleasant glance at the work of Eliot and his successors, and take up the most painful events in the colonial history of New England.

The story of King Philip, and of the short, but bitter and heroic war that he waged against the colonists, is very romantic and affecting.

King Philip himself was a hero, to whom even his enemies could not refuse their respect and admiration. He was the younger son of that noble old chieftain, Massasoit, who had welcomed the Pilgrims to the soil of the New World, and had lived and died their faithful and powerful friend. Massasoit had two sons, and they were named by Governor Winslow, as we have already told you, Alexander and Philip. Alexander succeeded Massasoit, but died suddenly, on his way home from a visit to the colony of Plymouth, and the rank and authority of Massasoit passed from Alexander to Philip.

Philip was a noble-hearted Indian, full of patriotism, courage, and good sense. He was a statesman as well as a warrior, and governed his tribe, the Wampanoags, with rare judgment.

At first he was friendly to the Puritans, as his father had been before him. He often exchanged presents with them, and sent envoys to them, and was their ally in their troubles with other tribes. As he grew older, however, he began to perceive the dangers which menaced his people. Year by year the whites encroached more and more upon the Indian hunting-grounds and forests. The Indians, he saw, were constantly receding before the new-comers; they were being crowded into the narrow peninsulas and remote corners of New England, and the villages of the whites were starting up everywhere, on the spots where once the red-skins dwelt in peace.

Still, Philip faithfully observed the treaties which old Massasoit had made with the Plymouth and other colonies, and which he himself had accepted; he even received insults from the whites without resenting them; and contented himself with holding long and grave councils with his warriors, at his beautiful and picturesque seat on Mount Hope, in Rhode Island.

At last, however, an event occurred which exhausted Philip's patience, and kindled the flame of hatred and vengeance in the breasts of his Indian subjects.

It happened that one of Philip's tribe, converted by the pious and devoted missionary, Eliot, had studied at Cambridge, and was then employed as a teacher.

In consequence of some misconduct, however, he fled, and sought protection from Philip. After a while he returned again to the colony, and accused Philip of treachery towards it. It was not long before some of the Wampanoags waylaid and killed him. Three of the Indians were taken by the Puritans, charged with the murder, hastily tried, and hung.

Philip and his tribe could not bear this. At first the chief hesitated. But his scruples were soon overcome by the fierce young warriors, and so, of a sudden, the war burst forth. Several whites were killed near Swanzey; and it is said that Philip wept when he heard that the first blood had been shed. The signal was only needed to arouse most of the tribes throughout New England to rise against the white intruders. Some Indians remained on the side of the colonies, and Philip saw that the war would be a desperate one, and that the chances were greatly against him.

The English had guns and forts and sure supplies of food; Philip and his Indians were badly armed with old muskets and bows, and they must trust to luck for provisions, while they had no houses to shelter them. The war spread rapidly through New England. The two colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were prompt in meeting the defiance of the red-skins. Within a week after the first

[graphic][merged small]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »