by Father Andrew White, Society of Jesus, 1633-1634, translated from the Latin
Father White travelled to Maryland with the first colonists.
1. They Sail From Cowes
On the 22nd of November, 1633, St. Cecilia’s Day, with a southeast wind softly blowing, we sailed from Cowes, which is a port on the Isle of Wight. After we had placed the main parts of the ship under the protection of God first, and then of His Most Holy Mother, of St. Ignatius, and of all the angels of Maryland, we sailed for a short time between the two shores. When the wind was failing us, we cast anchor opposite Yarmouth Castle, which is situated toward the northwest of the same island. Here we were received with public cannon salutes; and yet fear was not absent. For the sailors were muttering among themselves that they were expecting a messenger and a letter from London, and for that reason they also seemed to be devising delays. But God destroyed their evil plans. Indeed that very night, when a favorable, but powerful wind was blowing, a French cutter (which had moored in the same port together with us) was forced to sail, and came close to running into our pinnace [i.e., the Dove]. Therefore the latter, having cut away and lost one anchor, set sail as fast as possible in order not to be crushed; and since it was a dangerous place to drift, she hurried out to sea. And so, lest we might lose sight of our pinnace, we decided to follow. In this way the plans that the sailors considered against us were foiled. This happened on the 23rd of November, the feast of St. Clement, who obtained the crown of martyrdom when he was tied to an anchor and plunged into the sea, and showed to the people of the earth how they might narrate the wonderful works of God.
2. The Needles
On that day, around the tenth morning hour, we were greeted by festive salutes from HurstCastle. After that we sailed past numerous cliffs situated at the outermost part of the Isle of Wight, which they call the Needles, after their shape. They are feared by seafarers because of the double tide of the sea, that snatches away and dashes ships against the rocks on one side and on the other against the shore, to say nothing of the other danger, however, which we overcame near YarmouthCastle. For with the wind and surf pushing us, and with our anchor not yet weighed, the ship [i.e. the Ark] was almost plunging into the sea, escaped the danger, by the grace of God, who considered us worthy of this pledge of his protection through the merits of St. Clement.
3. The Scilly Isles
That day, which fell on a Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], and during the following night, we enjoyed such favorable winds that early the next day, around the ninth hour, we left the western promontory of England and the Scilly Isles behind us, and, having turned with a gentle tack more toward the west, we traversed the mouth of the English Channel; but we did no sail as fast as we could have, so that we would not get too far ahead of the pinnace, lest she might become a prey to the Turks and pirates, who were mainly responsible for making the sea dangerous.
The it happened that a fine merchant ship of six hundred tons, by the name of Dragon, caught up with us around three o’clock in the afternoon, bound for Angola after having set out from London. And since there was time now, because we had already overcome the danger, to allow for a little pleasure, it was delightful to see these two ships competer with each other in their journey for an entire hour, to the sound of trumpets, while the sky and the wind were favorable. And our ship would have won, although we did not use the topsail, if we had not been forced to stop because of the pinnace, which was slower. Therefore we yielded to the merchant ship; before evening, however, she sailed past us and passed out of our sight.
4. Tossed in a Storm
Then on Sunday, the 24th and Monday, the 25th of November we enjoyed fair sailing until evening. At that time, however, the winds turned northerly, and such a storm arose that the London merchant ship, which I mentioned, reversed its course and returned to England and the port at Falmouth. Since our pinnace was a vessel of only forty tons, she, too, began to lose confidence in her strength and, sailing close to us, advised us, that she would indicate, with lights displayed on the masthead, fear of shipwreck. Meanwhile we were sailing in a strong ship of 300 tons [i.e. the Ark]—a better one could not be built of wood and iron. We had employed a very experience captain, who had the option of returning, if he wished, to England, or of further contending with the winds. If he should submit to them, the nearby Irish coast, infamous for its hidden rocks and very frequent shipwrecks awaited us. The bold spirit of the captain won out nonetheless, as did his desire to test how sturdy the new ship was, which he was handling for the first time. He decided to try the sea, which he admitted to be more dangerous the narrower it became.
5. The Pinnace Lost
Danger was not long away. Around the middle of the night in fact, as the winds were swelling up and the sea became rough, we saw the pinnace at a distance displaying two lights on her masthead. At the time we were certain that she was lost and that she had been swallowed up in the deep whirlpools, for she had passed out of sight in an instant, and no news of her reached us until six weeks later. Therefore everyone was convinced that the pinnace had sunk; however, God had better things in store; for the pinnace, realizing early on that she was no match for the waves, avoided St. George’s Channel, agains which we were already struggling, and returned to England and the Scilly Isles; making a fresh start from there, she followed us in the company of the Dragon to the Great Gulf and caught up with us, as we shall tell, at the Antilles, with God, who cares even for the least, looking out for her as leader and guardian.
6. The Ship Abandoned to the Waves
But since we were ignorant of this outcome, pain and fear were pressing us hard indeed. The abominable night, full of frequent terrors, increased our fear. At daybreak, though we had the southwest wind blowing against us, we were slowly advancing through many tacks, since [the wind] was rather mild. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday went by with variable winds and small progress. On Friday, when the south wind prevailed and was driving thick grey clouds together, such a tempest broke forth towards evening, that it seemed that we would be enveloped by the waves with every motion. Nor did the following day, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, promise milder weather. The clouds were collecting on all sided in a terrifying manner and, before they finally dispersed, they frightened those gazing at them and created the opinion that all the mischievous storm spirits and evil genii of Maryland had appeared in battle lines against us.
7. The Sunfish
Towards evening the captain saw a sunfish striving against the course of the sun, which is indeed a very sure sign of a storm; nor did the omen go unfulfilled. For around ten o’clock at night a dark cloud rained down a violent shower. Such an immense whirlwind had whipped up the rain that it was necessary to furl the sails as rapidly as possible; this could not be done quickly enough to prevent the mainsail, or the bigger sail, the only one with which we were sailing, from being torn from top to bottom. One of its parts was carried away into the sea and was retrieved with difficulty.
8. The Vows and Prayers of the Catholics
At this point the spirit of even the bravest, whether passenger or sailor, was alarmed, for they admitted that they had seen tall ships wrecked in a smaller tempest. But this storm kindled the prayers and vows of the Catholics in honor of the Most Blessed Virgin Mother and of her Immaculate Conception, of St. Ingnatius, the Patron Saint of Maryland, of St. Michael and of all the guardian angels of that country. And everyone was hastening to purify his soul through the Sacrament of Penance; for when we had lost control over the rudder, the vessel, abandonded to the waves and winds, soon tossed about like a quoit, until God opened a path for her safety. In the beginning, I admit, the fear of losing the ship and my life had seized me; but then I devoted some time to prayer—less tepid than my usual manner—and proposed to the Lord Christ, the Most Blessed Virgin, to St. Ignatius, and to the angels of Maryland that the purpose of this voyage was to honor the blood of our Redeemer through the salvation of the savages, to erect a kingdom for the Savior (if he considered our feeble efforts worthy of assistance), to consecrate another gift to the Immaculate Virgin Mother, and many similar things. After this, a great consolation shone inside my soul, and at the same time such a firm conviction arose that we were to be rescued not only from this, but from every other storm on this voyage, that there was no room for doubt with me. I had given myself to prayer when the sea raged mose severely, and (may this be to the glory of God alone) I had barely finished, when I perceived that the storm subsided. This, of course, provided me with a new disposition of spirit and at the same time filled me with enormous joy and wonder, since I felt even more deeply that the will of God was well disposed towards the peoples of Maryland (to whom Your Reverence has sent us). Let the most gentle goodness of our Redeemer be praised in eternity. Amen.
9. Reassured of Safety
And so, after the sea had then ceased to rage, the remaining three months’ voyage was so very calm, that the captain with his crew asserted that they had never seen a more pleasant or calmer voyage; for we did not suffer an inconvenience of even one hour. But when I speak about three months, I am not saying that we were at sea for so long, but I am counting the whole journey and the stopovers, which we spend on the Antilles; for the voyage itself lasted only seven weeks and two days, and this is considered a quick passage.
10. Fears of the Turks
From that time on, therefore, while we were sailing along the coast of Spain, we had neither adverse nor completely favorable wind. Although continuously fearing the [attacks of the] Turks, we came across none of them; perhaps they had withdrawn to celebrate their yearly period of fast, which they actually call sawm, for it was taking place at that time of the year. However, when we had sailed past the Straits of Gibraltar and the Madeira Islands, and the winds were filling the sails from the stern (they were not variable any more but stayed fixed towards the south and southwest, which was our course), three ships appeared, one of which surpassed ours in size. They seemed to be about three leagues away towards west and were trying to approach us; and now and then they even seemed to sent messengers back and forth to each other and to exchange information. Since we suspected them to be Turkish pirates, we were getting ready all things needed for battle. There were even some among us who urged the captain rather unwisely to provoke and attack them gratuitously; but since he had a master to whom he had to render account, he doubted that he could give a plausible reason for battle. Indeed, I believe that he would have ad a difficult confrontation, although they were perhaps as much afraid of us as we were of them. As far as I can infer they were merchants who were making towards the Canary Islands, scattered not far from there, and could not, or did not want to catch up with us.
11. The Great Gulf
Having sailed from this place to the Canary Islands, we were taken up by the great gulf, where there is nothing to be feared unless those on a voyage are running out of provisions because of windless periods at sea, since they sometimes last fifteen days [or even] three weeks. But this happens rarely and barely once or twice in a century; nonetheless, one frequently has to deal with delays because the wind is failing; when it blows, though, it is always constant, and favorable for our voyage. In this gulf we traveled three thousand Italian miles, traversing the billowing sea under full sails, with no calm holding us up, except occasionally for an hour around noon.
12. Why These Fixed Winds and Rains?
I do not easily find the cause of such a constant wind, except to say that perhaps it arises from the sun’s being so near when it passes between the two tropics and with its own force draws two kinds of vapors, one dry from the saltiness of the sea, the other moist by reason of the water: from the former the wind is created, from the latter the rains are produced. The sun, therefore, drawing both of them, is the reason they always keep the same oblique course and constantly follow the sun. And this could also be the reason we experienced intense heat together with abundant rain between the two tropics, constantly in the morning, at noon, and in the evening—or at least [we had] rather violent winds during those hours. Hence the reason can also be deduced why at that time the sea was free from windless periods, for when the sun appears in the tropic of Capricorn beyond the celestial equator, and swerves to the outermost southern part of the same equator (as it happened when we had been situated between the 13th and 17th degrees, and when in the winter months the heat there is as great as in the summer months in Europe), it obliquely attracts the wind and the rain to the celestial equator; and for that reason the winds are more certain in those months, especially in this gulf and towards the Tropic of Cancer. The windless periods are rather frequent, however, when the sun passes over the equator in the summertime to us and draws salty and watery vapors not at an oblique, but nearly at a right angle.
13. Sickness from Drinking Wine
Here, however I cannot enough extol the diving goodness, which causes all things to work together for the best for those who love God. For if it had been possible, without the interjected delay, to sail at the time which we had settled upon, namely on the twentieth of August, when the sun on this side of the equator was beating down on the crown of the head, the extreme heat would not only have spoiled the provisions, but would also have brought sickness and death to nearly all of us. The delay was our salvation, for having embarked in the winter time, we avoided misfortunes of this kind; and, if one should except the usual seasickness of seafarers, no one was attacked by disease until the feast of the Nativity of the Lord. Wine was consumed in order that this day might be better celebrated, and those who enjoyed it too intemperately were seized by fever the following day; they were thirty in number, and from those about twelve died not very much later, including two Catholics, Nicholas Fairfax and James Barefoot, [which] left with everyone great grief over their loss.
14. Flying Fish. Tropical Birds
While we were sailing, many curious things were happening: especially fish about as big as sparling fish, or smelt, that at times were passing through the sea, at times on wings high through the air, and are said to have a very pleasant taste. A hundred together rise in crowds into the air, when they flee from pursuing dolphins. Some of them fell into our ship, when the oars of the of their wings failed them, for in one leap they do not fly through space of more than two or three acres; then, when their wings have dried out by beating the air, they plunge back into the water before venturing again into the sky. When we were twenty-one degrees and a few minutes away from the equator, where the tropic begins, we saw birds hovering in the air, which they call “tropical” birds after the location. They equal a falcon in size and are striking because of two very long, white feathers in their tail; it is uncertain whether they remain constantly in the air, or whether they sometimes rest themselves on the water. The remaining things I omit as being known already through the letters of others.
15. Bonavista Abounds in Salt and Goats
When we had sailed past the Canary Islands, Lord Leonard Calvert, the commander of the fleet, began to consider which goods should be loaded on the ship for her return, and where they were to be had, so that through this he might take are of the expenses of his brother, Baron Baltimore; for the whole burden fell to him as the initiator of the entire voyage. We were expecting no advantage from our countrymen in Virginia, for they are hostile to this new settlement. Therefore we were heading towards St. Christopher; fearing, after some deliberation, that in this late season of the year others might have come before us, we turned the ship southward to reach Bonavista; this island is situated opposite of Angola on the African coast, 14 degrees from the equator and is a post of the Dutch; they collect salt there which they then either transfer home or use in Greenland to preserve fish. The abundance of slat and also of goats, which the island is prolific, tempted us; for otherwise it does no have any inhabitants. Only a few Portuguese, banished into exile because of their crimes, drag out their lives there as well as they can. We had barely covered two hundred miles, when at someone’s suggestion our plans were changed again, and so that we might not run out of provisions by traveling in such a roundabout way, we turned towards Barbados.
16. Barbados. Supplies Dear
This is the lowest of the Caribbean or AntillesIsland only 13 degrees distant from the equator, and the granary of the other islands (which stretch in the manner of an arch in a long line up to the Gulf of Mexico). As we reached it on the third of January, we came expecting many articles of trade from the English inhabitants and the governor, a brother [of one of the participants in the expedition]; but they had conspired against us and resolved to sell a bushel of wheat, which normally sold on the island for half a Belgian florin, for five times the amount, i.e., for two florins and a half. They were offering a suckling pig at fifty florins, a turkey for twenty-five, and other smaller fowl of that kind for three florins; they did not have any beef or mutton; for they live on corn-bread and potatoes, and this type of root grows in such abundance that it is possible to carry off entire carts for free.
17. Divine Providence
The consideration of Divine Providence mitigated the harsh severity of men, for we learned that a Spanish fleet stood at the island of Bonavista in order to keep all foreigners from the salt trade. If we had further hastened on the route decided upon earlier, we would have fallen as prey into the trap. However, we were rescued from a greater danger at Barbados. The slaves throughout the island had conspired to kill their masters; then, after freeing themselves, they had evidently decided to get possession of the first ship which landed and to take to the sea. The conspiracy had been revealed by someone frightened by the fierceness of the deed, and the punishment of one of the ringleaders restored security to the island, and safety to us; for our ship, as the one which first was laid to the shore, had been determined as prey, and on the very day we landed we found eight hundred men in arms with the purpose of opposing this most recent crime.
18. Intense Heat. Hammocks. Cotton
It is pleasing to describe some wonderful things which this island brings forth. The island is thirty miles long and fifteen miles wide, is thirteen degrees away from the equator, and has such high temperatures that the inhabitants are dressed in linen clothes during the winter months and immerse themselves rather frequently in the waters. When we arrived, it was the time of harvest. Habitation would be impossible, unless frequent winds tempered the heat. Their beds are blankets of cloth, skillfully woven out of cotton. When it is time to rest they sleep in this cloth, after it has been hung by ropes from poles on each side. At daytime, on the other hand, they carry it off wherever it pleases them. The chief articles of trade are grain and cotton. It is pleasant to see the manner and abundance of cotton hanging from the tree. The tree from which it grows is not taller than Oxycanthus (which the people call barberry), although it is more like a tree than a shrub. It bears a walnut-sized pod, which is rather pointed in shape, divided into four parts, and gives forth cotton whiter tan snow and softer than a feather, rolled up in the shape of a nut. Six small seeds similar to vetch rest upon the cotton; when it has been collected and separated from the seed by means of a kind of wheel, they store it in sacks and preserve it.
19. A Huge Cabbage
Particularly admirable is a type of cabbage, which, although it has a stalk growing to the height of one hundred and eight feet, is eaten either raw or boiled. The stalk itself down to one foot under the fruit is considered a delicacy. Eaten raw, with pepper added, it surpasses the artichoke in taste, and is closer to a peeled walnut. The huge stalk easily equals the trunk of a big tree, yet it is no tree nonetheless, but a leguminous plant, and bears no more than one cabbage. In the same place one can also see a sufficiently tall tree which they call the soap tree. The seeds do not exceed a hazelnut in size; their covering is oily; it cleans and cleanses like soap, although, as they say, it is detrimental to more delicate linen. I have carried off many of these kernels with me to Maryland and planted in the earth the seeds of future trees.
20. The Palm of Christ. Guava. Papaw. Pineapple
They also count the Palm of Christ among their trees, although it has a trunk that is porous seeds, armed with thorns and sprinkled with dark spots. From these and excellent oil is pressed. Oranges, lemons, pomegranates, even nuts which the Spanish call “coconuts,” and the remaining fruits of the hot regions come up abundantly.
There is also a fruit which is called guava, of golden color and in the shape of a rather small lemon; in taste, however it resembles the quince. The papaw is not unlike it in color and shape, but since it is very sweet, it is only used to give taste to foods.
The pineapple, however, surpasses all other fruits that I have tasted elsewhere in the world. It is of golden color mixed with a most pleasant green and equals three or four European nuts of the same name in size. It is not completely unlike them in shape, but more elaborate, not with so many separate cells and divisions, which reveal the kernel when applied to fire, but soft and enveloped by a thin skin. Most delightful in taste, it does not have a rough seed, but pleases the palate equally from the top downwards; nor does it lack the crown which it deserves’ for without a doubt it can be called the queen of wine and sugar. It contributes very much to preserving one’s health, and agrees to well with the constitution of the body that, though it corrodes iron, it nonetheless strengthens man more than anything else; you will not find it on a high tree, but one fruit growing out of one root like an artichoke. I wished I could send one fruit into the hands of Your Paternity with this letter, for nothing besides the fruit itself can describe it according to its merit.
21. Santa Lucia. Martinique. Antilles or Carib Islands
On the twenty-forth day of January, at night, we weighed anchor and, having passed Santa Lucia at our left around noon of the following day, we reached Martinique towards evening. Here two boats of naked men were offering melons, gourds, fruits of the plane tree, and parrots for barter, from afar though, since they were afraid of the size of our ship. They are a savage people, tall, plump, shining with dark red paint, ignorant of divinity; they practice cannibalism and had consumed several interpreters of the English a while ago. They inhabit an especially fertile region, but one which is all forest and has no accessible plain. After we had displayed a white flag at the stern as a sign of peace, we invited those who were showing themselves from afar to trade; but having turned away from our sign, they demanded that we show them the usual colors [indicating our nationality]. When we had shown them, and they understood who we were, they took courage and came closer, but, having accepted only a few bells and little knives, and because they did not much trust the very powerful ship, they approached the pinnace and promised that they would bring better goods on the next day, if we decided to stay. Some day, I hope, someone will have compassion for this forsaken people. With the sailors a rumor spread (originating from some shipwrecked Frenchmen) that an animal can be found on this island on whose forehead sits a tone of uncommon splendor, similar to a glowing coal, or a burning candle. To this animal they gave the name “Carbuncle.” Let the originator be responsible for the proof of this matter.
22. Guadalupe. Monserrat. Nevis. St. Christopher
When the next day was dawning, we reached another Caribbean island, which is named after Guadaloupe in Spain because of the similarity created by its rough mountains, and is, as I am assured, also under the protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mother. From there we reached Montserrat around noon, where we learned from a French cutter that we were not yet safe from the fleet of the Spanish. Montserrat has Irish inhabitants who had been driven out of Virginia by the English because of the profession of their Catholic Faith. Then we came to Nevis, which is infamous because of its unhealthy air and fevers. After we had spend one day there, we set sail to St. Christopher, where we stayed for ten days, since we were invited in a friendly manner by the English governor and two Catholic captains. The governor of the French colony on the same island received me with especial generosity.
23. A Sulphur Mountain. The Virgin Plant. The Locust Tree and Fruit.
Whatever rare things are seen at Barbados, I have also found here; and besides [those], not far from the residence of the governor, a sulphur mountain and something one may wonder at even more, the virgin plant, so called because at the smallest touch of a finger it begins to droop immediately and collapses, and yet, when it has had time to recover, it revives and stands up again. The locust tree pleased me especially, which is supposed to have offered nourishment to St. John the Baptist; it equals an elm tree in height, and is so pleasant to the bees that they most willingly entwine their honeycombs within it. The honey, if you took away the label “wild,” differs neither in color nor flavor from the purest I have tasted. The fruit, which is also called “locust,” contains supple but firm flesh inside the harder rind, equal to six pods of beans, and is in taste similar to meal mixed with honey; it bears four or five rather large, chestnut-colored seeds. I have carried off several of them to be planted [in Maryland].
24. Cape Comfort in Virginia
And so when we finally sailed from here, we reached the cape, that they call CapeComfort, in Virginia on the 27th of February, filled with fear that the English inhabitants, to whom our settlement was completely unwelcome, might contrive some evil against us. However, the letter which we were carrying from the King and the supreme treasurer to the governor of those regions was very effective in appeasing their minds, and enabled us to obtain things that would be useful to us in the future. For the governor of Virginia was hoping that through this kindness toward us, he would more easily recover from the royal treasury a great sum of money which was due to him. They only announced to us that a rumor had been spread that six ships were approaching, in order to bring everything under the power of the Spanish, and that the natives were in arms because of this-which indeed we found to be true afterwards. The rumor, however, had originated with the English, I am afraid.
25. Chesapeake Bay. Potomac, or St. Gregory’s River. Cape St. Michael
After eight or nine days of generous treatment we wet sail on the third of March and, having traveled into Chesapeake Bay, we turned our course to the north, in order to reach the Potomac River. Chesapeake Bay flows gently between the shores; it is ten leagues wide, four, five, six and seven fathoms deep, and teeming with fish, when it is the right time of the year. You will hardly find a more pleasant, evenly flowing river. Nonetheless, it yields to the Potomac River, which we named after St. Gregory.
Since we had already reached the desired region, we distributed names according to the circumstances. And in fact we dedicated the promontory, which is located towards the south, to the honor of St. Gregory, the northern one to St. Michael, naming it so in honor of all the angels of Maryland. I have never seen a greater and more delightful river; compared to it the Thames seems a mere rivulet. It is not tainted by swamps, but on both sides wonderful forests of fine trees rise up on solid ground, not made inaccessible by thornhedges and underbrush, but just as if planted spaciously by hand so that one could easily drive a chariot drawn by four horses between the trees.
26. The Fear and Wonder of the Natives. The Heron Islands. Linen Lost
At the mouth of the river itself we perceived armed natives. That night fires were burining in the entire region, and, since such a big ship had never been seen by them, messengers sent from this side and from that were reporting that a canoe similar to an island had come near, and that it held as many men as there are trees in the woods. We, however, continued to the HeronIslands, so called from the unheard of throngs of this kind of bird. The first one [island] in our way we named after St. Clement; the second after St. Catherine; the third after St. Cecilia. We first left the ship at St. Clement’s Island, to which no access lay open except through a shallow because of the sloping shore. Here the maids, who had left the ship to wash the laundry, almost drowned, when the skiff turned over, and a great part of my linen clothes were lost, no small loss in these parts.
This island abounds in cedar, sassafras, herbs and flowers to make all kinds of salads, also in a wild nut tree which bears a very hard nut, with a thick shell and a small but wonderfully tasty kernel. However, since it is only four hundred acres wide, it did not seem spacious enough as a location for the new settlement. Nonetheless, a place was sought to build a fort to prevent strangers from trafficking on the river and to guard the territory, for this was the shortest way across the river.
27. The First Mass. A Cross Erected
On the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary we celebrated mass for the first time in this island: this had never been done before in this region of the world. When mass was over, we took an enormous cross, which we had hewn out of a tree, on out shoulders, proceeded in rank to a designated place and, with the help of the governor, his associates, and the remaining Catholics, erected a monument to Christ, our Savior, while we humbly recited the Litany of the Holy Cross on bended knee, with much emotion.
28. Interview with the Chieftain of Potomac and the Paramount Chief [at Piscataway].
When the governor had understood, however, that several rulers were subject to the emperor of Piscataway, he decided to approach him, so that, when he had explained the cause of our voyage and won over his good will, we might have easier access to the minds of the others. Therefore he joined another ship, which he might had procured in Virginia, to our our pinnace [the Dove], left the ship [the Ark] anchored at St. Clement’s, and having turned around his course, when ashore on the southern part of the river. When he learned that the savages had fled inland, he advanced to the city, which, having taken its name form the river, is also called Potomac. Since the king was still a boy, his uncle, a dignified and prudent man by the name of Archihu, was his guardian and ruled in his place. He gladly lent his ear to our Father Altham, who had been added as a companion to the governor (who was, indeed, still keeping me back with the cargo) and explained through an interpreter some things about the errors of the pagans, while Archihu acknowledged his own repeatedly. When he had been fully informed that we had not landed there to make war but on account of good will, so that we might instruct a rough people with civilized precepts and open them the path to heaven, he indicated that we were welcome. The interpreter was one of the Protestants of Virginia. And so, since Father, could not discuss more at the time, he promised that he would return not much later. “This is just what I want,” said Archihu, “we will share one table, my followers will also go hunting for you, and all things will be in common between us.”
From there they went to Piscataway, where all had come together in arms. About five hundred men armed with bows had taken a stand with the paramount chief. After signs of peace had been given, the chieftain, having laid aside his fear, came on board the pinnace, and when he had heard of our kind intentions toward this people, he gave us permission to settle in whichever part of his territory we wished.
In the meantime, while the governor was on his trip to the chieftain, the savages at St. Clement’s had become bolder and too familiar with our guards. For we were keeping watch night and day, to protect at one time our woodcutters against sudden attacks, at another the boat which we were building, since it had been brought here with its boards and ribs disassembled. It was a pleasure to hear them wonder about each item: especially where in the world such a big tree had grown, that such a huge mass of a ship was hewn from it; for they believed that it had been cut out of the trunk of one tree, just like an Indian canoe. The larger cannons were holding them in astonishment: certainly they were more resounding that their hissing bows, and equal to thunder.
29. St. Mary’s City. St. George’s River. Augusta Carolina
The governor on his way to the chieftain had employed as his companion Captain Henry Fleet, one of those who live in Virginia, a man especially welcome to the savages, fluent in the language, and acquainted with the region. In the beginning he was a very close friend; later on, misled by the evil plans of a certain Claiborne, he became very hostile and incited the minds of the natives against us by every means he could. In the meantime, however, while he acted as a friend among us, he pointed out to the governor such a charming place for a settlement that Europe can hardly offer a better one. Thus, when we had advanced from St. Clement’s about nine leagues, we sailed into the mouth of a river, which we had named after St. George, on the northern side [of the Potomac]. This river runs forward from south to north about twenty miles before it is absorbed by the salt water from the sea, [and in this it is] not unlike the Thames. In its mouth one can see two bays, able to hold 300 ships of huge size. One bay we dedicated to St. George, the other one, more inward, to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. The left side of the river was the seat of the king of Yaocomico. (We went up from the coast inland on the right side, and about a thousand paces removed from the shore, we gave the name of St. Mary’s to the designated city, and in order to prevent any pretext for injury or occasion for enmity, we bought thirty miles of that land from the chieftain in exchange for hatchets, axes, hoes and some amount of cloth.) This region already has the name of August Carolina.
30. The Susquehannocks
The Susquehannocks, a people used to waging war and dangerous above all to the king of Yaocomico, lays waste to every field during frequent attacks, and forces the inhabitants to seek other places of settlement out of fear of this danger. This is the reason we so quickly obtained a part of this kingdom, with God opening a path for His law and eternal light through His support. Daily several [natives] depart and leave us their houses, fields, and crops. This is indeed similar to a miracle, that the savage people, only a few days before prepared in arms [to war] against us, yielded to us easily like lambs, and handed over themselves and their belongings. This is the finer of God, and god intends some great benefit for this people. At this time a few are yet allowed to live among us now until the next year. Then, however, the area is to be left to us.
31. The Natives. Their Dress. Houses
The natives are of tall and fine stature, with naturally dark skin, which they generally make more shocking by painting it with a specially prepared red oil in order to keep away the gnats; thus they are more intent on comfort than on appearance. They also disfigure their faces with other colors, blue from the nose upwards, red downwards, or the reverse, in various and really horrible ways. And, since they lack a beard nearly to extreme old age, they paint on a beard with lines of variable color, drawn from the outermost lips to the ears. They tie their hair, which is commonly black, pulled around with a band into a knot at the left ear, and also add some ornament which is of value with them. Some wear the shape of a fish in copper on the forehead. They surround their necks with glass beads connected by a thread in the manner of a necklace, although these beads are beginning to be of little worth to them and [are] less and less useful for trade.
They are dressed for the most part in deerskins, or in a covering of similar kind, they wear an apron, otherwise they are naked. The young boys and girls wander about without any covering. With the soles of their feet, which are hard like horn, they tread prickles and thorny plants without being hurt. Their weapons are a bow and arrows, which are two cubits long and equipped with [a tip made of] and antler, or a very sharp white flintstone. They shoot these arrows with such great skill that they pierce a sparrow through the middle from a distance; and in order to practice [to achieve] skill they throw a thong of leather into the air, then they release an arrow from the bowstring and pierce the thong before it falls down. But since they use a bow that is not quite tightly strung, they cannot hit a target with it is situated very far away. By means of these weapons they live, and daily they hunt squirrels, partridges, turkeys, and other animals throughout the fields and forests. There is a vast abundance of all these animals, although we, from fear of an ambush, do not yet dare to provide food for us ourselves by hunting.
They inhabit houses built in a oval, oblong shape, and nine or ten feet high. Light is admitted into them through a window, which is one cubit long; it also serves to carry off the smoke; for they kindle a fire in the middle of the floor and sleep around the fire. Their chieftains, however, and foremost men have their own chambers and a bed with four posts driven into the earth and covered by poles placed over them. One of these cottages fell to me and my companions. We are housed sufficiently comfortably in it for the time, until more spacious buildings may be built. You may call it the first chapel of Maryland, although it is quite a bit more properly furnished than when it used to be inhabited by the Indians. With the next voyage, if God should favor our undertaking, our people will not lack the other things necessary and useful in houses.
32. Their Character. Food
The character of the people is noble and cheerful, and they understand well when a matter is proposed to them. They have excellent senses of taste and smell, and they excel even the Europeans in eyesight. They live for the most part on a mush, which they call pone, and hominy. Bother are made from corn, and they add at times fish, or whatever they have obtained by hinting and fowling. They avoid wine and warm drinks as much as possible and are not easily induced to taste them, except for those whom the English have corrupted with their vices. With regard to chastity, I declare that I have not yet perceived in a man or a woman any actions which savored of inconstancy, yet they are with us and near us every day and take pleasure in our company. They hasten toward us of their own accord with a cheerful expression and offer us what they have obtained by hunting or fishing, sometimes also cakes and boiled or roasted oysters, and this they do when they have been invited with a few words of their language, which we have so far learned through signs. They marry several wives, yet they keep conjugal faith inviolate. The appearance of the women is dignified and modest. They sustain a generous spirit toward everyone; whatever kindness you may confer on them they return. They decided nothing rashly or seized by a sudden passion, but by reason. When, therefore, anything of importance is proposed at any time, they are silent for a while and think it over; then they either briefly agree or refuse, and they are very tenacious of their resolution. Truly, if once they should be instructed in Christian precepts (and indeed nothing seems to stand in the way besides our ignorance of the language used in these parts), they will become outstanding observers of virtue and humanity. They are held by a wonderful desire for civilized intercourse and European garments, and they would already long ago have used [European] clothing, if the greed of the merchants, who exchange cloth only for beaver pelts, had not stood in the way. But not everyone can hunt beaver. Far be it from us to imitate the greed of these men.
Our ignorance of the language is the reason that it is not quite certain what they in turn thing about religion, for we do not fully trust our Protestant interpreters. These few things we have hurriedly learned: they acknowledge a God of the sky, whom they call our God; however, they do not offer him any external honor. But they try to appease by every means a certain evil spirit whom they call Ochre, so that he may not harm them. As I hear, they worship grain and fire as wonderfully beneficial to humankind. Some of our group relate that they have seen the following ceremony in the temple of the Patuxent. On the appointed day all men and women of all ages, from several districts, gathered around an enormous fire. Closest to the fire the young ones were standing, behind them those more advanced in age. Then some deer fat was thrown into the fire and with hands and voices raised to heaven they were all crying out: “taho taho.” After an interval someone brings a large bag. In this bag is a pipe and powder, which they call “porter.” The pipe is similar to the kind our countrymen use to inhale smoke, but much bigger. The bag then is carried around the fire, while the boys and girls follow and alternate in a sufficiently pleasant voice: “taho taho.” When the circle has been completed, the pipe is taken out of the bag, and the powder potre is distributed to each individual standing by. It is lighted, and everyone inhales its smoke through the pipe and blows it over the several members of his body and consecrates them. It was not possible to learn more, except that they seem to have some notion of a flood, by which the earth perished because of the crimes of mankind.
34. The Soil
We have been here only one month, and so further information must be sent by the next ship. I declare [however] that the soil seems especially fertile. Far and wide in the very dense forests we tread on strawberries, vines, sassafras, acorns, and nuts. Soft, black earth of about one foot is spread over rich, dense red clay. Very high trees are everywhere, except where a field is cultivated by a few people. An abundance of springs supplies drink. No other mammals appear besides deer, beaver, and squirrels, which compare in size to European hares. Infinite is the number of birds of various colors, such as eagles, herons, swans, geese, partridges, and ducks. On account of this one can infer that this regions does not lack the sort of things that serve the convenience and pleasure of its inhabitants.