Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. III: Colonial Literature, 16071764
The Valiant Expedition of Captain Shrimp, Otherwise Miles Standish
By Thomas Morton (15751646)
[From New English Canaan. 1632.]
THE SEPARATISTS envying the prosperity and hope of the plantation at Ma-re Mount (which they perceived began to come forward, and to be in a good way for gain in the beaver trade), conspired together against mine host especially, (who was the owner of that plantation) and made up a party against him; and mustered up what aid they could; accounting of him as of a great monster.
Many threatening speeches were given out both against his person, and his habitation, which they divulged should be consumed with fire. And taking advantage of the time when his company (which seemed little to regard their threats) were gone up into the inlands, to trade with the savages for beaver, they set upon my honest host at a place, called Wessaguscus, where (by accident) they found him. The inhabitants there were in good hope of the subversion of the plantation at Ma-re Mount, which they principally aimed at, and the rather, because mine host was a man that endeavored to advance the dignity of the Church of England; which they, on the contrary part, would labor to vilify with uncivil terms, inveighing against the sacred book of common prayer, and mine host that used it in a laudable manner amongst his family, as a practice of piety.
There he would be a means to bring sacks to their mill, such is the thirst after beaver, and helped the conspirators to surprise mine host (who was there all alone) and they charged him (because they would seem to have some reasonable cause against him to set a gloss upon their malice) with criminal things, which indeed had been done by such a person, but was of their conspiracy. Mine host demanded of the conspirators who it was, that was author of that information, that seemed to be their ground for what they now intended. And because they answered, they would not tell him, he as peremptorily replied, that he would not say, whether he had or he had not done as they had been informed.
The answer made no matter (as it seemed) whether it had been negatively, or affirmatively made, for they had resolved what he should suffer, because (as they boasted,) they were now become the greater number: they had shaken off their shackles of servitude, and were become masters, and masterless people.
It appears, they were like bears whelps in former time, when mine hosts plantation was of as much strength as theirs, but now (theirs being stronger,) they (like overgrown bears) seemed monstrous. In brief, mine host must endure to be their prisoner until they could contrive it so, that they might send him for England, (as they said,) there to suffer according to the merit of the fact, which they intended to father upon him; supposing belike it would prove a heinous crime.
The conspirators sported themselves at my honest host, that meant them no hurt; and were so jocund that they feasted their bodies, and fell to tippling, as if they had obtained a great prize; like the Trojans when they had the custody of Hippeus pine-tree horse.
Mine host feigned grief, and could not be persuaded either to eat or drink, because he knew emptiness would be a means to make him as watchful as the geese kept in the Roman capital: where, on the contrary part, the conspirators would be so drowsy, that he might have an opportunity to give them a slip, instead of a tester. Six persons of the conspiracy were set to watch him at Wessaguscus. But he kept waking; and in the dead of night (one lying on the bed, for further surety,) up gets mine host and got to the second door that he was to pass, which (notwithstanding the lock) he got open: and shut it after him with such violence, that it affrighted some of the conspirators.
The word, which was given with an alarm, was, Oh, he s gone, he s gone! What shall we do? He s gone! The rest (half asleep) start up in a maze, and like rams, ran their heads one at another full butt in the dark.
The rest were eager to have torn their hair from their heads, but it was so short that it would give them no hold. Now Captain Shrimp thought in the loss of this prize (which he accounted his masterpiece,) all his honor would he lost forever.
In the meantime mine host was got home to Ma-re Mount through the woods, eight miles, round about the head of the river Monatoquit, that parted the two plantations, finding his way by the help of the lightning (for it thundered as he went terribly). And there he prepared powder three pounds dried, for his present employment, and four good guns for him, and the two assistants left at his house, with bullets of several sizes, three hundred or thereabouts, to be used if the conspirators should pursue him thither; and these two persons promised their aids in the quarrel, and confirmed that promise with a health in good rosa solis.
Now Captain Shrimp, the first captain in the land, (as he supposed,) must do some new act to repair this loss, and to vindicate his reputation, who had sustained blemish, by this oversight. Begins now to study how to repair or survive his honor in this manner; calling of counsel: they conclude.
He takes eight persons more to him, and (like the nine worthies of New Canaan) they embark with preparation against Ma-re Mount, where this monster of a man (as their phrase was) had his den; the whole number, had the rest not been from home, being but seven, would have given Captain Shrimp, a quondam dummer, such a welcome, as would have made him wish for a drum as big as Diogenes tub, that he might have crept into it out of sight.
The nine worthies coming before the den of this supposed monster, (this seven-headed hydra, as they termed him) and began, like Don Quixote against the windmill, to beat a parley, and to offer quarter if mine host would yield, for they resolved to send him for England, and bade him lay by his arms.
But he (who was the son of a soldier), having taken up arms in his just defence, replied that he would not lay by those arms, because they were so needful at sea, if he should be sent over. Yet to save the effusion of so much worthy blood, as would have issued out of the veins of these nine worthies of New Canaan, if mine host should have played upon them out of his port-holes (for they came within danger like a flock of wild geese, as if they had been tailed one to another, as colts to be sold at a fair) mine host was content to yield upon a quarter; and did capitulate with them: in what manner it should be for more certainty, because he knew what Captain Shrimp was.
He expressed that no violence should be offered to his person, none to his goods, nor any of his household: but that he should have his arms, and what else was requisite for the voyage, (which their herald returns,) it was agreed upon, and should be performed.
But mine host no sooner had set open the door and issued out but instantly Captain Shrimp and the rest of the worthies stepped to him, laid hold of his arms and had him down; and so eagerly was every man bent against him (not regarding any agreement made with such a carnal man,) that they fell upon him as if they would have eaten him. Some of them were so violent, that they would have a slice with scabbard and all for haste, until an old soldier (of the Queens, as the proverb is) that was there by accident, clapped his gun under the weapons, and sharply rebuked these worthies for their unworthy practices. So the matter was taken into more deliberate consideration.
This they knew (in the eye of the savages) would add to their glory; and diminish the reputation of mine honest host, whom they practised to be rid of, upon any terms, as willingly as if he had been the very hydra of the time.