William Wood's Impressions of New England Indians,
1639 To enter into a serious discourse concerning
the natural conditions of these Indians might procure admiration from the
people of any civilized nations, in regard of their civility and good natures.
If a tree may be judged by his fruit, and dispositions calculated by exterior
actions, then may it be concluded that these Indians are of affable, courteous,
and well-disposed natures, ready to communicate the best of their wealth
to the mutual good of one another; . . .
If it were possible to recount the courtesies
they have showed the English since their first arrival in those parts,
it would not only steady belief that they are a loving people, but also
win the love of those that never saw them, and wipe off that needless fear
that is too deeply rooted in the conceits of many who think them envious
and of such rancorous and inhumane dispositions that they will one day
make an end of their English inmates. The worst indeed may be surmised,
but the English hitherto have had little cause to suspect them but rather
to be convinced of their trustiness, seeing they have as yet been the disclosers
of all such treacheries as have been practised by other Indians. And whereas
once there was a proffer of an universal league amongst all the Indians
in those parts, to the intent that they might all join in one united force
to extirpate the English, our Indians refused the motion, replying they
had rather be servants to the English, of whom they were confident to receive
no harm and from whom they had received so many favors and assured good
testimonies of their love, than equals with them who would cut their throats
upon the least offence and make them the shambles of their cruelty. Furthermore,
if any roving ships be upon the coasts and chance to harbor either eastward,
northward, or southward in any unusual port, they will give us certain
intelligence of her burthen and forces, describing their men either by
language or features, which is a great privilege and no small advantage.
Many ways hath their advice and endeavor been advantageous unto us, they
being our first instructors for the planting of their Indian corn, by teaching
us to cull out the finest seed, to observe the fittest season, to keep
distance for holes and fit measure for hills, to worm it and weed it, to
prune it and dress it as occasion shall require. . .
Such is the wisdom and policy of these
poor men that they will be sure to keep correspondence with our English
magistrates, expressing their love in the execution of any service they
command them (so far as lies in their power). . . .
These people be of a kind and affable
disposition, yet are they very wary with whom they strike hands in friendship.
Nothing is more hateful to them than a churlish disposition, so likewise
is dissimulation; he that speaks seldom and opportunely, being as good
as his word, is the only man they love. The Spaniard they say is all one
aramouse (viz., all one as a dog); the Frenchman hath a good tongue but
a false heart; the Englishman all one speak, all one heart, wherefore they
more approve of them than of any nation. Garrulity is much condemned of
them, for they utter not many words, speak seldom, and then with such gravity
as is pleasing to the ear. Such as understand them not desire yet to hear
their emphatical expressions and lively action. . . .
Wiilliam Wood, New England's Prospect: A True, Lively, and Experimental
Description of That Part of America, commonly called New England (London:
John Dawson, 1639).