History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
Chapter 10: "How They Sought a Place of Habitation"
This account tells what the Puritans did after they landed in Massachusetts in 1620.
Being thus arrived at Cape Cod the 11th of November, and necessity calling them
to look out a place for habitation (as well as the master's and mariner's
importunity); they having brought a large shallop with them out of England,
stowed in quarters in the ship, they now got her out and set their carpenters to
work to trim her up; but being much bruised and shattered in the ship with foul
weather, they saw she would be long in mending. Whereupon a few of them
tendered themselves to go by land and discover those nearest places, whilst the
shallop was in mending; and the rather because as they went into that harbor
there seemed to be an opening some two or three leagues off, which the master
judged to be a river. It was conceived there might be some danger in the attempt,
yet seeing them resolute, they were permitted to go, being sixteen of them well
armed under the conduct of Captain Standish, having such instructions given
them as was thought meet.
They set forth the 15 of November; and when they had marched about the space
of a mile by the seaside, they espied five or six persons with a dog coming towards
them, who were savages; but they fled from them and ran up into the woods, and
the English followed them, partly to see if they could speak with them, and partly
to discover if there might not be more of them lying in ambush. But the Indians
seeing themselves thus followed, they again forsook the woods and ran away on
the sands as hard as they could, so as they could not come near them but followed
them by the track of their feet sundry miles and saw that they had come the same
way. So, night coming on, they made their rendezvous and set out their sentinels,
and rested in quiet that night; and the next morning followed their track till they
had headed a great creek and so left the sands, and turned another way into the
woods. But they still followed them by guess, hoping to find their dwellings; but
they soon lost both them and themselves, falling into such thickets as were ready
to tear their clothes and armor in pieces; but were most distressed for want of
drink. But at length they found water and refreshed themselves, being the first
New England water they drunk of, and was now in great thirst as pleasant unto
them as wine or beer had been in foretimes.
Afterwards, they directed their course to come to the other shore, for they knew
it was a neck of land they were to cross over, and so at length got to the seaside
and marched to this supposed river, and by the way found a pond of clear, fresh
water, and shortly after a good quantity of clear ground where the Indians had
formerly set corn, and some of their graves. And proceeding further they saw new
stubble where corn had been set the same year; also they found where lately a
house had been, where some planks and a great kettle was remaining, and heaps
of sand newly paddled with their hands. Which, they digging up, found in them
divers fair Indian baskets filled with corn, and some in ears, fair and good, of
divers colors, which seemed to them a very goodly sight (having never seen any
such before). This was near the place of that supposed river they came to seek,
unto which they went and found it to open itself into two arms with a high cliff of
sand in the entrance but more like to be creeks of salt water than any fresh, for
aught they saw; and that there was good harborage for their shallop, leaving it
further to be discovered by their shallop, when she was ready. So, their time
limited them being expired, they returned to the ship lest they should be in fear of
their safety; and took with them part of the corn and buried up the rest. And so,
like the men from Eshcol 1 , carried with them of the fruits of the land and showed
their brethren; of which, and their return, they were marvelously glad and their
And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this
poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next year, or else they
might have starved, for they had none nor any likelihood to get any till the season
had been past, as the sequel did manifest. Neither is it likely they had had this, if
the first voyage had not been made, for the ground was now all covered with
snow and hard frozen; but the Lord is never wanting unto His in their greatest
needs; let His holy name have all the praise. . . .
1. Eshcol is a valley from the book of Numbers in the Bible where spies took grapes for the Israelites.
Bradford, William. "Chapter 10: How They Sought a Place of Habitation." History of Plymouth Plantation. 1650. Internet History Sourcebooks. Fordham University, July 1998. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.
As it is used in line 5, how does the phrase “bruised and shattered” best help shape the meaning of this passage?