New-Englands Crisis - Poem by Benjamin Tompson
IN seventy five the Critick of our years
Commenc'd our war with Phillip and his peers.
Whither the sun in Leo had inspir'd
A feav'rish heat, and Pagan spirits fir'd?
Whither some Romish Agent hatcht the plot?
Or whither they themselves? appeareth not.
Whither our infant thrivings did invite?
Or whither to our lands pretended right?
Is hard to say; but Indian spirits need
No grounds but lust to make a Christian bleed.
And here methinks I see this greazy Lout
With all his pagan slaves coil'd round about,
Assuming all the majesty his throne
Of rotten stump, or of the rugged stone
Could yield; casting some bacon-rine-like looks,
Enough to fright a Student from his books,
Thus treat his peers, and next to them his Commons,
Kennel'd together all without a summons.
"My friends, our Fathers were not half so wise
As we our selves who see with younger eyes.
They sel our land to english man who teach
Our nation all so fast to pray and preach:
Of all our countrey they enjoy the best,
And quickly they intend to have the rest.
This no wunnegin, so big matchit law,
Which our old fathers fathers never saw.
These english make and we must keep them too,
Which is too hard for them or us to doe,
We drink we so big whipt, but english they
Go sneep, no more, or else a little pay.
Me meddle Squaw me hang'd, our fathers kept
What Squaws they would whither they wakt or slept.
Now if you'le fight Ile get you english coats,
And wine to drink out of their Captains throats.
The richest merchants houses shall be ours,
Wee'l ly no more on matts or dwell in bowers
Wee'l have their silken wives take they our Squaws,
They shall be whipt by virtue of our laws.
If ere we strike tis now before they swell
To greater swarmes then we know how to quell.
This my resolve, let neighbouring Sachems know,
And every one that hath club, gun or bow."
This was assented to, and for a close
He strokt his smutty beard and curst his foes.
This counsel lightning like their tribes invade,
And something like a muster's quickly made,
A ragged regiment, a naked swarm,
Whome hopes of booty doth with courage arm,
Set forthwith bloody hearts, the first they meet
Of men or beasts they butcher at their feet.
They round our skirts, they pare, they fleece they kil,
And to our bordering towns do what they will.
Poor Hovills (better far then Caesars court
In the experience of the meaner sort)
Receive from them their doom next execution,
By flames reduc'd to horror and confusion:
Here might be seen the smoking funeral piles
Of wildred towns pitcht distant many miles.
Here might be seen the infant from the breast
Snatcht by a pagan hand to lasting rest:
The mother Rachel-like shrieks out my child
She wrings her hands and raves as she were wild.
The bruitish wolves suppress her anxious moan
By crueltyes more deadly of her own.
Will she or nill the chastest turtle must
Tast of the pangs of their unbridled lust.
From farmes to farmes, from towns to towns they post,
They strip, they bind, they ravish, flea and roast.
The beasts which wont their masters crib to know,
Over the ashes of their shelters low.
What the inexorable flames doe spare
More cruel Heathen lug away for fare.
These tidings ebbing from the outward parts
Makes trades-men cast aside their wonted Arts
And study armes: the craving merchants plot
Not to augment but keep what they have got.
And every soul which hath but common sence
Thinks it the time to make a just defence.
Alarums every where resound in streets,
From West sad tidings with the Eastern meets.
Our common fathers in their Councels close
A martial treaty with the pagan foes,
All answers center here that fire and sword
Must make their Sachem universal Lord.
This armes the english with a resolution
To give the vaporing Scab a retribution.
Heav'ns they consult by prayer, the best design
A furious foe to quel or undermine.
RESOLV'D that from the Massachusets bands
Be prest on service some Herculean hands
And certainly he wel deserv'd a jerke
That slipt the Collar from so good a work.
Some Volunteers, some by compulsion goe
To range the hideous forrest for a foe.
The tender Mother now's all bowels grown,
Clings to her son as if they'd melt in one.
Wives claspe about their husbands as the vine
Huggs the fair elm, while tears burst out like wine.
The new-sprung love in many a virgin heart
Swels to a mountain when the lovers part.
Nephews and kindred turn all springs of tears,
Their hearts are so surpriz'd with panick fears.
But dolefull shrieks of captives summon forth
Our walking castles, men of noted worth,
Made all of life, each Captain was a Mars,
His name too strong to stand on waterish verse:
Due praise I leave to some poetick hand
Whose pen and witts are better at command.
Methinks I see the Trojan-horse burst ope,
And such rush forth as might with giants cope:
These first the natives treachery felt, too fierce
For any but eye-witness to rehearse.
Yet sundry times in places where they came
Upon the Indian skins they carv'd their name.
The trees stood Centinels and bullets flew
From every bush (a shelter for their crew)
Hence came our wounds and deaths from every side
While skulking enemies squat undiscri'd,
That every stump shot like a musketeer,
And bowes with arrows every tree did bear
The swamps were Courts of Guard, thither retir'd
The stragling blew-coats when their guns were fir'd,
In dark Meanders, and these winding groves,
Where Beares and panthers with their Monarch moves
These far more cruel slily hidden lay,
Expecting english men to move that way.
One party lets them slip, the other greets
Them with the next thing to their winding-sheets;
Most fall, the rest thus startled back return,
And from their by past foes receive an urn.
Here fel a Captain, to be nam'd with tears,
Who for his Courage left not many peers,
With many more who scarce a number left
To tell how treacherously they were bereft.
This flusht the pagan courage, now they think
The victory theirs, not lacking meat or drink.
The ranging wolves find here and there a prey,
And having fil'd their paunch they run away
By their Hosts light, the thanks which they return
Is to lead Captives and their taverns burn.
Many whose thrift had stor'd for after use
Sustain their wicked plunder and abuse.
Poor people spying an unwonted light,
Fearing a Martyrdom, in sudden fright
Leap to the door to fly, but all in vain,
They are surrounded with a pagan train;
Their first salute is death, which if they shun
Some are condemn'd the Gauntelet to run;
Death would a mercy prove to such as those
Who feel the rigour of such hellish foes.
Posts daily on their Pegasean Steeds
Bring sad reports of worse then Nero's deeds,
Such bruitish Murthers as would paper stain
Not to be heard in a Domitians Reign.
The field which nature hid is common laid,
And Mothers bodies ript for lack of aid.
The secret Cabinets which nature meant
To hide her master piece is open rent,
The half formd Infant there receives a death
Before it sees the light or draws its breath,
Many hot welcomes from the natives arms
Hid in their sculking holes many alarms
Our brethren had, and weary weary trants,
Sometimes in melting heats and pinching wants:
Sometimes the clouds with sympathizing tears
Ready to burst discharg'd about their ears:
Sometimes on craggy hills, anon in bogs
And miery swamps better befitting hogs,
And after tedious Marches little boast
Is to be heard of stewd or bakt or roast,
Their beds are hurdles, open house they keep
Through shady boughs the stars upon them peep,
Their chrystal drink drawn from the mothers breast
Disposes not to mirth but sleep and rest.
Thus many dayes and weeks, some months run out
To find and quell the vagabonding rout,
Who like inchanted Castles fair appear,
But all is vanisht if you come but near,
Just so we might the Pagan Archers track
With towns and merchandize upon their back;
And thousands in the South who settled down
To all the points and winds are quickly blown.
At many meetings of their fleeting crew,
From whom like haile arrows and bullets flew:
The English courage with whole swarms dispute,
Hundreds they hack in pieces in pursuit.
Sed haud impunè, English sides do feel
As well as tawny skins the lead and steel
And some such gallant Sparks by bullets fell,
As might have curst the powder back to Hell:
Had only Swords these skirmishes decided
All Pagan Sculls had been long since divided.
The lingring war out-lives the Summer sun,
Who hence departs hoping it might be done,
Ere his return at Spring but ah hee'l find
The Sword still drawn, men of unchanged mind.
Cold winter now nibbles at hands and toes
And shrewdly pinches both our friends and foes.
Fierce Boreas whips the Pagan tribe together
Advising them to fit for foes and weather:
The axe which late had tasted Christian bloud
Now sets its steely teeth to feast on wood.
The forests suffer now, by waight constrein'd
To kiss the earth with souldiers lately brain'd.
The lofty oakes and ash doe wagge the head
To see so many of their neighbours dead;
Their fallen carcasses are caried thence
To stand our enemies in their defence.
Their Myrmidons inclos'd with clefts of trees
Are busie like the ants or nimble bees:
And first they limber poles fix in the ground,
In figure of the heavens convex: all round
They draw their arras-matts and skins of beasts,
And under these the Elves do make their nests.
Rome took more time to grow then twice six hours,
But half that time will serve for indian bowers.
A Citty shall be rear'd in one dayes space
As shall an hundred english men out-face.
Canonicus precincts there swarmes unite,
Rather to keep a winter guard then fight.
A dern and dismal swamp some Scout had found
Whose bosome was a spot of rising ground
Hedg'd up with mighty oakes, maples and ashes,
Nurst up with springs, quick boggs and miery plashes,
A place which nature coyn'd on very nonce
For tygers not for men to be a sconce.
Twas here these Monsters shapt and fac'd like men
Took up there Rendezvouz and brumal den,
Deeming the depth of snow, hail, frost and ice
Would make our Infantry more tame and wise
Then by forsaking beds and loving wives,
Meerly for indian skins to hazzard lives:
These hopes had something calm'd the boiling passion
Of this incorrigible warlike nation.
During this short Parenthesis of peace
Our forces found, but left him not at ease.
Here english valour most illustrious shone,
Finding their numbers ten times ten to one.
A shower of leaden hail our captains feel
Which made the bravest blades among us reel.
Like to some ant-hill newly spurn'd abroad,
Where each takes heels and bears away his load:
Instead of plate and jewels, indian trayes
With baskets up they snatch and run their wayes.
Sundry the flames arrest and some the blade,
By bullets heaps on heaps of Indians laid.
The Flames like lightening in their narrow streets
Dart in the face of every one it meets.
Here might be heard an hideous indian cry,
Of wounded ones who in the Wigwams fry.
Had we been Canibals here might we feast
On brave Westphalia gammons ready drest.
The tauny hue is Ethiopick made
Of such on whome Vulcan his clutches laid.
There fate was sudden, our advantage great
To give them once for all a grand defeat;
But tedious travell had so crampt our toes
It was too hard a task to chase the foes.
Distinctness in the numbers of the slain,
Or the account of Pagans which remain
Are both uncertain, losses of our own
Are too too sadly felt, too sadly known.
War digs a common grave for friends and foes,
Captains in with the common souldier throws.
Six of our Leaders in the first assault
Crave readmission to their Mothers Vault
Who had they fell in antient Homers dayes
Had been enrol'd with Hecatombs of praise.
As clouds disperst, the natives troops divide,
And like the streames along the thickets glide.
Some breathing time we had, and short God knowes
But new alarums from recruited foes
Bounce at our eares, the mounting clouds of smoak
From martyr'd townes the heav'ns for aid invoke:
Churches, barns, houses with most ponderous things
Made volatile fly ore the land with wings.
Hundreds of cattle now they sacrifice
For aiery spirits up to gormandize;
And to the Molech of their hellish guts,
Which craves the flesh in gross, their ale in butts.
Lancaster, Medfield, Mendon wildred Groton,
With many Villages by me not thought on
Dy in their youth by fire that usefull foe,
Which this grand cheat the world will overflow.
The wandring Priest to every one he meets
Preaches his Churches funeral in the streets.
Sheep from their fold are frighted, Keepers too
Put to their trumps not knowing what to doe.
This monster Warre hath hatcht a beauteous dove
In dogged hearts, of most unfeigned love,
Fraternal love the livery of a Saint
Being come in fashion though by sad constraint,
Which if it thrive and prosper with us long
Will make New-England forty thousand strong.
But off the Table hand, let this suffice
As the abridgment of our miseryes.
If Mildew, Famine, Sword, and fired Townes,
If Slaughter, Captivating, Deaths and wounds,
If daily whippings once reform our wayes,
These all will issue in our Fathers Praise;
If otherwise, the sword must never rest
Till all New-Englands Glory it divest.
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