Monday, February 14, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 7: The Vision

The Penobscot Country
7 June 1699

"My heart breaks to see you go, my brother," said Madockawando.

"My heart breaks as well," Cotton Mather answered in the Abenaki tongue. "But my people wait for me in Boston, and my wife and children as well. I was their shaman before I was yours."

Madockawando stood in silent acknowledgement of the prior claims of Mather's other people. A time passed in silence between them, then Madockawando said, "There has always been much hostility between your people and mine. I myself took part in the Gray Wolf's raid on Fort Pemaquid. Even now there are men of the Abenaki who will never remain at peace with the Bostonnais. Will it be different now that we have forsaken the Papists--" here Madockawando used the English word "--and worship the Great Spirit and his lost son as do you and the other Bostonnais?"

There was another period of silence as Mather paused to gather his thoughts. At last he said, "My brother, my heart wants me to tell you that now that you and the other Abenaki have found the true way of the Great Spirit, that you will live in harmony with the Bostonnais for all time. But my mind tells me that it will not be so. The Holland people also follow the true way of the Great Spirit, but this has never kept them from war with my own people when they wanted what we had and we wanted what they had. Likewise the French have always been willing to fight with their fellow Papists from Austria when they stood to gain by it. My people are ever hungry for land, Madockawando, for my people are a numerous people, and more arrive every day from our homeland in the east. The time will come when some of my people will hunger for the lands of the Abenaki, and they will not care that you follow the true way of the Great Spirit."

Mather found his thoughts turning to Roger Williams. Williams had been a Puritan preacher of great renown, but after moving to Massachusetts in 1631 he had fallen into unorthodoxy and had left the colony to found his own settlement on the shores of Narragansett Bay. Unlike the other Puritans, Williams had believed that the land was owned by the Indians who lived on it, and he was always scrupulous about purchasing land from its Indian owners before occupying it.

Although Williams had always kept the peace with the Indians of his colony, the other colonists were less careful, and in the end war had broken out. Williams had tried to bring peace to New England, but in vain. In the end, he had had to stand by helplessly while all around him his friends among the colonists and his friends among the Indians relentlessly slaughtered each other.

A picture came to Mather then of himself in twenty years, an old man, watching an army under Captain Convers sweep down upon the Abenaki and put every man, woman and child among them to the sword. When Mather came back to himself, he found Madockawando looking at him.

"You have had a vision, Crow," said the sachem.

Mather closed his eyes. "A terrible vision," he said. "An evil vision."

"You have told us that some visions are sent by the Great Spirit, and others by the Enemy. Which do you think this was?"

"I do not know," said Mather, as he opened his eyes again upon the sachem. "Once before I thought I heard the voice of the Great Spirit, only to learn that it had been the Enemy calling to me. And I heeded the call, to my cost, and to the cost of many others."

"Then what will you do about this vision?"

There, the answer was clear. "I will oppose this vision. It was an evil vision, and the Great Spirit tells us above all to oppose evil. I am not Roger Williams, to stand aside and watch people die. I am a man of influence in Boston, and I will use that influence, and all the gifts that the Great Spirit has seen fit to bestow upon me, to see to it that the vision I have had does not come to be.

"I have accomplished a great work here among the Abenaki, and I will not allow that work to be undone!"

(Proceed to part 0 - The Glorious Revolution)

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