Before finding the fresh water at Cape Cod, the pilgrims were thirsting for water, as they had not had water since they landed in Cape Cod. This is because they had not brought with them any water of their own. Therefore, when they found the first stream of fresh water, they were delighted and drank heartily; it was their first drink of water in New England.
The Pilgrims held beer and wine in high esteem and considered it better and safer than water. Therefore, for them to compare the water to beer and wine, it means that they had been so thirsty that the water refreshed them just as much as their beer and wine would have. The Pilgrims were especially relieved to find a spring, as they had been ‘‘sore athirst’’ (Schmidt, 1999). Although previously they had little value for water, they now realized its importance as it was the only thing that could quench their thirst.
At that time, water was considered unsafe and unhealthy, while beer due to its alcohol component was not harmful. They did not realize that it is bacteria and germs in water that caused sickness, and could be killed by boiling. When they drunk water from the spring that day, they were so thirsty that it did not matter whether it was safe and healthy or not, the only agenda on their mind was to quench their ‘sore’ thirst (Schmidt, 1999). Thus, the fact that they found water at a time when they had run out of their supply of beer and fresh water, made this water especially virtuous and delicious.
Schmidt, G. D. (1999). William Bradford: Plymouth’s faithful pilgrim. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.