Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/281

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265
SMITH, JOHN


His parents, dying (April 1596) When he was thirteen (or rather sixteen) years of age, left him a competent means, which he, not being capable to manage, little regarded. His mind being even then set upon brave adventures, he sold his satchel, books and all he had, intending secretly to get to sea, but that his father's death stayed him. But now the guardians of his estate more regarding it than him, he had liberty enough, though no means, to get beyond the sea. About the age of fifteen years, he was bound an apprentice to Master Thomas Sendall of [King's] Lynn, the greatest merchant of all those parts; but, because he would not presently send him to sea, he never saw his master in eight years after."

The second period, 1 596-1604, is that of his adventures in Europe, Asia and Africa. He first went to Orleans in attendance on the second son of Lord Willoughby. Thence he returned to Paris, and so by Rouen to Havre, where, his money being spent, he began to learn the life of a soldier under Henry IV. of France; On the conclusion. (1599) of peace with the League, he went with Captain Joseph Duxbury to Holland and served there some time, probably with the English troops in Dutch pay. By this time he had gained a wide experience in the art of war, not merely as an infantry officer, but also in those more technical studies which are now followed by the Royal Engineers. At length he sailed from Enkhuisen to Scotland, and on the voyage had a narrow escape from shipwreck upon Holy Island near Berwick. After some stay in Scotland he returned home to Willoughby, " where, within a short time being glutted with too much company, wherein he took small delight, he retired himself into a little woody pasture, a good way from any town, environed with many hundred acres of other woods. Here by a fair brook he built a pavilion of boughs, where only in his clothes he lay. His study was Machiavelli's Art of War and Marcus Aurelius; his exercise a good horse with his lance and ring; his food was thought to be more of venison than anything else; what [else] hewanted his man biought him. The country wondering at such a hermit, his friends persuaded one Signior Theadora Polaloga, rider to Henry, earl of Lincoln, an excellent horseman and a noble Italian gentleman, to insinuate [himself] into his woodish acquaintances, whose languages and good discourse and exercise of riding drew Smith to stay with him at Tatters-all. . . . Thus — when France and the Netherlands had taught him to ride a horse and use his arms, with such rudiments of war as his tender years, in those martial schools, could attain unto, he was desirous to see more of the world, and try his fortune against the Turks, both lamenting and repenting to have seen so many Christians slaughter one another."

Next came his wanderings through France from Picardy to Marseilles. There he took ship for Italy in a vessel full of pilgrims going to Rome. These, cursing him for a heretic, and swearing they would have no fair weather so long as he was on board, threw him, like another Jonah, into the sea. He was able to get to a little uninhabited island, from which he was taken off the next morning by a Breton ship of 200 tons going to Alexandria, the captain of which, named La Roche, treated him as a friend. In this ship he visited Egypt and the Levant. On its way back the Breton ship fought a Venetian argosy of 400 tons and captured it. Reaching Antibes (Var) later on> Captain La Roche put Smith ashore with 500 sequins, who then proceeded to see Italy as he had already seen France. Passing through Tuscany he came to Rome, where he saw Pope Clement VIII. at mass, and called oh Father R. Parsons. Wandering on to Naples and back to Rome, thence through Tuscany and Venice, he came to Gratz in Styria. There he received informa- tion about the Turks who were then swarming through Hungary, and, passing on to Vienna, entered the emperor's service.

In this Turkish war the years 1601 and 1602 soon passed away; many desperate adventures does he narrate (unconfirmed by contemporary records, and doubted by some modern critics), and one in particular covered him with honour. At Regal, in the presence of two armies, as the champion of the Christians, he killed three Turkish champions in succession. On 1 8th November 1602, at the battle of Rothenthurm, a pass in Transylvania, where the Christians fought desperately against an overpowering force of Crim Tatars, Smith was left wounded on the field of battle. His rich dress saved him, for it showed that he would be worth a ransom. As soon as his wounds were cured he was sold for a slave and then marched to Constantinople, where he was presented to Charatza Tragabigzanda, who fell in love with him. Fearing lest her mother should sell him, she sent him to her brother Timor, pasha of Nalbrits, on the Don, in Tatary. To her unkind brother this kind lady wrote so much for his good usage that he half suspected as much as she intended; for she told him, he should there but sojourn to learn the language, and what it was to be a Turk, till time made her master of herself. But the Timor, her brother, diverted all this to the worst of cruelty. For,: within an hour after his arrival, he caused his ' drubman ' to strip him naked, and shave his head and beard so bare as his hand. A great ring of iron, with a long stalk bowed like a sickle, was riveted about his neck, and a coat [put on him] made of ulgry's hair, guarded about with a piece of an undressed skin. There were many more Christian slaves, and nearly a hundred forsados of Turks and Moors, and he being the last was the slave of slaves to them all." W T hile at Nalbrits the English captain kept his eyes open, and his account of the Crim Tatars is careful and accurate. " So long he lived in this miserable estate, as he became a thresher at a grange in a great field, more than a league from the Timor's house. The pasha, as he oft used to visit his granges, visited him, and took occasion so to beat, spurn and revile him, that forgetting all reason Smith beat out the Timor's brains with his threshing bat, for they have no flails, and, seeing his estate could be no worse than it was, clothed himself in the Timor's clothes, hid his body under the straw, filled his knapsack with corn, shut the doors, mounted his horse and ran into the desert at all adventure." For eighteen or nineteen days he rode for very life until he reached a Muscovite outpost on the river Don; here his irons were taken off him, and the Lady Callamata largely supplied all his wants. Thence he passed, attracting all the sympathy of an escaped Christian slave, through Muscovy, Hungary and Austria until he reached Leipzig in December 1603. There he met his old master, Prince Sigismund, who, in memory of his gallant fight at Regal, gave him a grant of arms and 500 ducats of gold. Thence he wandered on, sightseeing, through Germany, France and Spain, until he came to Saffi, from which seaport he made an excursion to the city of Morocco and back.

While at Saffi he was blown out to sea on board Captain Merham's ship, and had to go as far as the Canaries. There Merham fought two Spanish ships at once and beat them off. Smith came home to England with him, having a thousand ducats in his purse.

The third period, 1605-1609, is that of Captain Smith's experiences in Virginia. Throwing himself into the colonizing projects which were then coming to the front, he first intended to have gone out to the colony on the Oyapok in South America; but, Captain Leigh dying, and the reinforcement miscarrying, " the rest escaped as they could." Hence Smith did not leave England on this account. But he went heartily into the Virginian project with Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and others. He states that what he got in his travels he spent in colonizing. " When I went first to these desperate designs, it cost me many a forgotten pound to hire men to go, and procrastination caused more to run away than went. I have spared neither pains nor money according to my ability, first to procure His Majesty's letters patents, and a company here, to be the means to raise a company to go with me to Virginia, which beginning here and there cost me nearly five years' [1604-1609] work,andmore than five hundred pounds of my own estate, besides all the dangers, miseries and incumbrances I endured gratis." Two colonizing associations were formed — the London Company for South Virginia and the Western Company for North Virginia. Smith was one of the patentees of the Virginia charter of 1609. The colony which Sir W. Raleigh had established at Roanoke island off the American coast had perished, mainly for want of supplies from England, so that really nothing at all was known of