Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/282

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the Virginian coast-line when the first expedition left London on 19th December 1606; and therefore the attempt was bound to fail unless a convenient harbour should be found. The expedition consisted of three ships (the " Susan Constant," 100 tons, Captain C. Newport; the " God Speed," 40 tons, Captain B. Gosnold; and a pinnace of 20 tons, Captain J. Ratcliffe), with about 140 colonists and 40 sailors. They made first for the West Indies, reaching Dominica on 24th March 1607. At Nevis, their next stopping-place, a gallows was erected to hang Captain Smith on the false charge of conspiracy; but he escaped, and, though afterwards the lives of all the men who plotted against him were at his mercy, he spared them. Sailing northwards from the West Indies, not knowing where they were, the expedition was most fortunately, in a gale, blown into the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, discovering land on 26th April 1607. Anchoring, they found the James river, and, having explored it, fixed upon a site for their capital in the district of the chief or weroance of Paspaheh, its chief recommendation being that there were 6 fathoms of water so near to the shore that the ships could be tied to the trees. Orders had been sent out for the government of the colony in a box, which was opened on 26th April 1607. Captains B. Gosnold, E. M. Wingfield, C. Newport, J. Smith, J. Ratcliffe, J. Martin and G. Kendall were named to be the council to elect an annual president, who, with the council, should govern. Wingfield was, on 13th May, elected the first president; and the next day they landed at James Town and commenced the settlement.

All this while Smith was under restraint, for thirteen weeks in all. His enemies would have sent him home, out of a sham commiseration for him; but he challenged their charges, and so established his innocency that Wingfield was adjudged to give him £200 as damages. After this, on 20th June 1607, Smith was admitted to the council.

As in going to America in those days the great difficulty was want of water, so in those colonizing efforts the paramount danger was from want of food. " There were never Englishmen left in a foreign country in such misery as we were in this new discovered Virginia. We watched every three nights [every third night], lying on the bare cold ground, what weather soever came, and warded all the next day, which brought our men to be most feeble wretches. Our food was but a small can of barley sodden in water to five men a day. Our drink, cold water taken out of the river, which was, at a flood, very salt, at a low tide, full of slime and filth, which was the destruction of many of our men." So great was the mortality that out of 105 colonists living on the 22nd June 1607 67 died by the following 8th January. The country they had settled in was sparsely popu- lated by many small tribes of Indians, who owned as their paramount chief, Powhatan, who then lived at Werowocomoco, a village on the Pamunkey river, about 12 m. by land from James Town. Various boat expeditions left James Town, to buy food in exchange for copper. They generally had to fight the Indians first, to coerce them to trade, but afterwards paid a fair price for what they bought.

On 10th December 1607 Captain Smith, of whom it is said " the Spaniard never more greedily desired gold than he victail," with nine men in the barge, left James Town to get more corn, and also to explore the upper waters of the Chickahominy. They got the barge up as far as Apocant. Seven men were left in it, with orders to keep in midstream. They disobeyed, went into the village, and one of them, George Cassen, was caught; the other six, barely escaping to the barge, brought it back to James Town. It so happened that Opecanchanough (the brother of Powhatan, whom he succeeded in 1618, and who carried out the great mass- acre of the English on Good Friday 1621) was in that neighbour- hood with two or three hundred Indians on a hunting expedition. He ascertained from Cassen where Smith was, who, ignorant of all this, had, with John Robinson and Thomas Emry, gone in a canoe 20 m. farther up the river. The Indians killed Robinson and Emry while they were sleeping by the camp fire, and went after Smith, who was away getting food. They surprised him, and. though he bravely defended himself, he had at last to surrender. He then set his wits to confound them with his superior knowledge, and succeeded. Opecanchanough led him about the country for a wonder, and finally, about 5th January 1608, brought him to Powhatan at Werowocomoco. " Having feasted him after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was held; but the conclusion was two great stones were brought before Powhatan; then as many as could laid hands on Smith, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head. And, being ready with their clubs to beat out his brains, Poca- hontas, the king's dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head in her arms and laid her own upon his to save him from death. Whereat the emperor was contented Smith should live, to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads and copper; for they thought him as well of all occupations [handi- crafts] as themselves."

The truth of this story was never doubted till 1859, when Dr Charles Deane of Cambridge, Mass., edited Wingfield's Dis- course; in reprinting Smith's True Relation of 1609, Deane pointed out that it contains no reference to this hairbreadth escape. Since then many American historians and scholars have concluded that it never happened at all; and, in order to be consistent, they have tried to prove that Smith was a blustering braggadocio, which is the very last thing that could in truth be said of him. The rescue of a captive doomed to death by a woman is not such an unheard-of thing in Indian stories. If the truth of this deliverance be denied, how then did Smith come back to James Town loaded with presents, when the other three men were killed, George Cassen in particular, in a- most horrible manner? And how is it, supposing Smith's account to be false, that Pocahontas afterwards frequently came to James Town, and was, next to Smith himself, the salvation of the colony? The fact is, nobody doubted the story in Smith's lifetime, and he had enemies enough. 1

Space fails to describe how splendidly Smith worked after his deliverance for the good of the colony, how he explored Chesa- peake Bay and its influents, how (when all others had failed) the presidency was forced on him on 10th September 1608; how he tried to get corn from Powhatan at Werowocomoco on 12 th January 1609, but he fled to Orapakes, 40 m. farther off; how with only eighteen men he cowed Opecanchanough in his own house at Pamunkey, in spite of the hundreds of Indians that were there, and made him sell corn; how well he administered the colony, making the lazy work or starve.

Meanwhile the establishment of this forlorn hope in Virginia had stirred up a general interest in England, so that the London Company were able in June 1609 to send out 9 ships with 500 colonists. Smith had now got the Indians into splendid order; but from the arrival on nth August of the new-comers his authority came to an end. They refused to acknowledge him, and robbed and injured the Indians, who attacked them in turn. Smith did his best to smooth matters, while the rioters were plotting to shoot him in his bed. In the meantime he was away up the river. On his return, " sleeping in his boat, accidentally one fired his powder bag, which tore his flesh from his body and thighs, 9 or 10 in. square, in a most pitiful manner; but to quench the tormenting fire frying him in his clothes he leaped overboard into the deep river, where, ere they could recover him, he was nearly drowned." Thus disabled, he was sent home on 4th October 1609 and never set foot in Virginia again. Nemesis 1 Pocahontas never visited James Town after Smith went to England in October 1609, until she was brought there a state prisoner in April 1613 by Captain S. Argall, who had obtained possession of her by treachery on the Potomac river. The colony, while treating her well, used her as a means to secure peace with the Indians. In the meantime, believing Smith to be dead, she fell in love with an English gentleman, John Rolfe, apparently at that time a widower. They were married about 1st April 1614. Subsequently she embraced Christianity. Sir T. Dale, with Rolfe and his wife, landed at Plymouth on 12th June 1616. Before she reached London, Smith petitioned Queen Anne on her behalf; and it is in this petition of June 1616 that the account of his deliverance by the Indian girl first appears. After a pleasant sojourn of about seven months, being well received both by the court and the people, Pocahontas with her husband embarked for Virginia in the George, Captain S. Argall (her old captor), but she died off Gravesend about February 1617.