S. IX. JAN. 4, '90.]
NOTES AND QUERIES.
LONDON, SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 1890.
CONTENTS. No 210.
NOTES: Capt. J. Smith, 1 B. Burton, 2 Topographical Notes, 3 Education Apostolicals " Grand Old Man" A Thorough Abridgment" Bank and file," 5 An Old Jest Channel Tunnel Verminous Bailhatchet, 6 New Year's Day, 7.
QUERIES .-The Cockpit Cock-penny Cockatiels Cockney Title of Book Wanted -' Diversions of Purley 'Cathedral, 7 Byron's Works Heraldic Mirabeau Brockett M8S. Blacklegg General C. Martin Castell Zuingli Equinoctial Storm Macaulay's Style Oseney Abbey Funeral Shutters, 8 Mrs. Honey Allusion by Macaulay Rules J. M. Johnson Cool " The Marleypins " Authors Wanted, 9.
REPLIES: The Couvade, 9 'Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 'Sir J. Hawkwood Tennyson J. G. Holman, 10 Flemish Brass J. Hill Brennus "If I had a donkey," 11" Prsefervidnm ingenium Scotorum" Park Runes, 12 Hurrah Heraldic Pigeon's Blood, 13 Compound Words Pigs Seeing the Wind Human Leather "Humanity Martin," 14 Folk-lore "To stay at home is best" Arms Black Cap Column on Calais Pier, 15 Robert Bums 'Spotted Laddie' Signs Sculptured in Stone Corrigendum Skeleton Provincial Publishing, 16 Horatia NelsonZoroaster ' Arabiniana' Old Scottish Ballad, 17 Footprints in Snow teething Lane Wellington Heraldic, 18.
NOTES ON BOOKS: 'Dictionary of National Biography,' Vol. XXI. Moorsom's ' Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient and Modern.'
Notices to Correspondents.
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH OF VIRGINIA.
"Prima lex historiæ, ne quid falsi dicat."
Modern research has stripped the protégé of Princess Pocahontas of many of his self-conferred laurels and dispelled much of the romance which formerly clung to his name. The truth of a great portion of his wonderful adventures and heroic deeds has lately been questioned, nay, some American writers have even gone so far as to denounce him as a blustering braggadocio and brand his autobiography as a collection of mere traveller's tales and "the gasconades of a beggar."
Mr. Henry, the vice-president of the Virginia Historical Society, referring to this subject in his address in 1882, tells us that, "so persistent have these assaults been [lately on our author] that it seems to be the fashion now with those writers who are content to act the part of copyists to sneer at the veracity of Smith." Our experience of the species of historians alluded to by Mr. Henry does not agree with his, as, to use the words of Fuller, "strange performances [such as related by Capt. Smith] are cheaper credited than confuted." To contradict a writer who professes to relate history from personal observation, and to prove the contradiction to the hilt, requires more study and labour than copyists are wont to bestow upon their subject.
At the suggestion of a friend, I have lately examined into that portion of the captain's adventures which, according to Purchas, who first printed them in his 'Pilgrims,' were taken from a book entitled "The Warres of Transiluania, Wallachi, and Moldauia, written by Francisco Ferneza, a learned Italian, Secretarie to Sigismunndus Bathor, the Prince [of Transylvania]."
In performing my task I have, I believe, conscientiously followed the example set by Prof. Arber, the able and painstaking editor of the last edition of Capt. Smith's 'Works.' Like him, I have approached the text perfectly free from all bias, scanned every assertion of fact most keenly; but, I regret to state, the result arrived at vastly differs from his, and is anything but satisfactory.
Prof. Arber seems to attach great importance to the statement that the narrative which we are about to consider was extracted and translated by Purchas from a manuscript, written in a foreign tongue, and is therefore not Smith's own account of his own doings, but chiefly the narrative of a foreigner with no possible motive for his laudation. I must join issue with the professor. First of all, we have only the captain's word for the assertion that the Hungarian, &c., travels were extracted and translated by "Master Purchas." The latter simply says that he gives an account of them as they are "written" in the Italian book referred to, and Prof. Arber's argument could only hold good if Capt. Smith had had no hand in the publication of them. But as no one else but he was in a position to supply Purchas with an account of his doings while in captivity amongst the Tartars, the 'True Travels ' were evidently published by some arrangement with Smith, and he may have in various ways assisted at the preparation of the "copy " for the printers. Perhaps Smith made the translation himself, but his modesty the latest of virtues discovered in him by recent authors prevented him from taking credit for the performance. Whatever the shortcomings of Fuller may otherwise be, in the present instance he seems to have hit the nail on the head. Capt. Smith's
"perils, preservation?, dangers,......deliverances seem to most men beyond belief, to some beyond truth. Yet we have two witnesses to attest them—the prose [the text] and the pictures—both in his own book, and it soundeth much to the diminution of his deeds, that he alone is the herauld to piiblish and proclaim them."
The italics are mine. I shall now proceed to lay
- Proceedings of the Virginia Hist. Soc. at the Annual Meeting, February 24, 1882, with the Address of W. W. Henry with particular reference to the late attacks upon Capt. John Smith. Richmond, 1882, p.12.
- 'Worthies of England,' London, 1662.
- Vol. xvi. of the ' English Scholar's Library,' edited by Prof. Edward Arber, Birmingham, 1884.