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Title: The Birth of the Nation
       Jamestown, 1607

Author: Mrs. Roger A. Pryor

Illustrator: William de Leftwich Dodge

Release Date: November 18, 2013 [EBook #44229]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Melissa McDaniel and the Online Distributed
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Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved.



The First English Church in America.

'Tis just three hundred years ago
We sailed through unknown Narrows
And landed on an unknown coast
Amid a flight of arrows.
We planted England's standard there,
And taught the Western savage.
In its defence we lightly held
His tomahawk and ravage.
And there, between two forest trees,
We raised our first rude altar;
Roofed by a storm-rent sail we read
Old England's Prayers and Psalter,
An echo in the strange, new land
Awoke to slumber never:
It caught old England's battle-word—
"God and my Right" forever!





New York
All rights reserved

Copyright, 1907,

Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1907.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.




Jamestown Celebration. Legends of the Discovery of America. Columbus. The Cabots. Pope Alexander VI. Amerigo Vespucci. The Power of Spain. Queen Elizabeth's Patent. Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Our Shores only sighted by the English before 1600 1-7
Sir Walter Raleigh. Expedition to Islands near North Carolina. Glowing Reports. Failure of First Colony. Enmity of Indians. Second Colony to Roanoke Island. Virginia Dare. Expedition for Relief of Colony. Colonists had Disappeared. Fate never Known 8-15
Death of Queen Elizabeth. James I., Appearance and Character. Corrupt Court. Poverty of Common People. Highway Robbers. London Company undertakes Virginia Colony. The Necessities of a Countess. Extravagance. Political, Religious, and Literary Aspects of the Time. Royal Charter obtained for New Colony 16-33
England's First Colony. Emigrants Subject to Commercial Corporation, to Domestic Council, to Superior Council, to Arbitrary Rule of King. The Three Ships. [viii] Christopher Newport. Allowance for Each Man. Cargo of Ships. Sealed Orders. Robert Hunt. Books Brought. Character of Colonists. Names of Most Prominent. Captain John Smith. Motives of Adventurers. Attitude toward Indians. Little Interest in England. Drayton's Poem 34-44
Story of Voyage by Thomas Studley. George Percy. Dissensions among Voyagers. Career of John Smith. Ships enter Chesapeake Bay. A Virginia Welcome. Council as appointed by Sealed Orders. Wingfield elected President, April 26, 1607. Indians. Colonists land at Jamestown, May 13. Smith excluded from Council. Appearance of Forest. Religious Service. First Night in the New Land 45-55
Appearance of New Country. Percy's Description. Flora. Fruits. Fauna. Condition and Customs of Indians. Their Implements 56-63
Religion of Powhatan's Tribe. Kiwassa. Okeus. Sacrifice of Children. Conversion of Indians almost Impossible. Temple at Uttamussac. Dress and Chants of Priests. Immortality. Fables taught by Priests. Enmity of Powhatan to English. Suspected of Massacre of Roanoke Colonies. Prophecies of Priests. No Written Language of Indians. The Will of the King Law. Law of Succession. Cruelty of Powhatan. Indian Habitations. No Furniture. Fire. Light. Occupations and Games of Men. Work done by Women and Children. Henry Spelman's Story. Indians' Provision for the Future. Maidens and [ix] Young Braves. Music and Dancing. Traits of Indian Women. Tenderness toward Children. Powhatan's Unconquerable Hatred. Fate of Indian settled by Massacre of 1622 64-84
Chief of Paspahegh Tribe welcomes Newport. His Appearance. His Behaviour. Work of Colonists. Interviews with Indians. Wochinchopunck. Indians' Skill in Archery. Expedition up the River. Town of Powhatan. Percy's Description. Site of Richmond. Cross Erected. Indians' Assault upon Jamestown. Fort put in Fighting Order. John Smith under Suspicion. First Trial by Jury. Smith Acquitted. Reconciliation through Hunt. Smith admitted to Council. The Eucharist. Savages desire Peace. Newport leaves for England 85-95
The First Mail to England. Enthusiastic Praise of New Country. Policy of Colonists to encourage Immigration. Sir Walter Cope's Letters. Council discuss Abandonment of Colony. Zuñiga and Newport. Council decides to send Colonists and Provisions. Letters from Zuñiga to Philip III. of Spain. Letter from Dudley Carleton. Affairs at the Colony. First Church. Illness. Percy's Narrative. First Graves in Virginia. England's Selfishness. John Smith's Narrative. Diverse Elements in Colony. Character of Wingfield. Deposed, and Ratcliffe put in his Place. Wingfield's Defence. Indians bring Food. No True Friendship. Smith seizes Image of Okeus. Savages ransom it with Provisions. Game of Southern Virginia. Smith takes the Helm. Log Cabins and Church Built [x] 96-115
Winter of Unusual Severity. Starvation Threatened. Idleness and Waste. Corn procured from Indians. Plans made and Abandoned. Newport Long Overdue. John Smith explores the Chickahominy. Important Voyage. Spends a Month with the Powhatans. Description of Region. Murder of Two of Smith's Men by Indians. Smith's Adventures. Captured by the Savages. March to Powhatan. Incident told by William Symondes. Smith's Life in Danger. Opechancanough tempts Him. Message sent Jamestown. Indian Orgies. Banquets for Prisoner. Conducted to Powhatan's Residence on York River 116-132
Werowocomoco. Powhatan's Absolute Power. His Cruelty. Indian Cookery. Bathing. Worship. Powhatan's Wives and Children. His Affection for his Children. Pocahontas. The Dress of Indian Women. The Mirror in the Woods. Smith received by Powhatan. Powhatan's Costume. A Feast. Pocahontas saves Smith. He is assigned to her Service. Powhatan asks the Cause of the Coming of the English. Smith's Reply. Flatters Powhatan. Powhatan's Attempt to terrify Smith. Professes Friendship. The Truth of the Pocahontas Incident Discussed. Her Kindness to the English 133-155
Indians conduct Smith to Jamestown. His Enemies There. He is sentenced to be Hanged. Newport arrives and releases Smith and Wingfield. Smith sends Gifts to Powhatan. The Character of the New Colonists. "Newport's News." The King and Carr. Contrast between Elizabeth and James. Newport's Visit to Powhatan. The Feast. Finger-bowls and [xi] Napkins. Exchange of a Christian for a Savage. Ill-advised Gifts to Powhatan. Newport Outwitted. A Disaster from Fire. The Gold Fever. Wingfield and Archer return to England. Twenty Swords for Twenty Turkeys 156-176
The Church Rebuilt. The Arrival of the Phœnix. Smith's "True Relation of Virginia." Powhatan's Plot. Indian Thieves Captured. Released at the Prayer of Pocahontas. Age of Pocahontas. Her Visits to the Fort. Her Attire and "Wheels." Chanco. A Comparison and a Contrast 177-186
Exploration. Greed of the London Company. Dread of Banishment to Virginia. A Voyage of Adventure. Smith's Map of Virginia. Golden Dreams Dispelled. Mutineers. Smith made President of Virginia. A New Ship and an English Maid. Orders from England. A Violent Quarrel. Foolish Gifts from James I. to Powhatan. Indian Ceremonies. Nymphs. Diplomacy. The Coronation of Powhatan. The Departure of Newport. Illicit Traffic. Flying Squirrels. "A Rude Answer" 187-205
Famine Threatened. "Gentlemen" and Hard Work. A Remedy for Profanity. "Noblesse Oblige." Indian Summer. Soap and the Plague. The First Marriage. A Fortunate Family. Powhatan Hostile. Indians refuse Supplies. Smith secures Food. Heavy Snow. The Colonists in Terror of Starvation. Smith's Daring Plan. Powhatan's Cunning. A Friendly Chief. Smith's Interview with Powhatan. The [xii] Long Harangues and an Apologia. Powhatan's Scheme foiled by Pocahontas. A Savage Lear. Smith wrests Supplies from Opechancanough. The Perfidy of Two Dutchmen. Ten Colonists Drowned. Pocahontas again to the Rescue. Smith returns to Jamestown 206-227
Smith's Enemies in England. A New Charter. Its Most Significant Article. Limits of the Colony Defined. New Rulers for Virginia. The Governor's Arbitrary Power. This Nation's Real Founders. The King's Position. His Poverty. Interest of the Clergy in Virginia. Strachey's Description. Zuñiga's Anger. Nine Vessels sail to Virginia. John Rolfe and his First Wife. A Hurricane and the Plague. Many of the New Settlers Worthless and Profligate. The Sea Venture. Sir George Somers. The Bermudas. The Scene of Shakespeare's "Tempest." Andrew Marvel's Poem. Prayer, Marriage, and Birth. Ambergris. New Ships Built 228-242
Smith Hard at Work. The Traitor Dutchmen. Wochinchopunck captured and Escapes. Smith's Retaliation for Indian Outrage. An Indian's Eloquence. Smith gains Influence over Indians. Search for Raleigh's Lost Colony. Silk Grass. Smith's Energy. Rats. Argall's News. Seven Vessels reach Jamestown. Ratcliffe claims Authority. Resistance and Chaos. New Colonies Planted. Smith buys Place near Present Site of Richmond. Mutineers. Relations with Indian Emperor Closed. Career in Virginia Ended. Percy made President pro tem. Character of Smith. Visits and names New England and Boston. Extracts from Writings. Diverse Opinions of Smith. [xiii] Thomas Fuller's View. Smith's Closing Years in London. His Poverty. Grave and Epitaph in St. Sepulchre. Attitude toward Pocahontas. English Unwilling to marry Indians. Indian Resentment. Smith's Offer to subdue Indians after Massacre of 1622 Declined. America's Debt of Gratitude to Smith 243-271
Unruly Youths returned to England. Mischievous Letter from Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe's Death. Percy's Administration. "Beggar's Bush." Loss of Smith Disastrous. Indian Risings. Disease. Famine. "The Starving Time." Coming of the Deliverance and the Patience. Condition of Jamestown. The New Governor. Machumps and Namontack. All the Colonists embark for England. Turned back by Lord Delaware. A New Order of Things. The Church repaired and Adorned. Services Frequent. Mortality of Early Settlers 272-293
Delaware's Wise Rule. A Nemesis for Traitors. Delaware's return to England. Strachey's Manuscripts. Friendly Indians. The Marriage of Pocahontas to Kocoun. Indian Marriage Customs. The Costume of an Indian Princess. Human Sacrifices to Okeus. Pocahontas held for Ransom. John Rolfe's Letter to Governor Dale. The Baptism of Pocahontas. Her Marriage to John Rolfe. "The Lady Rebekah" 294-313
Governor Dale asks in Marriage Powhatan's Youngest Daughter. Powhatan's Reception of the Messenger. The Alliance Politely Declined. The Last Years of [xiv] the Old Emperor. His Successor. The Great Massacre. Jamestown saved by Chanco. The capture and Death of Opechancanough 314-321
Pocahontas at Court. Smith writes the Queen of her Goodness to the Colony. Her Dignified Deportment. King James's Jealousy. Pocahontas reproaches John Smith. Her Death and Burial. Her Son and his Descendants. John Randolph of Roanoke 322-331
The Patriots of Jamestown. Their Services as Founders of the Freedom of America. Address of Hon. Roger A. Pryor. The Town after Seat of Government was removed to Williamsburg. The Old Graveyard. The Lone Cypress. The Gift of Jamestown, by Mr. and Mrs. Barney, to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Gift of the Government to Women of the Association. Restoration by Them. The Old Town Exhumed. Relics found beneath the Mould of More than Two Centuries 332-339
Legends of the Old Stone House: Pocahontas; Smith; Blackbeard and his Hidden Treasure; Nathaniel Bacon. Conclusion 340-352



The First English Church in America Frontispiece
Queen Elizabeth 8
King James I. 20
Old London—1607 44
Memorial erected by Clergy of the Episcopal Church at Jamestown Island 52
"The trembling Indian in his canoe hurried past it with bated breath" 68
Smith's Island, where John Smith was captured by the Indians 124
The Mirror in the Woods 138
"She rushed forward, and laid her own head upon his" 144
King James and a Petitioner 162
Powhatan Oak, over Three Hundred Years Old 166
Old Fort—Jamestown Island 180
"The newly crowned potentate started with terror" 200
"'Powhatan comes to kill you all'" 222
Captain George Percy 258
St. Luke's, near Smithfield, built in 1623. The Oldest Protestant Church in America [xvi] 266
Captain John Smith. From the Bust by Baden-Powell 270
Lord Delaware 286
Pocahontas Memorial Window 290
Marriage of Pocahontas 312
Powhatan Rock, under which the Indian Chief is said to be Buried 320
Pocahontas at Court 322
Royal Palace, Whitehall 328
Jamestown Church Tower 336




We are about to commemorate the settlement of the English at Jamestown three hundred years ago. Under God's blessing, we are not only at peace with all the world, but are bound by ties of close friendship to the great kingdoms and republics on earth. Therefore, we may confidently expect to welcome numbers of their representatives to our three hundredth birthday celebration. Many will be the banners unfurled in waters which ebbed and flowed in awful silence but three hundred years ago, or were stirred only by the paddle of the Indian canoe; and loud the thunders of welcome and greeting from shores which echoed then with the scream of the eagle and the war-whoop of the savage. [2]

The story of a world emerging from the darkness in which it had been hidden for countless ages will always thrill the imagination. Phantom ships loom dimly out of the mists of a far-off time. Strange names are whispered in vague traditions, which are found in no written record—names of mighty mariners, who were blown by tempests upon a strange coast,—Arthur; Malgro; Brandon; a "Fryer of Lynn," who by reason of his "black art" reached the North Pole in 1360; Madock, "sonne of Quinneth, Prince of Wales," a man of peace, who sought refuge in a wilderness because of strife among his brethren; Leif, the Norwegian; Nicolo Zeno, the Venetian; Hanno, the Carthaginian! Colossal figures tremble for a moment on the horizon, and are lost in fog and doubt.

At last the great Genoese sails forth, and becomes a tangible figure in history. Often as his story may be told, familiar as it is to every schoolboy in the land, we can never hear it without a keen realization of its personal relations to ourselves. [3] "It would be impossible," said Daniel Webster, "for us to read the discovery of our continent without being reminded how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It would be unnatural for us to contemplate with unaffected minds that most touching and pathetic scene when the great discoverer of America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts; extending forward his harassed frame, straining westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of an unknown world."

Intensely interesting are the narratives of the daring adventurers who followed Columbus—of the Cabots who landed and claimed the country for the English crown; of the Spaniards and Portuguese upon whom Pope Alexander the Sixth generously bestowed the world, giving to the [4] Spaniards the western, and to the Portuguese the eastern part of it,[1] for in those days it was but necessary for any pirate or sea adventurer from either nation to land and erect a stone or stick on the coast, to constitute a valid claim to possession in the name of Spain or Portugal and a right to drive out or exterminate the ancient inhabitants and owners of the land.

But of all the early adventurers none is so interesting to us as Amerigo Vespucci, whose name we bear. He won for himself this honour simply and solely because of his literary ability, which enabled him to write an interesting narrative of his adventures. The historian is fortunate who has no one to contradict him. He may draw his pictures from imagination and make them as gorgeous as he pleases. There is no reason to believe that Vespucci failed to make liberal use of this privilege; but that did not in the least retard the success of his book. It has been repeatedly asserted that it was not through his [5] fault that the name of this continent was given to him, rather than to the man who deserved that honour; that his German translator, Martin Waldsemüller, suggested it; that the idea was comical enough to catch the fancy of the Portuguese, who at once adopted it. The Spaniards, on the other hand, resented it, and complained bitterly that the honour was stolen from the rightful possessor. On the death of Columbus, Vespucci entered the service of Spain, and was stationed at Seville, with the title of pilot-major. Part of his duty was to mark out on charts the tracks to be followed by Spanish navigators, and he always distinguished the new world, first, by the words "Amerigo's Land," and presently, "America"! This settles his responsibility for a fraud which never did and never will deceive anybody. He was a skilful navigator,—a great man in his day and generation,—but no renown to him has gone with the name he strove to make immortal. Vespucci has ever been deemed a very inconsiderable person in comparison [6] with Columbus, although it has come to pass that half the world bears his name.

The Spaniard, with fire and sword, swiftly followed Vespucci. He took possession of Florida, overthrew the temples and idols in Mexico, conquered Peru! The French were already here,—that did not signify,—the power of Spain was speedily established. Before the English flag "floated over so much as a log fort, Spain was mistress of Central America." Her ships crept along the coast, peered into Chesapeake Bay, and explored harbours and inlets with reference to future possession.

It was quite time for England to remember and confirm her claim. Spain was her enemy. Spain was growing rich from American gold, and powerful by reason of American possessions. Already four hundred vessels came annually from the harbours of Portugal and Spain (and some from France and England), to the shores of Newfoundland. Queen Elizabeth granted a liberal patent[2] [7] to one of her bravest soldiers, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, with the right to establish a colony. With Sir Walter Raleigh's aid, he equipped a squadron of three ships, but misfortunes befell his little vessels, and he attempted to return to England with two ships, the Hind and the Squirrel. A great storm arose; the oldest mariner had "never seen a more outrageous sea," and in it the Squirrel perished. The Hind returned to tell the story of Sir Humphrey's devotion and courage; how out of the darkness a brave voice rang out—the voice of the good old knight to whom the Queen had given with her blessing a golden anchor set with pearls—"Be of good cheer, my friends! We are as near to Heaven by sea as by land," and how his ship went down in the night!

Such was the spirit of the few Englishmen who came hither before 1600 on fruitless voyages—sighting our shores only—like sea-birds which hover on restless wing near the coast for a moment, then wheel and return to their nests in some far-away island. [8]


With Sir Walter Raleigh the history of the English colonies in America begins. He was a prime favourite with Queen Elizabeth, and she knew how to exalt and abase, to create and destroy. To Raleigh she gave viceregal powers over any and all of England's prospective colonies, with no limit to his control over territories, of which he could bestow grants according to his pleasure. He sent out an exploring expedition to the islands near North Carolina. The adventurers returned with glowing accounts of the country. The season was summer—seas were tranquil, skies clear; no storms ever gathered on those peaceful shores; all was repose. The gentle inhabitants were in harmony with the scene; flowers and fruit abounded, grapes were clustered close to the coast and cooled by the spray of a [9] quiet sea; there was no winter, no cold. A hundred islands clustered along the shores, inhabited by "people the most gentle, loving, and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as lived after the manner of the golden age." No wonder a new expedition of one hundred and eight colonists was soon organized. Seven vessels were equipped, and sailed under the happiest auspices. But, alas! the "gentle people" living after the manner of the golden age proved thievish and deceitful; disasters, many and varied, followed; the adventurers forsook the "paradise of the world," and the enterprise came to naught.

Queen Elizabeth.
From an engraving after the painting by Zucchero.

History has preserved no stranger, more mysterious story than the next experiment of Sir Walter Raleigh. To insure the permanence of his second colony, he decided to send families, women and children, to the fruitful Islands of Roanoke, to make a permanent home, and found "the City of Raleigh." A fleet of transport ships carried eighty-nine men, seventeen women, and eleven little children, with every appliance [10] for comfort, and ample provision of implements of husbandry. The colony arrived in August, after a five months' voyage, and were dismayed to find the island strewn with human bones. They had "expected sundry decent dwelling-houses"; they found the ruins of the houses and forts their predecessors had erected. The men who had been left behind by the first governor had been murdered by the loving, gentle, and faithful people.

There was nothing to do but make the best of it. But the charm was broken. The colonists were alarmed and disheartened. The Indians were not friends—that became evident at once. Realizing their danger, weakness, and utter dependence upon England, the heartsick immigrants looked with dismay upon the departure of the ships, and they implored their Governor to return and represent their true condition to Elizabeth, "the Godmother of Virginia," and to the powerful Raleigh, her servant.

On the 18th of August, according to the ancient [11] author's report, "Ellinor, the Governour's daughter, and wife to Ananias Dare, was delivered of a daughter in Roanoke, which being the first Christian there borne, was called 'Virginia.'" The Governor was loth to leave his colony, his daughter, and grandchild, but they "thought none would so truly procure theire supplyes as he, which though he did what he could to excuse it, yet their importunitie would not cease till he undertooke it; and had it under all their hands how unwilling he was but that necessity and reason did doubly constraine him."

Of course, the Governor promised to hasten his return. The story is a strange one—of feeble effort, cupidity, indifference.

The Governor did not reach England until November. Raleigh at once fitted out two small vessels which sailed the following April, but the crew,[3] "being more intent on a gainful voyage than the relief of a colony, ran in chase of prizes, [12] were themselves overcome and rifled." In this maimed, ransacked, and ragged condition, they returned to England, and, the writer adds, "their patron was greatly displeased." After this, for a whole year no relief was sent. Raleigh had now spent forty thousand pounds on his colonies with no return, and he turned them over to Sir Thomas Smith. When White sailed again with three ships, history was repeated. He "buccaneered among the Spaniards, until three years elapsed before he actually arrived at Roanoke."

Nothing was to be seen of the settlers there! The Governor seems to have taken things with admirable coolness! His own account is an amazing bit of narrative, when we remember the one hundred and fifteen men, women, and little children, his own Ellinor, and Virginia Dare! He tells first of his troublesome voyage. The sea was rough and his "provisions were much wet"; the boat when they attempted to land tossed up and down, and some of his sailors were drowned, so it was late when he arrived. The Governor [13] was romantic. He and his company sang old familiar English songs, but no chorus came in response from the silent shore. "Seeing a fire through the woods we then sounded a trumpet, but no answer could we heare. The next morning we went to it, but could see nothing but the grasse and some rotten trees burning. We went up and downe the Ile and at last found three faire Romane Letters carved: C. R. O., which presently we knew to signifie the place where I should find them, according to a secret note betweene them and me: which was to write the name of the place they would be upon some tree, dore, or post: and if they had beene in any distresse, to signifie it by making a crosse above it. But we found no sign of distress" (doubtless the writer had been tomahawked before he finished his signal), "then we went to a place where there were sundry houses, and on one of the chief posts, carved in fayre capitall Letters, C. R. O. A. T. A. N., without any signe of distresse." Lead and iron and shot were scattered about overgrown [14] with weeds, and some "chists were found which had been hidden and digged up againe, which when I saw I knew three to be my owne, but books, pictures, and all things els were spoyled. Though it much grieved me, yet it did comfort me to know they were at Croatan."

But the Governor never went in search of them at the Indian village indicated! He weighed anchor to that end, but cables broke, etc. Considering they had but one anchor and their "provision neare spent," they determined to go to Trinidad or some other island "to refresh ourselves and seeke for purchase that winter, and the next spring come againe to seeke our countrymen." But they met in the meantime with "many of the Queene's ships and divers others," and "left seeking our colony, that was never any of them found nor seene to this day 1622. And this was the conclusion of this plantation after so much time, labour, and charge consumed. Whereby we see," continues the Governor, who was poetic as well as romantic:— [15]

"Not all at once nor all alike, nor ever hath it been,
That God doth offer and confer his blessings upon men."

A most philosophic Governor, truly! Even to this day we feel more emotion at the possible fate of these hapless Englishmen. Had they perished from famine? Had they fallen before the Indian tomahawk? Had the women and children been spared and given to the chiefs according to savage custom? Alas for Virginia Dare! Three years they had looked for succour, and been basely forsaken by their countrymen. They were not forgotten altogether. Part of the errand of every ship thereafter, and part of every order sent out to the colony, was to "seek for Raleigh's men." But they had disappeared utterly—as silently and surely as the morning dew before the sun. Twenty years later friendly Indians told a story of doubtful value to William Strachey and others; but the secret is still a secret, and this disappearance of more than a hundred human beings is one of the strangest events in history. [16]


When Lord Bacon was informed that his great Queen Elizabeth had died just before daybreak, he exclaimed, "A fine morning before sun-rising,"—the rising of King James the First. Far more appropriate would have been the words, "The sun has set before the night."

James the First shambles across the pages of history a grotesque figure enough,—tottering on weak legs which seem incapable of supporting his padded dirk-proof doublet, with pockets further distended by the unread petitions ("sifflications" as he termed them) of his unhappy subjects. From his mother, so conspicuous for grace and beauty, he seems to have inherited nothing, unless we may credit the painters, who have given him beautiful hands. His broad Scotch was rendered more uncouth by a thick tongue which [17] filled to overflowing his coarse mouth. His lips never closed over his teeth. This body was a fitting casket for a depraved mind and heart. In vain may the elder D'Israeli and others modify, apologize, and cunningly seek out redeeming traits! His was a low, base nature, proven by every action—and never disproven by the brave words and pious formula with which he adorned his speech.

Only three years before the Virginia colonists set forth upon their momentous enterprise, Sir Charles Percy and Thomas Somerset had posted down to Scotland to hail James Stuart King of England. As King James of Scotland he had led rather a hard life—and although his mother's beautiful head had but lately fallen under an English axe, and although he had vowed eternal vengeance upon her murderers, he accepted the crown with childish eagerness.

His first request was peremptory: he must have money forthwith for his journey to London, and the crown jewels of England must be immediately [18] forwarded for the use of his homely wife. The Council ventured to ignore the latter. They thought he would hurry to London to attend the funeral of Elizabeth—seeing she had herself named him as her successor. "Give not my crown to a rascal!" she had said with her dying breath; "My cousin of Scotland is a king!" It was not to be supposed, however, that he would hasten his movements to honour "the defunct Queen," as he called her (seeing she had cut off his mother's head), so he dawdled on the way, hunting, feasting, and discovering the charms of "Theobald's" in Hertfordshire, where he afterwards spent so much of his royal time. All the way, in season and out of season, he would indulge in the oft-repeated words, "I am the King," as if to reassure himself of the fact and recall his powers and privileges. Casting about for opportunities to use them, his eye fell upon a petty thief, a cut-purse who had stolen some trifling coin from a courtier, had confessed his guilt, and begged for mercy. James had the man hanged without legal trial, [19] and when some cringing follower suggested that this procedure was irregular, had exclaimed, "God's wounds! I make what likes me law and gospel." (His oath—and each one of England's sovereigns had his own favourite profanity—was a little milder than Elizabeth's "God's death" and stronger than previous kings' "God's blood," "God's eyes," etc.) "God's wounds," stammered King James, "I make what likes me law and gospel!"

He also made what liked him knights and lords. Shutting his eyes, which could never endure the sight of a naked blade (and good reason!), he laid the knight-conferring sword on shoulders which might well tingle under the accolade, seeing how narrowly eyes escaped being put out, and ears cut off. He bestowed this distinction upon nearly every person he met during his journey. By the time he set foot in his palace of Whitehall, he had knighted two hundred individuals, without respect to distinction of merit or station. Before he had been three [20] months a king, he had bestowed the hitherto highly esteemed honour of knighthood upon seven hundred. It seemed to be a relief to his feelings, immediately after a tedious oration or ceremony, to create twenty or more knights.

Nor was he chary even of the honour of the English peerage, which Elizabeth had held at so high a value. He presently added sixty-two names to the list of peers. By that same token those of us who hunger for noble descent are very shy of the strawberry leaves that grew in James the First's time, and diligently seek for those that flourished under the smiles of earlier potentates.

King James I.

This was the grotesque figure before which England's great noblemen kneeled down and did their homage: Lord Bacon, Cecil, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Grey, and hosts of others. To Northumberland Lord Bacon had written: "Your Lordship shall find a prince the furthest from vain-glory that may be, and rather like a prince of the ancient form than of the latter [21] time. His speech is swift and cursory, and in the full dialect of his nation, in speech of business short, in speech of discourse large," etc. Other persons, however, were less indulgent than Bacon. They marked his "legs too weak to carry his body, his tongue too large for his mouth, his goggle eyes, rolling and yet vacant, his apparel neglected and dirty, his unmanly fears and ridiculous precautions," and expressed their consequent astonishment and disgust. As time went on, these personal defects paled in importance compared with the low tastes and principles he developed. It matters not that he was learned in the Latin tongue, and an obstinate supporter, in word at least, of the Protestant faith. All history of poor human nature proves that taste, beauty, learning may coexist with diabolical wickedness. It is hard to believe it, although we see it every day. It was abundantly proven in King James's reign.

Of course we may imagine the society led by such a court. Never was there more injustice, [22] outrageous favouritism, disregard of the rights of birth and property, more vice in high places, more extravagance, drunkenness, and debauchery. It was unsafe to walk in the streets of London after nightfall. A portion of the city was set apart as a refuge for murderers and lawbreakers, whence the law had no power to drag them. Life was held cheap in King James's time. Heads fell on the block as a matter of course. Great ladies drove in their coaches to see Mrs. Turner executed. "Saw three men hanged and so to breakfast," said Samuel Pepys a little later.

The common people were wretchedly poor. They slept on straw and lived on barley. Only the servants of the rich could eat rye bread. Vagrants and beggars swarmed over the kingdom. In a pamphlet entitled "Grievous Groans of the Poor," the writer complains that "The country is pitifully pestered with those who beg, filch, and steal for their maintenance, and travel the highway of hell until the law bring them to fearful hanging." What to do with these swarming [23] "rogues," in case they could not be hanged, was a tough question with Lord Coke,[4] conveniently answered later by imposing them upon the starving colonists.

The picturesque beggar was not a very costly luxury. A curious pamphlet entitled "Stanley's Remedy, or the Way to Reform Wandering Beggars, Thieves, Highway Robbers, and Pickpockets," was published in 1646, in which the cost of the diet and maintenance of every thievish, idle, drunken person in the kingdom was estimated at threepence a day at least.

Of course it was unsafe for "true men" to travel except in numbers and well armed, and whoever was about to take a journey had to wait until a tolerably strong caravan had mustered for the same route. Among the chief places of danger was Gadshill in Kent, where Falstaff achieved the glory of killing the already dead Percy.

Thieves are always more interesting in a story than noblemen, but the Virginia colony was more [24] intimate with the latter than the former; at least until the King graciously reënforced their numbers with a cargo of outlaws. The company that undertook to support the colony was a London Company, and the adventurers were mainly citizens of London. Those who held the title of "gentlemen" may reasonably be supposed to have known something of the luxuries they were now exchanging for the hardships of colonial life. Some idea of the extravagance of the time may be gleaned from old diaries and letters.

A very curious letter has been preserved, which reveals the domestic economy of a family of distinction during the reign of James the First. It is from the daughter of Sir John Spenser and wife of the Earl of Northampton to her lord soon after their marriage. It is an amusing list of the necessities of a lady of rank: "My sweet life, now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your estate, I suppose it were best for me to bethink and consider within myself what allowance were meet for me," and she proceeds [25] to ask the sum of £2600, to be paid quarterly. In addition to this, she must have £600 quarterly for sundries not to be accounted for. In addition, the lady feels that she needs "three horses that none shall dare lend or borrow," two gentlewomen and a horse for each; six or eight mounted gentlemen, two coaches lined with velvet, four horses to each; a coach for each of her women with gold lace, scarlet cloth; four horses, and two coachmen for each coach; carriages for six laundresses and other serving women; a gentleman usher on horseback; two footmen; all of which to be maintained by her husband. For apparel she needs twenty gowns, £6000 to buy jewels, £4000 to buy a pearl chain, in all $76,000. For her house she wishes him to furnish beds, stools, chairs, cushions, carpets; silver warming-pans; fair hangings, and cupboards of plate, "all things fine and delicate." And in addition to all these she thinks it would save trouble to have £2000 in case of emergency. The letter concludes, "It is my desire that you lend no money, as you [26] love God, to my Lord Chamberlain, who would have all, perhaps your life, from you." And then, on second thoughts, she asks that when her husband becomes an earl £2000 more be allowed her and double attendance.[5] A note to the letter adds, "Her husband went out of his wits."

We cannot begin to describe the Elizabethan magnificence in dress. The artificial taste for dainty and costly living was also abundantly evident in the epicurism of the time. The court that allotted a scanty diet of cereal, oil, and vinegar to the men it sent out to subdue a wilderness, could partake of no simple food or drink. The cookery was complicated and consisted mainly of "villanous compounds" of great cost. Butter, cream, marrow, ambergris, lemons, spices, dried fruits, oranges, the scarce sugar—all of these entered largely in the composition of dishes. We read, among the simple dishes, of an artificial hen made of paste, sitting [27] upon eggs in each of which, enclosed in paste, was a fat nightingale seasoned with ambergris, then the most costly of flavours. There were snails stewed or fried in oil, vinegar, and spices; frogs dressed into fricassees. There was a wonderful receipt for cooking herring. "In hell they'll roast thee like a herring," was the warning to Tam O'Shanter, but herrings were not roasted in King James's time, Scotchman although he was. Here is a receipt for salted herring[6] or "herring-pie," a little bit of which might serve as an appetizer: "Take salt herrings being watered (soaked), wash them between your hands and you shall loose the fish from the skin; take off the skin whole, and lay them in a dish; then have a pound of almond paste ready; mince the herrings and stamp them with the almond paste; two milts or roes; five or six dates, some grated manchet, sugar, sack, rose-water and saffron; make the composition [28] somewhat stiff and fill the skins; put butter in the bottom of your pie, lay on the herring, and on them dates, gooseberries, currants, barberries, and butter; close it up and bake it; being baked, liquor it with butter, verjuice, and sugar."

There was once a gathering of marquises, lords, knights, and squires at Newcastle to celebrate a great anniversary, and each guest was required to bring a dish. The specimen of Sir George Goring was reckoned a masterpiece. It consisted of four huge, brawny pigs, piping hot, bitted and harnessed with ropes of sausages all tied to a monstrous bag-pudding.[7] The narrator explains that "on some occasions a coarse and clownish dish was a pleasing variety."

We can imagine George Percy, John Smith, Gosnold, Newport (all of whom were doubtless received in court circles), dining on this costly fare, and drinking healths on their knees when the [29] King was toasted. So much of the drinking was attributed to Danish influence that it was a common saying that "The Danes had again conquered England."

Before we join our colonists in their perilous enterprise we briefly sketch some of the peculiarities of the life whence they came. This will help to account for some things that follow. Of the political and literary aspects of the times, we must be allowed a short notice, in order that the ensuing story may be better understood.

A great convulsion, incident upon the Reformation, had passed over the world. It raged on the Continent, and then extended to England and Scotland, where it lasted until the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession to the throne of James the First, when Protestantism was firmly established. The Roman Catholics were in high disfavour. The dreadful Gunpowder Plot had aggravated the bitterness against them. England, all the corruption at court notwithstanding, was full of religious enthusiasts. With them the experiment [30] in Virginia was only the beginning of the conversion of a great multitude of savages. The first charter expressed[8] a pious longing that "so noble a work may by the providence of God hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty in the propagating of the Christian religion to such people as sit in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God." "This is the work we first intended," says a writer of the time, "and have published to the world to be chief in our thoughts; to bring the infidel people from the worship of Devils to the service of God." "The end of this voyage is the destruction of the Devil's Kingdom," said the good clergyman who preached to the adventurers on the eve of their embarkation.

A more restless, inconsistent age cannot possibly be imagined. In literature a race of giants appeared whose works were the expression of the times. The epoch flowered in the great names which have made the age of Elizabeth so illustrious. [31] Bacon had published his "Advancement of Learning," Spenser his "Faerie Queene," Shakespeare was at the head of a great group of literary giants. A fine stage was set for the monarch, just three years on his throne. He might have been the central jewel of a splendid setting! He might have been the inspiration of a noble era. All the material was at his hand. As it was, it is marvellous he did not plunge the country into ruin. Old England owes much to her House of Commons: "A troublesome body," said James, "but how can I get rid of it? I found it here!"

When Bartholomew Gosnold, Richard Hakluyt, Robert Hunt, John Smith, and others succeeded in obtaining a royal charter from the King, he busied himself in drawing up the instrument for the government of the colony.[9] "Everything began and ended with the King." A council of thirteen in London, appointed by himself, was to govern, controlling a subordinate council in Virginia. Trial by jury was allowed [32] to criminals. The Christian religion was to be preached to the Indians. In other respects, the colony would have no rights other than those which King James the First chose to allow it. There were to be two colonies, one hundred miles to intervene between the boundaries of the two. The boundaries of the southern colony were enlarged and exactly defined in 1609. It was to embrace the territory two hundred miles north and two hundred miles south of the mouth of James River, and "to reach up into the land from sea to sea."

This vast territory was coolly claimed by the King of England, without the slightest regard to the present sojourners on the soil. Had they been wandering tribes never remaining long in one place, had the area of country been a debatable land, the claim might have been reasonable, but it soon appeared that the kingdom of Powhatan had descended to him from generation to generation, or been acquired by conquest. The land was accurately measured and "staked out," and [33] was owned by his captains, who knew and respected their boundaries.

All these things combined, we can better understand the disasters and sufferings which ensued upon the landing of our adventurers. [34]


The most momentous hour in the history of this country was when three small ships "fell down the Thames from London," freighted with one hundred and five Englishmen on their way to plant England's first colony.

"This was the event," said a great American, "which decided our own fate; which guided our destiny before we were born, and settled the conditions in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on earth."

The story of the company which was organized in London for this expedition, of the charter granted by James the First, of the means adopted to insure its success, and the mistakes we can now so easily perceive—all this has been told in many histories. It is a long story; also one involving side issues not within the scope of this writing. It [35] is sufficient to say that the emigrants were subjected[10] to the ordinances of a commercial corporation of which they could not be members; to the dominion of a domestic council in the appointing of which they had no voice; to the control of a superior council in England which had no sympathy with their rights; and finally to the arbitrary legislation of the sovereign.

Of the names of the three little ships which fell down the Thames, we can be quite sure of two, the Discovery and the Goodspeed. The other—the flagship—is quoted sometimes as Sarah Constant, again as Susan Constant. They were small ships, one only a "pinnasse"; and were under the command of another Christopher—Christopher Newport. Christopher Columbus discovered us, Christopher Newport colonized us. He was an "experienced navigator"; but his career in Virginia abundantly illustrated the fact that England's great hero was not the only admiral who could do some very foolish things on [36] land. However, he brought our colony safely, and through many sea perils, to Virginia.

We happen to know something of his men, and everything of his cargo. Of the latter, we have a careful list. Each man had one suit of "apparrell, three paire of Irish stockings, four paire of shooes," and canvas to make a bed. Of arms and tools he had no stint, also iron utensils for cooking and wooden spoons and platters. The ration for each man was twelve bushels of cereal (oatmeal or peas), one gallon of aqua vitæ, two gallons of vinegar, one of oil. This for a whole year! Some of the grain was to be carefully "kept for sowing." For meat the immigrant must rely on his gun, and the rivers would yield him food.

The admiral was provided with a goodly cargo of small mirrors, bells, and glass beads with which to purchase the friendship of "the naturells," and also substantial articles of food. The Virginia real estate was not to be purchased. King James had a simpler method of acquiring it. [37] The tiny ships afforded small space for furniture, bedding, or other household articles.

The officers of the colony, Governor, Council, etc., were not yet known, and could therefore claim no privileges. The eccentric King had ordered their names to be placed in a sealed box, to be opened when they landed. Some private packages were, however, allowed. The clergyman, Master Robert Hunt, carried "a goodly number of books." Master Wingfield had also, as he tells us, "sorted many books in my house to be sent up to mee in a truncke at my goeing to Virginia with divers fruits, conserves and preserves, which I did sett at Master Croft's house at Ratcliff. I understand that my truncke was thear broken up, much lost, my sweetmeates eaten at his table, some of my bookes seene in his hands, and whether amongst them my Bible was there ymbeasiled I knowe not." That his divers conserves and preserves should have been given precedence over his Bible and books was not without reason. Books and Bibles could be bought [38] or borrowed, but very little sugar was imported into England at that time, and sweetmeats were a rare and costly luxury. The Englishman had no marmalade for his breakfast until the Queen of Scots introduced it.

There were, as we have said, one hundred and five men who went forth to subdue the wilderness. These men were to make the reign of James the First memorable as the commencement of the English colonies in America—"colonies," says Hume, "established on the noblest footing that has been known in any age or nation." They were destined for more than this—more than the historian's fancy could have foreseen in its wildest flight into the regions of romance.

Most of the company were "gentlemen," unused to labour, who probably had never handled an axe or suffered a physical privation. There were forty-eight "Gentlemen" and twelve "labourers,"—"a halfpenny-worth of bread to an intolerable deal of sack,"—one surgeon, one blacksmith, two bricklayers (for a country where there were [39] no bricks), a drummer, and some boys. They were going to a wilderness in which not a house was standing and there were only four carpenters! In the next supply jewellers and perfumers were sent out to help subdue the American wilderness.

Their recognized guide and leader, during the voyage, was their captain, Christopher Newport. To his care was committed the sealed box of instructions which was to remain unopened until the adventurers reached Virginia. The box, they knew, contained the names of their future rulers, and they felt great solicitude on this subject. Every prominent man was scanned and measured, and strong party feeling grew up immediately among them. It was not possible, they well knew, that any choice of their own would decide the matter. Of the two "experienced navigators" whose services had already been acknowledged by the King—Gosnold and Newport—one only would be eligible. Captain Newport was to take the ships back to England, but Gosnold might be their Governor. [40] One who was preëminently conspicuous was Captain John Smith, who had commenced life as a poor orphan, and was already famous at twenty-seven. It was possible he might be their ruler despite his years. He was old in experience, in suffering, and in those elements which lie at the foundation of greatness. Then there was the son of the great Earl of Northumberland, George Percy, of the same age as John Smith, but in striking contrast to him in every respect,—fresh from the cloisters of the Middle Temple; quiet, thoughtful; of the ancient powerful family of Percy and yet taking his place modestly with the rest. Wingfield was on board, also Master Crofts, and Gabriel Archer, Thomas Studley, John Martin, and Anas Todkill, all to be heard from again in the colony of which they were to become the historians. These and others were "gentlemen" and possible rulers. A certain John Laydon appears among the "labourers," destined to win the first English maiden who set foot on the soil of Jamestown, and to become the [41] father of the first child born in the established colony of Virginia.

Without doubt, Smith, Gosnold, Newton, and some others were possessed with the prevailing spirit of adventure, the incentive of rivalry, and a high ambition for the glory and honour of England. Not so, alas, George Percy, to whom England had been a stern mother indeed; not so Robert Hunt, whose heart burned with the spirit of the Christian missionary, and (if need be) of the Christian martyr as well; not so the spendthrift "gentlemen" who sought the "pearle and gold" promised by the poet; nor the boy who frankly confessed that he had run away "being in displeasure of my friends." The company seems to have been gathered at haphazard—not at all with regard to its fitness, but simply by accepting the few who were willing to brave the dangers of life among the savages.

Of the Indian they had learned enough to fear him. He had early dropped his "gentle and loving" mask, and revealed himself in his true [42] colours. "An Englishman was his natural enemy to be slain wherever seen,"—shot to death with arrows if distant, and clubbed by wooden swords if nearer at hand; ambushed and trapped, deceived and betrayed, whenever circumstances forbade open warfare. And yet there was no military preparation for this expedition. Its authors affected to be inspired solely by zeal for the conversion of the Indian to Christianity, and their messengers were men of peace. Whatever their station, whatever their motives, these were the men ever to be held by us in grateful remembrance. They made many mistakes, of which we learn from their own confessions and criticisms of each other; but the sacrifices and sufferings awaiting them were beyond all precedent. They "broke the way with tears which many followed with a song."

The sailing of the ships awakened so little interest in England that the event is hardly noticed in history. All England was shaken to its foundations by the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, [43] and punishment of the conspirators. That three little vessels were to depart, as many had departed before, to seek a footing in America, was, by comparison with the troubles at home, of small consequence. The poet Drayton, however, composed a lyric in honour of the occasion, which I commend to the indulgence of my reader. It is not for me to criticise an Elizabethan poet or deny him space on my pages!

"You brave heroique minds
Worthie your Countries' name
That honour still pursue,
Go and subdue;
Whilst Loyt'ring hinds
Lurke here at home with shame.
"Britons, you stay too long!
Quickly aboard bestow you,
And with a merry gale
Swell your stretch'd sail
With vows as strong
As the winds that blow you.
"And cheerfully at sea
Success you will intice, [44]
To get the pearle and gold,
And ours to hold
Earth's only paradise.
"And in regions far
Such heroes bring yee forth
As those from whom we came;
And plant our name
Under that starre
Not knowne unto our North."

And so with prayer and psalm and song—and doubtless tears—our pilgrims were sped on their way. New Year's day, 1607, found them on the great ocean in tiny vessels which were to be their homes for five wintry months.

Old London—1607.



The voyage of the Virginia colonists began, as it ended, in a storm. One of their number, Thomas Studley, tells the story in quaint language:[11] "By unprosperous winds we were kept six weekes in the sight of England; all of which time, Maister Hunt our Preacher was so weak and sicke that few expected his recoverie. Yet although he were but 10 or 12 miles from his habitation (the time we were in the Downes), and notwithstanding the stormie weather, nor the scandalous imputations (of some few little better than Atheists, of the greatest ranke amongst us) suggested against him; all this could never force from him so much as a seeming desire to leave the businesse so many discontents did then arise; had he not, with the water of patience, and [46] his godly exhortations (but chiefly by his true devoted examples) quenched those flames of envie and dissension."

By "the Atheist of greatest ranke" was meant, doubtless, George Percy, the Roman Catholic; but in the light of his subsequent career it is impossible to believe him guilty of "scandalous imputations" or "disastrous designs." We can imagine young Percy wrapped in his cloak and pacing the deck of the ship, his face perhaps turned northward where lay his forefathers' estates, crowned by Alnwick Castle, the princely home for many generations of the Percys, Earls of Northumberland, "for virtue and honour second to not any in the country." From Alnwick Castle had gone forth more than one Harry Hotspur to risk all and lose all in the Border wars, and later in the intestine wars of England. An Earl of Northumberland had taken arms in defence of the unhappy Queen of Scots and paid for his devotion on the scaffold. His brother Henry, Earl of Northumberland, father of George [47] Percy, had been committed to the Tower, accused of conspiring to liberate Queen Mary, and had destroyed himself "to balk Elizabeth of the forfeiture of his lands." Decision between conflicting parties had often been forced upon these noble earls, and been met openly, bravely, and loyally, whether or no the cause had prospered.

Upon the accession of James to the throne, the fortunes of the family had seemed to revive. To George Percy's brother had been assigned the honour of announcing to him the death of Elizabeth. The present Earl of Northumberland (the eldest brother of George Percy) had rapidly risen in favour. Then the discovery of the fatal Gunpowder Plot—the treason of fanatic Catholics—had revealed a Percy among its most active ringleaders. Although a distant relative of the Earl, he was still a Percy; and all who bore the name suffered from unjust suspicion. The Earl of Northumberland was now a prisoner in the Tower, accused of no crime except a desire to be a leader of the detested Roman Catholics. [48] George Percy could hope for no honour, no career, no home in England. Nor could he expect to find career, home, honour in the wilderness, but there he could at least hide his breaking heart!

That he was a brave, honourable gentleman we know from the testimony of those who laboured with him for the good of the colony. Without doubt he held himself aloof from his fellows on the voyage. He was on the deck on the night of the 12th of February, and perhaps turning his longing eyes toward his northern home, when he saw a blazing star,—which flashed out of the sky for a moment and was as suddenly hidden in darkness,—fit emblem of the fallen fortunes of his house. He simply records the fact in his calm "Discourse of the Plantation," adding "and presently came a storm."

The baleful "flames of envy and dissension" were not altogether quenched by good Master Hunt's "waters of patience." They broke out again and again during the long voyage of five [49] months. John Smith appears to have angered his fellow-travellers in some way, and he was held in confinement during part of the voyage. It is even stated that when they arrived at the island of Mevis a gallows was erected for him, but "he could not be prevailed upon to use it." He was, by far, the ablest man among the first colonists. In the twenty-nine years of his life he had adventures enough for all the historical novels of a century. Perhaps he boasted of them too much, and thus excited "envy and dissension." Have they not filled nearly a thousand pages of a late story of his life? He could tell of selling his books and satchel when he was a boy to get money to run away from home; of startling events all along until he fought the Turks in Transylvania; of cutting off the heads, in combat, of three of them "to delight the Ladies who did long to see some court-like pastime"; of inventing wonderful fire-signals which were triumphantly successful in war; of beating out the brains of a Bashaw's head; of imprisonment and peril, in which [50] lovely ladies succoured him. What wonder that all this, and more, told in a masterful way, should have aroused suspicion that he intended to seize the government of the colony, aided and abetted by conspirators already at hand in all three of the ships!

Evidently the voyage was not a dull one. It was diversified also by frequent storms—no light matter in the little rolling vessels. The path of the ships was not the one we now travel in six days. The mariner in the sixteenth century and the early days of the next knew but one path across the ocean—that sailed by Columbus. They turned their prows southward, "watered" at the Bahamas, and then sought the Gulf Stream to help them northward again.

Captain Newport's destination was Roanoke Island; part of his duty was to search for Raleigh's lost colony. Three days "out of his reckoning," his passengers, like Columbus's crew, grew discontented and discouraged, and wished to return homeward. At last they sighted the shores of [51] Virginia, and a tempest blew them within the capes of Chesapeake Bay. Upon one of these they erected a cross, naming the cape "Henry" in honour of the Prince of Wales. The opposite point was named after the King's second son, the Duke of York, afterward Charles the First. Attempting to land here, they were met with a flight of arrows—a stern Virginia welcome—and two of their number were wounded. The new nation was born in a storm, its baptism was of blood, and the Furies relentlessly hovered over its cradle.

When the sealed box was opened, the appointed council was found to be Bartholomew Gosnold, Edward Maria Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, George Kendall, and their prisoner John Smith. These were to elect their own President for one year. Later they elected Wingfield.[12] He and the Council were invested with the government; affairs of moment were to be examined by a jury, but [52] determined by the Council. The first presidential election in the United States of America was held April 26, 1607.

Seventeen days were spent in quest of a place of settlement, sailing up and down the river, on the banks of which the Indians were clustered like swarming bees. Sundry adventures of small moment introduced them rather favourably to the Indians, who seemed, Percy thought, "as goodly men" as any he had "ever seen of savages, their prince bearing himself in a proud, modest fashion with great majesty." What they thought of the English had already been expressed in an unequivocal manner. They, however, offered no further violence.

Memorial erected by Clergy of the Episcopal Church at Jamestown Island.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

According to instructions in their locked box, the colonists were admonished not to settle too near the bay because of the Spaniards, nor away from the highway—the river—because of the Indians. At last they found a peninsula which impressed them favourably. It was on the north side of the river Powhatan, as James River was [53] called by the savages, and fifty-eight above the Virginia capes.[13] The peninsula, now an island, was small, only two and three-fourths miles long and one-fourth of a mile wide. It was connected with the mainland by a little isthmus, apparent only at low tide; and this was the spot selected for the settlement which was named, in honour of the King, Jamestown.

They could hardly have made a worse selection. The situation was extremely unhealthful, being low and exposed to the malaria of extensive marshes covered with water at high tide. The settlers landed, probably in the evening because of the tide, on the 13th of May, 1607.[14] This was the first permanent settlement effected by the English in North America, after a lapse of one hundred and ten years from the discovery of the continent by the Cabots, and twenty-two years after the attempt to colonize it under the auspices of Sir Walter Raleigh. Upon landing, the [54] Council took the oath of office; Edward Maria Wingfield, as we have seen, was elected President, and Thomas Studley, Cape-Merchant or Treasurer. Smith was excluded from the Council upon some false pretences. Dean Swift says, "When a great genius appears in the world, the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

One reason for the selection of the low peninsula was the fact that the water was deep enough near the banks of the river for the ships to be moored close to the land and tethered to the trees, thus facilitating the transportation of the cargo. These trees presented a novel appearance to the Englishmen. The Indians had stripped them of their lower branches as high as a man could reach, for they had no axes to aid them in collecting fuel. All the tangled undergrowth had been cleared away and burned. A horseman could safely ride through them. The grove was like a great cathedral with many columns, its floor tiled with moss and sprinkled with flowers. We may be sure that good Master Hunt gathered his [55] flock around him without delay, and standing in their midst under the trees uttered, for the first time in the western world, the solemn invocation:

"The Lord is in His Holy Temple;
Let all the earth keep silence before Him."

The new land had been claimed for an earthly potentate; he now claimed it for the King of kings. Immediately "all hands fell to work." Every article, every utensil, was removed from the ships, which were to be no longer the homes of the colonists. The stores were brought on land and covered with old sails; a hasty barricade was thrown up for defence against the savages; tents were set up; but we are told that the soft May air was so delicious, the men elected to lie upon the warm earth; and there, having set their watch to "ward all the night," with nothing but the whispering leaves between them and the stars, they slept the sweet sleep of weariness of body and contentment of soul. [56]


When the colonists looked around them on the first day in their new home, they beheld a scene which will never again in the history of this world be spread before the eyes of man.

Before them lay a vast land just as God made it. No furrow had followed the plough or wheel of civilization. The earth had been pressed by nothing sterner than the light hoof of the reindeer or the moccasined foot of the Indian. No seed had ever drifted hither on the winds, or been brought by a bird wanderer from a distant country. The land was bounded by vast, untravelled seas. The earth had been stirred in cultivation only by the hands of women and children, unaided by any implement of steel or iron. In the forests and fields the great mystery of birth and death and birth again had silently gone on unmarked for countless ages. There was literally no known [57] past, no record of a yesterday which might explain the problems of to-day.

Of course the English colonist would be keenly curious as to the fauna and flora of the new land. There were "such faire meadowes and goodly tall trees," says Percy,[15] "with such Fresh-waters running through the woods, as I was almost ravished at the first sight thereof. My selfe and three or foure more walking into the Woods, by chance we espied a path-way like to an Irish pace. We were desirous to knowe whither it would bring us. Wee traced along some foure miles, all the way as wee went having the pleasantest Suckles, the ground all bespred and flowing over with faire flowers of sundry colours and kindes as though it had been any Garden or Orchard in England."

Mute witnesses to the truth of Percy's picture will be found at the opening of our coming celebration, if our guests can find a convenient forest. In it will be seen just the flowers that so [58] ravished his soul: the white honeysuckles, the scarlet trumpet creeper, the clematis, white and purple tipped, the sweetbrier, violets, swamp roses, red swamp lilies.

"There be many Strawberries," continues Percy, "and other fruites unknowne. Wee saw the Woods full of Cedar and Cypresse Trees with other trees (out of) which issues our sweet Gummes like to Balsam, and so wee kept on our way in this Paradise." There were not many "fruits unknown." One of these, highly esteemed, was "maracocks"—the seed-pod of the passionflower,[16] which was not dismissed from the list of Virginia fruits until the middle of the last century. Until then it was cultivated in gardens for its fruit as well as its flowers. There was also another new fruit, still prized by the Virginia schoolboy, and still found by him to "draw a man's mouth awrie with much torment" if incautiously meddled with when green or yellow. Only when red is it ripe and "as delicious as an [59] Apricocke." Need we say this is the Virginia persimmon—a corruption of the "putchamin" of the Indian? There were no peaches or apples, only two kinds of plums, grapes, and berries,—strawberries, mulberries, and whortleberries or "hurts." All other fruits were introduced by the English. There were no sheep, oxen, goats, or horses, no chickens or other domestic poultry. There were wild turkeys, none domesticated. The deer was king, but never used as a beast of burden. Bears, rabbits or hares, squirrels, the otter and the beaver; birds without number (their king the eagle)—these were indigenous to the new land, planted there when God made it, their flesh the food of man, their skins his garment.

And there, too, was man as God made him. To this day nothing is known of the origin of the North American Indian—whence he came, or what his early history. There he was—having evolved little for himself. His one discovery had been fire. He had used what he found, but [60] manufactured little except bows and arrows, rude mats and baskets woven of grass, earthen pipes and pots, and uncouth garments fashioned without scissors or knives, and sewed with the sinews of the deer. He had no textile fabric of any kind. When necessary to defend himself against the cold, he had killed a deer or raccoon and slipped his shivering limbs within the skin, or fashioned a mantle of the warm feathers of the turkey. In these he exhibited no perception of grace or beauty. Nature offered him her loveliest expression of both, but when he essayed ornament on his skin or scant garment, he elected only the terrible. Even the young girls bound horns to their heads instead of flowers. Writers of the period often speak of coral—but there was no coral in the Virginia waters. Pearls they had, and the teeth of animals to string for beads and fringes.

The Indian had made no utensil of iron or the copper he so much prized. When he needed a canoe or bowl, he burnt the wood, then scraped it [61] with oyster shells, and burned again, until the wood was hollowed out. How he ever felled a tree is a mystery! Weeks of scraping and burning were spent on each canoe. He had no written language, no signs recording past events. He had done nothing for himself except to minister to the needs of the hour. There was no hieroglyphic, no testimony of the rocks. Even the humble art of pottery, the earliest trace of the human race, was not found among the American Indians to any extent. A few broken earthen pipes and bowls, arrow-heads of flint, remnants of shell necklaces, these are all that the ploughshare of the labourer or the pick and shovel of the antiquarian have ever revealed.

Of the temper and disposition of the "Naturells," as King James called them, we shall have abundant occasion to learn; but as Powhatan and his people play a leading rôle in the following story it is indispensable that my reader be made acquainted with the religion, customs, and habits of this tribe of Indians. We have given space [62] to a brief sketch of the English monarch. The American monarch surely claims some attention before we enter upon the story of the struggle between the two: between the Stuarts of England and the Algonquins of America!

Historians of the Indians have asserted that the tribes under King Philip and those subject to Powhatan were of a higher class than many other of the North American Indians, more restrained by social and tribal laws, more cleanly in their habits, more intelligent in every way. They are an intensely interesting and mysterious people, and romantic writers love to invest them with virtues which the Powhatans, at least, did not possess. John Smith and Strachey argue that "they are inconstant in everie thing but what peace constraineth them to keepe. Craftie, timerous, quicke of apprehension, and very ingenious: some bold, most cautious, all Savage: soone moved to anger, and so malitious they seldom forget an injury." Schoolcraft, the modern Indian historian, said to me "they had not a single virtue or single [63] trait of true nobility." They never met a foe in an open field,—cunning was their best weapon,—but some virtues they surely had, nevertheless. [64]


Hidden in a dense forest on the banks of the Pamunkey, was Uttamussac, the greatest temple in Powhatan's kingdom. In every territory governed by a "werowance" there were smaller temples and priests. Each of the petty rulers under the great emperor had his spiritual adviser—some priest or conjurer, wise in the sacred mysteries and beloved of the gods, from whose decisions in spiritual matters there was no appeal. According to the wealth of the werowance were the size and dignity of the temple, varying from a small arbour of twenty feet to a structure a hundred feet long. The door opened to the east, and there were pillars and windings within, with rude black images looking down the church to the platform of reeds; upon which, wrapped in skins, lay the skeletons of dead priests and kings. Beneath the platform, veiled with a mat of woven [65] grasses, sat "Okeus," an ill-favoured black demon, well hung with chains of pearl and copper. He it was to whom children must be sacrificed, lest he blight the corn, or cause briers to wound the feet and limbs of travellers through the forests, or enemies to prevail, or women to be barren or false, or thunder and lightning to destroy. He it was who had been seen leaping through the corn-fields, crying "Ohé! Ohé!" just before some signal disaster. There was also a far-away, peaceable God, variously known as "Ahone" or "Kiwassa"—"The One All Alone." He too had once walked among them. Are there not gigantic footprints five feet apart on the rocks yet visible near Richmond at Powhatan? These are the footprints of the good god as he once strode through the land of the great chief. To him it was, of course, unnecessary to sacrifice, inasmuch as he was by nature benevolent. But he was not as powerful as Okeus—Okeus, who sternly held the scales of justice, and was to be placated by nothing short of their dearest [66] and best, their precious, innocent little children.

The pious men who emigrated to Virginia within the first twenty years of its settlement firmly believed that Satan had here established his kingdom; that the priests were his ministers, inspired by him to threaten the people unless they held to the ancient customs of their fathers. It was remembered that in all ages of the world this arch-enemy of mankind had demanded human sacrifice from his followers,—from the times of the ancient Carthaginians, Persians, and Britons. Now, in Florida, he claimed the first-born male child, and in Mexico prisoners taken in war. The priests of Powhatan failed not to instruct the werowances that if the prescribed number of children were withheld, Okeus, who was sure to prevail in the end, would then be appeased only by a hecatomb of children. Nor would any sacrifice avert his wrath if a nation despising the ancient religion of their forefathers was permitted to inhabit among them, since their [67] own god had hitherto preserved them and from age to age given them victory over their enemies.

The conversion, therefore, of the Indian was next to impossible, unless indeed the first step could be the destruction of priest and temple. Chanco and Pocahontas, and possibly Kemps, were for many years the only fruits of the labours of the missionaries. Taunted by the powers at home with this fact, the colonists retorted that they had sent many Indians to England, not one of whom returned converted to Christianity. The Indian chief Pepisco was long an object of hope at Jamestown, because of his apparently candid willingness to believe in the God of the Christian; but the utmost he could attain was a belief that the Indian gods were suitable for the Indian, but that the greater nation needed the greater God, for whose good offices he was willing to entreat through the white man.

Had the fate of the Indian been to live in peace and friendship with his white brother to this day, it is not probable he would have ever been [68] at heart a Christian. Druidism long survived, though in obscurity and decay, the thunder of the imperial edicts. It did more than survive in Ireland—it flourished until the fifth century, when it fell before the Christian enthusiasm of St. Patrick. Long after the Druidical priesthood was extinct, Druidical superstitions, Druidical rites, were dear to the common people. Nor will they become utterly extinct until we cease to gather the mistletoe and forget the sports and pastimes at Hallowe'en.

So grim and mysterious was the principal temple at Uttamussac on the Pamunkey, that the trembling Indian in his canoe hurried past it with bated breath, solemnly casting into the waters pieces of the precious copper, puccoon, and strings of pearls. In this temple, and in two others beside it, were images of devils, and upon raised platforms the swathed skeletons of their greatest kings. The place was so holy that none but priests entered it. There they questioned Okeus and received verbal answers. [69]

"The trembling Indian in his canoe hurried past it with bated breath."

The chief priest and his assistants wore a sacred official robe ornamented with serpent skins. Their faces were painted in the most frightful devices they could imagine. Their heads were wreathed, Medusa-like, with stuffed serpents, and in their hands they carried rattlesnakes' tails, as symbols of their profession. Their devotion was in antiphonal chants or songs, led by the chief priest, and often interrupted by his starts, passionate gestures, and ejaculations. At his every pause the attending priests groaned a sort of fearsome "amen." We may fancy the Indian on dark nights hurrying past with muffled paddle as the weird songs and groans were borne by the midnight breeze to his trembling ears!

They held the belief, common with all mankind, of the immortality of the soul, of the home—ah! in all faiths, so far away—of the escaped spirit. But this immortality was the reward only of the faithful. All others passed into utter nothingness.

Many fables were taught by the priests to the [70] ignorant. Captain Argall was once trading with Japazaws, a Potomac chief who had been always friendly, and the latter came aboard the pinnace one cold night, and seated himself by the fire while one of the men read the Bible aloud to the Captain. "The Indian gave a very attent eare, and looked with a very wisht eye upon him as if he longed to understand what was read, whereupon the Captayne tooke the booke, and turned to the picture of the Creation of the World in the begyninge of the booke, and caused a boy, one Spelman who had lvyed a whole yere with this Indian Kinge and spake his language, to shewe it unto him and interpret it in his language which the boy did." The king, in return, offered to relate his own articles of belief on the same subject, and a string of marvellous exploits followed in which a wonderful hare, an Indian "Brer Rabbit," bore the chief part. Captain Argall instructed his interpreter to ask of what materials the original man and woman were made, but Henry Spelman was unwilling to venture so much. [71] Negotiations were pending for his release after a long residence with the Indians, and he dared take no liberties.

The persistent enmity of Powhatan to the English was planted long before their arrival in 1608. Strachey and Purchas, men of high character and great learning, consider it absolutely certain that he ordered the massacre of both of the Roanoke colonies. He was said, in 1610, to be more than eighty years old. He had been a daring, ambitious ruler in his youth, perpetually on the war-path, enlarging his dominions by conquest,—like Alexander, only quiet when there were no more worlds to conquer. He "awaits his opportunity (inflamed by his bloudy priests)," says Strachey, "to offer us a tast of the same cuppe which he made our poore countrymen drink of at Roanoke. He has established a line of sentinels, extending from Jamestown to any house where he holds his court, and news of any movement by the English ships quickly passes from one to another and reaches him wherever [72] he happeneth to be. He is persuaded that the English are come to dethrone him and take away his land."

Prophecies had been made by the priests that a nation would come from the East which would destroy him and his empire, that twice he should thwart and overthrow the strangers, but the third time he would fall under their subjection. This then was the fateful third! "Strange whispers and secrett, ran among the people. Every newes or blast of rumour struck them, to which they would open wyde their eares, and keepe their eyes waking with good espiall of everything that sturred; the noyse of drums, the shrill trumpets and great ordinances would startle them how far soever from the reach of daunger. Suspicions bredd straunge feares amongst them, and those feares created straunge construccions, and those construccions begatt strong watch and gard especially about their great Kinge, who thrust forth trusty skowtes and carefull sentinells (as before mencyoned) which reached even from his [73] owne court down to our palisado gates, which answeared one another duly."

The Indian, as we have noted, knew not how to express himself by any kind of letters, by writing, or marks on trees, or pictures, as do other barbarians. They had no positive laws, their king ruling only by custom. His will was law. He was obeyed as a king and as a god. Traditional laws and rules were well understood by his successors, for the descent was not from father to son, but all the sons of one kingly father ruled successively, then all the daughters, so the children of one father were long the sole custodians and interpreters of the laws. The succession was through the heirs of the sisters, not through the men of the family. The ruling of the great Powhatan was most tyrannous, the punishment for trifling faults cruel to an extreme. He personally superintended the beating, the burning alive, the dismembering of those who displeased him.

The habitations of the Indians were all alike. [74] They had but one style of architecture. They usually built upon an elevation commanding a view of their only thoroughfare, the river, and not far from springs of fresh water. They built under the trees, for defence against winds and storms and the scorching heat of the summer sun. They planted young saplings in the earth and tied their tops together, covering all closely with the bark of trees.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, beautiful arbours of fragrant cedar were constructed after the Indian fashion as ornamental features in Virginia landscape gardening—omitting the bark, and shaving close the green foliage.

The walls of the Indian houses were lined with mats. A doorway was hung with a skin or mat. There were no windows or chimneys. A hole in the roof provided for the escape of the smoke from the fire kept burning immediately beneath it. An old writer remarks that they were "somewhat smoaky"! There was no furniture of any kind in these rude huts. All around, in the best [75] houses, ran a low arrangement of poles, forming the sides of the sleeping-bunks, and within, on skins and mats, lay the household of twenty or more, men, women, and children. One was detailed to watch and replenish the fire while the rest slept. If more light was needed, it was provided from a pile of resinous sticks—their only candle or lamp. In these huts they lived all winter, cooking and working on their household utensils and various articles of dress. They had no needles or pins, no knives except sharpened reeds, yet they managed with strips of deerskin to sew skins together for leggings and moccasins, embroider them with pearl or shells, hollow the wooden blocks into bowls, and weave mats from grass. Powhatan's favourite wife, Winganuskie, and the Princess Pocahontas had no better home than this in winter. Pocahontas knew no other except during the few years of her married life, and of her captivity before it.

The men spent their time in hunting and fishing and in warfare and manly sports. In time [76] of peace, they exercised in out-of-door games. They played "bandy" with crooked sticks, "an auncient game," says Strachey, who indulged abundantly in the parole of literary men, "as yt seemeth in Virgil, for when Æneas came into Italy at his marriage with Lavinia, yt is said the Trojans taught the Latins scipping and frisking with a ball." The Indians also played a game described as "a forcible encounter with the foot to carry a ball the one from the other, and spurne yt to the goale with a kind of dexterity and swift footmanship which is the honour of yt; yet they never strike up on another's heeles as we doe, not accompting that praiseworthie to purchase a goale by such an advantage."

All the domestic labour was performed by the poor drudging women and the children. They also cleared the ground for their gardens and cornfields, planted corn, beans, pumpkins, "maracocks," and gourds, and kept the growing plants free from weeds. They pounded the corn in wooden mortars for bread, sifting it through [77] baskets, and boiling the coarse refuse for hominy. They dressed all the food and served it. They were also barbers for their husbands, using two oyster-shells to grate away beard and hair.

Henry Spelman, an English boy who was sold to an Indian chief, lived as a servant for many years among the savages. He relates an incident of domestic life in the household of the king of Paspetanzy, who "went to visitt another king, and one of his wives after his departure would goe visitt her father, and she willed me to goe with hir and take hir child and carye him thither in my armes, being a long days journey from the place where we dwelt, which I refusing she strook me 3 or 4 blows." This it appears was too much for the free-born Briton. "I gott to hir and puld hir downe, giving hir some blows agayne which the other King's wives perseyvinge they fell on me and beat me so as I thought they had lamed me." It appears the lady's filial intentions were not carried out, the heavy child being quite too much for her strength. All awaited the return [78] of the king, and the indignant Henry boldly told his side of the story. There had been quarrels and fights before in the king's household, and he knew how to deal with them. The remedy was at hand. Taking up a "paring iron" he struck his wife and felled her to the ground, whereupon Henry, by no means sure upon whom the instrument of domestic discipline would fall next, fled to a neighbour's house and hid. His position was a perilous one, his fate uncertain. The Indian baby settled the question. Henry had been an affectionate nurse and perhaps bedfellow to the little pappoose, who now lifted up his voice in loud lamentations, howling for his white friend until midnight. The king was weary and longed for sleep. Search was made for Henry, and at midnight the child was sent to him, as he says "to still; for none could quiet him so well as myself."

The king, having had a good night's rest, was up early next morning to interview Henry, and to assure him that no evil intent was cherished against him, that his "Queene" was all right, that [79] everybody loved him, and none should hurt him; his Majesty content, as we all can understand, to eat a good bit of humble-pie rather than lose a good nurse! "I was loth to goe with him," says Henry, "and at my cumminge the Queene looked but discontentedly at me, but I had the Kinge's promise and cared ye less for others frownes." There is something very pathetic in the boy's narrative. He was the son of an eminent scholar, Sir Henry Spelman, but, impatient of restraint, had run away from a comfortable English home, and here he was in the great wilderness, soothing the hunger of his heart in the companionship of a savage baby.

The Indian knew no means of providing for the future, except the husbanding, in great baskets, of his corn, drying persimmons on hurdles and oysters on strings. He never herded wild cattle or tamed the wild turkeys. Each season Nature brought of her abundance to these her untutored children, fish, game, fruits, melons, and in the hardest times acorns and roots. When [80] famine seemed imminent, they would migrate in great companies to hunt the deer, the women going before, bearing on their backs mats, household utensils, skins for bedding, and even poles for the temporary huts. They would stake out the camp and make all ready for the men. Then in leisure hours the young maidens, round, pretty creatures with small hands and feet, would freshly paint themselves a brilliant red, and seated at the door of the sylvan arbour watch the young braves,—heavy, thick-lipped, thick-nosed fellows, but active and straight-limbed; magnificent and terrible in skins decorated with the dried hands of their enemies, claws of beasts and birds; and with green and yellow snakes thrust alive through their ears,—while they practised shooting arrows at a mark. The straightest, surest marksman would find no trouble in winning the prettiest maiden. Pretty maidens, all the world over, have realized that they needed game, furs, pearls, and copper. The arrow won them in 1607 as surely as a coup in Wall Street or in trade [81] wins them in 1907. The comment of our historian seems to us as reasonable as it is quaint: "Every man in tyme of hunting will strive to doe his best, for thereby they wyn the loves of their women, who will be sooner contented to live with such a man by the readyness and fortune of whose bow they perceave they are likely to be fedd well, especially of fish and flesh; for indeed they be all of them huge eaters, and these active hunters by their continuall ranging and travell do know all places most frequented and best stored with deare or other beasts, fish, fowle, roots, fruits, and berries."

The Indians, like all barbarous people, danced to some kind of metrical sound, either from a cane on which they piped as on a "recorder," or drums stretched over hollow bowls or gourds, or rattles contrived from shells. These accompanied the voice in "frightful howlings." They had also "amorous ditties," and scornful songs inspired by their hatred of the English. The historian Strachey gives a copy, in the Indian [82] language, of one of these, of four stanzas,—not rhyming but metrical, in which they not only exult over the men they had killed in spite of our guns, but they tell how Newport had never deceived them for all his presents of copper and the crown for Powhatan; and how they had continued to kill and take prisoners, "Symon" and others, for all their bright swords and tomahawks, ending each verse with the chorus or cry, "Whe, whe! yah, ha, ha! Tewittawa Tewittawa!" expressive of scornful, mocking exultation.

The Indian women, unless frantically insane from revenge, were tender and gentle, especially to children. George Percy witnessed one of the horrible sacrifices, when the women themselves with tears and lamentations gave their babes up to the priests. The dead children were cast in a heap in a valley, and the poor women returned, singing a funeral dirge and weeping most bitterly. They were faithful, poor souls, to the instincts of nature. Surely life held small compensation for them. A nurse was once captured, and ordered [83] to reveal the hiding-place of her foster-child, now her mistress, or suffer death. She chose the latter, and her mistress escaped. Vindictive and merciless as was Powhatan, he had his tender emotions and even caressing words for his daughters.

But for the massacre of 1622 much might have been said in praise of the Indian. That event proved that no kindness, no confidence, could eradicate his deep-rooted hatred of the white man. For years he kept the secret of the promised universal butchery, and rose as one man at the appointed hour. He gloated over the mangled corpses, insulting, spurning, and mutilating them, sparing none, not even the devoted missionary, Thorpe, who was giving to their welfare, comfort, and instruction all his life and energy. That massacre settled the fate of the Virginia Indian, and yet to a Virginia Indian the colony at Jamestown was indebted for its preservation. Chanco, whose master "treated him as a son," was visited on the eve of the massacre by his own brother, with [84] whom he slept that night. The dreadful secret of the impending slaughter of every white man, woman, and child was confided to Chanco, with the command of the chief as to his own part therein. He was to rise at daybreak and not later than eight in the morning murder his master and all his household! The brother then went on his way with similar orders to the Indians residing near the settlers. Chanco immediately awoke his master, and warning was given in time to save Jamestown. [85]


As Newport had settled his men on land owned by the Paspaheghs, that tribe was the first to hold intercourse with the colonists. Before the landing, when Captain Newport was exploring the river, the chief, or "werowance," of the Paspaheghs had come down to the bank playing on a flute made of reed to welcome him. His body was painted all over with crimson puccoon,[17] his sole garment a chain of beads around his neck, and bracelets of pearl on his arms. His face was painted blue, besprinkled with shining powder, which Newport's men mistook for silver. A bird's claw was in each ear and feathers in his hair. We can imagine him piping a welcome to the wonderful white man whom he had not yet been commanded by the great Emperor Powhatan to hate. He could utter but two intelligible [86] words, one, "wingapoh," with gestures which interpreted the word to mean "friends"; and his own name, "Wochinchopunck"; but he made the Englishmen understand that he desired to entertain them at his own "palace," and conducted them thither with great ceremony, through "fine paths[18] having most pleasant springs which issued from the mountains, and through the goodliest cornfields ever seen in any country. Arrived at the palace" (which is not described), "he received them in a modest, proud fashion, as though he had been a prince of civil government, holding his countenance without laughter or any such ill-behaviour. He caused his mat to be spread on the ground where he sate down with a great majesty." How little could he foresee a not distant day when he would fiercely resent the intrusion upon his own land—land to which he now welcomed the strangers with every gesture and expression of friendship, and yet another [87] day when the avenging sword of the Englishmen would reach his own heart!

A week later the colonists were busy clearing their ground, strengthening their half-moon barricade of brushwood, laying off ground for corn and vegetables, making seines for catching fish, felling trees and shaping them (with only axes and hand-saws) into clapboards for freighting the returning vessels, when they were visited by two great savages "bravely drest" in the lightest possible summer attire—for the weather in May is extremely warm in lower Virginia—wearing nothing whatever except crowns of coloured deerskin. I often marvel at the long discourses which our historians record as having occurred in the first days of their residence, remembering that there were no interpreters, that the Indian language is unlike any other, ancient or modern, upon the globe, and that the sign language of a savage must have been unimaginable to an educated Briton. However, these two "bravely drest savages" conveyed the information that they [88] were "messengers from the Paspaheghs, and that their Werowance was coming" and would "be merry" with them "with a fat Deare"! As the Englishmen had quietly settled themselves without leave or license upon land owned by this prince, the suggestion of a surprise party bringing its own refreshments must have been reassuring.

A few days later the werowance, Wochinchopunck, arrived, with one hundred armed men at his back, guarding him in a very warlike manner with bows and arrows; "thinking," says George Percy, "at that time to execute their villany." The chief made great signs to the Englishmen to lay aside their arms, but finding that he was regarded with some suspicion, he desisted and made pacific gestures of good will, indicating that they were quite welcome to the land they had taken. But unfortunately, while this was going on one of his men contrived to steal a hatchet from one of the Englishmen, who detected him in the act and struck him over the arm. A fight was imminent, and the colonists took to [89] their arms, which the werowance perceiving, he went away with all his company in great anger, leaving, we trust, the fat deer done to a turn on a spit before the camp-fire.

But curiosity prevailed over distrust, and in a few days the same werowance "sent fortie of his men with a Deere, but they came," says Percy, "more in villany than any love they bare us. They faine would have layne in our Fort all night but wee would not suffer them for feare of their treachery."[19]

The Indian is proud and vain, and when the Paspaheghs saw our wonderful firearms, they were filled with envy. Unerring aim with bow and arrow is the Indian's great accomplishment, learned by practice from infancy. When the Indian woman prepared breakfast for her children, she sent her boys to practise at a mark, and the smallest boy knew he could have none unless he had shot well. One of the Paspaheghs observed that a pistol bullet failed to penetrate a thick [90] target, and proudly "took from his back an arrowe an elle long, drew it strongly to his Bowe and shot the Target a foote through and better." An Englishman then set up a steel target; the Indian shot again and shivered his flint arrow-head into pieces. He pulled out another, bit it savagely with his teeth, seemed to fall into great anger, and went away in a rage, a pathetic instance of the wounded pride of the poor savage.

On[20] the 4th of June, Newport, Smith, and twenty others were despatched to discover the head of the river on which they had planted themselves. The natives everywhere were delighted to exchange their bread, fish, and strawberries for the wonderful things Newport gave them, needles and pins, bells, small mirrors, and beads, and they followed him all the way from place to place. At last they reached a town of twelve wigwams called Powhatan. It was situated on a bold range of hills overlooking the river, with three islets in front. This spot, on which [91] a colonial mansion was afterward erected, is still known as Powhatan.

The voyagers were in every way delighted with the river. Percy says, "This River[21] which wee have discovered is one of the famousest Rivers that ever was found by any Christian." "They were so ravisht with the admirable sweetnesse of the streame and with the pleasant land trending along on either side that their joy exceeded, and with great admiration they praised God."

On a high hill was the habitation of the great "King Pawatah"[22] (a son of Powhatan). There, on Whitsunday, they feasted the king, giving him beer, aqua vitæ, and sack, and making him so ill he feared he had been poisoned. They also "saw a Savage Boy about the age of ten yeeres which had a head of haire of a perfect yellow and a reasonable white skinne." Was this a descendant of Ellinor Dare, or some other of the lost colony? Alas, nobody inquired. [92]

Leaving "Pawatah" very drunk, Newport visited one of the islets at the mouth of the falls in the river, where Richmond now stands, and there erected a cross with this inscription, Jacobus Rex, 1607, and his own name beneath. They then prayed for their King, for their own prosperous success in his service, and proclaimed his majesty King of the country "with a greate showte." Of course the Indians wished to know the meaning of all this, but they were satisfied with the explanation that the upright staff connected and bound in friendship the two arms: one the English, the other the Indian nation. That night Newport returned to the sick king, and found him still suffering and attributing his "greefe" to the "hot drinks," but he was all right next morning.

The personal accounts of this pleasant excursion are all interesting. The adventurers turned their faces homeward full of hope, and much refreshed and reassured by the apparent kindness of the natives. But just here they learned their [93] first lesson of savage perfidy. There is very little doubt that the King Powhatan had commanded an assault upon Jamestown, while its force was weakened by Newport's absence. Two hundred Indians had attacked it fiercely, killed one boy, and wounded seventeen men, including the greater part of the Council. During the assault a cross-bar shot from one of Newport's little vessels had struck down a bough of a tree among the assailants and caused them to retire, but for which all the settlers would probably have been massacred, as they were, at the time of the attack, planting corn and without arms. Wingfield, who had contended that the Indians might be suspicious and estranged if the fort were palisaded, now consented to put it in fighting order, with cannon mounted and men armed and exercised. From that time attacks and ambuscades on the part of the natives were frequent. The English, by their careless straggling, were often wounded, while the fleet-footed savages easily escaped. [94]

Newport was now about to return to England. All this time John Smith had been under a cloud of suspicion. His enemies had never slept. They now proposed, affecting pity, to refer his case to the Council in England rather than overwhelm him on the spot by an exposure of his criminal designs; but he defied their malice, defeated their base machinations, and all saw his innocence and the malignity of his enemies. Says Thomas Studley, "He publicly defied the uttermost of their cruelty. Hee wisely prevented their pollicies, though he could not suppresse their envies." He demanded trial at Jamestown,—there was the charter,—and in this, the first trial by a jury of his countrymen in the new home, he was triumphantly acquitted, and a fine enacted from his enemies, which he turned over to Studley for the good of the colony. "Many[23] were the mischiefs that daily sprong from their ignorant [95] (yet ambitious spirits), but the good doctrine and exhortation of our preacher Maister Hunt reconciled them and caused Captain Smith to be admitted to the Council."

The next day all received the Communion. The day following some of the savages voluntarily desired peace, and tendered their friendship and support as allies. On June 21 Captain Newport dined with the colonists, partaking of their "dyet from the common Kettell," and on the 22d, "having set things in order he set saile for England, leaving provision for 13 or 14 weeks." [96]


Captain Newport found the friends of the colony eager for news from Virginia. He had brought over the first mail from America—a small package of letters which he could easily bestow in one of his pockets. He represented, in his own person, our entire Foreign Postal Service. The mail was small, but important. It contained a "Relatyon of the Discovery up the James River," and letters to Prince Henry, to his Majesty's Prime Minister, and other persons of authority.

Virginia had few presents to send home, only the clapboards, a barrel of yellow earth (afterwards irreverently termed "Fool's Gold"), and a very small sample of real gold, the result of the experiments of John Martin, who was supposed to possess skill as a mineral expert. Was he not the son of Sir Richard Martin, Master of the Mint [97] in England? Practical experience might surely be expected of him. The letters contained the most enthusiastic praise of the new country—of the grand river, the trees, fruits, flowers; "such a land as did never the eye of man behold, with rocks and mountains that promised infinite treasure."

Such representations were in accordance with the policy of the colonists to encourage immigration. Nothing was said in these early letters of privation or anxiety for the future; nothing of any scheme for the conversion of the heathen. Master Hunt doubtless wrote to his bishop, but a discouraging letter was sure to be suppressed. Sir Walter Cope, a member of the Council, received Newport's report, and wrote to the Earl of Salisbury:[24]

"Right Honourable my good Lord:

"If we may believe words or letters we are fallen upon a land that promises more than the land of promise. Instead of milk we find pearl—and gold [98] instead of honey. There seems a kingdom full of the ore. You shall be fed by handfuls or hatfuls!...

"To prove there is gold your Lordship's eyes I hope shall witness. To prove there is pearl the King of Pamont[25] came with a chain of pearl about his neck, burnt through with great holes and spoiled for want of the art to bore them and shewed the shells from whence they were taken. Pohatan, another of their kings, came stately marching with a great pair of buck's horns fastened to his forehead, not knowing what esteem we make of men so marked."

It seemed that the poet's dream of "pearle and gold" was already realized, but unfortunately a few days later Sir Walter was constrained to write another letter to Cecil:—


"It hath ever been incident to the Secretary's place to receive with the same hand both the good and the bad news. This other day we sent you news of gold, and this day we cannot return you so much as copper. Our new discovery is more like to prove the land of Canaan than the land of Ophir. This day we seal up under our seals the golden mineral [99] till you return. We have made four trials by the experienced about the city. In the end all turned to vapor. Martin hath cozened the poor Captain" (Newport), "the King and State, and meant as I hear to cozen his own father" (the Master of the Mint), "seeking to draw from him supplies which otherwise he doubted never to obtain"—

by which token we can better understand John Martin's mistakes.

When the Council met, it was seriously discussed whether so unpromising a venture should not be abandoned. But there was the country, so fruitful and delightful; and here at court was Zuñiga, the Spanish ambassador, urging its abandonment. Here, too, was Captain Newport, refusing to relinquish the enterprise and stoutly adhering to his first opinion, that gold would finally reward their search.

The fate of the colony hung upon a slender thread, but finally the president of the Council informed Cecil that they had decided to send Newport out again with one hundred settlers and "all necessaries to relieve them that be there," [100] hoping to arrive the next January, and taking out with his ship a "nymble Pinnace" in which to return quickly and make report.

The advice of the King could not be had. He was away at Theobald's for the August shooting, and woe to that man who should interrupt him! Zuñiga's ears were wide open to the news from Virginia, and he wrote to the King of Spain: "It is very desirable that your Majesty make an end of the few who are now in Virginia, as that would be digging up the Root so it could put out no more. It will be serving God and your Majesty to drive these villains out from there, hanging them in time which is short enough for the purpose."

Philip III wrote regularly to his minister, agreeing with him, but doing nothing. The Spanish Council of State advised the King instantly to make ready a fleet "and forthwith proceed to drive out all who are in Virginia," and this, they argued, "will suffice to prevent them from again coming to the place." [101]

After the resolution of the London Council, Zuñiga again urges Philip: "I hear that three or four ships will return to Virginia. Will your Majesty give orders that measures be taken in time: because now it will be very easy; and very difficult afterwards when they have taken root. If they are punished in the beginning the result will be that no more will go there."

But Philip was disposed to take his own time—overruled by that Providence which brought us safely through so many perils. He had his own private schemes. A princess of England was growing up, and he meant to ask her hand in marriage.

Finally he agreed that the colonists were to be driven out, but the thing must be done secretly. Zuñiga continued to be his faithful spy, reporting every step taken by the London Council. It was Zuñiga, we remember, who was sent to London a few years afterwards to ask for the Princess Elizabeth.

Before we return to the little colony, happily [102] unconscious of its many enemies, we must be allowed one more of the letters incident upon Newport's return. All of them are extremely interesting as illustrative of the time, but we must not pause too long in our history—a history so rich in events that it is difficult to choose the most important.

The letter is dated August 18, 1607, and informs John Chamberlain that—

"Captaine Newport is come from our late adventures to Virginia, having left them in an Island in the midst of a great river 120 mile into the land. They write much commendation of the aire and the soile and the commodities of it: but silver and golde have they none, and they cannot yet be at peace with the inhabitants of the country. They have fortified themselves and built a small towne which they call 'Jamestowne,' and so they date their letters; but the towne methinks hath no gracefull name, and besides the Spaniards, who think it no small matter of moment how they stile their new populations, will tell us, I doubt, it comes too neere 'Villiaco.'

"Master Porie tells me of a name given by a Dutchman [103] who wrote to him in Latin from the new towne in Virginia, 'Jacobopolis,' and Master Warner hath a letter from Master George Percie who names their town, 'Jamesfort,' which we like best of all the rest because it comes neere to 'Chemes-ford.'

"Yours most assuredly,

"Dudley Carleton."

The "small towne" was a bit of prophetic imagination. Up to the hour of Newport's sailing the colonists had been employed, with infinite labour and toil, in felling trees and hewing them into clapboards for freighting the two returning ships, the Goodspeed and Susan (or Sarah) Constant. The Discovery, a little pinnace of twenty tons, was left behind for the use of the colony, in case of flight from the savages. It is wonderful, in view of ensuing events, that the colonists did not at once reëmbark in the pinnace and seek some healthier spot for the proposed town. The river—the "famousest river in Christendom"—seems to have held them with a strange fascination.

There was absolutely no dwelling of any kind [104] erected during the summer.[26] Some of the settlers slept in holes in the ground, roofed with rails. A rough palisade had been made of boards, and rude cabins covered with sail cloth sheltered the ammunition and stores. The first church was a log between two trees to serve as a lectern, and a rotten sail was stretched overhead in case of rain; for in all weathers, rain or shine, the good Master Hunt ministered to his flock, morning and evening, leading them in supplication for protection to Almighty God; and from an unhewn log as an altar, administered to them the holy emblems of the Christian faith.

Before the men could begin to build comfortable quarters, they were smitten with illness, which continued until September. More than half of their number perished. The story is told so well by George Percy that I will be pardoned for giving it in his own words:—

"Our men were destroyed with cruell diseases, as Swellings, Flixes, Burning Fevers, and by [105] warres; and some departed suddenly; but for the most part they died of meere famine!

"There were never Englishmen left in a foreigne Country in such miserie as wee were in this new discovered Virginia. Wee watched every three nights, lying on the bare, cold ground, what weather soever came; and warded all the next day; which brought our men to bee most feeble wretches. Our food was but a small Can of Barlie sodden in water to five men a day. Our drinke, cold water taken out of the River; which was at a flood verie salt; at a low tide full of slime and filth; which was the destruction of many of our men.

"Thus we lived for the space of five months in this miserable distresse, not having five able men to man our Bulwarkes upon any occasion. If it had not pleased God to put a terrour in the Savages hearts, we had all perished by those wild and cruell Pagans, being in that weake estate as we were; our men night and day groaning in every corner of the Fort most pitifull to [106] heare. If there were any conscience in men, it would make their harts to bleed to heare the pitifull murmurings and outcries of our sicke men without reliefe; every night and day for the space of six weekes; some departing out of the Worlde, many times three or foure in a night; in the morning, their bodies trailed out of their Cabines like Dogges to be buried. In this sort did I see the mortalities of divers of our people."

Among those who perished was our friend, Thomas Studley, the "Cape Merchant," and another was Elizabeth's brave mariner, Bartholomew Gosnold, the projector of the enterprise, and one of the Council. How strange that he should, after his many voyages, have so eagerly insisted upon this colonization of Virginia, to find there his own grave—far away from the England whose honour he loved so ardently! His unhappy comrades did what they could. Smitten with fever and weakened by starvation, they bore him to his humble grave, reverently and decently, "having all ordinance of the fort [107] shot off, with many vollies of small shot." Thus old Virginia received her first-born into her bosom! She lovingly holds him there still. We can imagine these scenes, softened by the faithful, untiring care of Thomas Walton, the surgeon, and the priestly offices and consolations of good Master Hunt.

It seems unthinkable that England should have so starved her colony. In Elizabeth's reign the narrow, selfish charter and the meagre outfit would have been impossible. All things were possible to James that could in any way contribute to his own self-aggrandizement. Bitter as was the lot of the unhappy adventurers, they were too manly to complain. "When some affirm," says a historian of the time,[27] "that it was ill done of the Council to send forth men so badly provided, this incontradictable reason will show them plainly they are ill-advised to nourish such ill conceits: first, the fault of going was our own, what could be thought fitting or necessary [108] we had; but what we should find or want or where we should be, we were all ignorant, and supposing to make our passage in two months, with victuall to live, and the advantage of the spring to work; we were at sea five months where we both spent our victuall and lost the time and opportunity to plant by the unskilful presumption of our ignorant transporters that understood not at all what they undertook. Such actions have ever since the world's beginning been subject to such accidents and everything of worth is found full of difficulties; but nothing so difficult as to establish a commonwealth so far remote from men and means and where men's minds are so untoward as neither to do well themselves nor suffer others."

The closing sentence was a very mild commentary indeed upon the state of things at Jamestown. The miniature republic—for such it rapidly grew to be in nearly everything except in name—held within its borders just the elements that distinguish the great republic of [109] to-day: some noble spirits with high aims and fervent patriotism; some sordid souls intent alone on gain; some unprincipled, desperate characters; others simply useless, idle, and ignoble. Of the latter class, the President, Wingfield, was notably conspicuous. It was evident, from the first, that he was utterly unfit for his position. One of the earliest efforts of the convalescents was to get rid of him.

The store held in common, of "oyle, vinegar, sack and aqua vitæ," being nearly all spent, the Council ordered that the sack should be reserved for the Communion table, and all the rest sealed up against greater extremities—if there could be greater. John Smith accused Wingfield of using the reserved stores for his own benefit and that of his friends. Wingfield soon appeared in his true character, and added cowardice to incapacity. He made an effort to seize the pinnace and escape to England, thus leaving the colony to the mercy of the savages. This baseness roused the indignation even [110] of the emaciated survivors, and they deposed him and appointed Captain Ratcliffe in his place. Wingfield's defence, addressed to his government, now preserved among the manuscripts of Lambeth Palace Library, is a curious mixture of dignified, not to say lofty, sentiments—for all the colonial writers used a formula of pious aspiration—and of fierce invective and very petty unworthy gossip; but if England has seen fit to preserve it all, we may quote a representative part of it.

He attributes many of his misfortunes to John Smith, others to Master Archer. His old enemy, Master Crofts—whom we remember as having thriven so well upon the precious preserves and conserves prepared for Wingfield's voyage—comes well to the fore in the long discourse addressed to the Council in England. "Master Crofts feared not to saie that, if others would joyne with him, he would pull me out of my seate and out of my skynne too." He could hardly have threatened more, but this was not [111] all: "I desired justice for a copper kettle which Master Crofts did deteyne from me. Hee said I had given it him; I did bid him bring his proofe of that. He confessed he had no proofe. Then Master President [Ratcliffe] did aske me if I would be sworne I did not give it to him. I said I knew no cause whie to sweare for myne owne. He asked Master Crofts if hee would make oathe I did give it to him which oathe he tooke and wann my kettle from me, that was in that place and tyme worth half its weight in gold."

He protests against the charge of using the "oyle, vinegar, and aqua vitæ." "It is further said I did deny the men and much banquet and ryot myself. I allowed a Bisket to every working man for his breakfast by means of provision brought by Captain Newport. I never had but one squirrell roasted whereof I gave part to Master Ratcliffe then sick; yet was that Squirrell given me. I did never heate a fleshe-pott but when the common pott was so used likewise," [112] and much more to the same purpose. The matter resulted in the impeachment of the President and appointment of Ratcliffe to fill his unfinished term of office. Kendall also, a prime aider and abettor of the deposed President, was "afterwards committed about hainous matters which was proved against him."

And so the fifty colonists had their troubles at home and abroad, but they held on bravely notwithstanding.

For some mysterious reason the Indians ceased to molest them, possibly because their own great harvesting time was at hand, and also the hunting season for more profitable game than a few starved Englishmen. However that may be, they still had their eyes on the intruders, and in order to enter their fort appeared with a present of "Bread, Corne, Fish and Flesh in great plentie." Thus the representatives of the proudest nation on earth suffered the humiliation of becoming pensioners upon the bounty of savages whose country they had invaded, and [113] whose land they had taken without purchase or permission.

That there was no true friendship is evident from the fact that John Smith, going down the river in search of supplies, was received at a little town with scornful defiance, to which he replied by a volley of musketry. Following up his advantage, he landed and captured "Okeus," the god of the Powhatans, and bestowed him, with all his stuffing of moss and his copper chains, on board the shallop. The terrified Indians, expecting the sky to fall should Okeus be displeased, immediately ransomed his Sacredness with a good store of venison, wild fowl, and bread.

Nothing can exceed the plenty in southern Virginia which swarms in sea and air in the months of October and November. The splendid solan-goose, sora, wild ducks, and wild turkey were found in 1607 in even greater plenty than at the present day. No Thanksgiving dinners had thinned their ranks. The rivers literally swarmed with fish. These were all at the command of the [114] settlers. Of corn for bread there was always scarcity—but surely Newport had not forgotten them! They would boil the roots and gather the persimmons until he came. Then, too, some of the disturbers of the peace had been silenced. Kendall had been tried by a jury and shot; Ratcliffe and Archer had attempted to steal the pinnace, and been foiled by Smith's vigilance and resolution.

The helm of affairs had been intrusted to John Smith as Cape Merchant, and he now took the lead. His strong hand was soon recognized in the colony. He set the colonists to work and worked with them, mowing, building, and thatching log cabins,—he himself always performing the heaviest tasks. In a short time shelter was provided for all,—now numbering only forty-five individuals,—and a church was built on the site to which pilgrims now resort as to a Mecca.[28] It was not an imposing structure, but it was a regular church. The chronicles describe it as [115] a log building, covered like the cabins with rafts, sedge, and dirt. Thus the Virginians,—despite their enemies, barbarian and Spanish,—with all their conflicts, illness, and death, had made a good beginning. They had felled trees, built houses, and erected a church, and were saying their prayers in it, like honest people who were bent on doing their duty in that state of life in which it had pleased Heaven to place them. [116]


The month of December found the colonists anxiously apprehensive of starvation during the ensuing winter, a winter which was long remembered in Europe as one of unprecedented severity.

Newport had been for many weeks overdue. The weather was already bitterly cold. A great central camp-fire was kept burning, day and night, which they fed from the limbs of the trees they had felled in building their fortifications, church, and humble cabins. Over this fire hung the "common kettle," lately redolent with savoury odours of venison and wild fowl, but now relegated to its original uses,—the boiling of barley in the grain. Of this only a small portion remained. Captain Smith had carefully laid up some of the autumn's plenty, and "the idlers had as carelessly wasted it." Finding upon measurement that only "fourteen daies victualls were [117] left," he sallied forth to tempt the Tappahannocks[29] to trade, sending Captain Martin to the nation of the Paspaheghs on a similar errand. They found the Indians of those tribes sulky and reluctant, at that scarce season, to part with their provisions, but they managed to secure from kindlier sources seven hogsheads of corn.

The "idlers" now began to murmur because no effort had been made to explore the country; and complained that the royal order to go in search of the "South Sea"—that sea which was to open to them the riches of the East—had not been obeyed. The great sea perhaps lay not far distant. Communication with it would be found, they had heard, through some river running from the northwest. There was the Chickahominy flowing in that direction,—why was this river not explored?

Their number had now been so much reduced that they hesitated to send any of their strong [118] men far away from the fort. They remembered the fate of the Roanoke colony. Perhaps, after all, they had better keep together, antagonistic as was their attitude towards each other.

Plans were made and abandoned: to return to England or send thither for supplies; to send to Newfoundland, or to the southern islands. Finally they resolved to wait as long as possible, and hope for Newport's return.

Anxious eyes scanned the horizon from the moment the sun streamed up from the sea in the east until he sank behind the mysterious hills in the west. No sail appeared upon the silent waters. Perhaps they had been abandoned! Perhaps Newport would never come!

But the frost and snow had already come. The birds had long ago sought a warmer climate, and the fish would soon be locked in the ice-bound streams. They durst not wander far enough away from the fort to track the deer or capture the wild-fowl that abound in winter upon the Virginia marshes. More than one of their [119] number had ventured only a short distance away, and been shot full of arrows. Wherever there was a tangle of grass, or of thick-growing reeds, there would some savage lie in hiding with his evil eye upon the hated white man.

Finally John Smith yielded to the complaints of the "idlers," and taking Emry, Casson, and six others, set forth in a barge to "discover up the Chickahominy river." They set out December 10, in a very severe spell of cold weather, "to make the famous discovery of the great South Sea," according to the orders of the London Council. The attempt in the dead of winter to penetrate a country swarming with savage enemies was extremely hazardous. In describing his perils and privations, Smith seems constrained to apologize for the risk to which he exposed himself and his party. "Though some men," he says,[30] "may condemn this too bould attempt of too much indiscretion, yet if they will consider [120] the friendship of the Indians in conducting me" (his two guides), "the probability of some lucke, and the malicious judges of my actions at home—as also to have some matters of worth to incourage our adventures in england—might well have caused any honest mind to have done the like, as well for his own discharge as for the public good."

This voyage was destined to be an important event in the history of the birth of our nation, and every step of it merits our attention and interest.

Captain Smith spent about a month with the Indians and became thoroughly acquainted with them in their own homes, observed their habits of domestic life, their rites and ceremonies, and learned something of their strange language. His residence was solely with the tribe of the Powhatans, who inhabited the tide-water region of Virginia. Of the Indians in the interior beyond the mountains he learned nothing except through vague traditions. But for this voyage [121] we should have lost the beautiful romance so dear to the hearts of Virginians, and now so sternly challenged and defended by the historians of the present day.

The barge or shallop proceeded about forty miles up the river without interruption. At one point a great tree, which he cut in two, hindered the passage. The land was low and swampy—"a vast and wilde wilderness." Many years ago, before the days of steam-engines and railway cars, I traversed this region in a high-swung old Virginia chariot; and the dark river, coloured from juniper berries, the oozy swamps, the tangled undergrowth, the rotting trees, with mottled trunks like great serpents, the funereal moss hanging from the twisted vines, the slimy water-snakes, filled me with childish fear. I saw it all as John Smith had seen it.

When at last the barge could advance no farther, he returned eight miles and moored her in a wide bay out of danger. Leaving her in charge of all his men except two, and taking an Indian [122] guide with him, he went up the river twenty miles in a canoe. He expressly ordered the men in the barge not to land until his return. This order they disobeyed, being minded to make some discoveries of their own. Two of the number left behind were murdered in the most cruel manner by the savages. The others escaped, and reached Jamestown in safety. "Having discovered," says Smith, "twenty miles further in this desart, the river still kept his depth and breadth, but was much more combred with trees. Here we went ashore, being some 12 miles higher than the barge had bene, to refresh ourselves during the boyling of our victuals. One of the Indians I tooke with me to see the nature of the soile and to cross the boughts [windings] of the river. The other Indian I left with Maister Robinson and Thomas Emry, with their matches lighted and order to discharge a peece for my retreat at the first sight of an Indian."

Doubtless this Indian left behind betrayed the party. Doubtless every step Smith took from the [123] mouth of the Chickahominy was reported by the spies of Powhatan. No warning shot was fired, and it afterwards appeared that Robinson and Emry had been slain. Within a short time he heard the savage war-whoop. His guide, a submissive, peaceful fellow, stood by him; but Smith thought it unwise to trust in the fidelity of a savage, and unbuckling one of his garters tied the Indian to his left arm as a shield. The poor savage "offered not to strive." The two retreated, walking backward, Smith firing all the way, hoping to reach the canoe; but he was presently surrounded by two hundred savages with drawn bows. The great chief Opechancanough was at their head. He writes: "My hinde treated betwixt them and me of conditions of peace; he discovered me to be the Captaine. My request was to retire to the boate: they demanded my arms, the rest they saide were slaine, onely me they would reserve.

"My Indian importuned me not to shoot. In retiring, being in the midst of a low quagmire [124] and minding them more than my steps, I stept fast in the quagmire and also the Indian. Thus surprised I resolved to trie their mercies; my armes I caste from me, till which none durst approach me, whereupon they drew me out and led me to the king."

Smith's Island, where John Smith was captured by the Indians.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

The Indians chafed his benumbed limbs and warmed him by their fire. His old friend Wochinchopunck, king of the Paspaheghs, interceded for his release, but he was taken into the presence of Opechancanough. He presented the chief with a small compass. This incident is told in so remarkable a manner by William Symondes, "Docteur of Divinitie," that I venture to give it in his own words. He was the friend of "good Maister Hunt," and his "Discoveries and Accidents" bore the imprimatur of John Smith's signature.

"They shewed him Opechakanough, king of Pamawnkee; to whom he gave a round Ivory double compass Dyall. Much they marvailed at the playing of the Fly and needle which they [125] could see so plainly and yet not touch it, because of the glasse that covered them. But when he demonstrated by that Globe-like Jewell the roundness of the earth, and skies, the spheare of the Sunne, Moone and Starres, and how the Sunne did chase the night round about the world continually; the greatnesse of the Land and Sea, the diversitie of Nations, varietie of complexions, and how we were to them Antipodes and many such like matters, they all stood as amazed with admiration." If this address was really spoken as quoted, one cannot fail to admire the courage and self-possession of a captive who could deliver a comprehensive address, including land, sea, and the heavens, in a new language, and in the most unfavourable circumstances that can well be imagined. We dare not challenge the truth of the assertions. There is the signature of the Docteur of Divinitie, the friend of good Maister Hunt! There is the signature of Captain John Smith.

Presently the Indians bound him to a tree and [126] were about to shoot him to death when the chief, holding up the compass, commanded them to lay down their bows and arrows. He had not fully understood the "cosmographicall lecture," and he wished to have the mysterious needle, which he could see and not touch, made clear to his comprehension. Besides, he was fully persuaded that he held captive the white man's great commander, and so important a personage must be brought before his king. Smith was accordingly fed and refreshed, and they set out with him on a triumphal march through the land of Powhatan. Marching in Indian file, they led their captive, guarded by fifteen men, about six miles to a hunting town in the upper part of the swamp, for this was a hunting party; their women and children, according to their custom, had built their arbours covered with mats, kindled the fires, and made ready for the hunters when they should return laden with deer. All these women and children swarmed forth to meet the hunters and stare at the strange white man. The [127] chief was in the finest spirits. He and his followers indulged in the wild Indian dance of triumph, and their barbarous shouts reached the ears of Smith, as he lay in the "long house," closely guarded, and trying to solve the problem of their intentions with regard to himself,—seeing that they sent him enough bread for twenty men, but refused to eat with him. Were they fattening him for the sacrifice? Were they cannibals? Alas, he knew not! "For supper," he writes, "the Captain sent me a quarter of venison and 10 pounds of bread, and each morning 3 women presented me three great platters of fine bread, and more venison than ten men could devour I had." He might well dread, with Polonius, that he was to eat that he might be eaten. True, William White, one of the boys brought out with the colony, had run away, and lived among them six months, and had been returned through some caprice. The boy had discovered they were "noe Cannabells." Still their god, Okeus, might demand a human sacrifice; and who [128] so acceptable to the deity as the irreverent white man who had captured his image but a short time before!

Opechancanough had deeper reasons for his clemency than the desire to possess and understand the mariner's compass. He had long meditated an attack upon Jamestown, and he now sought to entice Smith to join and aid him. We read that he offered him life, liberty, and as many wives as he wanted,—and although there were no interpreters, Captain Smith seems to have understood him. Indian words go far—there are few of them. By gesture, intonation, accent, the Indian can give to one word as much meaning as an Englishman can express in half a dozen. It is a strange language, this of the Powhatans, but it had one excellence: under no circumstances could a dialect story be evolved from it!

The information of a projected assault upon Jamestown filled Captain Smith with alarm. He managed to make Opechancanough understand that presents would be sent to him if he could [129] communicate with Jamestown, and finally three men were placed at his disposal as messengers. Tearing a blank leaf from the little book he carried, he wrote a note, probably to George Percy, telling of the proposed assault, directing what means should be used to terrify the messengers, and what presents should be sent to placate his captors. Three naked savages set forth on his errand "in as bitter weather as could be of frost and snow; and in three days they returned with the presents to the wonder of them all that heard it, that he could either divine, or the paper could speake." The colonists had done their part. The messengers brought thrilling reports of the terrors by which the fort was environed, the mines, and the monstrous guns, exploding with infernal smoke, and belching with thunder. The attempt upon the colony was abandoned for the present and the march resumed, no doubt undertaken in the same spirit that inspired the Roman conquerors, when they led their captives in triumph. The route of the procession was [130] arranged to gratify the curiosity of all the tribes who were on terms of friendship with the chief. Their priests and conjurers were brought to terrify the prisoner with their infernal incantations. Smeared with oil and paint, begrimed with black and red, garbed in the skins of wild beasts, they danced around him for three days, shaking snake-rattles over his head with shrieks and howling, "as if," writes the "Docteur of Divinitie,"

"neere led to hell
amongst the Devills to dwell."

The details of their orgies are too disgusting for repetition. No wonder, as the captive tells us, he had hideous dreams! As our rhyming clergyman hath it:—

"His wakynge mind in hideous dreams did oft see wondrous shapes
Of bodies strange and huge in growth and of stupendous makes."

But he preserved a bold front, this stout-hearted Briton, and for aught his enemies knew [131] to the contrary his courage never forsook him. They had captured a bag of gunpowder in the barge, and he encouraged them to keep it for the spring-sowing that it might yield an abundant crop like grain. They returned his pistol, that he might instruct them in its use, but he contrived to break the lock of the weapon as if by accident.

When near the end of their journey, they received an invitation from the great chief, Opitchipan, Powhatan's brother and heir to the kingdom, to spend a few days at his house. There a banquet was spread for the prisoner, whether to impress him with a sense of the chief's grandeur, or to strengthen him for enduring the fate that awaited him, we cannot tell. Great platters of bread, venison, and wild fowl were spread before him, "but not any one would eat with him." The fragments in every case were collected in baskets and hung over his head while he slept, or feigned to sleep, and if rejected a second time were given to the women and children. [132]

At length, after a long journey by a circuitous route which brought him within twelve miles of Jamestown, he was conducted to Werowocomoco, the residence of the great Powhatan, situated on the north side of York River. He was not immediately conducted into the presence of the emperor, but remained for several days in the forest at some distance. His reception, it appears, was to be the occasion of much pomp and ceremonial, far exceeding anything he had yet seen. These despised palefaces, who wore outlandish garments and hair on their faces, who could fire great guns that battered down the limbs of trees, who had no wives of their own and declined to accept them from others—these fellows should see how the great Powhatan held his court. Kept in waiting, accordingly, the captive was thronged by curious crowds who watched him from morning until night. "Grim courtiers," he tells us, "more than two hundred, who stood gazing as they had seen some monster." [133]


The Emperor Powhatan was now living at Werowocomoco, twelve miles from Jamestown. This had been his favourite residence until the arrival of the English, but he soon "tooke so little pleasure in their neighbourhood—seeing they could visit him against his will in six or seven hours—that he retired himselfe to a place in the desarts at the top of the river Chickahomnia."

In all the countries which had come to him by inheritance he had houses "built after the manner of arbours"—of saplings, thatched with boughs of trees, and lined with mats. Some of these houses were a hundred and twenty feet long, and at every house provision was kept for his entertainment when it pleased him to make a royal progress through his dominions. Besides these, he kept for his own use a treasury building at Orapakes, filled with skins, copper, pearls, [134] beads, bows and arrows, also a store of the precious red paint, with which the ladies of his court adorned themselves. At the four corners of this house were four images rudely carved out of the trunks of trees—one represented a dragon, another a bear, the third a leopard, and the fourth a man, signifying that the great Emperor was lord of beast and man. Indeed, his power was absolute. He had under him inferior kings of his own kindred, and all paid him tribute. Eight of ten parts of everything they acquired—game, corn, skins, beads, dye-stuffs, and the precious copper—were reverently laid at his feet. At his least frown they trembled with fear, for cruel and ingenious he could be in devising tortures for the punishment of those who offended him. The arrow and the tomahawk were his most merciful agents in despatching them. Before the door of his rural palace many a victim had been, in the presence of his women and little children, flayed alive, dismembered by degrees, thrown alive into a pit of fire. [135]

On this fifth of January some such divertisement was keenly anticipated. His family and retainers were awake early, and bustling about in preparation for an unusual event.

There was to be a great gathering of the neighbouring chiefs,—Opechancanough and Opitchipan, his brothers and successors, and others. Early in the morning fires were kindled all over the settlement, and before them haunches of venison were spitted for the slight roasting deemed essential before the boiling, according to the invariable custom of the Indians in preparing flesh and fowl. Beneath the fires flat rocks were heating, to be withdrawn for the baking of bread. Some of the loaves were laid in the ashes, as they are to-day by the Virginians, who are indebted to the Indian, not only for his corn, but for his peculiar methods of cooking it. Now, as then, the "hoe-cake" is baked before the fire, and turned to brown on both sides; the homelier "ash-cake" is washed as soon as withdrawn from its humble bed of ashes, and dries immediately [136] from its own heat. Now, as then, the Indian corn is beaten into "hominy," and boiled for food. We have not lost its Indian name, nor the Indian's name for the small loaf. He called it "pone"—where did he find a word so near kin to the Latin panis and the French pain?

Every morning men, women, and children ran down to the river and plunged into the ice-cold water. There were no bathing-houses for an after-toilet. They were unnecessary. Then, at the first peep of the sun, the entire assembly would turn, with uplifted hands, eastward, and in a wild chant of invocation worship the rising luminary, the men strewing the water with powdered tobacco as sacrifice. The Indian, as we have seen, worshipped no God of mercy! If God was good, why, then, it was unnecessary to placate him by adoration or sacrifice. He feared and worshipped "Okeus." And he also worshipped strength and force,—the fire that burned him, the water that drowned him, the [137] great mysterious orb that was the source of the destroying fire.

When an Indian made a solemn oath, he laid one hand on his heart, raising the other reverently to the sun. "These people," says Percy, "have a great reverence to the Sunne above all other things; at the rising and setting of the same they lift up their hands and eyes to the Sunne, making a round Circle on the ground with dried Tobacco; then they begin to pray, making many Devillish Gestures with a Hellish noise, foming at the mouth, staring with their eyes, wagging their heads and hands in such a fashion and deformitie as it was monstrous to behold." Thus they ever strove to avert evil.

The settlement at Werowocomoco was a large one. Besides Powhatan's own house with many rooms, there were houses or arbours for his bows and arrows, and for his granaries, and stores of dried fish and venison. He had ten or twelve wives, and a number of young women of inferior position always in attendance upon him. He [138] had many children around him: Nantauquas, "the handsomest, manliest savage ever seen," and his brothers; Matachanna, Pocahontas, and Cleopatre, and other princesses whose names do not appear. Matachanna was married, or about to be married, to Tocomocomo, "a wise and knowing priest." Pocahontas was a small maiden about ten years of age; Cleopatre (where did Powhatan get the name Cleopatre?) was destined to figure in history as soon as she reached the marriageable age of twelve. None of these young people lived with their own mothers. Powhatan never kept a wife after the birth of a child, but made a present of her to some chief or captain. But he was extremely fond of his own offspring, a sentiment which civilized man deems a high virtue, but which is shared with keen intensity by savage man, and savage beast as well.

The Mirror in the Woods.

Powhatan's favourite wife at this moment was Winganuskie, his favourite child Pocahontas. She was doubtless a mischievous maiden, active, [139] adventurous, and daring. Strachey calls her "a wanton daughter of Powhatan." We read, among other adventures, of her attempting to swim across the Piankatank River, of her rescue by one of the Englishmen, and the consequent gift by Powhatan of Gwynne's Island to the colony; of the wild entertainment she devised and led for her friend, Captain Smith, all before she was a year older than at the time of which we are writing. She was small, slender, and graceful. Of her beauty a few years later, my readers are able to judge for themselves from the authentic portrait we present in this book. These, with all the other wives, and attendant females of a more doubtful position, with Matachanna and Cleopatre, and the minor princesses, made haste, upon coming up from their bath, to array themselves for the coming ceremonies. They had no mirrors of polished steel or glass, but the Indian woman must have been a very dense woman indeed if she had failed to recognize and regard critically the picture reflected in the pool [140] or bowl of water. In their dark hair they fastened pompons and aigrettes of white marabout feathers (down), after the manner of modern dames. They painted themselves freshly with brilliant red "puccoon," faces and all. On their arms above the elbow they had long worn elaborate bracelets tattooed into the skin, and just below the knee were others, quite as elaborate and quite as durable. On certain wider spaces of their bodies were ornaments of similar material—lizards, serpents, turtles, birds. All these their enlightened sisters wear in emeralds and diamonds. The Indian could, however, rival her civilized sister in pearls. Many chains of these hung from their necks—large, fresh-water pearls—somewhat discoloured, it is true, by rude boring. They wore brief aprons of skins, and moccasins on their feet. Besides these,—rien de tout!

My chivalrous friend, John Esten Cooke, the Virginia historian, takes the liberty, after the manner of latter-day society reporters, of arraying [141] the lady he describes according to his own taste. He has dressed Pocahontas on the occasion of Captain Smith's reception in a robe of doe-skin, lined with down from the breast of the wood pigeon, with coral ear-rings, coral bracelets on wrists and ankles, and a white plume in her hair, the badge of royal blood. Thus my friend saw her, casting his eyes backward two hundred and seventy-five years; but John Smith, who saw her face to face, has, in his picture of the scene which made her famous, presented her clad in her own charms and in these alone. Before the age of thirteen, the early historians[31] tell us, Indian children wore no garments. Their mothers rubbed into their skins ointments which rendered them proof against "certaine biting gnats such as the Greekes called scynipes that swarm within the marshe,"—our snipelike long-billed mosquitoes,—and also against extremes of heat and cold. The paint-pot could furnish the little maid with a new dress every day, if she desired it—red, [142] white, or even black! I am afraid the little princess whose statue is to adorn the Jamestown Park, fared like the rest of her people, unless the severe cold constrained her to encumber her active limbs with a "mantell of feathers."

When a loud shout announced the approach of the escort conducting the distinguished prisoner, Powhatan made haste to put himself into position to receive them. Forty or fifty of his tallest warriors stood without and formed a lane through which the captive was conducted. Within, the emperor was discovered lying in an easy Oriental fashion before a great fire, and upon a dais a foot high covered with ten or twelve mats. "He[32] was hung with manie chaynes of great Pearles about his neck, and covered with a great covering of raccoon skins and all the tayles hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 or 18 years, and along on each side the house two rowes of men and behind them as many women with all their heads and shoulders [143] painted red, many of their heads bedecked with the white down of birds but every one with something; and a great chayne of white beads about their necks. Powhatan held himself with such a grand majesticall countenance as drave me into admiration to see such state in a naked savage. He is of personage a tall, well-proportioned man with a sower looke. His head is somewhat gray, his beard so thinne it seemeth none at all. His age neare 60,[33] of a very able and hardy body to endure any labour. This King will make his own robes, shooes, pots, bowes, and arrows; and plant, hunt, or doe anything as well as the rest."

At the entrance of the escort with their captive all the people cheered and shouted. The Queen of Appamatuck was ordered to bring him water to wash his hands. Another queen offered a bunch of feathers to be used as a towel. These ceremonies concluded, platters containing food were served of which we may well believe he partook with an anxious heart. The rhyming [144] Docteur of Divinitie quaintly comments upon the situation:—

"They say he bore a pleasant shew
But sure his heart was sad
For who can pleasant be, and rest
That lives in fear and dread:
And having life suspected, doth
It still suspected lead."

After the dishes were removed, the captors stated their case in several heated orations and then held with the emperor a long consultation. Smith had ample time to look around him. He was always gentle to children, giving back to them in the starving-time half the corn he had been compelled to exact from their parents,—"the bravest are the tenderest,"—and it may be that his eyes softened as they fell upon the little Pocahontas so gravely silent and observant. She probably thought him the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. At all events, when two great stones were brought, and she saw the certain reënactment of scenes to which she was familiar, she implored her father to spare [145] his life, and when he was dragged forth and his head laid upon the stones, she rushed forward, gathered him into her arms, and laid her own head upon his.

"She rushed forward, and laid her own head upon his."

The Indians are extremely superstitious. Anything contrary to nature, as they saw nature,—such as madness or idiocy,—they construed into a manifestation of supernatural agency. Evidently John Smith was destined to be spared, and for the sake of the little maiden. To her service he was accordingly assigned, "to make her bells, beads, and copper." He was retained some days as the guest of the emperor, who soon put to him the crucial question, "What was the cause of the coming of the Englishmen?"

Captain Smith must have had command, not only of his feelings but of the Indian language. He quickly invented a plausible story.[34] He told the emperor that being in a fight with the Spaniards (Powhatan's enemies) and being overpowered, and almost forced to retreat, they had, because of [146] extreme weather, made for the shore, and landing at Chesapeake been received with a flight of arrows. At Kequoghton,[35] however, the people had been kind, and in an answer to their inquiry about fresh water, had directed them up the river to find it. The pinnace had sprung a leak, and they were forced to stay and mend her to be ready for Captain Newport when he came to take them away.

But the shrewd old emperor was not satisfied. He had something more to ask: Why had they gone up the river to the falls? That was not the way to mend a pinnace or take on fresh water! The captain was ready with a perfectly satisfactory reply. His father Newport, in that fight with the Chesapeakes, had a child slain, whose death they intended to revenge. They attributed the murder to the Monocans, the enemies of Powhatan, etc., etc.

"A lie," defined the Sunday-school boy in answer to a catechism question, "is an abomination [147] unto the Lord, and a very present help in time of trouble." Powhatan saw no reason to doubt the plausible statements of Captain Smith, and entered upon a friendly discourse about the South Sea and other matters of interest, the Monocans and tribes beyond the mountains, and his own very great power and grandeur. His whilom captive made good use of his opportunities, admired the greatness of Powhatan, and flattered him into an avowal of friendship, with the promises of corn and venison in return for hatchets and copper.

All this seems marvellous in view of the difficulty in understanding the uncouth Indian tongue. But Captain Smith seems to have instructed himself. He has been accused of colouring his narratives too highly, indeed, of inventing some of them. For myself I admire him too much to concede more than the cum grano salis, with which, alas, we daily and hourly season much that we hear.

He has given us a practical illustration of his [148] success in mastering the language of the Powhatans. After a short list of Indian words, he has given us a whole sentence, which doubtless he used on this occasion when parting with Powhatan, and inviting him to send his daughter to visit him. It is this: "Kekaten pokahontas patiaquagh niugh tanks manotyens neer mowchick rayrenock audowgh," which means, "Bid Pocahontas bring two little baskets, and I will give her white beads to make a chain."

The captain was not allowed to return to Jamestown without a further trial to his nerves, and another opportunity of noting the family likeness between kings. It must be remembered he saw all these fearful things at night—but without the help, in Powhatan's camp, of sack or aqua vitæ.[36] The night before he left, Powhatan caused him to be brought to a great house in the woods, and there upon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after, from behind a mat that divided the house, came the "most dolefullest" [149] noise that was ever heard. Presently Powhatan, who had hidden (like King James behind the arras), appeared, painted more like a devil than a man, and with two hundred men painted black like himself. After sundry fearful contortions and wild antics,—seeing he could not smite the captain dead with fear,—he expressed himself in a friendly manner, and offered to be a father to him, and esteem him as he did his handsome son Nantauquous, also to give him the country of Capahowsick in return for two great guns and a grindstone.

I have told you this story as it was told by Captain Smith. "The Newes from Virginia," which he wrote immediately upon his return to Jamestown, contained no word of complaint of the Indians. On the contrary, it is full of grateful appreciation of their kindness. Nor does it relate the incident of Pocahontas as the saviour of his life! "The Newes from Virginia" was carefully worded to encourage immigration. He could not frighten away immigrants by stories [150] of bloodthirsty savages; he could not tell of the heroism of Pocahontas without revealing the fact of his own imminent danger. He told the whole again and again afterward. None of the early historians questioned it. All repeated, accepted, and admired it,—Hamor, Strachey, and Stith, who read every written word, and knew every tradition relating to the subject. The later historians—John Burke, Bishop Meade, Gilmore Simms, Charles Campbell, and John Esten Cooke—accept the story without any thought of questioning its truth. So do James Graham and Edward Arber, in England. There seems to have been no adverse suggestion until a few years ago. Those who incline to doubt the truth of John Smith's story will be strengthened by reading Doyle's "English Colonies in America," and "The First Republic," by Alexander Brown. These are only a few of the writers pro and con upon this interesting question. Melvin Arthur Lane in The Strand, London, August, 1906, thus bewails our possible [151] loss of the beautiful romance: "For years antiquarians and other iconoclasts—worthy men, no doubt, but terrible shatterers of other men's ideals—have taken from us, one by one, the historic objects of our love and scorn. Henry VIII, they tell us, was a very good fellow, much less black than he was painted. Richard III likewise was a perfect gentleman. He sent the little princes to the Tower that he might be near them and take a kindly interest in their welfare, as became such a benevolent uncle. Paul Jones, whom we have just reinterred with great honour at Annapolis, is said by some people to have been the bloodiest of pirates, most cruel of men. Captain Kidd may soon turn out to have been a distributer of tracts, Columbus a lifelong landsman, and Bluebeard a model of all the domestic virtues."

He might have made his list longer, and included George Washington and many others whom we have been taught to honour and revere. John Smith, like all strong characters, had good haters [152] as well as devoted lovers. He had the misfortune of living in an age which did not appreciate him. But one must belong to the former prejudiced class, and be a very good hater indeed, to believe him capable of weaving a romance "out of the whole cloth," and retailing it in a dignified letter to his Queen; at a time, too, when Pocahontas was at court and could herself have contradicted it. It is not possible that the attendants upon Queen Anne's Court should have been ignorant of the interesting feature in the letter from John Smith, or failed to refer to it in conversing with Pocahontas and her husband. Nor is it possible that the Christian woman would have assented, even by silence, to a falsehood.

For myself, I see nothing improbable in her action. A reckless, impulsive child will face dangers and take risks that appall those of mature years. Nor was she the only Indian maiden who saved the life of her father's enemy.[37] Hakluyt tells of "John Ortiz, who was captured in [153] Florida in 1528. The Indian chief Ucita was about to have him put to death, but at the intercession of an Indian princess, one of Ucita's daughters, his life was spared. Again, when her father was about to sacrifice him to their god (they being worshippers of the devil), the same maiden rescued him by night and set him in the way to escape, and returned because she would not be discovered." She would have been quite capable of daring even more had she been a little child of ten or eleven years.

I do not believe Pocahontas was an inspired maiden, like Joan of Arc, nor that she was actuated by purely lofty and unselfish motives. I believe that she was a very ardent, impulsive child, fond of trinkets, grateful for favours, absolutely uncontrolled, and with plenty of wild Indian blood in her veins. Whether or no she saved John Smith's life, she deserves our homage for her kindness in warning him of danger, in rescuing Henry Spelman, in bringing food to the colonists during the hard winter of 1608-1609. [154] She knew John Smith for only sixteen months, and yet in that brief time the two have occupied the stage to the exclusion of many noble and good men, such is the eagerness with which we welcome the romances that enliven the prosaic pages of history. She owes much of the interest attending her life to the fact that the child of a savage should be presented at court, and receive attention from the highest lords and ladies in the land. The Beggar-maid was as nothing compared with her, and Cophetua a very humdrum prince indeed beside Captain John Smith.

In his usual style, he was wont to repeat that but for her succour when the colonists were starving, the enterprise would have probably come to naught. The colonists were in worse condition two winters after John Smith left them, and Pocahontas never entered Jamestown after he departed. The colony did not "come to naught." God had planted it; and although it was watered with blood and tears, forgotten often by its friends, constantly threatened and devastated by [155] its enemies, and more than once in peril of utter extinction, it grew and prospered. Never was the prophetic declaration that "a little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation," more wonderfully exemplified than in the planting and rearing of this colony. [156]


The sun was just rising, on a frosty morning in February, when the sentinels on guard at Jamestown challenged a company of Indians who were seen defiling through the woods; and were answered by the shout "wingapoh," on their part, and "friends" in a voice they knew. These were the Indians sent by Powhatan to conduct Captain Smith to Jamestown. Doubtless his heart swelled with grateful emotion at the sight of the humble huts of the little town which meant home to him. He was joyfully welcomed[38] back after his seven weeks' absence by all except Archer and two or three confederates. Archer, who had been illegally admitted into the Council, had now the audacity to indict Smith for the death of Robinson and Emry, who were slain by the Indians on the Chickahominy, [157] claiming that he had led them into the snare which caused their death, and should be executed, according to Levitical law.

The little town proved no city of refuge to the weary captain. True, he had friends, but his enemies were stronger than his friends. The turbulent, selfish, and ignoble were often in the majority in the colony, and nothing short of the interposition of Providence could have prevented their being in the ascendant as well. The miracle of its enduring life lies in the fact that a mere handful of men were enabled, through superhuman courage and patience, to overcome obstacles, the most tremendous that ever confronted a company of adventurers.

In vain Captain Smith explained that Robinson and Emry had fallen victims to their own imprudence, and neglect of his express orders. In vain was he sustained by George Percy, Robert Hunt, and other true men. His story was not believed by the men who had been his enemies from the hour he left the shores of England; [158] and now, on the day of his return, he was tried and sentenced to be hanged the next day.

But the Divine Power that had guided him through so many difficulties did not forsake him now in his extremity. Early in the night, as he lay closely guarded, he heard shouts and signals all along the line of sentinels. They had descried, in the moonlight, a ghostly sail on the river, and Newport, the long overdue Newport, was coming in with the tide.

Probably Newport's first inquiry was for Wingfield, his second for John Smith. Learning of their imprisonment, he indignantly released them both,—Smith from the hands of the guard, and Wingfield from the pinnace, where he was still in duress.

Smith now bethought himself of his promise to send guns and a grindstone to Powhatan. His guides, with Powhatan's trusty servant, Rawhunt, were still in the fort, without doubt amazed at the turn things had taken. Smith now appeared, and conducting them to a spot where [159] two demi-culverins and a millstone were lying, gave them permission to carry them home to their king. Of course such a formidable present could not be borne on the men's shoulders. To give them an idea of the power of the guns, a cannon was charged with stones and fired at the boughs of a tree. As the icicle-laden branches came crashing down, the "savages took to their heels," but presently returning, the captain loaded them with gifts for Powhatan, his wives and children, and sent them on their way. Doubtless Pocahontas had not forgotten to entrust to Rawhunt the two little baskets for white beads to make her a chain.

Thoughtful men among the first settlers must have regarded Newport's addition to their number with dismay. There were a few "labourers," a great many "gentlemen." A jeweller, a perfumer, two refiners, two goldsmiths, and a pipe-maker were sent out to help subdue the wilderness! There was not one soldier to aid in protecting the colony against an army of savages. [160] But there were six tailors! These professors of the fine arts were evidently intended for the service of the "gentlemen."

Newport had brought stirring news, and we can imagine the eagerness with which the homesick exiles listened. He had left England with two vessels, but the Phœnix, well equipped with men and supplies, had been separated from his ship in a storm, and he had reason to fear she was lost. He could report the disappointment of the London Company at the failure of the gold test, and their discontent that no immediate return of value seemed likely to reward and reimburse them for all they had adventured. Surely Newport had tarried in Virginia long enough to bring home some treasure, some news of Raleigh's lost colony, or some hope of finding the South Sea! His Majesty's subjects in the rich new land had evidently been remiss. Of course, letters were received by Percy, Master Hunt, and the "better class." Percy learned that his noble brother, the Duke of Northumberland, was still [161] with Sir Walter Raleigh, confined in the Tower, and that London's learned and scientific men flocked thither to be entertained by them. Will Shakespeare had written a new play, "King Lear," and although the distinguished prisoners were not allowed to join the ardent crowds at the Globe and Blackfriars, they could read and enjoy the great master as well perhaps in their comfortable apartments in the Tower, as in the "dingy pit under the smoking flambeaux." John Smith was especially interested, as his own "fatal tragedies," he once complained, "had been acted on the stage."

But the cream of Newport's news was the London gossip. What story could he tell of the court? Was peace concluded with Spain? Was the Guy Fawkes conspiracy forgotten? How did the new King promise, and what nobleman was now in power? The answer to the latter was interesting. A young Scotchman had broken one of his legs at a tilting in the King's presence, and had, with this unfair starting, won more than [162] halfway in the race to royal favour. In one hour he had found all that is meant by the magic word "favourite." He was poor, even beyond the limits of Scotch poverty, but he was straight-limbed, well-favoured, strong-shouldered, and smooth-faced, "with some sort of cunning and show of modesty." The King adored him, loaded him with jewels and fair raiment, and conferred upon him the honour of knighthood. People predicted (and truly) that Sir Robert Carr would rise to be a peer of the realm. The highest dignitaries, Cecil, Suffolk, and all, vied with each other which should most engage his favour. When Lady Raleigh on her knees begged her king not to take her captive husband's estate from her children, he replied, "I maun have the land! I maun have it for Carr!"

King James and a Petitioner.

As to the King, he was continuing to lead his life of indolence and ease, hunting much of the time, and lying in bed the greater part of the day when he had no amusement on hand. His subjects could but rarely gain access to him. They [163] lay in wait for him whenever he stirred abroad, and thrust their "sifflications" into his unwilling hands, to be stuffed unread into convenient pockets. He went so far as to say he would rather return to Scotland than be chained to the Council table. He dressed in fantastic colours and wore a horn instead of a sword at his side. His queen, however, covered her plain person with jewels and behaved with no more personal dignity than her husband. They were both extravagant beyond precedent, squandering great sums upon their favourites and their own pleasures, and always in want of money. Of course the king was cordially hated by all except his sycophants and men like himself. His perpetual refrain was, "I am the King! My subjects must honour and fear me." "Your Queen Elizabeth," said Lord Howard, writing to Harrington, "did talk of her subjects' love and affection, and in good truth she aimed well: our King talketh of his subjects' fear and subjection, and herein I think he doth well too—as long as it holdeth good"—all of [164] which seemed a fantastic fairy tale to his Majesty's starving exiles in Virginia. Some of them, George Percy for example, felt the pressure of "sorrow's crown of sorrow, remembering happier things," but there were others, always present in the colony, and little better than cutthroats, who exulted in the royal example, and who revelled in the license and freedom of the remote province, safe from swift chastisement at the strong hands of the English law. For these, strong hands, cruel hands, were sent out later. At present, however, the coming of Captain Newport was the occasion of feasting, trading with the sailors, and a general relaxation from all labour.

Powhatan soon heard of Newport's arrival, and sent a present, with an invitation to Werowocomoco. Newport returned his courtesy with presents, and began to prepare the pinnace to visit him.

He was accompanied by Captain Smith and Master Scrivener, "a very wise, understanding [165] gentleman, newly arrived and admitted to the Counsell," and thirty or forty chosen men for their guard. But when they reached the point on York River nearest the residence of Powhatan, a wholesome fear of that potentate seized Newport. Would the savage king keep faith? How about ambuscades, arrows, and tomahawks? What was the meaning of the traplike contrivances over the small streams that must be crossed before audience could be had of the monarch? Newport shook his head, and finally Smith, who feared nothing, dead or living, volunteered, with twenty men, to go ahead and "encounter the worst that can happen." To this Newport gladly consented, and while he remained beyond range of arrow-shot in the pinnace with half the escort, Smith set out with his "twenty shot, armed in Jacks"—i.e. quilted jackets then in use which afforded partial protection against Indian arrows. A novel way this, to accept a house-party invitation to a palace!

Powhatan received Smith with a great show [166] of rejoicing and state. He had much to say to his former captive. "Where is your father [Newport], and where are the guns and grindstone you promised?" Satisfactory answers being ready for these questions, he proceeded to promise Smith corn, wives, and land, provided the twenty men then present would lay their arms at his feet, as did his subjects. "I told him," said the Captain, "that was a ceremonie our enemies desired, but never our friends," so that request, which was to be made perpetually afterwards, was waived for the present.

Powhatan then called his guest's attention to certain embellishments he had made in his grounds since Smith's last visit. A long line had been stretched between two trees, and upon it, waving in the crisp air, were the bloody scalps of an entire tribe—the people of Piankatank, his nearest neighbours and subjects. How they had displeased their emperor does not appear. Numbers of their women were at work in the royal kitchen and gardens, and hapless little [167] children, destined to lives of slavery, were scattered about among them. Great ostentation was made of these to Smith, and afterwards to Captain Newport.

Powhatan Oak, over Three Hundred Years Old.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

The emperor then walked about his ground with Captain Smith, and down to a bend in the river where lay his fleet of canoes—a fleet in which the savage king felt as much pride as did our President in a recent review of our magnificent North Atlantic squadron.

But while indulging in this affable and amiable conversation, a fanfare of trumpets arrested Powhatan's attention, and he saw in the distance Newport—who seems to have found means to strengthen his nerves—with his escort, making their way inland; whereupon Powhatan hastily retreated to prepare the reception ceremonies.

These repeated, in every particular, the tableau we have already described: the pose on the dais, the embroidered pillow, the robes and chains, the two seats of honour for the two beauties, [168] the wives and their attendants all in full dress, beads, pearls, paint, and girdles—and without doubt Pocahontas, Matichanna, and Cleopatre. His "chiefest men" also sat in the arbour-house, and forty platters of bread, or more, were in two rows before the door, while five hundred people stood without as a guard. Beyond, the mute but eloquent scalps waved ominously in the air as it was rent by a mighty shout of welcome.

Powhatan feasted his guests at an abundant dinner of venison, wild fowl, dried persimmons, nuts, and bread. Mats were laid in order and each guest sat upon his own small square mat of woven grasses. Indian civilization had not yet demanded a table. Women, before the feast, handed wooden finger-bowls and feather napkins. Each guest had his portion in a wooden platter, gravely laying the platter beside him when empty. From gourds or wooden bowls they drank the not unpleasant liquid prepared with crushed walnut-meats and water. There were no [169] knives or forks, but for that matter neither were there forks in Queen Elizabeth's time. She, and all her court, used nature's first implement, and found it perfectly convenient and satisfactory. The dinner knife of the Indian was simply a sharpened reed. Before eating, each Indian solemnly uttered a few words and cast a morsel of food into the fire. After the meal finger-bowls were again offered with the bunch of feathers. Not for one moment did the guests abate their vigilance! Matches were kept burning to touch off the powder in their pieces at a moment's notice. Powhatan once argued that the arms must always be left behind, because these "smoking[39] things made his women sick!"

Newport had brought his host a suit of crimson cloth, a white greyhound, and a hat. He now presented him with a boy named Thomas Savage, whom Newport called his son, for whom [170] Powhatan gave "Namontacke his trustie servant and one of a shrewd and subtill capacitie." Purchas remarks in a marginal note, "The exchange of a Christian for a Savage,"—refraining from the suggestive pun (a favourite species of English wit at the time) as being beneath his dignity. The gift, however, was really a loan, and not understood to mean permanent possession.

Namontack, the savage of a shrewd and subtle capacity, was intended by Powhatan to accompany Newport to England, and bring reliable information thence of the strength of the country. The poor little Christian boy was to live in constant companionship with these "devils" that he might learn their language and serve the colony as interpreter.

Captain Smith, after three or four days spent in feasting and dancing, and a little traffic in toys, at last proposed trade on a larger basis. But Powhatan demurred. "It is not agreeable to my greatness," he said to Newport, "to traffic for trifles in this peddling manner. You, too, [171] I esteem a great werowance.[40] Therefore lay me down all your commodities together. What I like I will take, and in recompense give you what I think their fitting value."

Captain Smith, who was acting as interpreter between the traders, at once detected Powhatan's cunning, and implored Newport to be chary of his goods. But Newport, wishing to express a lordly indifference to commercial interests, offered his entire outfit of mirrors, copper, bells, hatchets, cloth, and received in return something less than four bushels of corn! Newport was astounded. He had expected to freight his pinnace! He lost his temper and quarrelled with Captain Smith, in consequence probably of the reproaches of the latter. But the captain contrived to display some blue beads, simply as objects of interest, and not for barter, seeing "they could be worn only by royalty." Powhatan fell neatly into the trap, and bought them for two or three hundred bushels of corn! Blue beads rose in value. [172] Opechancanough was allowed to buy a few, but "none durst weare any of them but their greate kings, their wives and children."

The outwitted Newport retired in chagrin to his pinnace. Before he sailed, Powhatan sent a feast of bread and venison, and Nantauquas to beg Captain Smith to visit him again, but to leave his sword and pistol behind. "But these," said Smith, significantly, "are requests made by our enemies, never by our friends."

The next morning there was a parting interview, with promises from Powhatan to help avenge Newport's son (slain as reported by Smith) by an invasion of the Monacans. After a good deal of insincere palaver, the English proceeded on their homeward way, first making a short visit to the arch-enemy, Opechancanough, at his urgent solicitation.

Powhatan sent thither for the party to return to him, but upon receiving their respectful regrets, he sent again, this time by little Pocahontas. With her, they returned for another short [173] visit to Werowocomoco: more courtesies, more protestations of friendship, and the loan of another Indian (probably Machumps) with instructions to report the strength and wealth of the white man's country.

And now a new disaster awaited our unhappy colonists. I like the temperate, homely words of the old writers,—Anas Todkill, William Phetiplace, and others—and I shall again borrow them. "Wee returned to the Fort where this new supply being lodged with the rest, accidentally fired the quarters; and so the Towne, which being but thatched with Reeds, the fire was so fierce as it burnt our Pallizadoes, though ten or twelve yards distant, with all our Arms, Bedding, Apparell, and much private provision. Good Master Hunt, our Preacher, lost all his Librarie, and all that hee had (but the clothes on his backe), yet none ever saw him repine at his losse. Upon any alarme he would be as readie for defence as any; and till he could speake he never ceased to his utmost to animate us constantly [174] to persist: whose soule questionlesse is with God."

Newport remained fourteen weeks at Jamestown. He should have left in fourteen days. Thus his crew again consumed supplies which had been provided for the colony. But a "small stream of water issuing from a bank near Jamestown was found to deposit in its channel a glittering sediment which resembled golden ore. The depositation of this yellow stuff was supposed to indicate the presence of a gold mine," and presto! all the little world except Captain Smith "went crazy!" The axe was left in the tree, the spade in the corn-hill. There was no more thought of tilling or planting or building. "There was no talke, no hope, no worke, but digge Gold, wash Gold, refine Gold, load Gold; such a bruit of Gold as one mad fellow desired to bee buried in the sand least they should by their Art make Gold of his bones. Little neede there was and lesse reason the shippe should staye, their wages run on, our victuall consumed,"[41] [175] &c. Purchas, whose quaint marginal notes bring back our "Pilgrim's Progress" days (he antedated Bunyan, however), says in the note opposite this page, "Certaine shining yellow sand (I saw it!) with great promises of gold, like the promises yeelding sandy performances."

Captain Smith set his face like a flint against this gold-fever, which seemed likely to rival Frobisher's experiments and failures in 1577, and declared he was not enamoured of the golden promise, nor could he bear to "see necessary business neglected to fraught such a drunken ship with so much gilded dirt." "Till then," continue our historians (Anas Todkill et al.), "we never accounted Captaine Newport a refiner, who being fit to set saile for England, and we not having any use for Parliaments, Playes, Petitions, Admirals, Recorders, Interpreters, Chronologers, Courts of Plea, nor Justices of Peace, sent Master Wingfield and Captaine Archer with him for England, to seeke some place of better imployment." [176]

Newport carried with him twenty turkeys, a present from Powhatan, who received in return twenty swords, the beginning of his acquisition of the arms he so coveted. Newport could hardly have done a more unwise thing. His foolish prodigality prevented all profitable traffic with the Indians thereafter, and he put into their hands the weapons destined to reach the hearts of his own countrymen. [177]


The church that was burned in the Jamestown fire of January 17, 1608, was the wretched affair of logs, sedge, and dirt, built by the colonists to take the place of the awning between two trees under which they first worshipped. In a map of the Virginia settlement sent by Zuñiga to Philip the Third in September, 1608, the site of a church is indicated enclosed within the fort. Captain Newport employed his mariners in rebuilding this church, "all which works they finished cheerfully and in short time." The time, it appears, was short indeed. Anas Todkill and his collaborators assert that it was "little need they should stay and consume victuall for fourteene days, that the Mariners might say they built such a golden Church, that we can say the raine washed neere to nothing in fourteene days." [178]

Our "docteur of Divinitie" duly records that when Newport departed "Captain Smith and Master Scrivener divided betwixt them the rebuilding Jamestown, the repairing our Pallizadoes, the cutting down trees, preparing our fields for planting our Corne and rebuilding our Church." This, at best only a flimsy affair, was the second Church (we suppose the mariners' work was mended, not destroyed), and the good preacher, Master Hunt, was still alive. The day of his death is not known. He was certainly living in December, 1608, for somebody—and doubtless in the church—then married John Laydon to Ann Burras; and we know of no minister who came over until 1610. In the interval between his death and the arrival of Mr. Bucke, daily prayers, and homilies on Sunday, were said in the church, although there was no minister. We are aware that it behooves us to be pretty careful in this matter of churches, now that the shovels and picks of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities are busy with [179] the foundations of the Jamestown churches. They will never find the foundation of the first one, nor of the second, for the very good reason that they had none.

The 20th of April all hands were at work hewing down trees and planting corn, when an alarum from the guard caused every man to drop axe and hoe and take up arms, each one expecting an assault from the savages. But presently a trumpet blast reached the ear, and a ship was seen sailing up the James with the red cross of St. George flying from the masthead. This was the Phœnix, a marine phœnix, rising from the sea after "many perrills of extreame storms and tempests." This happy arrival of Captain Nelson, "having been three months missing after Captain Newport's arrivall, being to all our expectations lost, having been long crossed with tempestuous weather and contrary winds, did so ravish us with exceeding joy that now wee thought ourselves as well fitted as our harts could wish both with a competent number of men as [180] also for all other needful provisions till a further supply could come to us." Captain Francis Nelson, "an honest man and expert mariner," turned his back on the "fantastical gold," and freighted his ship for her return voyage with cedar; and when he sailed for home he took with him the gold-hunting Captain Martin, and Smith's "True Relation of Virginia,"—the first book written by an Englishman in America,—which was printed at the Greyhound in Paul's Churchyard in London.

Old Fort—Jamestown Island.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

Our colonists were living so near the Indian Court, that stirring incidents were constantly occurring to prevent indulgence in peace and security. Powhatan soon sent Captain Smith a present of twenty turkeys, upon condition he should in return receive twenty swords. Smith knew that Newport had been most imprudent in putting arms in the Indians' hands, so he accepted the turkeys and returned the usual gifts,—copper kettles, toys, etc.,—at which his Savage Majesty was hugely displeased. He [181] had sent his "Christian" boy, Thomas Savage, with the turkeys, but certain indications of Powhatan's treachery induced Smith to keep the boy. An Indian was captured and frightened into disclosure of Powhatan's plot to murder the English as soon as the Indian Namontack should be returned by Newport. Thefts of spades, shovels, swords, and tools were continually occurring, and it was discovered that Powhatan had received these stolen goods. Finally several Paspaheghans were arrested and imprisoned in the fort. The Indians could never suffer the capture of their men, but would always ransom them with fair words, presents, and promises.

Powhatan, hearing that his braves were detained, "sent his Daughter a child of tenne years old," accompanied by "Rawhunt, exceeding in deformitie of person, but of a subtil wit and crafty understanding," to beg their release. The little girl, he knew, would be refused nothing by the man whose life had been spared for her sake. She had crossed the York in a canoe, and [182] walked twelve miles through the woods. We can see Captain Smith, delighted with the sight of her pretty face and graceful, childish figure, and refreshing her with the best of the dainties Captain Nelson had left. His sympathy with children we have already noticed. Indeed, there is no doubt that Pocahontas was a high favourite with all the colony. No other female, child or woman, ever visited it until Madame Forrest and Ann Burras arrived in the following December,—nearly two years after the coming of the English.

"Rawhunt" (says Smith, whose words are always better than mine), "with a long circumstance told mee how well Powhatan loved and respected mee; and in that I should no doubt any way of his kindnesse, he had sent his child which he most esteemed to see me; a Deare and bread besides for a present: desiring me that the Boy [Savage] might come againe which he loved exceedingly. His little Daughter hee had taught this lesson also, not taking notice at all of the Indeans that had beene prisoners three daies, [183] till that morning that she saw their fathers and friends come quietly, and in good tearmes to entreate their libertie. In the afternoon we guarded them to the Church, and after prayer gave them to Pocahontas, the King's Daughter, in regard of her father's kindnesse in sending her. After having well fed them, as all the time of their imprisonment, we gave them their bowes, arrowes or what else they had and with much content sent them packing. Pocahontas also we requited with such trifles as contented her, to tell that we had used the Paspaheyans very kindly in releasing them."[42] The "Boy" evidently was not returned. The ambassador of a subtle wit and crafty understanding, failed, it appears, to accomplish everything.

I give the age of the little princess as Smith gives it. Other historians have advanced it two years.[43] Yet another class of her admirers fondly hope she was fourteen years of age, for [184] then she would have been old enough to fall in love with Captain Smith, pine at his coldness, break her heart at finding him after her marriage alive, and broken-hearted die in England. I am personally anxious to believe she could have been not more than ten or eleven years old when she came with Rawhunt to beg for the release of the prisoners. Smith says "tenne years old."

It must have been during this summer that she came so often to Jamestown. Strachey, our learned, reliable historian, describes the dress of Indian maids and matrons, and informs us that girls before twelve years of age wore none at all in summer. He says, "the before-mentionde Pocahontas, a well-featured, but wanton young girle, Powhatan's daughter, sometymes resorting to our fort, of the age then of eleven or twelve years; would get the boyes forth with her to the market place, and make them wheele, falling on their hands, turning their heeles upwards; whome she would follow and wheele soe herselfe, naked as she was, all the fort over." [185]

This could not have happened had she been older than eleven or twelve, nor could it have happened in winter. The next summer she would have been too old for such a pastime and such attire. A recent journal tells us that Alphonso of Spain was fond of this sport (wheeling on hands and feet) the summer he went a-wooing before his marriage. I might, therefore, imagine it to be an amusement of royalty, had I not seen little negroes in Virginia excel in it. Evidently it was not given us, by the Indians, along with corn and tobacco. Those wild English "boyes" at the fort taught it to our little American princess, and if Strachey failed to admire her,—to find Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt,—he was unfortunate, besides being wofully in a minority. All the other Englishmen delighted in her, whatever she did; and she cordially liked them, and dearly loved the captain who taught her to call him "father."

We may be sure that she could not have visited the fort so familiarly without attracting [186] the notice and interest of the good missionary and clergyman. An Indian boy named "Chanco" was also a favourite with the colonists, and was the means, like Pocahontas, of rendering essential service to them. Like her he became a Christian; and I can but think that both were taught in their early years by that holy man of God, Robert Hunt. But here the similitude ceases. She saved the life of John Smith, and perhaps one other: he saved the lives of all the colonists at Jamestown. She is justly to be immortalized in bronze on the soil that but for him would have been bathed in Christian blood; yet no statue of Chanco will tell the world of his heroic action.

"There was a little city and few men within it, and there came a great king against it.... Now there was a poor man and he delivered the city—yet no man remembered that poor man." [187]


Now that the Phœnix had left food enough to sustain the colony all summer, Captain Smith had leisure to heed the restless stirrings of his adventurous spirit. He had long wished to explore the great bay, and he now accompanied the Phœnix as far as the capes. As the ship "bore up the helm," and entered her long path on the great sea, he turned the prow of his little barge northward to the mysterious unexplored waters of the Chesapeake. Relying upon Indian information, he had sent, by Captain Newton, almost a pledge that he would find the outlet to the South Sea through the northern waters, rather than the James or Chickahominy rivers.

Personally, he had nothing to gain, the crown would be sure to claim everything; but it behooved him to satisfy the London Company. Christians and patriots had swelled his sails with pæans and [188] prayers when he left England, but he had reason to fear that the existence of the colony did not depend upon the Christian who thought of nothing but the coming of God's Kingdom on earth; nor upon the patriot who sought only the honour of old England; but upon a king and company seeking the present gold, and a path whereby gold-bearing regions might be reached in future.

The colonists had always been reluctant to cultivate food products, and were by consequence always starving. This was, in part, because they were not allowed to plant on their own account, except upon condition of contributing part of their crops and one month's service annually for the benefit of the London Company. Neither could they leave the country without special permission. Private letters from England were constantly intercepted. It is narrated that a passport from the King for the return of one of the colonists was sewed in a garter to ensure its delivery. The settlers were, as a matter of fact, slaves and prisoners, chained hand and foot to a [189] life of privation and peril. Their true position was concealed for a while from the English people, but the secret was kept for a short time only. Banishment to Virginia was worse than death. Scott makes his profligate apprentice consider the alternative of suicide or life in Virginia. "I may save the hangman a labour or go the voyage to Virginia," said "Jin Vincent." Three thieves, under sentence of death, were offered pardon and transportation to Virginia. One of the three preferred hanging. The other two were sent to the long-suffering colonists. "The first country in America," says Stith, "is under the unjust scandal of being another Siberia, fit only for the vilest of people."

Captain Smith's voyage, made in an open barge, was full of adventure. He explored every river, every inlet. He visited the site of the future city of Baltimore, and rowed close under the hill known to-day as Mt. Vernon. He was sometimes assailed by the arrows of the Indian, and sometimes adored by him as a god. His adventures [190] were peculiar and thrilling, and it is my readers' loss that I cannot relate them all in this modest volume. Perhaps no one of them is more dramatic than the picture he draws of the dusky crowd that once gathered around him; when, according to his daily custom, he offered a prayer for God's protection and guidance, and joined with his comrades in a psalm of praise. All at once the savages turned their faces eastward, and raising their hands with passionate gestures, "began a fearful song," and ended by embracing Captain Smith. Poor fellows! They too had a god! They recognized in the strange white man a brother!

In these two voyages (for the explorers returned for food once) Smith sailed about three thousand miles. They returned to Jamestown early in September (1608), having encountered a terrible hurricane near the peaceful spot they had named Point Comfort when they first passed between the capes. Smith made haste to draw his wonderfully accurate map of Virginia. This map was [191] the recognized authority for many years, and indeed survives in the maps of to-day. All subsequent researches have only expanded and illustrated Smith's original view.[44]

He had not found the passage to the South Sea, nor the gold mine that Powhatan's people had led him to expect. The rainbow still spanned the continent, and the pot of gold was still at the end of the rainbow, and there, sure enough, it was found, more than two hundred years afterward!

While this expedition was in progress, the golden dreams of the colonists were finally dispelled. They awaked to all the miseries of the preceding summer, sickness, scarcity, disappointment, and discontent. Smith returned to reanimate their drooping spirits, and refresh their physical wants by provisions he collected on his voyage.

The chronicles written by one of our trusty "first planters" sums up the situation at Jamestown, "The silly President (Ratcliffe) had notoriously consumed the stores, and to fulfill his [192] follies about building a house for his pleasure in the woods, had brought them all to that misery that had we not arrived they had as strangely tormented him with revenge." We are left to imagine the grim inventions of the mutineers. The "strange torment," however, was prevented by Smith, who strove to be a peacemaker; but the colonists were inexorable. Again was their President deposed, or allowed to resign; and John Smith, by a popular election, became President of Virginia.

And now in October an unexpected ship appears on the broad bosom of the James. The London Company has hurriedly fitted out the Mary & Margaret, and sent Newport back to hasten Smith's discovery of the northward passage to the South Sea. As the ship approaches, the keen eyes of the crowd on shore discern something besides the red cross of St. George fluttering in the autumn breeze. What means this white pennon like a flag of truce? The amazed watchers rub their eyes and gaze again. "It looks like—but [193] no, that cannot be—it certainly looks like—yes, it is—an APRON!"

Sure enough, on the forward deck a small slip of a maiden stands beside a matron in ruff and farthingale, and the little maid's apron signals a greeting to the shore. This is little fourteen-year-old Ann Burras. Her brother, "John Burras, Tradesman," is on board. She is going to be a famous woman very soon, young as she is. She is going to marry John Laydon, and hers will be the first marriage, and her little daughter will be the first English child born in Virginia, and the London Company will be proud of her and look to her dower; and so she and her John will found the genuine "first family" in Virginia. She is very unconscious of all this as she stands in her ruff and short petticoat, beside her mistress, Madame Forrest, who is brave in a farthingale, long, pointed bodice, lace ruff, and broad-banded hat. Her husband, "Thomas Forrest, Gentleman," is on board, but the "Gentleman" and his Madam signify very little [194] beside the rosy English maiden who serves them.

The news brought by Newport this time was too exciting to leave room for interest in Zuñiga's hysterics and the court happenings. Ratcliffe had written home by the last mail that Smith and his followers intended to seize the country and divide it among themselves. This the Right Honourables were ready and willing to believe, having been enlightened, doubtless, by the disgraced Wingfield. The orders were now explicit. There were to be no more evasions, no more apologies, no more subterfuge. The Virginia colonists were to discover and return one of the lost Roanoke men, to send back a lump of gold, and to find the South Sea—eastward or northward, or beyond the mountains. Moreover, the returning ship was to be freighted with goods, the sale of which would reimburse the company for its present outlay. Failing in obedience to these orders, the settlers must "consider themselves an abandoned colony," and "remain in Virginia as [195] banished men." In order to facilitate the progress to the South Sea, the company had kindly sent out a barge in sections, to be borne on the men's backs across the intervening mountains, and to be pieced together when the river running into the South Sea should be reached.

Captain Smith suspected Newport of having instigated these orders, and a violent quarrel ensued. Smith threatened to send the Mary & Margaret home, and keep Newport for a year, put him to work, and let him see for himself how matters stood at Jamestown. However, differences were smoothed over for the present.

King James the First had foolishly amused himself by causing a trumpery crown of copper to be made for Powhatan the First, and sent it with instructions for a formal coronation ceremony. Sundry presents were to accompany the crown—a bedstead, scarlet cloak, ewer, and basin. Smith was sent overland to invite the Emperor to come to Jamestown for his coronation.

When he arrived at Werowocomoco, he found [196] Powhatan gone on a journey to one of his several country houses. A messenger was despatched to fetch him. Meanwhile a great fire was kindled in a field near a wood, and before it mats were spread for the party of Englishmen. They were probably smoking comfortably, after the manner of tired men, when they heard such a "Hideous noise and shrieking that the five Englishmen betook themselves to their arms and seized two or three old men by them, supposing Powhatan with all his power was come to surprise them. But presently Pocahontas came, willing them to kill her if any hurt were intended; and the beholders, which were men, women, and children, satisfied the Captain there was no such matter."[45]

In all our descriptions of Indian ceremonies hitherto, as well as now, it must not be forgotten that we describe the fashions of the Sylvan Court, or, if you please, the Court Barbarian. Masques were in high vogue at this time at the Court of St. James. Here, also, in the western [197] wilderness was to be a masque, the melodrama to be produced by an amateur company in private theatricals.

"Presently," says our historian, "thirty young women came naked out of the woods (only covered before and behind with a few greene leaves), their bodies all painted, some white, some red, some black, some parti-colour; but every one different. Their leader had a faire paire of stagge's hornes on her head, and an otter skinne at her girdle, another at her arme, a quiver of arrowes at her backe, and bow and arrowes in her hand. The next held in her hand a wooden sword; another a club; another a pot-stick: all horned alike. The rest every one with their severall devises.

"These fiends, with most hellish cries and shouts rushing from amongst the trees, cast themselves in a ring about the fire, singing and dauncing with excellent ill varietie, or falling into their infernall passions and then solemnly again to sing and daunce. Having spent neere [198] an hour in this maskarado; as they entered in like manner they departed.

"Having re-accomodated themselves, they solemnly invited Smith to their lodging; but no sooner was hee within the house, but all these nimphes more tormented him than ever with crowding and pressing and hanging upon him, most tediously crying 'Love you not mee? Love you not mee?'

"This salutation ended the feast was set consisting of fruit in baskets, fish and flesh in wooden platters: beans and pease there wanted not (for twenty hogges), nor any Salvage daintie their invention could devise; some attending, others singing and dancing about them. This mirth and banquet being ended, with fire-brands (instead of torches), they conducted him to his lodging."[46]

The next day Powhatan arrived. There were no more "antics," no more mirth. Diplomacy and cunning ruled the hour. As to the "maskarado," the less we say perhaps the better, seeing [199] it was meant in kindness. It could hardly have been an improvised entertainment! Pocahontas had possibly been drawn to the fort by news of the arrival of the two ships, and had learned of Smith's proposed visit. It is stated by one of the chroniclers that she was the leader. We will give her the benefit of a doubt. Perhaps she had already met Madame Forrest and Ann Burras, and been given some Christian garments; and having ordered the dramatic performance, was seated in grave dignity among the spectators. We think this is possible. There is no reason, because she wheeled on hands and feet the last summer, she should go this length in the autumn.

I can hardly imagine a more brilliant mise en scène; the forest in its gorgeous autumnal splendour, the brightly painted, party-coloured young girls with deer's antlers on their dusky brows, the fitful footlights of a blazing fire, the shimmering curtain of smoke! The audience seated in picturesque groups on the mats of reeds fill in the picture. [200]

Smith was coldly received by the emperor, nor was the latter softened by the promise of presents, the invitation to Jamestown, and the return of Namontack. He curtly replied: "If your King have sent me presents, I also am a King, and this is my land. 8 days will I stay to receive them. Your father is to come to me, not I to him; nor yet to your fort: neither will I bite at such a bate. As for the Monacans, I can revenge my owne injuries; as for the place where you say your brother was slain, it is a contrary way from those parts you suppose it. As to any salt water beyond the mountains, the relations you have from my people are false."[47]

This was decisive and squarely to the point; so Newport sent the presents by water, and he, with fifty of the best shot, went himself by land and awaited the arrival of the barge.

"The newly crowned potentate started with terror."

All things ready, a day was fixed for the coronation. The basin and ewer were presented, the bedstead set up (probably a great four-poster), [201] and the scarlet cloak with much ado put upon the emperor, "being persuaded by Namontack they would do him no hurt." But kneel to receive the crown his Majesty would not. He positively refused to bend his knee. Finally, by leaning hard on his shoulders, he was made to stoop a little, and Newport hastily clapped the crown on his head, when at the signal of a pistol shot, the boats fired such a volley that the newly crowned potentate started with terror, and could with difficulty be reassured. Regaining his wonted serenity, he gravely presented his old shoes and his mantle of raccoon skins trimmed with raccoon tails to Captain Newport. After some complimental kindness on both sides, he also presented Newport with a heap of wheat ears, that might when winnowed yield seven or eight bushels; wherewith the coronation party returned to the fort. There the consensus of opinion may be briefly stated: "As for the Coronation of Pawhatan, and his presents, they had been better spared than so ill spent. This stately kind of [202] soliciting made him so much overvalue himselfe that he respected us as nothing at all." It was an absurd piece of folly on the part of "the wisest fool in Christendom."

This was the only order of the company that Newport was able to carry out. He travelled far in the Monacan country, where the "Stoics of the woods" received him in an impassive, noncommittal manner. He hunted up and down for Raleigh's men, for gold, for the South Sea. He found none of these things, and so, having no greater treasures than pitch, tar, glass, and soap ashes wherewith to satisfy the Company for its outlay of two thousand pounds, he was fain to sail away, leaving behind none to regret him.

The colony had suffered much from the presence of the two ships. The sailors, as usual, consumed a large part of the supplies, and they also engaged in an illicit traffic with the Indians and men "of the baser sort" in the colony.

The latter traded "chisels, hatchets, pickaxes, and mattocks with the sailors for butter, cheese, [203] beefe, porke, aqua vitæ, beere, bisket, and oatmeale." Out of three hundred hatchets, not twenty could be found when the ship sailed. And these implements, so much coveted by the Indians, had been traded again with them for "furres, baskets, muscaneekes [?] and young beasts." One mariner boasted that he had collected enough furs to sell for thirty pounds, having paid, probably, a hatchet for them. The young beasts were great curiosities in England. The Earl of Southampton in a letter to the Earl of Salisbury wrote in 1609:—

"My Lord,

"Talkinge with the King by chance I tould him of the Virginia squirrills which they say will fly, whereof there are now divers brought into England, and hee presently and very earnestly asked mee if none of them was provided for him, sayinge that hee was sure you would gett him one of them. I would not have trobled you with this but that you know so well how he is affected by these toyes, and with a little enquiry of any of your folkes you may furnish yourself to present him att his comminge to London [204] which will not bee before Wensday next: the Monday before Theobald's and the Saterday before that to Royston. Your lordships most assuredly,

"to doo your service, "H. Southampton."

Captain Smith indulged himself in writing an imprudent, sharp letter to the "Right Honourables" in London. He entitled his epistle "A Rude Answer," in which he exhibited in caustic terms the preposterous folly of expecting a present profitable return from Virginia. As to gold, he had from the first discouraged all hope of it. The pieced barge for the South Sea? That, at least, was a feasible project. True, it could not be borne many hundreds of miles and over mountains on the backs of his men, but he could burn it and have the ashes carried over in a bag!

He then rallies the company for its prodigality in giving Newport a hundred pounds a year for carrying news, and informs them that he sends Ratcliffe home lest the colonists should cut his throat. [205]

All this did but little good to our captain, as he had cause to realize afterward. "Had Newport suspected the character of the Rude answer," says Cooke, "it is probable he would have dropped it into the Atlantic. But he duly took it to England and the Right Honourables no doubt gasped at its truculence." [206]


In December, 1608, there were two hundred men within the palisades at Jamestown; already, although the weather was delightful, "affrighted with famine." The little wooded peninsula, small and marshy as it was, might with proper foresight and industry have yielded corn and garden products, but as Captain Smith in his "Rude Answer" had stated: "The one-half of us are sicke, the other little better. Our diet is usually a little meale and water, and not sufficient of that. Though there be fish in the sea, fowles in the aire, and beasts in the woods, their bounds are so large, they so wilde, and we so weake and ignorant, we cannot trouble them. And we must long lodge and feed the men you send before they can be made good for anything. In over-toyling our weake unskilful bodies, we can scarce recover ourselves from one supply to [207] another. If you would send out carpenters, husbandmen and diggers-up of trees' roots, they would be worth more than a thousand of such as we have."

It was always the old "question of bread and cheese," which has settled adversely many a good cause. Smith, however, did his best with the effeminate gentlemen who had come in Newport's latest ship. He himself shrank from no toil, no exposure. Neither danger nor labour discouraged his manhood, and with his example before them—grappling as he did with the hardest tasks—his followers were deprived of all excuse for complaint or discontent. Two very choice "gallants"—Gabriel Beadle and John Russell, "both proper gentlemen," were among the thirty whom he invited to join him in the noble art of wood-craft—felling trees, splitting them with wedges, and shaping them with hatchets into clapboards for the additional shelter needed by themselves. Meantime they were to lie in the woods at night. The Mary & Margaret had brought [208] over six mares and a horse, so these new "gentlemen" would not be forced, as were their predecessors, to bear this timber on their backs out of the forest.

The novelty had its charm of pleasurable excitement.[48] "Strange were these pleasures to their conditions, yet lodging, eating, drinking, working or playing, they doing but as the President, all these things were carried so pleasantly as within a weeke they became Masters; making it their delight to heare the Trees thunder as they fell. But the Axes so oft blistered their tender fingers that commonly every third blow had a lowd Oath to drowne the Echo."

Captain Smith rarely indulged in the courtly luxury of profane swearing, and was not inclined to grant privileges to others he did not allow himself. He resolved to have none of it in his Majesty's colony. As for himself he did not need it. He could command vigorous English without it; and so he set about the reformation [209] of the "Gallants and proper Gentlemen" lately come from the English court. He adopted, as a remedial agent, a novel punishment. "He had every man's Oathes numbered, and at night for every Oath a Kan of water was powered down his Sleeve, with which every Offender was so washed (himselfe and all) that a man should scarce heare an Oath in a Weeke." And so, we gather, the Captain was after all sometimes overtaken, as well as other people.

The narrator of this incident, Richard Pots, wishes us to make no mistake. "By this," he continues, "let no man thinke the President or these Gentlemen spent their times as common Wood-hackers at felling Trees or such like labours: or that they were pressed to anything as hirelings or common slaves; for what they did (beeing but once a little inured) it seemed they conceited it only a pleasure and a recreation. Yet thirty or forty of such Gentlemen would doe more in a day than one hundred of the rest that must be prest by compulsion." [210]

This was doubtless due to their President's excellent humour and judgment. Had he played the martinet with his volunteers, he might have had their axes about his ears. Doubtless he was highly pleased with his "Gallants and proper Gentlemen," but he afterwards confessed that "twentie good wor men had been better than them all."

The haze of the Indian summer (when "the sun looks back with regret") was hanging over river and forest, and softening the outlines of the hills. Smoke from many fires in the woods mingled with the purple haze. These fires were under the kettles of the Dutchmen who were making potash by evaporating the lye obtained from leaching wood ashes. Alkalis were in great demand in England, hence the quantity of soap ashes with which the early ships were freighted. Soap itself was a forbidden article of domestic use. There was a severe penalty against throwing soap suds in the open street. The dreadful Oriental plague had appeared in London, and it [211] was thought then that "not only soap-boilers and vendors of soap, but all the washerwomen and all they whose business it was to use soap—nay they who only wore shirts washed with soap—presently died of the Plague."[49]

All hands were called from the forest and the kettles early in December to attend the first English marriage in Virginia. Of course pretty Ann Burras found many admirers in a colony of two hundred men, and equally, of course, she could accept but one. Her bridegroom, John Laydon, Carpenter, was twenty-seven. They were all young men. Captain Smith and George Percy were not yet thirty, and they were among the elders.

The ceremony was performed, doubtless, in the church, and by good Master Hunt, who was soon to be called to the reward of a noble Christian life. It is altogether probable that Pocahontas was present. "She came as freely to the fort as to her father's house, bringing corn and game [212] and whatever she could get for Captain Smith." She was known by all as the "Deare & Darling Pocahontas," and when a wedding was to the fore we may be sure she was apprised of it.

Little Ann Burras brought good fortune to her honest carpenter. More than once they were given land in Virginia, at one time as much as five hundred acres. She bore many children. There was a Catharine, an Alice, and a Margaret; but the first child was named "Virginia." The family lived long, and survived all the hard times—the starvation, the sickness, and the great massacre of 1622. How different was the fate of Ellinor Dare, and her hapless little Virginia!

One is tempted to linger in the sweet Indian summer time, and listen to the wedding bells and cheery talk of the woodsmen in the forest—for these were the last "good times" these hapless colonists were to know for many a long day. Just at the moment they were happily unconscious that war, pestilence, and famine stood hand in hand at their door. [213]

Autumn lingers long on the banks of the lower James. There, near Jamestown, I have gathered roses on Christmas Day. One peculiarity of the climate is that summer can depart in an hour,—the sun hidden in darkness and the face of the earth thickly blanketed under snow. This had not yet happened, however, and the newcomers rejoiced in the belief that they had fallen upon a heavenly climate. Captain Smith, George Percy, and the survivors of the first winter knew better.

They were dependent upon the Indians for corn, as usual, but Powhatan had evinced no friendship since he perceived that the colony was regularly reënforced from abroad. Indeed, his attitude was distinctly hostile.

Captain Smith attempted to draw supplies from the Nansemond Indians, but was repulsed with the message that the emperor had not only forbidden them to surrender their corn, but ordered them not to allow the English to enter their river. Whereupon Smith put a torch to one of their houses, and signified that such should be [214] the fate of all unless the grain were forthcoming. The argument was answerable in but one way. They made haste to load his boats, and he set out on his return to the fort. That night the untimely snow came and covered them in their open barge, so they landed, dug a space in the deep snow, and built a fire. When the heat had sufficiently dried the spot, they threw off the fire, swept the ground, and covering it with a mat, "slept as if it had been a palace." "To keepe us from the winde we made a shade of another mat; and the winde turned, we turned our shade; and when the ground grew cold, we renewed the fire. Thus many a cold winter night have we laine in this miserable manner: yet those that most commonly went upon these occasions were always in health, lusty and fat."

Scarcely had the Captain brought his captured supplies in safety to Jamestown, than he was off upon another foraging expedition. Percy also set forth with Scrivener on a similar quest, but returned disheartened, having procured [215] nothing. Powhatan's orders had been general.

But the President, "whom no perswasions could perswade to starve," was full of resource. There was no time to lose. All nature was now shrouded in a heavy mantle of snow, and there were few stores in the fort. The common kettle held only coarsely crushed corn, which was boiled into a thick porridge. There was absolutely nothing more, except dried sturgeon and of this a limited supply. The colonists huddled together behind their palisade, sorely "affrighted" at the thought of famine.

Their President called his Council together—George Percy, Captain Waldo, Scrivener, and Francis West, brother to Lord Delawarre. He had a plan, daring beyond precedent; but desperate men are capable of desperate measures. He proposed to take a number of armed men to Werowocomoco, and by stratagem or force capture Powhatan, hold him for ransom, and thus extort supplies. His scheme was thoroughly [216] approved, and the Council set about the preparation of the pinnace and two barges.

Powhatan was also snow-bound, and he, too, had a plan. If he could slay Captain Smith, and secure some arms, the rest would be easy. But he must do everything by cunning. His arrows, in open combat, availed little against the Englishman's firearms. He now professed to covet sundry domestic comforts. He sent an invitation to Captain Smith with a request for men to build him a house,—the four-poster had inspired his ambition,—and to come himself and "bring him a Grindstone, fiftie Swords, some Peeces, a Cocke and a Henne, with Copper and Beads, and he would load Smith's ship with corne."

The Captain, although "not ignorant of his devices," fell neatly into the trap. He immediately despatched four of his eight Dutchmen overland to build the house, promising to come by water as soon as he could get his pinnace ready. But first he wished to reconnoitre a little and to that end visited on his way the friendly chief of [217] Weraskoyack.[50] The chief endeavoured to dissuade him from his journey, "advising him in this manner: Captaine Smith, you shall find Powhatan to use you kindly but trust him not; and be sure he have no opportunitie to seize on your armes for he hath sent for you only to cut your throats." This was not a popular view to take of the situation. Smith thanked him for his counsel, and departed, leaving his page, Samuel Collier, with the friendly savage to learn the Indian language. He then, mindful of the express orders from London, detached from his company a soldier, Michael Sicklemore, gave him guides and directions to search for the lost company of Sir Walter Raleigh, and also to "find Silke Grasse,"[51] and set forth on his voyage.

The route was a circuitous one, down the James, around Point Comfort, then some distance up the bay to the mouth of York River, and thence up the river to Werowocomoco, nearly opposite [218] to Jamestown. It was the 12th of January (they had set sail the 29th of December), when their barge broke the ice at ebb tide opposite Powhatan's settlement. "Master Russell (whom none could perswade to stay behind) being somewhat ill and exceeding heavie, so over-toyled himselfe as the rest had much adoe (ere hee got ashore) to regain his benummed spirits," so they rested in the first house they could find, and sent to Powhatan for provisions! The next day they had audience of the emperor, who surprised Smith by coolly enquiring when they proposed to leave the country, and why[52] had they come to visit him at the present time?—adding that if provision was the object he had little corn and his people less, nevertheless for forty swords he would sell forty bushels.

Smith answered by showing him the men there present who had brought him the invitation, whereat the king concluded the matter with merry laughter: asking, however, for "Gunnes and [219] swordes, and valueing a basket of Corne more precious than a Basket of Copper, saying hee could eate his Corne but not his Copper."

After more sparring, the truth came out. "Captaine Smith," saith the king, "some doubt I have of your comming hither, that makes me not so kindly seeke to releeve you as I would; for many doe informe mee your comming is not for Trade, but to invade my people and possesse my Country; who dare not come to bring you corne seeing you thus armed with your men. To cleere us of this feare leave aboord your weapons for here they are needlesse, we being all friends and Powhatans."

The captain answered that he had many courses to have made provision, but had neglected everything to oblige his Majesty in the matter of the Cock and Henn, Beads, and copper; and also had neglected the building of his own house to send his carpenters for Powhatan's building. As to swords and guns, he respectfully reminded his Majesty that he long ago told him he had none to spare, etc., etc. [220]

As our captain had no stenographer, we are amazed at the great length, minuteness of detail, and apparent accuracy of the long harangues that filled all that day and the next. His memory was good. His enemies have argued that his imagination was better. He undoubtedly laid himself open to this criticism, but although we may indulge ourselves in the hope that so great a man betrayed no foible, still we are all human; and which of us, having a good story to tell, can resist the temptation to embroider it a little? Does not Talleyrand say that he who can suppress a bon mot deserves canonization? Is not a gorgeous bit of history worth more than a poor little bon mot? The brave Captain has suffered much at the hands of his stern, truth-loving fellow-man. But if we must take something cum grano, must we reject all? "No one thinks Herodotus a liar because he relates in minute detail conversations which no man could have remembered." Smith lived in an age of bewilderment, and amid scenes of the wildest intoxication. No doubt he had [221] his dreams, visions, and exaggerated fancies. It is hard, but if a historian sees men in buckram in a moment of hallucination, he may really meet and overthrow an army with banners, and a wicked world will remember those men in buckram!

Powhatan and our captain may have made all those long speeches, which were so creditable to the latter. At the conclusion of every one of the emperor's utterances, he demanded that the English should come to him unarmed. One of Smith's speeches—nay, all of them, I should like to repeat here, but one of them pleases me more than the rest. At the end of two days' travail the Captain sums up:—

"Powhatan, you must knowe as I have but one God, I honour but one King; and I live not here as your subject, but as your friend (!) to pleasure you with what I can. By the gifts you bestowe on me you gaine more than by trade; yet would you visit mee as I doe you, you should knowe it is not our customes to sell our courtesie as a vendible commoditie." [222]

The story is too long to relate here. The struggle was between an angry, jealous savage and a very hungry Englishman. It ended in Smith's attempt to carry out his plan and capture Powhatan, in the flight of the latter, in two or three perilous positions in which Smith came near falling into traps set for him and losing his life,—and finally, in a scheme of Powhatan's to make friends again, load the pinnace with corn, and invite all the visiting party to a series of merry entertainments, feasting, and dancing. A great banquet was to follow this merriment. At this banquet every white man was to be massacred. It is a peculiarity of the Indian that when he means mischief he feeds his victim with one hand and brains him with the other.

"'Powhatan comes to kill you all.'"

"The eternal all-seeing God did prevent Powhatan, and by a strange meanes. For Pocahontas, his dearest jewell and daughter, in that darke night came through the irksome woods, and tolde our Captaine great cheare should be sent by and bye: but that Powhatan and all the power [223] he could make, would after come and kill us all, if they that brought it could not kill us with oure owne weapons when we were at supper. Therefore, if we would live, shee wished us presently to be gone.

"In requital for this information, our President would have given her such things as she delighted in, but with teares running downe her cheekes, she said she durst not be seene to have any; for if Powhatan should know it she were but dead; and so she ranne away as she came."[53]

Touching as is this proof of the devotion of the Indian girl to Captain Smith, one cannot but pity the old emperor. He had just declared himself the sole survivor of three generations of his people—generations who were lords of the inherited lands of their fathers. The stranger from across the seas was slowly but surely increasing in strength and numbers. He could hope for nothing while the intruder fought behind those terrible things with eyes of lightning and a voice [224] of thunder. Possessing these, the Indian might be the peer of the white man, and drive the usurper from the country. Evil as were the designs of this savage, cruel as were his methods of revenge, his instincts were perfectly natural; instincts born of a consciousness of his own rights and desire to protect them which in civilized rulers have ever been reckoned noble.

We can but sympathize with this King Lear of the western world, betrayed in his old age by his "dearest jewell, his darling daughter." Well might he exclaim with the ancient Briton:—

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!"

Of course it is not for us to blame Pocahontas for her humane treason. She, too, had her instincts. The man she adored was about to be murdered in her father's house. It is useless to affect that the devotion she constantly expressed was for the colony. She never set foot in Jamestown after Captain Smith left it! She never brought corn in that terrible time, the winter after he [225] sailed away. It was for his sake, I am constrained to believe, that she hid Wyffin, and rescued Henry Spelman.

Smith's next attempt was to wrest his supplies from Opechancanough, and here he succeeded by seizing the chief by his scalp-lock, and with a pistol pressed to his bosom, held him thus until the corn was forthcoming.

So in the end his "plan" was not wholly unsuccessful, while that of the subtle savage seemed to fail utterly. He too was partially successful, however. He availed himself of the perfidy of Adam and Francis, two of the house-building Dutchmen, and sent them quickly overland to the fort, to say that the interview had ended happily, but that Captain Smith, having need of all the arms he could get, had sent for a supply from the fort. These two men, Adam and Francis, had confederates there, and savages waited outside to carry the arms away. A great number of swords, pikes, pieces, etc., were stolen and sent to Powhatan. Another consort, "Samuel," who [226] had remained with the emperor, had also acquired three hundred hatchets, fifty swords, and eight pikes. These Dutchmen persuaded Powhatan that he was not safe at Werowocomoco, and advised him to leave the building of his house and move to Orapakes, one of his interior seats. Before Captain Smith could reach home, a bearer of bad news sought him at Werowocomoco. Scrivener, Antony Gosnell, and eight others had been drowned near Hog Island. The messenger Wyffin perceived such "preparation for warre at Werowocomoco that he did assure himselfe [the President not being there] that some mischief was intended. Pocahontas hid him for a time, and sent them who pursued him the cleane contrary way to seeke him, and by her meanes and extraordinary bribes and much trouble in three days travell" at length he found the President with Opechancanough, "in the middest of turmoyles."

"And so," continues our historian (Wyffin, or Abbot, or Phettiplace, or Todkill, we know not [227] which, for all sign it), "the President finding his intent frustrated and that there was nothing now to be had and an unfit time to revenge abuses, sent Master Michael Phettiplace to Jamestown, whither we sayled with all the speed we could; wee having in this journey kept 46 men six weeks, and for 40 lbs. of Iron and Beads, and 25 lbs. of Copper, we got neere 200 lbs. of deere suet [which was used as butter] and delivered to the Cape Merchant 479 Bushels of Corne." They arrived at Jamestown February 8, 1609. [228]


While Captain Smith was engaged in the life-and-death struggle for food with the Indian Emperor, Newport was arriving in England and unloading, along with his clapboards and soap-ashes, a large budget of news adverse to the President of the Virginia colony. Wingfield, Archer, Martin, Nelson, Ratcliffe, and Newport were willing contributors.

The "Governors and Councillors established for the Plantation of Virginia" were apprised of sundry errors which it was necessary to rectify, besides "outrages and follies" committed by the President of the Council of Virginia. The managers of the enterprise, "perceivinge that the plantation went backwards rather than forwards," held special meetings at the Earl of Exeter's house and elsewhere in London, and after consultation with Hakluyt, Hariot, and others, "of all [229] the inconveniences in the three supplies (1606, 1607, 1608), and finding them to arise out of two rootes—the forme of government, and length and danger of the passage by the southerly course of the Indys, they determined to petition the King for a special charter,"[54] etc.

Accordingly a new charter was drawn up by Sir Edwin Sandys, then leader of the independent party in Parliament. The twenty-first article of this charter was, in view of future events, most significant. It inserted these words in italics: "and every of their children which shall happen to be born within any of their Limits ... shall have and enjoy all Liberties, Franchises and Immunities of free Denizens and natural subjects with any of our other Dominions, to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born within this Realm of England or any other of our Dominions." To this chartered right—"the unalienable rights of freeborn Englishmen," our forefathers appealed when they protested [230] against the royal form of government in America.

The special charter was promptly granted by James the First, but it had to go through a long routine before it could be signed and sealed by the King.

By the new charter, the limits of the colony were extended two hundred miles north and two hundred miles south of the mouth of James River; the western boundary, the undiscovered ocean. The members of the London Council were to be chosen by the Company, not appointed by the King; Virginia was to be ruled by a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Admiral, who were empowered, in case of necessity, to declare martial law. These officers were now appointed: Sir Thomas, Lord Delaware, was to be Governor and Captain-General; Sir Thomas Gates, Lieutenant-Governor; Sir George Somers, Admiral. These were men of rank and high character. It was supposed that Wingfield, Ratcliffe, and Smith had been too obscure for their [231] position. A fleet of nine vessels and five hundred settlers, men, women, and children, were to be sent out to do the work which the little trio, Susan Constant, Discovery, and Goodspeed, had undertaken when they dropped down the Thames in 1606.

By the provisions of the new charter the Virginia colony became indeed more independent and republican, but under the new system the Governor was endued with arbitrary power and authorized to declare martial law; and the condition of the colonists was infinitely worse than before. This they found to their bitter cost a few years later, when the hapless sojourners at Jamestown fled from their homes and hid among friendly Indians to escape the brutality of one of their governors. The sudden repeal of the old charter evinced a cold ingratitude for the services of Captain Smith and his associates, who had endured the toil, privations, and dangers of the first settlement. These "true men" were not consulted. They were utterly ignored, or branded [232] as injurious to the interests of the plantation. They will always live in history, which honours their memory, as the real founders of this nation; while the motley multitude sent to supersede them perished and came to naught within a very few short months.[55]

Remembering the King's jealousy of his own honour and rights, one is naturally surprised at his prompt acquiescence in the new charter. Those around him knew him well. It was explained to his satisfaction that he was now relieved of embarrassment in his relations to the Spanish government; and that under the company's charter he could "owne it at his pleasure or disavowe it as might be best for his honour and service."

"If it take not success, it is done of ther owne heddes. It is but the attempt of private gentlemen: the State suffers noe losse, noe disreputation.

"If it takes success, they are your subjects, they doe it for your service, they will lay all at [233] your Majesty's feet, and interess your Majesty therein."[56]

This suited James exactly. He had much to interest him at home without being bothered about colonial matters. He could always divide his time "between his inkstand, his bottle, and his hunting." If he had a mind for politics, there was plenty across the Channel, in the negotiations between the Hollanders, Spain, France, and last and least himself. The Hague Treaty was signed this year (March 29, 1609), and James, although distinctly snubbed by the Powers, regarded himself a mediator and peacemaker. Besides, he had much ado to maintain himself,—this heaven-descended pauper King,—a ruler of whom his subjects complained that his hands were always in their pockets, and if they did not look out he would keep them there. Often he could neither pay his servants nor decently supply his own table.

Early in March, the Virginia Council in London [234] addressed a letter to the Mayor and Aldermen, beseeching them to take an active interest in Virginia, as "an action concerning God and the advancement of Religion, as well as the honour of the Kingdom." The Lord Mayor responded by sending copies of their letter to the several city companies, asking them to "make some adventure in so good and honourable an undertaking." The clergy of the Church of England now evinced the warmest interest in the movement. Sermons and tracts were written and sent broadcast throughout the country. Among the prominent bishops, deans, and reverends who earnestly pleaded for the conversion of the savages, we find our "Docteur of Divinitie," Rev. William Symondes.

The enthusiasm for Virginia caused by these efforts of the clergy, the change in the charter, and the news of the decay of the plantation are thus described by Strachey, in the elaborate style of the day:—

"Not a yeare of a romain-jubilee, noe, nor the [235] Ethnick Queene of Ephesus, can be said to have bene followed with more heate and zeale; the discourse and visitation of it took up all meetings, times, termes, all degrees, all purses, and such throngs and concourse of personal undertakers, as the aire seemed not to have more Lights than that holie cause imflamed Spirits to partake with it." Zuñiga was almost beside himself. He wrote to his King, entreating him in the most earnest manner to "give orders to have those insolent people in Virginia quickly annihilated."

On May 11 Edward Reed wrote from London to Mr. Coke of Wedgnocke: "The sickness increaseth. The Virginians go forward next week." The expedition of nine vessels, carrying men, provisions, and the plague, sailed from Plymouth toward the end of May, 1609.[57] Gates and Somers were each severally authorized, whichever might happen first to reach Jamestown, to supersede the existing administration until the arrival of [236] Lord Delaware, who was not to embark for several months, and did not reach Virginia until more than a year after the fleet sailed. Newport, Gates, and Somers, finding it impossible to adjust the point of precedence among themselves, embarked together by way of compromise, in the same vessel, the Sea Venture. In the same ship John Rolfe and his first wife sailed (the second was Pocahontas), also George Sandys, Strachey the historian, and the Rev. Mr. Bucke; also Namontack and Matchumps (Machumps?), two of Powhatan's Indians who were, it appears, in England in May, 1609.

The fleet, contrary to directions, followed the old circuitous route, via the Canaries and West Indies, and, of course, as always, were "caught in the tail of a hurricane." Some of the vessels lost their masts, some their sails from the sea breaking over the ships. One small vessel was lost and never heard from again, and the Sea Venture, with Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Admiral, charter, and all, was separated from the [237] other ships of the fleet. The other vessels, badly shattered by the storm, their stores spoiled with sea water, and many of their passengers dead or dying with the plague, arrived at Jamestown in August, 1609.

They brought back the early agitators, Martin, Archer, and Ratcliffe, together with "sundry other captains, divers gentlemen of good means and high birth, and about three hundred settlers; the greater part of them profligate youths, packed off from home to escape ill destinies, broken-down gentlemen, bankrupt tradesmen, and the like, decayed tapsters, and ostlers, trade-fallen; 'the cankers of a calm world and long peace.'"

Among the "youths"—we hope only a wild youth and not "profligate,"—was the Henry Spelman, son of Sir Henry Spelman, of literary fame, whom we remember as a fine fellow and good nurse. He came over in the Unity, and had a career of adventure second to none in the colony. He was rescued once from massacre by Pocahontas, was a valiant soldier and expert interpreter, [238] and fell at last, in 1623, under the tomahawk of the Indian.

The story of the Sea Venture is a thrilling one. Who can read unmoved of Sir George Somers, the brave old Admiral, who scarce took leisure to eat or sleep day or night, but stood at the helm and kept his ship upright until she was jammed between the ledges of two rocks on one of the Bermudas! His crew had given themselves up as lost, and some having "comfortable waters" on board, drank themselves into oblivion after pumping vainly night and day. "Neither living or dying are we the better for being drunk," said the old Admiral.

They found themselves castaways on the "Isles of Devils," as the Bermudas had been named by the buccaneers who had visited them. This was the wreck which is said to have suggested Shakespeare's "Tempest." The author had evidently read Strachey's "True Repertory," and followed it in his descriptions of the "vexed Bermoothes": the cries of the mariners, the trembling [239] star, flaming among the shrouds, which had appeared to the excited imagination of the weary and fasting Admiral at the helm. "On this strand at moonlight, the hag-born Caliban might roll and growl: Sycorax, the blue-eyed witch, might hover in the cloud wracks: and the voices of the winds whisper strange secrets."

The shipwrecked voyagers found an earthly paradise; and long afterward Andrew Marvel immortalized, in a lovely poem, the boat song of the exiles while they dreamed away the long months before they could reach the haven to which they were bound. May I, too, be allowed to dream awhile, pausing in my story of misery, cold, ingratitude, war, famine, and pestilence? Perhaps some of my readers may have forgotten the poem, and will forgive me for recalling part of it:—


"Where the remote Bermudas ride
In the ocean's bosom unespied,
From a small boat that rowed along
The listening winds received this song:
"'What should we do but sing His praise
That led us through the watery maze
Unto an isle so long unknown
And yet far kinder than our own?
Where He the huge sea-monsters wracks
That lift the deep upon their backs;
He lands us on a grassy stage
Safe from the storms and prelate's rage.
He gave us this eternal spring
Which here enamels everything.
He hangs in shades the orange bright—
Like golden lamps in a green night;
And does, in the pomegranites close
Jewels more rich than Ormus shewes.
He makes the figs our mouths to meet,
And throws the melons at our feet:
And makes the hollow seas that roar
Proclaim the ambergrease on shore.
He cast (of which we needs must boast)
The Gospel's pearl upon our coast;
And in these rocks, for us, did frame
A temple where to sound His name.
O let our voice His praise exalt
Till it arrive at heaven's vault;
Which then perhaps resounding may
Echo beyond the Mexique bay!' [241]
"Thus sang they in the English boat
A holy and a cheerful note,
And all the way, to guide their chime
With falling oars they kept the time."

The brave old Christian Admiral immediately set about the building of a cedar ship in which to return to his duty. From the wreck of the Sea Venture he brought a bell ashore, hung it on a tree, and rung it for morning and evening prayers and for Sunday services. There was one "merry English marriage" on the island and two births—a boy and a girl, to whom the names "Bermudas" and "Bermuda" were given. The latter was the daughter of John Rolfe. And here too was found the largest piece of ambergris in the then known world, weighing eighty pounds. Ambergris, so highly prized and so costly, was long "a beauty and a mystery" to its admirers. Was it the solidified foam of the sea or the tears of the mermaid? Science declares that the whale's intestines, irritated by starfish, evolves the gum.

They are an interesting party, these sea adventurers [242] on the lovely island—these finders of treasure; but our stage is set on an island of a far different character, where the actors neither smile nor sing, nor build boats for escape, but are chained by inexorable fate to a hard lot. Our place in this story is with them.

And so we leave the grand old Admiral, settling his differences with the Lieutenant-Governor in the best way,—by dwelling apart from him on the island (each to build his own ship); and while they hew the fragrant cedar trees, and prepare for their return to Virginia, we will go thither and watch over the storm-rocked "Cradle of the Republic"—Jamestown. [243]


Utterly unconscious of the mine about to be sprung under his feet, Captain Smith mustered all his forces for effective work in the planting season. He probably gave no thought to affairs in England; he had plenty of trouble with his enemies at home.

The traitor Dutchmen continued to live with Powhatan and to instruct his people in the use of powder, shot, swords, and tools, which they constantly obtained through their confederates in the fort. The rendezvous of the thieves was a building in the woods which had been erected as a house for the manufacture of glass, and seems now to have been abandoned. There the thieves "lay in Ambuscades," together with forty men sent by Powhatan under the guidance of "Francis," one of the Dutchmen, with instructions to waylay, capture, or kill Captain Smith and seize [244] firearms and tools. The latter heard of these visitors, and with twenty men set out to destroy them. But upon arriving at the glass house they found the conspirators fled. The Captain's men pursued them to drive them out of the peninsula, while he returned alone to Jamestown. To his surprise he met in the woods his old acquaintance Wochinchopunck, king of the Paspaheghs, who had piped a welcome at the coming of the English. The king now saluted with an arrow-shot, and Captain Smith, grappling with him, was drawn unto the water. There the Captain held the savage by the throat and was about to cut off his head (he was an expert in this!) when the savage begged so piteously for his life that Smith pitied him and hesitated. Just then two of the Polish potash-boilers ran up, and helped him draw the savage out of the water and conduct him to the fort and lock him up.

Francis was soon brought in by the other party. He had a plausible story to relate in broken English: he and his comrades were detained by Powhatan [245] against their will, he had escaped at great hazard, and was on his way home. Hungry and weary he had paused in the wood to gather a few walnuts. He was not believed, but "went by the heeles" (was put in irons), the Paspaheghan king also fettered, and held until the return of all the Dutchmen who had run away to the enemy.

Wochinchopunck's relatives and friends came daily with presents entreating his release, and were sent to Powhatan with the captors' terms—the surrender of the Dutchmen. To this the old gentleman with the "sour look" returned churlish replies: what cared he for the Dutchmen? they might go and welcome; he had told them so again and again, but they refused to stir. What more could he do? Could he put them on the backs of his men and send them? His men were unable to carry those heavy Dutchmen on their backs fifty miles from Orapakes! It was quite clear the captive king had nothing to hope from his emperor. He settled the matter by keeping awake while his jailers slept and made [246] good his escape; whereupon George Percy and Captain Winne were sent out to recapture him. They burned the king's houses, and took two prisoners, Kemps and another. The savages became exceedingly insolent and aggressive, and the matter ended by Smith's wholesale assault upon their town, burning their houses, taking their boats and all their fishing-weirs, and planting the latter in the waters around Jamestown. This is one of the incidents of "cruel and inhuman treatment of the Naturells" which helped to swell the long lists which his enemies in London arrayed against him: ignoring the fact that he could protect the lives of the colonists only by swift and sharp retaliation for every Indian outrage or breach of faith.

The native eloquence of the Indian has often been noted. In his translated speech, as the interpreters render it, there was a marvellous dignity, and excellence of expression. As Smith was returning from the raid, a party of the Paspaheghs overtook him and threw down their [247] arms: and one, a stout young man called Ocanininge, thus addressed him, according to the interpreter:—

"Captain Smith my master (the King) is here present in this company thinking it Captain Winn and not you; and of him he intended to have been revenged, having never offended him. If he have offended you in escaping your imprisonment, the fishes swim, the fowls fly, and the very beasts strive to escape the snare and live; then blame not him being a man. He would entreat you remember your being a prisoner what pains he took to save your life. If since, he hath injured you, he was compelled to it, but however you have revenged it to our too great loss. We perceive and well know you intend to destroy us, that are here to entreat and desire your friendship, and to enjoy our houses and plant our fields, of whose fruit you shall participate; otherwise you will have the worst by our absence. For we can plant anywhere, though with more labour: and we know you cannot live [248] if you want our harvest, and that relief we bring you. If you promise us peace we will believe you; if you proceed in revenge we will abandon the country." Upon these terms the Captain promised them peace until they did some injury, upon condition they should bring in provision. So all departed good friends and so continued until he left the country. After he left, Wochinchopunck, again found hanging around Jamestown, was "thrust twice through the body with an arming sword."

Smith now addressed himself with all his might to the defences of the colony. Although he had inspired the Indians with a wholesome fear of offending him, he knew their servile obedience to Powhatan, and that monarch had forfeited all claim to his confidence and respect. Powhatan's one dominant desire was to obtain the arms of the colonists, and with these arms drive them from the country. A fortunate circumstance changed the attitude for the present, even of that implacable enemy. A pistol was stolen from the fort, [249] and an Indian arrested, to be hanged unless the pistol was returned. The prisoner was committed to the "dungeon." The night was bitterly cold, and Captain Smith pitied the poor savage and sent him a good supper and charcoal for a fire. At midnight his brother brought back the pistol, but upon opening the door of the dungeon the prisoner was found, stifled by the fumes of the charcoal, badly burned and apparently dead. His brother's lamentations touched the Captain's heart and he promised to make him alive again. Accordingly, with aqua vitæ and vinegar, he was restored, his burns dressed, and he was sent home after being well rested and refreshed.

The whole country rang with the wonderful news that the Englishman could raise the dead, and henceforth there was, during his administration, no trouble from the Indians. They frequently brought presents to the colonists of game and fruits, and no doubt Pocahontas visited them as of yore. It is expressly stated that she came as freely to the fort as to her father's house. [250]

Another party was soon sent into the interior to the country of the Mangoags, in search of Raleigh's lost colony, and returned with "no newes except that they were all dead." Sicklemore, who had been despatched to Chowanock, returned after a similar fruitless search. He found the Chowan River not large, the country overgrown with pines. As to the "pemminaw," the silk grass growing like hemp, there was but little, only a few tufts here and there. Queen Anne was not yet to have a gown of Virginia grass-linen. Elizabeth's robe had been woven from North Carolina grass, and was probably a present from Sir Walter Raleigh.

A marginal note in Purchas's "His Pilgrimes" distinctly states that Powhatan confessed he had been cognizant of the massacre of Raleigh's men: also that the Indian king had in his treasure-house articles that had belonged to them. Strachey, writing in 1610-1611, asserted that Powhatan himself was their murderer. Expeditions were sent out, for several years, in search of them. No clew was ever found to their fate. [251] Indians are good keepers of secrets, as was proven by the great massacre of 1622.

In March, 1609, a few months only remained of Smith's residence in Virginia. Had he known them to be his last, he could not have worked with more energy and efficiency. He "dug a well of most excellent sweet water," he built block-houses in various places—one at Hog Island to protect his fast-growing herd there. He built the "fort for retreat neere a convenient river, easie to be defended, and hard to be assalted," around which in the next century clustered the "Legends of the Stone House." But scarcity of food constrained him to abandon the work of defence and address himself to the ever recurring struggle for bread. There were two hundred men behind the palisades, and only thirty who were willing to work. He issued a stern threat that every idler would be sent across the river to shift for himself. No empty porringer would be filled from the common kettle unless the owner were sick, or had earned his meal. He was beset [252] with disloyal, unmanly complainers, who were clamorous that the tools, arms, nay, the very houses should be bartered for corn. Newport had brought them a terrible, warlike colony of rats, "thousands on thousands," which destroyed all the contents of his casks of grain, and baffled the colonists' efforts to exterminate them. It was supposed that Newport introduced them into Virginia—they had come originally to England from the "poisonous East"—but in the early descriptions of the dress of a savage he is represented as clothing himself with skins, and then adorning his garment with the dead hand of an enemy or paw of a beast, while a dead rat hung from his ear, through which the tail was thrust. This rat was, however, evidently scarce—a rare gem—and not in common use for an ear-ring like a living green and yellow serpent. I think we shall have to thank Captain Newport for our rats, as we thank England for our colonists, and the Dutch for the negroes, who arrived in 1619.

The early spring before the ripening of fruits [253] and berries was always the scarce season. Captain Smith sent some of his people to feed on Lynnhaven Bay oysters: and others were billeted with the savages, who treated them kindly. Roots and acorns were gathered for food. Smith perceived the folly of keeping the colony crowded into the narrow limits of the Jamestown peninsula, and projected a settlement in Nansemond, a fort at Point Comfort, and yet another on the high ground near the present city of Richmond. But his ardour was soon to be chilled. With the summer came Captain Argall in his trading-ship, who brought the astounding intelligence that the present charter and government had been overthrown, everything reorganized, and President Smith removed.

The reasons for his disgrace were known to Argall. He had been accused of cruelty to the "Naturells," and of suffering the ships to return unfreighted. No allowance had been made for Indian outrages, for sickness, or for any of the difficulties of which I have written. [254]

The seven vessels, shattered by storm and having lost the greater portion of their supplies, and many passengers by sickness, reached Jamestown in August, 1609. They brought back the old ringleaders:[58] "Ratcliffe the mutineer, Wingfield the imbecile, Newport the tale-bearer, Archer an agitator, Martin a cat's-paw." They had wrangled through the early days of 1607 and 1608, been opposed by the hard workers and fighters, and crushed. They had, in England, effected by intrigue what they had failed to effect by force. They had their revenge! Ratcliffe, whose epitaph Hamor wrote in a few pithy words, "He was not worth remembering but to his dishonour," had gained the willing ear of the disappointed London Company, and had laid the blame of the failure in Virginia wholly and solely upon John Smith. The "Rude Answer" of the honest fighting man had offended the Right Honourables, and so they rid themselves of him.

Now, upon landing, Ratcliffe claimed authority. [255] Smith refused to allow it, until the charter and leaders, who were in the Sea Venture, should arrive. Ratcliffe declared they were lost at sea. All Jamestown was in an uproar. Ratcliffe and his followers paraded the town denouncing Smith. His men "drank deep and uttered threats and curses," and their leader nursed the storm and inflamed them more and more against the tyrant. Chaos had come again.[59] Those "unruly gallants would dispose and determine of the government sometimes to one, sometimes to another: to-day the old commission must rule; to-morrow the new; the next day neither; in fine they would rule all or ruin all. Yet in charity," continues our early historian, "we must endure them thus sent to destroy us; or by correcting their follies bring the world's censure upon us to be guilty of their blood. Happy had we been had they never arrived, and we forever abandoned, and as we were left to our fortunes: for on earth, for their number, was never more [256] confusion, or misery than their factions occasioned.

"The President seeing the desire of these Braves to rule; seeing how his authority was so unexpectedly changed, would willingly have left all and have returned for England. It would be too tedious, too strange and almost incredible should I particularly relate the infinite dangers, plots and practises he daily escaped amongst this factious crew: the chief whereof he quickly laid by the heels. Master Percy had his request granted to return to England, being very sick; Master West with an hundred and twenty of the best he could choose, he sent to the Falles; Martin with near as many to Nansemond." These were to establish new settlements according to a previous plan.

As the term of Smith's presidency was about to expire, he made Martin President, but the latter soon proved his cowardly incompetency, for, growing alarmed at the attitude of the Indians at Nansemond, he ran away and "left his company to their fortunes." [257]

Captain West, returning to Jamestown, after seating his men at the Falls (near the present site of Richmond), the President concluded to look after matters there, and found the colony planted on low marshy ground subject to the river's inundation and other inconveniences.

He had taken with him the bright boy, Henry Spelman, whom (according to the latter) he now sold to Powhatan in part payment of the place then (and now) called Powhatan. The rest of the payment he proposed to make in a promise to aid Powhatan in his wars against the Monacans, and a "proportion of Copper," with sundry provision for future supplies. But, lo and behold, the colony at Powhatan rebelled against these terms and scornfully rejected the scheme! It is supposed they had already built their huts on the marshy ground and objected to the additional labour of moving them. Smith regarded them as mutineers, and with five men landed among them and arrested the ringleaders; but they overpowered him, and forced him to [258] retire on board of a vessel lying in the river. He set sail for Jamestown, but his vessel ran aground; and to his surprise the mutineers thronged him with appeals for protection, for the Indians had fallen upon them as soon as Smith left, and had slain many of West's party.

Accordingly the Captain again arrested the ringleaders, and, returning to Powhatan, settled the colony there in the purchased palisade fort, which was well fortified and contained good dry cabins and ground ready to be planted. Smith named it "Nonsuch" after a royal residence of that name in England.

This incident concluded his relations with the Indian emperor. He was nevermore to see him; indeed, he had transacted his present business through agents.

Captain George Percy.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

Our brave Captain's career was over in Virginia. He fell asleep on his return voyage to Jamestown with his match lighted, and a bag of powder in his pocket was ignited, "burning him very shrewdly," says the quaint narrator. His agony was great, [259] and there were no surgeons in Jamestown. He lay that night in the fort, and there an attempt was made to murder him, which failed. The murderer looked at him in his delirium, and the "steel dropped from his nerveless hand." His faithful soldiers flatly refused to submit to Ratcliffe, Archer, and their confederates, and George Percy was prevailed upon to surrender his hope of returning to England, and consented to remain as the President of the colony until news of the Sea Venture could be had.

At Michaelmas, 1609, the stern soldier and strong writer and true patriot set sail for England. He had brought only his sword to Virginia, and he took thence nothing more. Not an inch of the ground he had dug nor a plank of the houses he had built belonged to him.

"What shall I say,"[60] writes the old historian, "but thus we lost him, that in all his proceedings made Justice his first guide, and experience his second, ever hating basenesse, sloath, pride, and [260] indignitie more than any dangers; that never allowed more for himselfe than his soldiers with him; that upon no danger would send them where he would not lead himselfe; that would never see us want, what he either had or by any means could get us; that would rather want than borrow or starve than not pay; that loved action more than words, and hated falsehood and covetousness worse than death; whose adventures were our lives and whose losse our deaths."

Nobody denies the services John Smith rendered to the infant colony—and yet such was his arrogance, his boastfulness, his intolerant, dogmatic temper, that men took offence, and grudgingly yielded him the honour which was his due. It is true he never failed to put himself well to the fore, and never omitted an opportunity to record his fine achievements. For this men hated him. Diligent as were his enemies, they could not crush him utterly. He filled positions of trust after he left Virginia, visited the northern colony, was allowed to name it "New [261] England," gave the name to Boston and other places on the coast; and thus proved that his colonial career was highly esteemed at home. Whether he deserves it or not, he still holds the foremost place in the early history of Virginia.

With all his hauteur and arrogance, he knew how to be gracious and winning, especially to women. We know of the supreme moment between the raising and falling of the club to beat out his brains when

"An angel knelt in human form
And breathed a prayer for him."

But there were others—one indeed in every crisis, in every country he visited—"Princesses and Madams," who befriended or saved him, and we cannot but suppose that with them his personality possessed the charm of fascination. But in regard to his soldierly qualities nothing is left to inference or supposition. We know him to have been beyond compare brave, enduring, capable of bearing extreme misery and danger with noble fortitude. He was pitiful to the sick and weak, [262] tender to children, watchful of the comfort and rights of the unfortunate. His writings sound a clear, high note of patriotism and devout aspiration. They bear the impress of the rough mariner and soldier, but nobler writing I know of nowhere. "The rude sentences rise to the height of eloquence, as he exhorts his contemporaries in noble words to noble achievements." We give a few of them.

"Seeing we are not born for ourselves, but each to help the other," he writes, "and our abilities are much alike at the hour of our birth and the minute of our death; seeing our good deeds or our bad, by faith in Christ's merits, is all we have to carry our souls to heaven or hell, ... let us imitate the virtues of our ancestors to be worthily their successors."

"Who would live at home idly or think in himself any worth, to live only to eat, drink and sleep, and so die?"

"Who can desire more content that hath small means or but merits to advance his fortunes than [263] to tread and plant the ground he hath purchased by the hazard of his life? If he have but the taste of virtue and magnanimity, what to such a mind can be more pleasant than planting and building a foundation for his posterity, got from the rude earth by God's blessing and his own industry without prejudice to any?"

"What so truly suits with honour and honesty as the discovering things unknown, erecting towns, peopling countries, informing the ignorant, reforming things unjust, teaching virtue and gain to our native mother country:—so far from wronging any as to cause posterity to remember thee, and, remembering thee, ever honour that remembrance with praise?"

"What can a man with faith in religion do more agreeable to God than to seek to convert these poor savages to Christ and humanity?"

These are the words of a Christian soldier. Men of his temperament, however, are never regarded with indifference. They are loved devotedly or hated relentlessly. One writer of his [264] day calls him a "dear noble captain and loyal heart"; another, "a wonder of nature, mirror of our clime"; "a soldier of valorous policy and judgment"; another says of him:—

"I never knew a warrior but thee
From wine, tobacco, debts, dice, oaths so free."

On the other hand, his contemporaries brand him as "tyrant and conspirator"; "full of the exaggerations and self-assertions of an adventurer"; "a Gascon and a beggar." The adverse opinions, for some mysterious reason, have crystallized around the Pocahontas incident, and so eager are his critics to disprove the assertion that she saved John Smith's life, they would like to believe she never existed at all! The simple truth is that in the first two of his letters he omitted the fact, in the third he related it. This inconsistency was observed in 1866 by Dr. Charles Deane of Massachusetts. Until then no one had doubted the truth of the story.

Of course the party that had all along questioned the marvellous Transylvanian adventures eagerly [265] welcomed the new ally to their ranks. A warfare of words had been going on for more than two hundred years. It was now given fresh impulse. Boastfulness and arrogance are unpleasant foibles; lying is a sin. He had been disliked for his foibles, he was now despised for his sins. Candid, able historians, like Dr. Doyle of England and Alexander Brown of Virginia, honestly wrote against him; James Grahame, Dr. Edward Arber of England, and all the Virginia historians except Brown defended him. The charges remain on the pages of history "not proven." To those pages (on both sides sincere) I commend the interested reader. Old Thomas Fuller, however, is not much read by latter-day folk, and although his opinion of the prisoner at the bar differs from my own, his ill-concealed sarcasm is expressed in words so delightfully quaint that I venture to quote him. He certainly gave the key-note to all the critics that lived after him, for he wrote only thirty years after our captain's death:—

"John Smith, Captain, was born in Cheshire, as [266] Master Arthur Smith, his kinsman and my schoolmaster, did inform me. He spent most of his life in foreign parts. First in Hungary, under the emperor, fighting against the Turks; three of which he himself killed in single duel; and therefore (so it is writ over his tomb) was authorised by Sigismund King of Hungary to bear three Turk's heads as augmentation to his arms. Here he gave intelligence to a besieged city in the night, by significant fire-works formed in the air, in legible characters, with many strange performances, the scene whereof is laid at such a distance, they are cheaper credited than confuted.

St. Luke's, near Smithfield, built in 1623. The Oldest Protestant Church in America.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

"From the Turks in Europe he passed to the pagans in America where towards the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (!) such his perils, preservations, dangers, deliverances, they seem to most men above belief, to some beyond truth. Yet have we two witnesses to attest them, the prose and the pictures, both in his own book; and it soundeth much to the diminution of his [267] deeds, that he alone is the herald to publish and proclaim them.

"Two captains being at dinner one of them fell into a large relation of his own achievements, concluding his discourse with this question to his fellow: 'And pray, Sir, what service have you done?' To whom he answered: 'Other men can tell that.' However, moderate men must allow Captain Smith to have been very instrumental in settling the plantation in Virginia whereof he was Governor, as also admiral of New England.

"He led his old age in London, where his having a prince's mind imprisoned in a poor man's purse, rendered him to the contempt of such who were not ingenuous. Yet he efforted his spirits with the remembrance and relation of what formerly had been and what he had done. He was buried in Sepulchre's Church choir, on the south side thereof, having a ranting epitaph inscribed in a table over him, too long to transcribe. Only we will insert the first and last verses, the rather because the [268] one may fit Alexander's life for his valour, the other his death for his religion:—

"'Here lies one conquered who hath conquered kings!'
'Oh, may his soul in sweet Elysium sleep!'

The orthography, piety, history, and divinity are much alike."

As to his feelings with regard to Pocahontas, I can do no better than quote the words of his contemporaries:—

"Some propheticall spirits calculated that hee had the savages in such subjection, hee would have made himselfe a king by marrying Pocahontas, Powhatan's daughter. It is true she was the very nonpareil of his Kingdome and at most not past 13 yeares of age. Very oft shee came to our fort, with what shee could get for Captaine Smith; that ever loved and used the Countrie well, but her especially he ever much respected: and so well she requited it, that when her father intended to have surprized him, shee by stealth in the darke night came through the wild woods and told him of it. [269]

"But her marriage could no way have entitled him by any right to the kingdome, nor was it ever suspected hee had ever such a thought; or more regarded her of any of them than in honest reason and discreation he might. If he would, he might have married her, or have done what him listed; for there was none that could have hindred his determination."[61]

The Indians[62] eagerly courted intermarriage with the white man, and were painfully stung by the disdain with which the English receded from their advances and declined to be the husbands of Indian women. The colonists forgot that they had inflicted this mortification; but it was remembered by the Indians, who sacredly embalmed the memory of every affront in lasting, stern, silent, and implacable resentment. We have seen how often "wives" were offered to John Smith, and Powhatan eagerly hastened his daughter's marriage to John Rolfe. Her engagement [270] was no sooner announced than her old uncle appeared at Jamestown to witness the marriage ceremony.

Captain Smith never returned to Virginia, but after the massacre of 1622 he offered his services as commander of a company to drive the Indians out of the country. For some unexplained reason this offer was declined. The king thought it unnecessary! He indeed offered a few of the rusty arms in the Tower to be sent to the survivors—this much and only this was he willing to do.

Captain John Smith.
From the bust by Baden-Powell.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

The "old age" of which Thomas Fuller speaks would be now thought the noonday of manhood. The captain died the 21st day of June, 1631, about fifty-five years old. The tablet which so offended Fuller has long ago disappeared. Americans do not need it. American pilgrims visit St. Sepulchre, sweep the dust from the plate bearing the three Turks' heads, and render the homage of grateful hearts to the English soldier who served them so unselfishly [271] in their darkest hour, and then came home to give

"His body to that pleasant country's earth
And his pure soul unto his captain Christ,
Under whose colours he had fought so long."



Five only of the ships of the fleet of nine sailed from Jamestown October 14, 1609,—one had been lost at sea, one had been wrecked at Bermuda; two, the Virginia and the Swallow, were left with the colony, "to procure the victuals whereof they were exceedingly much in need." Thirty newly arrived, unruly youths were returned—as they were not wanted in Virginia,—to their affectionate relatives in England, who doubtless confronted with dismay the vexed problem of their future disposal.

Among the letters sent abroad at this time was one from Ratcliffe to the Earl of Salisbury, telling the earl in a candid and confidential manner the "Truth of some late accidents befalne His Majesties Virginia Collonye,"—how Captain Smith had "reigned sole Governour without assistantes, and would at first admit of no councell [273] but himselfe. This man," he continues, "is sent home to answer some misdemeanours, whereof I persuade me he can scarcely clear himself from great imputation of blame." He then gives a list of certain superior persons now in power, including himself; and adds, "Some few of the best and worthyest that inhabit at Jamestown are assistantes to us!"

The career of this mischievous hypocrite was destined to be brief. Remembering Captain Smith's successful visits to Powhatan, he made bold to seek an interview with that monarch. He was not received with the pretentious pageant—the dais, the crown and heads, the many wives, children, and retainers; but was sharply met at the threshold with arrow and tomahawk, and slain, with all that were with him, except Henry Spelman and one other, who escaped to tell the story.

Captain Percy now addressed himself to the comfort, advancement, and protection of the colony. The danger of Spanish invasion was ever [274] present with the leaders at Jamestown. With perfect ease the Spanish caravels could sail up the James, anchor immediately before the hamlet which they called a "Cittie," and make short work of its slender defences. It is known[63] that Philip, importuned day by day to strangle the colony in its infancy, had ordered a vessel to be manned and sent from Florida, as a scout, to the Virginia waters. This ship had seen a great vessel flying the red cross in the waters near the capes, had ventured near enough to reconnoitre; and, convinced that this was a lookout ship of a formidable squadron, had run away as fast as tide and wind could carry it. In reality there was no ship at the spot,—none whatever,—and the threatening sail had been a phantom of Spanish imagination.

Captain Percy sent "some 16 proper men" to build a fort at Point Comfort near the site of the present Fortress Monroe. Percy named the fortification in honour of the founder of the Percy [275] family, "Algernoune Fort." This fort was afterward destroyed by fire and another commenced by the colonists, but not finished. The name was unfortunate. The early settlers were fond of short alliterative names: "Pace's Pains," "Piping Poynt," "Pryor's Plantation," "Beggar's Bush." Had the President called his fort "Percy's Point," I am persuaded it could have held its name until to-day.

"Beggar's Bush," as a name for a country place, is peculiar. Historians invariably explain that Fletcher's play suggested the name, but I am by no means sure that its owner was a reading man. He was probably a Huntingdonshire man, who remembered in the wild, new country a familiar saying of the old. "He is on the way to Beggar's Bush," was the comment when a man lived beyond his means or evinced extravagant tendencies. Beggar's Bush was a tree on the left hand of the London road from Huntingdon to Caxton, halfway between the rich and the poor part of the country. "I [276] have heard," says old Thomas Fuller, "how King James being in progress in these parts with Sir Francis Bacon, the Lord Chancellor, and having heard that morning how Sir Francis had prodigiously rewarded a mean man for a small present: 'Sir Francis,' quoth he, 'you will quickly come to Beggar's Bush, and I may even go along with you if both be so bountiful.'"

The numbers at the plantation had again been reduced by sickness to about two hundred people, who were at war with the Indians, and in need of ammunition. "The hand of God was heavy on the Colony, and the hand of God reacheth all the earth! Who can avoid it or dispute with him?"

The Indians had heard of the powder accident from which Captain Smith had suffered so much, and missing him from the fort, concluded he was dead. They saw their opportunity. "They all revolted and did spoil and murther all they encountered." Powhatan resolved to press the war in earnest. All now felt the loss of the strong, fearless captain. Beverley, the old [277] historian, says, "as soon as he left them, all went to ruin."

George Percy, enfeebled from illness, was utterly unable to cope with the difficulties that beset him. His crew at home was a motley one—some thirty "true men;" some honest labourers, the rest detrimental in every particular. There were now outlying forts and plantations to be cared for. At Jamestown,[64] "there was but one Carpenter (John Laydon) and three others who were only learners; two Blacksmiths; two saylers; and those we write 'laborers' were for the most part footmen, and such as they that were adventurers brought to attend them, or such as they could perswade to goe with them, that never did know what a daye's work was. All the rest were poore Gentlemen, Tradesmen, Serving-men, libertines and such like; ten times more fit to spoyle a Commonwealth than either begin one or but helpe to maintaine one. For when neither the feare of God, nor the law, nor shame, nor [278] displeasure of their friends could rule them in England, there is small hope ever to bring one in twentie of them ever to be good in Virginia."

There was one way to remedy this state of things, and but one,—annihilation! Many died from yellow fever, many from the London plague. The rest hastened to destruction from starvation. The hand of God was heavy—who could avoid it or dispute with Him?

As the days passed on, the disorder increased, and the inevitable dissolution hastened. Martin's men at Nansemond and West's at the Falls were assailed by the savages and took refuge in Jamestown. Percy was now so ill "he could neither goe nor stand." Lord Delaware's kinsman had sailed in despair for England. With every passing hour the prospect grew darker. Thirty men seized one of the vessels and became buccaneers. Utter hopelessness took possession of those left behind. [65]Every day [279] death visited some house, and when the master was buried, the house was pulled down for firewood, the living not being able to gather fuel in the woods. Parts of the defending palisade were burnt, although the inmates trembled with fear of the Indians. Only the blockhouse was the safety of the few who lived.

The Indians knew all this weakness and forebore to assault the fort or hazard themselves in a war on those whom they were assured in a short time would of themselves perish, yet they killed all stragglers found beyond bounds. Every particle of food was devoured, and the miserable women and children begged from the savages, to receive insult and mortal wounds. Roots, acorns, and the skins of horses were boiled for food. At last dead Indians were dug up and devoured "by the baser sort."

A horrible, ghastly tragedy froze the blood of the "better sort." A man killed his wife, and had devoured part of her body, when he was [280] discovered. He was executed, but that only added horror to horror.

This time marked one of two terrible epochs,—"the starving time" and the great massacre of 1622. Nearly five hundred persons had lately been landed at Jamestown, and six months afterward "there remained not past sixty men, women and children, most miserable and poor creatures." Of five hundred, more than four hundred had perished,—dead of starvation or brained by the Indian tomahawk.

In May, 1607, the Englishmen had landed in what they termed "a Paradise." Over the moss-green earth "bespred with faire flowers" the branches of the stately trees threw lacelike shadows. Flowering vines hung from their boughs, brilliant birds darted among them, or swooped down to dip their blue and crimson wings in the clear rivulets. All was happiness, activity, and hope.

Now, in May, 1610, the earth was trampled bare of all verdure, ragged stumps of the felled [281] trees were rotting in the ground, noisome vapours rose from the neglected, filthy yards of a pestilence-smitten town. Men, women, and children, gaunt and wild-eyed from famine, perishing by inches slowly but surely, lay about the town, moaning and despairing. The last agony was near. They knew that without help they could not survive many hours. Long ago they had ceased to expect it.

We can imagine the frantic joy when two vessels appeared on the river! These were the cedar ships we left Admiral Somers and Sir Thomas Gates building at Bermuda: the Deliverance and the Patience! The Admiral and Sir Thomas cast anchor and at once went on shore. The scene that ensued baffles description. The two mariners looked upon wretchedness and desolation indescribable. The shipwrecked on sea looked into the eyes of the shipwrecked on land. Jamestown was in ruins, the town encumbered with filth. The torn-down palisades, the gates swinging to and fro on rusty hinges, [282] the church ruined and unfrequented, the dismantled houses, the emaciated faces, the hollow hungry eyes, and voices hardly able to articulate the prayer to be "taken home to die,"—these were the piteous sights and sounds which greeted the commanders as they landed from their cedar ships. All hope of Virginia was over forever! Even the stout hearts that had borne storm and wreck in the Sea Venture were appalled by the spectacle.

Gates and Somers had heard at Algernoune Fort of the sad condition of the colony. Captain Percy had happened to be in the fort directing the preparations for its abandonment. "From hence," says Strachey, "in two days (only by the help of Tydes no wind stirring) we plyed it sadly up the River; and the three and twentieth of May we cast Anchor before Jamestowne where we landed, and our much grieved Governour first visiting the church caused the Bell to be rung, at which all such as were able to come out of their houses repayred to the church where our [283] Maister Bucke made a zealous and sorrowful Prayer, finding all things so contrary to our expectation, so full of misery and misgovernment. After service our Governour caused me to read his commission, and Captain Percy delivered up to him his commission, the old Patent and the Councell Seale."

There was another witness to this scene besides the actors therein. Namontack, Powhatan's man, had returned to England with Newport before the sailing thence of the fleet, and with him Machumps, the brother of the king's favourite, wife Winganuskie. These[66] two Indians were on the Sea Venture when she was wrecked at Bermuda. There, in a lonely spot, the two had quarrelled and fought, and Machumps killed Namontack, buried him, and kept the secret from his own people. He revealed it, however, to his English friends, and told how he had buried Namontack—the whole of him—for, finding he could dig only a small grave, he had taken [284] the trouble to cut off his legs and very neatly lay them in order beside him! Machumps was much esteemed by the colonists. He aided the first explorers of the James River, and they had named a creek "Machump's Creek," in his honour. He lived a year or more at Jamestown with Kemps, a former prisoner, who had also become a friend. The two were more intimate in their relations to the Englishmen than any other Indians except Pocahontas and Chanco.

John Rolfe, "an honest gentleman and of good behaviour," was also a passenger in one of the cedar ships. The little "Bermuda" had died, perhaps on the voyage, and his wife died soon after, so he was left free for the romance, a few years later, of his marriage with Pocahontas.

Upon reckoning up the stores brought in the tiny cedar ships, the Admiral and Gates perceived there were only enough to last sixteen days, allowing two cakes a day to each person. They accordingly, to the joy of the colonists, concluded [285] to abandon Jamestown and sail for England via Newfoundland, where English fishing vessels were supposed to be in condition to victual the company for England. The wretched remnant of the colony was overjoyed at this decision. The fort was dismantled and the cannon buried at the gate. There was little else to take away. Some of the unhappy sufferers wished to set fire to the houses where they had endured so much, but the commanders elected otherwise; and to prevent the destruction of the houses, church, and palisades, Sir Thomas Gates remained on shore with a party to preserve order, and was the last man to step into the boat. On June 7, every man, woman, and child, at the beating of the drum, repaired aboard the Discovery, the Deliverance, the Patience, and the Virginia, and at noon a salvo of small arms announced to the listening echoes that all was over—all the hope, expectation, struggle, and despair!

That night they fell down the tide to Hogg Island, and bright and early next morning set [286] sail again with glad hearts, the tide bringing them to Mulberry Island.

Lord Delaware.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

There, to their amazement, they met Captain Edward Brewster in a rowboat, his sailors bending to the oars in great haste to intercept their farther advance. Lord Delaware was at Point Comfort with three vessels laden with all things needful, and hearing there of the movements of Somers and Gates, sent his long boat to command their return to Jamestown. Had the latter been a few moments earlier, or Captain Brewster a trifle later, they would not have met. "This was the arm of the Lord of Hosts who would have his people pass through the Red Sea and the Wilderness, and then possess the Land of Canaan," exclaims the old writer, who bursts forth into exclamations of "thanks and praise for the Lord's infinite goodness! Never had poor people more cause to cast themselves at his very footstool." The poor people themselves felt differently at the time. "Sir Thomas Gates the next day, to the great grief of all his company, as wind and [287] weather gave leave, returned his whole company with charge to take possession again of those poor ruinated habitations at Jamestown which they had formerly inhabited. Himself in a boat proceeded down to meet his Lordship, who making all speed up shortly arrived at Jamestown." Meanwhile the Deliverance, Discovery, Patience, and Virginia "bore up the helm," went in advance, and relanded that night. The fires were rekindled, the guns dug up, and preparation hastily made to receive his Lordship.

[67]Lord Delaware reached Jamestown on Sunday, June 10, 1610, and in the afternoon went ashore, landing at the south gate of the palisade. Sir Thomas Gates caused his company in arms to stand in order and make guard, William Strachey acting on this special occasion as colour-bearer. As soon as the Lord Governor landed, he fell upon his knees before them all, and made a long and silent prayer to God. Then arising, he marched up into the town, Strachey bowing [288] with the colours as he entered the gate, and let them fall at his Lordship's feet, who passed on into the chapel, where evening service was read, followed by a sermon by Rev. Richard Bucke, and after that "caused his ensign to read his commission as Lord Governour and Captaine Generall during the life of the Colony and Plantation in Virginia, upon which Sir Thomas Gates delivered up to his lordship his own commission and the counsell seale." His Lordship then delivered some few words of warning and encouragement to the colony, and as no fitting house could be had for him in the town, repaired again to his ship for his lodging.

Events had followed each other like scenes in a theatre. The curtain had slowly descended upon a desolate picture of death, darkness, and despair; it rose with the morning sun on an animated scene of hope and activity. In the space of three days the Virginia colony had perished and come to life again.

The government was now invested in one over [289] whose deliberations there could be no control, and with whom there could consequently be no rivalry.[68] Steady obedience was required and enforced. Things soon assumed a wholesome and active appearance. Every man had his own duty and officers were appointed to see that duty done; and it was not long before the disturbances and confusion which had been the natural consequences of disaffection and revolt were succeeded by the happy fruits of peaceful industry and order.

Let it never be forgotten that in all the time of sore distress there were steadfast souls who never lost their trust in God or failed in their religious duties. They were never without a church—in less than six years they had built or re-built five! In their darkest hour they had built a church. In it, although the edifice during the starving time fell into a "ruinous condition," they held daily prayers; and in the absence of a minister met on Sunday for "prayers and homilies." [290] At their lowest estate they had faith to pray to be delivered from "battle and murder, plague, pestilence, and famine," and to implore help in all their "time of tribulation." Although to their human apprehension the supplication was not answered, the faith of these pious souls failed not. A prayer for daily use was sent to them from the mother church in England—a petition for strength to bear their heavy burdens, for a blessing on all their work, for the conversion of the savages, and ending with a fervent invocation, "God bless England, our sweet native country!"

Lord Delaware repaired the church, and in it Pocahontas was baptized and married. The edifice was of wood, and it was known as the third church. It was sixty feet long by twenty-four wide, and before the arrival of Lord Delaware was probably plainly furnished within. He had it fitted with a chancel of cedar and a communion table of black walnut.

Pocahontas Memorial Window, St. John's Church, Hampton, erected by the Indian Girls of Hampton Institute.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.


"All the pews and pulpit were of cedar, with fair, broad windows, also of cedar, to shut and open as the weather should occasion. The font was hewn hollow like a canoe, and there were two bells in the steeple at the west end. The church was so cast as to be very light within, and the Lord Governor caused it to be kept passing sweet, trimmed up with divers flowers."

There was a sexton in charge of the church, and every morning the bell rang for prayers at ten and again at four in the afternoon.

There was also a sermon every Thursday, and two on Sunday. "Every Sunday when the Lord Governour went to church, he was accompanied with all the councillors, captains, other officers, and all the gentlemen, and with a guard of fifty halberdiers—all in his Lordship's livery, in fair red cloaks." His Lordship sat in the choir in a green velvet chair, and the council, captains, and officers on each side of him.

We have the two pictures,—a starved, ragged handful, prostrate before the altar, responding in feeble accents, "Good Lord, deliver us"; and [292] the light and colour, the corps de garde in crimson, the Lord Governor kneeling on his green velvet cushion, the bright flowers filling the chancel. They are all gone now! "Whose souls questionless," whether proud or humble, "are with God." Jamestown Island is a graveyard. After Lord Delaware landed with his accessions to the colony, 900 persons had been sent from England to Virginia, of whom 700 had perished.[69] In 1619 it was estimated that 2540 immigrants had landed at Jamestown, of whom 1640 had died.

The total mortality in less than one score years was 6040, out of 7280. Around the church thousands are buried, the victims of the first season of starvation and those of the last: good Master Hunt, hardy adventurers, knights and ladies, paupers and "gentlemen," gentle and simple; and on the island also Kemps, the Indian; the poor victim of military execution; and Opechancanough, the savage instigator of three massacres,—friend and foe they lie together. The [293] kind mother earth covers them all! In winter they lie beneath the pure snows from heaven, and the summer daisies look up to God from their ashes: and so they all sleep together "untill the generall day." [294]


Lord Delaware followed his prayer at the gate of Jamestown with his own earnest efforts to bring about its fulfilment. He was a wise ruler and generous friend to the colony. The terrible old gentleman with the "sour look" silently observed him, and made no demonstration, friendly or otherwise, for a few months. He had heard of Captain Smith's death with mingled feelings of relief and admiration. Machumps had, without doubt, told him of the pomp and ceremony attending Lord Delaware, who held his court on board his own ship, disdaining the humble huts of his inferiors. Robed in crimson and gold, this was altogether a different person from the rough soldier, John Smith. The Dutchmen, relieved of their fear of Captain Smith, now proposed to return to Jamestown and ingratiate themselves with the new administration. They [295] had built a house for Powhatan, with an immense Dutch chimney, which stood like a giant sentinel until it was blown down a few years ago. They now came forward and requested the emperor to send them as ambassadors to Lord Delaware with gifts and proposals of peace, but Powhatan received their overtures with scorn and replied sternly, "You that would have betrayed Captaine Smith to mee, will certainly betray me to this great Lord for your own peace," and so "caused his men to beat out their braines."

[70]Lord Delaware soon found it impossible to live in the unhealthy climate of Jamestown, and returned home, leaving Percy once more in charge of the colony, until a Governor should arrive from England. The number of colonists was now about two hundred; the stock of provisions sufficient for ten months, and the Indians, after two or three sallies and as many sharp rebukes, apparently peaceable and friendly.

We have noted Strachey's account of the wreck [296] of the Sea Venture, which it is said by some inspired Shakespeare's "Tempest." He wrote another book, "The Historie of Travail into Virginia Britannia," covering the years 1610-1611 and 1612. Of this book he made two copies in his own handwriting, one of which, dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon, was deposited in the British Museum; the other, dedicated to Sir Allen Apsley, lieutenant of the Tower, and father of Lucy Hutchinson, was preserved among the Ashmolean Manuscripts. There these two priceless manuscripts slept unnoticed more than two hundred years! They were finally unearthed in 1849 by R. H. Major of the British Museum, and printed for the Hakluyt Society.

The book is especially valuable because it treats of the time immediately following John Smith's residence at Jamestown, of which we have no other record except Raphe Hamor's later book. Moreover, it is the production of a highly educated and religious man, who seems to have told his story with no regard whatever for the prejudices [297] of his readers, but simply as a matter of duty. He does not appear to have offered it for publication. He gives a graphic account of Powhatan and his realm, and a reliable picture of savage manners and customs, having possessed an advantage over the earlier historians by reason of his intimate association with intelligent Indians who spoke English, and with the interpreters, Savage and Spelman, who had lived among the Indians for the express purpose of learning their language. As compared with John Smith, Strachey is a writer of superior elegance. Although somewhat pedantic in his classical citations, his style is clear and interesting. Coming to light after more than two hundred years, his book has the charm of novelty with the venerable authority of age. Evidently the author was a man of sober and observing mind, and of learning after the model of King James, whose taste flavoured much of the literature of his day.

An intelligent English-speaking Indian, Kemps, lived a year at Jamestown; and a frequent [298] visitor was Machumps, Winganuskie's brother. "They came to and fro as they dared, and as Powhatan gave them leave—for it was not otherwise safe for them, no more than it was for Amarice, who had his brains knocked out for selling but one basket of corn, and lying in the English fort two or three days without Powhatan's leave."[71] Why Kemps and Machumps were thus favoured we know not. The former died in the arms of his new friends in the winter of 1611. "Machumps was a frequent guest at Sir Thomas Dale's table, where (upon request) he sometimes repeated the words with which the Indian always prefaced his meals. Kemps was much made of by the Lord General, spoke a pretty deal of English and came orderly to church every day to prayers, and observed with us the keeping of the Sabbath both by ceasing from labour and repairing to church."

Of course inquiry was made of Pocahontas, who had not been seen at Jamestown after Captain [299] Smith left. Kemps and Machumps concurred in explaining her absence. She was "married to a private captaine called Kocoun, some two years since."[72]

She married, then, the year Captain Smith sailed, and doubtless after she was told of his death. It is astonishing that so interesting a fact has not been mentioned by any one of the Virginia historians who have written since 1849—Charles Campbell, Esten Cooke, or Alexander Brown. Dr. Doyle, of England, however, relates it. It was not agreeable to the romantic Virginians that their Indian maiden should have been a widow when she married John Rolfe. The first news we had in America of Strachey's book came to us in a Princeton Magazine in 1850. The writer frankly confesses, "Some of the accounts of Pocahontas are unexpected: nor dare we copy them!" The wheeling in the Jamestown market place was one of the "accounts." Can it be that Virginians would hold her less "a thing [300] enskyed and saintly" if they knew her to have been a widow?

This may be natural. Perhaps we would not enshrine the Maid of Orleans nor the Maid of Saragossa as we do, had one been the "widow Joan" and the other the "widow Augusta." Very capricious and unreasonable is poor human nature in matters of love and romance. Pocahontas is to be honoured all the more inasmuch as she conquered every instinct of her savage nature, becoming reverent, gentle, pitiful, and patient; and corrected every blemish in her "manners barbarous," learning to "live civilly," and behaving, in all situations, with discreet gravity. Like the lovely pond lily, the root was in slime and darkness; but at the first touch of the sun the golden heart was revealed of a perfect flower.

Of one thing we may be sure: she was not won unwooed. The customs of her people forbade any such procedure. Her father may have sold her for a bushel or two of "rawrenoke," [301] as he sold one of her sisters, but Kocoun must have followed the prescribed rule of his people.

[73]"Yf a young mayden live under parents," says Strachey, "the parents must allow of the sutor; for their good-wills the wooer promiseth the daughter shall not want of such provisions, nor of deare-skynns fitly drest for to weare; besides he promiseth to doe his endeavor to procure beades, perle and copper; and for handsell gives her before them something as a token of betroathing or contract of a further amity. And he presents the young woman with the fruits of his labours, fowle or fish or berries—and so after, as the likeing growes; and as soone as he hath provided her a home (if he have none before) and some platters, morters and matts he takes her home;" not, however, before the simple marriage[74] ceremony. Her father calls together his kindred and friends, and in their presence joins the hands of the contracting parties. The bridegroom's [302] father or chief friend, having provided a long string of beads, breaks it over the clasped hands, giving the beads afterward to the bride, and "soe with much mirth and feasting they goe together."

Thus we are constrained again to observe a strange kinship among all the children of men. The string of beads endows the bride with all the worldly goods of her husband. The clasped hands express their mutual interests and affection. As to the "skynnes, beads and perles," they are quite as essential to the "further amity" of our brides of the twentieth century as they were to the savage brides of the seventeenth. Even the copper would be by no means despised.

After this first marriage, the Indians permitted others—temporary marriages—marriages on trial! After the trial period expired, the "trial" wife might be dismissed; if not sent away then, she must be kept always, "however uncompanionable."

Of the poorer class of Indians we know little. [303] Our society records have been of the court only. Strachey was immensely exercised in them. There was an interesting werowance named Pepisco, a religious sort of fellow, who awakened hope that he might become the third Indian convert in the little company of two—Pocahontas and Chanco. He must have been a very proud and spirited savage. He was certainly an imprudent one. This Pepisco possessed by right of succession a fine principality, where he might have reigned happily all his days, but he must needs steal the affections of Opechancanough's chief wife, and in due time stole the lady herself. [75]"Powhatan conceaved a displeasure against him, and deposed him. Yet is Pepisco suffered to retaine in this country a little small kassun, or village, uppon the rivadge of the streame with some few people about him, keeping the said woman still whome he makes his best beloved. She travels with him upon any remove in hunting-tyme or in his visitation of us, by which meanes [304] twice or thrice in a summer she hath come unto our towne; nor is she so handsome a savadge woman as I have seene amongst them, yet, with a kind of pride she can take upon her a shewe of greatnes; for we have seene her forbeare to come out of her quintan or boat through the water as others, both mayds and married women usually doe, unless she were carryed forth betweene two of her servants."

The society reporter would not have been at all competent had he omitted a careful description of the princess' gown. He had peculiar advantages for observing it.

"I was once early at her howse (yt being sommer tyme), when she was layed without dores under the shadowe of a broad-leaved tree, upon a pallet of osiers spred over with four or five fyne grey matts, herself covered with a faire white drest deer skynne or two. When she rose, she had a mayd who fetcht her a frontall of white currall, and pendants of great, but imperfect-couloured and worse drilled pearles, which she [305] put into her eares; and a chayne with long lyncks of copper which came twice or thrice about her neck and they acompt a jolly ornament; and sure thus attired with some variety of feathers and flowers stuck in their heires, they seem as debonaire, quaynt, and well pleased as (I wis) a daughter of the house of Austria behune with all her jewells; likewise her mayd fecht her a mantell which is like a side cloake, made of blew feathers, so artificyally and thick sewed together that it seemed like a deepe purple satten and is very smooth and sleeke; and after she brought her water for her hands, and then a braunch or two of fresh greene asshen leaves as for a towell to dry them."

A very observant Briton was William Strachey, Gent.! We are grateful for this glimpse of one of the royal family, whose dress and customs must have been those of all the others—although, as there was a decided coolness between the Princess Pepisco and the emperor, probably she did not visit the Princess Pocahontas. [306]

The mantle of skins or feathers was, however, worn by Indian queens as late as 1676, when the Queen of Pamunkey, a niece of Powhatan's, appeared in the House of Burgesses clad in a buckskin robe cut into long fringes. When Pocahontas, in the painting in the Capitol at Washington, is pictured in an æsthetic robe of chiffon or some such soft, clinging material, with a long flowing train (as at her baptism), the artist does her great injustice. We presume that some good Christian woman at Jamestown may have provided a garment suitable for the Christian ceremonial, but if so, it was a short petticoat and ruff! And the Oriental dress swathing her lithe form in the painting representing her marriage is just as improbable as the sublime, heroic attitude of her prosaic bridegroom, as he, with lifted hand and eyes, invokes the Almighty as witness of his pious self-sacrifice.

The publication, in 1849, of Strachey's "Virginia Britannia" aroused quite as much interest in London as in this country. I wish I could quote all of his descriptions of Indian life. The [307] London Athenæum of 1850 calls attention to the prophetic motto which prefaces the volume: "This shal be written for the generations to come: and the people which shal be created shall praise the Lord." It slept in obscurity for nearly twelve generations—allowing four to a century.

The Athenæum epitomizes the dress, customs, and descriptions of the Virginia Indians. All these are interesting to us, now that the mysterious savage is so far away from our observation, but for all these things I must refer my readers to other historians. The one point which must ever be accentuated in our estimate of the character of the Virginia Indians is the secrecy and cruelty of their human sacrifices. Once every year the tribes were summoned to listen to the dread call of Okeus, for young children to pacify his anger and ensure success in war, the hunt, and the harvest. There at Utamussac—the spot that no Indian passed without trembling—pitiful women surrendered their babes, and when all was over returned "weeping bitterly," while the men rejoiced [308] and sang. Now all would be well! The arrow would be directed swiftly and surely to the heart of the foe, or the deer; no blight would fall upon the corn; the women would be faithful, the men strong.

Pocahontas was living retired (in her widowhood we are forced to believe) when Powhatan's old enmity awoke, and more arms were stolen from the fort, more sneaking depredations made upon the settlements now beginning to creep along the banks of the river. Captain Argall, who was sent by Sir Thomas Dale to the Potomac to trade for corn, contrived to ingratiate himself with Japazaws, a friendly chief, and from him learned that Pocahontas was living with him. Japazaws had seen a gorgeous copper kettle on board of Argall's ship, and the latter conceived the design of exchanging it for Pocahontas, holding her prisoner, and forcing her father to ransom her. Japazaws had much more interest in the kettle than in his wife's guest, and Pocahontas was easily persuaded to accompany the latter on [309] board to "see the ship." The kettle was transferred while she was alone for a few minutes, and her treacherous friends descended with it to their quintan and were well on their way to shore when she was told the truth.[76] She burst into tears, poor little widow, but soon dried her eyes upon learning that she would be kindly treated and conveyed to the spot of all others most interesting to her.

Powhatan was enraged! He, however, after thinking the matter over for three months, sent back some prisoners and a few unserviceable muskets with many promises of further restitution, of corn, of peace, and amity. The captors refused to surrender their willing prisoner, Pocahontas, until full satisfaction should be rendered. Powhatan was deeply offended, and nothing more was heard from him until another overture from Argall.

Meanwhile Pocahontas found favour in the eyes of Sir Thomas Dale, "a man of good conscience and knowledge in divinitie," and he ordered that [310] she should be carefully taught, cared for in every particular, and instructed in the Christian faith. The pious Rev. Mr. Whitaker was only too happy to undertake her religious education. As to the rest, her English was imperfect, and she never learned to write. Everybody at Jamestown knew of her early devotion to Captain Smith and to the starving colonists, and honoured her accordingly. Master John Rolfe soon became interested in her, and it was not long before he wrote the most remarkable letter to Governor Dale that was ever penned by lover to a lady's guardian. He tells of the throes of conscience that came near tearing his soul from his body. He remembers "the heavy displeasure which Almighty God conceived against the sons of Levi and Israel for marrying strange wives," and he is fully aware that "her education hath been rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed"—and as these were times when belief in a personal devil was universal, and also in the malignant influence of witches (only the latter were [311] never young and beautiful), he is "full of feare and trembling." His love has caused "a mighty war in his meditations." Nor does he forget his own social position. He belongs to a very good family indeed in England, "nor am I so desperate in estate that I regard not what becometh of mee, nor am I out of hope but one day to see my countrie, nor so void of friends, nor mean in birth, but there to obtain a match to my great content." How he proposed, in that event, to dispose of Pocahontas does not appear. He goes on in this strain for fully thirty or more pages of the foolscap paper of the present time, and we can see the wild-eyed, haggard widower lover tearing along by the light of a dim wick in oil, with his quill pen diving deep into his ink-horn.

"Was ever maiden in such humour wooed?
Was ever maiden in such humour won?"

Of course the man of good conscience and knowledge in divinity had a right to the reasons which overcame all these objections. They were three. [312] First and always, the desire to convert this unbelieving creature, namely Pokahuntas." "Shall the base feare of displeasing the world overpower or withhold me from revealing unto man the spirituall works of the Lord? Shall I despise to actuate the pious duties of a Christian? God forbid!" (But just here the Governor with his knowledge in divinity might hesitate, inasmuch as marriage with the heathen in order to his conversion is no part of the plan of salvation.)

Second. "The great appearance of her love to me!"

Third. "Her incitements hereunto stirring me up!"

All these things working together, the end is accomplished. She is a fiancée when Argall takes her up the York to make another appeal to Powhatan, burns a few villages to show he is in earnest, and finally brings about an interview with her brothers (her father refuses to see her), in which her engagement is announced. Powhatan is delighted! Before Argall can reach [313] Jamestown with the little bride, her old uncle Opachisco and her two brothers are there before him to witness the marriage ceremony, bearing with them her father's wedding present—a nicely dressed deerskin.


Before this time, in April, 1613, Pocahontas had been baptized in the church Lord Delaware had repaired and beautified. Her savage father had given her three names,—Matoaca, Amonate, and Pocahontas. Her spiritual sponsors gave her "Rebekah" at her baptism—no doubt in allusion to the Rebecca of Genesis, and she was thereafter known in England as "the Lady Rebekah."

As Sir Thomas Dale had wisely foreseen, the alliance brought the blessing of peace. The Chickahominies sent an embassy to conclude a treaty by which they were to become subjects of the English king. John Rolfe and his dusky bride lived "civilly and lovingly together" at "Varina," which continued to be her residence until she left Virginia.[77] [314]


We must soon take our leave of the troublesome old gentleman with the sour look. Governor Dale sends Raphe Hamor on a delicate errand—to ask for his young daughter in marriage—a proceeding which gives us pause, remembering that the Governor had a Lady Dale in England. However, we leave him, wherever he is, to settle that little matter with her, and avail ourselves once more of a solitary eyewitness to our narrative in which he figures so mysteriously, as we perforce must do in the much-challenged Pocahontas incident. Of her marriage with Kocoun, however, we had two witnesses,—Machumps and Kemps. Hamor took with him two Indian guides, and Thomas Savage as interpreter; also two pieces of copper, five strings of white and blue beads, five wooden combs, ten fish-hooks, and two knives; and, thus equipped, presented [315] himself at Mathcot, one of Powhatan's residences on the Pamunkey.

Powhatan received him coldly, and, turning to Thomas Savage, whom he at once recognized, said, "My child, I gave you leave, being my boy, to go see your friends, and these four years I have not seen you, nor heard from my own man Namontack I sent to England, though many ships since have returned thence." Machumps, it appears, had never had the courage to tell him of the Bermuda incident.

Thomas Savage, we remember, was given to Powhatan by Captain Newport in exchange for Namontack. Pory, writing in 1624, says that he had "with much honestie and success served the publique without any public recompense, yet had an arrow shot through his body in their service." The friendly Accomac chief known as the "Laughing King" became so much attached to him that he gave him land upon which his descendants have continued to the present day. This family enjoys the distinction of being the [316] only one in Virginia (as far as we know) that can trace in a male line to one of the first settlers of 1607.

Powhatan had received Hamor out of doors, but after a little more talk he conducted him to his house, where his guard of two hundred bowmen was drawn up for whatever might happen.

"The first thing he did," says Hamor, "hee offered me a pipe of tobacco, then asked mee how his brother Sir Thomas Dale did, and his daughter and unknowne sonne, and how they lived and loved and liked. I told him his brother was well and his daughter so contented she would not live againe with him, whereat he laughed and demanded the cause of my cumminge." Hamor was ill at ease in the presence of the two hundred bowmen, and informed the king that he bore a private message from the Governor, upon which the king granted him audience, with only two wives and the interpreter present. Hamor presented the Governor's plea. "I told him his brother Dale, hearing of the fame of his youngest daughter" (this may have been [317] Cleopatre) "desired him to send her by me unto him, in testimony of his love, as well for that he intended to marry her, as the desire of her sister to see her,"[78] and ended with the usual assurances of friendship.

Powhatan, after collecting himself a moment, answered gravely: "I gladly accept the salute of love and peace which, while I live, I shall exactly keep. His pledges thereof I receive with no less thanks although they are not so ample as formerly I have received; but for my daughter, I have sold her within this few days to a great Werowance for two bushels of Rawrenoke, and she is gone three days' journey from me."

Hamor seems to have thought this a small obstacle to his Governor's wishes. He represented that Powhatan could easily recall his daughter, and repay the rawrenoke to gratify his brother; especially as the bride was only twelve years old; and that three times the value of the rawrenoke would be sent him in beads, copper, hatchets, etc. [318]

"His answer was that he loved his daughter as his life, and though hee had many children hee delighted in none so much as shee, whom if he could not behold he could not possibly live, which living with us hee could not do, having resolved on no termes to put himselfe in our hands or come amongst us, continuing: 'returne my brother this answer: that I desire no more assurance of his friendship than the promise he hath made. From me he hath one of my daughters which so long as she lives shall be sufficient. When she dies he shall have another: I hold it not brotherly to desire to bereave me of my two children at once. Farther tell him though he hath no pledge at all he need not distrust any injurie from me or my people. There have been too many of his men and mine slain, and by my occasion there shall never be more (I, which have power to perform it, have said it), although I should have just cause, for I am now old, and would gladly end my days in peace; if you offer me injury my country is large [319] enough to go from you. This much I hope will satisfy my brother. Now because you are weary and I sleepy we will thus end.'" And so the alliance, which would have been a brilliant one for the Princess Cleopatre, was declined with thanks.

It is the privilege of royalty to begin and end a conversation, so Hamor retired, and "the next morning he came to visit us, and kindly conducted us to the best cheer he had."

After this we hear occasionally of the emperor, now, according to Strachey, eighty years old. He was once found in possession of a handsome blank-book, in which he requested an English visitor to write a list of the articles to be sent to him as presents. His guest coveted the useful book, but Powhatan refused to part with it, "It gives me pleasure," he said, "to show it to strangers!"

His crown (sent him by King James) was kept in his treasure-house. Every autumn his people assembled to husk, shell, and store his corn, [320] bringing him eight parts out of ten of all grain, game, skins, or pearls they had acquired; and when the grain was stored it was his custom to put on his crown, and present beads to those who best pleased him.

Powhatan Rock, under which the Indian Chief is said to be buried.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

The old emperor lived to hear of the birth of Pocahontas's son. When he died, a great meeting of all his people took place in the dense woods around Orapakes, and then and there, it is said, Opechancanough, his successor, revealed his plan to massacre the English; and bound each man to secrecy and fidelity. Accordingly, on a day appointed (Pocahontas being now dead), the savages rose in the morning at eight and wreaked their vengeance and fury on the English. In some instances the Indians were breakfasting with the colonists when the hour arrived! Nearly four hundred men, women, and children perished,—among them John Rolfe and the good minister Thorpe, who had built a house for Opechancanough, and established schools for the Indian children, and many other good friends of the savages. [321] Jamestown alone escaped of all the settlements, having been warned, as we have seen, by the Christian boy, Chanco. The horrible brutality of this massacre it is impossible to describe. Nothing approaching it had ever been known even among the vindictive, cruel savages. But their punishment was sharp. The entire policy regarding them was changed, and the colonists ceased not for years to repulse and destroy them.

Twice again Opechancanough led in attempts to kill all the English. Finally he was captured and taken to Jamestown, and there shot in the back by some unknown hand. As the body of a captive was never restored to the enemy, he was probably buried there. [322]


Pocahontas seems to have led a quiet life on her husband's tobacco plantation near the city of Henricus, until she visited England in 1616. Captain Smith, learning of her presence there, wrote a noble letter to Queen Anne, beseeching her kindness and relating in detail the story we have given of her goodness to him and to the starving colony.

She was well received at court. The high dignitaries of the church entertained her, and she conducted herself with the grave dignity and propriety demanded by the long, stiff stays which imprisoned her lithe body. The court was not conspicuous for the gravity or dignity of its own manners: but it found no fault with those of the American princess.

Pocahontas at Court.

The shy little Indian woman could hardly have understood the interest she awakened in [323] the bosoms of those grave and reverend seniors. Archbishops, bishops, and lesser clergy were all alike to her, differing only in the cut and richness of their robes. But to them she represented an answer to fervent prayer, the reward for lavish expenditure of health, hope, life, and fortune. As she stood before them, dignified in her enforced reticence, she seemed to them a miracle, the manifest incarnation of the Holy Spirit—nothing less.

Writers love to dwell upon the wonderful serenity of her manner, "softened by the influence of the court." The court manners were anything but soft, gentle, and serene. No coarser age, socially, finds record in English history. Pocahontas owed much to her limited knowledge of the language of the court. The coarse jest, the offensive double entendre, fell upon unhearing ears. Her Indian training forbade the least betrayal of emotion or surprise, and her incomprehensible Indian tongue spared her the merriment of the volatile court ladies, which might [324] have been provoked by her ingénue remarks. Mighty is silence,—placing those who adopt it upon a plane the chatterer never attains.

And so it came to pass that poor little Pocahontas, stiff and uncomfortable in her long stays and quilted robes, behaved in a manner which demanded no indulgence and challenged no criticism. Lord and Lady Delaware were her sponsors and instructors in court etiquette. When her lips touched the hand of the Queen, no one could find fault with her demeanour. The clergy declared that less dignity was not to have been expected, since the hand of Divine Providence was manifest in her conversion. The blasé courtiers, with small appreciation of spiritual charms, protested they had "seen many English ladies worse favoured, worse proportioned, worse behavioured,"—which indeed we can easily believe.

Tradition preserves the astonishing fact that King James was greatly offended with John Rolfe for marrying a princess without his consent; [325] not that he proposed to claim an alliance for "Baby Charles" or "Steenie," the new favourite and candidate for the peerage, or for any noble of his realm; but just from pure gossipy meddling, pure fussiness, pure folly; than which nothing was too foolish for "the wisest fool in Christendom."

Our Indian lady was introduced to Samuel Purchas, and he was present at the entertainment given in her honour by Dr. King, the Bishop of London; exceeding in splendour anything the author had ever witnessed. Probably Sir Walter Raleigh attended this fête. He had just been released, after thirteen years' confinement in the Tower, having walked out of the iron doors just as the degraded Earl of Somerset, Robert Carr, and his guilty wife walked in. It is certain he could not fail to meet Pocahontas. He was nothing to her, but her presence meant much to him. He had sowed, and others had reaped. Moreover, he must have scanned the peculiarly feminine lineaments of her face with wonder and [326] keen interest. Through her he was brought face to face with the destroyer of his two colonies, so loved and so betrayed, upon which he had exhausted his treasury.

Her son was born while she was in England, or shortly before her coming thither, and the London Company made provision for him and for her. The smoke of London so distressed her that she removed to Brentford. The tiny smoky hut of her childhood she could bear—but not the London fog. At Brentford John Smith visited her. In mortal fear of offending the king by familiarity with a princess, he addressed her ceremoniously as the "Lady Rebekah," and this[79] wounded her so deeply that she covered her face with her hands and turned away, refusing to speak for two or three hours! It appears that he awaited her pleasure, and presently she reproached him for his distant manner, thinking perhaps that he was ashamed to own her before his own people. She reminded him that he had always called [327] Powhatan "father," and so she now meant to call him, and be his child, and forever and ever his countrywoman; adding, "they did tell me you were dead, and I knew no other till I came to Plymouth; yet[80] Powhatan did command Uttamatomakkin to seeke you and know the truth because your Countriemen will lie much."[81]

The Indian with the long name was Matachanna's husband, also known on these pages as "Tocomoco." Powhatan had sent him to number the English, which he proceeded to do by notches on a stick, but soon grew weary of such a hopeless task. He took great offence because King James paid him no attention, and never ceased abusing the English after his return, thus helping along the massacre of five years later.

Pocahontas was on her way home, "sorely against her will," when she was smitten with [328] illness on board ship and taken ashore at Gravesend. There she died, March 1, 1617, sustained by the faith and hope of the true Christian. She was interred in the chancel of St. George's Church; the exact spot of burial is, however, not known.

Before she left England her portrait was painted by an unknown artist, and presented to Mr. Peter Elwin, a relative of the Rolfe family, by Madame Zucchelli. As Zucchero was a painter of the time, the name Zucchelli might have been mistaken for his. Zucchero painted a beautiful portrait of Queen Elizabeth with a marvellous jewelled stomacher, but without the monstrous fanlike wings of gauze at the throat with which we are familiar.

Royal Palace, Whitehall.

John Rolfe left his son in England to be educated, and he found his "match" once more, and married the daughter of a rich man at Jamestown. Pocahontas's son married also, and was the progenitor of some of Virginia's most distinguished citizens and statesmen. He visited [329] his uncle Opechancanough and his aunt "Cleopatre" after he returned to Virginia. He was not ashamed of his Indian relatives! Nor are his descendants. The names of Pocahontas, Powhatan, and Matoaca are still borne by them.

It has been said that Pocahontas died of smallpox. We know nothing from printed record or parish register except that she was buried in the chancel of the church at Gravesend in the County of Kent; that the church was destroyed by fire in 1727, and a new church, St. George's, erected upon the site of the old one; and that the Rev. John H. Haslam, later rector, placed a commemorative tablet in the chancel recording all that careful investigation has yielded of the spot where her ashes lie. One could wish that she might have found her last resting-place under the skies of her native country; that from her "unpolluted flesh violets"—the lovely wild violets of Virginia—might "spring" with every return of summer.

The infant son of Pocahontas, Thomas Rolfe, [330] was placed under the care of Sir Lewis Stukely, Vice Admiral of Devon; and here again the story of the Indian girl touches that of Sir Walter Raleigh.[82] It was this Stukely who afterwards basely betrayed his friend, Sir Walter, and by this treachery covered himself with infamy. The son of Pocahontas did not long breathe the atmosphere polluted by this traitor. He was removed to London and educated by his uncle, Henry Rolfe.

Thomas Rolfe's immediate descendants married into the families of Bolling, Randolph, Gay, Eldridge, and Murray. No trace of the Indian in feature or character survives in those highly esteemed Virginia families. The haughty, vindictive spirit of the cruel Powhatan may have burnt itself out in the veins of John Randolph of Roanoke, who left no descendants.

Pocahontas will always be interesting to the student of colonial history. The story of her life was a strange one, and stranger the story [331] to its end. Her father and her kindred were consigned to the tomb with the rites and lamentations of the savage, and with wild heathenish invocations to the Devil of their imaginations. She, alone of all her tribe, simply as a consequence of one noble act, received Christian burial, in hallowed Christian soil, and is embalmed forever in grateful Christian hearts. [332]


The time is at hand when the curtain must be rung down upon the scenes I have tried to present. I was constrained to follow the fortunes of John Smith and Pocahontas, for do what we will we cannot eliminate them from an all-important place in the early history of Virginia. Others were just as deserving, but the historians of their day failed to leave us material regarding them. Like my great favourite, the modest, brave George Percy, who lived long at Jamestown, they quietly slipped back into the shadows from which they only emerged to suffer and toil awhile for the common good.

I find it hard to leave my story. A glorious chapter in the history of Jamestown awaits a stronger pen than mine. At Jamestown, "in 1619, a year before the Mayflower skirted the coast of Massachusetts, the Virginians inaugurated representative [333] government on the American continent—'an example never lost but ever cherished as the dearest birthright of freemen.' There, on June 21, 1621, the Virginians extorted the concession that 'no orders of court shall bind the said Colony unless they be ratified by the General Assemblies.' In 1624 they there asserted the right of self-taxation and control of the public purse, protesting that 'the Governor shall not lay any imposition upon the Colony, their land or commodities otherwise than by the authority of the General Assembly, and employed as the said Assembly shall appoint.' Though loyal to the King, in 1635, at Jamestown, Governor Harvey was 'thrust out,' for encroaching upon the rights of the people. Nay, after the downfall of monarchy they confronted Cromwell himself (who sent his threatening ships to Jamestown) and only yielded to his usurpation upon an honourable capitulation, acknowledging their submission as 'a voluntary act not forced or constrained by conquest,' and guaranteeing them [334] 'such freedom and privileges as belong to the free-born people of England.' After the Restoration they broke out in open rebellion against the oppressions of government and anticipated by a century the final and victorious struggle for the liberties of America. On the untimely death of their leader—the well-born, the gallant, the accomplished, the eloquent Bacon—their revolt was quenched in blood; but even so, without any surrender of their chartered rights."[83]

These events are the glory and honour of our country, but my plan was to tell only of the birth of the nation, not its restless youth or strong manhood. My task was an humbler one: to honour the men who failed,—but not in courage or fortitude; who put their hands to the plough and never looked back; who devoted their lives, with no hope of reward, to carrying on the work assigned them; who fought the battle and fell on the field, regardless of the discouragement, [335] disloyalty, and detraction meted out to them. They sowed; but others reaped the rich harvest. They laid the foundation; others built the fair structure. God be thanked, they suffered not in vain! When the kings of the earth send their navies into Virginia waters, when multitudes throng the gates, when cannon speaks to cannon, when orators bring their choicest words to grace the hour, a voice more eloquent than all these will rise from the sands of the desolate little island of Jamestown,—"We who lie here in unmarked graves died for you!"

Ninety-nine years after Jamestown was settled the seat of government was removed to Williamsburg. There was then no further excuse for the existence of a town on the little peninsula. Mrs. Ann Cotton, writing soon after Bacon's Rebellion, gives sufficient reasons for this. "It is low ground, full of marshes and swamps, which make the aire especially in the sumer insalubritious and unhealthy. It is not at all replenished with [336] springs of fresh water, and that which they have in their wells brackish, ill-scented, penurious and not grateful to the stomach ... and (in the town) about a dozen families are getting their living by keeping of ordinaries at extraordinary prices."[84]

So it appears that "the town, even though measured by what would appear to be a standard of its time, was small, poor, and insignificant. This fact invests the place with the deepest interest, when it is remembered that from such a small beginning in the wilderness has sprung what bids fair to become, if not so already, the greatest nation of the earth."[85]

The town, deserted by all its best citizens, rapidly fell into decay and ruin. The brick houses tumbled down, the church left nothing but its sturdy old tower to stand sentinel over the graves of those who had built it and worshipped within it. [337]

Jamestown Church Tower, Rear View, showing Old Foundations.
Copyright, 1906, by Jamestown Official Photo. Corp'n.

The peninsula, to-day an island, was divided into farms, and "martial ranks of corn" stood in the plain on which John Smith exercised his men in military evolutions. Around the church the young trees had it all their own way, clasping the gravestones and bearing them aloft in their strong young arms. There was nobody to hinder or protest.

In 1856 the peninsula had become an island, and access to it was by a rowboat. A large portion of the island was already engulfed by the waves. The bank was giving away within one hundred and fifty feet of the old tower of the church. Travellers in the excursion boats to Old Point Comfort began to observe the singular behaviour of a large cypress tree in the river opposite the tower. The cypress seemed to be slowly moving onward. An old traveller remembered that the tree in 1846 stood on land; it was now two hundred and ninety feet in the water from the shore! Evidently the shore itself was receding. Through the munificent gift of Mr. and [338] Mrs. Edward Barney, in 1895, twenty-two acres of the island, including its historic area, came into the possession of the Association for the Preservation of Virginian Antiquities—a band of daughters of Virginia organized to rescue from decay and oblivion the sites of her early history, carving anew, like the Antiquary at the graves of the slaughtered Presbyterians, the story of those who "broke the way with tears."

Our guests on our anniversary day will not find the picturesque old church tower standing alone, looking toward the sea to which the anxious eyes of the sleepers beneath had been cast in the early days of starvation. Weakened by the storms of nearly three centuries, the old tower demanded support. The church has been rebuilt upon the old plan and the old foundations. A splendid sea-wall has been given by the government to the women of the Virginia Association—to do what their feeble hands tried but could not do. All is changed—except the old cypress far out in the water, which keeps its own secret, and [339] refuses to yield to time, or wave, or change. Who knows? Perhaps his clasping roots may hold that other child of the forest, the old brave chieftain Opechancanough.

Part of the humble little town has been exhumed. The walls and foundations of the third and fourth churches, and of some few houses have been laid bare. Very few relics have been discovered; the bones of a gigantic man, the cenotaph of a knight, skeletons which crumbled at the touch of the air, shot from some alien gun, a bit here and there of broken crockery. But beneath the mould of two centuries was found evidence of another and lasting foundation, the fundamental basis of all happiness, all moral good, and all national prosperity—that of the simple, wholesome domestic life of the fireside. A pipe, scissors, thimble, and candlestick lay together in one of the uncovered chambers. [340]


The "Old Stone House" on Ware Creek, according to the Virginia historians, was the resort, at three different times, of the disembodied spirits of famous historical characters. "This unfinished stone edifice, evidently designed for a fortification, stands on a hill facing the water, and is difficult of access by reason of the impenetrable thickets and ravines overgrown with mountain laurel by which it is surrounded. Only by following a narrow path on the top of a wooded ridge can it be approached."[86] In consequence of its evil name nobody two hundred years ago ever visited it; and if a belated huntsman stumbled upon it by accident, he made haste to retrace his steps, frightened by the dark corners suggestive of hiding-places, and awed by the warning [341] whispers of the wind as it sighed through the pines.

The country around it is desolate. The ravines are filled with poisonous vines and tenanted by the deadly rattlesnake. The house itself is a roofless ruin, embroidered by ivy and caressed by the Virginia creeper, the long boughs of which, like long arms, wave in the air to warn away all intruders.

The building is small, of solid masonry, the walls two feet thick, pierced with loopholes for musketry. There is one door from which stone steps descend to an underground chamber. This is probably the first stone house ever built by the English colonists, and is generally conceded by historians and antiquarians to be the edifice of which in 1609 Anas Todkill and others wrote to the London Company, "We built a fort for a retreat neere a convenient river, upon a high commanding hill very hard to be assaulted and easie to be defended; but the want of corne occasioned the end of all our worke, it being worke enough to provide victuall." [342]

In this provision of "victuall," the starving colonists, as we have seen, were aided by Pocahontas, who brought, it is supposed, her "wild train" laden with baskets of food as far as this house, and there dismissing them, waited for Captain John Smith. The spot was favourable as a hiding-place from the fury of her father, the old king whose house was not far away, with its substantial chimney built by the treacherous Dutchmen. Here Pocahontas may have rested when she came "through the irksome woods with shining eyes" to warn her hero of danger and treachery from her own people.

These are the bits of folk-lore gleaned by that patient and accurate historian, Charles Campbell. Sixty years ago he visited the Stone House, and verified the existence then in the minds of the common people of three distinct legends belonging to the locality. No one doubts the romantic attachment of the Indian princess to Captain Smith. It sprang into existence perhaps at the heroic moment when she shielded his [343] doomed head with her own bosom, and became the dominant influence of her short and eventful life.

Who can doubt that he early learned enough of her tongue to tell her of his mighty deeds, of the court of the great Sigismund, of his triumphal procession thither preceded by the heads, borne on lances, of the three slaughtered Turks; drawing, the while, pictures in the sand similar to the marvellous creations with which he illustrated the maps with which we are familiar? It is pathetic to know that the time was to him only an episode in a life of adventure. Even the saving of his own life, so often miraculously preserved, was a matter of little importance, remembered only in a generous moment, to secure for her an interest with his Queen. To Pocahontas he was more than a hero—he was little less than the Great Father himself. To him she was an attractive, beautiful child, and yet of a nation despised—"all savage," as he termed them.

One does not like to mar the romance by accepting the story of her marriage to one of Powhatan's [344] captains. So dear is the romance of the Indian girl's devotion to John Smith, that we are tempted to be unjust to John Rolfe and to explain her marriage at Jamestown as the consequence of her longing to belong to the people of her hero,—to be "forever and ever his countrywoman,"—and to find in the Puritanic John Rolfe, with his tiresome throes of conscience and long-drawn apologies for loving her, a counterpart of her gallant captain. When she met John Smith in London, very pitiful must she have appeared to him, as her portrait does to us, in her stiff brocade, high, starched ruff, and English hat; she, the swaying, graceful windflower of the forest!

She must have appeared to him strangely unlike her charming self. Her dark locks, shaven closely on her temples, as was the custom of her people while she was a maid, had been suffered to grow since she had become a matron, and hung rebelliously about her pearl ear-rings; her lithe wrists, primly sustaining her fan of three feathers, [345] were fettered by broad English cuffs. Those feathers were the only familiar connecting links between her past and her present! All else was strange.

We read that she neither smiled nor spoke for two hours when she was visited by Captain Smith. Presently she said, "They did tell me you were dead, and I knew no other until I came to Plymouth," and then in response to his deferential devoirs to "the Lady Rebekah," indignantly declares that she will have none of such talk! She means always to call him "Father," and be to him a "child," as she had been in Virginia.

And so the legend begins; and when she finds "her grave," as the quaint old writer says, "at Gravesend," she could not rest "in ye chauncell of ye church," but John Rolfe having married another wife, and Captain Smith having died, she was free to return to her old haunts, to meet her hero without let or reproof, and explain all that had been so wrong and so unfortunate. The [346] belated fishermen, returning to their homes on the Ware, grew accustomed to seeing a thin thread of smoke issuing from the Old Stone House, and flitting past the loopholes might sometimes be discerned the dusky form of Pocahontas, with the white plume, the badge of royalty, in her dark hair. Here she awaited as of yore the coming of Captain Smith, and here he came and held converse with her. At last the troubled soul is comforted—the "deare and darling daughter" of Powhatan fades away from the legends of the old Virginians and is seen no more. Let us hope she is happy in a state where there are no separations and no mysteries, and that if she ever revisits the pale glimpses of the moon her errand may be one of beneficence to her many descendants.

The grim old fortress was untenanted, except by this Indian maiden, for nearly a hundred years, and then "the dreadful pyrate Blackbeard" secretes his ill-gotten treasures in the subterranean vault. To and fro he moves with muffled oars, mans the port-holes with his guns, and rests [347] secure from assault. With his rifles he can pick out every man who dares to thread the defile. Presently his outgoing is watched, and one fine day he is assailed, and conquered on board his own sloop. He was a bold buccaneer, and had given orders that at a signal his magazine should be fired and friend and foe perish together. But his followers preferred surrender to death, and were all brought captive to Jamestown. Very brutal was the triumph of his captors. He had given trouble and resisted long, and now they would make sure of him. They returned with his gory head hanging from the prow of their vessel, and out of the skull that had housed his busy brain they fashioned a drinking-cup and rimmed it with silver, after the manner of their fathers in the old days of England. He became the Captain Kidd of Virginia waters. His phantom ship could be seen on moonlight nights on the York River, and his headless body would disembark therefrom and hover over his buried treasure. The treasure was never found; perhaps [348] it is there still under some stone of the old fortress.

After this we hear nothing for many years of the Old Stone House. It crumbled away very little, being so strong; but nobody is tempted to approach it or use it in any way. The luxuriant vines bear great trumpet-shaped flowers, and clothe the walls with a brilliant beauty, seen only by the bats, hanging by crooked black fingers from every projection, and ready to fly in the face of the intruder, or the noxious serpents which wind in and out and increase and multiply with no check from man, their enemy.

Finally, about the year 1776, tenants appear again in the little fortress, ghostly forms throng the wide door, strange sounds of exultation are borne by the winds, and fitful unreal lights flit about or hover over the spot. From a distance these are observed, but there is no investigation, indeed the times are too stirring to admit of investigation. The Governor of Virginia has fled from the irate Commonwealth, and digests his [349] chagrin on board his own sloop, riding at a safe distance near Yorktown. Men are in arms, burning words leap from lip to lip,—a great crisis is at hand, a great cloud is rising, soon to darken the land and break in the thunder and lightning of a mighty tempest.

What wonder, then, that it should be believed that the bugles of the fast-coming Revolution have reached Nathaniel Bacon in his long sleep in the York River, where "thoughtful Mr. Lawrence" had sunk his gallant young body lest it meet with ignominy at the hands of Lord Berkeley; that Drummond and Carver, and Bland and Hansford, and all the grand spirits who, with their leader, had lived a hundred years too soon, should meet him now, to exult and triumph!

What matter, now, that they had bled and suffered, and laid down their bright young lives, so full of promise, for a "lost cause"! The cause had lived, and soon the young republic would break its shackles and stand forth with its [350] foot upon the tyrant's neck. The mills of the gods had not been idle, and here in the mysterious Old Stone House, the fortress in which no living man had ever dwelt, they met to plan, to rejoice, to triumph, night after night, until the foes of the country they loved so well should be driven from her shores in disgrace and defeat.

These are the legends—if they are not too recent to be classed as legends—with which, a century ago, Virginians dignified the Old Stone House. The early settlers were firm believers in supernatural influences and warnings. A blazing star had appeared before a storm when the three ships set forth to find this country, another in the year of the massacre of 1622, and yet another on the eve of Bacon's Rebellion. Tongue-like flames flitted to and fro over the early graveyards, and ghostly lights hovered over the undrained marshes. The "boat of birchen bark" lighted by a firefly lamp of the lost lovers in the Dismal Swamp was seen as late as the nineteenth century. Huntsmen in the cold, freezing nights [351] would sometimes find themselves suddenly enveloped in a warm cloud,—this was because a ghost had met them and passed over them in the dark. Sterner than all these was the belief that witches—malignant spirits—were suffered to enter human bodies and bend men and women to their evil purposes.

Ghost stories have long been out of fashion. They have no longer a place in literature or even beside the winter fireside. The American of to-day may be a dreamer of dreams and seer of visions, but they are of the future, not the past. His phantoms are all ahead of him. Perhaps I should apologise for admitting them into a serious work. And yet I think that everything connected with the story of the birth of our nation deserves preservation. I believe, with Carlyle, that "the leafy, blossoming Present Time springs from the whole Past, remembered and unrememberable."

As Time goes on and touches with effacing finger one and another of the events that have marked, like milestones, the onward march of the [352] great Anglo-Saxon race, we may be sure that the birth of this Western nation will ever be "remembered." "We shall not," said Daniel Webster, "stand unmoved on the shore of Plymouth while the sea continues to wash it, nor will our brethren in another early and ancient colony forget the place of its first establishment till their river ceases to flow by it. No vigour of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended."


[1] Hume's "James I," p. 83

[2] Hakluyt, III, 174-176.

[3] Stith's "History," p. 25.

[4] Coke, 2 Inst. 729 and 734.

[5] Harleian MS., quoted by Miss Aiken in her "Memoirs of the Court of James I."

[6] "The Accomplished Cook," by Robert May; London 1685.

[7] Letter of Philip Mainwaring to the Earl of Arundel, Lodge's "Illustrations," Vol. III, p. 403.

[8] Cooke's "Virginia," p. 8 et seq.

[9] Ibid., p. 8 et seq.

[10] Bancroft's "History of the United States," Vol. I, p. 122.

[11] Purchas's "His Pilgrimes," Vol. VIII, p. 469. The quotations from Purchas in this volume are from the Macmillan edition.

[12] Quoted by Campbell, p. 39, from Stith.

[13] "Site of Old Jamestown," by Samuel Yonge, p. 11.

[14] Stith's "History," p. 46.

[15] Purchas's "His Pilgrimes," Vol. XVIII.

[16] Passiflora incarnata of Linnæus.

[17] Anchusa Virginiana of Linnæus.

[18] Percy's "Narrative," quoted by Campbell, "History," p. 40.

[19] Percy's "Discourse," Smith's "Works," p. lxviii.

[20] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 41.

[21] Brown's "First Republic," p. 29.

[22] His true name was Parahunt. This was the birthplace of King Powhatan.

[23] Smith's "Works," p. 93. References to the "Works of John Smith" in this volume are from Professor Edward Arben's edition.

[24] Brown's "The First Republic," p. 43 et seq.

[25] Possibly "Pamunkey" was meant.

[26] Smith's "Works," p. 957.

[27] John Smith, quoted in Campbell's "History," p. 382.

[28] Cooke's "Virginia," p. 20.

[29] Living in the region now known as Prince George and Surry. Their chief was Pepisco—otherwise Pepiscumah.

[30] "Newes from Virginia," quoted in E. Arber's "Works of John Smith," p. 14.

[31] Strachey.

[32] "Newes from Virginia," by John Smith.

[33] Other historians place his age at eighty years.

[34] "Newes from Virginia."

[35] A district near the mouth of James River, on which now stands the town of Hampton.

[36] Smith's "Works," p. 400.

[37] Brown's "First Republic in America," p. 82.

[38] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 49.

[39] The matches were long coils of cord, chemically treated to burn slowly, and kept lighted at both ends. The coils were hung over the shoulder or hooked to the bandolier.

[40] Prince or chief.

[41] Purchas, Vol. XVIII, p. 477.

[42] Smith's "Works," p. 39.

[43] John Smith, in his letters to Queen Anne, gave her age as "twelve or thirteen yeares."

[44] Cooke's "Virginia," p. 44.

[45] Smith's "Works," p. 436.

[46] Smith's "Works," p. 123.

[47] Smith's "Works," pp. 124-125.

[48] Purchas's "His Pilgrimes," Vol. XVIII, p. 449 et seq.

[49] "The First Republic," p. 131.

[50] The present county of Isle of Wight.

[51] The colonists wished to send silk grass for a robe to Queen Anne. Queen Elizabeth had worn such a robe—made of Virginia grass.

[52] Purchas, p. 507 et seq.

[53] Smith's "Works," p. 455.

[54] "The First Republic," p. 73 et seq.

[55] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 76 et seq.

[56] "The First Republic," p. 76.

[57] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 77. "The First Republic" gives a later date.

[58] Cooke's "Virginia," p. 63.

[59] Smith's "Works," p. 480.

[60] Smith's "Works," p. 486.

[61] Smith's "Works," p. 168.

[62] Grahame's "History of North America," Vol. I, p. 70.

[63] "The First Republic."

[64] Smith's "Works," p. 487.

[65] Delaware's Report, in "Virginia Britannia," p. xxvi; Cook's "Virginia," p. 79.

[66] Smith's "Works," p. 635.

[67] "The First Republic," p. 128 et seq.

[68] Virginia Britannia, p. xiii.

[69] "The First Republic," pp. 285, 329, 612.

[70] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 103.

[71] "Virginia Britannia," p. 53 et seq.

[72] Ibid., p. 54.

[73] Ibid., p. 109.

[74] Spelman's "Relation"—Smith.

[75] "Virginia Britannia," p. 57.

[76] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 107.

[77] Cooke's "Virginia," pp. 97-98.

[78] Smith's "Works," p. 517 et seq.

[79] Smith, pp. 533-534.

[80] One of her descendants, Mr. Robert Bolling of Chelowe, thus annotated those words in his "Smith": "To find Smith and inquire of him whether he was dead! A very comical commission, Grand-mama!"

[81] Smith's "Works," p. 533.

[82] Campbell's "History of Virginia," p. 122.

[83] Address of Hon. Roger A. Pryor before the Virginia Bar Association, 1895.

[84] "The Cradle of the Republic," p. 51.

[85] "The Site of old 'James Towne,'" by Samuel H. Yonge, p. 8.

[86] Howe's "History of Virginia," p. 390.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Birth of the Nation, by Mrs. Roger A. Pryor


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