List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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came so tumbling downe, that the poore Salvages ran away halfe dead
with feare.  But at last we regained some conference with them and
gave them such toys: and sent to Powhatan, his women, and children
such presents, and gave them in generall full content.  Now in James
Towne they were all in combustion, the strongest preparing once more
to run away with the Pinnace; which with the hazard of his life, with
Sakre falcon and musketshot, Smith forced now the third time to stay
or sinke.  Some no better then they should be had plotted with the
President, the next day to have put him to death by the Leviticall
law, for the lives of Robinson and Emry, pretending the fault was his
that had led them to their ends; but he quickly tooke such order with
such Lawyers, that he layed them by the heeles till he sent some of
them prisoners for England.  Now ever once in four or five dayes,
Pocahontas with her attendants, brought him so much provision, that
saved many of their lives, that els for all this had starved with

     'Thus from numbe death our good God sent reliefe,
     The sweete asswager of all other griefe.'

His relation of the plenty he had scene, especially at Werawocomoco,
and of the state and bountie of Powhatan (which till that time was
unknowne), so revived their dead spirits (especially the love of
Pocahontas) as all men's feare was abandoned."

We should like to think original, in the above, the fine passage, in
which Smith, by means of a simple compass dial, demonstrated the
roundness of the earth, and skies, the sphere of the sun, moon, and
stars, and how the sun did chase the night round about the world
continually; the greatness of the land and sea, the diversity of
nations, variety of complexions, and how we were to them antipodes,
so that the Indians stood amazed with admiration.

Captain Smith up to his middle in a Chickahominy swamp, discoursing
on these high themes to a Pamunkey Indian, of whose language Smith
was wholly ignorant, and who did not understand a word of English, is
much more heroic, considering the adverse circumstances, and appeals
more to the imagination, than the long-haired Iopas singing the song
of Atlas, at the banquet given to AEneas, where Trojans and Tyrians
drained the flowing bumpers while Dido drank long draughts of love.
Did Smith, when he was in the neighborhood of Carthage pick up some
such literal translations of the song of Atlas' as this:

"He sang the wandering moon, and the labors of the Sun;
>From whence the race of men and flocks; whence rain and lightning;
Of Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, and the twin Triones;
Why the winter suns hasten so much to touch themselves in the ocean,
And what delay retards the slow nights."

The scene of the rescue only occupies seven lines and the reader
feels that, after all, Smith has not done full justice to it.  We
cannot, therefore, better conclude this romantic episode than by
quoting the description of it given with an elaboration of language
that must be, pleasing to the shade of Smith, by John Burke in his
History of Virginia:

"Two large stones were brought in, and placed at the feet of the
emperor; and on them was laid the head of the prisoner; next a large
club was brought in, with which Powhatan, for whom, out of respect,
was reserved this honor, prepared to crush the head of his captive.
The assembly looked on with sensations of awe, probably not unmixed
with pity for the fate of an enemy whose bravery had commanded their
admiration, and in whose misfortunes their hatred was possibly

"The fatal club was uplifted: the breasts of the company already
by anticipation felt the dreadful crash, which was to bereave the
wretched victim of life: when the young and beautiful Pocahontas, the
beloved daughter of the emperor, with a shriek of terror
and agony threw herself on the body of Smith; Her hair was loose, and
her eyes streaming with tears, while her whole manner bespoke the
deep distress and agony of her bosom.  She cast a beseeching
look at her furious and astonished father, deprecating his wrath, and
imploring his pity and the life of his prisoner, with all the
eloquence of mute but impassioned sorrow.

"The remainder of this scene is honorable to Powhatan.  It will
remain a lasting monument, that tho' different principles of action,
and the influence of custom, have given to the manners and opinions
of this people an appearance neither amiable nor virtuous, they still
retain the noblest property of human character, the touch of pity and
the feeling of humanity.

"The club of the emperor was still uplifted; but pity had touched his
bosom, and his eye was every moment losing its fierceness; he looked
around to collect his fortitude, or perhaps to find an excuse for his
weakness in the faces of his attendants.  But every eye was suffused
with the sweetly contagious softness.  The generous savage no longer
hesitated.  The compassion of the rude state is neither ostentatious
nor dilating: nor does it insult its object by the exaction of
impossible conditions.  Powhatan lifted his grateful and delighted
daughter, and the captive, scarcely yet assured of safety, from the

"The character of this interesting woman, as it stands in the
concurrent accounts of all our historians, is not, it is with
confidence affirmed, surpassed by any in the whole range of history;
and for those qualities more especially which do honor to our nature-
-an humane and feeling heart, an ardor and unshaken constancy in her
attachments--she stands almost without a rival.

"At the first appearance of the Europeans her young heart was
impressed with admiration of the persons and manners of the
strangers; but it is not during their prosperity that she displays
her attachment.  She is not influenced by awe of their greatness, or
fear of their resentment, in the assistance she affords them.  It was
during their severest distresses, when their most celebrated chief
was a captive in their hands, and was dragged through the country as
a spectacle for the sport and derision of their people, that she
places herself between him and destruction.

"The spectacle of Pocahontas in an attitude of entreaty, with her
hair loose, and her eyes streaming with tears, supplicating with her
enraged father for the life of Captain Smith when he was about to
crush the head of his prostrate victim with a club, is a situation
equal to the genius of Raphael.  And when the royal savage directs
his ferocious glance for a moment from his victim to reprove his
weeping daughter, when softened by her distress his eye loses its
fierceness, and he gives his captive to her tears, the painter will
discover a new occasion for exercising his talents."

The painters have availed themselves of this opportunity.  In one
picture Smith is represented stiffly extended on the greensward (of
the woods), his head resting on a stone, appropriately clothed in a
dresscoat, knee-breeches, and silk stockings; while Powhatan and the
other savages stand ready for murder, in full-dress parade costume;
and Pocahontas, a full-grown woman, with long, disheveled hair, in
the sentimental dress and attitude of a Letitia E. Landon of the
period, is about to cast herself upon the imperiled and well-dressed

Must we, then, give up the legend altogether, on account of the
exaggerations that have grown up about it, our suspicion of the
creative memory of Smith, and the lack of all contemporary allusion
to it?  It is a pity to destroy any pleasing story of the past, and
especially to discharge our hard struggle for a foothold on this
continent of the few elements of romance.  If we can find no evidence
of its truth that stands the test of fair criticism, we may at least
believe that it had some slight basis on which to rest.  It is not at
all improbable that Pocahontas, who was at that time a precocious
maid of perhaps twelve or thirteen years of age (although Smith
mentions her as a child of ten years old when she came to the camp
after his release), was touched with compassion for the captive, and
did influence her father to treat him kindly.



As we are not endeavoring to write the early history of Virginia, but
only to trace Smith's share in it, we proceed with his exploits after
the arrival of the first supply, consisting of near a hundred men, in
two ships, one commanded by Captain Newport and the other by Captain
Francis Nelson.  The latter, when in sight of Cape Henry, was driven
by a storm back to the West Indies, and did not arrive at James River
with his vessel, the Phoenix, till after the departure of Newport for
England with his load of "golddust," and Master Wingfield and Captain

In his "True Relation," Smith gives some account of his exploration
of the Pamunkey River, which he sometimes calls the "Youghtamand,"
upon which, where the water is salt, is the town of Werowocomoco.  It
can serve no purpose in elucidating the character of our hero to
attempt to identify all the places he visited.

It was at Werowocomoco that Smith observed certain conjurations of
the medicine men, which he supposed had reference to his fate.  From
ten o'clock in the morning till six at night, seven of the savages,
with rattles in their hands, sang and danced about the fire, laying
down grains of corn in circles, and with vehement actions, casting
cakes of deer suet, deer, and tobacco into the fire, howling without
ceasing.  One of them was "disfigured with a great skin, his head
hung around with little skins of weasels and other vermin, with a
crownlet of feathers on his head, painted as ugly as the devil."  So
fat they fed him that he much doubted they intended to sacrifice him
to the Quiyoughquosicke, which is a superior power they worship: a
more uglier thing cannot be described.  These savages buried their
dead with great sorrow and weeping, and they acknowledge no
resurrection.  Tobacco they offer to the water to secure a good
passage in foul weather.  The descent of the crown is to the first

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