Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


This was the lofty potentate whom Smith, by his way of management,
could have tickled out of his senses with a glass bead, and who would
infinitely have preferred a big shining copper kettle to the
misplaced honor intended to be thrust upon him, but the offer of
which puffed him up beyond the reach of negotiation.  Smith returned
with his message.  Newport despatched the presents round by water a
hundred miles, and the Captains, with fifty soldiers, went over land
to Werowocomoco, where occurred the ridiculous ceremony of the
coronation, which Smith describes with much humor.  "The next day,"
he says, "was appointed for the coronation.  Then the presents were
brought him, his bason and ewer, bed and furniture set up, his
scarlet cloke and apparel, with much adoe put on him, being persuaded
by Namontuck they would not hurt him.  But a foule trouble there was
to make him kneel to receive his Crown; he not knowing the majesty
nor wearing of a Crown, nor bending of the knee, endured so many
persuasions, examples and instructions as tyred them all.  At last by
bearing hard on his shoulders, he a little stooped, and three having
the crown in their hands put it on his head, when by the warning of a
pistoll the boats were prepared with such a volley of shot that the
king start up in a horrible feare, till he saw all was well.  Then
remembering himself to congratulate their kindness he gave his old
shoes and his mantell to Captain Newport!"

The Monacan expedition the King discouraged, and refused to furnish
for it either guides or men.  Besides his old shoes, the crowned
monarch charitably gave Newport a little heap of corn, only seven or
eight bushels, and with this little result the absurd expedition
returned to Jamestown.

Shortly after Captain Newport with a chosen company of one hundred
and twenty men (leaving eighty with President Smith in the fort) and
accompanied by Captain Waldo, Lieutenant Percy, Captain Winne, Mr.
West, and Mr. Scrivener, who was eager for adventure, set off for the
discovery of Monacan.  The expedition, as Smith predicted, was
fruitless: the Indians deceived them and refused to trade, and the
company got back to Jamestown, half of them sick, all grumbling, and
worn out with toil, famine, and discontent.

Smith at once set the whole colony to work, some to make glass, tar,
pitch, and soap-ashes, and others he conducted five miles down the
river to learn to fell trees and make clapboards.  In this company
were a couple of gallants, lately come over, Gabriel Beadle and John
Russell, proper gentlemen, but unused to hardships, whom Smith has
immortalized by his novel cure of their profanity.  They took gayly
to the rough life, and entered into the attack on the forest so
pleasantly that in a week they were masters of chopping: "making it
their delight to hear the trees thunder as they fell, but the axes so
often blistered their tender fingers that many times every third blow
had a loud othe to drown the echo; for remedie of which sinne the
President devised how to have every man's othes numbered, and at
night for every othe to have a Canne of water powred downe his
sleeve, with which every offender was so washed (himself and all),
that a man would scarce hear an othe in a weake."  In the clearing of
our country since, this excellent plan has fallen into desuetude, for
want of any pious Captain Smith in the logging camps.

These gentlemen, says Smith, did not spend their time in wood-logging
like hirelings, but entered into it with such spirit that thirty of
them would accomplish more than a hundred of the sort that had to be
driven to work; yet, he sagaciously adds, "twenty good workmen had
been better than them all."

Returning to the fort, Smith, as usual, found the time consumed and
no provisions got, and Newport's ship lying idle at a great charge.
With Percy he set out on an expedition for corn to the Chickahominy,
which the insolent Indians, knowing their want, would not supply.
Perceiving that it was Powhatan's policy to starve them (as if it was
the business of the Indians to support all the European vagabonds and
adventurers who came to dispossess them of their country), Smith gave
out that he came not so much for corn as to revenge his imprisonment
and the death of his men murdered by the Indians, and proceeded to
make war.  This high-handed treatment made the savages sue for peace,
and furnish, although they complained of want themselves, owing to a
bad harvest, a hundred bushels of corn.

This supply contented the company, who feared nothing so much as
starving, and yet, says Smith, so envied him that they would rather
hazard starving than have him get reputation by his vigorous conduct.
There is no contemporary account of that period except this which
Smith indited.  He says that Newport and Ratcliffe conspired not only
to depose him but to keep him out of the fort; since being President
they could not control his movements, but that their horns were much
too short to effect it.

At this time in the "old Taverne," as Smith calls the fort, everybody
who had money or goods made all he could by trade; soldiers, sailors,
and savages were agreed to barter, and there was more care to
maintain their damnable and private trade than to provide the things
necessary for the colony.  In a few weeks the whites had bartered
away nearly all the axes, chisels, hoes, and picks, and what powder,
shot, and pikeheads they could steal, in exchange for furs, baskets,
young beasts and such like commodities.  Though the supply of furs
was scanty in Virginia, one master confessed he had got in one voyage
by this private trade what he sold in England for thirty pounds.
"These are the Saint-seeming Worthies of Virginia," indignantly
exclaims the President, "that have, notwithstanding all this, meate,
drinke, and wages."  But now they began to get weary of the country,
their trade being prevented.  "The loss, scorn, and misery was the
poor officers, gentlemen and careless governors, who were bought and
sold."  The adventurers were cheated, and all their actions
overthrown by false information and unwise directions.

Master Scrivener was sent with the barges and pinnace to
Werowocomoco, where by the aid of Namontuck he procured a little
corn, though the savages were more ready to fight than to trade.  At
length Newport's ship was loaded with clapboards, pitch, tar, glass,
frankincense (?) and soapashes, and despatched to England.  About two
hundred men were left in the colony.  With Newport, Smith sent his
famous letter to the Treasurer and Council in England.  It is so good
a specimen of Smith's ability with the pen, reveals so well his
sagacity and knowledge of what a colony needed, and exposes so
clearly the ill-management of the London promoters, and the condition
of the colony, that we copy it entire.  It appears by this letter
that Smith's " Map of Virginia," and his description of the country
and its people, which were not published till 1612, were sent by this
opportunity.  Captain Newport sailed for England late in the autumn
of 1608.  The letter reads:


I received your letter wherein you write that our minds are so set
upon faction, and idle conceits in dividing the country without your
consents, and that we feed you but with ifs and ands, hopes and some
few proofes; as if we would keepe the mystery of the businesse to
ourselves: and that we must expressly follow your instructions sent
by Captain Newport: the charge of whose voyage amounts to neare two
thousand pounds, the which if we cannot defray by the ships returne
we are likely to remain as banished men.  To these particulars I
humbly intreat your pardons if I offend you with my rude answer.

For our factions, unless you would have me run away and leave the
country, I cannot prevent them; because I do make many stay that
would else fly away whither.  For the Idle letter sent to my Lord of
Salisbury, by the President and his confederates, for dividing the
country, &c., what it was I know not, for you saw no hand of mine to
it; nor ever dream't I of any such matter.  That we feed you with
hopes, &c.  Though I be no scholar, I am past a schoolboy; and I
desire but to know what either you and these here doe know, but that
I have learned to tell you by the continuall hazard of my life.  I
have not concealed from you anything I know; but I feare some cause
you to believe much more than is true.

Expressly to follow your directions by Captain Newport, though they
be performed, I was directly against it; but according to our
commission, I was content to be overouled by the major part of the
Councill, I feare to the hazard of us all; which now is generally
confessed when it is too late.  Onely Captaine Winne and Captaine
Walclo I have sworne of the Councill, and crowned Powhattan according
to your instructions.

For the charge of the voyage of two or three thousand pounds we have
not received the value of one hundred pounds, and for the quartered
boat to be borne by the souldiers over the falls.  Newport had 120 of
the best men he could chuse.  If he had burnt her to ashes, one might
have carried her in a bag, but as she is, five hundred cannot to a
navigable place above the falls.  And for him at that time to find in
the South Sea a mine of gold; or any of them sent by Sir Walter
Raleigh; at our consultation I told them was as likely as the rest.
But during this great discovery of thirtie miles (which might as well
have been done by one man, and much more, for the value of a pound of
copper at a seasonable tyme), they had the pinnace and all the boats
with them but one that remained with me to serve the fort.  In their
absence I followed the new begun works of Pitch and Tarre, Glasse,
Sope-ashes, Clapboord, whereof some small quantities we have sent
you.  But if you rightly consider what an infinite toyle it is in
Russia and Swethland, where the woods are proper for naught els, and
though there be the helpe both of man and beast in those ancient
commonwealths, which many an hundred years have used it, yet

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: