Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

such speedy confusion, that in few months ambition, sloth and
idleness had devoured the fruit of former labours, planting and
sowing were clean given over, the houses decayed, the church fell to
ruin, the store was spent, the cattle consumed, our people starved,
and the Indians by wrongs and injuries made our enemies.... As for
those wicked Impes that put themselves a shipboard, not knowing
otherwise how to live in England; or those ungratious sons that daily
vexed their fathers hearts at home, and were therefore thrust upon
the voyage, which either writing thence, or being returned back to
cover their own leudnes, do fill mens ears with false reports of
their miserable and perilous life in Virginia, let the imputation of
misery be to their idleness, and the blood that was spilt upon their
own heads that caused it."

Sir Thomas Gates affirmed that after his first coming there he had
seen some of them eat their fish raw rather than go a stone's cast to
fetch wood and dress it.

The colony was in such extremity in May, 1610, that it would have
been extinct in ten days but for the arrival of Sir Thomas Gates and
Sir George Somers and Captain Newport from the Bermudas.  These
gallant gentlemen, with one hundred and fifty souls, had been wrecked
on the Bermudas in the Sea Venture in the preceding July.  The
terrors of the hurricane which dispersed the fleet, and this
shipwreck, were much dwelt upon by the writers of the time, and the
Bermudas became a sort of enchanted islands, or realms of the
imagination.  For three nights, and three days that were as black as
the nights, the water logged Sea Venture was scarcely kept afloat by
bailing.  We have a vivid picture of the stanch Somers sitting upon
the poop of the ship, where he sat three days and three nights
together, without much meat and little or no sleep, conning the ship
to keep her as upright as he could, until he happily descried land.
The ship went ashore and was wedged into the rocks so fast that it
held together till all were got ashore, and a good part of the goods
and provisions, and the tackling and iron of the ship necessary for
the building and furnishing of a new ship.

This good fortune and the subsequent prosperous life on the island
and final deliverance was due to the noble Somers, or Sommers, after
whom the Bermudas were long called "Sommers Isles," which was
gradually corrupted into "The Summer Isles."  These islands of
Bermuda had ever been accounted an enchanted pile of rocks and a
desert inhabitation for devils, which the navigator and mariner
avoided as Scylla and Charybdis, or the devil himself.  But this
shipwrecked company found it the most delightful country in the
world, the climate was enchanting, delicious fruits abounded, the
waters swarmed with fish, some of them big enough to nearly drag the
fishers into the sea, while whales could be heard spouting and nosing
about the rocks at night; birds fat and tame and willing to be eaten
covered all the bushes, and such droves of wild hogs covered the
island that the slaughter of them for months seemed not to diminish
their number.  The friendly disposition of the birds seemed most to
impress the writer of the "True Declaration of Virginia."  He
remembers how the ravens fed Elias in the brook Cedron; "so God
provided for our disconsolate people in the midst of the sea by
foules; but with an admirable difference; unto Elias the ravens
brought meat, unto our men the foules brought (themselves) for meate:
for when they whistled, or made any strange noyse, the foules would
come and sit on their shoulders, they would suffer themselves to be
taken and weighed by our men, who would make choice of the fairest
and fattest and let flie the leane and lightest, an accident [the
chronicler exclaims], I take it [and everybody will take it], that
cannot be paralleled by any Historie, except when God sent abundance
of Quayles to feed his Israel in the barren wilderness."

The rescued voyagers built themselves comfortable houses on the
island, and dwelt there nine months in good health and plentifully
fed.  Sunday was carefully observed, with sermons by Mr. Buck, the
chaplain, an Oxford man, who was assisted in the services by Stephen
Hopkins, one of the Puritans who were in the company.  A marriage was
celebrated between Thomas Powell, the cook of Sir George Somers, and
Elizabeth Persons, the servant of Mrs. Horlow.  Two children were
also born, a boy who was christened Bermudas and a girl Bermuda.  The
girl was the child of Mr. John Rolfe and wife, the Rolfe who was
shortly afterward to become famous by another marriage.  In order
that nothing should be wanting to the ordinary course of a civilized
community, a murder was committed.  In the company were two Indians,
Machumps and Namontack, whose acquaintance we have before made,
returning from England, whither they had been sent by Captain Smith.
Falling out about something, Machumps slew Namontack, and having made
a hole to bury him, because it was too short he cut off his legs and
laid them by him.  This proceeding Machumps concealed till he was in
Virginia.

Somers and Gates were busy building two cedar ships, the Deliverer,
of eighty tons, and a pinnace called the Patience.  When these were
completed, the whole company, except two scamps who remained behind
and had adventures enough for a three-volume novel, embarked, and on
the 16th of May sailed for Jamestown, where they arrived on the 23d
or 24th, and found the colony in the pitiable condition before
described.  A few famished settlers watched their coming.  The church
bell was rung in the shaky edifice, and the emaciated colonists
assembled and heard the "zealous and sorrowful prayer" of Chaplain
Buck.  The commission of Sir Thomas Gates was read, and Mr. Percy
retired from the governorship.

The town was empty and unfurnished, and seemed like the ruin of some
ancient fortification rather than the habitation of living men.  The
palisades were down; the ports open; the gates unhinged; the church
ruined and unfrequented; the houses empty, torn to pieces or burnt;
the people not able to step into the woods to gather fire-wood; and
the Indians killing as fast without as famine and pestilence within.
William Strachey was among the new-comers, and this is the story that
he despatched as Lord Delaware's report to England in July.  On
taking stock of provisions there was found only scant rations for
sixteen days, and Gates and Somers determined to abandon the
plantation, and, taking all on board their own ships, to make their
way to Newfoundland, in the hope of falling in with English vessels.
Accordingly, on the 7th of June they got on board and dropped down
the James.

Meantime the news of the disasters to the colony, and the supposed
loss of the Sea Venture, had created a great excitement in London,
and a panic and stoppage of subscriptions in the company.  Lord
Delaware, a man of the highest reputation for courage and principle,
determined to go himself, as Captain-General, to Virginia, in the
hope of saving the fortunes of the colony.  With three ships and one
hundred and fifty persons, mostly artificers, he embarked on the 1st
of April, 1610, and reached the Chesapeake Bay on the 5th of June,
just in time to meet the forlorn company of Gates and Somers putting
out to sea.

They turned back and ascended to Jamestown, when landing on Sunday,
the 10th, after a sermon by Mr. Buck, the commission of Lord Delaware
was read, and Gates turned over his authority to the new Governor.
He swore in as Council, Sir Thomas Gates, Lieutenant-General; Sir
George Somers, Admiral; Captain George Percy; Sir Ferdinando Wenman,
Marshal; Captain Christopher Newport, and William Strachey, Esq.,
Secretary and Recorder.

On the 19th of June the brave old sailor, Sir George Somers,
volunteered to return to the Bermudas in his pinnace to procure hogs
and other supplies for the colony.  He was accompanied by Captain
Argall in the ship Discovery.  After a rough voyage this noble old
knight reached the Bermudas.  But his strength was not equal to the
memorable courage of his mind.  At a place called Saint George he
died, and his men, confounded at the death of him who was the life of
them all, embalmed his body and set sail for England.  Captain
Argall, after parting with his consort, without reaching the
Bermudas, and much beating about the coast, was compelled to return
to Jamestown.

Captain Gates was sent to England with despatches and to procure more
settlers and more supplies.  Lord Delaware remained with the colony
less than a year; his health failing, he went in pursuit of it, in
March, 1611, to the West Indies.  In June of that year Gates sailed
again, with six vessels, three hundred men, one hundred cows, besides
other cattle, and provisions of all sorts.  With him went his wife,
who died on the passage, and his daughters.  His expedition reached
the James in August.  The colony now numbered seven hundred persons.
Gates seated himself at Hampton, a "delicate and necessary site for a
city."

Percy commanded at Jamestown, and Sir Thomas Dale went up the river
to lay the foundations of Henrico.

We have no occasion to follow further the fortunes of the Virginia
colony, except to relate the story of Pocahontas under her different
names of Amonate, Matoaka, Mrs. Rolfe, and Lady Rebecca.






XV

NEW ENGLAND ADVENTURES

Captain John Smith returned to England in the autumn of 1609, wounded
in body and loaded with accusations of misconduct, concocted by his
factious companions in Virginia.  There is no record that these
charges were ever considered by the London Company.  Indeed, we
cannot find that the company in those days ever took any action on
the charges made against any of its servants in Virginia.  Men came
home in disgrace and appeared to receive neither vindication nor
condemnation.  Some sunk into private life, and others more pushing
and brazen, like Ratcliffe, the enemy of Smith, got employment again
after a time.  The affairs of the company seem to have been conducted
with little order or justice.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com