List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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was limited by the French settlements in the east, by the presence of
one of Popham's ships opposite Monhegan, on the main, and by a couple
of French vessels to the westward.  Having examined the coast from
Penobscot to Cape Cod, and gathered a profitable harvest from the
sea, Smith returned in his vessel, reaching the Downs within six
months after his departure.  This was his whole experience in New
England, which ever afterwards he regarded as particularly his
discovery, and spoke of as one of his children, Virginia being the

With the other vessel Smith had trouble.  He accuses its master,
Thomas Hunt, of attempting to rob him of his plots and observations,
and to leave him "alone on a desolate isle, to the fury of famine,
And all other extremities."  After Smith's departure the rascally
Hunt decoyed twenty-seven unsuspecting savages on board his ship and
carried them off to Spain, where he sold them as slaves.  Hunt sold
his furs at a great profit.  Smith's cargo also paid well: in his
letter to Lord Bacon in 1618 he says that with forty-five men he had
cleared L 1,500 in less than three months on a cargo of dried fish
and beaver skins--a pound at that date had five times the purchasing
power of a pound now.

The explorer first landed on Monhegan, a small island in sight of
which in the war of 1812 occurred the lively little seafight of the
American Wasp and the British Frolic, in which the Wasp was the
victor, but directly after, with her prize, fell into the hands of an
English seventy-four.

He made certainly a most remarkable voyage in his open boat.  Between
Penobscot and Cape Cod (which he called Cape James) he says he saw
forty several habitations, and sounded about twenty-five excellent
harbors.  Although Smith accepted the geographical notion of his
time, and thought that Florida adjoined India, he declared that
Virginia was not an island, but part of a great continent, and he
comprehended something of the vastness of the country he was coasting
along, "dominions which stretch themselves into the main, God doth
know how many thousand miles, of which one could no more guess the
extent and products than a stranger sailing betwixt England and
France could tell what was in Spain, Italy, Germany, Bohemia,
Hungary, and the rest."  And he had the prophetic vision, which he
more than once refers to, of one of the greatest empires of the world
that would one day arise here.  Contrary to the opinion that
prevailed then and for years after, he declared also that New England
was not an island.

Smith describes with considerable particularity the coast, giving the
names of the Indian tribes, and cataloguing the native productions,
vegetable and animal.  He bestows his favorite names liberally upon
points and islands--few of which were accepted.  Cape Ann he called
from his charming Turkish benefactor, "Cape Tragabigzanda"; the three
islands in front of it, the "Three Turks' Heads"; and the Isles of
Shoals he simply describes: "Smyth's Isles are a heape together, none
neare them, against Acconimticus."  Cape Cod, which appears upon all
the maps before Smith's visit as "Sandy" cape, he says "is only a
headland of high hills of sand, overgrown with shrubbie pines, hurts
[whorts, whortleberries] and such trash; but an excellent harbor for
all weathers.  This Cape is made by the maine Sea on the one side,
and a great bay on the other in the form of a sickle."

A large portion of this treatise on New England is devoted to an
argument to induce the English to found a permanent colony there, of
which Smith shows that he would be the proper leader.  The main
staple for the present would be fish, and he shows how Holland has
become powerful by her fisheries and the training of hardy sailors.
The fishery would support a colony until it had obtained a good
foothold, and control of these fisheries would bring more profit to
England than any other occupation.  There are other reasons than gain
that should induce in England the large ambition of founding a great
state, reasons of religion and humanity, erecting towns, peopling
countries, informing the ignorant, reforming things unjust, teaching
virtue, finding employment for the idle, and giving to the mother
country a kingdom to attend her.  But he does not expect the English
to indulge in such noble ambitions unless he can show a profit in

"I have not [he says] been so ill bred but I have tasted of plenty
and pleasure, as well as want and misery; nor doth a necessity yet,
nor occasion of discontent, force me to these endeavors; nor am I
ignorant that small thank I shall have for my pains; or that many
would have the world imagine them to be of great judgment, that can
but blemish these my designs, by their witty objections and
detractions; yet (I hope) my reasons and my deeds will so prevail
with some, that I shall not want employment in these affairs to make
the most blind see his own senselessness and incredulity; hoping that
gain will make them affect that which religion, charity and the
common good cannot....  For I am not so simple to think that ever any
other motive than wealth will ever erect there a Commonwealth; or
draw company from their ease and humours at home, to stay in New
England to effect any purpose."

But lest the toils of the new settlement should affright his readers,
our author draws an idyllic picture of the simple pleasures which
nature and liberty afford here freely, but which cost so dearly in
England.  Those who seek vain pleasure in England take more pains to
enjoy it than they would spend in New England to gain wealth, and yet
have not half such sweet content.  What pleasure can be more, he
exclaims, when men are tired of planting vines and fruits and
ordering gardens, orchards and building to their mind, than "to
recreate themselves before their owne doore, in their owne boates
upon the Sea, where man, woman and child, with a small hooke and
line, by angling, may take divers sorts of excellent fish at their
pleasures?  And is it not pretty sport, to pull up two pence, six
pence, and twelve pence as fast as you can hale and veere a line?...
And what sport doth yield more pleasing content, and less hurt or
charge than angling with a hooke, and crossing the sweet ayre from
Isle to Isle, over the silent streams of a calme Sea? wherein the
most curious may finde pleasure, profit and content."

Smith made a most attractive picture of the fertility of the soil and
the fruitfulness of the country.  Nothing was too trivial to be
mentioned.  "There are certain red berries called Alkermes which is
worth ten shillings a pound, but of these hath been sold for thirty
or forty shillings the pound, may yearly be gathered a good
quantity."  John Josselyn, who was much of the time in New England
from 1638 to 1671 and saw more marvels there than anybody else ever
imagined, says, "I have sought for this berry he speaks of, as a man
should for a needle in a bottle of hay, but could never light upon
it; unless that kind of Solomon's seal called by the English treacle-
berry should be it."

Towards the last of August, 1614, Smith was back at Plymouth.  He had
now a project of a colony which he imparted to his friend Sir
Ferdinand Gorges.  It is difficult from Smith's various accounts to
say exactly what happened to him next.  It would appear that he
declined to go with an expedition of four ship which the Virginia
company despatched in 1615, and incurred their ill-will by refusing,
but he considered himself attached to the western or Plymouth
company.  Still he experienced many delays from them: they promised
four ships to be ready at Plymouth; on his arrival "he found no such
matter," and at last he embarked in a private expedition, to found a
colony at the expense of Gorges, Dr. Sutliffe, Bishop o Exeter, and a
few gentlemen in London.  In January 1615, he sailed from Plymouth
with a ship Of 20 tons, and another of 50.  His intention was, after
the fishing was over, to remain in New England with only fifteen men
and begin a colony.

These hopes were frustrated.  When only one hundred and twenty
leagues out all the masts of his vessels were carried away in a
storm, and it was only by diligent pumping that he was able to keep
his craft afloat and put back to Plymouth.  Thence on the 24th of
June he made another start in a vessel of sixty tons with thirty men.
But ill-luck still attended him.  He had a queer adventure with
pirates.  Lest the envious world should not believe his own story,
Smith had Baker, his steward, and several of his crew examined before
a magistrate at Plymouth, December 8, 1615, who support his story by
their testimony up to a certain point.

It appears that he was chased two days by one Fry, an English pirate,
in a greatly superior vessel, heavily armed and manned.  By reason of
the foul weather the pirate could not board Smith, and his master,
mate, and pilot, Chambers, Minter, and Digby, importuned him to
surrender, and that he should send a boat to the pirate, as Fry had
no boat.  This singular proposal Smith accepted on condition Fry
would not take anything that would cripple his voyage, or send more
men aboard (Smith furnishing the boat) than he allowed.  Baker
confessed that the quartermaster and Chambers received gold of the
pirates, for what purpose it does not appear.  They came on board,
but Smith would not come out of his cabin to entertain them,
"although a great many of them had been his sailors, and for his love
would have wafted us to the Isle of Flowers."

Having got rid of the pirate Fry by this singular manner of receiving
gold from him, Smith's vessel was next chased by two French pirates
at Fayal.  Chambers, Minter, and Digby again desired Smith to yield,
but he threatened to blow up his ship if they did not stand to the
defense; and so they got clear of the French pirates.  But more were
to come.

At "Flowers" they were chased by four French men-of-war.  Again
Chambers, Minter, and Digby importuned Smith to yield, and upon the
consideration that he could speak French, and that they were

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