List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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Protestants of Rochelle and had the King's commission to take
Spaniards, Portuguese, and pirates, Smith, with some of his company,
went on board one of the French ships.  The next day the French
plundered Smith's vessel and distributed his crew among their ships,
and for a week employed his boat in chasing all the ships that came
in sight.  At the end of this bout they surrendered her again to her
crew, with victuals but no weapons.  Smith exhorted his officers to
proceed on their voyage for fish, either to New England or
Newfoundland.  This the officers declined to do at first, but the
soldiers on board compelled them, and thereupon Captain Smith busied
himself in collecting from the French fleet and sending on board his
bark various commodities that belonged to her--powder, match, books,
instruments, his sword and dagger, bedding, aquavite, his commission,
apparel, and many other things.  These articles Chambers and the
others divided among themselves, leaving Smith, who was still on
board the Frenchman, only his waistcoat and breeches.  The next day,
the weather being foul, they ran so near the Frenchman as to endanger
their yards, and Chambers called to Captain Smith to come aboard or
he would leave him.  Smith ordered him to send a boat; Chambers
replied that his boat was split, which was a lie, and told him to
come off in the Frenchman's boat.  Smith said he could not command
that, and so they parted.  The English bark returned to Plymouth, and
Smith was left on board the French man-of-war.

Smith himself says that Chambers had persuaded the French admiral
that if Smith was let to go on his boat he would revenge himself on
the French fisheries on the Banks.

For over two months, according to his narration, Smith was kept on
board the Frenchman, cruising about for prizes, "to manage their
fight against the Spaniards, and be in a prison when they took any
English."  One of their prizes was a sugar caraval from Brazil;
another was a West Indian worth two hundred thousand crowns, which
had on board fourteen coffers of wedges of silver, eight thousand
royals of eight, and six coffers of the King of Spain's treasure,
besides the pillage and rich coffers of many rich passengers.  The
French captain, breaking his promise to put Smith ashore at Fayal, at
length sent him towards France on the sugar caravel.  When near the
coast, in a night of terrible storm, Smith seized a boat and escaped.
It was a tempest that wrecked all the vessels on the coast, and for
twelve hours Smith was drifting about in his open boat, in momentary
expectation of sinking, until he was cast upon the oozy isle of
"Charowne," where the fowlers picked him up half dead with water,
cold, and hunger, and he got to Rochelle, where he made complaint to
the Judge of Admiralty.  Here he learned that the rich prize had been
wrecked in the storm and the captain and half the crew drowned.  But
from the wreck of this great prize thirty-six thousand crowns' worth
of jewels came ashore.  For his share in this Smith put in his claim
with the English ambassador at Bordeaux.  The Captain was hospitably
treated by the Frenchmen.  He met there his old friend Master
Crampton, and he says: "I was more beholden to the Frenchmen that
escaped drowning in the man-of-war, Madam Chanoyes of Rotchell, and
the lawyers of Burdeaux, than all the rest of my countrymen I met in
France."  While he was waiting there to get justice, he saw the
"arrival of the King's great marriage brought from Spain."  This is
all his reference to the arrival of Anne of Austria, eldest daughter
of Philip III., who had been betrothed to Louis XIII. in 1612, one of
the double Spanish marriages which made such a commotion in France.

Leaving his business in France unsettled (forever), Smith returned to
Plymouth, to find his reputation covered with infamy and his clothes,
books, and arms divided among the mutineers of his boat.  The
chiefest of these he "laid by the heels," as usual, and the others
confessed and told the singular tale we have outlined.  It needs no
comment, except that Smith had a facility for unlucky adventures
unequaled among the uneasy spirits of his age.  Yet he was as buoyant
as a cork, and emerged from every disaster with more enthusiasm for
himself and for new ventures.  Among the many glowing tributes to
himself in verse that Smith prints with this description is one
signed by a soldier, Edw.  Robinson, which begins:

       Oft thou hast led, when I brought up the Rere,
       In bloody wars where thousands have been slaine."

This common soldier, who cannot help breaking out in poetry when he
thinks of Smith, is made to say that Smith was his captain "in the
fierce wars of Transylvania," and he apostrophizes him:

       Thou that to passe the worlds foure parts dost deeme
       No more, than ewere to goe to bed or drinke,
       And all thou yet hast done thou dost esteeme
       As nothing.

       For mee: I not commend but much admire
       Thy England yet unknown to passers by-her,
       For it will praise itselfe in spight of me:
       Thou, it, it, thou, to all posteritie."



Smith was not cast down by his reverses.  No sooner had he laid his
latest betrayers by the heels than he set himself resolutely to
obtain money and means for establishing a colony in New England, and
to this project and the cultivation in England of interest in New
England he devoted the rest of his life.

His Map and Description of New England was published in 1616, and he
became a colporteur of this, beseeching everywhere a hearing for his
noble scheme.  It might have been in 1617, while Pocahontas was about
to sail for Virginia, or perhaps after her death, that he was again
in Plymouth, provided with three good ships, but windbound for three
months, so that the season being past, his design was frustrated, and
his vessels, without him, made a fishing expedition to Newfoundland.

It must have been in the summer of this year that he was at Plymouth
with divers of his personal friends, and only a hundred pounds among
them all.  He had acquainted the nobility with his projects, and was
afraid to see the Prince Royal before he had accomplished anything,
"but their great promises were nothing but air to prepare the voyage
against the next year."  He spent that summer in the west of England,
visiting "Bristol, Exeter, Bastable? Bodman, Perin, Foy, Milborow,
Saltash, Dartmouth, Absom, Pattnesse, and the most of the gentry in
Cornwall and Devonshire, giving them books and maps," and inciting
them to help his enterprise.

So well did he succeed, he says, that they promised him twenty sail
of ships to go with him the next year, and to pay him for his pains
and former losses.  The western commissioners, in behalf of the
company, contracted with him, under indented articles, "to be admiral
of that country during my life, and in the renewing of the letters-
patent so to be nominated"; half the profits of the enterprise to be
theirs, and half to go to Smith and his companions.

Nothing seems to have come out of this promising induction except the
title of "Admiral of New England," which Smith straightway assumed
and wore all his life, styling himself on the title-page of
everything he printed, "Sometime Governor of Virginia and Admiral of
New England."  As the generous Captain had before this time assumed
this title, the failure of the contract could not much annoy him.  He
had about as good right to take the sounding name of Admiral as
merchants of the west of England had to propose to give it to him.

The years wore away, and Smith was beseeching aid, republishing his
works, which grew into new forms with each issue, and no doubt making
himself a bore wherever he was known.  The first edition of "New
England's Trials"--by which he meant the various trials and attempts
to settle New England was published in 1620.  It was to some extent a
repetition of his "Description" of 1616.  In it he made no reference
to Pocahontas.  But in the edition of 1622, which is dedicated to
Charles, Prince of Wales, and considerably enlarged, he drops into
this remark about his experience at Jamestown: "It Is true in our
greatest extremitie they shot me, slue three of my men, and by the
folly of them that fled tooke me prisoner; yet God made Pocahontas
the king's daughter the meanes to deliver me: and thereby taught me
to know their treacheries to preserve the rest.  [This is evidently
an allusion to the warning Pocahontas gave him at Werowocomoco.]  It
was also my chance in single combat to take the king of Paspahegh
prisoner, and by keeping him, forced his subjects to work in chains
till I made all the country pay contribution having little else
whereon to live."

This was written after he had heard of the horrible massacre of 1622
at Jamestown, and he cannot resist the temptation to draw a contrast
between the present and his own management.  He explains that the
Indians did not kill the English because they were Christians, but to
get their weapons and commodities.  How different it was when he was
in Virginia.  "I kept that country with but 38, and had not to eat
but what we had from the savages.  When I had ten men able to go
abroad, our commonwealth was very strong: with such a number I ranged
that unknown country 14 weeks: I had but 18 to subdue them all."
This is better than Sir John Falstaff.  But he goes on: "When I first
went to those desperate designes it cost me many a forgotten pound to
hire men to go, and procrastination caused more run away than went."
"Twise in that time I was President."  [It will be remembered that
about the close of his first year he gave up the command, for form's
sake, to Capt.  Martin, for three hours, and then took it again.] "To
range this country of New England in like manner, I had but eight, as
is said, and amongst their bruite conditions I met many of their
silly encounters, and without any hurt, God be thanked."  The valiant
Captain had come by this time to regard himself as the inventor and
discoverer of Virginia and New England, which were explored and

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