List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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settled at the cost of his private pocket, and which he is not
ashamed to say cannot fare well in his absence.  Smith, with all his
good opinion of himself, could not have imagined how delicious his
character would be to readers in after-times.  As he goes on he warms
up: "Thus you may see plainly the yearly success from New England by
Virginia, which hath been so costly to this kingdom and so dear to

By that acquaintance I have with them I may call them my children [he
spent between two and three months on the New England coast] for they
have been my wife, my hawks, my hounds, my cards, my dice, and total
my best content, as indifferent to my heart as my left hand to my
right....  Were there not one Englishman remaining I would yet begin
again as I did at the first; not that I have any secret encouragement
for any I protest, more than lamentable experiences; for all their
discoveries I can yet hear of are but pigs of my sowe: nor more
strange to me than to hear one tell me he hath gone from Billingate
and discovered Greenwich!"

As to the charge that he was unfortunate, which we should think might
have become current from the Captain's own narratives, he tells his
maligners that if they had spent their time as he had done, they
would rather believe in God than in their own calculations, and
peradventure might have had to give as bad an account of their
actions.  It is strange they should tax him before they have tried
what he tried in Asia, Europe, and America, where he never needed to
importune for a reward, nor ever could learn to beg: "These sixteen
years I have spared neither pains nor money, according to my ability,
first to procure his majesty's letters patent, and a Company here to
be the means to raise a company to go with me to Virginia [this is
the expedition of 1606 in which he was without command] as is said:
which beginning here and there cost me near five years work, and more
than 500 pounds of my own estate, besides all the dangers, miseries
and encumbrances I endured gratis, where I stayed till I left 500
better provided than ever I was: from which blessed Virgin (ere I
returned) sprung the fortunate habitation of Somer Isles."  "Ere I
returned" is in Smith's best vein.  The casual reader would certainly
conclude that the Somers Isles were somehow due to the providence of
John Smith, when in fact he never even heard that Gates and Smith
were shipwrecked there till he had returned to England, sent home
from Virginia.  Neill says that Smith ventured L 9 in the Virginia
company!  But he does not say where he got the money.

New England, he affirms, hath been nearly as chargeable to him and
his friends: he never got a shilling but it cost him a pound.  And
now, when New England is prosperous and a certainty, "what think you
I undertook when nothing was known, but that there was a vast land."
These are some of the considerations by which he urges the company to
fit out an expedition for him: "thus betwixt the spur of desire and
the bridle of reason I am near ridden to death in a ring of despair;
the reins are in your hands, therefore I entreat you to ease me."

The Admiral of New England, who since he enjoyed the title had had
neither ship, nor sailor, nor rod of land, nor cubic yard of salt
water under his command, was not successful in his several "Trials."
And in the hodge-podge compilation from himself and others, which he
had put together shortly after,--the "General Historie," he
pathetically exclaims: "Now all these proofs and this relation, I now
called New England's Trials.  I caused two or three thousand of them
to be printed, one thousand with a great many maps both of Virginia
and New England, I presented to thirty of the chief companies in
London at their Halls, desiring either generally or particularly
(them that would) to imbrace it and by the use of a stock of five
thousand pounds to ease them of the superfluity of most of their
companies that had but strength and health to labor; near a year I
spent to understand their resolutions, which was to me a greater toil
and torment, than to have been in New England about my business but
with bread and water, and what I could get by my labor; but in
conclusion, seeing nothing would be effected I was contented as well
with this loss of time and change as all the rest."

In his "Advertisements" he says that at his own labor, cost, and loss
he had "divulged more than seven thousand books and maps," in order
to influence the companies, merchants and gentlemen to make a
plantation, but "all availed no more than to hew Rocks with Oister-

His suggestions about colonizing were always sensible.  But we can
imagine the group of merchants in Cheapside gradually dissolving as
Smith hove in sight with his maps and demonstrations.

In 1618, Smith addressed a letter directly to Lord Bacon, to which
there seems to have been no answer.  The body of it was a
condensation of what he had repeatedly written about New England, and
the advantage to England of occupying the fisheries.  "This nineteen
years," he writes, "I have encountered no few dangers to learn what
here I write in these few leaves:...  their fruits I am certain may
bring both wealth and honor for a crown and a kingdom to his
majesty's posterity."  With 5,000, pounds he will undertake to
establish a colony, and he asks of his Majesty a pinnace to lodge his
men and defend the coast for a few months, until the colony gets
settled.  Notwithstanding his disappointments and losses, he is still
patriotic, and offers his experience to his country: "Should I
present it to the Biskayners, French and Hollanders, they have made
me large offers.  But nature doth bind me thus to beg at home, whom
strangers have pleased to create a commander abroad....  Though I can
promise no mines of gold, the Hollanders are an example of my
project, whose endeavors by fishing cannot be suppressed by all the
King of Spain's golden powers.  Worth is more than wealth, and
industrious subjects are more to a kingdom than gold.  And this is so
certain a course to get both as I think was never propounded to any
state for so small a charge, seeing I can prove it, both by example,
reason and experience."

Smith's maxims were excellent, his notions of settling New England
were sound and sensible, and if writing could have put him in command
of New England, there would have been no room for the Puritans.  He
addressed letter after letter to the companies of Virginia and
Plymouth, giving them distinctly to understand that they were losing
time by not availing themselves of his services and his project.
After the Virginia massacre, he offered to undertake to drive the
savages out of their country with a hundred soldiers and thirty
sailors.  He heard that most of the company liked exceedingly well
the notion, but no reply came to his overture.

He laments the imbecility in the conduct of the new plantations.  At
first, he says, it was feared the Spaniards would invade the
plantations or the English Papists dissolve them: but neither the
councils of Spain nor the Papists could have desired a better course
to ruin the plantations than have been pursued; "It seems God is
angry to see Virginia in hands so strange where nothing but murder
and indiscretion contends for the victory."

In his letters to the company and to the King's commissions for the
reformation of Virginia, Smith invariably reproduces his own
exploits, until we can imagine every person in London, who could
read, was sick of the story.  He reminds them of his unrequited
services: "in neither of those two countries have I one foot of land,
nor the very house I builded, nor the ground I digged with my own
hands, nor ever any content or satisfaction at all, and though I see
ordinarily those two countries shared before me by them that neither
have them nor knows them, but by my descriptions....  For the books
and maps I have made, I will thank him that will show me so much for
so little recompense, and bear with their errors till I have done
better.  For the materials in them I cannot deny, but am ready to
affirm them both there and here, upon such ground as I have
propounded, which is to have but fifteen hundred men to subdue again
the Salvages, fortify the country, discover that yet unknown, and
both defend and feed their colony."

There is no record that these various petitions and letters of advice
were received by the companies, but Smith prints them in his History,
and gives also seven questions propounded to him by the
commissioners, with his replies; in which he clearly states the cause
of the disasters in the colonies, and proposes wise and statesman-
like remedies.  He insists upon industry and good conduct: "to
rectify a commonwealth with debauched people is impossible, and no
wise man would throw himself into such society, that intends
honestly, and knows what he understands, for there is no country to
pillage, as the Romans found; all you expect from thence must be by

Smith was no friend to tobacco, and although he favored the
production to a certain limit as a means of profit, it is interesting
to note his true prophecy that it would ultimately be a demoralizing
product.  He often proposes the restriction of its cultivation, and
speaks with contempt of "our men rooting in the ground about tobacco
like swine."  The colony would have been much better off "had they
not so much doated on their tobacco, on whose furnish foundation
there is small stability."

So long as he lived, Smith kept himself informed of the progress of
adventure and settlement in the New World, reading all relations and
eagerly questioning all voyagers, and transferring their accounts to
his own History, which became a confused patchwork of other men's
exploits and his own reminiscences and reflections.  He always
regards the new plantations as somehow his own, and made in the light
of his advice; and their mischances are usually due to the neglect of
his counsel.  He relates in this volume the story of the Pilgrims in
1620 and the years following, and of the settlement of the Somers

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