List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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Services had been held under many disadvantages, which Smith depicts
in his "Advertisements for Unexperienced Planters," published in
London in 1631:

"When I first went to Virginia, I well remember, we did hang an
awning (which is an old saile) to three or foure trees to shadow us
from the Sunne, our walls were rales of wood, our seats unhewed
trees, till we cut plankes, our Pulpit a bar of wood nailed to two
neighboring trees, in foule weather we shifted into an old rotten
tent, for we had few better, and this came by the way of adventure
for me; this was our Church, till we built a homely thing like a
barne, set upon Cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge and earth, so
was also the walls: the best of our houses of the like curiosity, but
the most part farre much worse workmanship, that could neither well
defend wind nor raine, yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and
evening, every day two Sermons, and every three moneths the holy
Communion, till our Minister died, [Robert Hunt] but our Prayers
daily, with an Homily on Sundaies."

It is due to Mr. Wingfield, who is about to disappear from Virginia,
that something more in his defense against the charges of Smith and
the others should be given.  It is not possible now to say how the
suspicion of his religious soundness arose, but there seems to have
been a notion that he had papal tendencies.  His grandfather, Sir
Richard Wingfield, was buried in Toledo, Spain.  His father, Thomas
Maria Wingfield, was christened by Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole.
These facts perhaps gave rise to the suspicion.  He answers them with
some dignity and simplicity, and with a little querulousness :

"It is noised that I combyned with the Spanniards to the distruccion
of the Collony; that I ame an atheist, because I carryed not a Bible
with me, and because I did forbid the preacher to preache; that I
affected a kingdome; that I did hide of the comon provision in the

"I confesse I have alwayes admyred any noble vertue and prowesse, as
well in the Spanniards (as in other nations): but naturally I have
alwayes distrusted and disliked their neighborhoode.  I sorted many
bookes in my house, to be sent up to me at my goeing to Virginia;
amongst them a Bible.  They were sent up in a trunk to London, with
divers fruite, conserves, and preserves, which I did sett in Mr.
Crofts his house in Ratcliff.  In my beeing at Virginia, I did
understand my trunk was thear broken up, much lost, my sweetmeates
eaten at his table, some of my bookes which I missed to be seene in
his hands: and whether amongst them my Bible was so ymbeasiled or
mislayed by my servants, and not sent me, I knowe not as yet.

"Two or three Sunday mornings, the Indians gave us allarums at our
towne.  By that tymes they weare answered, the place about us well
discovered, and our devyne service ended, the daie was farr spent.
The preacher did aske me if it were my pleasure to have a sermon: hee
said hee was prepared for it.  I made answere, that our men were
weary and hungry, and that he did see the time of the daie farr past
(for at other tymes bee never made such question, but, the service
finished he began his sermon); and that, if it pleased him, wee would
spare him till some other tyme.  I never failed to take such noates
by wrighting out of his doctrine as my capacity could comprehend,
unless some raynie day hindred my endeavor.  My mynde never swelled
with such ympossible mountebank humors as could make me affect any
other kingdome than the kingdom of heaven.

"As truly as God liveth, I gave an ould man, then the keeper of the
private store, 2 glasses with sallet oyle which I brought with me out
of England for my private stoare, and willed him to bury it in the
ground, for that I feared the great heate would spoile it.
Whatsoever was more, I did never consent unto or know of it, and as
truly was it protested unto me, that all the remaynder before
mencioned of the oyle, wyne, &c., which the President receyved of me
when I was deposed they themselves poored into their owne bellyes.

"To the President's and Counsell's objections I saie that I doe knowe
curtesey and civility became a governor.  No penny whittle was asked
me, but a knife, whereof I have none to spare The Indyans had long
before stoallen my knife.  Of chickins I never did eat but one, and
that in my sicknes.  Mr. Ratcliff had before that time tasted Of 4 or
5.  I had by my owne huswiferie bred above 37, and the most part of
them my owne poultrye; of all which, at my comyng awaie, I did not
see three living.  I never denyed him (or any other) beare, when I
had it.  The corne was of the same which we all lived upon.

"Mr. Smyth, in the time of our hungar, had spread a rumor in the
Collony, that I did feast myself and my servants out of the comon
stoare, with entent (as I gathered) to have stirred the discontented
company against me.  I told him privately, in Mr. Gosnold's tent,
that indeede I had caused half a pint of pease to be sodden with a
peese of pork, of my own provision, for a poore old man, which in a
sicknes (whereof he died) he much desired; and said, that if out of
his malice he had given it out otherwise, that hee did tell a leye.
It was proved to his face, that he begged in Ireland like a rogue,
without a lycence.  To such I would not my nam should be a

The explanation about the Bible as a part of his baggage is a little
far-fetched, and it is evident that that book was not his daily
companion.  Whether John Smith habitually carried one about with him
we are not informed.  The whole passage quoted gives us a curious
picture of the mind and of the habits of the time.  This allusion to
John Smith's begging is the only reference we can find to his having
been in Ireland.  If he was there it must have been in that interim
in his own narrative between his return from Morocco and his going to
Virginia.  He was likely enough to seek adventure there, as the
hangers-on of the court in Raleigh's day occasionally did, and
perhaps nothing occurred during his visit there that he cared to
celebrate.  If he went to Ireland he probably got in straits there,
for that was his usual luck.

Whatever is the truth about Mr. Wingfield's inefficiency and
embezzlement of corn meal, Communion sack, and penny whittles, his
enemies had no respect for each other or concord among themselves.
It is Wingfield's testimony that Ratcliffe said he would not have
been deposed if he had visited Ratcliffe during his sickness.  Smith
said that Wingfield would not have been deposed except for Archer;
that the charges against him were frivolous.  Yet, says Wingfield, "I
do believe him the first and only practiser in these practices," and
he attributed Smith's hostility to the fact that "his name was
mentioned in the intended and confessed mutiny by Galthrop."  Noother
reference is made to this mutiny.  Galthrop was one of those who died
in the previous August.

One of the best re-enforcements of the first supply was Matthew
Scrivener, who was appointed one of the Council.  He was a sensible
man, and he and Smith worked together in harmony for some time.  They
were intent upon building up the colony.  Everybody else in the camp
was crazy about the prospect of gold: there was, says Smith, "no
talk, no hope, no work, but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load
gold, such a bruit of gold that one mad fellow desired to be buried
in the sands, lest they should by their art make gold of his bones."
He charges that Newport delayed his return to England on account of
this gold fever, in order to load his vessel (which remained fourteen
weeks when it might have sailed in fourteen days) with gold-dust.
Captain Martin seconded Newport in this; Smith protested against it;
he thought Newport was no refiner, and it did torment him "to see all
necessary business neglected, to fraught such a drunken ship with so
much gilded durt."  This was the famous load of gold that proved to
be iron pyrites.

In speaking of the exploration of the James River as far as the Falls
by Newport, Smith, and Percy, we have followed the statements of
Percy and the writer of Newport's discovery that they saw the great
Powhatan.  There is much doubt of this.  Smith in his "True Relation
"does not say so; in his voyage up the Chickahominy he seems to have
seen Powhatan for the first time; and Wingfield speaks of Powhatan,
on Smith's return from that voyage, as one "of whom before we had no
knowledge."  It is conjectured that the one seen at Powhatan's seat
near the Falls was a son of the "Emperor."  It was partly the
exaggeration of the times to magnify discoveries, and partly English
love of high titles, that attributed such titles as princes,
emperors, and kings to the half-naked barbarians and petty chiefs of

In all the accounts of the colony at this period, no mention is made
of women, and it is not probable that any went over with the first
colonists.  The character of the men was not high.  Many of them were
"gentlemen" adventurers, turbulent spirits, who would not work, who
were much better fitted for piratical maraudings than the labor of
founding a state.  The historian must agree with the impression
conveyed by Smith, that it was poor material out of which to make a



It is now time to turn to Smith's personal adventures among the
Indians during this period.  Almost our only authority is Smith
himself, or such presumed writings of his companions as he edited or
rewrote.  Strachey and others testify to his energy in procuring
supplies for the colony, and his success in dealing with the Indians,
and it seems likely that the colony would have famished but for his
exertions.  Whatever suspicion attaches to Smith's relation of his
own exploits, it must never be forgotten that he was a man of
extraordinary executive ability, and had many good qualities to
offset his vanity and impatience of restraint.

After the departure of Wingfield, Captain Smith was constrained to
act as Cape Merchant; the leaders were sick or discontented, the rest

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