List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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them corn without using them cruelly they say is impossible.  Yet
this "impossible," Smith says, he accomplished in Virginia, and
offers to undertake in New England, with one hundred and fifty men,
to get corn, fortify the country, and "discover them more land than
they all yet know."

This homily ends--and it is the last published sentence of the "great
Smith"--with this good advice to the New England colonists:

"Lastly, remember as faction, pride, and security produces nothing
but confusion, misery and dissolution; so the contraries well
practised will in short time make you happy, and the most admired
people of all our plantations for your time in the world.

"John Smith writ this with his owne hand."

The extent to which Smith retouched his narrations, as they grew in
his imagination, in his many reproductions of them, has been referred
to, and illustrated by previous quotations.  An amusing instance of
his care and ingenuity is furnished by the interpolation of
Pocahontas into his stories after 1623.  In his "General Historie" of
1624 he adopts, for the account of his career in Virginia, the
narratives in the Oxford tract of 1612, which he had supervised.  We
have seen how he interpolated the wonderful story of his rescue by
the Indian child.  Some of his other insertions of her name, to bring
all the narrative up to that level, are curious.  The following
passages from the "Oxford Tract" contain in italics the words
inserted when they were transferred to the "General Historie":

"So revived their dead spirits (especially the love of Pocahuntas) as
all anxious fears were abandoned."

"Part always they brought him as presents from their king, or

In the account of the "masques" of girls to entertain Smith at
Werowocomoco we read:

"But presently Pocahuntas came, wishing him to kill her if any hurt
were intended, and the beholders, which were women and children,
satisfied the Captain there was no such matter."

In the account of Wyffin's bringing the news of Scrivener's drowning,
when Wyffin was lodged a night with Powhatan, we read:.

"He did assure himself some mischief was intended.  Pocahontas hid
him for a time, and sent them who pursued him the clean contrary way
to seek him; but by her means and extraordinary bribes and much
trouble in three days' travel, at length he found us in the middest
of these turmoyles."

The affecting story of the visit and warning from Pocahontas in the
night, when she appeared with "tears running down her cheeks," is not
in the first narration in the Oxford Tract, but is inserted in the
narrative in the "General Historie."  Indeed, the first account would
by its terms exclude the later one.  It is all contained in these few

"But our barge being left by the ebb, caused us to staie till the
midnight tide carried us safe aboord, having spent that half night
with such mirth as though we never had suspected or intended
anything, we left the Dutchmen to build, Brinton to kill foule for
Powhatan (as by his messengers he importunately desired), and left
directions with our men to give Powhatan all the content they could,
that we might enjoy his company on our return from Pamaunke."

It should be added, however, that there is an allusion to some
warning by Pocahontas in the last chapter of the "Oxford Tract."  But
the full story of the night visit and the streaming tears as we have
given it seems without doubt to have been elaborated from very slight
materials.  And the subsequent insertion of the name of Pocahontas--
of which we have given examples above--into old accounts that had no
allusion to her, adds new and strong presumptions to the belief that
Smith invented what is known as the Pocahontas legend."

As a mere literary criticism on Smith's writings, it would appear
that he had a habit of transferring to his own career notable
incidents and adventures of which he had read, and this is somewhat
damaging to an estimate of his originality.  His wonderful system of
telegraphy by means of torches, which he says he put in practice at
the siege of Olympack, and which he describes as if it were his own
invention, he had doubtless read in Polybius, and it seemed a good
thing to introduce into his narrative.

He was (it must also be noted) the second white man whose life was
saved by an Indian princess in America, who subsequently warned her
favorite of a plot to kill him.  In 1528 Pamphilo de Narvaes landed
at Tampa Bay, Florida, and made a disastrous expedition into the
interior.  Among the Spaniards who were missing as a result of this
excursion was a soldier named Juan Ortiz.  When De Soto marched into
the same country in 1539 he encountered this soldier, who had been
held in captivity by the Indians and had learned their language.  The
story that Ortiz told was this: He was taken prisoner by the chief
Ucita, bound hand and foot, and stretched upon a scaffold to be
roasted, when, just as the flames were seizing him, a daughter of the
chief interposed in his behalf, and upon her prayers Ucita spared the
life of the prisoner.  Three years afterward, when there was danger
that Ortiz would be sacrificed to appease the devil, the princess
came to him, warned him of his danger, and led him secretly and alone
in the night to the camp of a chieftain who protected him.

This narrative was in print before Smith wrote, and as he was fond of
such adventures he may have read it.  The incidents are curiously
parallel.  And all the comment needed upon it is that Smith seems to
have been peculiarly subject to such coincidences

Our author's selection of a coat of arms, the distinguishing feature
of which was "three Turks' heads," showed little more originality.
It was a common device before his day: on many coats of arms of the
Middle Ages and later appear "three Saracens' heads," or "three
Moors' heads"--probably most of them had their origin in the
Crusades.  Smith's patent to use this charge, which he produced from
Sigismund, was dated 1603, but the certificate appended to it by the
Garter King at Arms, certifying that it was recorded in the register
and office of the heralds, is dated 1625.  Whether Smith used it
before this latter date we are not told.  We do not know why he had
not as good right to assume it as anybody.

[Burke's " Encyclopedia of Heraldry " gives it as granted to Capt.
John Smith, of the Smiths of Cruffley, Co.  Lancaster, in 1629, and
describes it: " Vert, a chev.  gu.  betw.  three Turks' heads couped
ppr.  turbaned or.  Crest-an Ostrich or, holding in the mouth a
horseshoe or."]



Hardship and disappointment made our hero prematurely old, but could
not conquer his indomitable spirit.  The disastrous voyage of June,
1615, when he fell into the hands of the French, is spoken of by the
Council for New England in 1622 as "the ruin of that poor gentleman,
Captain Smith, who was detained prisoner by them, and forced to
suffer many extremities before he got free of his troubles;" but he
did not know that he was ruined, and did not for a moment relax his
efforts to promote colonization and obtain a command, nor relinquish
his superintendence of the Western Continent.

His last days were evidently passed in a struggle for existence,
which was not so bitter to him as it might have been to another man,
for he was sustained by ever-elating "great expectations."  That he
was pinched for means of living, there is no doubt.  In 1623 he
issued a prospectus of his "General Historie," in which he said:
"These observations are all I have for the expenses of a thousand
pounds and the loss of eighteen years' time, besides all the travels,
dangers, miseries and incumbrances for my countries good, I have
endured gratis: ....this is composed in less than eighty sheets,
besides the three maps, which will stand me near in a hundred pounds,
which sum I cannot disburse: nor shall the stationers have the copy
for nothing.  I therefore, humbly entreat your Honour, either to
adventure, or give me what you please towards the impression, and I
will be both accountable and thankful."

He had come before he was fifty to regard himself as an old man, and
to speak of his "aged endeavors."  Where and how he lived in his
later years, and with what surroundings and under what circumstances
he died, there is no record.  That he had no settled home, and was in
mean lodgings at the last, may be reasonably inferred.  There is a
manuscript note on the fly-leaf of one of the original editions of
"The Map of Virginia...."  (Oxford, 1612), in ancient chirography,
but which from its reference to Fuller could not have been written
until more than thirty years after Smith's death.  It says: "When he
was old he lived in London poor but kept up his spirits with the
commemoration of his former actions and bravery.  He was buried in
St. Sepulcher's Church, as Fuller tells us, who has given us a line
of his Ranting Epitaph."

That seems to have been the tradition of the man, buoyantly
supporting himself in the commemoration of his own achievements.  To
the end his industrious and hopeful spirit sustained him, and in the
last year of his life he was toiling on another compilation, and
promised his readers a variety of actions and memorable observations
which they shall "find with admiration in my History of the Sea, if
God be pleased I live to finish it."

He died on the 21 St of June, 1631, and the same day made his last
will, to which he appended his mark, as he seems to have been too
feeble to write his name.  In this he describes himself as "Captain
John Smith of the parish of St. Sepulcher's London Esquior."  He
commends his soul "into the hands of Almighty God, my maker, hoping
through the merits of Christ Jesus my Redeemer to receive full
remission of all my sins and to inherit a place in the everlasting
kingdom"; his body he commits to the earth whence it came; and "of
such worldly goods whereof it hath pleased God in his mercy to make
me an unworthy receiver," he bequeathes: first, to Thomas Packer,
Esq., one of his Majesty's clerks of the Privy Seal, It all my

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