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GIFT OF 



WALTER FAXON 



g^Si: HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRAPX 



j;?^ 



Peabody, William Bourne Oliver, D.D~ 1799- 
1847, twin-brothor of Oliver William Bourne Peabody, 
graduated at Harvard College, 1816 ,* was assistant in- 
structor at Exeter Academy, 1817, and a theological stu- 
dent for the next two years ; licensed as a preacher, 1819, 
and ordained as pastor of the Unitarian church at Spring- 
field, Mass., Oct. 1820. This connection was maintained 
for the rest of his life. He was the author of the follow- 

in^ Lives in Sparks's Library of American Biography : 
Alexander Wilson, First Series, ii. 1-1(^9 jlJotton Mather, 
First Series, vi. 161-350, (reviewed in N. Amer. Rev., 
li. 1-231;) David Brainerd, First Scries, viii. 257-373; 
James Oglethorpe, New Series, ii. 201-405. To the Xorth 
American Review he contributed forty-eight articles, 
( commencing with Memoirs of Nathaniel Applcton Haven, 
July, 1828, and concluding with Campbell's Lives of the 
Chancellors, July, 1847;) pub. single sermons and ad- 
dresses, and was the author of prose and poetical pieces 
ill the Christian Examiner and other periodicals, in dis- 
charge of his duties as one of the Commissioners on the 
Zoological Survey, he drew up the Report on the Birds 
of Massachusetts, pub. with D. H. Storer's Report on the 
Fishes and Reptiles, Bost., 1839, 8vo. (See, also, the 
Report of the Commissioners, Ac, 1838, 8vo.) 

" His roport fully just! ffed the selection, and, in addition to its 
scientific aconracy, in intensely intorostiiig f«»r tho liteliku de- 
Hcrlption of tlio habits of the l)irds, and for the spirit of tmidpp 
humanity in which tliey are conmiendcid to the im)tection and 
oven gratitude of the agricultural community. He also pre- 
liared for the young people of his parish a series of lecturcss on 
birds jvnd plants, illustnited by diuwings made and coloured by 
his own hand." — A. P. Peabody, D.I).: y. Anier. Hhv., Ixix. 168. 

See, also, Edward Everett's Orations and Speeches, 
1850, ii. 372. After his death appeared; 1. Serms. by 
the late William B. 0. Pea!)ody, D.l)., with a Memoir by 
his Brother, (see Peabody, Oliver William Bocrne, 
ante;) 2d ed., Bost., 1819, 12mo. Reviewed by A. P. 
Peabody in N. Amer. Rev., Ixix. 162, (Life and Writings 
of Dr. Peabody;) by J. Walker in Chris. Exam., xlvi. 
129; and by E. B. llall in Chris. Exam., xlvi. 129. 2. 
The Literary Remains of the late W. B. 0. Peabody, D.D. ; 
edited by Everett Peabody, with Portrait, 1850, 12mo. 
Among the best-known of Dr. Peabody's poems are the 
Hymn of Nature, Mouadnock, Death, The Autumn Even- 
ing, and The Winter Night. In the article from which 
we have just quoted (N. Amer. Rev., Ixix. 168-175) will 
be found a glowing tribute to the character and acconi- 
plishments of the twin-brothers, 0. W. B. and W. B. 0. 
Peabody : 

"Men,'' says the reviewer, "who consecrated the noblest en- 
dowments and ripest attainments of intellect to the cause of 
truth, progress, humanity, and religion." 

See, also, Sprague's Annals, viii.. Unitarian, 1865, 
493; Chris. Exam., xxxiv. 250, (Familiar Address:) 
Amer. Month. Rev., iii. 313, (Election Sermon :) N. Amer. 
Rev., xxxiii. 321, (by Edward Everett.) 



•I 

4 



THE 



LIBRARY 



OP 



AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CONDUCTED 
By JARED sparks. 



VOL. II. 



BOSTON: 

BILLIARD, GRAY, AND CO. 
LOND ON: 

RICHARD JAMES KENNETT. 

1834. 



LIVES 



OF 



ALEXANDER WILSON 



AND 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 



BOSTON: 

BILLIARD, GRAY, AND CO. 
LONDON: 

RICHARD JAMES KENNETT. 

1834. 



I^4i\ 




Entered aeeording to the act of Confreu in the year 1834, 

byJAKBD Sparki, 

in the Clerk'i oflioe of the Diitrict Coort of the District of Masfachusetu. 



CAMBRIDGE: 

CHARLES FOLSOM, 

nuirrsK to the uritshsitt. 



\ iii 



•ii 




^ t 



/->-< 



.. '' . . 



CONTENTS. 



Life of Alexander Wilson, Page 

» 

By William B. O. Peabodt. . . 1 



Life of Captain John Smith, 
By George S. Hillard. 

Preface 173 

CHAPTER I. 

His Birth, early Adventures^ and brilliant 
Achievements in the Turkish Wars. . . .177 

CHAPTER II. 

His Captivity, Escape, and Return to Eng- 
land. 194 



VI CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER III. 

State of public Feeling in England in Regard 
to Colonizing the Coast of America, — Smith 
becomes interested in the Subject, — Establish" 
ment of the Virginia and Plymouth Com- 
panies, — An Expedition sets Sail from 
England. — Dissensions on the Voyage, — 
Arrival in Virginia 204 

CHAPTER IV. 

Early Struggles of the Colony. — Active Exer- 
tions of Captain Smith in providing Food 
and suppressing Insubordination 216 

CHAPTER V. 

Certain SmiWs Captivity among the Indians. 
— His Life is saved by Pocahontas, — His 
Return to Jamestown 229 

CHAPTER VI. 

Arrived of Newport from England. — His Visit 
to Powhatan, — His Return 243 

CHAPTER VII. 

Captain Smith explores the Chesapeake in two 
Expeditions, — He is chosen President of the 
Colony 256 



CONTENTS. Vn 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Second Arrival of Newport, — Abortive Ezpe- 
dition to explore the Interior, — Injudicious 
Conduct of the Council in England, — Their 
Letter to Captain Smith, — His Reply, . 278 

CHAPTER IX. 

Difficulties in procuring Provision. — Captain 
Smith's unsuccessful Attempt to obtain PoS" 
session of Powhatan's Person, .... 293 

CHAPTER X. 

Captain Smith's Adventures with Opechanco 
nough, Chief of Pamunkey, — His Return to 
Jamestoum 308 

CHAPTER XL 

Troubles with the Indians, — Scarcity of Pro-' 
visions, — Mutinous and treacherous DispO" 
sition of some of the Colonists, — Arrival of 
Captain Argall, 317 

CHAPTER XII. 

New Charter granted to the Virginia Compor 
ny. — Expedition despatched to Jamestown. 
— Confusion which ensues on its Arrival, — 
Captain Smith returns to England, , • . 332 



Vlll CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Remarks on Captain Smithes Administration 
in Virginia 345 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Captain Smithes first Voyage to New England, 353 

CHAPTER XV. 

Captain Smith sails a second Time for New 
England. — Is taken by a French Squadron 
and carried to France. — - Makes his Escape. 
— Arrives in England. — Publishes his De- 
scription of New England. 358 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Visit of Pocahontas to England. — Captain 
Smith's Interview unth her. — Death of 
Pocahontas 367 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Captain Smith's Examination by the Commis- 
sioners for the Reformation of Virginia. — 
His Death, — His Character 384 

NOTE. 

Account of Captain Smith's Writings. . . 398 



LIFE 



or 



ALEXANDER WILSON; 



BT 



WILLIAM B. O. PEABODY. 



VOL. II. 



ALEXANDER WILSON, 



There are some men m the world, who are 
sufficiently intellectual in their tastes, but too ac- 
tive in their habits, to submit to the restraint of 
quiet literary labor ; their minds never exert 
themselves to the best advantage, except when 
the body is in action ; and certainly it would 
seem, as if the employment, which engages at 
once the physical and intellectual powers, must 
be best suited to the present nature of man. 
The pursuit, in which Alexander Wilson ac- 
quired his great reputation, is of this description ; 
it combines within itself many circumstances, 
which give it surprising attraction ; it requires 
the self-complacent skill of a sportsman, and the 
wild romance of an adventurer ; it opens a field 
for the beautiful powers of an artist, and the fine 
discriminations of a man of taste ; moreover it 
adds the dignity of science to the exciting cm* 
sciousness of danger. When we think of the 
ornithologist, the imagination does not present 
him to us in the safety and repose of a study ; we 



4 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

thmk of him, as leaying the abodes of civilized 
man, bumching his canoe chi unbroken waters, 
depending chi his rifle fer subdstence, keeping on 
bis solitaiy march till the Inrd has song its eyen- 
ing hyinn, and then lying down to rest, with no 
society, but the sound of his fire, and no shelter 
but the star-lighted skies. Accordingly, this pur- 
suit has interested minds of a very high order, 
and enlisted in the service of science those, who 
would otherwise have been engaged in fields of 
Uood. 

Wilson, and some others like liim, have a right 
to be considered as bene&ctcurs of mankind. It 
is wisely ordered, that happiness shall be found 
eveiywhane about us ; we do not need to have 
a rock smitten to supply this thirst of the soul ; 
all we want, is an eye to discern and a heart to 
feel it. Let any one fix his attention chi a moral 
truth, and he will find it spreading out and enlarg- 
ing beneath his view, tiO, what seemed at first as 
barren a proposition as words cxHild express, be- 
cxmies an interesting and exciting truth, of mo- 
mentous bearing on the destinies of men. And 
so it is with all material things; fix the mind 
intently upon them ; hold them in the light of 
scienc^e, and they cx)ntinually unfold new wonders. 
The flower grows even more beautiful, than when 
it first opened its golden urn, and poured its earli- 
est incense on the air ; the tree, which was before 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 5 

thought of only as a thing to be cut down and 
cast into the fire, becomes majestic, as it holds 
its broad slueld before the sun in summer, or as 
it stands in winter, like a gallant ship, with its 
sails furled and all made fast about it in prepara- 
tion for the storm. All things in nature inspire 
in us a new feelmg ; and the truth is, that igno- 
rance and indifference are almost the same; as 
fast as our knowledge extends, we are sure to 
grow interested in any subject whatever. 

This explains, why men of powerful minds, 
like Wilson, grow so deeply interested in what 
are ignorantly regarded as little things ; how they 
can watch, with the gaze of a lover, to catch the 
glancing of the small bird's wmg ; and how they 
can listen to its song, with as much interest as 
if it breathed thoughts and affections; how the 
world can be so spiritually bright to them, while 
to others the bird is only a flying animal, and 
the flower only the covering of a clod. If any 
man's labors tend to give interest and meaning to 
the things of the visible world, we consider him 
as one who has rendered good service to man- 
kind. 

But there is no need of spending time in at- 
tempting to establish the claim of Wilson to pub- 
lic regard; for, although the history of his life 
abounded with depressmg circumstances, his 
name, since his death, has been constantly gain- 



6 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ing renown ; and the place which his chosen sci- 
ence holds m the public favor, must be con- 
sidered as principaUy owing to his exertions. All 
his powers were concentrated upon this single 
purpose ; he engaged in it, not as an amusement, 
nor eyen as an employment, but as the great busi- 
ness of his life ; and with a deep and determined 
spirit, which few men can imitate or even under- 
stand. He considered the subjects of his art, not 
as playthings ; he loved them as familiar friends ; 
their voice was not music, but language ; instead 
of dying away upon the ear, it went down into 
the soul. To many his interest in these things 
no doubt seemed senseless and excessive; but 
he is one of those, who never smile at the depth 
and earnestness of their own emotions. When 
he described the birds, he spoke of their habits 
and manners, as if they were intelligent things, 
and has thus given a life and charm to his de- 
scriptions, which will make his work the chief 
attraction of the science in our country for many 
years to come. 

Alexander Wilson was bom in Paisley in 
Scotland, on the 6th of July, 1766< His father 
was a distiller, poor in his fortunes, but is said 
by those who knew him to have been a man of 
active and sagacious mind. He outlived his em- 
inent son, and perhaps enjoyed the reflection of 
his fame, which was already widely extended in 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 7 

1816, the year when the '&ther died. Wilsoo 
"was so unfortunate as to lose his mother at the 
<arly age of ten, and was left, one of a large 
:fiunily, without that tender and judicious care, 
'which a mother alone can give. Young as be 
was at the time, they had probably detected 
something intellectual in his tastes and habits ; it 
was their intention to educate him for the minis- 
try ; a purpose, which implied a high opinion <^ 
his power ; since the Scottish peasantry, who 
look upon every thing connected with religion 
with unbounded reverence, seldom, in their wild- 
est imaginations, form a higher wish for their 
children, than that of seeing them lead the de- 
TDtions of a Christian assembly, and bear the 
message of salvation to men. 

His father, not kmg after the death of his wife, 
formed Another connexion ; and it has been 
repeatedly stated, that the unkindness of bis 
stepmother compelled Wilson at that early age 
to seek another home. But his Scotch biogra- 
pher, who is perhaps most likely to know the 
truth, tells us, that his new mother sustained that 
most difficult and delicate of all human relations, 
to the perfect satis&ction of all parties ; and that^ 
when Wilson did leave his father's house, it was 
only as an apprentice to reside with his master. 
Wilson was a man of strong feelings ; and had 
he been thus ill-treated, would probably have 



V. 



• •• 



VIU CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Remarks on Captain Smith's Administration 
in Virginia 345 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Captain Smith's first Voyage to New England, 353 

CHAPTER XV. 

Captain Smith sails a second Time for New 
England, — Is taken by a French Squadron 
and carried to France, — - Makes his Escape, 
— Arrives in England, — Publishes his De- 
scription of New England. 358 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Visit of Pocahontas to England, — Captain 
Smith's Interview with her, — Death of 
Pocahontas 367 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Captain Smith's Examination by the Commis- 
sioners for the Reformation of Virginia, — 
His Death, — His Character 384 

NOTE. 

Account of Captain Smith's Writings. , . 398 



LIFE 



or 



ALEXANDER WILSON; 



BT 



WILLIAM B. O. PEABODY. 



VOL. II. 



13 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

from the Loom " ; it expresses, with more force 
than taste, his aversion to his sedentary employ- 
ment, and his hope that a better destiny awaited 
bim in future years. It is evident from his wri- 
tings at this time, that he had many hours of 
despondency and gloom ; and it is honorable to 
his character that, while he felt that he was made 
for better things, and yet saw no prospect of a 
favorable change, he should never have sunk into 
that sullen discontent and sickly sensibility, into 
which minds of less energy are so apt to fall. 
It is man's duty, no doubt, to be content with his 
condition, so far as Providence has assigned it, 
and taken it out of his own discretion ; but, so far 
as it is left to himself, it is right to wish and 
endeavor to change it for the better, only taking 
care not to sacrifice the present to the future, — not 
to sacrifice the sure and present to that which is 
uncertain and to come. His poetical attempts at 
this time were given to the world in the " Glasgow 
Advertiser," and soon became the subject of much 
discussion, in the clubs and bookshops of Paisley, 
^ce to astonish the natives of one's own city is, 
to the youthful poet, a success far more inspiring 
and triumphant than any that crown his later 
years, this civic honor doubtless did much to con- 
firm Wilson in a pursuit, in which, however san- 
guine and determined, he was fated never to 
succeed. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 13 

He did certainly make a change in his circunn 
stances about this time, but whether it was for the 
letter, may be doubted by some readers. His 
l>rother-in-law, Duncan, in the hope of improving 
liis fortunes, determined to abandon the loom, 
imd to make trial of the life of a travelling mer- 
idiant, as it is called in Scotland, but in plain 
English, a pedler, a character not wholly unknown 
in this country. Wilson delighted in the pros- 
pect of accompanying him ; and they went forth 
rejoicing, on a tour through the eastern districts of 
Scotland. Perhaps, with the solitary exception 
of Wordsworth's philosophic pedler, the profes- 
sion never numbered in its ranks a more singular 
disciple than Wilson. He cared much more to 
behold the beauties of nature, than to display the 
contents of bis pack ; his first feelings were those 
of wild rapture, on escaping fit>m confinement, 
to move with perfect fireedom over the glorious 
world of nature ; and the expressions of delight, 
which burst fit>m him, were such as pedlers sel- 
dom use, at least in our day. ^^ These are pleas- 
ures," he says, "which the grovelling sons of 
interest, and the grubs of this world, know as 
little of, as the miserable spirits, doomed to ever- 
lasting darkness, know of the glorious regions and 
eternal delights of Paradise.'' 

His course was not determined solely by con- 
siderations of gain. He states, that he went 



14 AMEBICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

much out of his way to visit the village of Athel- 
stanefbrd, at one time the residence of Home, the 
author of " Douglas/' and of Blair, the author 
of "The Grave." But his tours were not 
wholly unprofitable ; since, though his pocket 
became no heavier, his heart grew lighter; he 
became more familiar with men, and gained per- 
haps what he valued more, a greater familiarity 
with nature. Of the ways of men he was a keen 
and sarcastic observer ; but to the contemplation 
of nature he gave himself up with entire devotion 
of heart ; and in a country where the scenery is 
wild and romantic, and where every hill and 
valley, if they had language, could tell some 
story of the past, he could not but strengthen that 
solemn and afiectionate feeling, which the grand 
and beautiful of the visible world always inspired 
in his breast. Besides, in the intervals of his 
journey, he found time, not only to indulge such 
feelings, but to record them ; and he indulged 
them more safely, thus thrown into daily contact 
with men, than he could possibly have done in 
retirement ; and learned, better than he other- 
wise might, the proportion which they may prop- 
erly bear to active claims and duties. 

It does not appear, that he gave any attention 
at this time to that pursuit, which is now insepa- 
rably associated with his name. He tells us in 
his preface to his great work, that birds had 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 15 

engaged his attention from his childhood ; but 
he probably noticed them as parts of the scenery, 
not as subjects of particular interest and descrip- 
tion. His thoughts were given at this time al- 
most wholly to poetry ; many of the poems, which 
were subsequently published, show by their dates 
and incidents, that they were suggested, if not 
written in these rambles ; these perhaps were the 
most profitable results of his enterprise, and these 
were few and small. 

While Wilson was thus engaged, Bums was in 
the blaze of his fame, at least in Scotland ; for 
in England his extraordinary merits were more 
slowly felt and acknowledged. The Scottish dia- 
lect, which is now so pleasing^ then sounded bar- 
barous and uncouth to English ears; but,' in his 
native land, it was the language which went most 
directly to the heart. The sudden and perfect 
success of Bums was not without its effects upon 
the ardent mind of Wilson. There w^ere many 
points of resemblance between the two; both 
were men of warm feelings and passions, and of 
strong and manly understanding ; both had the 
same contempt for what was mean, and the same 
admiration for all that was high; they resembled 
each other in their poetical feeling ; but, in poeti- 
cal expression. Bums was as decidedly superior 
to, Wilson, as Wilson was in moral respects to 
him. It must be said; to the praise of Wilson, 



16 AMEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

that he never acquu*ed those habits of dissipation, 
into which his melancholy feelings and accidental 
companions might, to appearance, have so easily 
betrayed him; but, though he and Bums had 
similar difficulties to contend with, which they met 
with equal resolution, the trial of prosperity, 
which the history of human life assures us is the 
hardest of all to bear, was one which Wilson was 
never called to meet. 

Bums's success was like a short arctic summer, 
which threw a deeper gloom, when it departed, 
upon all the winter of his years ; Wilson, perhaps 
fortunately for his virtue, was compelled to strug- 
gle with difficulties to the very last ; and thus, 
strengthened by c6ntmual exertion, grew more 
virtuous as he advanced in years, never failed to 
command the respect of all around him, and when 
he died, left the enviable memory of a life, full of 
difficult and depressing circumstances, but un- 
stained by the least excess. When Wilson, in his 
youth, sighed for success like that of Bums, he 
might have been comforted, could some prophet 
have assured him, that he should lead a life more 
excellent and honored, and leave a name of equal 
renown. 

Inspired by this example, Wilson resolved to 
publish his poems ; and, in 1789, contracted for 
the purpose with a printer in Paisley. But the 
means to defray the expenses of the press were 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 17 

wanting ; and be bad no resource, but to take up 
his pack, and proceed again upon an expedition 
to sell his wares, or get subscribers for his poems, 
as the case might be. He was not very success- 
fill in either attempt, but he was not overcome -by 
his disappointment ; he kept a journal during this 
excursion, which is said by those who have seen 
it, to breathe a spirit of fierce independence and a 
detestation of everything low; feelings, which 
doubdess appeared in his manner, and had their 
effect in preventing his success. The extracts 
fix)m it, which are given, are not so free and natu- 
ral as his usual style, and seem rather prepared 
for publication, than a familiar registry of incidents 
and feelings. 

like most other men of decided character, he 
did not seek advice, nor follow it when it was giv- 
en. It is recorded, that he submitted his poems 
to critical friends before they were published, and 
paid no more deference to their suggestions, than 
is usual on such occasions. Findmg that sub- 
scriptions were not to be obtained, he had the 
book published, and took it with him on another 
expedition. A judicious adviser might have told 
him, that the character of a pedler is not one that 
inspires much confidence, even in mercantile 
transactions, and that, in matters of literature, they 
are among the last of the human race, to whom 
one would look for any other poetry, than such as 

VOL. n. 2 



18 AM£BICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

might be made to sell. It is true, that he had 
merit ; still, to human eye, he was nothing but a 
pedler. He was afterwards convinced by his 
own experience, that the two pursuits are incom- 
patible ; each is too engrossing. The man must 
either be all poet or all pedler ; neither of these 
interesting occupations is satisfied with a divided 
heart. In one of his letters, he speaks on the 
subject, more in sorrow than in anger, and seems 
quite convinced, that a pedler is a character, whom 

" there are none to praise ; 
And very few to love." 

Having found himself wholly unable to dispose 
of his work, he seemed determined to renounce 
his poetical profession as well as the other ; but 
it is a curious fact, that, while there is no piil^uit, 
in which a man is so easily wounded by failure, 
there is none in which it is so utterly impossible 
to break, either the passion, or the heart in which 
it dwells. As soon as the imfortunate candidate 
for fame recovers from the stunning effect of the 
blow, he rises and hopes again, trustmg to have 
either better success, better judges, better subjects, 
or some other circumstances in his favor, which 
were against him before. Wilson had quietly re- 
turned to his loom; but having learned from a 
friend, that a debating society in Edinburgh had 
proposed for discussion the question, whether 
Fergusson or Allan Ramsay had 4one most honor 



ALEXANDEB WILSON. 19 

to Scottish poetry, he was seized with a desire to 
distinguish himself on the occasion. 

He had never read the poems of Fergusson, 
and had but a few days for preparation ; but he 
borrowed the work from a friend, made up his 
mind on the subject, labored harder than ever to 
provide the means for his journey, and arrived in 
the city, just in time to bear his part in the dis<t 
cussion. The poem which he recited, called the 
^^ Laurel Disputed,^^ though it assigned the palm 
to Fergusson, contrary to the opinion of the audi** 
ence, appears to have had sufficient merit to gain 
for him considerable respect and favor. 

At this time, in 1791, he recited in public two 
other poem$, and published the ^^ Laurel Dbpu* 
ted " ; but his success, though it seems to haVe 
been sufficient to satisfy his ambition, brought him 
no permanent advantage. He contributed occa« 
sionally to a periodical work called ^^ The Bee,'' 
published by D. Anderson ; but The Bee, though 
it profited by the honey, could not save from 
widiering, the flowers from which its resources 
were drawn. 

He came, near securing an object of much high- 
er interest and ambition, an acquaintance with 
Bums. Soon after the poems of the latter were 
published, Wilson wrote to the author, objectmg 
to the moral tendency of some of the pieces, and 
statmg bis sentiments with freedom, though no ac- 



20 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

quaintance existed between them. Bums re- 
turned for answer, that he was so accustomed to 
such salutations, that he usually paid no sort of 
attention to them ; but that, as Wilson was evi- 
dently no ordinary man, he should depart from 
his usual course, and vindicate the passages in 
question. Shortly after, Wilson went to Ayr- 
shire, to visit Bums, ^d he always spoke of the 
interview in terms of great delight. It has been 
said, that Wilson was envious of Bums, and that 
their intercourse was suddenly terminated by 
some offensive criticisms on the part of the for- 
mer ; but this story is not confirmed by any good 
Suthority, and it is «ioreover inconsistent with the 
character of Wilson, who, though fiery and pas- 
sionate at tunes, always abounded in admiration 
of excellence, and in every manly and generous 
feeling. His poem called " Watty and Meg^' 
was published without his name, and was at once 
ascribed to Burns; an acknowledgment of his 
merit, which gave Wilson great satisfaction. 

The work which he had previously published, 
was called "Poems, Humoroiis, Satirical, cmd 
Serious, by Alexander Wilson.^^ The book 
went through two small editions in octavo, the 
second of which appeared in 1791. He does not 
seem to have gained any thing whatever by this 
publication. Many years after, he wrote in a 
blank leaf of one of the copies, " I published 



▲ LEXANDEB WILSON. 31 

these poems when only twenty-two, an age more 
abundant in sail than ballast. Reader, let this 
soften the rigor of criticism a little. Dated 
Gray's Ferry, July 6lh, 1804." The great 
difficulty, in all his attempts, is the want of grace 
and freedom in poetical expression. It is true^ 
that he never could have succeeded like Bums in 
lyric poetry ; but he had considerable powers of 
humor, strong feeling, and a correct observation 
of nature, which, had he not been deficient in 
language, must have made him successful in some 
departments of the art. 

The next passage in his history is imfortunate, 
if that can be regarded as a misfortune, which 
was the principal cause of his coming to America. 
The town of Paisley was shaken to its centre 
by a dispute between the manufacturers and the 
weavers. Wilson was induced by his position 
to join the party of the weavers ; and he engaged 
in the conflict, with that determined spirit, which 
£»med a leading feature in his character. Fierce 
and violent were the satires which began to ap- 
pear, and if they had not wit in proportion to 
their fury, they were probably not less accepta- 
ble on this account to his own party ; they ex^ 
pected no light touches to be given by the 
weaver's beam. Naturally indignant at what he 
believed to be oppression, he set no bounds to 
his vengeance, and went so far as to write a most 



22 AMERICAN BIOOaAPfiY. 

severe personal satire on an individual in the place^ 
who was represented by some as a mcmster of 
avarice and extortion, though others speak of 
Ittm as a respectable and well meaning-man. 

Wilson doubtless considered him as deserving 
the full outpouring of bis vial, for he was not 
the man to do injustice to any, except when 
carried away by excessive feelings. But even 
those, who make a point of taking jokes, are v^ 
apt to make a distinct exception of all of which 
they happen to be the subject; and, accordingly, 
he who was the victim of the lampoon, was much 
less delighted with it, than the weavers. The 
piece was published anonymously; and though 
Wilson was suspected of having written it, the 
&ct could not be proved ; till one night, as be 
was returning from the printer's, he was seized by 
some spies, and papers were found upon him, 
which threw sufficient light upon the birthright 
of the poem. He was immediately prosecuted 
before the sheriff, sentenced to a short impris- 
onment, and ccHnpelled to bum the libel at the 
public cross of Paisley with his own hand; 
which last infliction, his tormentors, knowing the 
natural affection of a poet for his own produc- 
tions, thought, and probably were correct in think- 
ing, the unkindest cut of all. The printer was 
also fined for his share in the publication. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 28 

Wilson had no enduring malice in bis com- 
position ; and on this occasion he probably never 
reflected, that ^hat was sport to him and his 
companions, might not be equaUy agreeable to 
the other party. He was also fully convinced 
that the weavers were suffering under gross 
oppres»on, and felt that the extortioner deserved 
aU the chastisement, that he was able to give. 
But he never thought of these productions with 
any satisfaction in his later years. Nor indeed 
was it long, before he was sensible that he had 
injured others ; for before he left Paisley for 
America, being even more ready to acknowledge 
than to inflict the injury, he waited on some of 
those whom he had satirized, and asked them to 
forgive any uneasiness, which his attacks might 
have occadoned. Whether, like Parson Adams, 
they told him, that they would rather be the 
subject than the author of such satires, does not 
appear ; but it seems clear, that the only per- 
manent harm, that was done by them, consisted 
in the unpleasant recollections which were left 
in his own mind. 

Many years after, he sent for his brother 
David to join him in America. When David 
came over, he made a careful collection of these 
pieces, thinking that the author would be gratified 
to see them again. But he received slender 
thanks for the pains he had taken. The moment 



24 AMEBICAN BI06BAPHT. 

he had placed them in his brother's hands, 
Alexander threw them into the fire, saying, 
" These were the sins of my youth ; and, if I had 
taken my good old father's advice, they would 
never have seen the light." This anecdote is 
creditable to the Other's good sense, and equally 
so to Wilson's moral feeling. A great proportion 
of men are innocent, simply because they never 
were tempted; but the man, who can see and 
confess his transgression, and instead of palliating 
it to himself, make use of it as a warning to 
humble his pride, and guard himself firom simihur 
offences, seems far more deservmg of honor, than 
many who never have faUen; and gains wisdom 
from his unpleasant experience, which he. never 
would have had without it. 

This incident was associated with other causes, 
which had some influence in effecting this trans- 
gression, and combined with it to produce a dis- 
gust with his situation and prospects at home. 
The Revolutionary spirit was spreading fixan 
France throughout the nations ; and the star of 
reform, which afterwards turned into blood, was 
at this time, hailed like the star which led the 
eastern sages to the Savior's feet. Thousands of 
men, who were not over-sanguine on other occa- 
sions, believed that the time was come, when 
every valley of poverty and depression should be 
exalted, every mountain of wealth and tyranny b© 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 35 

brought down to a common level, and the reign 
of equal rights and universal peace and happi- 
ness be at once established in the world. Wilson 
associated himself with the friends of popular 
rights, and entered into the cause with his usual 
disinterested and unculculating zeal ; and as his for- 
mer offence, not yet forgotten, had caused him to 
be looked upon with a suspicious eye, as he was 
detested by many, to whom it must be confessed 
be had given sufficient cause, and as he was known 
to be resolute and daring in every thing which he 
undertook, his situation became more and more 
unpleasant every day. Like other sons of toil, 
he was not bound by any very strong ties of 
sentiment to his native land ; and, what is a lit- 
tle remarkable, he does not seem to have formed 
any attachment of the heart, such as bmd men 
Co their home. 

Here perhaps we may trace one cause of his 
want of success in poetry. Bums was always 
in love, and the passion never failed to kindle 
the fire of his genius ; he was enthusiastically 
attached to his native land, 'as appears from his 
expressions at the time when he was expecting 
to leave it forever. But Wilson was more a 
man of enterprise and action, and therefore was 
ft stranger to many of those fine feelings and 
associations, which give men success m poetry, 
imd unfit them, in about the same proportion, for 



96 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

the active business of the world. Wilson does 
not often touch upon the subject; and, when he 
does, it is with the same composure, with wlach 
he would speak of the discoveries in the Aictic 
regions. It is said, that he once kept up a cor* 
respondence with a young lady of some nnk 
and accomplishments ; but it does not appear that 
his heart was ever interested in it ; if it was, it 
certainly was not broken^ 

Having heard favorable accounts of America, 
as a land of plenty and iGreedom, he determined . 
upon the plan of emigrating, some time befiiie 
he put it in execution. But, with a foresight 
not by any means universal among emigrants, 
he considered beforehand by what means he 
should subsist in a foreign country. One of his 
plans seems to have been, to qualify himself 
for some mercantile business, and for this purpose 
he applied to a friend, who kept a school, for 
instruction in the requisite branches ; but afier 
studying one day, he went his way, and his 
teacher saw him no more. The fact was, that 
he had not the means to pay his passage, and the 
only way in which he could supply them was 
by applying himself to the loom. With his 
characteristic determination, be gave up every 
other pursuit, labored with incessant industry, 
and lived upon a system so rigidly economical, 
that, for four months, his whole expenditure did 
not exceed one shilling a week. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 27 

By this exertion he raised the amount re* 
quired, and then waited on his friends, among 
others oa the aforesaid teacher, for the purpose 
(»f biddmg them fiurewell. When this duty had 
been performed, he went on foot to Port Patrick ; 
thence, he crossed to Belfast, in Ireland, where 
he engaged a passage to America, on board the 
i^p Swift of New York, bound to Philadelphia. 
Wfa^n he arrived at Belfast, the vessel had her 
fiill number of passengers ; but, rather than give 
up the opportunity, Wilson consented to sleep 
upon the deck, through the whole passage. 

Of his passage, which, under this arrangement, 
could not have been a very confortable one, we 
know nodaing, but that he arrived on the 14th of 
July, 1794, and began his American life, almost 
as poor as he began his mortal existence. It is 
difficult to tell, whether the light or the strong 
heart is best suited to encounter such difficulties 
as this. Wilson's was never light ; but, however 
it may be in the moment of trial, those who 
have forced their way through obstacles by their 
own manly strength, feel a satisfaction in the re* 
membrance, which the light-hearted, who have 
glided over them, can never know. 

When Wilson landed in this country, he had 
but a few shillings in his pocket, and those bor- 
rowed from a fellow-passenger; he had not a 
tingle letter of introduction, nor one acquaintance^ 



St8 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

to diminish the feelmg of solitude, and give him 
advice and society in a land of strangers. He 
had not even a decided object in view, upon 
which he might concentrate all his exertions. 
But the feeling, that he was in a land of freedom, 
prevented his being oppressed with these em- 
barrassments, which often weigh so heavily on 
men in his situation, that, like birds escaped 
from their cages, they sometimes return to their 
bondage. 

He first touched the . American soil at New^ 
castle, and, with his fowling-piece in his hand, 
prepared to walk to the city. He was deUghted 
with every thmg he saw, and his attention was 
most strongly arrested by the birds, which he met 
with in his way. He shot one of them, a red- 
headed woodpecker, the first which met his eye, 
and often, in later years, he described his de- 
lighted surprise at the sight of this beautifijd 
stranger. This was certainly a fortunate meet- 
ing ; for there is not, in all the forest, a bird more 
likely to attract and engage attention. Nothing 
can exceed the richness of its plumage, of pure 
white contrasted with black with blue reflectionSi 
and surmounted by the bright scarlet of its head. 
Its playful habits of intercourse with its own race, 
and its comical pranks in its concerns with man, 
(X rather with the works of man, are very amus- 
ing to an observer; and if, as Wilson did, he 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 29 

goes on to investigate its peculiar structure, he 
finds much to reward philosophical investigation. 
The long, barbed tongue, which it darts into the 
worm-hole of the tree, to bring out the mining 
grub ; the gland, from which the tongue is mois- 
tened in such a manner, that the insects which 
it touches are lost ; the strong tail-feathers, with 
which it supports itself as it strikes the rattling 
tree with its hammering bill, these, and other pe- 
culiarities of this bird, would excite reflection in 
a man like Wilson. 

That he did become thus interested in this 
bird, is evident from the wrath with which he 
repels Count Buffon's Ubel upon the Wood- 
pecker. That naturalist, writing in this case whol- 
ly from imagination, represents these birds, as 
condemned to lead a mean, gloomy, and hard- 
working life, in a sphere which is bounded by the 
narrow circumference of a tree. Wilson resents 
the misrepresentation, as if one of his friends had 
been tlie subject of it ; and really, if the Count 
had seen this bird, triumphantly stripping the ears 
of green Indian com ; rapping on the shingles of 
the house, as if to perplex the inhabitants within ; 
chasing its felldws, with loud laughs, round the 
branches of a dead tree ; or striking its bill in the 
ripest apple of the garden, and bearing it off 
exulting, he would have been satisfied, that Na- 
ture had not neglected the Woodpecker, in its 



80 AMEBICAH* BIOGBAPHY. 

liberal provision for the wants of the feathered 
race. This incident certainly inspired in Wilson 
a desire to know more of these natives of tb^ 
wood ; but it was a taste which he could see no 
possibility of gratifying at that time, if ever. It 
was necessary to provide for his own subsbtence ; 
for even in the land of plenty, food does not sup- 
ply itself; and the first question was, how this 
should be done. 

We presume that the taste, for which he was 
afterwards so distinguished, was formed at this 
time, because in the year after his arrival, being 
desirous to see the country, he found no means of 
gratifying his curiosity, except by resorting to his 
old employment of a pedler. In the tour, which 
he made in this capacity, he kept a journal, as 
he had formerly done in Scotland ; and it shows, 
that while he took note, as before, of the manners 
of the people whom he met, and the scenery 
which he saw, he was more minute in his ac- 
count of natural productions, and the birds came 
in for their share. 

But when he first arrived in Philadelphia, un- 
willing to return to the loom, he applied to Mr. 
John Aitkin, a copper-plate printer, who gave him 
employment in his own business. This he soqd 
relinquished, and resumed his trade of weaving, 
having made an engagement with Mr. Joshua 
Sullivan, who lived in Pennypack Creek, ten miles 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 31 

&om the city. HaviDg learned that favorable 
prospects were opening to settlers in Virginia^ be 
removed to that state, and took up his residence 
in Sheppardstown. He was dbappointed in his 
success there ; and, findmg that he must weave, 
wherever he was, he returned to Mr. Sullivan 
at Pennypack. His peripatetic experiences in 
this country, though they were not more honored 
than in his native land, were attended with some- 
what more success ; but the profit did not tempt 
him to persevere ; and when he returned from the 
tour which has been mentioned, in which he 
traversed the state of New Jersey, he quietly 
seated himself upon the throne of a village 
school. 

It is honorable to Wilson, that, while thus beset 
by troubles of various kinds, he never failed to 
speak well of the country of his choice. His 
Scotch biographer believes that ^^ he did this, on 
the principle of the fox who had lost his 
tul ; " and evidently thinks, that the part of wis- 
dom would have been, to return to the trap, 
where peradventure he might lose what little yet 
remamed of that appendage. But either this 
pleasing alternative never occurred to Wilson, or 
he thought it certain, that there was no part of 
the habitable globe in which man can be wholly 
secure firom vexations. In his very first letter in 
17d4, he says to his fiiends, that, though the 



32 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

country is not wholly Elysian, it offers great ad- 
vantages to those who are disposed to improve 
them ; and that a weaver from Scotland, if dis- 
posed to be mdustrious, could save at least as 
much as at home, while he lived ten times bet- 
ter. Among other things, it was a pleasure to 
live where good fruit of all kinds abounded, and 
was -not under the guardianship of mastifl^, spring- 
guns, and stone walls. They must expect, he 
says, that transplanting a tree will check its 
growth a little ; but those, who persevere, will do 
well, and may reach mdependence and even 
wealth at last. Whenever he looked on the 
abundant tables everywhere spread, and remem- 
bered the fare of his countrymen, he could not 
help being sad, to think how poorly they were 
provided. 

Though some of his countrymen might think 
it his patriotic duty to be dissatisfied, there is a 
plain good sense in these observations, which is 
better than any amount of sentiment and roman- 
tic feeling. And they show, that, however en- 
thusiastic he was in every pursuit that engaged 
him, he was no visionary in the common affiurs 
of life. In these communications to his friends, 
he gave perfectly just impressions of the country 
of his adoption ; and, had all emigrants been 
equally sensible and candid in describing what 
they had gamed by the change, it would have 



ALEXANDER WILSON^ 33 

prevented much disappointment and suffering; 
for many, misled by the accounts of those who 
conceal their mortification under expressions of 
delight, have been induced to foUow them, and 
on their arrival, not finding that our institutions 
have broken up the necessary connection between 
living and labor, have found themselves as mbera- 
ble and helpless as if drifting in the open sea. 

The profession of a teacher, though not com- 
monly regarded as a subject of human ambition^ 
and by no means honored as the interest of soci- 
ety requires that it should be, was not without its 
benefits to him. His first experiment was made 
upon the Bustletown road, a short distance fix)m 
the town of Frankford, in Pennsylvania. Not 
contented with his situation here, he removed 
to Milestown, where he remained thus engaged 
. for several years, addbg something to the income 
of his school by surveying land for the farmers in 
the neighborhood. No situation, into which he 
could have been thrown, would have served so 
well as this, to make him sensible of the defects 
of his early education, or to put him in the way 
to repair them. Accordingly in his leisure mo- 
ments, he applied himself with great diligence to 
several important studies, and, among other attain- 
ments, acquired a considerable knowledge of 
mathematics. The employment was not seden- 
tary, compared with that of a weaver, and above 

VOL. II. 3 



34 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

that of a pedler it was highly exalted. He sub- 
mitted, with a good grace, to the labor which it 
required, and while professing to instruct others, 
was in fact educating himself for the great under- 
taking, which has made his name immortal. 

While Wilson resided at Milestown, he seized an 
opportunity to make a journey on foot to the Gen- 
esee, in the state of New York, in order to visit 
his nephew, William Duncan. Wilson had been 
enabled, by the aid of Mr Sullivan, to buy a small 
farm in that country, in conjunction with Duncan, 
who lived upon the estate. Mr. Duncan's moth- 
er, and her family of small children, having come 
over to this country, needed some such asylum ; 
and Wilson, who had aided, with that feeling 
which distinguishes his countrjrmen, to procure 
this home for his relations, took this journey on 
purpose to visit them, and do what he was able 
for their welfare. A walk of eight hundred miles 
in that country, even now, would hardly be pro- 
posed as a jaunt of pleasure ; but Wilson com- 
menced his journey with strong heart, in a day 
when roads and accommodations were different 
from what they are now, and returned after an 
absence of twenty-eight days. Mr. Duncan's 
farm was in the town of Ovid, in Cayuga county. 

Many of his letters to this young man are 
preserved, and are exceedingly interestmg as 
exliibitions of his manly character and feeling. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 35 

Sometimes they are sufficiently short and sarcas* 
tic. Speakmg of one of their acquaintance, he 
says, " P. continues to increase in bulk, money, 
and respectability ; a continual stream of elevef^ 
penny-bits running in, and but few running out.'' 
At other times he bursts forth in indignation, 
where some others might have been tempted to 
smile. " When I told R. of his sister's death, 
* I expect so,' said he ; * any other news that 's 
curious ? ' So completely does absence blunt the 
strongest feelings of affection ! May it never be 
so with you and me, if we never should meet 
again. On my part, it is impossible, except 
God, m his wrath, should deprive me of my pres^ 
ent soul and animate me with some other." His 
letters show that his nephew had much to con* 
tend with ; for Wilson tells him, that a fireplace 
must be made without delay, and advises him to 
undertake to build one himself, if masons are not 
to be had. He tells him, that he makes such 
suggestions, not from a doubt of his exerting him-r 
self, but because he is anxious for the health of 
his sister ; and he exhorts Duncan, to do every 
thing in his power, by his own cheerful attent 
tions, to reconcile her to her many hardships and 
privations. 

It would seem, as if his sister's sons, William and 
Alexander, began to be discontented with their 
station; for he often urges upon them the ne- 



36 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

cessity of bearing up with manly firmness under 
their difficulties. '^ It is more healthy, more 
independent, and agreeable, than to be cooped up 
in a dungeon, surrounded by gloomy damps, and 
breathing an nnwholesome air from morning to 
night, shut out firom nature's fairest scenes and 
the pure light of heaven. When necessity de- 
mands such seclusion, it is noble to obey ; but 
when we are left to our choice, who would bury 
themselves ahve? Were my strength equal to 
my spirit, I would abandon my school for ever 
for such an employment as yours." He tells 
them, that when his quarter-day arrives in the 
spring, he will immediately put all the money 
which he receives into their hands. " But Alex- 
ander can get nothing but wheat and butter, for 
all his hogging and slashing ! Never mind, my 
dear namesake, put up awhile with the rough 
fare and rough clothing of the country. Let us 
only get the place into good order, and you shall 
be no los^r by it." It is delightful to hear the 
manly but hearty and affectionate tone, in which 
he encourages these young men, at a time, when 
his own condition was far firom being the most 
inspiring in the world. 

At the same time that he animates them to 
exertion, he urges the eldest, his "dear friend 
and nephew," to give instruction to the younger 
every evening, and not to be discouraged because 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 37 

their progress is necessarily slow. He enjoins 
upon him, also, to be the counseUor of the litde 
colony, and to do all in his power to aid, encour* 
age, and make them happy ; for to have a mother; 
sisters, and brothers lookmg up to him in the 
solitude of a foreign country, places him in a dig-> 
nified point of view, and if he is faithful to them, 
the remembrance will come in later years, as an 
angel of peace to his soul. " Now," he says, 
" do every thing in your power to make the house 
comfortable ; fortify the garrison at every point, 
stop every crevice that may let in the roaring 
northwest, heap up fires big enough for an Indian 
war-feast, keep the flour-barrel full, bake loaves 
like Hamles Head, make the loom thunder, and 
the pot boil, and your snug little cabm reecho 
nothing but sounds of domestic felicity." This 
letter breathes the very soul of generous affection, 
and concludes with, ^* my best love to my sister, to 
IsabeUa, Alexander, John, the two Maries, James, 
Jeanie, little Annie. God Almighty bless you 
aU!" 

Wilson amuses himself very much with Alex-r 
ander's expressions of his feeling. In reply to 
him he says, " I have laughed on every reading 
of your letter. I have now deciphered the whole 
except the blots ; but I fancy they are only by 
way of half-mourning for your doleful captivity 
in the back-woods, where you can get nothing 



38 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

but wheat and butter, eggs and gammon, for hag" 
ging down trees. Deplorable ! what must be 
done ? " But he begs his nephew to consider, 
that, while an old weaver shivers over rotten yam 
and an empty flour-barrel, the old farmer sits in 
his arm-chair, before a blazing Are, with his bams 
and storehouses full. While he writes in a play- 
fiil manner, he does not make light of the young 
man's uneasiness, which was so natural in his 
situation; he allows that there are many and 
great difficulties, but endeavors to impress upon 
him the tmth, that he could not escape them by 
change of place ; the only way to escape was to 
resist them. 

In a subsequent letter to the elder Duncan, 
who complained that he had but Uttle grain to 
carry to market; Wilson makes an interesting 
allusion to Bums, which he well knew was touch- 
ing a key-note, to which every Scotch heart 
would respond. It also shows by its tone, that 
Wilson had not that feeling with respect to Bums, 
with which Cromek has charged him. He tells 
his nephew, that if Robin, when the mice nib- 
bled his com, said, 

" 111 get a blessin with the lave, 
And never miss 't," 

his nephew, whose com had been expended 
in the support of a mother with her children^ 
might expect a thousand blessmgs to Robin's one* 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 39 

<^ There is more true greatness in the afiectionate 
exertions which you have made for their support, 
than all the bloody catalogue of heroes can boast 
of." No reader whose heart is in the right place 
can ever be weary of these beautiful expressions 
of interest and affection ; and it must not be for- 
gotten, that while he was thus sustaining others, 
his own condition was depressing. Peter Pattie- 
son was not the only teacher, who left the stifled 
hum of the school with trembling nerves and 
an aching head. At the time that Wilson was 
complimenting his nephew upon his exertions, he 
himself was straining every nerve to contribute 
to the support of those friends, his nephew 
among the rest. One would suppose, that, if any 
were discouraged, he would be the first to sink 
under a burden, which he bore in addition to no 
trifling weights of his own. 

While he was thus engaged in the service of 
these relations, who had like himself emigrated 
to this country, he never was unmindful of those, 
whom he had left at home. In one of his letters 
to his father, written while he resided in Miles- 
town, after describing at large the state of society 
and manners around him, which, as has been 
already mentioned, he did with a judgment and 
impartiality not often found m those who are 
atuated as he was, he says, ^^ I should be very 
happy, dear parents, to hear from you, and how 



40 AMERiqAN BIOGRAPHY. 

my brothers and sisters are. I hope David will 
be a good lad, and take his father's advice in every 
difficulty ; if he does not, he may regret it bitterly 
and with tears. This is the advice of a brother, 
with whom he has not yet had much time to be 
acquainted, but who loves him sincerely. I 
should wish also, that he would endeavor to 
improve himself in some useful parts of learning, 
to read books of information and taste, without 
which man in any country is but a clodpole ; 
but, beyond every thing else, let him cherish the 
deepest gratitude to God, and affectionate respect 
for his parents. I have thought it my duty, 
David, to recommend these amiable virtues to you, 
because I am your brother, and very probably 
I may never see you. In the experience I have 
had among mankind, I can assure you, that suoh 
conduct will secure you many friends, and sup- 
port you under all your misfortunes ; for, if you 
live, you must meet with them ; they are the lot 
of life." 

Letters like this afibrd such unquestionable 
proof of the goodness of Wilson's heart, that it 
seems hardly necessary to speak of his character, 
so far as respects the kind and social affections. 
But the truth was, that like many other men of 
energy, who have met with difficulties and forced 
their way through them by main strength, he had 
an occasional roughness and severity in his man- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 41 

ners, which sometimes misled careless observers. 
Like many others, who know their own worth, 
and feel that they are condemned to a station 
in life below their merits, he sometimes made 
exhibitions of his independent spirit to those who 
treated him lightly. Knowing that he must stand 
self-sustained, he was not forward to give his con- 
fidence to others. These circumstances and traits 
of character often gave an incorrect impression 
to those who were not familiar with him. But 
all agree that he was upright and generous ; that, 
in his deaHngs with others, he was the very Tsbul 
of honor ; that he was always ready to acknowl- 
edge his faults, and, as far as possible, to repair 
them. Such were the substantial virtues of his 
character, as they appeared to common view; 
and from these letters, it appears, that the parts 
of his history, which, while he was living, the 
world did not know, were consistent with those 
which were seen, and equally worthy of ap-; 
plause. 

The benevolence of those, who give what they 
can easily spare, whose liberality resolves itself 
into a mere indulgence of feeling, which costs 
them nothing in comparison with the pleasure it 
brings, is thrown into deep eclipse, by the gene- 
rosity of one, who, feeling that he had great re-* 
sources within himself, submitted to the weary 
confinement of a village school through many of 



42 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

the best years of his life, and allowed others to 
share, or rather to. enjoy aU the slender profits of 
his labor. To all who have a right perception of 
moral distinctions, he appears even greater, in 
these humble and unseen exertions, than when 
he was afterwards engaged in laying the founda* 
tions of his fame. 

Wilson, after he had remained several yean 
in Milestown, removed to the village of Bloom- 
field in New Jersey, where he again taught in a 
school. Soon after, hearing of a situation more 
to his mmd, he applied to the trustees of Union 
School, in the township of Kingsessing, a short 
distance from Gray's ferry on the Schuylkill ; his 
services were accepted, and he was thus estab- 
lished within a few miles of PhUadelphia. 

From this time, must be dated the beginning 
of his history as an ornithologist ; and it is worthy 
of remark that Audubon whose name is now so 
distinguished, and who is proud to bear testimony to 
the merits of Wilson, caught the same inspiration 
upon the banks of this river. Wilson's school-house 
and home happened to be near the Botanical gar- 
den of Bartram, a name well known to science. The 
femUy which bore this naiie, were by inheritanca 
lovers of nature. John Bartram, whose history 
ended before the Revolution, was pronounced 
by Linnaeus, " the greatest self-taught botanist in 
the world." It is said, that the taste was first in« 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 48 

spired in him, while he pursued his labors as a 
farmer. One day when wearied with ploughing, he 
was resting under the shade of a tree, and his eye 
fell upon a daisy, which excited in him a train 
of reflection. Desiring to know something of its 
history, and of the power which made it, he ap> 
plied himself to the study of Botany, with such 
aids as he could procure, which in that day and 
in his situation were of course very few. The 
taste for improvement thus kindled, became power- 
ful and engrossing ; in the intervals of his labor, 
he made pilgrimages in various parts of the coun- 
try, and even at the age of seventy, he undertook a 
journey to East Florida, which at that time, was 
equal in hardship and danger to a journey at pre- 
sent to. the Rocky mountains. Hector St. John 
describes the patriarchal appearance of his domes- 
tic establishment, particularly when assembled at 
dinner, with the venerable master, his family and 
guests, on one side of the table, and an array of 
lighthearted Africans on the other. 

When he died, his son William succeeded him 
in his tastes and his gardens ; he, like his father, 
did not confine his studies to Botany, but took 
an interest in every department of natural histcxry. 
Before Wilson became a master of Ornithology, 
WiUiam Bartram was probably better acquain- 
ted with birds than any other man in this 
cocmtry ; and was thus qualified to ofi«r that as- 



44 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

sistance and sympathy wluch Wilson needed, and 
which fortunately for both of them and for the 
world, Mr. Bartram had the heart to give. 

It has been said, that Wilson, ever since he 
arrived m the country, had taken an interest in 
the subject of birds; but his own observations 
must have been extremely limited, and there 
were very few who could assist him. It is sur- 
prising to see, how little is generally known con- 
cerning them now, after all that Wilson, Audu- 
bon, and Nuttall have done. Most persons are 
acquainted perhaps with the blue-jay, who comes 
near the house in winter, sounding his penny- 
trumpet as a signal, that, since the forest is no 
longer a place for him, he is disposed to be on 
good terms with man as long as the case re* 
quires. Every miller and vagrant fisherman 
knows the belted kingfisher, who sits for hours 
on his favorite dead branch, looking with his calm 
bright eye far into the depth of the waters. 
The robin also is familiarly known and every* 
where welcome, not only from the tradition of the 
kmdness shown by his European relative to the 
Children in the Wood, but by his hearty whistle, 
lifted up as if he knew all would be glad to hear 
that the winter is over and gone. The solemn 
crow, who is willmg to place confidence in man, 
taking, only the simple precaution never to come 
within shot ; the quizzical bob-o-link, or rice-bunt* 



▲LKXANDER WILSON. 45 

ing, who tells man in so many words, that he 
cares nothing about him, not he ; the swallow, 
that tenants our bams,> or the more domestic one 
that thunders in the chimney; the purple mar- 
tin, that pays his house-rent by waking us hours 
before sunrise ; the snow-bundngthat comes riding 
on the northern storms ; the baltimore, that glances 
through the foliage like a flame of fire; the 
thrasher, that pours his note of rich and delightful 
fulness ; the goldfinch in his black and yellow 
livery; the bold-faced little humming-bird; the 
cat-bird, that groans with reason at the sight of a 
boy, or, when he thinks himself alone, breaks out, 
like Davie Gellatley, in wild snatches of song; 
these birds, and the whip-poor-will, whose sor- 
rows add solemnity even to the night, almost com- 
plete the list of those, which are familiarly known 
to man. 

There are many birds, which are supposed to 
be known, but which, had not the voice of the 
ornithologist been eloquent in their favor, would 
have been perpetually misunderstood, and even 
now are very far from receiving the encourage- 
ment and protection which they deserve. The 
fimner, for example, accuses the woodpecker of 
boring his trees, as if mischief was the bird's only 
object ; when he only enlarges with his bill the 
hole which the grub had made, darts in his long, 
arrowy tongue, brings out the unhappy offender, 



46 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

and teaches him effectually never to do so again. 
Many a poor bird, in like manner, after having 
slain his thousands of insects, which were laying 
waste the garden, is sentenced to death for the 
very offences, which he has spent his life in pre- 
venting. Complaints are annually increasing in 
every part of the United States, that some insect 
or other is increasing with such rapidity, as to 
render hopeless the cultivation of the plants and 
trees which it infests ; and perhaps the very men, 
who make these lamentations, are sending out 
their children, in rejoicing ignorance, to destroy 
the very means, which Providence has appointed 
to abate the nuisance they deplore. It is said by 
Kalm, that the planters in Virginia, succeeded by 
legislative bounty in exterminating the little crow. 
But it was not long before their joy was changed 
into mourning ; the insects increased in such 
numbers, that they would have been glad to recall 
the exiled birds ; but this, though not inconsis- 
tent with state rights perhaps, was far beyond 
state powers. This ignorance is Dlustrateid by an 
incident mentioned by Wilson; the legislature 
of New York passed an act for the preservation 
of the Pinnated Grous, by its common name of 
Heath'hen. The chairman of the Assembly 
read the title of the bill, " An act for the preserw 
vation of the Heathen ; " a thing, which, he says, 
astonished some of the members, who could see 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 47 

no propriety in preserving Indians, to whom alone 
the name would apply. 

There is so much, that inspires curiosity, in the 
various tribes of birds in this country, that it is 
difficult to account for the ignorance which has 
prevailed in respect to them, except by ascribing 
it to the want of a student of nature like Wilson, 
who had industry to collect the observations of 
others, and compare and combine them with his 
own. The periodical migration of birds is curi- 
ous enough to call the most intelligent attention to 
the subject. When the days shorten and the leaf 
grows red, an uncommon movement is seen among 
them. Some, like the great snow-owl, delight in 
the prospect of moonlight, shining in deathlike 
stillness upon the icy plain ; others, like the snow- 
bunting, rejoice to accompany the storm, as it 
rushes down firom the Frozen Ocean. But most 
birds choose a mild climate and perpetual verdure, 
and therefore retreat before the coming winter, 
with a fleetness greater than its own. 

Some, like the swallow, which was formerly 
thought to plunge into the mud, though one 
would think that a bird which can fly sixty miles 
an hour, could find more agreeable ways of pas- 
sing the winter, fly only by day; while others, 
like caravans in the sandy deserts, rest by day, 
and travel by night. They move in singular reg- 
ularity. The wild geese, whose word of command 



48 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

is so often heard in the silence of night, form two 
files meeting in a sharp angle at the head, where 
the leader cleaves the air and guides the pro- 
cession, giving his place when he is weary to the 
next in order. Every thing is subordinate to the 
great work they have in hand; the swallow 
snatches his insect and the kingfisher bis prey 
without suspending their flight ; and, if they are 
late in their journey, they allow themselves hard- 
ly a moment of rest. Hard times are these for 
birds of large size and little wing ; on they must 
go ; partly by trudging, partly by swimming, they 
relieve the labor of flying, till they reach their 
place of rest. Wilson was no stranger to the 
wish which Logan sang, and a thousand hearts 
have echoed, — to travel and return with the 
cuckoo, " which knoweth her appointed time," 
an inseparable companion of the spring. 

It is interesting also, to observe the provision 
which birds make for their wants, and to see how, 
when reason sometimes falters, instinct always acts 
with certainty and success. The nut-hatch opens 
nuts, or the stones of fiiiit, by repeated blows of 
his sharp, homy bill. The butcher-bird, which 
lives on insects and little birds, is said to attract 
the latter by imitating their call, and has a habit 
of impaling on thorns such insects as he does 
not need at the moment. It is a comfort to see^ 
that the trick of gathering what he does not 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 49 

want, and keeping it till it is useless, is not con* 
fined to man. The wfaippoorwiU sits on the 
fence or the door-stone, sin^ng as if his heart 
was broken ; but, if any unguarded insect trusts 
that his appetite has failed, the bird rises and 
swallows him, and then proceeds with the song. 
The raven and the gull, fond of shell-fish, but 
unprovided with oyster-knives, are said to carry 
them high in the air, that they may fall on rocks 
to break the shell. 

The eagle, haughty as he seems, supports 
himself in no honorable way. He sits in gigantic 
repose, calmly watching the play of the fishing 
birds, over the blue reach of waters, with his 
wings loosly raised, and keeping time with the 
heaving sea. Soon he sees the fish-hawk 
plunge heavily in the ocean, and reappear with 
a scream of triumph, bearing the struggling fish. 
The gaze of the eagle grows fiery and intense ; 
his wings are spread wide, and he gives chase to 
the hawk, till he compels him to let fall his prize ; 
but it is not lost; for the eagle wheels in a 
broad circle, sweeps down upon the edge of the 
wave, and secures it, before it touches the deep. 
Nothing can be more majestic than the flight of 
this noble bird ; he seems to move by an eflfort 
of will alone, without the waving of his wings. 
Pity it is, that he should descend to robbery; 
but if history says true, this circumstance does 

VOL. II. 4 



50 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

not wholly destroy the resemblance between the 
king of birds and the kings of men. 

The art which birds display in making their 
nests, is another curious subject, which attracts 
and rewards the ornithologist's attention. The 
nest is not the house of the bird ; it is nothing 
more than the cradle of the young. Birds of 
mature life are exposed to all the changes of cli- 
mate, but are provided with oil to spread upon 
their plumage, which secures it from being wet by 
the rain. It is remarkable, that this supply ceases, 
in a great measure, in such birds as are sheltered 
by the care of man. The nest of the delicate 
little humming-bird is the choicest piece of work 
that can be imagined ; being formed and covered 
with moss in such a manner, as to resemble a 
knot of the tree in which it is built. But even 
this is surpassed by the tailor-bird of India, 
which, living in a climate where the young are 
exposed to all manner of foes, constructs its nest, 
by sewing together two large leaves at the ex- 
tremity of the bough, where neither ape, serpent> 
nor monkey would venture for all beneath the 
moon. 

There is something resembling this in the nest 
of the Baltimore Oriole, a common and favorite 
bird. It is formed, by tying together some forked 
twigs, at the end of a drooping branch, with 
strings, either stripped or stolen from a graft or a 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 51 

vidndow. These twigs form the frame-work, 
round which they weave a coarse covering to en- 
close the nest, composed of thread, wool, or tow. 
The inner nest is at the bottom of this external 
pouch, where it swings securely in the highest 
winds, and is sheltered by the arbor of leaves 
above it, from both the rain and sun. This is the 
most remarkable structure of the kind in this coun- 
try; but, if certam accounts may be credited, 
there is a bird in India, which makes a similar 
nest, vrith several apartments, which it lights up 
with fire-flies by night. Other birds construct 
their nest with less delicacy, but more labor. 
The woodpecker chisels out its gallery in the 
wood of the tree, by repeated strokes of its pow- 
erful bill. The kingfisher scoops out a tunnel in 
the bank of his favorite stream. The little sand- 
martin, in its small way, follows the kingfisher's 
example. The purple martin, and the republi- 
can swallow, which is now emigrating fix)m the 
west to the east, defend their tenements with a 
mud wall. Some birds manifest a perfect indif- 
ference on this subject. The common hen, 
though so motherly in her habits, merely scratch"* 
es a place for her nest. The sea-birds, naturally 
rough and hardy in their habits, leave their eggs 
lying loosely on the sand. But the duck, the ei* 
der particularly, which is one of the northern vi&^ 
iters of New England, strips the down from its 



52 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

own breast to liae the nest for its young. The 
natives plunder the nest ; again it is lined, and 
again it b plundered. Many an individual in civ- 
ilized countries, thus feathers his nest at the ex- 
pense of this unlucky bird. There is one singu- 
lar exception to the rule of honest industry ; the 
cow-blackbird follows the example of the Euro- 
pean cuckoo, and, to avoid the trouble of rearing 
its young, imposes the burden on others. The 
American cuckoo is free from this reproach, and 
actually patches up a constructbn, which, con- 
sidering that it is honestly made, may perhaps de- 
serve the name of a nest. But the cow-bird 
lays its egg in the nests of other birds, without 
much care in the selection ; and when the young 
foundling is hatched, it either stifles or throws 
out the other young. It is difficult to account 
for this strange deviation from the common or- 
der of nature. 

The means of defence and security which birds 
enjoy, are not the least interesting subject to 
which the omithologbt's attention is directed. 
Various provisions of nature are necessary to save 
the weak from the strong. The structure of the 
eye gives an advantage to the cannibal, as well as 
to his victim, being suited in a wonderful manner 
to the wants of the animal, and to the element in 
which he lives. It has an apparatus, by which the 
bird can push it out or draw it in, and thus adjust 



▲LEXANDKR WILSON. 58 

it, like a telescope, to the distance of the object; 
the nictitating membrane covers it with a semi- 
transparent curtain, when it would reduce the 
light without closing the lid ; the nerve b quick in 
its sensibility to every impression, and birds are 
thus enabled to discern msects close before them, 
and look abroad over miles of earth and sea. 
The fish-hawk sees the fish at an immense dis- 
tance beneath it in the waters ; and others dis- 
cern their prey on the ground or flying, where a 
similar object would be wholly invisible to the hu- 
man eye. 

In order to save the nest of the smaller birds, 
the females are generally of a color the least like- 
ly to attract attention ; the female of the brilliant 
Scarlet Tanager, for example, is of a yellowish 
green, which would not be noticed among the 
leaves. Some of the smaller birds borrow reso- 
lution from their danger. The gracefiil kingbird, 
whose military tastes are intimited by the 
red plume under his crest, will face the largest 
tyrant of the air ; and not only crows and hawks, 
but even eagles, have been known to retreat be- 
fore himi When the smaller birds thmk it un- 
mse to do battle, they retire under hedges and 
brushwood, while the hawk looks after them, as 
the British frigates did after the little Greek cor- 
sadrs, not knowing whether tfaley bad 'passed into 
thd earth or the air ; while they were quietly sunk 



54 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

near (he shore, ready to float again, as soon as the 
danger was past. Sometimes they rush out to . 
meet the bird of prey, and, by crowding round 
him with all possible uproar, they bewilder him, 
in such a manner that he retreats in confusion. 

• 

Some birds are protected by their resem- 
blance to the bark of the tree ; ;the nighthawk 
and whippoorwill escape unplea^t observation 
in the day-time, by their resemblance to earth 
and stones. The quail gives the alarm of ap-^ 
proaching danger to her numerous family, who se- 
cure themselves by remaining quiet, and the clos^ 
est search can hardly detect them, such is their 
likeness to the dead leaves among which they 
nestle. In desperate cases, birds will put them- 
selves under the protection of man ; but they evi- 
dently consider this a choice of evils. It is this 
fear of man, whom they certainly have reason to 
distrust, which makes it so difficult to trace the 
characters of many birds. The crow in his wild 
state is suspicious and reserved; every string 
near the cornfield, seems to him like a snare ; be 
keeps beyond the reach of a man with a fowling- 
piece, while he shows no fear of one who is un- 
armed. When domesticated, he lays aside his 
solemnity, and becomes as mischievous as a mon- 
key ; showing, in all his pranks, astonishing sa- 
gacity in selecting the subject and occasion. 

The voice is the power which gives most gen- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 55 

eral attraction to the feathered race ; and this 
depends very much on the quickness of their 
hearing, in which respect thejr excel most other 
animals. Their lungs are large in proportion to 
the body, which is so formed as to receive copious 
admissions of air, which increases the energy of 
the sound. The distance at which the soaring 
bird can be heard is almost incredible. The cry 
of the eagle reaches us from his most towering 
height, and the wild scream of the sea-bird is dis- 
tinctly heard over all the thunder of the beach. 
The variety of tones is not less surprising; the 
common barn-door fowl, by far the most distin- 
guished in this respect, is ludicrously human in 
its tones, which run through all changes expressive 
of passion, and are most eloquent in discontent, 
anxiety, sorrow, and despair. But the smaller 
birds are those which fill the forest and the garden 
with their spirit-like song. Their strains are 
poured out to swell that stream of blended melodies, 
which is called the voice of spring ; a voice, full 
of pleasing and tender associations, which comes 
upon the ear, reminding us of all we love to re- 
member, and often fills the soul with rapture and 
the eyes with tears. No country is richer in mel- 
ody than this. The European nightingale has long 
been considered unrivalled ; but it is now conced- 
ed, that his strain owes something of its charm to the 
thoughtful hour when it is heard, when the sounds 



56 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

of the day are over, and all is breathless and still. 
But the American mocking-bird, so unworthily 
named, since he introduces imitations of other 
tnrds into his voluntary, not from poverty of in- 
vendon, but rather from wantonness, and to show 
how much his own power surpasses them aD, 
seems more like a rapt enthusiast, than a p»- 
former ; as those know, who have seen him in 
his matins with every nerve apparently trem- 
bling with delight, and resembling St. Ignatius, 
who, as Maffei says, was often lifted some feet 
above the ground, by the intenseness and spiritu- 
ality of his devotions. 

These fine powers of song are not confined to 
one or two birds ; where the mocking-bird b 
never heard, there are strains, not so various and 
striking perhaps, but equally plaintive, original, 
and sweet. The clear piping of the baltimore, 
and the canary-like whistle of the goldfinch, are 
as pleasing to the ear, as their fine colors to the 
eye ; the glowing redbird, is not more distin-* 
guished by the splendor of his dress, than the 
wealth and fulness of his song. The brown 
thrasher excites the delighted surprise of aU who 
hear him ; and nothing perhaps exceeds the deli- 
cious note of the warbling vireo and the red-eye, 
whether heard over the rattling streets of the city, 
or from the quiet elm that overhangs the cottage 
door. Every one enjoys the song of the blue- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 57 

bird and the robin ; in part, perhaps, because they 
come as heralds of the spring. 

So little attention has been paid to the subject 
of Ornithology, that the remarks just made for 
the purpose of giving an idea of its attractions, 
will not be thought unnecessary by many readers. 
Mr. Bartram seems to have possessed but few 
works upon the subject ; but he had, what was 
more important to Wilscj^n, taste and judgment 
to assist and advise him 'in the pursuit to which 
his mind now began to be directed. Wilson's 
work was afterwards enriched with many of his 
observations, and they are often given with con- 
siderable descriptive power. For example, in 
speaking of the White Ibis, Mr. Bartram says, 
" It is a pleasing sight, at times of high winds 
and heavy thimder-storms, to observe the nume- 
rous squadrons of these Spanish curlews, driving 
to and fro, turning and tacking about high in 
the air ; when, by their various evolutions in the 
different and opposite currents of the wind, high 
in the clouds, their silvery white plumage gleams 
and sparkles like the brightest crystal, reflecting 
the sunbeams that dart upon them from between 
the dark clouds." It is easy to understand how 
Wilson should be interested by the example of 
such an observer. But, with all the respect 
which he paid to the opinions of his venerable 
friend^ Wilson was not the man to rely on any 



58 AMEBICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

observations but his own, or such as he had him- 
self confirmed. 

Mr. Bartram had been in the habit, for exam- 
ple, of considering the nighthawk and whippoor- 
will as the same bird, and Professor Barton of 
Philadelphia agreed with him in that opinion. 
Wilson, instead of considering the point as es- 
tablished, took pains to shoot thirteen night- 
hawks, all which he carefully examined and dis- 
sected. Nine were males, and four females. He 
found that they aU corresponded in the markmgs 
and tints of their plumage, with a slight diffe- 
rence between the sexes. He also shot two 
others as they rose from their nests or rather their 
eggs, which are laid without much formality on 
the naked ground; and these were also exam- 
ined and dissected. He then proceeded to shoot 
four whippoorwills, two males and two females, 
all which he examined, together with the eggs of 
the latter. In this way he ascertained that the 
whippoorwills all had bristles by the sides of the 
mouth, while the nighthawks had none ; that the 
bill of the whippoorwill was more than twice as 
long as that of the nighthawk ; and that, while 
the wings of the nighthawk were large and long, 
such as favored it in its habit of feeding in its 
flight, the wings of the whippoorwill, when folded, 
did not reach within two inches of the end of the 
tail. Thus Wilson satisfied himself upon the 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 59 

subject, and was fortunate enough to bring his 
friend to acknowledge that they were two distinct 
species of birds. 

As another instance of the little respect which 
Wilson was disposed to pay to mere authority, 
his remarks concerning the torpidity of swallows 
during winter may be mentioned. The opinion 
was very general in his lime, that swallows, at 
the approach of the cold season, plunged into 
mill-ponds and rivers, and passed the winter be- 
neath the waters, whence they emerged in the 
spring, not drowned as might be supposed, but, 
on the contrary, much refreshed by their long 
slumber. There are papers in the Transactions of 
our learned societies, which show that this opin- 
ion was sustained by some enlightened observers ; 
and even now, though it is known that swallows 
have organs of respiration similar to those of other 
birds, and though no bird is better able to en- 
counter the labor of migration, since it collects 
its food while on the wing, and is never weary in 
its flight, there are those in many parts of this 
country, who are ready to die in the belief, that 
they bury themselves under the waters. A thou- 
sand stories are told, of vast numbers of swallows 
which are found in draining mill-ponds ; and this 
circumstance is thought sufficient evidence of the 
fact of their submersion, though it does not ap- 
pear, that the labors of any Humane Society 



60 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ever restored one from this state of suspended 
animation, and the natural inference would be, 
that it was suspended for ever. 

Wilson had no patience with this credulity; 
that this lively bird, the gayest herald of spring, 
should share the winter-quarters of eels and tui>- 
tles, or even herd with toads and serpents on 
the shore, seemed to him like an enormous her- 
esy in the religion of nature. That the chimney- 
swallow, in the early part of the season, had 
been found in great numbers in hollow trees, he 
did not deny; but he accounted for it satis&o- 
torily, by supposing, that soon after their arrival, 
they might be chilled by the cold mornings of 
spring, and thus have been driven to some such 
retreats; but he demanded an example of one, 
which had been found torpid in the winter. 
Millions of trees, such as afibrd them shelter, 
have been cut down at that season, and not a 
single swallow has ever been found. If it were 
said, that they resorted to caverns, he had ex- 
plored many of them, particularly the great cav- 
erns in the Barrens of Kentucky, and had con- 
versed with the saltpetre-workers in them, but 
never could hear of a single swallow, which had 
made them the place of its winter residence. 
Wilson also explored hundreds of the holes of 
the bank-swallow, but never could find one in 
them in the winter, living or dead ; after many 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 61 

researches and inquiries of the kind) he declared 
that he would no more believe such stories, than 
be would believe that there were Indians who 
passed the winter at the bottom of the great 
rivers, and came to life again every spring. 
Though Aristotle and Pliny in old times, and 
sundry modem naturalists, believed in the torpid- 
ity of swallows in trees and caves ; though Lin-* 
naeus had faith in their wintry submersion ; though 
Wallerius asserted that he had often seen them, 
after singing a funeral dirge, embrace each other 
and plunge beneath the water, these great au- 
thorities were nothing to him ; his experience 
and observation were his only guides. 

The marvellous power of fascination, by which 
serpents were said to make birds their victims, 
was another popular opinion, in which he had no 
faith whatever. He had seen many conflicts be- 
tween the cat-bird, which is the one supposed to 
have suffered most from this power, and the black 
snake, which is supposed to have exerted it ; and 
so far from being disabled by fear, the cat-bird 
provoked the battle, and was often victorious. 
His explanation was, that serpents have a strong 
partiality for the eggs and young of birds, and 
that the nests of cat-birds, which build near the 
ground, are most exposed to their depredations. 
When the poor bird sees the snake plundering its 
nest, it may well exhibit the agony of despair, as 



62 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

it often does on less important occasions ; but that 
it is sucked dovm from the tops of trees (which 
by the way it seldom visits) by the yawning 
mouth of the snake, he declares, is " an absurdity 
too great for him to swallow." He admits, that 
the serpent sometimes wounds birds, and that 
they are stunned or paralysed by the blow ; and 
he beUeves, that this is sufficient to explain all 
the strange accounts that have been given of this 
imaginary power. This, as Lacepede supposes, 
may cause its agitation, and its helpless fall at 
last. 

Some naturalists of high distinction at the 
present day are disposed to regard the subject as 
not quite determined, and to suppose that birds 
may be affected, not by any power in the serpent, 
but by a passion of dread ; but in answer to this, 
it is sufficient to say, that the cat-bird is bold as 
a lion, and gives battle to his enemy, without the 
least fear of the result. Mr. Bartram witnessed 
an action in his garden between these two con- 
tending parties ; and after the engagement had 
lasted some minutes, the snake was seen in full 
retreat. The conclusions, to which Wilson was 
led by his own good sense and accurate observa^ 
tion, are generally adopted at this time by the 
learned world. 

It is not to be regarded as a misfortune, that 
Mr. Bartram's library did not abound in works 



ALEXANDEB WILSON. 63 

on ornithology, since those which it afforded were 
sufficient to give Wilson an idea of the science, 
and to direct him in making observations for him- 
self. Facts, not theories, were wanted ; the sci- 
ence, in this country, presented a field almost en- 
tirely untrodden ; and the best, indeed all, that the 
first adventurer could be expected to do, was to 
collect his own observations, to be corrected or 
confirmed by subsequent researches, as the case 
might be. It appears that the system of field- 
study was suited to Wilson's health, as well as to 
his improvement ; for his confinement to the close 
air and weary routine of a village school had be- 
gun to wear upon his nerves and spirits. His 
Edinburgh biographer ridicules the idea of Wil- 
son's depression, thinking doubtless, that the 
brilliant prospects of fortune and fame presented 
by a country school, would have prevented any 
such sinking of the heart ; but, however plausi- 
ble bis view of the subject may be, it seems proba- 
ble, that Wilson's daily associates would be most 
likely to know his situation. His finends say, that 
he was melancholy and despondent, and that this 
tendency was increased by his devotion to poetry 
and music, in which he spent most of his leisure 
time. 

Mr. Lawson, the engraver, judiciously advised 
him to give up the flute and the pen for a time, 
and to study the art of drawing, as well adapted 



64 ^MEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

to his habits and inclinations, and suited to 
store the health of his mind. Wilson mentioned 
afterwards to one of his friends, that, while he was 
one day rambling in the woods with his gun, it 
accidentally sUpped from his hand, and as he at- 
tempted to recover it, the piece was cocked, and 
the muzzle fell against his breast, in such a man- 
ner as to endanger his life ; and that he after- 
wards shuddered to think of the reproach, under 
which his memory would have labored, had he 
been found dead in that retired spot. This in- 
duced him to make exertions to throw off the bur- 
den from his mind ; he applied himself with spirit 
to his new employment, copying prints of land- 
scapes, animals, and men. For a long time, he 
was condemned to that misfortune, so grievous 
to beginners, of being compelled to laugh at his 
own productions ; but, when he made trial with 
birds, he met with more encouraging success, and 
soon became able to execute such drawings with 
considerable grace and power. 

That he succeeded to his own satisfaction in 
these attempts, appears from a note to Mr. 
Bartram in 1803, in which he says, " I have at- 
tempted two of those prints which Miss Nancy, 
[Mr. Bartram's niece] so obligingly, and with so 
much honor to her own taste, selected for me. 
I was quite delighted with the anemone, but I 
fear I have made but bungling work of it. Such 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 65 

as they are, I send them for your inspectkm 
and opinion ; neither of them is quite finished. 
For your kind advice towards my improvement, 
I return my most grateful acknowledgments." 
But he wrought under many disadvantages, not 
tlie least of which was the necessity of drawing 
by candle-light, the duties of his school consuming 
almost all the hours of day. He was obliged 
also to give up social enjoyments for the purpose 
of improving in his new vocation. i 

At first, his attention was turned to natural his- 
tory in general, as appears from a letter to Mr. 
Bartram, in which he describes the state of his 
own aps^rtment crowded with opossums, squirrels, 
snakes, lizards, and birds, in such numbers, that 
they gave it the appearance of Noah's ark, though 
Noah had a wife in it, and was in that respect 
more favored than he. While others were busy in 
getting money, his heart was bent on gaining a 
familiarity with the works of nature. Though 
specimens did not come of their own accord to 
his ark as to that of the patriarch, he found that 
small donations, judiciously applied, had sufficient 
power to attract them ; and he says, in proof of it, 
that one boy, knowing his taste, had brought him 
a whole basketful of crows. One little incident 
is so beautifully illustrative of his character, that 
it must be given in his own words. " One of 
my boys caught a mouse in school a few days 

VOL. II. 5 



66 AMERICAN BI06BAPHT. 

ago, and directly marched up to me with ha 
prisoner. I set about drawing it that same 
evening ; and, all the while, the pantings of its 
little heart showed, that it was in the most ex- 
treme agonies of fear. I had intended to kill it 
in order to fix it in the claws of a stufied owl ; 
but happenmg to spill a few drops of water where 
it was tied, it lapped it up with such eagerness, 
and looked up ih my face with such an expression 
of supplicating terror, as perfectly overcame me. 
I immediately untied it and restored it to life and 
liberty. The agonies of a prisoner at the stake, 
while the fire and instruments of torture are pre- 
paring, could not be more severe than the suffer- 
ings of that poor mouse ; and, insignificant as the 
object was, I felt at that moment the swe^t 
sensations that mercy leaves on the mind, when 
she triumphs over cruelty." Doubtless there 
are readers who would laugh at such feelings; 
but, if they will reflect, they will see, that it is 
no subject of rejoicing, that they have not been 
created with minds and hearts, capable of sympa* 
thizing with such a man as Wilson. 

It seems to have been in the year 1803, that 
the plan of an American Ornithology first dawned 
upon his mind ; not however in its full extent and 
magnificence, for these could hardly have en- 
tered into his wildest ima^ations. He writes to 
a fiiend in Paisley, that his health had suffered 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 67 

from confinement, his fonner habits not having 
prepared him for the severe regularity of a teach* 
er's h'fe, and that, after trjdng various kinds of 
amusement, he was engaged in making a cdlec* 
tion of the finest American birds. He first stated 
his plan to Mr. Bartram, who had full confidence 
in his ability and perseverance, but doubted 
whether he would find sufficient patronage or 
mechanical skill in the country, and could not 
conscientiously advise his fiiend to involve him- 
self in embarrassments, which he might never be 
able to struggle through. Wilson also disclosed 
his intentions to Mr. Lawson, a name which has 
long been honorably associated with his own ; he 
also, being iircun his profession better qualified to 
judge of the practicability of the enterprise, fireely 
stated to Wilson the precise difficulties he would 
have to encounter. But his objections were 
completely overruled by the ardor of his fiiend, 
who felt fiilly able to remove the obstacles that 
rose like mountains before him. 

His Edmburgh biographer complains of this 
discouragement, saying that such is always the 
CBse^ when ordinary men undertake to decide 
what men of genius are able to perform. But 
^idien Wilson was so excited on the subject, that 
he treated their cautions as the result of ^^ cool, 
calculatbg, and contemptible philosophy," it was 
evidently the part of fiiendship and good sense, 



68 AMEBICAN BiOGRAPHT* 

to let him know the measure and magnitude of 
the undertaking ; and, when he was poor in cir- 
cumstances and depressed in spirits, to prevent 
his being hurried, by his enthusiasm, into effints 
beyond his power. It is plain, that they en- 
couraged him in his attention to the science, and 
the only question was, in what form the results 
could be given to the world, with the least injury 
to his fortunes, and the greatest advantage to his 
fame. He seems afterwards apprehensive lest 
Mr. Lawson should think him unfriendly, and 
takes pains to explain to him, that the passion 
for drawing, which he had caught from himself, 
consumed every moment of time, not required by 
the drudgery of the school. In the same com- 
munication, he begs Mr. Lawson not to throw 
cold water upon his plan of making a collection 
of all the North American birds; for, visionary 
though it may appear, it has become a "rough 
bone," upon which he employs himself to fill up 
his vacant hours. 

His letters to Mr. Bartram at this time show 
how fixed was his determination to proceed; and 
while it is evident that their advice, under the 
circumstances, was such as any friend would have 
given, no one can help admiring the quiet con- 
fidence in his own resources, which his purpose 
discovers. He tells Mr. Bartram, that the face 
of an owl and the back of a lark have proved 



ALEXANDER WILSON* 69 

entirely beyond his graphic powers ; and, after 
having spent a week on two drawings of the last 
named object, he has destroyed them, and must 
resort again to the aid of Miss Nancy, finding it 
much easier to copy her painting, than to copy 
directly firom nature. His collection of native 
birds, he says, is growing ; but, at the same time, 
he requests Mr. Bartram to write the names of 
all the birds upon the drawings which he sends, 
since f toith the exception of three or four, he does 
not know them. Surely, for one, who makes this 
request, to be at the same time engaged in 
projecting an American Ornithology, would have 
been thought presumptuous enough, if the attempt 
had not succeeded. 

In another letter, he offers his sympathy to 
that gentleman, who was sufiering under a severe 
domestic loss. He is sorry, he says, that the 
misfortune has fallen on such a man, while the 
profligate and unthinking so often pass through 
life without such visitations ; but he reminds his 
fiiend, that 'the affliction is meant in kindness by 
Him who. sent it; he begs him to remember, 
how many beautiful flowers have withered under 
his eye, and how often an untimely frost has de- 
stroyed the early promise of the year ; and, while 
the feelings of nature cannot be repressed, the 
duty of man is to receive gratefully what Heaven 
.bestows, and what it has left us, and not to mourn, 



70 AMERICAN BIOOB^AFHY. 

as without hope> for those l^ssings which an 
taken way. 

This religious feelbg was not assumed fiur the 
occasion ; there is evidence enough, though he 
was not forward to express his deeper emotions, 
to show, that these sentiments were fiuniliar in 
Ibs breast. In truth, he would have been une^ial 
to his undertaking without them, both as a natu- 
ralist and as a man. For it is the glory of mod- 
ern science, that it is decidedly religious in its 
character. The philosopher is not even satisfied 
vnth finding marks of design in the subjects of 
his investigation; he does not consider himself 
as acquainted with their nature, till he has sought 
for what he is sure of finding, some design of 
benevolence, such as might be expected from a 
mercifiil Father. Wilson had this qualification for 
his undertaking, and it is pleasing to find the same 
trait in Audubon, his worthy successor. In the 
same letter, to which allusicm has just been made, 
he rejoices in the return of spring with its music, 
its foliage, and its flowers. He says that the 
pencil of nature is at work, and oullmes, tints, and 
shadows, that baffle all description, will soon be 
spread out before the eye of man, by this un?- 
wearied kindness of his Father. He calls on 
his fiiends to look upon the millions of green 
strangers, just starting into life, as so many me&- 
smgers, come to tell the power and greatness of 



ALEXANBEB WILSON. 7| 

Him who made them ; for himself, he says, he 
was always ap enthusiast in such things, but now 
be discovers new beauties in every bird, plant, 
and flower, and finds his ideas of the First Cause 
contipually more and more exalted. 

As he grows more familiar with the science to 
wUoh he has given his heart, his religious rev- 
ereQce enlarges in proportion. He says, that 
our ornithology, with its rich display of splendid 
colors, from the hummmg-bird with its green 
and gold, to the black, coppery wings of the con- 
dor, that sometimes visits our northern regions ; — 
^ numerous and powerful band of songsters un- 
surpassed on earth for melody, variety, and sweet- 
ness ; — an everchanging scene of migrations, firom 
torrid to temperate, and from northern to southern 
regions ; -— such a diversity in habits, forms, dispo- 
^itions, and powers, each exactly suited to the 
wants and happiness of those that possess them ; — - 
all these circumstances, he says, " overwhelm us 
with astonishment at the power, wisdom, and be- 
neficence of the Creator ! " 

Before proceeding to the history of Wilson's 
life, which here assumes a new aspect, and takes 
a new direction, it may be well to give a more 
minute account and illustration of this, and other 
traits of mind, heart, and character, by which he 
was eminently qualified for his enterprise ; nor 
can such an account be said to interrupt the course 



72 AMEBICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

of a narrative, the purpose of which is, to give 
as correct an idea as possible of the man. The 
religious feeling, which has just been referred to, 
is exhibited, not by direct expression, not by 
censuring the olBTences of other men, but in the 
most appropriate way, by gathering wherever he 
can find them, and setting in as striking a light as 
possible, those marks of the adaptation of the 
world to its inhabitants, and again of those inha- 
bitants to the world, which inspire admiration 
and praise. 

He was struck with a circumstance of this kind 
in the RulBTed Grous, which is called the Partridge 
in the Eastern States, while the real owner of 
that name is called the Quail. In walking one 
day in the woods, he started a hen pheasant with 
a single young one. In common cases, the bird 
flutters as if wounded, to attract the attention of 
the sportsman, while the young conceal them- 
selves in the withered leaves. But on this occa- 
sion, the parent, after fluttering before him for an 
instant, suddenly sprang to the young one, seized 
it in its bill, and bore it safely away, leaving him 
fixed to the ground with surprise. It seemed 
like an efiTort of reasoning, and that, too, judicious 
and conclusive. If the bird had been attended, 
as usual, by a large brood, it would have been 
impossible to save all in this way, nor would it 
have been natural to save one, leaving the rest to 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 73 

die. But in this case, she adopted the most sim- 
ple and efiectual means to preserve the single one, 
that was endangered. This efibrt of instinct 
filled him with admiration, and he probably 
speaks the feelings of his readers, when he says, 
that this affectionate parent would never have 
been injured by him. 

Once, when travelling in Tennessee, he was 
struck with the manner in which the habits of 
the Pinnated Crous are suited to its natural resi- 
dence on dry, sandy plains. One of them was 
kept there in a cage, having been caught alive in 
a trap ; it was observed that the bird never 
drank, and seemed rather to avoid the water ; but 
a few drops happening one day to fall upon the 
cage, and to trickle down the bars, the bird 
drank them with great dexterity, and an eager- 
ness, that showed that she was suffering from 
thirst. The experiment was then made, whether 
she would drink under other circumstances, and, 
though she lived wholly on dry Indian com, the 
cup of water for a whole week was untouched 
and untasted ; but the moment water was sprin- 
kled on the bars, she drank it eagerly as before. 
It occurred to him at once, that in the natural 
haunts of this bird, the only water it could pro- 
cure was from the drops of rain and dew. 

He ^ves yet another example, which, like the 
former, would form a valuable accession to a 



74 AMERICAN BIO6RAP0T. 

work on natural theology. It is the formation oC 
the sheerwater's bill. This has been pronouncecl 
by some writers a " lame and defective weapon*" 
But Wilson declares this opinion to be dictatfKl 
by ignorant presumption. The sheerwater, oi 
black-skimmer, b formed, he says, for skimming 
the surface of the sea for its food while flying, 
and in this way it collects shrimps and other 
small fry, whose haunts are near the surface andi 
the shore. That the lower mandible, when tbi99 
cleaving the water, may not oppose resistance to 
its flight, it is thinned and sharpened like th^ 
blade of a knife ; the upper mandible, which is out 
of the water, is not so long, but tapers gradually 
to a point, that, when shutting, it may ofier less 
opposition ; and it shuts into the lower^ like the 
blade of a penknife in its handle. To prevent 
inconvenience from the rushing of the water, thq 
mouth is confined to the mere opening of the gul-' 
let, and, the whole office of mastication being thus 
left to the stomach, it is furnished with a gizzard 
of uncommon hardness and power. By explana^ 
tions of this kmd, of which he furnishes many, hci 
afibrds many beautiful examples to be added to 
the evidence, which now exists, of the perfecUon 
of the works of the Almighty hand. 

Another characteristic, not unallied to this, and 
one which also qualified him in a remarkable 
manner for his undertaking, was the delicacy and 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 75 

kindness of hb feeUng. He regards the subjects 
of his art as £riends, not as victims ; and^ in all Us 
writings, takes every opportunity of recommend- 
ing them to the kindness and fcorbearance of 
men. The interest, which he manifested in be* 
half of the injured woodpecker, has already been 
mentioned ; this pleading is several times repeat- 
ed ;< he asks, why the benevolent provision of 
Scripture, which reserved to the ox a right in 
the com which he trod out on the threshing-floor, 
should not be extended to these birds, which are 
constantly engaged, each in slaying its thousands 
of destructive vermin, and thus securing the field 
and garden from depredation. He shows that the 
curious perforations, which the little downy wood- 
pecker makes in the bark of fruit-trees, are of 
service to its growth and bearing ; and, so far frcnn 
exhausting the sap, as is commonly thought, these 
holes are made, never in the spring, when the sap 
b abundant, but late in the autumn, when it b 
ceasing to flow. 

In favor of the orchard-oriole, he shows, that, 
while he destroys insects without number, he nev- 
er injures the fruit; he has seen instances in 
which the entrance to his nest was half closed up 
with clusters of apples, but so far from bemg 
tempted with the luxury, he passed them always 
with gentleness and caution. He enters mto a 
deliberate calculaticm of the exact value of the 



76 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

services of the redwinged blackbird, which cer- 
tainly bears no good reputation on : the : farm ; 
showing, that allowing a single bird fifty, insects in 
a day, which would be short allowance, a single 
pair would consume twelve thousand in four 
months ; and if there are a million pairs of these 
birds in the United States, the amount of insects 
is less by twelve thousand millions, than if the 
red-wing were exterminated. 

He was delighted to see the hospitality, which 
the Indians extended to the purple martin, hang- 
ing up gourds and calabashes to receive them I 
and to find, that the slaves on the plantations fol- 
lowed the same good example, setting. up the 
same retreats on canes near the doors of their 
cabms, where the martms resorted with great fa- 
miliarity. 

He once encountered an old German, who ac- 
cused the kmgbird of destroying his peas. Wil- 
son indignantly denied the charge, maintaining 
that they never eat a pea in their lives ; but 
the old man declared, that he had with his own 
eyes seen them " blaying about the hifes and 
snapping up his pees." The fact of their depre- 
dations on the bee-hive he could not honestly 
deny ; but he contends, that there is no reason 
why man should enjoy a monopoly of murder, 
and shows, that the charge comes with an ill grace 
fix)m those who destroy the same insects by thou-* 



ALEXANDER WILSON. T7 

sands, in order to steal the fruits of their labor* 
He undertakes to combat the prejudice, which is 
so common against the harmless cat-birds, and 
evidently thinks them much better members of 
society than the idle boys, who make it their busi- 
ness to destroy them. He says, that the only 
reason of this prejudice, ever offered to him, was, 
that they hated cat-birds ; so, he says, some will 
say, that they hate Frenchmen, &c., thereby 
showing their own narrowness of understanding 
and want of liberality. In his opinion, all the 
generous and the good will find in the confidence 
which this familiar bird reposes in them, in the 
playfulness of its manners, and the music of 
its song, more than a recompense for what little 
it destroys. 

On one occasion, a wood-thrush, to whose de- 
lightful melody he had often Ustened, till night 
began to darken and the fire-flies to sparkle in the 
woods, was suddenly missing, and its murder was 
traced to the hawk, by the broken feathers and 
fragments of the wing ; he declares, that he so- 
lemnly resolved, the next time he met with a 
hawk, to send it to the shades, and thus discharge 
the duty assigned to the avenger of blood. 

When he was on the voyage to this country, 
he labored to convince the seamen, that the little 
petrel, which walks the waters with so much more 
confidence than the Apostle Peter, ailer whom 



78 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

Buffi)n tells us it is named, is innocent of all ac- 
cession to the storm. In some cases he seems 
quite willing to suffer vulgar prejudices to subsist, 
because they are on the side of humanity. A 
German, whom he encoimtered in one of his 
rambles, told him, that no bam which the swal- 
lows frequented, was ever struck with lightning, 
and that if they were shot, the cows would give 
Uoody milk ; he took special care not to disturb 
him in his superstition. He delights to approve 
acts of delicate humanity in others. He once, 
in passing through the woods, caught a young 
scarlet tanager, that had but just left the nest; 
be carried it with him about half a mile to show it 
to Mr. Bartram, who placed it in a cage near 
the nest of some orchard-orioles, hopmg that they 
would be induced by charity to provide it with 
food. They, however, thought, as men are too 
apt to do in such cases, that charity begins at 
home. It would receive no food from him, and 
was in a fair way to perish, when, after the lapse 
of several hours, a scarlet tanager, doubtless its pa- 
rent, was seen trying to open the cage. Finding 
this impossible, it went away, and returned with 
food, and fed it till after sunset, when it took up 
its lodgings in the same tree. In the morning, 
it fed the young again, and continued, undisturbed 
by the abuse of the orioles, to do the same 
throughout the day, roostmg at night as before* 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 79 

On the fourth day, it appeared so anxious for the 
release of the young one, and made so many ap- 
peals to the sympathy of the naturalist, that he 
ccmld not resist it ; he therefore released the pris- 
oner, which, with songs of exultation, flew oflf 
with its parent to the woods. The happiness of 
the naturalist was hardly less complete. Wikon 
remarks, <^ if such sweet sensations can be derived 
from a simple circumstance of this kind, how ex- 
quisite, how unspeakably rapturous, must the de- 
light of those individuals have been, who have 
rescued their fellow-beings from death, chains, 
and imprisonment, and restored them to the 
arms of their friends ; surely, in such godlike 
actions, virtue is its own most abundant reward." 
Besides these qualifications for engaging with 
interest in the pursuit, he had other requisites for 
pursuing it with success. He had a strong taste 
for experiment ; and, as he was never willing to ad- 
mit any uncommon facts, except when confirmed 
by his own experience, he was constantly en- 
gaged in experimental researches. Even in cases 
where there were no doubts in his own mind, he 
made experiments for the satisfaction of others. 
An instance of this kind is found in his account of 
the beautiful Carolina parrot, which is thought to 
poison cats, that are unfortunate enough to eat it, 
though it is certain that the cats betray no such 
apprehensions, as one might expect from an inter- 



t 



80 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ested party. When he was at Big Bone, he 
wished to try the experiment, but after procuring 
the parrots, the cat was sent for, and was reported 
missing, being probably engaged in other business 
of the same kind. The accidental death of a 
tame parrot afterwards gave him an opportunity 
to make the trial with a cat and her kittens, which 
soon despatched every part of the bird that could 
possibly be eaten, but betrayed no signs of unea- 
siness, either of body or mind. 

This bird seems to have been a favorite with 
him. He carried one with him in one of his 
most laborious journeys in the Western States; 
by day, it rode in his pocket, and at night, it 
rested on the baggage, dozing and gazing into the 
fire. Happening to catch another, which he had 
slightly wounded, he placed it in the cage with this, 
who was delighted to gain the accession to her 
society ; she crept up to the stranger, chattering 
in a melancholy lone, as if expressing sympathy 
for its misfortunes, stroked its head and neck with 
her b'dl, and at night they nestled as close as pos- 
sible to each other. On the death of her com- 
panion, she appeared inconsolable, till he placed 
a looking-glass near her, by which she was com- 
pletely deceived. She seemed delighted with 
the return of her companion, and often during 
the day, and always at night, she lay close to the 
image in the glass, and began to doze with great 



▲LEXAMDEB WILSON. 81 

composure and satisfaction. He was so unlucky 
as to lose this interesting bird in the Grulf oi 
Mexico, where she made her way through the 
cage, left the vessel, and perished in the waves. 

Another experjment was to ascertain, whether 
the young of the knavish cow-bird, which impos* 
es its offipring on other birds, would actually 
receive that attenticm to which it was not entitled. 
He took a young cow-bird, which he carried home 
with him, and placed in the same cage with a red- 
bird. The cardinal examined it for some time 
with great intentness, and, when the young bird 
became clamorous for food, kindly answered its 
demands. When the red-bird found that the 
grasshopper he had brought was too large for it 
to swaUow, he broke it into small pieces, chewed 
them a little to soften them, and then put them 
separately into the young bird's mouth. The 
young one, as it grew older, seemed to be grate- 
ful for this parental kindness, and acknowledged 
it by exertiDg all its powers of song, of which, 
however, the cardinal did not seem to have any 
gveat opmion. It seemed to Wilson, like a negro 
fiddler treatang Handel with a touch of his art. 

He tried somewhat similar experiments with a 
blue-jay which he accNieDtaUy caught m the 
woods^r He put it into the cage with a gdd- 
winged woodpecker^ which almost beat it to 
death. . He then lemoved it to the cage of an 

VOL. u. 6 



82 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

orchard-oriole, which seemed to consider it an 
intrusion, while the jay remained perfectly still. 
After a time, seeing the jay pick up a few crumbs 
very quietly, the oriole did the same ; they soon 
entered into conrersation, and became fast friends. 
Wilson rejoiced very much in being able to show^ 
that the blue-jay, which rather mclmes to the 
cannibal in its propensities, had a heart not unsus- 
ceptible of kind and affectionate impressions. 

Wilson had no patience with the marvelloiKS, 
where the subject admitted a more natural ex- 
planation. Mr. Heckewelder had published an 
account of the butcher-bird, in which he said that 
its well known practice of impaling insects upon 
thorns, was intended to ofier a bait to small birds, 
which it makes a prey. But Wilson remarked, 
that it impaled small birds themselves in the same 
manner ; and say^, that to suppose the butcher- 
bird to be employed in this way, with such views, 
is like believing that the farmer hangs up dead 
crows, by way of invitation to the living. Grass- 
hoppers, he says, are a favorite food of the 
butcher-bird, but those which these insects are 
thought to be intended to decoy would leave 
them untouched for ever. 

Pennant bad observed concerning the migra- 
tions of the worm-eating warbler, that it did not 
return by the same way it went, but took a wind- 
ing course round the western mountains. On 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 83 

this Wilson remarks, that the bird no doubt ex« 
tends its tour, supposing the fact«to be established, 
for the purpose of finishing the education of its 
young by travel. He laments that the ducks and 
geese have never discovered what an internal 
improvement can be made, by leaving.the shore 
and sailing down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers ; 
but they never have ; and, on the contrary, all 
the birds of his acquaintance return as they went, 
without varying their direction. 

The impression prevailed with respect to the 
Carolina rail, which disappears at the first severe 
frosty that the bird buries itself in the mud, and 
some inquirers believed that they change into 
firogs. He was told by a person living near the 
mouth of James River, that his negroes had 
once brought in a creature which appeared neither 
like a rail nor a frog, but something between 
the two ; and that he and his negroes in council 
unanimously concluded, that it was a rail in its 
intermediate state between the bird and the fix>g. 
Wilson suggests that this grand discovery is fully 
estabUshed by the fact, that the frogs cease their 
vociferations as soon as the rail comes in the fall 
of the year. He says, however, that he was 
informed by a Captain Douglas, that on his voy* 
age home fix)m St. Domingo, when he was a 
hundred miles off the Capes of the Delaware, 
several rails csime on board by night, one of 



84 AMEBICAN BIOORAPHT. 

which dashed through the glass of the binnacle ; 
and many others have testified to the fiu^t o[ 
meeting them at a great distance from the shore ; 
so that this pleasing superstition must be aban- 
donedy both as respects their transformatioQ and 
their winter-quarters in the mud. 

When smgular facts can be established by 
competent authority, Wilson delights to repeat 
them. He dwells with pleasure on the bird 
called the tell-tale, iirom its firiendly attention in 
giving notice to the ducks and other game, in time 
for them to escape the sportsman. So well do 
the ducks understand the matter, that while this 
bird is silent, they feed without the least appre- 
hension ; but the moment they hear its shrill cry 
of alarm, they retreat from danger, and the gun- 
ner retires, dolorous and malecontent, bestowing 
left-banded benedictions on this never-sleeping 
sentry. 

The credulity, which gives most annoyance to 
Wilson, is that of Buffon, whose eloquence gives 
currency to his errors. He says, that the Count's 
eternal reference of every animal of the new 
world to that of the old, would leave us in doubti 
whether the katy-dids of America, were not Eu- 
ropean nightingales, degenerated in voice by their 
residence in this country. Equally beautiiiil is 
the theory, by which Buffon accounts for tb® 
wood-thrush's deficiency of song (though our read- 



▲LSXANDER WILSON. 85 

exs probably know, that it is cme of our iBnest 
musicians) ; it has degenerated, he says, by 
change of food and climate, and its cry is be- 
come harsh and unpleasant, by reason of its 
living among savages. Dr. Latham comes in for 
a-8hare of Wilson's patriotic indignation. « Blue- 
birds,'' says the doctor, ** are never seen in the 
trees, though they make their nests in the holes 
of them!" "The Americans," says Wilson, 
^' are never seen in the streets, though they build 
their houses by the ades of them ! " 

As for Wilson's earnestness in the pursuit of 
facts and subjects, some idea may be formed of 
it, firom his own description of his chase of a 
pied oyster-catcher. Near a deep and rapid 
inlet in the sea-beach' of Cape May, he broke 
the wing of one of these birds, and, having no 
dog with him, he pursued it himself into the inlet 
to which it fled. Both plunged at the same 
instant ; but the bird bemg more at home in that 
element, escaped his grasp, and he sunk beyond 
his depth ; on rising to the surface, he found that 
the fierce current was sweeping him out to sea, 
encumb^d all the while, with his fishmg appa- 
ratus and his gun; he was therefore compelled 
to give up the bird, and with great difficulty he 
escaped to the shore, which he reached in safety, 
though not without the loss (^ all his powder, in 
to his mortification, which was not 



86 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

allayed by seeing ihe bird rise and swim- away 
with an air of unconcern. 

The last of his qualifications which it is neces- 
sary to mention at present, was his power pf de- 
scription, which has done so much to recommend 
the science to his readers. His language is ner- 
vous and expressive ; he apprehends so strongly, 
and selects so happily the circumstances most 
likely to interest his readers, that the attention is 
always arrested by the truth and beauty of his 
descriptions. The cedar swamps of the south, for 
example, took fast hold of his imagination, and 
he succeeds in giving to every one, a vivid im- 
pression of their desolation, wildness, and gloom. 
These swamps appear as if they occu,pied the 
bed of some lake or stream which has been filled 
up by the vegetable^ matter that gathers in the 
course of ages. The stranger sees tall trunks, 
straight as arrows, with their tops woven together 
into an impenetrable shade, rising out of the 
water, which takes its color from the roots and 
fallen leaves of the cedars which it steeps. Here 
the ruins of the ancient forest are heaped to- 
gether in confusion ; the roots, and the logs, which 
lie wild and disorderly, are covered with green 
mantling moss, while an undergrowth of laurel 
makes it almost impossible to force a passage 
through. If he attempts to advance, he is caught 
by the laurels, stumbles over the fallen timberi 



* ALEXANDER WILSON. 87 

and sinks to the middle in ponds, which the 
green moss conceals from his sight. A few 
rays o£ broken light only struggle through the 
perpetual shade ; nothing but his own step breaks 
the deathlike stillness, except when he occasion- 
ally hears the heron's hollow scream. When a 
breeze rises, it sighs mournfully through the tops 
of the trees, till the tall cedars begin to ware and 
grate upon each other, producing sounds resem- 
Wing shrieks and groans. 

The manner in which he describes the move- 
ments of the red-wings also brings the sight and 
sound at once before the reader's mind. Some- 
times they appear like a vast black cloud, varying 
its shape every moment as it drives before the 
sterm ; sometimes they start up in the field with a 
noise like distant thunder, and the glittering of the 
Vermillion upon a thousand wings produces a 
splendid effect to the eye ; then, sweeping down, 
they cover the tree-tops of a grove, and set up a 
general chorus, which can be heard at a great dis- 
tance ; and when listened to with about a quarter 
of a mile between, with a slight breeze to swell 
the flow of its cadences, the sound is grand 
and even sublime. 

In the same manner, he describes the large 
crow black-birds, which sometimes gather in such 
hosts that they darken the air with their num- 
bers. They rush up, with thundering soUnd, 



86 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

fixxn the fields, add then descendmg on the road, 
fences, and trees, cover all with black; when 
they gather on the boughs of a naked fbresl in 
winter, all appears hung with monining, their 
notes meantime, resembling the roar of a great 
waterfall, swelling and d3ang away on the ear as 
the breeze rises and falls. 

But while Wilson excels in the grand and 
solemn, he is equally excellent in the beantifiil and 
familiar ; his accounts of the domestic habits of 
Ucds, of their playful manners, their expressive 
music, and the traits of character by which they 
are distinguished firom each other, are so adnura* 
ble, that his great work will be the text-book of 
the science in our country, and none will be so 
ready to do justice to his excellence, as those who 
become eminent in the same pursuit, and are thos 
best able to judge of his accuracy and power. 

While Wilson was thus qualified for his under- 
taking by his character and natural feeling, his 
circumstances were against him, and he attempted 
to find some employment, which would suit his 
taste better, and leave him more leisure time* 
He directed his attention to the '^ Literary Maga-* 
zine," then conducted by Charles Brockden 
Brown, a man of talent, whose reputation would 
have stood very high at present, had he not been 
misled, by the success of Godwin, to adopt sub- 
jects and a style which enjoyed a certain degree 



ALEXANBEB WILSON. 80 

of popularity for a time, but which do man of 
ta^tecan pennanently apfHrove. The only ad- 
Tantage which Wilson could have proposed lo 
himself by writing for this magazine, must hare 
been that of making himself favorably known, 
with a view to some other employment ; for, in the 
[present day, the rewards of literary labor in this 
country are not splendid, and in those days theie 
were none ; writers by profession were soon starv-- 
ed into sOence, and the periodical publications 
seemed, by a law of their being, to start into life 
and pass into forgetfiilness, in rapid and orderly 
soccesfldon. Wilson published in it his ^^ Rural 
WaJk " and " Solitary TuUor '' ; but it does not 
appear that he received any recompense for his 
contributions. Mr. Ord is somewhat severe upon 
Dennie, the editor of "The Portfolio,** for repub- 
lishing the " Rural Walk,'* with a commendation 
of its beauties, which, he himself says, he found it 
impossible to. discover. He should have remem- 
bered, that supposing the poetry to be bad, it 
was not the editor of a magazine abounding in 
po^cal enormities, who could be expected to act 
the part of a severe critic ; and the presumption 
is, that Dennie, who was certainly a man of lite- 
rary pretensions, discovered, under the harshness 
of the numbers, a real poetical feeling, and a pas- 
sicmate love of nature, which, in his view, formed 
the soul of poetry, and was not to be scorned, 
because it dwelt in a lame and misshapen form. 



90 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

It is curious to see Wilson^ in a letter to Mr. 
Lawson, apologizmg for his vanity in asking his 
kind offices to procure the publication of these 
pieces in the magazine. The sharp eye of bio- 
graphical history i^ sometimes shut in despair as it 
attempts to discover the dark comers, in which 
men of genius counted it a privilege and honor to 
make a first appearance before the world. In 
many cases of productions given to the world, the 
world unhappily remains for ever in ignoranee, 
both of the bounty and of its benefactor. 

Having no great facility in versification, Wilson 
was embarrassed by the exactness of his observa- 
tion of nature, and failed, not firom want of poeti- 
cal mind and feeling, but from want of easy and 
natural power to express them. His accuracy in 
matters of fact was such, that he seems to have 
been hardly willing to see them colored in the 
least by imagination. In a letter to Mr. Bar- 
tram, written about this time, he criticizes a (Geo- 
graphy, in which it was asserted that the people of 
Scotland are prejudiced against swine, and eat no 
pork, because that animal was once the subject of 
demoniacal possession. The fact, according to 
Wilson, was, that Scotland, though abounding in 
pastures, was but poorly cultivated, and of course 
supported sheep and cattle in great numbeis, 
while it afiforded but little food for swine. It was 
' therefore needless to go to the Scripture, to ac- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 91 

count for the origin of a prejudice which never 
existed. Wilson has often inserted specimens of 
his poetry in his omitholo^cal descriptions ; and 
every reader is struck with the fact, that the 
prose is poetical, while the poetry inclines to the 
prosaic ; the explanation is, that he was able to 
express himself in prose with much greater free- 
xtom, and therefore with greater power. 

It was not till October, 1804, that Wilson com- 
menced his first pilgrimage ; he set out for Ni- 
agara on foot with two companions. It was very 
late in the season to undertake such a journey, 
in what was then so desolate a country ; they 
met with hardships which they had not expected, 
and, while they were still in the western region, 
were overtaken by winter, and compelled to pro- 
ceed on their way through a considerable depth 
of snow. He was more persevering than the 
companions of his way ; one of them remained 
with his friends near the Cayuga Lake ; the 
other chose an easier mode of travelling; but 
Wilson, who was too proud and hardy to give 
out, went (m alone, carrying his gun and baggage 
on his shoulders, and reached his home on the 
7th of December, after an absence of fifty-nine 
days, in the last of which, he walked forty-seven 
miles. 

He published an account of this journey, first 
in " The Portfolio," and afterwards in a separata 



90 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

form. It wais called *^ The ForesterBy a Poem^ 
and had considerable merit, though strongly 
murked with the prevailing faults of his poetical 
iCyle; some parts are written with great troth 
and energy, particularly the account of the 
schoolmaster, which was dictated by his own 
experience, and would appear to advantage 
among the strong descriptions of Crabbe. He was 
powerfully affected by the sight of Niagara ; and 
it is interesting to observe, how his favorite pur- 
suit is associated with every striking scene. 
When he describes the cataract, with its sto^ 
pendous column of spray, roUbg up from the gulf 
into which it falls, and floating away in la^, 
dark masses upon the wind, iie is not so much 
engaged with the grandeur of the scene, as viCA 
ta observe the eagle towering at an immeasurable 
height above, unawed by any thing but man, look- 
ing abroad over an inmieasurable reach of forest, 
field, and sea, sailing on slow and majestic pinion, 
but capable of outriding the storm ; sometimes 
moving in graceful circles, like a dark point in 
the bright heaven, then bearing away with steady 
flight, till he is lost in the deep blue sky. 

Wilson seems to have regarded this journey 
as a trial of strength for the hardship which he 
was afterwards to undergo. In a letter to Mr. 
Bartram, he expresses his satisfaction at the result 
of the experiment, saying, that, ahhough he had 



ALEXANDSR WILSON. 

just fiQish^d a journey of more than twelve 
hundred miles on foot, through deep snows; 
passbg through uninhabited forests, dangerous 
rivers, and wild mountains; moving over rou^ 
paths by hurried marches, and exposed to all 
kinds of weather, — he is so far from being satis-* 
fied with what he has accomplished, or discour- 
aged by what he has encountered, that he feels 
more earnest than ever to enter upon some new 
and more extensive expedition. He feels the 
most perfect confidence in his own perseverance 
and resolution ; and, having no family U> chain 
his affections or to suffer from his desertion, no 
ties but those of friendship to break ; having a 
constitution which fatigue only hardens, a dis- 
position sociable and familiar, and as much at 
home by an Indian fire in the woods as in a city 
apartment ; having moreover the most ardent af- 
fection for his chosen country, he feels persuaded 
that he might do something as a traveller, both 
for himself and others. But his ignorance of 
botany, mineralogy, and other sciences, hangs 
like a millstone upon him, and he asks advice 
from his venerable firiend, as to the best manner 
of supplying his defects and accomplishing his 
designs. It is worthy of remark, that when he 
was writing in this manner, the whole amount of 
his personal property was three quarters of a 
dollar! 



94 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

It is so difficult for one who now passes through 
the country, to which Wilson refers in this com- 
munication, to conceive of hardships and dangers, 
that it would be interesting to give an acccmnt 
of it in his own words, did the limits of this nar- 
rative permit. He describes it in a letter to 
William Duncan, which begins with this charac- 
teristic remark ; ^^ My school this quarter, will do 
little more than defray my board and firewood. 
^ Comfortable intelligence truly,' methinks I hear 
you say ; but no matter." Mr. Duncan had left 
them at Cayuga Lake, and Wilson informs him 
how they proceeded after their separation. He 
and Isaac, his remaining companion, passed the 
night at a miserable dram-shop, half stunned by 
the noise of a drunken party. They left the 
house at five in the morning ; stopped at Skene* 
ateles Lake, dined on pork-blubber, and bread, 
and passed the night in Manlius Square, a village 
of thirty houses. He was obliged to sing, to 
drown the groans of his disconsolate companion, 
who could hardly make his way through the 
depth of snow and mud. He took every oppor- 
tunity of shooting birds, and collecting informa- 
tion. When they came within fifteen miles of 
Schenectady, his companion got on board a boat, 
while he kept on till it was so dark that he could 
hardly rescue himself from the mud-holes ; and 
thus he persevered, till his pantaloons were mat- 



ALEXANDEB WILSON. 96 

ters of history, and his boots were reduced to legs 
and upper leathers. 

On the night of his arrival, he found that a 
child had been named in compliment to him ; 
this honor cost him six dollars, and left him with 
the sum which has been mentioned. He gave 
an account of this journey in a letter to his father, 
which he concludes with the following words; 
" I have nothing more to say, but to wish you 
all the comfort which your great age, and repu- 
table, and industrious life, seem truly to merit. 
In my conduct to you I may have erred ; but my 
heart has ever preserved the most affectionate 
veneration for you, and I think of you frequently 
vrith tears. In a few years, if I live so long, I 
shall be placed in your situation, looking back on 
the giddy vanities of human life, and all my 
consolation in the hopes of a happy futurity." In 
Wilson's character, energy and manly tenderness 
were always united in their just proportions ; his 
tenderness never degenerated into unmeaning 
sentiment, nor did his uncommon energy give 
coldness, either to his manners or his heart. 

The leisure hours of the winter succeeding 
this tour, seem to have been spent in preparing 
" The Foresters " for publication. He did how- 
ever complete drawings of two birds which he 
shot upon the Mohawk river, and which he took 
much pains to preserve, supposing them to be 



96 AXKRIOAN BIOGRAPHT. 

wholly new to naturalists, though one of thenii 
the Canadian Jay, was known before. These be 
presented to Mr. Jefferson, then President df the 
United States, who acknowledged the attentioo 
in a very civil and kind reply. There were few 
in this country at the time, who had attended 
more to ornithology than Mr. JeSerson. He had 
been led to it, by preparing his Notes upon the 
Natural History of Virginia ; but one of our 
common birds presented an impenetrable mysteiy 
to him, and he proposed the investigation to Wil* 
son, as matter of curiosity. The bird, he said, w»i 
heard in every forest, singmg with notes clear 
and sweet as those of a nightingale ; but he was 
never able to get a sight of it, though he had 
followed it for miles, except on one occasion; 
when he observed that it resembled the mocking 
bird in size, was thrush-colored on the back, and 
greyish white on the breast. Wilson needed no 
more to quicken him to unwearied researches, 
and after most diligent inquiry, it appeared, that 
this wonder of the wood was no other than the 
Wood Thrush, sometimes known by the name of 
Ground Robin, though it is not seen, as Mr. Jef- 
ferson says, on the tops of the tallest trees, nor 
does its plumage answer with much exactness to 
his description. 

It is due to Mr. Bartram to state, that, when 
Wilson proposed the question to him, he sug- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 91 

gested that the Ground or Wood Robin, as it is 
sometimes called, was the bird in question. It 
b a little singular, that such a musician as the 
wood-thrush should not have been more early 
and generally known. It is retiring in its hab- 
its, it is true ; but, though a lover of solitude, 
it can be found by those who search for it in 
shaded hollows among the wild vines and alders. 
Wilson describes its performance with his usual 
beauty. He says, that, from the top of a tall tree 
that rises above the deepest shade of the forest, 
this bird pipes his clear notes in seeming ecstasy ; 
the prelude or symphony resembles the double- 
tonguing of a flute, and sometimes the tinkling of 
a little bell. The whole song consists of several 
distinct parts, at the close of each of which, the 
voice is not sunk, but suspended ; and the close 
is managed with such charming effect as to 
soothe and tranquillize the mind, and to seem 
sweeter and sweeter, every time it is repeated. 
In dark and wet weather, when other birds are 
melancholy and silent, the notes of the wood- 
thrush thrill through the dropping woods, and 
bis song grows sweeter in proportion to the sad- 
ness of the day. Though this bird had been 
described by naturalists, no one had taken notice 
of its melody, and Buflbn, in particular, had, as 
has been mentioned, applied his favorite theory, 

VOL. 11. 7 " • 



96 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

to account for its entire want of all mu^cal 
power. 

But these judicious attentions, though thej 
served to flatter and encourage him, could not 
supply the means for his support. In the spring 
of 1805, he says, that the sum of fifteen dollars 
was all that he could raise from his school, con- 
sisting of twenty-six scholars. This would not 
answer the purpose ; he therefore called together 
the trustees, and stated to them, that it was ne- 
cessary for him to retire from their service. Their 
movement on the occasion, shows, much to his 
credit, that he was faithfol in this uninidting em- 
ployment, though his heart was all the while set 
upon another. Two of them offered to pay of 
themselves one hundred dollars a year, rather 
than permit him to go ; a meeting was immedi- 
ately called ; forty-six scholars were subscribed 
for, and he remained in his humble vocation. 
The embarrassment arose from the unusual sever- 
ity of the winter, in which the Delaware was fro- 
zen for two months, and the poor, throughout the 
country, suffered much with hunger and cold. 

While he was thus engaged in the essential 
business of securing a subsistence, he endeavored 
to interest others in his favorite pursuit, and many 
touches of his own enthusiasm appear in his let- 
ters. He exhorts his nephew, Mr. Duncan, if 
he finds any curious birds, to take pains to pre* 



ALEXANDEB WILSON. 99 

serve tbem^ or at least their skins, which will 
answer his purpose nearly as well ; and, by way 
of relief to his labors on his farm, Wilson begs 
him to keep an account of every thing that strikes 
him as new or interesting ; he tells him, that, with 
the great volume of nature open before him, he 
can never be at a loss for amusement. '^ Look 
out," he says, ^^ now and then for natural curi* 
osities, as you traverse your farm, and remem<- 
ber me as you wander through your woody soli<» 
tudes." All his correspondence with thb rela» 
tive expresses a strong attachment; the farm, 
their joint purchase, -not having turned out to 
be profitable, Wilson wishes him to dispose of it 
in some way, if possible, that they might not be 
separated from each other. But he* cautions 
him, not to let his desire to leave the place 
induce him to submit to imposition. He ob^ 
serves, " more than half the knavery of one half 
of mankind is owing to the simplicity of the 
other half." If his nephew is inclined to low 
spirits, Wilson suggests to him, that his dress, 
compared with that which he formerly wore, 
would, if tolerably well described, aflbrd a pic- 
ture that would make a mourner smile. But it 
IS no sufficient cause for depression; for he is 
dressed like those about him* WilsoQ specially 
notes, that a worthy, whom he saw in that coun- 
try, wore a hat which had lost every particle of 



100 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

the brim, which had either been eaten by rats, or 
cut off for solea to his shoes ; but the exhibition 
was so common in that region, that no one took 
the least notice of the decoraU(»i. 

He was now entered upon his professdon as an 
Ornithologist beycmd recall. The spring of 
1805 saw him seriously commencing operations ; 
and at the close of a month or two, he tells Mr. 
Bartram, that he has completed twenty-eight 
drawings of birds, either resident or occasional 
visiters in Pennsylvania, which he shall submit to 
his inspection, though he trusts they are far liom 
being equal to his future exertions. These 
sketches he begs Mr. Bartram to criticize beely, 
since there is no one whose judgment is so val- 
uable, and no severity will depress him. Wilson 
seems to have judged himself truly, when . he 
thought, that what would be discouragements to 
others, would serve as so many springs to him. 
His letter closes with these words, so interesting 
when one remembers his subsequent histcny. 
"Accept my best wishes for your happiness^ 
wishes as sincere as ever one human being 
breathed for the happiness of another. To your 
advice and encouragement I am indebted for 
these few specimens, and for all that will foUow. 
They may yet tell posterity that I was honored 
with your friendship, and that to your inspiration 
they owe their existence.'' Posterity will be in- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 101 

clined to reverse the obligation, and, while it. 
does justice to the merits of Mr. Bartram, will 
think that these works may be more properly 
said to inform the world, that Bartram was hon- 
ored with the friendship of Wilson. 

Having learned, that the plates for the Nat- 
ural HistOTy of Edwards were prepared by the 
author lumself, a practice which modem improve- 
ments and the example of Cuvier and Bell have 
rendered common of late, Wilson examined 
them with much attention, and succeeded in 
persuading himself that he could execute prints 
as good, and give more spirit and life to his 
illustrations than an engraver, who mechanicaUy 
followed the drawing set before him. Mr. Law- 
son was oS course applied to, not, as may be pre- 
sumed, so much to give his advice, as to lend 
hk aid and mstructioh. Having procured the 
tools and copper, Wilson began to learn the 
art of etching, with as much zeal, as if his life 
depended on his success. The next day, after 
he had taken the first lesson, Mr. Lawson was 
astonished to see Wilson rushing into his apart- 
ment, shouting that he had finished his plates, 
and they must proceed to business at once, for 
he must have a proof before *he left town. The 
good-natured engraver complied with his request ; 
the proof was fiurnished, and though evidently 
the work of an artless hand, Wilson was so 



102 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

weU satisfied with it^ as to transmit it at once to 
his oracle, Mr. Bartram. He then proceeded 
to execute another ; but his deliberate judgment 
was not satisfied with the result of bis labors. 
The first two plates only of the Ornithology 
were etched by hb own hands. He was soon 
convinced, that nothing but the graver would 
give proper effect to his illustrations. 

But engraving seemed beyond his readi. A 
proposal which he made to Mr. Lawson to en- 
gage m the work with him was declined, and the 
whole aspect of things was unpromising ; still, so 
fiu: firom being disheartened, he solemnly declared^ 
that he would proceed with his plan, even if it 
should cost him his life. ^^ I shall at least leave," 
said he, ^^ a smaU beacon to pomt out wh^re 
I perished!'' No one can help admiring thb 
manly spirit, which no failure could depress, and 
no obstacle withstand. But the close of the year 
1805 found him nearly where he was when it 
began ; for it appears that his second attempt at 
etching was sent to Mr. Bartram, with a note 
containing the wishes and salutations of a new 
year. 

While he was in this undecided state, and the 
object was growmg more dear to him, as it seemed 
more difiScult to attain it, every thing excited his 
ardent imagination. When in Philadelphia, he 
sought acquaintance with a person, who, in 1804, 



▲ LEXANDEB WILSON. 103 

went down the Obio^ in a small batteau^ with 
a single companion. He was told that the coun- 
try was exceedingly beautiful, and that the trav- 
elling was not uncomfortable ; they had an awn- 
ing> and slept on board the boat, and by sailing 
night and day could move at the rate of seventy 
nules in the twenty-four hours. One solitary 
adventurer in a small boat, going from Wheeling 
to New Orleans, was the only person whom they 
met upon the river ! Wilson wished to arrange 
the plan of a similar expedition, and to prevail on 
Mr. Bartram to bear him compsuiy ; but he soon 
after saw by the newspapers, that a party was 
to be sent out by the government, to explore the 
valley of the Mississippi, and it occurred to him at 
once, that the west would be the best field for. 
his labors. His friend agreed with him in opin- 
ion, and advised him to write an application to 
the President, which he would enclose in a let- 
ter of his own. This was accordingly done, and 
his application contains so distinct a statement of 
what he had already done, and what he hoped 
to accomplish, that the reader will not be dis- 
pleased with its msertion. It was addressed to 
"fiw Excellency f Thomas Jefierson, President 
of the United States." 



IM AMKBICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

" Kingiessingy February 6th, 1806. 

« Sir, 
'^ Having been engaged these several years in 
collecting materials and fiimishing drawings from 
nature, with the design of publishing a new Orni- 
thology of the United States of America, so de- 
ficient in the works of Catesby, Edwards, and 
other Europeans, I have traversed the greater 
parts of our northern and eastern districts, and 
have collected many birds, undescribed by these 
naturalists. Upwards of one hundred drawings 
are completed, and two plates in folio already en- 
graved. But as many beautifiil tribes firequent 
the Ohio, and the extensive country through 
which it passes, that probably never visit the Atlan- 
tic states ; and as faithful representations of these 
birds can only be taken from living nature, or fixHn 
birds newly killed, I had planned an expedition 
down that river, from Pittsburg to the Mississippi^ 
thence to New Orleans, and to continue my 
researches by land, in returning to Philadelphia. 
I had engaged as a companion and assistant, Mr. 
William Bartram, of this place, whose knowledge 
of Botany, as well as of Zoology, would have 
enabled me to make the best of the voyage, and 
to collect many new specimens in both those de- 
partments. Sketches of these were to have been 
taken on the spot, and the subjects put in a state 
of preservation, to finish our drawings from them. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 105 

as time would permit. We intended to set out 
from Pittsburg about the beginnmg of May, and 
we expected to reach New (Means in Septem- 
ber. 

^^ But my venerable friend, Mr. Bartram, tak- 
ing into more serious consideration his advanced 
age, being near seventy, and the weakness of 
his eyesight ; and apprehensive of his inability 
to encounter the fatigues and privations unavoida- 
ble in so extensive a tour ; having, to my extreme 
regret and the real loss of science, been induced 
to declme the journey ; I had reluctantly aban- 
doned the enterprise, and all hopes of accom- 
plishing my purpose ; till, hearing that your Ex- 
cellency had it in contemplation to send travel- 
lers tins ensuing summer up the Red River, the 
Arkansaw, and other tributary streams of the 
Mississippi, and believing that my services might 
be of advantage to some of these parties, in pro- 
moting your Excellency's design, while the best 
opportunities would be aflForded me of procur- 
ing subjects for the work which I have so much 
at heart ; under these impressions I beg leave to 
o^r myself for any of these expeditions, and 
can be ready, at short notice, to attend to your 
ExceUency's orders. 

" Accustomed to the hardships of travelling, 
without a family, and an enthusiast in the pur- 
smt of natural history, I will devote my whole 



106 AMEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

powers to merit your Excellency's approbation ; 
and ardently wish for an opportunity of testify- 
ing the sincerity of my professions, and the deep 
veneration with which I have the honor to be, 
" Sir, your obedient servant, 

^^ Alexander Wilson." 

To this application Wilson received no answer, 
nor was he appointed to take part in the expedi- 
tion ; a result which appears to be highly satis- 
factory to his Scotch biographer, who exults in 
it as a proof of the indifference of republics to 
all scientific interests and claims. It may bo 
doubted, whether, had Wilson written a similar 
application to the Kmg of Great Britain, unsup- 
ported by influence, he would have received an 
answer by the next mail ; but however this may 
be, if Mr. Jefferson was generally courteous and 
attentive to such applications, it is more easy to 
suppose, that Wilson's memorial was mislaid, of 
that it never reached hii;i, than that it was in- 
tentionally neglected. No light can now be 
thrown upon the subject ; but as all the rest of 
the President's intercourse with Wilson was kind 
and even flattering, there is no reason to suppose 
that the naturalist was purposely neglected on 
this occasion. 

Wilson, as has been said, was a devoted ad- 
mirer of Mr. Jefferson, and of course arranged 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 107 

himself with the prevaOing party.' But either his 
experience in Scotland, or his deep interest in 
his new pursuit, had caused him to reflect, that} 
while every citizen is bound to do his poUtical 
duty, he will not be hkely to do it any better, 
for giving up his heart and soul to party. Hia 
nephew consulted him upon the subject of pol- 
itics ; having taken charge of a school, and being 
probably impatient of the inactive Ufe to which 
it condemned him, Mr. Duncan seems to have 
thought that he could give an agreeable variety 
to existence, by taking a more open and idgoious 
part in political discussion. Wilson answered him, 
with great good sense, that political ardor had 
made him so many enemies and done so little 
good, that he was persuaded, both for himself 
and his friends, that the less they harangued on 
that subject, the better. If they attended punc- 
tually to the duties of their profession, making 
their business their pleasure, and aimed, more 
than any thing else, at the good discipline and in- 
struction of their pupils, they were sure to reach 
all the respectabiUty and success, to which it was 
worth while for them to aspire. 

These sentiments were highly honorable to 
his judgment and discretion. There are two class- 
es of men. in this country; those who take too 
much interest in politics, and those who take too 
little. The former make themselves entire slaves 



108 AMKBICAN BIOOBAFHY. 

to party^ and their mmds are in such a state of 
fiery excitement, that they have not the least 
power to judge deliberately of measures or men. 
They deify their own leaders, and libel and 
slander all other men ; and, while in this par- 
tial insanity, they are so little capable of discern- 
ing between right and wrong, between slavery 
and freedom, that they exult when some artful 
demagogue uses them for his own purposes, even 
if he holds the rem with a hand so tyranical 
tiiat their bits are covered with blood. The 
other class are those, who are so disgusted with 
the atrocious violence of party, that they retreat 
fiom all interest m public men and affiurs ; and, 
like the disciples of Rousseau, weary of social 
evils, give up society itself as if the way to reme- 
dy evils was to let them alone. By taking this 
unmanly course they leave the field open to the 
unprincipled and usurping, and the unhappy re- 
sult sometimes is, that bad men triumph, not by 
their own exertions, so much as by the unfaith- 
fulness of good men to their duty. 

Wilson, who was seldom wanting in right dis- 
cernment, adopted the course which alone is 
honorable and conscientious in a private man ; 
he took sufficient interest in public affidrs to be 
able to know and do his political duty ; and, at 
the same time, refused to surrender his judgment 
to party dictation, or to sufifer party violence to 
set fire to his heart. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 109 

In this same letter, Wilson speaks of his applica^ 
lion to Mr. Jefferson, expressing some surprise that 
the President, who was the friend of Mr. Bar^ 
tnun, should have taken no notice of a memorial 
whk^h he bad presented. " No hurry of business 
could excuse it.'' But he was not to be discour- 
aged by this failure ; and as he and his nephew had 
been guning something by their schools, he pro- 
posed that they should undertake an expedition, 
by themselves, through the southwestern regions. 
The close of this letter gives a lively idea of his 
situation. ^^ I will proceed in the afiair as you 
may think best, notwithstanding my eager wish- 
es and the disagreeableness of my present sit- 
uation. I write this letter in the schoolhouse, — - 
past ten at night, — L.'s folks all gone to roost, — 
the flying squirrels rattling in the loft above 
me, and the cats squalling in the cellar be- 
low. Wishing you a continuation of that success 
in teaching, which has already done you so much 
credit, I bid you, for the present, good night." 

Better days now began to dawn on Wilson ; 
better, ^nce they placed him in a more favorable 
position for accomplishing his great design. Mr. 
Samuel F. Bradford, a publisher in Philadelphia, 
having midertaken an edition of Rees's Cyclopae- 
dia, Wilson was recommended to him, as a per- 
son well qualified to superintend the work, and 
lus services were immediately secured. What 



110 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHY. 

recompense was offered him, is not stated. In a 
letter to a friend, he says that it was generous ; 
but he gained by this engagement, what he val- 
ued far more than profit, and that was, the pros- 
pect of being able to publish his Ornithology ,*in a 
manner answering to his imaginations and desires. 
For, when he explained the nature and object of 
the work to Mr. Bradford, he readily consented 
to become the publisher, and to supply the 
funds necessary for so expensive a publication. 

Wilson entered, as usual, with all his heart, up- 
on his new labors. His situation gave him an op- 
portunity of becoming acquainted with scientific 
men. Among his letters, is one recommending 
Michaux, the celebrated botanist, to a friend who 
lived near the Niagara Falls, in which he speaks 
of the foreigner as his friend, and solicits in his 
favor the desired attentions. About the same 
time he writes to Mr. Duncan, that the Ornithol- 
ogy is commenced, and Mr. Lawson is to have 
one of the plates completely finished on that day, 
April 8th, 1807. He intends, he says, to set the 
printer at work to print each bird in its natural 
colors, that the black ink may not stain the fine 
tints. Twenty-five hundred copies of the prc^ 
pectus are to be sent to all parts of the country, 
and agents to be appointed in every considerable 
town. All possible means are to be taken to se- 
cure the success of the work, and if it brings any 
harvest, his friend shall share it with him. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. Ill 

That Wilson's new engagements did not inter- 
fere with his pursuits as an ornithologist, is suffi- 
ciently evident from his own account of himself. 
He says in a letter, that he went out that morn- 
ing, at day-break, for the purpose of shooting a 
nut-hatch, wearing shoes instead of boots, for the 
sake of more rapid motion. After jumping a hun- 
dred fences, he found himself at the junction of 
the Schuylkill and ^Delaware, without having 
overtaken the bird ; but not without getting com- 
pletely wet, while he was- flowing with perspira- 
tion. Contrary to the maxims of physicians, the 
prescription, he says, did him good, and he in- 
tends to repeat it on the first opportunity. He 
writes also to Mr. Bartram, whose image is before 
him, enjoying himself in his Paradise, while 
spring is castmg her leaves, buds, and blossoms, 
(m all around him, the birds lifting up their voices, 
and the zephyrs sheddmg fragrance from their 
wmgs. With this, he compares his own condi- 
tion, immured among books, with nothing to look 
upon but walls and chimneys, and hearing nothing 
but the city's everlasting din. He concludes with 
the following characteristic expression; "If I don't 
launch into the woods and fields oftener than I 
have done these twelve months, may I be trans- 
formed into a street musician." 

In the month of August, 1807, he left Phila- 
delphia, and commenced a tour through the state, 



112 AMEBICAN BIOOBAPHf. 

in which he procured many specimens and much 
additional information. It 13 evident, that he had 
made considerable advances, from his beginning 
to criticize the nomenclature of American birds, 
complaining of the specific name '^ migrcUoriuSf^ 
as not more descriptive of the Robin, than of any 
other thrush, and the term Europ€eay as applied to 
the large nut-hatch, which is quite different from 
the European. He had thought much on the 
subject of these names, and was doubtful whether 
to introduce a new nomenclature, or sanction, by 
adopting, one which he did not approve. 

In the month of September, 1808, the first vol- 
ume of the American Ornithology was given 
to the world. The prospectus had set forth the 
character of the work, but no one was prepared 
for so fine a specimen of the arts in this country ; 
and really, compared with any thing which had 
gone before it, it might well have caused as much 
surprise and delight, as the magnificent illustra- 
tions of Audubon at the present day. It is piat- 
ter of great regret, no doubt, but not of wonder, 
that it met with no greater patronage ; no taste 
for such luxuries had then been formed in the 
country ; and those who would have valued it in 
that light, preferred luxuries, as expensive per- 
haps, but less intellectual ; while those who took 
an interest in the study, were generally persons, 
who would as soon have thought of paying the 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 118 

national -debt^ as of raismg money for the pur- 
chase of such a hock. 

How would Wilson himself, for example, have 
been able to buy the work with his slender re- 
sources, had it been published by another ? Had 
he lived longer, it would have been considered 
unfortunate, that he began on so large a scale. 
His plan was, after his great work was finished, to 
publish another edition in four volumes octavo, 
with "drawings on wood like Bewick's "British 
Birds." As this could have been sold at one 
seventh part of the price of the larger edition, it 
would have circulated more generally, and would 
have tended to prepare the way for the more ex- 
pensive edition ; but as the greater work came 
first, it fell into the hands of many, who were 
richer in wealth than in taste ; and, being thus 
shut up in the saloons of the affluent or in the li- 
braries of learned institutions, it was a sealed book 
to most ol those, on whom the naturalist must 
depend, to understand his merits and do justice 
to hb name. 

It is melancholy to think, that such a man as 
Wilson should be ccnnpelled to say, as he did in 
the Preface to the fiftli volume, that his only re- 
compense had been the approbation of his coun- 
trymen and the pleasure of the pursuit. But still, 
so far from regarding this as a reproach to his 
countrymen, it seems honorable to the nation that 

VOL. II. 8 



114 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

he should have been able to publish it at all. 
For, as has been said, the expense of the work 
far exceeded the means of most of those, whose 
taste and feeling would have led them to become 
his subscribers ; while a great proportion of those, 
who did subscribe, had no fondness for the sci- 
ence, nor even for the display of art which it 
afforded ; and, on the contrary, had gathered their 
wealth by trade and labor, in which. they did not 
learn to spend it without what was in their opin- 
ion value received. 

The probability is, that most of those, who be- 
came his patrons, did so, not because they cared 
to possess such a work, but because they wished 
to encourage an enterprise, which they regarded 
as honorable to the American name. It would 
not perhaps be too much to say, that, considering 
the increased wealth of the country, the subscrip- 
tion for Wilson's work, was even more liberal, 
than that for Audubon's at present ; and yet Wil- 
son had no herald to go before him ^ while his 
distinguished successor had the benefit of all the 
attraction which Wilson had given to the science, 
and of many pleasing associations, all tending to 
secure him the patronage which his talents and 
exertions deserve. 

One of the greatest pleasures connected with 
the publication of this first volume, was that of 
transmitting it to his friends in Europe, of whom 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 115 

he was never forgetful, either in prosperity or 
sorrow. His Scotch biographer furnishes a letter, 
addressed to his father at the time, in which he 
speaks with great satisfaction of the result of his 
labors, but seems at a loss to know whether he 
should lose or gain by the work in a pecuniary 
point of view. He says, that he has spent all he 
had in giving existence to the first volume ; but 
he has met with an honorable reception from men 
whose good opinion he was ambitious to gain, and 
has collected information to such an amount as will 
secure to his work at least the credit of original- 
ity. In the close of the letter, he earnestly de- 
. sires to be xemembered to his old companions, 
whom he never expects to see again. *^ I would 
willingly," he says, ^^ give a hundred dollars to 
spend a few days with you all in Paisley ; but, 
like a true bird of passage, I would again wmg 
my way across the western waste of waters, to the 
peaceful s^d. happy regions of America. What 
has become of David, that I never hear from him ? 
Let me know, my dear father, how you live, and 
how you enjoy your health at your advanced age. 
I trust the publication I have now commenced, 
and which has procured for me reputation and 
respect, will also enable me to contribute to your 
independence and comfort, in return for what I 
owe to you. To my step-smother, sisters, broth- 
ers, and friends^ I bqg to be remembered affec- 
tionately." 



116 AMXBICAN BIOOBAPHY. 

In the latter part of September, 1808,, Wilson 
set out on a tour to the Eastern States, to exhibit 
his work, and procure subscribers. He did noC 
undertake the expedition with a very light heart ; 
fcr he was well aware, that the bearer of a sub- 
scription paper is seldom welcomed with rapture, 
and for a man like him to plead his own cause to 
the indifferent or the insolent, was a severe and 
punful trial. Still, as it was necessary, he did not 
shrink from the undertaking ; but he fears lest he 
shall make the discovery, that he has bestowed a 
great deal of labor and expense to very little par- 
pose. 

One thing consoled him under his darker antici- 
pations ; it was, that he should see the ^orious 
&ce of nature, and gain more familiarity with her 
admorable productions. He did not mean to sit 
with folded hands, waiting for circumstances to 
fevor his enterprise ; if he could get nothing else 
by his tour, he could increase his knowledge ; and 
accordingly he tells us, while on his journey, that 
he has established correspondents, like pickets 
and outposts, in every comer of the northern re- 
gions, so that scarcely a wren or a tit shall be 
able to pass from York to Canada, without imme- 
diate intelligence being conveyed to him. In the 
patronage which he received, he was certainly 
disappointed ; but, discouraging as it was, he asr 
cribed it to the right cause ; and allowed himself 



ALSXANDEB WILSON. 117 

to be gratified, as well he might, with the expres* 
sdoDs of admiration which he heard in every 
quarter. These were from men of taste and lite- 
rature, to whom it was as much matter of regret 
as to him, that they bad nothing but this kind of 
e&couragement to bestow. 

The manner, in which he proceeded on these 
occasions, appears in his account of his visit at 
Princeton and other places. He put copies of 
his prospectus in his pocket, took his book under 
bis arm, and went to wait on the doctors of the 
College. He found Dr. Smith, the President, and 
Dr. McLean, the Professor of Natural History. 
In Newarii: and Elizabethtown, the same process 
was repeated ; and in each he found a few sub- 
scribers and many admirers. In New York he 
received much kind attention from the professors 
of Columbia College, particularly from one, a 
Scotchman, whose name was Wilson. He spent 
his time in traversing the streets from one house 
to atiother, till he could perceive gentlemen 
pointing him out, as he passed with his book un- 
der his arm, and he believed that he was as gen- 
erally known as the town-crier. The business 
of exhibiting his work to so many who declined 
subscribing, became very wearisome, and often 
caUed forth expressions of impatience in his let- 
ters. He never could endure the leasit appear- 
ance of disrespect, white th^ cbar&cter ift whiot^ 



118 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

he appeared, was not likely to secure for him a 
flattering reception where his merits were not 
known ; and at this time they were of, course 
known to veiy few. 

On the 2d of October, he left New York 
for New Haven, and after a bdsterous passage 
fix)m morning till night, he saw the red-fronted 
mountain rising upon his view. In two hours 
more he landed, and perceived that it was the 
sabbath by the stillness and desertion of the 
streets, the confusion of the packet-boat having 
made him forget the day. He was told by one 
of the professors of the College, that the wooden 
spires which rise from the common, were once 
so infested by woodpeckers, which bored them 
through in all directions, that it became nec- 
essary, in order to save them from destruc- 
tion, to station men with guns, to shoot the in- 
vaders. He gives no information as to his suc- 
cess in New Haven. 

After remaining a day and a half in that city^ 
he proceeded to Middletown ; and, on entering the 
town, he had the satisfaction of witnessing a scene, 
which has now lost its original brightness, .and 
will in a few years, it may be hoped, only sur- 
vive in description. The streets were filled with 
troops, and the sides decorated with wagons, carts, 
and wheelbarrows, filled with roast beef, fowls^ 
bread and cheese, and not wanting in liquors of 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 119 

all descriptions. Some were crying, '^ Here 's the 
best brandy you ever put into your head ! " an 
uncommonly accurate physiological account of the 
part to which that fluid goes ; others more harm- 
lessly employed, in recommending their '' round 
and sound gingerbread," making up what was 
wanting in its quality by double vociferation. In 
one place, a ring was formed, in which many 
were dancing to the energetic scraping of an old 
negro, while the spectators looked on with as 
much gravity, as if they were listening to a ser- 
mon ; a state of things, which to a British trav- 
eller would have proved their entire want of feel- 
ing, but to a common observer would have 
shown that they were not inclined to laugh, ex- 
cept when the jest was good enough to justify 
such emotion. In Middletown, he became ac- 
quainted with a gentlemen, whose tastes were 
similar to his own, from whom he received a 
present of several stuffed birds, and letters to 
gentlemen in Boston. 

On reaching Hartford, he received attention 
from several gentlemen, who gratified him by 
subscribing for his work. The publisher of a 
newspaper also gave him aid in his own way, 
which, Wilson says, would neither buy plates nor 
pay the printer, but was nevertheless gratifying 
to the vanity of an author, when nothing better 
was to be had. He was too late in the season, 



120 AMERICAN BI06BAPHT. 

to see the most favorable aspect of nature, and 
accordingly was not much delighted with his im- 
pressions. His observations in one respect are 
curiously contrasted with the present state of 
things ; he saw no coin in New ikigland ; bills, 
some of so low a denomination as twenty-five 
cents, were the only currency. As for the 
schools, judging from the outside appearance, 
which is the general rule with travellers, he (fid 
not believe that the state of education was very 
high. 

As he came near Boston, he was struck with 
a visible improvement ; the roads became wider; 
the stone fences gave way to posts and raik, and 
every thing denoted an improved state of civiliza- 
tion. His enthusiasm was great, as he ap- 
proached Bunker's Hill ; no pilgrim, he said, ever 
approached the tomb of his prophet, with more 
awful enthusiasm, than he felt as he drew near to 
that sacred ground ; and great was his wrath, to 
find that a wretched pillar of brick, was the only 
memorial of those who had shed their blood for 
their country. Happily, others, since that time, 
have felt the same emotions, and the matter is 
now in a fair way to be amended. 

His feeling with respect to Bunker^s Hill is 
too illustrative of his character to be passed over. 
Hardly had he arrived in Boston, before he as- 
cended a height, in order to see this celebrated 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 121 

hill ; and, as soon as it was pointed out to him by 
a stranger, he began to explore his way to 
Charlestown. There he was astonished and hurt 
at the indifference, with which the inhabitants 
directed him to the spot, without reflecting at 
the moment on the natural effisct of fiuniliarit j. 
He inqmred, if there was any one living who had 
been engaged in the battle, and was directed to 
Mr. Miller, who bad been a Lieutenant in the 
action. Wilson introduced himself without cere- 
mony, shook hands with him, and told him that 
be was proud of the honor of meeting with one 
of the heroes of Bunker's Hill, speaking with 
warmth and with his eyes sufiiised with tears. 
They proceeded together to the place, taking 
with them another who had also been engaged 
in the service of that day. With these veterans, 
he spent three hours upon the field ; the most 
interesting, he says, which he had ever passed in 
his life. As they pointed out to him the course 
by which the British came up from the water, the 
poor defences of the Americans, the place where 
the action was warmest, and the memorable spot 
where Warren fell, he felt as if he himself could 
have encountered an army in the cause of the 
free. The old soldiers were dehghted with his 
enthusiasm, and, after drinking a glass of wine 
together, they parted with regret. 



122 AMERICAN PI0QR4?9T« 

He passed on through the Eastern part of 
Massachusetts and New Hampshire, stopping at 
every place, where he thought himself likely to 
meet with any success. He went as far in this di- 
rection as Portland, where, the Supreme Court 
having assembled many visiters, he had the opportu- 
nity of gaining information with respect to the east- 
em birds. While in Portland, he enjoyed a pleas^ 
ure, to which he was not accustomed ; it was 
that of hearing a prize song, which he had written 
for . the national celebration, read from a news- 
paper by one of the company, and much ap- 
plauded by the hearers, who did not know that 
the author was so near them. From Portland, 
he proceeded across the country, which he de- 
scribed as wild and savage, with rocks and stones 
in all directions, grinning horribly through trunks 
of half-burned trees. At last he reached Dart- 
mouth college, where the officers were extremely 
obliging and attentive, particularly the president, 
Dr. Wheelock, who subscribed for the work, as 
the presidents of all the other colleges had 
done. 

While at New York, Wilson had the curios- 
ity to call on Paine, the author of the " Rights 
of ManP whom he found at Greenwich, at a 
short distance from the city. He found him in 
the only tolerable apartment of an indifferent 
house, sitting in his nightgown, at a table 



ALEXANDER WILSOK. 123 

covered with newspapers and materials for writ^ 
ing. Wilson seems to have been struck with 
the brilliancy of his countenance, which answered 
to his imagination of Bardolph, even more than 
with the glow of his conversation. Paine ex- 
amined his book with great attention, and en- 
tered his name as a subscriber. This was in 
the close of Paine's Ufe; he was then at the 
age of seventy-two ; and the burden of year* 
was rendered ten times heavier by his habits; 
besides, his attacks upon religion had driven 
many from his society, and left him in a wretched 
solitude ; he died in the succeeding year, leav* 
ing a name and remembrance which few de- 
light to honor. 

Wilson's want of success, though it did not 
discourage him, gave a gloomy tone to his obser- 
vations while on hb journey. After travelling 
about with his book, as he says, like a beggar 
with his bantling, from one town to another; 
after being loaded with kindness and praise, 
and shaken almost to death in stage-coaches; 
after tellbg the same story a thousand times over, 
he writes to Mr. Lawson from Albany, that for all 
the compliments which he received, he was in- 
debted to the taste and skill of the engraver* 
He says, " The book in all its parts so far exceeds 
the ideas and expectations of the first literary 
characters in the eastern section of the United 



1S4 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHY. 

States as to command their admiration and re- 
spect. The cmly objection has been the sum 
of one hundred and twenty dollars^ which, in iar 
mimerable instances, has stood like an evil genius, 
between me and my hopes. Yet I doubt not, 
but when those copies subscribed for are de* 
Uvered, and the book a Uttle better known, the 
whole number will be dbposed of, and pethaps 
encouragement given to go (» with the rest* 
To effect this, to me most desirable object,.! 
have encountered the fatigue of a long, circuitous, 
and expensive journey, with a zeal that has \or 
creased with increasing difficulties; and sonrj 
I am to say, that the whole number of subscrtr 
hers which I have obtained, amounts only to ybr^ 

His American biographer is severe upon his 
oountrymen, for not affording more liberal sup- 
port to this undertaking. It is certainly a ims* 
fortune that taste does not always fall to the k>t 
of those who have wealth to indulge it ; but such 
IS the case, and to most persons then ia New 
England, the want of one hundred and twenty 
dollars, was a difficulty not easily to be overcome, 
whether they wished to devote it to this purpose 
or any other ; and it must be remembered, that 
there was no taste for ornithology then existing ; 
the professor of one of the cdleges, from whom 
he hoped to receive information in natural histo* 



ALEXANDER WILSON. ISS 

ry, did not know a sparrow from a woodpecker. 
Wilson was obliged to form the very taste .on 
which he depended for encouragement, and this 
was a work of time. In the present day, so 
equally is prosperity difiiised, there are ten who 
would wish, to one who can afford to buy the 
American Ornithology; in his day the number 
must have been much less of those, who pos- 
sessed either the desire or the ability to indulge it. 
If his subscription in the Northern States was 
inconsiderable, his success at the South was not 
greater. After remaining at home a few days, 
he commenced a tour in that part of the Union. 
He writes from Washington, December 24tb, 
1808, that he was fortunate enough to procure 
sixteen subscribers in Baltimore. At Annapolis 
he passed his book through both branches of the 
legislature then in session; but, after deliberate 
examination, the noes were many, and the ayes 
none. He pursued liis way through tobacco 
fields, sloughs, and swamps, to Washington, a 
distance of thirty-eight miles ; and he has re- 
corded, that he was obliged to open fifty-five 
gates on the way, each one compelling him to 
descend into the mud to open it. The negroes 
were so wretchedly clad, that he was wholly at a 
loss to know, to what name their garment was 
entitled ; but as often as he made inquiries at 



126 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

their huts, both men and women gathered their 
rags about them, and came out very civilly to 
show him his way. 

The city of Washington was not in its most 
palmy state at that time. Wilson says, that the 
ooly improvement then going on was the build- 
ing of one brick house. In this respect there is 
a change ; but in some others the place retains 
its former character. Wilson remarked, that the 
taverns and boarding-houses were crowded with 
placemen, contractors, office-hunters, and adven- 
turers of that description ; and, among others, were 
deputations of Indians, come to receive their last 
alms from the President, before he retired from 
public life. He was kindly received by the Pres- 
ident, to whom he paid his respects ; they con- 
versed much on the subject of Ornithology ; and 
Mr. Jefferson gave him a letter to a person in 
Virginia, who had spent his life in the study of 
birds, and from whom he intended to have gath- 
ered much information; but his engagements 
would not permit, and he entrusted the commis- 
sion to Wilson. 

He went from Washington to Norfolk, where 
he found hetter success than he expected, but 
could not sufficiently lament the aspect of the 
streets ; though, according to his own account, 
they were in a state of improvement, since, not 
long before, the news-carrier delivered his papers 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 127 

from a boat, which he forced through the mud with 
a pole; and a party of sailors, having nothing 
better to do, launched a ship's long-boat in the 
streets, rowing through the mud with four oars, 
while one stood at the bow, engaged in heaving 
the lead. This story would seem to belong to 
the Apocrypha, or rather to a kind of histoiy, 
by which the accounts of travellers are sometimes 
requited, with narratives more amazing than 
their own. 

In his way to Suffolk, he lodged at the house 
of a planter, who informed him, that almost all 
his family were attacked every year with bilious 
fever in the months of August and September, 
and that, of thirteen children, he had lost all but 
three. One would suppose that nothing but the 
hope of following them, could have detained him 
in such a place of death. Farther on, he came 
to a place called Jeru^aZem, where he found the 
river swollen to an extraordinary height. After 
passing the bridge, he was conveyed in a boat, 
called a fiat, nearly two miles through the woods. 
When he left the boat, he was obliged to wade 
and swim his horse, breaking the ice as he went 
on, no luxurious employment for a traveller in 
the depth of winter. 

According to him, the habits of the natives of 
this region, were not such as to atone for the 
unkindness of nature. The first operation in the 



126 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

business of the day, was drinking a preparation 
of brandy, which they said was the only thing 
that would secure them from the ague. It was 
often a subject of wonder to those among whom 
Wilson was thrown, to find how lightly he es- 
teemed the concerns of eating and drinking, par- 
ticularly the latter. The most vigorous advocate 
of temperance at the present day, could not 
make more determined war on ardent spirit in all 
its forms, than he, though his pursuits were of a 
kind most likely to betray him into such means 
to counteract the effects of toil and exposure. 

With the. accommodation aflforded by the pub- 
lic houses Wilson was by no means delighted. 
Those in this region were desolate and wretched ; 
with bare, bleak, and dirty walls ; one or two old 
chairs and a bench forming all the furniture. 
Every thing was conducted by negroes, the white 
females not deigning to appear. The fragrance 
of the establishment was such, that it would be 
wronged by any attempt to describe it, and the 
meals were so served up, that the appetite 
of a wolf would have shrunk back in dismay. 
These hospitable mansions were raised from the 
ground, on posts, leaving a retreat below for the 
hogs, which kept up a serenade all night. This 
country abounded in these animals ; one person 
would sometimes own five hundred. The lead- 
ers were distbguished with bells, and each drove 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 189 

knew its particular call, whether it were the sound 
of a conch or the bawling of a negro, at the 
distance of half a mile. 

He crossed the river Tar at Washbgton, in 
North Carolina, for Newbem, where he found the 
shad fishery begun, as early as the fifth of Febru- 
ary. From Newbem to Wilmington, one hun- 
dred miles, he found but one public house open 
on the whole way, two landlords having been 
broken up by the fever. The principal features 
of North Carolina were the dark, solitary pine 
savanna, through which the road wound among 
stagnant ponds, swarming with alligators ; the 
sluggish creek with water of the color of brandy, 
over which is thrown a high Wooden bridge with- 
out railings, often so crazy and insecure, as to 
alarm both the horse and the rider, and make it 
a miraculous escape to go over^ instead of going 
through ; and the immense cypress swamp, the 
very picture of dreariness and ruin. The leafless 
limbs of the cypresses were covered with long moss 
(TiMandsia usneoidea) firom two to ten feet long, 
and so abundant that fifty men could be concealed 
under it in the same tree. Nothing seemed 
more extrac^dinary, than to see thousands of 
acres covered with such timber, with its drapery 
waving in the wind. He attempted to penetrate 
some of these swampff in search of birds; but, 
in most instances, he was obliged to give up the 

VOL. II. 9 



130 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

attempt in despair. He could, however, explore 
their borders, in which he found many birds 
which never spend the winter in Pennsylvania. 

It was in vain that he attempted to find an 
alligator, though he heard many stories of their 
numbers, and the havoc which they made among 
the pigs and calves of the farm. He saw a 
dog at the river Santee, which betrayed no fear 
of these animals, but would swim across the 
river whenever he pleased, without consulting 
their pleasure ; if he heard them pursuing him 
in the water, he would turn and attack them, 
seizing them by the snout, in a manner which 
compelled them to retreat in confusion ; gene«ally 
dogs regard them with extreme dread. Mr. 
Ord was accompanied by a strong spaniel in a 
tour in East Florida; one day, while wading 
in a pond with his dog swimming behind him, 
the dog smelt an alligator, and immediately 
made for the shore and fled into the woods, 
whence no persuasions could induce him to return. 

Wilson was not much pleased with the inhabi* 
tants of this region; and in general it may be 
said, that he does not see the "happiest at* 
titudes of things ; " this was owing doubtless to 
the business in which he was engaged, that of 
collecting subscriptions. Till he had explained 
his own share in the work, those to whom he 
offered it would naturally have confounded him 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 131 

with the common herd of such adventurers, and 
peihaps have treated him with very little at- 
tention. From Wilmington he rode as before 
through cypress swamps and pine savannas, some- 
times thirty miles without seeing a habitation or 
a human being, making his course circuitous, in 
order to visit the planters, who live on their 
rice plantations among their negro villages. He 
found their hospitality so great and the roads so 
bad, that it seemed impossible to get away from 
a house when he had once entered it. 
> His horse began to be so exhausted by the 
continual exertion, that he was obliged to ex** 
change hinpi for another. He proposed to a 
planter to exchange, giving his horse at least as 
good a character as he deserved; the planter 
asked twenty dollars to boot, and Wilson thirty. 
They could not agree ; but Wilson, perceiving that 
the planter had taken- a fancy to his horse, rode 
on. The planter, as he anticipated, followed him 
to the sea-beach, under jyretenoe of pointing out 
the road, and there they came to terms. Wil- 
son found himself in possession of an elegant, 
powerful horse, that ran away with him at once 
upon the shore. The least sound of the whip 
made him spring half a rod, and even the com** 
mon fare of horses in that region,^ which was 
like the rushes with which carpenters sometimes 
snxMth their work, did not produce the least 



132 AMBBXCAN BIOGRAPHY. 

abatement of his fury. Several times the steed 
eame near breaking his new master's neck, and 
at Georgetown he threw one of the boatmen 
into the river. But Wilson readily fiirgave him 
these offences in consideration of his fleetness. 

He accorded more praise to Chariestcm than 
was usual with him, though in this case he was 
extremely sparing ; and he intimates that his &- 
miliarity with the streets of these cities, through 
which he walked his unprombing rounds, was one 
reason of his want of enthusiasm in his applause. 
The town, he said, was clean and gay in its as* 
pect, with a market, which in neatness iar sur- 
passed the boasted one in Philadelphia. The 
streets crossed each other at right angles, hav- 
ing paved walks at their sides, and a low bed 
of sand in the middle. They were blackened 
with negroes, whose quarrels sometimes dis- 
turbed the peace of the high-way. In one of the 
streets was an exhibition, which would have 
equalled any one on earth for a comic painter, 
containing female chimney-sweepers, stalls with 
roasted sweet potatoes for sale, and clubs of 
blacks, sitting round fires, cooking their victuals, 
all joyous and light-hearted as if they lived in 
the golden age. 

In the beginning of March, he was pursuing his 
labors in Savannah, with no very flattering prom- 
ise of success. When he wrote from this place, 



ALSXANBER WILSON. 138 

he complained that those, who had promised to 
fiirnish him in Charleston with lists of persons to 
whom he should apply, had put him off from day 
to day, till he was obliged to go forth, and judge 
as well as he might from the appearance of the 
houses. Those to whom he had been rec(»n- 
mended, did i^t give him the least aid ; but the 
keeper of the library, a Scotchman, made out a 
list for him, which considerably abridged his la- 
bors. With the exception of this neglect on the 
part of one or two, he was pleased with the in- 
habitants of that city. Hearing of General Wil- 
kinson's arrival, Wilson waited on him, and re- 
ceived from him his subscription, his money, and 
his unbounded praise. 

On the way from Charleston to Savannah, he 
had nearly lost his horse, which, from impa- 
tience, threw itself overboard, and was rescued 
only by the great and dangerous exertions of its 
master. On this journey, he met with the Ivory- 
Ulled Woodpecker, a large and powerful bird. 
He wounded one slightly in the wing ; on being 
caught, it uttered a constant cry, resembling that 
of a young child, which so frightened hb horse, 
that it nearly cost him his life. The cry was so 
distressing, that, as he carried the bird, covered in 
his chair, through the streets, people hurried to the 
windows and piazzas, to see whence it proceeded* 
As he drove up to th$ tavern, the landlord wi 



134 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

bystanders were much disturbed by the sounds 
nor was their perplexity diminished by Wilson's 
ajddng for lodgings for himself and his baby. 
After amusing himself awhile with thev conjee* 
tures, he drew out the bird, which was welcomed 
with a general shout of laughter. He took the 
woodpecker up stairs, and locked him in a cham- 
ber, whUe he went to give directions concerning 
his horse. In less than an hour, he returned ; and, 
on opening the chamber, the bird set up the same 
cry of surprise and sorrow, that he had returned 
so soon ; for it had mounted at the side of the 
window, and a little below the ceiling, had com- 
menced breaking through. The bed was covered 
with large pieces of plaster, the lathing was 
exposed in a space fifteen inches square, and a 
considerable hole beaten through the lathmg, to 
tlie weatherboards ; so that, had not Wilson re- 
turned, it would soon have released itself firom 
bondage. He then tied a string to its leg, that it 
might not reach the wall, and after fastening it to 
a mahogany table, left it again to find some suita- 
ble food. When he returned, he found that it 
had turned its rage against the table, which it had 
entirely ruined, with blows fix)m its powerful bill. 
While Wilson was drawing it, it cut him in seve- 
ral places, and displayed such an invincible spirit, 
that he was often tempted to restore it to the 
woods. It refused all food, and lived but three 
days after. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 135 

Wilson was much disgusted mth the indolence, 
which slavery produces among the whites in the 
Southern States. The carpenter, bricklayer, and 
even the blacksmith, he says, stand, with their 
hands in their pockets, overlooking their negroes. 
The planter orders his servant, to tell the over- 
seer, to have the stranger's horse taken care of; 
the overseer sends another negro to tell the dri- 
ver to send one of his hands to do it. Long be- 
fore this routine of ceremony is gone through, the 
traveller, if he cares for his horse, has already 
given him the requisite attention. He was also 
displeased with the cold and melancholy reserve, 
or indolence of manner, which prevailed among 
the females, almost without exception. Their si- 
lence was embarrassiftg to a stranger, who could 
not possibly tell whether it proceeded from bash- 
fulness or aversion. 

He found it no easy matter, to follow the mo- 
tions of the higher class of society. At nine, 
they were in bed, — at ten, breakfasting, — dress- 
ing at eleven, — at noon gone out, and not visi- 
ble again till the next morning. The climate did 
not please him much better. When in Savannah, 
though it was so early in the spring, the ther- 
mometer, he said, ranged between seventy-five 
and eighty-two. To him, it was more oppressive 
than midsummer in Philadelphia. The streets, 
he said, were beds of burning sand ; and, till one 



136 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

learned to traverse them with his eyes and mouth 
close shut, both were filled at intervals with whirl- 
winds of drifting sand. He was fortunate enough, 
to meet in Savannah with Mr. Abbot, a naturalist, 
who had published a volume in London, upon the 
Insects of Georgia. He bad resided in the state 
more than thirty years, and, bemg an accurate ob- 
server, was qualified to affi>rd Wilson that kind of 
information which he was most desirous to gain. 

Whether Wilson's observations were not, in 
many instances, colored by the state of his feel- 
ings at the time, may reasonably be doubted. 
It was so in New England, and probably was so 
in the Southern States. What other mortal ever 
discovered that the Yankees were a lazy people ? 
The sins, with which that much-enduring race 
have been charged, have always been of precisely 
the opposite description. In New England, he 
saw fields covered with stones, scrubby oaks 
and pine trees, wretcljed orchards, scarcely one 
field of grain in twenty miles, the taverns dir- 
ty, miserable, and filled with brawling loungers, 
the people snappish and extortioners, lazy, and 
two hundred years behind the Pennsylvanians in 
all agricultural improvements. There are not 
many, with the exception perhaps of British 
travellers, who could recognise, in the elements of 
this dismal vision, a description of New England. 
These things, no doubt, may be seen in New Eng- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 137 

land, as well as elsewhere ; but the whole aspect 
of things is not so melancholy as this, which 
would almost make the angels weep. 

When/ at Savannah, he was making arrange- 
ments for his return, he summed up the results 
of his journey, saying that it was the most ardu- 
ous and fatiguing he ever undertook. He had 
succeeded in gainmg two hundred and fifty 
subscribers in all, for his Obnithologt, but they 
were obtained, he said, at a price worth more than 
five times their amount. In this estimate he in- 
eludes, of course, his expense of labor and feeling. 
He now feels as if he had gained his pomt through 
a host of difficulties ; and, should the work be con- 
tinued in a style equal to that of the first volume, 
he believes that the number of copies may be safe- 
ly increased to four hundred. He has endeavored 
to find respectable persons, who will undertake to 
distribute the work in various towns, receiving as 
their recompense, only the privilege of first se- 
lection ; but the greatest benefit derived from 
his tour consists in the great mass of information 
which he has obtained, concerning the birds that 
winter in the South, and some that never visit the 
Northern States ; and, as all this information has 
been collected by himself, he feels that it may 
be trusted. He says, that he has seen no fix>st 
rince the 5th of February ; the gardens are green 
and luxuriant, full of flowering shrubbery, and 



138 AMKRICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

orange-trees loaded with fruit ; but, now, he be- 
gins to feel the full melody and expression of the 
word home ; more deeply perhaps, on account of 
the dangers, hardships, insults, and impositions, 
which he had just passed through. He was 
advised to go to Augusta, ^here he -was told that 
lie could get fifteen subscribers ; but he thought 
that this number would not compensate for the 
additional expense and trouble ; and, as his means 
were running low, and his health was not firm, 
be chose rather to take passage by sea for New 
York, where he arrived in March, 1809. 

Only two hundred copies of the first volume 
of the Ornithology had been prmted ; but it 
was thought advisable to strike ofi* three hundred 
more. Meantime the preparation for the second 
volume went on vigorously amidst his other la- 
bors, and consumed the residue of the year. On 
the 4th of August, he writes to Mr. Bartram, that 
it is ready to go to the press, and he is desirous to 
know, whether his friend cannot add something to 
his information respecting the birds that are to 
appear in the number. He had himself collected 
all the particulars which he could possibly gather 
by inquiry and personal observation ; but he was 
desirous that nothing should be wanting ; and, if 
he could secure the approbation as well as aid of 
a distinguished naturalist, it would help the suc- 
cess of the publication. He had received draw- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 139 

ings of birds from many parts of the United 
States, and the presents were accompanied with 
ofiers of more ; but, though he was grateful for the 
attention of those who sent them, they were sel- 
dom executed with sufficient accuracy and pre« 
cision. 

Wilson claimed the honor of being a volunteer 
in the pursuit ; he never had received from it one 
cent of profit ; and the engraver, Mr. Lawson^ 
was so ready to share in the sacrifice, that his 
recompense for his labor, such was the time spent 
in giving finish to the plates, did not exceed fifty 
cents a day. From the letter just referred to, it 
appears that Wilson kept up a correspondence 
with Michaux; he mentions having just heard 
fix)m him, that he has not yet received the appoint- 
ment of inspector of the forests of France, so 
much was Bonaparte engaged in other undertak- 
ings which were more acceptable perhaps, but 
much less beneficial to his country. 

The second volume of the Ornithology ap- 
peared in January, 1810 ; and hardly had it left 
the press, before Wilson proceeded to commence 
a journey to the West. He had been making 
arrangements, for some time, in preparation for 
this expedition, endeavoring to ascertain in what 
manner he could travel to most advantage. He 
seems to have had some prospect of securing 
the company of Mr. Bartram ; for we find him 



140 AMERICAN BIOGRATHT. 

cȣfermg to proceed, in the way that his friend 
thinks best. But he was compelled, as usual, to 
go on his journey alone, without a companion to 
assist him in his observations, and to relieve the 
weariness of the way. 

From Pittsburg, he wrote to Mr. Lawson, giv- 
ing him some account of the first stages of his 
expedition. He tells him, that on arriving at 
Lancaster, he waited on the governor and other 
public officers. The former, who seemed to 
be an unceremonious, plain, and sensible man, 
praised the volumes and added his name to the 
list. With the legislators he was much less de- 
lighted, finding them, as he says, " a pitifiil, squab- 
bling, political mob ; — split up, justling about the 
forms of legislation, without knowing any tlung 
about its realities." But he was fortunate 
enough to find in this wilderness some firiends to 
science, by whom he was very kindly treated. 
In Columbia, he spent one day to no purpose ; 
after cutting his way through the ice of the Sus- 
quehannah, he went to York, where he met with 
no better success. Not far fi-om this latter place, 
he saw a singular character, between eighty and 
ninety years of age, who had subsisted by ^rajp- 
ping birds and other animals for thirty years. 
Wilson secured his good graces, by the present 
of half a pound of snufi*, which the old man took 
by the handful ; and he then exhibited to him the 



ALSXANDEB WILSON. 141 

plates of the Ornitholoot, much to the an- 
chorite's amazement and delight. He was ac- 
quainted with all the birds of the first volume, 
and nearly all of the second. Wilson endeav- 
ored to secure the particulars of his life, togeth- 
er with a representation of his person ; and he 
doubtless would have made an agreeable figure 
in a narrative, similar to those which Audubon 
has' so happily mtroduced into his work. 

In Hanover, he encountered one of those per- 
sons, whose vulgar insolence he could never en- 
dure with the least serenity. A certain judge in 
that place told him, that such a hook as his 
ought not to be encouraged, because it was not 
within the reach of the commonality ^ and there- 
fore was inconsistent with republican institutions. 
Wilson admitted the force of the objection, and 
proved to him, that he himself was a gross of- 
fender, inasmuch as he had built such a large, 
handsome, three-story house, as was entirely be- 
yond the reach of the commonality and therefore 
outrageously inconsistent with republican institu- 
tions. This was placing the subject in a new 
pdnt of view ; but Wilson was not satisfied with 
imparting a single ray of light to the darkness of 
such a mind ; he talked seriously to the man of 
law, pointing out to him the importance of sci- 
ence to a rising nation, and with so much effect, 
that he began to show signs of shame. 



142 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

On the 11th of Fehruary, he left Chambers- 
burg, and soon began to ascend the Allegany 
mountains, where nothing appeared but prodi- 
gious declivities, covered with woods, and where 
there was silence so profound as to make the scene 
impressive and sublime. These high rs^nges con- 
tinued as far as Greensburg ; thence to Pittsburg 
he found nothing but steep hills and valleys, de- 
scending toward the latter place. He was ngiuch 
struck vrith the distant view of the town. With- 
in two miles of it, the road suddenly descend- 
ed a steep hill, and the Allegany River was seen 
stretching along a rich valley, and bounded by 
high hills toward the west. While he was 
yet distant from the town, he saw the cloud 
of black smoke above it. As they entered,. it 
appeared like a collection of blacksmiths' shops, 
brew-houses, furnaces, and glass-houses. The ice 
had just given way in the Monongahela, and 
was coming down in vast masses ; the river was 
lined with arks, sometimes called Kentucky boats, 
which were waiting for this movement, in order 
to descend the stream. He thought that 
the town, with its vessels, its hills, its rivers, 
and the pillars of smoke towering in the air, 
would afford a noble perspective view. He. was 
exceedingly impressed with what he saw, and 
often regretted that his friends were not with him, 
to enjoy the spectacle of mountains, of expanded 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 143 

rivers, of deep forests and meadows, which every- 
where stood before his eyes. 

lie succeeded, beyond his expectation, in gain- 
ing subscribers in Pittsburg ; and after ascertain- 
ing that the roads were such as to render a land 
journey impossible, he bought a small boat, which 
he named the Ornithologist^ intending to pro- 
ceed in it to Cincinnati, a distance of more than 
five hundred miles. Some advised him not 
to undertake the journey alone; but he had 
made up his mind, and only waited, exploring 
the woods in the interval, till the ice had left 
the stream. 

When Wilson had fairly embarked in this ad- 
venture, his account of his journey grows very 
interesting, and .woflld be more so, could it be giv- 
en in his own words; but this would interfere 
with the unbroken narrative, which the charac- 
ter of our undertaking requires. His descriptions 
can be compared with the same region, as it is 
described by those who visit it now, and the im- 
a^nation is almost bewildered at reflecting what 
a quarter of a century has done. 

From Lexington in Kentucky he wrote again 
to Mr. Lawson on the 4th of April. He says, 
that the plan of proceeding by water was so 
convenient for Ins purpose, that he disregarded 
what was said by those who advised him against 
it. Two days before his departure, the river was 



144 AMEB^ICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

full of ice, from which he apprehended some in- 
terruption. His provisions consisted of some 
hiacuit and cheese, and a bottle of cordial, given 
him by a gentleman in Pittsburg; one end of 
the boat was occupied by his trunk, great coat, 
and gun ; he had a small tin vessel, with which 
to bale his boat, and to drink the water of the 
Ohio. Thus equipped, he launched mto the 
stream. The weather was calm, and the river 
like a mirror, except where fragments of ice were 
floating down. His heart expanded with de- 
light at the novelty and wildness of the scene. 
The song of the red-bird in the deep forests on 
the shore, the smoke of the various sugar 
camps rising gently along the mountains, and 
the little log-huts, which her^and there opened 
from the wo6ds, gave an appearance of life to a 
landscape, which would otherwise have been op- 
pressively lonely and still. 

He could not consent to wait the motion of 
the river, which flowed two miles and a half an 
hour ; he therefore stripped himself for the oar, 
and added three miles and a half to his speed. 
He passed several arksy containing miscellane- 
ous collections of men, women, children, horses, 
and ploughs, flour and millstones ; some of 
them being provided with counters, fixim which 
these amphibious pedlers sold their goods, 
in the settlements, which they passed through. 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 145 

So completely have the steam-boats swept the 
rivers^ that these primitive vessels are hardly to 
be (ouni at the present day, except in descrip- 
tion. They were built after the form of the ark 
of Noah, as it was represented in old Bibles ; be- 
ing a parallelogram, from twelve to fourteen feet 
wide, and from forty to seventy long, rowed by 
two oars at the sides, and steered by a long and 
powerful one behind. They were forced up the 
stream along the sides, at the rate of twenty 
miles a day. Vessels of this description poured 
down the Ohio, from all its tributary streams, such 
as the Allegany, Monongahela, Muskingum, Sci- 
oto, Miami, Wabash, and Kentucky, bound to va-^ 
rious parts of the country below. 

This scene in 1810 showed a prodigious de- 
velopement of activity and enterprise since 1 804, 
when, as has been related, a person who de- 
scended the Ohio, met but a single voyager, in 
a small boat, in the whole length of the stream ; 
but even this has been completely eclipsed by 
the history of succeeding years. In the begin- 
ning of 1817, ten steam-boats had been set in mo- 
tion on the western waters; and in that year, 
there were public rejoicings on account of a 
passage, which had been made in twenty-five 
days, fix)m New Orleans to the Falls of the Ohio. 
At present, a steam-boat ascends from New Or- 
leans to Cincinnati in ten days. The number of 

VOL. II. 10 



146 AMERICAN BIOaRAPHT. 

boats in commissioii amounted^ in 1832^ to two 
hundred. This wonderful application of sci- 
ence to the arts of life has caused the western 
wilderness to rejoice ; tiie work of centuries has 
been crowded into a few years.; the axe rings on 
the banks of every river ; the fire clears a path 
through the ocean of wood ; the village springs 
up as if by enchantment ; and the whole region 
aiBbrds the most striking example that can bo 
found of the power, by which man subdues the 
earth, and compels it to acknowledge the sove- 
reignty of mind. 

Our traveller's lod^ngs by night were less tol-* 
mble than his voyage, as he went down the 
desolate stream. The first night was passed in a 
log cabm, fifty-two miles below Pittsburg, where 
be slept on what seemed to be a heap of corn- 
stalks. Having no temptation to Unger in such a 
bed, he was on his voyage again before the break 
of day. To him this was a delightful hour, 
when the landscape on each side lay in deep 
masses of shade, while the bold, projecting head- 
lands were beautifully reflected in the calm water« 
Thus, having full leisure for contemplation, ex- 
posed to the weather all day and to hard rest- 
ing-places by night, he persevered, early and 
inclement as the season was, till he moored his 
skiff in Bear Grass Creek at the Rapids of the 
Ohio, after a voyage of seven hundred and 



ktttki^ttek WILSON. 14i 

twenty iiiiles> in Whi^h he spent twenty-one 
days. 

When h& was in Marietta, he visited some of 
the remarkable mounds, which are found in that 
cJountry. One, called the Big Grave, is three 
hundred paces round at the base, and seventy 
feet in height; It is in the form of a cone, and, 
together with the Iknd around it, was then covered 
with trees of ancient date. This spot, which 
abounded in curious remains of unknown and« 
quity, was the property of a man, whose indifier- 
ence to the subject was curiously contrasted with 
th^ enthusiasm of Wilson. He was earnest to 
have the mound examined, being persuaded that 
something would be discovered which would throw 
light upon it^ history. As no prospects of this 
sort had the least attraction for the proprietor, 
Wilson represented to him that a passage might 
be cut into it level with the ground, and, by exca« 
vation and arching, a noble cellar be formed for 
turnips and potatoes. But the obstinate utilita* 
nan atiswered him with the incontestable truth, 
that all the turnips and potatoes he could raise in 
a dozen years, would not pay the expense of 
such a trelutury. Wilson left him at last with 
the firm conviction, that he was poorly endowed 
by nature with either good sense or feelmg. 

Near the head of what is called the Long 
Reach he vbited a Mr. Cresap^ son of the noted 



148 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Colonel of that name, mentioned in the " Notes 
on Virginia." Wilson inquired of him whether 
Logan's charge against his father^ of having killed 
all his family, was true. He replied, that Logan 
believed it, but he had been mbinformed. He 
passed Blannerhasset's Island at night ; but by 
the light of the clearing-fires, he was able to get 
a good view both of the house and the Island, 
which latter, like others in the Ohio, is liable to 
be overflowed when the river rises in the spring. 
When he was about ten miles below the mouth 
of the Great Scioto, he encountered a storm of 
rain, which changed to hail and snow, and soon 
blew down trees in such a manner, that he was 
obliged to keep his boat in the middle of the 
stream, which rolled and foamed like the sea. 
After great exertion, he succeeded in landing 
near a cabin on the Kentucky shore. There he 
learned the mysteries of bear-treeing, wolf-trap- 
ping, and wildcat-hunting firom a veteran professor. 
This man was one of the people called " squat- 
ters," who pitch their tents wherever they please, 
neither asking nor receivmg a welcome. They 
are the immediate successors of the savages, and, 
according to Wilson's testimony, are generally 
very far below them in good sense and good 
manners. Whatever the skill of this old trapper 
may have been, it did not seem sufficient to 
secure his property firom depredation ; since, by his 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 149 

own confession, tlie market of the wolves had 
been supplied with sixty of bis pigs in the course 
of the winter. 

Wilson testifies concerning these cabins, that 
the dbtant view of them is attractive and roman- 
tic, but a nearer approach is apt to break the 
charm. And yet so universal is human vanity, 
that the tenants of these dismal sheds boast to 
the stranger of the richness of their soil, the 
healthiness of their climate, and the purity of 
their water ; meantime the only bread they have 
is made of Indian com, ground in a horse-miU, 
which leaves half the grains unbroken ; their cat- 
tie, which look like moving skeletons, are pro- 
vided with neither stable nor hay; their own 
houses make a pig-sty a desirable dwelling, and 
their persons are ragged and filthy, and emaci- 
ated to the last degree. 

Cincinnati, which is now a large city, was then 
a town of several hundred houses. He was for- 
tunate enough to find there those who were dis- 
posed to exert themselves in his favor. When 
he reached Big Bone Creek, he left his boat, to 
visit the Big Bone Lick, five miles distant firom 
the river. He found the place a low valley, sur- 
rounded on all sides by high hills. In the cen- 
tre, by the side of the creek, is a quagmire of an 
acre in extent ; the large bones have been taken 
from this and a smaller one below. Wilson came 



160 AMSmCAN BIOOIt^FHT. 

* * ^ • ■ . . • . 

oear depositing him^telf among the apted^UYiaii 
remains. In chasing a 4uck across the qi^gmiia, 
he sank in it, and could only relieve {limself \g 
desperate exerticms. So earnest was he to have 
the researches in this regiop followed \kp with 
vigor, that he laid strong injunctiqna on the vpanfi- 
ger to dig with all his might ; and, as the propner 
tor was absent, Wilson sat down and wrqte hin^ 
1^ letter, containing simile exhartatiQOS, to be 
delivered to him when he returned. 

It is amusing to see how, while Wilson 
was sometimes put out of patience by soov^ 
of the strange characters that be met, if 
was not unusual to find hisf good humor re-r 
stored by the very extravagance of their ahsuc? 
dity. The night before he reached LouisyiU^^ 
after being exposed all day to a storm, firqo) 
which he could not protect himself, because bis 
great-coat was in reqqest to cover Iws bird- 
skins, he reached a cabin, which was decidedly 
the worst he had ever entered. The owner, 
^ diminutive wretch, boosted of having been one 
of Washington's life-guards duriflg the revolution- 
ary war, and said that his commander, knowing 
his skill in sharp-shooting, had sometimes pointed 
out a British officer, saying ^^ Can't you peppei^ 
that there fellqw for me ? " on which solicitatiw, 
he invariably s^nt ^is ^dctim to his long 
^ome. Before sitting dpw^ p supper he pj^ 



ALXXANDXR WILSOIT. 151 

Bounced a long pnijer, and immediately after 
his devotions called out, with a splutter of 
oaths for pine splinters, that the gentleman 
nught be able to see. Such a combination of 
oaths and lies, prayers and politeness, though it 
at first filled Wilson with disgust, soon became an 
interesting subject of reflection to him, as showing 
to what unsounded depths of degradation human 
nature can gd. 

The next night he reached Louisville, hav- 
ing been detained upon his way by a vain pur- 
suit of wild turkeys so late, that he was alarmed 
m the evening by bearing the distant sound of 
the Rapids some time before he reached the 
town. After sailing cautiously along the shore, 
lest he should be drawn toward the Falls by the 
force of the current, he reached Bear Grass Creek, 
where he landed safely, and, taking his baggage 
on his shoulders, groped his way to the town. 
Tte next day he sold his boat, the Ornithologist, 
ibr half price, to a man, who was curious to 
know why he gave the craft "such a droll 
Indian name," adding, " Some old chief or 
WBtrioFy I suppose." 

Leaving his baggage to be forwarded by a 
wagon, he proceeded on foot to Lexington, 
seventy-two miles distant; the walking was 
uncomfortable ; in wet weather it was like 
travelling on so& soap ; the want of bridges 



152 AMERICAN BI06BAPHT. 

was also a serious iDConvemence to a way- 
larer. In visiting one of those remarkable 
pigeon-roosts, which are found in Kentucky, he 
was obliged to wade through a deep creek 
nine or ten times. He was pleased with the 
appearance of the country. Though nine-tenths 
of it was forest, through which the brooks found 
their way, flowing over loose flags of lime-st(xie, 
he saw many immense fields of com, protected 
by excellent fences. But nothing fixed his 
attention so much as the flight of the migratory 
pigeons. They were moving in a cloud, sev- 
eral strata in depth, and extending on each ^de 
farther than the eye could reach. Curious to 
know how long this overshadowing procession 
might be, he sat down to observe them; but 
after the lapse of an hour, so far from seeing the 
end, he found them crowding on apparently in 
greater numbers. 

He was delighted with the gay appearance 
of Lexington, which was then a pretty village, 
ornamented with a small, white spire. To one 
who had been so long in the solitude of the forest 
and the river, the aspect of busy streets was very 
exhilarating; but he seems to have been most 
struck with the appearance of the Court-house, 
in which, as he entered, he discerned the judges, 
like spiders in a window-comer, scarcely dis- 
tinguishable in the gloom. The building, he 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 153' 

ssdd, though plain and unpretending, had all 
the effect of the Gothic ; the walls having been 
found too weak to sustain the honors of a roof and 
steeple, the architect had thrown up from the 
floor a number of pillars, with the large end 
uppermost, which had a look so threatening as 
to fill every spectator with reverential awe. 
The religious part of the community seemed 
to him the least exclusive of all religionists ; since 
they neither excluded fix)m the church nor 
churchyard any man or any animal whatso- 
ever. 

But though he took the liberty of amusing 
himself with some peculiarities of the place, 
he was surprised to see what a vast amount of 
industry and improvement had been gathered 
there in a few years. It is well known, that a 
party of hunters gave the name to the spot, 
from having heard, when encamped there, the 
news of the battle of Lexington, m the beginning 
of the revolution ; and when Wilson was there, 
a middle-aged inhabitant remembered when 
two log-huts formed the only settlement, sur- 
rounded on every side by a deep wilderness, 
rendered fnghtful by the presence of ferocious 
Indians. 

He was very much surprised at the lateness 
of the spring ; but, as he approached Nashville, 
the scene rapidly changed. The blossoms of the 



154 AMERICAN BI0GRAP9T. 

sassafras, red-bud, and dogwood contrasted hem^ 
fully with the gre^n of the poplar afid buckeye. 
The song of stranger birds delighted his ear, 
and the rich verdure of the grain'-fields, wkb 
the glowing Uossoms of the orchard, which sur* 
rounded the farm-house, gave a pleasant relief 
to the eye. On the way he encountered one 
of the family caravans, which are peculiar to 
the West. In firont was a wag(»i, drawn bj 
fi>ur horses, driven by a negro, and loaded with 
agricultural implements; next came a heavilj 
loaded wagon, drawn by six horses, attended by 
two persons ; this was followed by a procesnon 
of horses, steers, cows, sheep, hogs, and catves, 
with their bells ; next came eight boys, inouiil« 
ed double, and a black girl with a white eUld 
before her ; then the mother with one child 
before her, and another at the breast ; the rear 
guard was a party of colts, which moved with* 
out regard to order. The sound of the bells, and 
the shouts of the drivers, repeated by the moun- 
tain echoes, made the whole effect very imposing. 
All this preparation belonged to a single fanuly, 
removing from Kentucky to Tennessee. 

In the course of his journey, Wilson visited 
some of the remarkable caverns of Kentucky, 
one of which, on the road firom Lexington to 
Nashville, has been explored to the dbtance. ol 
several miles. The entrance to those caverns is 



ALBXANOEB WILSON. 15|^ 

generally found at the bottom of a sinJc-hohj or 
place formed by the sinking of the soil ; tbes^ 
holes, of various size and depth, are very com- 
mon in this region and are often used as cellar% 
being cooled by a stream running through them. 
Great quantities of native jGrlauber's salts are found 
m them, apd the earth is also strongly im- 
pregna^d with nitre. One of these caverns 
belonged to a man who had the reputation, in 
the country, of being a murderer, and of using 
the cave to ccmceal the bodies of his victims* 
The opportunity of seeiqg the mm was too 
tempting to be lost ; so that Wilson called at his 
house, which was a tavern, with the express 
purpose of forming an acquaintance so desirable. 
He $3und the landlord, who was a strong mur 
latto, wit{i ^ couQtenaQce which might have gone 
far to establish his general reputation. He ini- 
viteti Wilson \o go into his cave, which was en* 
tffred through a perpendicular ropk, behind his 
house ; the offer was accepted, and, when they 
^ere pi t|;^ depth of the gloom ^one together, 
WU^oipi took occs^ioQ to tell him what reputation 
he and his Qay^rn bore in the surroMnding coun<» 
try, advising him to have the cave exapo^ed, in 
order to reinoye from himself the reproach of 
such a detestable crime. The advice had no 
effect, the naan treating the subject as if it was a 
m^tte^ of indiffereince ^ ^t the in0ide9t serves 



156 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

well to illustrate the character of Wflson, who 
believed him^ judging from his appearance and 
conversation, to be guilty, and supposed that he 
wanted nothing but opportunity and temptation 
to do the same again. 

He found the country near Nashville very 
fiivorable to his ornithological pursuits. Sev- 
eral of the birds which he shot were entirely 
new to him. He employed all his leisure time in 
making drawings, which were transmitted to Mr. 
Lawson, but unfortunately never reached him. 
He had thoughts of extending his tour to St. 
Louis ; but, after considering that it would detain 
him a month, and add four hundred miles to his 
journey without adding a single subscriber to his 
list, he gave up the plan, and prepared for a 
passage through the wilderness toward New Or- 
leans. He was strongly urged not to under- 
take it, and a thousand alarming representations 
of hardship and danger were set before him ; but, 
as usual, he gave fears to the winds, and quietly 
made preparations for the way. He set out 
on the 4th of May, on horseback, with a pistol in 
each pocket and a fowling-piece belted across his 
shoulder. 

Every reader of Wilson's Ornithology must 
recollect the beautiful and affecting passage, in 
which he speaks of having shed tears over the 
solitary grave of his friend Lewis in the wilder- 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 157 

ness. In this journey be had the opportunity of 
visiting the spot where that enterprising traveller 
put an end to his own life, at the early age of 
thirty-six. The cause of this unfortunate act is 
not thoroughly known ; it is thought, however, 
that neglect and injury had deeply wounded the 
mind of the gallant soldier, and that constitutional 
melancholy bore its part in reducing him to de- 
spair. The cabin, at which he died, was sev- 
enty-two miles from Nashville, on the borders of 
the Indian country. The particulars of his death 
were minutely described to Wilson. It appears 
that l^e came to the house, with two servants, and 
took his lodgings in it for the night, while hb 
men retired to the bam. The woman who kept 
the house heard him walking about in great agita- 
tion for several hours ; when this sound ceased, 
she heard the report of a pistol, followed by the 
noise of his fall upon the floor. Another report 
of a pistol succeeded, and she then heard him cry- 
ing for water. She was so terrified, that she 
dared not move ; but, through the crevices of the 
unplastered wall, she saw him attempt to rise, 
then stagger and fall. He crept to the bucket, 
and she heard him scraping it with a gourd for 
water, but in vain ; and it was not till day-break, 
that the woman gained courage to call the ser- 
vants to his relief. When they came he seemed 
to be in violent agony, and repeatedly entreated 



158 AMCBICAN BIOGRAPBT. 

ihem to take his rifle and blow out his bndns. 
He expired, just as the sun was rising above the 
trees. Wilson paid the proprietor of the soil a 
sum of money, and received from him a written 
promise to enclose the grave. He then left the 
place with a heavy heart, and entered the glocnnj 
wilderness, which he was to traverse alone. 

He seems to have enjoyed this journey, though 
it was exceedingly fatiguing ; it was not pleasant 
to sleep on the ground in the open air, nor was 
much gained, in point of accommodatimi, by ae- 
cepting the hospitality of the Indians. But the 
Woods were full of splendid flowers ; birds of rich 
plumage and sweet song abounded, and the man- 
ners of the Indians afforded a subject of inter* 
esting observation. But he found that, even with 
" a lodge in some vast wilderness,'' he could not 
be secure from vexation. As he was listening 
to the song of a Mocking-bird, the first that he 
bad heard in the western country, near the cabio 
where he intended to pass the night, it was sud* 
denly wounded with an arrow, and fell flutter- 
ing to the ground. He hastened to the Indian 
who had shot the bird, and told him " that it was 
bad, very bad! that this poor bird had come 
from a far distant country to sing to him, and, in 
return, he had murdered it ; that the Great Spirit 
\ias offended with such cruelly, and for doing 90 
be would lose many a deer." An old Indian, 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 15d 

who understood, by an interpreter, what Wil* 
son had said, took pains to explain to him, that 
these birds deserved no favor, since, when they 
came singing near a house, somebody would 
airely die. 

He was so much exposed on this journey to 
the heat of the sun and all the changes of the 
weather, that he was attacked with dysentery and 
fever, and became so ill, that it was with diffi- 
culty he was able to keep his seat. The reme-^ 
dy which he used, was not one which the facul- 
ty would have recommended ; he lived wholly 
on raw eggs for nearly a week, and at length 
recovered. He was also in danger from a torna- 
do, attended by a drenching rain; trees were 
broken off or torn up by the roots, and those 
which resisted were bent to the ground ; limbs of 
vast wei^t were continually whirled past him, 
and his life was so exposed, that he declared, he 
would rather stand in the hottest field of battle, 
than encounter another such tornado. 

He reached Natchez in safety, being uniformly 
weU treated by the Indians, whom he found an 
inoffensive and friendly race. The boatmen 
could hardly credit the testimony of their own 
ears, when they beard that he had accomplished 
thb enterprise without making use of whiskey. 
When he was suffering with sickness^ an Indian 
recommended the eating of strawberries, which 



160 AMEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

were then in perfection. This specific was proba- 
bly more effectual in restoring him to health, than 
the eggs, which were his own prescription. One 
circumstance deserves to be remembered ; thirteen 
miles from Nashville in Tennessee he passed the 
night at the house of Isaac Walton, a historical 
name, which has long been associated with sim- 
plicity and kindness of feeling. This landlord 
was worthy of his name ; for, when Wilson was 
leaving him after breakfast, he said to him, '^ You 
seem to be travelling for the good of the world ; 
and I cannot, — I will not charge you any thing. 
Whenever you come this way, call and stay with 
me, and you shall be welcome." 

The western region of this country is the native 
soil of hospitality. While Wilson was in Natch- 
ez, he received a letter from Mr. William Dun- 
bar, who regretted that he could not wait upon 
him, being confined by sickness ; but invited him 
to come to his bouse, and make it his home, so 
long as he was in that region. The invitation 
was accepted, and an apartment assigned to the 
stranger. The house was in the depth of the for- 
est, and afforded Wilson the very position he 
would have chosen for pursuing his researches, 
beside giving him the advantage of refined conver- 
sation and elegant hospitality. The time passed 
at this gentleman's house was one of the sunny 
moments in Wilson's life, which he remembered 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 161 

with the more delight, because they were so 

few. 

He reached New Orleans on the 6th of June ; 

but, as the sickly season was approaching, he did 

not think it safe to remain there long ; and on the 

24th he took passage for New York, where he 

arrived on the 30th of July. He had left home, 

on the 30th of January, and all his expenses, up 

to this time, amounted only to four hundred and 

fifty-five dollars. 

He arrived at Philadelphia on the 2nd of 
August, and immediately applied himself, with 

unwearied industry, to the preparation of his third 
volume. He had made several new discoveries 
in the West, and on the islands near Florida, 
which he visited on his passage home. In a 
letter to Michaux, he says, that the number of 
birds, which he had found, and which had not 
been noticed by any other naturalist, amounted 
to forty. The French botanist was then publish- 
ing his American Sylva, and had transmitted some 
of the numbers, with colored prints, to Wilson, 
who immediately made attempts at imitation, in 
which he succeeded to his own satisfaction. 

In 1811, he renewed his correspondence with 
his nephew, William Duncan, who was engaged 
in the business of instruction, and had asked some 
advice of Wilson respecting the general course he 
should pursue. Nothing can be more judicious 

VOL. II. 11 



1^2 AMSBICAN BIOG&IPHT. 

than Wilson's reply. After telling bim, that he 
must first determine in his own mmd the preeiM 
exteat of his duty, and then resolve to perf^m it 
thoroughly, he gives him the following admiral^ 
suggestions. ^'Devote your whole time, except 
what is proper for needful exercise, to making 
yourself completely master of your busoness ; for 
^s purpose, rise by the peep of dawn ; take 
your regular walk; and then, commence your 
stated studies. Be under no anxiety to hear what 
|)e6{de think of you or your tutorship ; but study 
llie improvement and watch over the good con- 
duct of the children consigned to your care, as if 
^y were your own. Mingle respect and afliibil- 
ity with your orders and arrangements. Never 
show yourself feverish or irritated ; but preserve 
a firm and dignified, a just and energetic deport- 
ment, in every emergency. To be completely 
master of one's business, and ever anxious to dis- 
charge it with fidelity and honor, is to be great, 
beloved, respectable, and happy." 

At this time, and during the greater part of 
the interval between his western tour and anoth- 
er journey to the Northern States in September, 
1612, he was an inmate in the family of Mr. 
Bartrara. The retreat of the botanic garden 
afibrded him a good opportunity of observing the 
habits of birds, and at the same time of improving 
his health, which had been considerably shaken 



by hk'ikdgues and sedentary labors. This was, 
however, only compftrature repose ; for he went 
seviefal iimes to the shores of New Jersey, and 
nade ^KCufsioQs to various places in the vicbity, 
being determined to leave nothing undone, to 
iziake the work as perfect as possible. 

His journey to the eastward was undertaken 
prineipaHy for the purpose of visiting his agents 
and <siihsciiibers. No very minute accounts of 
the lour are preserved. From New York he 
firoceeded up the North Biver, and contemplated 
its umivalled scenery with great delight. From 
Albany he .went to Lake Champlain ; and, find- 
ing earery tavern in that region crowded with offi» 
cers and soldiers, was obliged to resort to his 
western habit of sleepbg on the floor, which he 
<lid with gieat composui:e, amidst the wrath of 
his companions, who would not submit to such 
prostration, and if they had, could hardly have 
complimented th^ slumbers with the name of 
jest. From Burlington, he crossed to the Con- 
necticut River, and passed some time in the neigh-> 
borhood of the White Mountains. While he was 
at Haverhill, in New Hampshire, he visited 
ifoosehiUock, ,a stupendous height, though far in-^ 
i&tkxc :to the neighboring ridges. It is singular, 
that, when he was so near the pass of the White 
Affountains, he did not take occasion to explore it, 
with a view to his favorite researches ; the whote 



164 AMERICAN Biography. 



vicinity abounds in birds, some of which are to 
be found in no other part of the United States. 
The only nest of a Snow Buntmg, ever £xind 
within the pale of civilization, was discovered on 
the dreary battlements of Mount Washington. 

He has recorded one of his adventures, which 
is sufficiently amusing, and serves to show the 
feverish excitement of the whole country at the 
commencement of the last war. The people of 
HaverhiU, observing how closely he was exploring 
the country, consulted together to determine 
what he might be ; they came to the conclusimi, 
that he could be no other than a spy from Can- 
ada, who was exploring the country with a view 
to determine the best course, by which a mili- 
tary force could be sent from the British provin- 
ces into New England. He was therefore ap- 
prehended, and taken before a magistrate with 
due solemnity and form. That officer, on hear- 
ing his explanations, dismissed him with many 
apologies. Such was the state of the country, 
that his tour afforded him very little satis&c* 
tion. Every gentle sound was drowned by the 
voice of war; and the charms of nature, he 
9aid, were treated with contempt, except when 
they presented themselves in the form of prize 
sugars, coffee, or rum. 

Before he went on this journey, he had been 
chosen a member of the Society of Artists of the 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 165 

United States. In the spring of 1813, he was 
admitted to the American Philosophical Society 
in Philadelphia. Meantime hfe was exerting him- 
self to complete his work, as if he had a presenti- 
ment that the sands of his life were running low. 
In April, of the same year, he writes to Mr. Bar-' 
tram, that his colorists have all left him, and this 
circumstance has very much increased his own 
labors; so that he hardly ever leaves the house, 
though he longs ^^ to breathe the fresh air of the 
country, and to gaze once more upon the lovely 
face of nature." 

This was a privilege which he was but once 
more permitted to enjoy. As soon as the sev- 
enth volume of his work had left the press, he 
went with Mr. Ord to Great Egg-Harbor, where 
they spent nearly a month, collecting materials 
for the eighth volume. When they returned, he 
plunged at once mto the midst of those labors, 
which hurried his life to its close. Those who 
attempted to assist him, troubled him by their 
constant failures and errors. Being too proud to 
suffer any copy of his work to appear in an un- 
worthy form, he took more upon himself than he 
could possibly perform. He drew largely ypon 
the hours which should have been given to rest, 
beside spending the day in unceasing exertion ; 
his friends remonstrated with him, and warned 
bun of the inevitable result ; but his only reply 



1 

166 AHXKICAM BiaORAFHT. 

was, ^^ Life la short, and nothbg can be dofoe vilb- 
out exertion." 

Hb Scotch biograpiier^ from the vetbal tes* 
timony of one of his American friends, exfdains 
the immediate cause of the disorder which put an 
end to his mortal existence. While he was sotting 
one day conversing with a friend, be caught a. 
^ance of a rare bird, which he had kng been 
desirous to see* With his nsual ardor^ he ran out, 
swam across a river in pursuit of it, and at last 
succeeded in killing it ; but he took cM from the 
exposure, which brought on the dysentery, ^diich, 
after an illness of ten days, brought him to the 
grave. His brother came to him as soon aa 
he heard of his illness. He says, ^^ I faand him 
speechless ; I caught his hand ; he seemed to 
know me, and that was all." He died im tibe 
morning of the 23d of August, 1813. He had 
expressed a wish, more than once, to a friend, 
when conversing on the subject of death, that, 
when he died, he might be buried where the birds 
might sing over his grave. But this wish was 
not known to those who were with him in his last 
moments ; and his remains were deposited, with 
the respect which his memory deserved, in the 
cemetery of the Swedish church in Southwaxk, 
Philadelphia. A plain marble monument bears 
the following inscription ; -^ 



▲ L£XANX)^X9 WILSON. 167 

Tlua Momun^nt 

covers the Remains of 

Alexander Wilsou, 

Author of the 

AmsmCJLN ORNITHOLCKir. 

Qe w^fi bom ia Henfrewshive, Seotiand^ 

on the 6th of July, 1766 1 

Emigrated tp the United States 

in the Year 1794 ; 

and died in Philadelphia, 

of ^e- 0]fuentery^, 

OB the 23d of August,. ISIS, 

Aged 47« 

The reader> perhaps, haa already formed an 
impression of Wilson's character, from the inci* 
dents of hia history; but soeoe fttw particubfi 
remain to be mentioned*. In his personal ap^ 
pearance he was tall and handsome, rather deai- 
der than athletic in his form* His countenance 
was expressive and thoughtful, his eye powerful 
and inte^igent. Mr. (>d speaks as if the first 
impression made by his appearance on a stranger 
waa not very prepossessing. But so far as on^ 
might judge firom his portrait, taken in his twenty* 
second year, his &ce was intellectual and pleas- 
ing. The unfavorable impression may have been 
produced by his manners* He was not accus- 
tomed to polished society in his earlier days; 
and, as he was conscious of possessing powers, 
greatly superior to those of the laborers with 
whom he assQoiated> his manner, like that of 



168 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Burns, probably became somewhat impatient and 
overbearing. His conversation was remarkable 
for quickness and originality ; his whole deport- 
ment was that of a man of uncommon intellec- 
tual resources, who was perfectly ccmscious of 
possessing them. 

But if hb manners in general were not engag- 
ing, and in this he resembled most other men 
who are deeply concerned in pursuits, which com- 
mand little sympathy in the world around them, 
his character was certainly amiable; he was 
warm-hearted and generous in his affections ; fix>m 
first to last he displayed an unfaltering attach- 
ment to his friends, after many years of separa- 
tion ; and there is evidence enough in the pre- 
ceding narrative to show, that he felt the full 
weight of obligation, which every relation in life 
brought with it, and discharged it to the best of 
his power. Men of great force and energy are 
not, in general, remarkable for tenderness of feel- 
ing; but in his character there were many fine 
and beautiful traits, which show that strength and 
delicacy were imited, each in its just measure, in 
his heart. 

There are few examples to be found ,in lite- 
rary history of resolution equal to that of Wilson, 
Though he was made fully aware, both by his 
firiends and his own reflections, of the difliculty 
of the enterprise in which he engaged, his heart 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 169 

never for a moment failed him. By his agree- 
ment with his publisher, he bound himself to 
fiimish the drawings and descriptions for the 
work, indeed every thing, except the mechanical 
execution. To procure the materials, he was 
obliged to encounter heavy expenses ; and the 
money which he received for coloring the plates, 
was the only revenue from which he defrayed 
them. It is easy to imagine the difficulties which 
he must have encountered ; but his success was 
complete ; and though he did not live to enjoy, 
he certainly anticipated, what has come to pass ; 
that his work would always be regarded as a sub- 
ject of pride by his adopted country, and would 
secure immortal honor for him whose name it 
bears. 



THE 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH; 



BT 



GEORGE S. HILLARD. 



1<2 AMERICAN BI0OB.1PHT. 

than Wilson's reply. After teUing bkn, that be 
must first determine in his own mind the predse 
extent of his duty, and then resolve to perform it 
thoroughly, he gives him the following admirable 
suggestions. ^'Devote your whole time, except 
what is proper for needful exercise, to makmg 
yourself completely master of your busdness; for 
^us purpose, rise by the peep of dawn; take 
your regular walk; and then, commence your 
stated studies. Be under no anxiety to hear what 
l^eople think of you or your tutorship ; but study 
the improvement and watch over the good con- 
duct of the children consigned to your care, as if 
idiey were your own. Mingle respect and affiibil- 
ity with yoi»r orders and arrangements. Never 
show yourself feverish or irritated ; but preserve 
« firm and dignified, a just and energetic deport- 
ment, in every emergency. To be completely 
master of one's business, and ever anxious to dis- 
charge it with fidelity and honor, is to be great, 
beloved, respectable, and happy." 

At this time, and during the greater part of 
the interval between his western tour and anoth- 
er journey to the Northern States in September, 
1612, he was an inmate in the family of Mr. 
Bartram. The retreat of the botanic garden 
afibrded him a good opportunity of observing the 
habits of birds, and at the same time of improving 
his health, which had been considerably shaken 



by hk'&tigues and sedentary labors. This was, 
however, only compftrature repose ; for he went 
seviefal iimes to the shores of New Jersey, and 
nade ^xcufsioos to various places in the vicbity, 
being determined to leave nothing undone, to 
iziake the work as perfect as possible. 

His journey to the eastward was undertaken 
prineipaHy for the purpose of vbiting his agents 
and -suhscvibers. No very minute accounts of 
the tour are preserved. From New York he 
proceeded up the North Biver, and contemplated 
its unrivalled scenery with great delight. From 
Albany he wont to Lake Champlain ; and, find- 
ing eiirery tavern in that region crowded with offi» 
cers and soldiers, was obliged to resort to his 
western babit of sleeping on the floor, which he 
did with great composui:e, amidst the wrath of 
bis companions, who would not submit to such 
prostration, and if they had, could hardly have 
complimented th^ slumbers with the name of 
rest. From Burlington, he crossed to the Con- 
necticut River, and passed some time in the neigh-> 
borhood of the White Mountains. While he was 
at Haverhill, in New Hampshire, he visited 
MoosehiUock, a stupendous height, though far in-^ 
ferior .to the neighboring ridges. It is singular, 
that, when he was so near the pass of the White 
Affountains, he did not take occasion to explore it, 
with a view to his favorite researches ; the whole 



164 AMERICAN BlOGRAFHT. 

vicinity abounds in birds, some of which are to 
be found in no other part of the United States. 
The only nest of a Snow Buntmg, ever fimnd 
within the pale of civilization, was discovered cm 
the dreary battlements of Mount Washington. 

He has recorded one of his adventures, which 
is sufficiently amusing, and serves to show the 
feverish excitement of the whole country at the 
commencement of the last war. The people of 
HaverhiU, observing how closely he was exploring 
the country, consulted together to determine 
what he might be ; they came to the conclusion, 
that he could be no other than a spy from Can- 
ada, who was exploring the country with a view 
to determine the best course, by which a mili- 
tary force could be sent from the British provin- 
ces into New England. He was therefore ap- 
prehended, and taken before a magistrate with 
due solemnity and form. That officer, on hear- 
ing his explanations, dismissed him with many 
apologies. Such was the state of the country, 
that his tour afforded him very little satis&c* 
tion. Eveiy gentle sound was drowned by the 
voice of war; and the charms of nature, he 
9aid, were treated with contempt, except when 
they presented themselves in the form of prize 
sugars, coffee, or rum. 

Before he went on this journey, he had been 
chosen a member of the Society of Artists of the 



PBEFACE. 175 

ten by Henry Wharton^ an English clergyman oi 
extraordinary talents and acquisitions, who be» 
longed to the melancholy catalogue of lights too 
early quenched for their own fame and the inter- 
ests of literature. He was bom November 9tb, 
1664, at Worstead in Norfdk County, was gradu- 
ated at the University of Cambridge, and admitted 
to the order of deacon in 1687. His literary 
industry was wonderful. He wrote, translated, 
and edited a variety of works, prmcipally on 
ecclesiastical antiquities and religious controver- 
sies, many of them against the Popish religion. 
He was warmly patronized by Sancroft, Arch- 
bishop of Canteibury, who appointed him one of 
his chaplains. Many of his works are still in 
manuscript in the Lambeth Library, having been 
purchased by Archbishop Tenison. He died at 
the age of thirty, a victim to immoderate applica- 
tion. Considering the age at which he died, 
the vast amount of his labors, and the extent of 
his acquisitions, Henry Wharton may be jusdy 
esteemed a prodigy.* 

The Life of Smith from his pen is more 
valuable as a literary curiosity, than as a histori- 
cal document. It. was written in 1685, and is a 

* For a full and interesting account of the life and 
labocs oi Wharton, see Chalmers's Biographical Dic- 
tionary. 



166 AHXKICAM BIQQRAFHT. 

was, ^^ Life ki short, and notfabg can be done with- 
out exertion." 

.His Scotch biographer^ from the vetbal tes« 
timony of one of his American friends, explains 
the immediate cause of the disorder vrHob put an 
end to his mortal existence. While he was sdttii^ 
one day conversmg with a friend, be eaoght a. 
^ance of a rare bird, which he had kng been 
desrous to see* With his nsual ardor, he ran out, 
swam across a river in pursuit of it, and at last 
succeeded in killing it ; but he took cM from the 
exposure, which brought on the dysentery, ^diich, 
after an illness of ten days, brought him to the 
grave. His brother came to him as soon aa 
he heard of his illness* He says, " I famid him 
speechless ; I caught his hand ; he seemed to 
know me, and that was all." He died an tibe 
morning of the 23d of August, 1813. He had 
expressed a wish, more than once, to a friend, 
when conversing on the subject of death, that, 
when he died, he might be buried where the birds 
might sing over his grave. But this wish was 
not known to those who were with him in his last 
moments ; and his remains were deposited, mth 
the respect which his memory deserved, in the 
cemetery of the Swedish church in Southwaxk, 
Philadelphia. A plain marble monument bears 
the following inscription ; — 



▲ LEXAND^XB WILSON. 167 

This Moniunent 

covers the Remains of 

Alexander Wilson, 

Author of the 

Ambbigan ORinTHOLoer. 

Qe W90 bom ia Henfrewshive, Sootiand, 

on the 6th of July, 1766 j 

Emigrated to the United States 

in the Year 1794 ; 

and died in Philadelphia, 

of ^©^ Bysenter^, 

OB the 23d of August^ 1819^ 

Aged 47. 

The reader> perhaps, has already formed an 
impiessioQ of Wilson's character, from the inci* 
dents of hia history; but sonie few particubfi 
remain to be mentioDed* In his personal ap- 
pearance he was tall and handsome, rather slen^- 
der than athletic in his form. His countenance 
was expressive and thoughtful, his eye powerful 
and inte^ent. Mr. Ord speaks as if the first 
impression made by his appearance on a stranger 
waa not very prepossessing. But so far as one 
might judge from his portrait, taken in his twenty- 
acicoikd year, his &ce was intellectual and pleas- 
ing. The unfavorable impression may have been 
produced by hia manners* He was not accus- 
toioed to polished society in his earlier days ; 
and, as he waa conscious of possessing powers, 
greatly superior to those of the laborers with 
y^Mun he assoeiatedy his manner, like that of 



168 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Burns, probably became somewhat impatient and 
overbearing. His conversation was remarkable 
for quickness and originality ; his whole deport- 
ment was that of a man of imcommon intellec- 
tual resources, who was perfectly conscious of 
possessing them. 

But if his manners in general were not engag- 
ing, and in this he resembled most other men 
who are deeply concerned in pursuits, which com- 
mand little sjrmpathy in the world aroimd them, 
his character was certainly amiable; he was 
warm-hearted and generous in his a£^tions ; firom 
first to last he displayed an unfaltering attach- 
ment to his friends, after many years of separa- 
tion ; and there is evidence enough in the pre- 
ceding narrative to show, that he felt the full 
weight of obligation, which every relation in life 
brought with it, and discharged it to the best of 
his power. Men of great force and energy are 
not, in general, remarkable for tenderness of feel- 
ing; but in his character there were many fine 
and beautiful traits, which show that strength and 
delicacy were imited, each in its just measure, in 
his heart. 

There are few examples to be found .in lite- 
rary history of resolution equal to that of Wilson. 
Though he was made fully aware, both by his 
friends and his own reflections, of the difficulty 
of the enterprise in which he engaged, his heart 



ALEXANDER WILSON. 169 

nev6r for a moment failed him. By his agree- 
ment with his publisher, he bound himself to 
furnish the drawings and descriptions for the 
work, indeed every thing, except the mechanical 
execution. To procure the materials, he was 
obliged to encounter heavy expenses ; and the 
money which he received for coloring the platesy 
was the only revenue firom which he defirayed 
them. It is easy to imagine the difSculties which 
he must have encountered ; but his success was 
complete ; and though he did not live to enjoy, 
he certainly anticipated, what has come to pass ; 
that his work would always be regarded as a sub- 
ject of pride by his adopted country, and would 
secure immortal honor for him whose name it 
bears. 



THE 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



or 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH; 



BT 



GEORGE S. HILLARD. 



PREFACE. 



Whoevek expects to find much that Is new in 
the following biographical notice of Captain Smith, 
will probably be disappointed. M7 aim has been 
to give a lucid and simple narrative of the events 
in the life of one of the most remarkable men, 
" that ever lived in the tide of times ; " with the 
use of materials contained in works, which are fa- 
miliar to those who have studied the early history 
of this country. My task has been the humble 
one of arranging, selecting from, condensing, and 
transposing these ample though confused materi- 
als, so as to form such a narrative as would re- 
commend itself to the popular taste. 

Captain Smith's own writings, which have fiir- 
nished me with nearly all my &cts, are not ead- 
ly accessible to the public at large, and would not 
be generally read if they were. Then: obsolete 
diction and uncouth spelling would repel any but 
a professed antiquary. I have endeavored to 
translate them mto a modem style, and to give 
them a modem garb, though I have permitted 



174 PREFACE. 

Captain Smith to speak for himself on many 
occasions. 

I have written a Life of Captain Smith, and 
not a History of the World, or of any considerable 
portion of it, while be lived in k. Such collateral 
and contemporaneous facts only have been men- 
tioned, as are necessary to illustrate and elucidate 
portions of his own biography. It is true, I have 
given a succinct history of the colony of Yir^ia, 
during the two years in which Captain SoAh was 
there ; but the reason is, that, from his ohacacter 
and station, such a history is identical with bU 
own life. 

, In addition to his wxitings, I have derived as^ 
distance from Grabame's ^^ History of the United 
States," and Stith's accurate and faithful '^ History 
of Vir^nia." I have also been aided by Belknap's 
well-written Life of Smith, a work of great merit, 
like every thing which came from his pen, and 
which, bad it been more ample, would have left 
no room for me or any succeeding writer. I have 
moreover enjoyed the advantage of an i^igmal 
document, which is of a nature ^o demand a 
flomewhat extended notice. It is a manuscript 
Life of Smith, in Latin, the original of which is 
deposited in the Lambeth Library. By the kind* 
aess of the Archbishop of CanteAury, a copy has 
been obtained for the purpose of being used in 
eprnpiling the present Memoir. It was writ- 



PREFACE. 175 

ten by Henry Wharton, an English clergyman of 
extraordinary talents and acquisitions, who he* 
longed to die melancholy catalogue of lights too 
early quenched for their own fame and the inter- 
ests of literature. He was bom November 9th, 
1664, at Worstead in Norfolk County, was gradu- 
ated at the University of C£unbridge, and admitted 
to the order of deacon in 1687. His literary 
industry was wonderful. He wrote, translated, 
and edited a variety of works, principally on 
ecclesiastical antiquities and religious controver- 
sies, many of them against the Popish religion. 
He v^as warmly patronized by Sancroft, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, who appointed him one of 
his chaplains. Many of his works are still in 
manuscript in the Lambeth Library, having been 
purchased by Archbishop Tenison. He died at 
the age of thirty, a victim to immoderate applica- 
tion. Considering the age at which he died, 
the vast amount of his labors, and the extent of 
his acquisitions, Henry Wharton may be jusi&y 
esteemed a prodigy.* 

The Life of Smith from his pen is mdre 
valuable as a literary curiosity, than as a histori- 
cal document. It. was written in 1685, and is a 

^■^— m II . — .— .»i^ 

* For a full and interesting account of the life and 
labors of Wharton, see Chalmers's Biographical Dic- 
tionary. 



176 PREFACE. 

compQation from the original sources, to which we 
cow have access, and of course contains not 
many new or important facts. The greater 
part of it is devoted to Captain Smith's adven- 
tures before going to Virginia; afterwards it is 
meagre and cursory ; and it extends no farther 
than to his return to England from Jamestown. 
Its style is not scrupulously classical. Words 
now- and then appear, which would have 
made " Quinctilian stare and gasp ; ^' but it is fiill 
of spirit and vivacity, and the numerous learned 
and h^ppy allusions in it show the great extent 
and variety of the author's resources. The name 
of Smith he latinizes bto ^' Fabricius" ; Opechan- 
canough he calls ^^ Opecancanius " ; Powhatan, 
** Poviatanus " ; Pocahontas, " Pocaunta '' ; the 
Chickahominies, ^^ Cicaminaei.'^ He professes 
^ the greatest admiration for his hero, whom he de- 
clares to be every way equal to the most re- 
nowned heroes of antiquity, and that he would 
obtidn the same amount of fame, if he could 
meet with a Plutarch, who would record his ex- 
ploits in a style worthy of them. From the 
character of its author, and the nature of its sub- 
ject, this manuscript is a curious and valuable 
record, and it is fortunate that there is a copy 
of it on thb side of the Atlantic. 

George S. Hillard. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 



CHAPTER L 

His Birthy early Adventures^ and brilliant 
Achievements in the Turkish Wars. 

Among the adventurous spirits^ whom a resU 
less love of enterprise called from the bosom 
of repose in England to new scenes and untried 
perils in our Western wilds, there is no one whose 
name awakens more romantic associations, than 
Captain John Smith. His life is as brilliant 
and exciting as a Fairy tale ; and the remarkable 
adventures he went through served to develope 
fully his no less remarkable character. It was 
his good fortune to live in stirring and event- 
ful times, congenial to his bold and roving dis- 
position, and, luckily for posterity, his adventures 
have been preserved in a characteristic narra- 
tive written by himself, from which the principal 
facts in the following biographical sketch have 
been drawn. 

He was bom in Willoughby in the county 
of Lincolnshire, in the year 1579, and was de- 

VOL. II. 12 



178 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

scended from an ancient {bxdSIj which belonged 
to the county of Lancashire. His wild spirit of 
enterprise and dislike to confinQment displayed 
themselves in early boyhood ; for, at the age 
of thirteen, bebg, as he himself says, ^^ set upon 
brave adventures," he sold his satchell, books, 
and whatever other property he had, in order 
to raise money to furnish him with the means 
of going privately to sea ; but this hopeful enter- 
prise was ihistrated by the death of his parents, 
who left him a competent estate. His guar- 
diaos put him apprentice, at the age of fifteen, to 
Mr. Thomas Sendall of Lynn, ^< the greatest mer-^ 
chant of all those parts ; " but the compting-house 
desk seems to have been as irksome to him as the 
school-boy's form. He quitted his master's em- 
ployment, and, vrith but ten shillings in his pocket, 
furnished him by his friends (to use his own 
words) <'to get rid of him," he entered into 
the train of the second son of the famous Lord 
Willoughby, who was travelling into France, 

On arriving at Orleans, he was furnished with 
funds sufficient to carry him back to Engi> 
land ; but such a step was very far fix)m his 
intention. He went over into the Low Coun*^ 
tries, the battle-ground of Europe, where he 
served for three or four years under the com- 
mand of Captain Joseph Duxbury. Of the 
nature of his service be does pot inform us] 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 179 

but he probably belonged to a company of English 
auxiliaries, who were aiding Prince Maurice in 
his gallant and' successful struggle against the 
power of Spain, which resulted in the inde-> 
pendence of the Netherlands. He met with 
a Scotch gentleman abroad, whose name was 
David Hume, who supplied him with money, 
gave him letters to hb friends in Scotland, and 
assured him of the favor and patronage of 
King James. 

He set sail for Scotland accordingly, and, after 
having suffered shipwreck and a severe fit of 
sickness, arrived there, and delivered his letters. 
By those to whom they were addressed, he was 
treated with that warmth of hospitality, which 
seems to have been characteristic of the Scotch 
nation from the earliest times ; but he found no 
encouragement to enter upon the career of a 
courtier. He returned to Willoughby in Lin-i 
eolnshire ; and, finding himself thrown among 
those in whose society he took no pleasure, 
and being perhaps a little soured by disap-t 
pointment, he built himself a sylvan lodge of 
boughs in a wood, and studied military history 
and tactics. He amused himself at the same 
time with hunting and horsemanship. He was 
not, however, a genuine and independent man 
of the woods; for he kept up an intercourse 
with the oivilized world by means of his servant, 



180 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

who supplied his woodland retreat with all the 
comforts of artificial life. Rumor soon spread 
about the country the tale of a young and ac- 
complished hermit, and brought to his ^Monely 
bower'' an Italian gentleman in the service of 
the Earl of Lincoln, of great skill in horseman- 
ship, who insinuated himself into the favor of 
Smith, and induced him to return with him into 
the world. 

His military ardor soon revived, and he 
set out a second time upon his travels, intend- 
ing to fight against the Turks, whom all good 
Christians in those days looked upon as nat- 
ural enemies. The first stage of his journey 
was the Low Countries, where he met with 
four French adventurers, who, seeing the youth 
and inexperience of Smith (being at that time 
but nineteen years old), formed a plan to rob 
him. One of them pretended to be a noble- 
man, and the others personated his attendants. 
They persuaded him to travel with them into 
France, and they accocdingly embarked together 
on board of a vessel for that purpose. His 
treacherous friends found in the captain a kin- 
dred spirit in villany, and by his assistance their 
plans were put into execution. In a dark night 
they arrived at St. Valery in Picardy; and, by 
the contrivance of the captain, the four French- 
men were put on shore with the baggage of 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 181 

Smith, he himself remaining on board, in utter 
ignorance of the disposition which had been 
made of his property. The boat with the cap- 
tain returned the next day towards evening, a 
delay which he alleged to be in consequence 
of the high sea, but which was in reality to 
enable the robbers to escape with their booty. 
His villany was strongly suspected by the pas* 
sengers, who, indignant at his baseness and strong* 
ly sympathizing with Smith in his misfortune, 
proposed to him to kill the captain and take 
possession of the vessel and cargo. This offer, 
so characteristic of the lawlessness of the times, 
was rejected by Smith, with a promptness worthy 
of his honorable and high-minded character. 

On his being landed, Smith found himself in 
such straits as to be compelled to sell his cloak 
to pay for his passage. One of his fellow pas* 
sengers generously compassionating his forlorn 
situation, supplied him with money and brought 
him to Mortain, the place of residence of the 
villains who had robbed him. He found it im-^ 
possible to obtain any satbfaction, however, {at 
the injuries he had received at their hands, the 
word of a iHendtess and unknown stranger prob- 
ably not being deemed sufBcient evidence of their 
guilt ; and he could not be aided by his gener- 
ous fellow passenger, who was an outlawed man 
and obliged to live in the strictest seclusion. 



182 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

The rumor of his misfortunes awakened the 
active sympathy of several noble ^unilies in the 
neighborhood, by whom he was most hos- 
pitably entertained and his necessities libei^ally 
relieved. 

A life of ease did not suit his resdess tempera- 
ment, and his high spirit could not endure his be- 
iiig the constant subject of favors, which he had no 
means of repaying. He set out upon his wander- 
ings with a light purse, a stout heart, and a good 
sword. His slender means being soon exhausted, 
he was reduced to great sufferings, so much so, 
that one day, in passing through a forest, his 
strength, worn out by grief and exposure, entire- 
ly failed him, and he threw himself down by the 
edge of a fountam, with little hope of ever rising 
agam. Here he was providentially found by a 
rich farmer, who acted the part of the good Sa- 
maritan towards him, and furnished him with the 
means of prosecuting his journey. 

In rambling from port to port in search of a 
ship of war, he met, near a town in Brittany, one 
of the villains who had robbed him. They both 
drew without exchanging a single word, and the 
prowess of Smith gave him an easy victory over 
one, whose arm was paralyzed by the conscious- 
ness of a bad cause. He obliged him to make an 
ample confession of his guilt in the presence of 
numerous spectators. He obtained nothing, how- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 183 

ever, but the barren laurels of victory, and direct- 
ed his course to the seat of the Earl of Ployer, 
whom he had formerly known. By him he was 
treated with the utmost kindness and hospitality, 
and his purse liberally replenished. Taking leave 
of his friendly host, he travelled by a circuitous 
route to Marseilles, where he embarked for Italy. 
New troubles awaited Smith in this passage. 
The author of the manuscript Latin memoir, allud* 
ed to in the Preface, remarks, that it is curious 
to observe how ingenious Fortune is in contriving 
peculiar disasters and perils to try the temper of 
heroes and great men, the ordinary mishaps of life 
not being sufficient for that purpose ; a reflection 
naturally enough suggested by the adventures of 
his hero. On board the vessel was a great crowd 
of Catholic pilgrims of various nations, who were 
bound to Rome. They encountered a violent 
storm, which obliged them first to put into the 
harbor of Toulon, and afterwards to anchor under 
the small island of St. Mary, which lies off Nice, 
in Savoy. The enlightened devotees, who were 
saiUng with him, took it into their heads, that the 
tempest was sent from heaven, as a manifestation 
of its displeasure at the presence of a heretic, 
who was, among so many of the true church, 
like " a dead fly in the compost of spices." 
They at first confined themselves to angry re* 
proaches, directed not only against Smith himself^ 



184 AlfBRICAN BIOORAPHT. 

but against Queen Elizabeth, an object of espe-^ 
cial dread and aversion to all good Catholics* 
Their displeasure soon dbplayed itself by more 
unequivocal signs. The writer above alluded to 
says, that Smith disdained to stain his sword with 
the blood of so base a rabble, but that he bela- 
bored them soundly with a cudgel; but this 
probably belongs to that large class of facts, for 
which historians and biographers are indebted to 
their own imaginations.* 

Be that as it may, the result was, that Smith 
was thrown into the sea, like another Jonah, as 
a peace-ofiering to the angry elements. He was 
so near the island of St. Mary, that he could 
reach it without any difficulty by swimming. 
The next day, he was taken on board a French 
ship, commanded by Captain La Roche, a friend 
and neighbor of the Earl of Ployer, who, for his 
sake, treated Smith with great kindness and con- 
sideration. They sailed to Alexandria in Egypt, 
and, delivering their freight, coasted the Levant. 
In the course of their voyage they met with a 
Venetian argosy, richly laden. The captain of 
the French ship desired to speak her, but his 
motions were misconstrued by the Venetian ship, 
which fired a broad-side into her, mistaking her 
probably for a pirate, or supposing, what was 
probably true in those troubled times, that he 
could expect none but the treatment of an enemy 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 18S 

£rom those of any other than his own natic»i. 
An engagement naturally enough ensued, which 
resulted in the defeat of the Venetian vessel, 
after a loss of twenty men, her adversary losing 
fifteen. Her rich cargo was plundered by the 
victors, and the most valuable and least bulky 
portions of it taken on board their own vessel. 
The valor of Smith had been most signally dis- 
played in this engagement, and he received, as 
his share of the spoils, five hundred sequins, 
besides a "little box" (prpbably of jewels), 
worth nearly as much more. He was set on 
shore in Piedmont, at his own request. He made 
the tour of Italy, and gratified his curiosity by a 
sight of the interesting objects with which that 
country is filled. Mindful of his original purpose, 
he departed firom Venice, and travelling through 
Albania, Dalmatia, and Sclavonia, came to Gratz 
in Styria, the residence of Ferdinand, Archduke 
of Austria, afterwards Emperor of Germany. 

The war was at that time raging between Ro- 
dolph the Second, Emperor of Germany, and 
Mahomet the Third, the Grand Seignior. Smith's 
desire to display his prowess against the Turks 
was soon gratified. He met with two of his 
countrymen, who introduced him to Lord Ebers- 
paught. Baron Elissell, and the Earl of Meldritch, 
all of them officers of distinction in the Imperial 
army. 



186 AMERICAN BIOOBAPHT. 

This was in the latter part of the year 1601. 
The Turkish army, under the command of Ibra- 
him Bashaw, had besieged and taken, in the mcmth 
of October, the strong fortress of Canisia, in Hun- 
gary, and were ravaging the neighboring country. 
They were laying siege to Olympach, with twen- 
ty thousand men, and had reduced the garrison, 
commanded by Eberspaught, to great extremities, 
having cut off all communication and supplies. 
Smith served as a volunteer in the army of the 
Baron Kissell, the general of artillery, who 
annoyed the besiegers from without. He was de- 
sirous of sending a communication to the com- 
mander of the garrison, but found no one bold 
enough to undertake so perilous an enterprise. 
Smith then communicated to him a plan of tel- 
egraphic intercourse, which he had before made 
known to Lord Eberspaught, anticipating that 
the chances of war would give rise to an emer- 
gency, in which a knowledge of it might be highly 
useful. By Kissell's order. Smith was conveyed 
at night to a mountain seven miles distant from 
the town, and communicated with the commander 
of the garrison, and conveyed to him the follow- 
ing message. "On Thursday at night, I will 
charge on the east ; at the alarm sally you ; " an 
answer was returned, " I will." The besieged were 
also aided further by Smith's inventive genius. 
On the eve of the attack, he had several thousand 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 187 

matches, fastened to strings, extended in a line 
and fired, so that the report sounded like a dis- 
charge of musquetry, and gave to the Turks the 
impression that there was a large body of men in 
that quarter, and they consequently marched out 
to attack them, and at the same moment they 
found themselves assaulted by Baron Kissell's 
army and by the garrison of the besieged fortress, 
who had made the concerted sally. They were 
in consequence thrown into great confusion and 
made but a feeble resistance. Many of them 
were slain, and others driven into the river and 
drowned. Two thousand men were thrown into 
the garrison, and the Turks were obliged to aban- 
don the siege. This brilliant and successful ex- 
ploit obtained for our adventurer the command of 
a troop of two hundred and fifty horse in the regi- 
ment of Count Meldritch'. * 

* Smith's telegraph was by means of torches, each 
letter firom A to L being designated by showing one 
torch as many times as correspond to the letter's place 
in the alphabet ; each letter from M to Z, in like man- 
ner, by showing two torches. It is essentially the same 
as that described in the tenth book of Polybius and in 
Rees's Cyclopedia, Art Telegraph. Smith had probably 
met with it in Polybius, a writer whose military spirit 
would be congenial to his taste ; and the use he thus 
made of his boyish acquisitions is a proof that a <' little 
learning " may be a very good thing, even to a soldier. 



188 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

In the year 1601 , the campaign began with 
great spirit and vast preparations. The Emperor 
raised three armies, one commanded by Gonzago^ 
Governor of Hungary, one by Ferdinand, Arch- 
duke of Styria, and the third by the Archduke 
Matthias, the Emperor's brother, whose lieutenant 
was Duke Mercury, who raised with him an army 
of thirty thousand men, and under whom Smith 
served. He laid siege to Alba Regalis, a strong- 
ly fortified town in Hungary. Smith's talents 
as an engineer were here called into exercise ; fi»r 
he contrived a sort of bomb or grenade, to be dis^ 
charged from a sling, which greatly annoyed the 
Turks in their sallies, and two or three times set 
the suburbs of the place on fire. The city was 
fibally taken by an ingeniously contrived and 
boldly executed military manceuvre ; a loss so 
great to the Turks, that it is related that the 
Bashaw of Buda, who was a prisoner in Vienna, 
on hearing of it, abstained from eating a whole 
day, prostrate upon his face, praying to Moham- 
med, who, as he said, had been all that year 
angry with the Turks. 

The Sultan had raised an army of sixty thou- 
sand men, under the command of Hassan Ba- 
shaw, for the purpose of relieving Alba Regalis. 
He, having heard of its capture, still continued 
his march, in the hope of taking it by surprise. 
Duke Mercury, though far inferior in numbers, 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 189 

marched out to meet him, and encountered him 
in a desperate battle on the plains of Girke, which 
resulted in the defeat of the Turks, with the loss 
of six thousand men. In this action Smith be- 
haved with great valor, was severely wounded, 
and had a horse shot under him. 

Duke Mercury, after this, divided his forces in- 
to three parts, one of which, under the command 
of Count Meldritch, was sent into Transylvania, 
which was the seat of a triple war. Sigismund 
Bathor, the native prince, was contending for his 
crown with the Emperor of Germany, and, at the 
same time, waging war against the Turks, who 
were also the foes of the Emperor ; so that each 
party had their attention distracted and their 
forces thinned by a common enemy. Meldritch 
had been ordered to join the army of the Emper- 
or, which was acting against Sigismund. But 
Meldritch was himself a Transylvanian and little 
inclined to oppose himself to his countrymen, to 
whom he probably wished success in his heart. 
He and his officers were most of them soldiers of 
fortune, bound by slack allegiance to the Emperor, 
and ready, like Captain Dugald Dalgetty, to en- 
list under that leader, who could give them the 
highest pay and the best chance for gaining 
))ooty ; and the Emperor, it seems, was not a very 
prompt paymaster. He therefore offered his ser- 
vices to Sigismund, by whom they were cordially 



190 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

accepted ; and from him he obtained permission to 
turn his arms against the Turks, an enterprise to 
which he was stimulated by personal feeling, for 
they had possession of that part of Transylvania 
in which his own family estates were situated. 

In the course of the desultory and partisan war- 
fiure, which he carried on, he laid siege to Regal, 
a frontier town in the mountainous parts of Tran- 
sylvania, so strong by nature and art as to be 
deemed impregnable, and garrisoned by a motley 
assemblage of Turks, Tartars, renegades, and 
robbers. Count Meldritch had with him eight 
thousand men, and he was afterwards joined by 
Prince Moyses with nine thousand more, to wfaona 
he surrendered the chief command. 

The siege was long and obstinate, owing to the 
great strength of the place ; and frequent and 
bloody, but undecisive skirmishes took place. 
The Turks grew insolent at the ill success of the 
Christians, and laughed to scorn their slow and in- 
efiectual movements. One of their number, the 
Lord Turbashaw by name, a man of rank and 
military renown, sent a challenge to any captain 
of the Christian army, to fight with him in single 
combat, giving a reason characteristic of the times 
for this message, that it was to delight the ladies 
of Regal, " who did long to see some court-like 
pastime." So many were ready to accept this 
challenge, that their conflicting claims were settled 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 191 

by lot, and the choice fell upon Smith, who had 
burned for the privilege of meeting the haughty 
Turk, 

On the day appointed for the combat, the ram« 
parts of the town were lined with ladies and sol- 
diers. The Lord Turbashaw entered the lists in 
a splendid suit of armor, blazing with gold and 
jeweb, and <^ on his shoulders were fixed a pair of 
great wings, compacted of eagle's feathers, within 
a ridge of silver, richly garnished with gold and 
precious stones." He was attended by three Jan- 
izaries, one of whom bore his lance, and two 
walked by the side of his horse. Smith soon 
followed, attended by a single page bearing his 
lance, and rode by his antagonist, courteously 
saluting him as he passed. At the sound of the 
trumpet, they met in mid career, and the well- 
directed lance of Smith pierced through the visor 
into the brain of the Turk, and he fell dead from 
his horse, without having shed a drop of his 
adversary's blood. His head was out off and 
borne in triumph to the Christian army, and his 
body given up to his friends. 

The death of the Lord Turbashaw was heavily 
borne by the garrison ; and a friend of his, by 
name Grualgo, burning to avenge him and to 
pluck the fresh laurels from Smith's brow, sent 
him a particular challenge, which was readily ac- 
cepted| and the battle took place the next day 



193 iLXSRICAN BIOOBArHT. 

after receiving it. At their first encounter, tbm 
lances were ineffectually shivered, though the 
Turk was nearly unhorsed. They then dis- 
charged their pbtols, by which Smith was slight- 
ly wounded and his antagonist severely in the 
left arm. Being thus rendered unable to manage 
hb horse, he offered a faint resistance and was 
easily slain ; and his horse and armcn*, by previ- 
ous agreement, became the property of the vic- 
tor. 

The siege was slowly protracted in the mean- 
while, and Smith found but few opportunities for 
signalizing his valor. His high spirit, flushed 
with success, could not brook the rust of repose ; 
and he obtained leave of his general to send a 
message into the town, that he should be happy 
to furnish the ladies with further entertainment, 
and to give to any Turkish knight the opportunity 
of redeeming the heads of his slain friends, and 
carry off his own besides, if he could win it. 
The challenge was accepted by a stout champion, 
to whom the Fates had given the unharmonious 
name of Bonny Mulgro. Having the privilege 
of choosing his own weapons, he avoided the 
lance, having had proof of Smith's dexterity 
in the use of it, and selected pistols, battle- 
axes, and swords. In the encounter, they dis- 
charged their pistols without effect, and then 
fought with their battle-axes. Smith seems to 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 198 

have been inferior to bis adversary in the use of 
this weapon, for he received so heavy a blow, 
that the axe dropped from his hands and he 
nearly fell from his horse ; and the Turks, seeing 
his mishap from the viralls, set up a loud shout, as 
if the victory were already won. But Smith 
quickly recovered himself, and by his skilful horse- 
manship not only escaped the heavy blows aimed 
at him by the ponderous battle-axe, but ran his 
foe through the body with bis sword. The ladies 
of Regal were certainly well entertained by our 
adventurer, and they could not complain of disap- 
pointment when he was master of the feast. 

For these brilliant exploits Smith was rewarded 
by swtable honors. He was conducted to his 
general's tent by a military procession, consisting 
of six thousand men, three led horses, and, before 
each, the head of one of the Turks he bad slain, 
borne on a lance. The general received him 
with much honor, embraced him, and presented 
him with a horse superbly caparisoned, and a scim- 
itar and belt worth three hundred ducats ; and his 
colonel, Count Meldritch, made him major of his 
regiment. 

The siege was prosecuted with renewed vigor ; 
and the place was finally taken, and its brave gar- 
rison put to the sword, in retaliation of the same 
inhuman barbarity, which they bad shown to the 
Christian garrison, from whom they took it. The 

VOL. II. 13 



194 AMERICAN BIOGBAPUT. 

prince of Transylvania, hearing of the valor of 
Smith, gave him bis picture set. in gold and a pen- 
sion of three hundred ducats per annum. He also 
bestowed upon him a patent of nobility and a 
coat of arras bearing three Turks' heads in a 
shield, with the motto '< Vincere est vivere." ♦ 
This patent was afterwards admitted and recorded 
in the Heralds' College m England by Sir Wil- 
liam Segar, Garter King at Arms. 



CHAPTER n. 

His Captivity y Escape, and Return to England. 

The summer heaven of Smith's fortunes was 
soon to be overcast ; and fate had trials in store 
for him, far exceeding any he had before known. 
Sigismund, the prince of Transylvania, found that 
he could no longer maintain a war against the 
Emperor and the Turks at the same time, the 
resources of his flourishing principality being ut- 
terly exhausted by his long-continued and un- 
equal struggle. He accordingly acknowledged 
the Emperor's authority, gave up his station as 
an independent prince, and passed the remainder 

* The date of this patent is December dd, 1603, which 
was not until after Smithes return fix)m his captivity. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 195 

of his days in the more obscure, but probably 
happier rank of a private nobleman in PraguOi 
in the enjoyment of a munifik^ent pension, whioh 
he had received in exchange for the uneasy splen* 
dor of a crown. 

By this arrangement the armies of Sigismund 
were thrown out of employment, and transferred 
their allegiance to the Emperor. His generals 
were somewhat embarrassed by the presence of 
so many well disciplined and veteran troops, who 
were well known to be devotedly attached to 
their old master and not very fond of their new 
one ; and they were anxious to keep them con<- 
stantly employed, well knowing that idleness is 
the mother of mutiny. An opportunity soon 
occurred ; for there was seldom peace in those 
days on the irontiers of Christendom and ^^ Hea» 
thenesi^.^' 

The inhabitants of Wallaohia, at that time a 
Turkish province, unable to endure the tyranny 
of their Waywode, or prince, revolted and appli- 
ed to the Emperor for assistance, who gladly 
afforded it; and the Earl of Meldritoh, accompa- 
nied by numerous officers, and Smith among the 
rest, and by an army of thirty thousand men, who 
had served under Sigismund, went to support the 
claims of the. new Waywode, Lord RodoU. The 
former one, whose name was Jeremy, had raised 
an army of forty thousand Tartars, MoldavJanSy 



1§6 AMEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

and Turks, to maintain his pretensions. A bloody 
battle was fought between them, in which the 
Turinsh army was totally defeated with the loss 
of twenty-five thousand men, and Wallachia be- 
came subject to the Emperor. 

The deposed Waywode collected together 
some troops, and assumed a dangerous atutude m 
the neighboring province of Moldavia; and the 
Earl of Meldritch was sent to reduce him. He 
was successful in several skirmishes, in (me of 
which he was materially assisted by Smith's 
ingenuity in the construction of fire-works, a 
gift which seems to have been peculiar to him. 
Pressing on too eagerly and incautiously, be was 
decoyed into an ambuscade, in a mountainous 
pass near the town of Rottenton, and attacked 
by an army of forty thousand men. The Chris- 
tians made a gallant and desperate resistance, 
but could avail nothing against such immense 
odds ; and they were all slain or cut to pieces, 
except about thirteen hundred, who, with the 
Earl of Meldritch, escaped by swimming a river. 

In this unhappy battle were slain many gal- 
lant noblemen and gentlemen, the flower of Sigis- 
mund's army and his most devoted fiiends, and, 
among the rest, nine Englishmen, whose names 
Smith affectionately preserves, who, for the sake 
of sustaining the cross and humbling the cres- 
cent, had exposed themselves to peril and death 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 197 

in an obscure war, and in a remote comer of 
Europe. Such is the soldier's unequal lot. 
Some are proudly slain on famous fields ; " honor 
decks the turf that wraps their clay," and their 
names become in after-times watch-words and 
rallying cries ; while others, with arms as strong, 
hearts as bra?e, hopes as warm, and souls as 
aspiring, fall in petty skirmishes, the very spot 
of which soon becomes uncertain, and tradition 
itself preserves not a record of their names. 

Smith was severely wounded and left for dead 
upon the field. Some sparks of life were found in 
him, and the Turks, judging him to be a man of 
distinction by the richness of his armor, healed 
his wounds in order to secure a large ransom. 
As soon as he was recovered, he was taken to 
Axiopolis with many other prisoners, and there 
they were all sold, ^'like beasts in a market- 
place." Smith was sold to the Bashaw Bogall^ 
who sent him to Constantinople as a present to 
his mbtress, the young Charatza Tragabigzanda 
(a name not very manageable in a sonnet), tell- 
ing her that he was a Bohemian nobleman, 
whom he had captured in war. 

This young lady viewed with compassion the 
afflicted condition of her captive, who was at 
that time in the flower of his youth, and adorned 
with those manly graces, which make valor more 
attiacuve, and affliction more pitiable. Not hav-i 



196 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

ing her time so much occupied as modem young 
ladies, she would often contrive an excuse for 
asking a question of the interesting captive who 
dwelt so much in her thoughts, as she had a slight 
knowledge of Italian. To her surprise she learnt, 
that the story told by her lover was a sheer fab- 
rication, that Smith was an English gentleman? 
who had never seen the Bashaw till he had been 
bought by him in the market-place of Axiopolis. 
The tender feeling, with which she had, perhaps 
unconsciously to herself, begun to regard Smith, 
was probably increased by the indignation, with 
which she heard of the deception that had 
been practised upon her. She drew from him 
the whole story of his adventures, to which she 
did, like Desdemona, ^'seriously incline," and, 
like Desdemona, ^^ she loved him for the dangers 
he had passed," as well as for his graceful man- 
ners, fascinating conversation, and that noble and 
dignified bearing, which the weeds of a captive 
could not conceal. She mitigated the pains of 
his captivity by all the means in her power ; and, 
apprehensive lest her mother (who probably sus- 
pected the dangerous progress he was making in 
her daughter's affections) should sell him in order 
to remove him from her sight, she resolved to 
send him, with a letter to her brother Timour, 
Bashaw of Nalbritz, in the country of Gambia, and 
province of Tartary, who resided near the hor* 
ders of the sea of Azof. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 199 

In this letter she enjoined it upon her brother 
to treat Smith with the greatest kindness, and, to 
make '^ assurance doubly sure," she frankly told 
him of the state of her feelings towards him, 
which disclosure had, however, upon the haughty 
Tartar an elSfect very different fit>m what she an- 
ticipated. Highly incensed that his sister should 
have disgraced herself by an attachment to a 
Christian slave, he vented bis displeasure upon its 
unfortunate object. He ordered his head to be 
shaved, his body to be stripped and clothed with 
a rough tunie of hair-cloth, and a large ring of 
iron to be fastened around his neck. He found 
many companions in misfortune, and, being the 
last comer, he was, as he says, '^ slave of slaves 
to them all ; " though, he continues, '^ there was 
no great chok^e, for the best was so bad, that 
a dog could hardly have lived to endure." 

Smith does not inform us of the length of his 
captivity, nor have we any data for ascertaining 
it, but it could not have been many months ; for 
the battle, in which he was taken, was fought in 
1602, and we hear of his return from slavery, to 
Transylvania in December, 1603. He has left an 
account of the manners and customs, religion and 
government, of the " Crym-Tartars," as he calls 
them, which does credit to his powers of observa- 
tion, and the retentiveness of his memory, but 
which would be neither new nor interesting to the 



SKM) AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

reader. Of tbeir oflfensive and comfortless style 
of Hying he speaks with the energy of personal 
disgust, but makes honorable mention of thenr 
justice and integrity. For their military equip- 
ments, knowledge, and discipline be expresses the 
contempt natural to a thorough master of the art 
of war, but does justice to their bravery, tbeir 
skill in horsemanship, and their powers of en- 
durance. The brave spirit of Smith could not be 
conquered even by the galling chains of bond- 
age, which were rendered heavier by his despair 
of being ever able to throw them olSf; for he says, 
that '^ all the hope he had ever to be delivered 
from this thraldom was only the love of Traga- 
big^nda, who surely was ignorant of his bad 
usage; for, although he had often debated the 
matter with some Christians, that had been there 
a long time slaves*, they could not find how to 
make an escape by any reason or possibility ; but 
Grod, beyond man's expectation or imagination, 
helpeth his servants, when they least think of 
help, as it happened to him." He was employed 
to thresh corn in a country-house belonging to 
Timour, which was a league distant from his resi- 
dence. His cruel master, who felt a particular 
ill-will towards him, never passed him without 
displaying it by gross abuse, and even personal 
violence. His ill-treatment, on one occasion, 
was so outrageous, that Smith, maddened and 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 901 

transported beyond the bounds of reason by a 
sense of insult, and reckless of consequences, 
knowing that, happen what might, his miserable 
condition could not be changed for the worse, 
rose against him and beat out his brams with 
his threshing-flail. The instinct of self-preser- 
ration is fertile in expedients. He clothed him- 
self in the rich attire of the slain Timour, hid 
his body under the straw, filled a knapsack with 
com, mounted his horse, and galloped off to the 
desert. 

Save the exulting sense of freedom, his con- 
dition was but little improved, however, and he 
could hardly hope for any thing but a death 
more or less speedy, according as he was re- 
captured or not. He was in the midst of a 
wild, vast, and uncultivated desert, dreading to 
meet any human beings, who might recognise 
him as a runaway slave by the iron collar 
which he still wore about his neck, and again 
reduce him to bondage. He wandered about 
two or three days without any end or purpose, 
and in utter loneliness and despair ; but Provi- 
dence, who had brought him out of captivity, 
befiriended him still further, and directed his 
random steps to the main road, which leads 
fix)m Tartary into Russia. 

After a fatiguing and perilous journey of six- 
teen days, he arrived at Ecopolis, upon the river 



902 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

Don, a garrison of the Russians ; where, he says, 
" the governor, after a due examination of those 
his hard events, took olSf his irons, and so kindly 
used him, he thought himself new risen from 
death, and the good lady Calamata largely sup- 
plied his wants.'' This last clause b charac- 
teristic of Smith. His gentlemanly courtesy 
prompts him to acknowledge the kind attenticms 
of a lady, while his modesty forbids him to 
mention any of the reasons which induced her 
to take an interest in him, still less to exag- 
gerate that interest into a warmer feeling. 

Being fumbhed by the fiiendly governor with 
letters of recommendation, he travelled, under 
the protection of convoys, to Hermandstadt in 
Transylvania. His journey through these de- 
solate regions was made delightful by the kind 
attentions which he constantly received. He 
says, " in all his life, he seldom met with more 
respect, mirth, content, and entertainment, and 
not any governor, where he came, but gave him 
somewhat as a present, beside his charges." 
Their own exposed situation on the frontiers 
made them constandy liable to be carried into 
slavery by the Tartars, and they could sympa- 
thize with one who had just escaped a fate of 
which they were continually apprehensive. 

On his arrival in Transylvania, where he found 
many of his old friends and companions in arms^ 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 308 

and where bis brilliant exploits had made him 
generally known and popular, he was received 
with enthusiasm, as one risen from the grave, 
and overwhelmed with honors and attentions. 
He says, that '^ he was glutted with content 
and near drowned with joy/' and that he never 
would have left these kind friends, but for his 
strong desire to " rejoice himself" in his own 
native country, after all his toils and perils. At 
LfCipsic he met with his old Colonel, the Earl 
of Meldritch, and Prince Sigismund, who gave 
him a diploma, confirming the title of nobility 
he had previously conferred upon him, and fif- 
teen ducats to repair his losses. From thence he 
travelled through Germany, France, . and Spam, 
visiting the places most worthy of note in each. 
Hearing that a civil war had broken out in 
Barbary, eager to gain new honors and en- 
counter new perils, he sailed in a French ship 
of war to the Afirican coast, and went to the 
city of Morocco ; but, finding that the contendmg 
parties were equally treacherous and unworthy, 
he refused to throw his sword into either scale. 
He describes some of the objects most worthy 
of note in the cities of Morocco and Fez, and 
gives a slight sketch of the conquests and dis- 
coveries of the Portuguese in the southern por- 
tions of Africa. He departed from Morocco 
in the same vessel in which be had come, and 



804 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

which, an the voyage, sustained a desperate fight 
against two Spanish men-of-war, and succeeded 
in beatmg them off. He returned to his own 
eountrj about the year 1604. 



CHAPTER m. 

State of public Feeling in England in regard 
to Colonizing the Coast of America. — Smith 
becomes interested in the Subject. — Establish- 
ment of the Virginia and Plymouth Compa- 
nies. — An Expedition sets Sail from England. 
— Dissensions on the Voyage. — Arrival in 
Virginia. 

The times, of which we are writing, were 
firuitful ahke in great enterprises and in great 
men. The brilliant discoveries of the Portu- 
guese in the East, and of Columbus and Sebas* 
tian Cabot in the West, had startled the civilized 
world like the sound of a trumpet, and given to 
the human mind that spring and impulse, which 
are always produced by remarkable events. 
The fiery and adventurous spirits of Europe 
found the bounds of the old world too narrow 
for them, and panted for the untried spheres of 
our new and broader continents. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 908 

The wethh and fertility of the newly discoyer- 
ed lands, of course, lost nothing in the narratives 
of the few, who had by chance visited them, and 
returned home to astonish their admiring and less 
fortunate friends with tales of what they had seen 
and heard. They had seen climes which were 
the favorites of the sun, and his burning glances 
filled the earth, the air, and the sea with strange 
beauty. There were birds of gorgeous plumage^ 
dazzling the eye with their motions and colors^ 
flowers of the richest hues and most delicate 
odors, and aromatic forests that made the air faint 
with perfume, and '' old Ocean smile for many 
a league." But the most extravagant accounts 
were given oC the mineral treasures of the new 
countries. Grold and silver were so plentiful, 
that the most common' utensils were made of 
them ; and every one tiad some story to tell of 
" the Eldorado, where " (m the words of Mike 
Lamboume in " Kenilworth ") " urchins play at 
cherry-pit with diamonds, and country wenches 
thread rabies for necklaces instead of rowan-tree 
berries; where the pantiles are made of pure 
gold, and the paving-stones of virgin silver." 
The good and bad passions of men were 
alike sttnnilated. There were savages to be civi- 
lized and heathen to be converted ; there were 
worlds to be conquered and laurels to be won ; 
avarice was allured by dreams of untold wealth, 



906 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

and enterprise by prospects of boundless ad- 
venture. 

England was strongly infected by the general 
feeling, and the genius and accomplishments (^ 
Sir Walter Raleigh kindled in all ranks a i^trong 
passion for foreign adventures. Several attempts 
bad been made in the reign of Elizabeth, under 
the auspices of that remarkable man, to plant a 
colony in North America, the earliest settlement 
having been made, in^ 1585, on the island of 
Roanoke, in Albemarle Sound, on the coast of 
North Carolina ; but no one had taken firm root. 
The hbtory of these short-lived colonies, and an 
examination of the causes which led to their 
failure, would be out of place here. * 

At the time of Smith's arrival in England 
there was not any English colony on the ccm* 
tinent of North America; but the public atr 
tention had been strongly awakened to the sub- 
ject by the animated representations of Captain 
Bartholomew Gosnold, who, in 1602, had made 
a prosperous voyage to the coast of New Eng* 
land, and had, on his return, spoken in the 
warmest terms of its fertility and the salubrity 
of its climate, and strongly urged upon his coun- 

* The reader will find a mmute and accurate account 
of their fortunes in Stith's History of Virginia^ and a 
succinct and well-written one in Grahanie's Hishnf of 
the United States. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 907 

trymen the importance of colonizing it. He and 
Captain Smith seem to have been drawn to- 
wards each other by that kmd of instinct, which 
brings together kmdred spirits, and Smith entered 
into his plans with characteristic ardor. It was 
indeed precisely the enterprise to be embraced by 
a man like Smith, who panted for action, who 
dreaded nothing so much as repose, who sighed 
for perils, adventures, " hair-lM'eadth 'scapes," 
and ^^ moving accidents by flood and field." 

The statements of Grosnold having been amply 
confirmed by subsequent voyagers, and King 
James, who was well-inclined to any plan, which 
would give employment to his frivolous and rest- 
less mind, and increase his power and conse- 
quence, encouraging the plan of establishing a 
colony, an association was formed for that pur- 
pose. Letters patent, bearing date April 10th, 
1606, were issued to Sir Thomas Gates, Sir 
George Somers, Richard Hackluyt, and their 
associates, granting to them the territories in 
America, lying on the seacoast between the 
thirty-fourth and forty-fifth degrees of north lati- 
tude, together with all islands situated within a 
hundred miles of their shores. The associates 
were divided into two companies, one consbting 
of London adventurers, to whom the northern 
part was assigned, and under whose auspices New 
England was afterwards settled. It was provided, 



Si08 AMEBICAN BfOeBAPflT. 

that there should be at least oee hundred miles' 
distance between the two colonies. The terms oi 
this charter were strongly expressive of the King's 
aibitrary character, and of that jealous regard fox 
his prerogatives, which, in after times, proved so 
fatal to his race. The most important provisicxi 
was, that the supreme government was vested 
in a council resident in England, to be nomi- 
nated by the crown, and the local jurisdicticHi was 
confided to a colonial council, appointed aad re- 
movable at the pleasure of the crown, who 
were to be governed by royal instructi(His and 
ordinances from time to time promulgated. 
> The royal favor was yet more abundttotly 
vouchsafed to them. The King busied himself 
in the employment, highly agreeable to hb med- 
dling and insatiable vanity, of drawing up a code 
of laws for the colonies that were about to be 
planted; which, among other things, provided, 
that the legislative and executive powers should 
be vested in the colonial council, with these 
important qualifications, however, that their laws 
were not to touch life or limb, that they should 
conform to the laws of England, and should 
continue in force only till modified or repealed 
by the King or the supreme council in Eng- 
land. 

It was not until the 19th day of the follow- 
ing December, that an expedition set sail fiN)m 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S09 

England. This delay arose from a variety of 
causes, and especially a want of funds. On that 
day a hundred and five colonists embarked from 
London in a squadron of three small vessels/the 
largest of which did not exceed a hundred tons 
in burden. Among the leading adventurers were 
Captains Gosnold and Smith, George Percy, broth- 
er of the Earl of Northumberland, Edward M. 
Wingfield, a Liondon merchant, and Mr. Robert 
Hunt, a clergyman. The transportation of the 
colony was entrusted to Captain Christopher 
Newport, who was esteemed a mariner of skill and 
ability on the Ame^rican coast. Orders for govern- 
ment were given to them, sealed in a box, which 
was not to be opened till their arrival in Virginia. 
They went by the old and circuitous route 
of the Canary Islands and the West Indies. 
Being detained by contrary winds for six weeks 
upon the coast of England, troubles and dis- 
sensions sprang up among them, as often oc- 
curs in those expeditions, in which unanimity 
and harmony of feeling are of the most vital 
importance. Peace was with difficulty restored 
by the mild and judicious counsels of Mr. Hunt, 
who, though afflicted with a severe ilbess and 
the object of special dislike to some of the lead- 
ing men, (who, as we are told, were "little 
better than Atheists,") devoted himself with 
unshaken firmness to his duty, and preferred 

VOL. II. 14 



SKM) AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

reader. Of their oflfensive and comfortless style 
of liTing he speaks with the energy of personal 
disgust, but makes honorable mention of th^ 
justice and integrity. For their military equip- 
ments, knowledge, and discipline be expresses the 
contempt natural to a thorough master of the art 
of war, but does justice to their bravery, tbeir 
skill in horsemanship, and their powers of en- 
durance. The brave spirit of Smith could not be 
conquered even by the galling chains of bond- 
age, which were rendered heavier by his despair 
of being ever able to throw them off; for he says, 
diat ^' all the hope he had ever to be delivered 
from this thraldom was only the love of Traga- 
Ing^^anda, who surely was ignorant of his bad 
usage; for, although he had often debated the 
matter with some Christians, that had been there 
a long time slaves-, they could not find how to 
make an escape by any reason or possibility ; but 
Grod, beyond man's expectation or imagination, 
helpeth his servants, when they least think of 
help, as it happened to him." He was employed 
to thresh corn in a country-house belonging to 
llmour, which was a league distant firom his resi- 
dence. His cruel master, who felt a particular 
ill-will towards him, never passed him without 
displaying it by gross abuse, and even personal 
violence. His ill-treatment, on one occasion, 
was so outrageous, that Smith, maddened and 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 901 

transported beyond the bounds of reason by a 
sense of insult, and reckless of consequences, 
knowing that, happen what might, his miserable 
condition could not be changed for the worse, 
rose against him and beat out his brains with 
his threshing-flail. The instinct of self-preser- 
ration is fertile in expedients. He clothed him- 
self in the rich attire of the slain Timour, hid 
his body under the straw, filled a knapsack with 
com, mounted his horse, and galloped off to the 
desert. 

Save the exulting sense of freedom, his con- 
dition was but little improved, however, and he 
could hardly hope for any thing but a death 
more or less speedy, according as he was re- 
captured or not. He was in the midst of a 
wild, vast, and uncultivated deseit, dreading to 
meet any human beings, who might recognise 
him as a runaway slave by the iron collar 
which he still wore about his neck, and again 
reduce him to bondage. He wandered about 
two or three days without any end or purpose, 
and in utter loneliness and despair ; but Provi- 
dence, who had brought him out of captivity, 
befiriended him still further, and directed his 
random steps to the main road, which leads 
from Tartary into Russia. 

After a fatiguing and perilous journey of six- 
teen days, he arrived at Ecopolis, upon the river 



SOS AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Don, a garrison of the Russians ; where, he says, 
^^ the governor, after a due examination of those 
his hard events, took olSf his irons, and so kindly 
used him, he thought himself new risen from 
death, and the good lady Calamata largely sup- 
plied his wants." This last clause is charac- 
teristic of Smith. His gentlemanly courtesy 
prompts him to acknowledge the kind attentions 
of a lady, while his modesty forhids him to 
mention any of the reasons which induced her 
to take an interest in him, still less to exag- 
gerate that interest into a warmer feeling. 

Being furnished by the friendly governor with 
letters of recommendation, he travelled, tinder 
the protection of convoys, to Hermandstadt in 
Transylvania. His journey through these de- 
solate re^ons was made delightful by the kind 
attentions which he constantly received. He 
says, " in all his life, he seldom met with more 
respect, mirth, content, and entertainment, and 
not any governor, where he came, but gave him 
somewhat as a present, beside his charges." 
Their own exposed situation on the frontiers 
made them constantly liable to be carried into 
slavery by the Tartars, and they could sympa- 
thize with one who had just escaped a fate of 
which they were continually apprehensive. 

On his arrival in Transylvania, where he found 
many of his old friends and companions in arms^ 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 203 

and where his brilliant exploits had made him 
generally known and popular, he was received 
with enthusiasm, as one risen from the grave^ 
and overwhelmed with honors and attentions. 
He says, that ^^ he was glutted with content 
and near drowned with joy," and that he never 
would have left these kind friends, but for his 
strong desire to " rejoice himself" in his own 
native country, after all his toils and perils* At 
Leipsic he met with his old Colonel, the Earl 
of Meldritch, and Prince Sigismund, who gave 
him a diploma, confirming the title of nobility 
he had previously conferred upon him, and fif- 
teen ducats to repair his losses. From thence he 
travelled through Germany, France,, and Spain^ 
visiting the places most worthy of note in each. 
Hearing that a civil war had broken out in 
Barbary, eager to gain new honors and en- 
counter new perils, he sailed in a French ship 
of war to the African coast, and went to the 
city of Morocco ; but, finding that the contending 
parties were equally treacherous and unworthy, 
he refused to throw his sword into either scale. 
He describes some of the objects most worthy 
of note in the cities of Morocco and Fez, and 
gives a slight sketch of the conquests and dis- 
coveries of the Portuguese in the southern por- 
tions of Africa. He departed from Morocco 
in the same vessel in which be had come, and 



S14 AiCEBICAN B106RAPHT. 

they were met by a large body of Indians armed 
'^ with bows and arrows in a most warlike manner, 
with the swords at their backs beset with sharp 
Stones and pieces of iron, able to cleave a man 
m sunder." But, on making signs of peace, they 
were suffered to land without molestation. On 
the 13th day of May, they ptched upon the 
place of their settlement, which was a peninsula 
on the north side of James River, about forty 
miles from the mouth, to which they gave the 
name of Jamestown. The shc^re was so bold, 
that their ship could be in i»x fathoms of water, 
and be moored to the trees on the land. * 

From this date the history of the United States 
of America begins, after a lapse of one hundred 
and ten years from the discovery of the continent 
by Sebastian Cabot, and twenty two years after 
the first attempt to colonize it by Sir Walter 
Raleigh. Who can look back and compare the 
past with the present without reflections of the 
most serious and interesting cast ? In this little 

♦ This slight sketch of their proceedings, after their 
arrival in James River, and before they settled in James- 
town, is taken from a Narrative in Furchas (Vol. IV. 
p. 1685), written by George Percy, the brother of the 
Earl of Northumberland, one of the early settlers, and as 
distinguished for high character as for high birth. He 
succeeded Captain Smith as governor. His Narrative 
is comprised in six folio pages, and is very interesting. 



CA]*TAIN JOHN SMITH. 21S 

haudfiil of inea> occupying a strip of land in the 
southeastern corner of Virginia, surrounded by 
pathless woods and savage men, we behold the 
^^ seminal principle " of a mighty people, destined 
to subdue the vast continent to the mild sway of 
civilizauon, letters, ^and Christianity, and to coatk* 
nect two oceans by a living and unbroken chain. 
Owing their political existence to the charter of 
a tyrant, which deprived them of some of the 
most valuable privileges of Englishmen, the colo- 
nists laid the foundations of a state, in which the 
sternest and fiercest spirit of liberty was to be 
developed, and which was destined to break out, 
in little more than a century and a half, in deadly 
opposition to that mother-country, to whose am- 
ple robe they had so long clung for support ; not 
so much to obtain redress for actual oppressions, 
as in denial of the right to oppress, and in defence 
of those principles of truth, freedom, political 
equality, and natural justice, which descended 
to them with their Saxon blood and Saxon speech. 
The tree of liberty was first planted in the soil of 
America by despotic hands. The results which 
followed the settlement of this country were such, 
IS the most sagacious wisdom could not have 
foreseen, nor the most visionary enthusiasm have 
hoped. History, no less than revelation, teaches 
us our dependence upon a higher Power, whose 
wise and good plans we can as little comprehend 



216 AMSBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

as oppose, who is ever bringing real good out of 
seeming evil, and who, in the discipline with 
which he tries both men and nations, is ever 
making misfortune, discouragement, and struggle, 
the elements of imbounded growth, progress, and 
prosperity. 



CHAPTER IV. 



Early Struggles of the Colony. — Active Evev" 
tioTU of Captain Smith in Providing Food 
and Suppressing Insvhordination. 

Before going any further it will be proper to 
give the reader a short account of the original 
inhabitants of the soil, as their hbtory becomes 
almost immediately blended with that of the col- 
ony. At the time of the first settlement by the 
Europeans, it has been estimated that there were 
not more than twenty thousand Indians within the 
limits of the state of Virginia. Within a circuit 
of sixty miles from Jamestown, Captain Smith 
says, there were about five thousand souls, and of 
these scarce fifteen hundred were warriors. The 
whole territory between the mountains and the 
sea was occujMed by more than forty tribes, thirty 
of whom were united in a confederacy under 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 217 

Powhatan, whose dominions, hereditary and ac- 
quired by conquest, comprised the whole coun- 
try between the rivers James and Potomac, and 
extended into the interior as far as the falls of 
the principal rivers. 

Campbell, in his " History of Virginia," states 
the number of Powhatan's subjects to have been 
eight thousand. Powhatan was a remarkable 
man ; a sort of savage Napoleon, who, by the 
force of his character and the superiority of his 
talents, had raised himself from the rank of a 
petty chieftain to something of imperial dignity 
and power. He had two places of abode, one 
called Powhatan, where Richmond now stands, 
and the other at Werowocomoco, on the north 
side of York River, within the present county of 
Gloucester. He lived in something of barbaric 
state and splendor. He had a guard of forty 
warriors in constant attendance, and four sentinels 
kept watch during the night around his dwelling. 
His power was absolute over his people, by 
whom he was looked up to with something of 
religious veneration. His feelings towards the 
whites were those of implacable enmity, and 
his energy and abilities made him a formidable 
foe to the infant colony. 

Besides the large confederacy of which Pow- 
hatan was the chief, there were two others, with 
which that was often at war. One of these, 



318 AMERICAN BlOCniLAPHT* 

called the Mannahoacs, consisted of eight tribes^ 
and occupied the country between the Rappa- 
hannoc and York rivers ; the other, consisting of 
five tribes, was called the Monacans, and was 
settled between York and James rivers, above 
the Falls. There were also, in addition to 
these, many scattering and independent tribes. 

Captain Smith describes at considerable length 
their manners and customs, dress, appearance, 
government, and rehgion. They did not diflfer 
materially, in any of these respects, from the 
northern tribes. They had the straight black 
hair, the tall, erect, and graceful forms, and the 
copper complexion. Their characters displayed 
the same virtues and vices, which those, who are 
in any degree familiar with the early history of 
our country, recognise as peculiar to the Indian 
race. They were equally removed from the ro- 
mantic beavrideal, which modern writers of fiction 
have painted, and the monstrous caricature, drawn 
by those, who, from interested motives, have 
represented them, as "all compact" of cruelty, 
treachery, indolence, and cowardice. 

As soon as the colony had landed, the box 
containing their orders was opened ; and it was 
found that Edward M. Wingfield, Bartholomew 
Gosnold, John Smith, Christopher Newport, John 
Ratclifie, John Martin, and George Kendall 
were appointed a council. They were to choose 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 219 

a President from among their own number, who 
was to hold his office a year, with the privilege 
of having two votes. The council made choice 
of Mr. Wingfield as President. 

It is curious that almost the first act of the 
council should have been one of disobedience to 
their superior power ; for, though Captain Smith 
had been expressly named one of the council, 
they excluded him, and gave their reasons for so 
doing in a speech made probably by the President, 
to the whole colony. However dissatisfied they 
might have been, the time was too precious to be 
spent in brawls and wrangling. All hands set 
themselves diligently to work. The council 
planned a fort, others cut down trees to clear a 
place to pitch their tents, while others were em- 
ployed in making nets and preparing spots for 
gardens. The " overweening jealousy " of the 
President would not permit any military exercises 
or any fortifications to be erected, except a bar- 
rier of the boughs of trees in the shape of a 
half-moon. Soon after, an expedition was sent 
to discover the head of James River, consisting 
of twenty men, under the command of Newport 
and Smith, whose noble nature did not sufier him 
for a moment to abate any thing of his zeal for 
the good of the colony, under the influence of 
personal pique or disappointment. They passed 
by several habitations, and on the sixth day ar- 



220 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

rived at the Falls, and erecting a cross, took pos- 
session of the country in the name of King 
James. Here they visited Powhatan, whose 
town consisted of but twelve houses pleasantly 
Situated on a hill. He received them with seem* 
ing kindness, and gratefully accepted a hatchet 
which Captain Newport presented to him. 
Their further progress up the river was obstructed 
by the Rapids or Falls. They were kindly and 
hospitably treated by the natives, whom they en- 
countered in their excursion. 

On their return they found, that the colony 
had in their absence suffered from the careless- 
ness of the President in leaving them without 
military defences; for the Indians had attacked 
them, wounded seventeen men, and killed one 
boy. The writer of the narrative contained in 
Smith's History says, that had not a cross-bar 
shot from the ship, struck off a bough from a tree 
in the midst of the Indians and caused them to 
retire in affright, the colonists would have been 
entirely cut off, they being securely at work and 
unarmed. The President, made wiser by expe- 
rience, ordered the fort to be palisadoed, the 
ordnance to be mounted, and the men to be 
armed and exercised. They were frequently 
attacked by the savages, whose numbers and ac- 
tivity generally gave them the advantage, notwith- 
standing the superiority of the whites in arms. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. SSI 

At the end of six weeks, Captain Newport, 
who had been engaged merely to transport the 
colony, made preparations for returning to 
England. The enemies of Captain Smith 
pretended, out of compassion to him, a desire 
to refer him to the council in England to be 
reprimanded by them, rather than expose him 
to the publicity of a legal trial, which might 
injure his reputation and endanger his life. But 
he was not a man to be bullied or cajoled. 
He was strong, not only in the consciousness of 
innocence, but in the affections and respect of 
a large majority of the colonists. He loudly 
demanded a trial, the result of which was highly 
honorable to him. The arts of his enemies 
were revealed, and those who had been sub- 
orned to accuse him betrayed their employers. 
He was acquitted by acclamation, and the 
President condemned to pay a fine of two 
hundred pounds, which Smith generously added 
to the public property of the colony. Many 
other difficulties had arisen, which were ami- 
cably adjusted, by the " good doctrine and ex- 
hortation " of Mr. Hunt, who seems to have 
richly deserved the blessing promised to the 
peace-makers, and, by his influence, Captain 
Smith was admitted a member of council. On 
the next Sunday, they all partook of the com- 
munion, as a bond of Christian harmony, and 



ess AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

a pledge that their recent reconciliation was 
sincere. On the foUowmg day, the Indians in 
the neighborhood voluntarily sued for peace. 
Capta'ui Newport sailed for England, on the 
15th of June, leaving one hundred and four 
persons behind, and prombing to return ag^ 
in twenty weeks with fresh supplies. 

The colony, owing to gross mismanagement 
and improvidence in the council in England, 
were very inadequately furnished with provisions. 
While the ships remained, they did not suffer from 
want, as they could always, either for " love 
or money," obtain a portion of the ssulors' stores, 
of which they had great abundance. But this 
resource was cut off by the departure of the 
squadron, and they were reduced to a daily 
allowance of a half-pint of barley and the same 
quantity of wheat, both of the worst quality, and, 
fix)m their long remaining in the ship's hold, 
alive with insects. Their historian says, with 
melancholy mirth, that " had they been as 
free from all sins as gluttony and drunkenness, 
they might have been canonized for saints ; " 
for this wretched fare, with some sturgeon and 
shell-fish from the river, was all they had 
to subsist upon till the month of September. 
Disease and death made frightful havoc among 
them ; for, besides their scanty and unhealthy 
food, their constitutions were weakened by ex- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 223 

treme toil in the heat of the summer, by im- 
perfect shelter, and by the sudden change from 
the habits and comforts of civilized life to con- 
stant labor and exposure. Before September, 
fifty of their number had died, including Cap- 
tain Gosnold^ the first projector of the expedition. 
The President, Wingfield, by embezzling the 
public stores and converting them to his own use, 
had escaped the general famine and sickness,* 
but had thereby much increased the dislike, 
which had always been felt towards him. In 
the beginning of the Autumn he laid a plan to 
escape to England in the colony's bark, which 
treacherous conduct (to borrow the language 
of the historian) " so moved our dead spirits, 
that we deposed him." Captain John Rat- 
clifiTe was elected in his place. Kendall, who 
was concerned with him in the plot, was 
expelled from the council, so that it was now 
reduced to three members, the President, 
Martin, and Smith. After the discovery of this 
conspiracy, the sufferings of the colonists reach- 
ed their utmost extent. Their provisions were 
consumed, no prospect of relief appeared, and 
they were in hourly expectation of an attack 

* This charge seems hardly credible ; bat it is posi- 
tively asserted by Smith, whose honesty and integrity 
are beyond suspicion, and not contradicted by any wri- 
ter, to my knowledge. 



224 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT, 

from the Indians, to whom they could have 
offered no effectual resistance, in their present 
enfeebled condition. But they, so far fix)m 
doing them any violence, supplied them liber- 
ally with provisions ; a treatment so welcome 
and unexpected, that the grateful piety of Smith 
ascribes it to a special interposition of divine 
Providence.* 

Smith's eminent abilities and high character, 
it was evident from the beginning, would sooner 
or later give him the first place in the colony, 
whatever might be his nominal rank. In times 
of peril and adversity, men, by a kind of unerring 
instinct, discover who is the ruling spirit, and 
put the helm into his hands as the only pilot 
that can .weather the storm. Such times had 



*The writer in Smith's History acquits the council 
in England of all blame in respect to their scanty pro- 
visions, and sums up the causes, which led to their 
difficulties, in the following terms. 

" And now where some affirmed it was ill done of 
the council to send forth men so badly provided, this 
incontradictable reason will show them plainly they 
are too ill advised ^o nourish such ill conceits ; first, 
the fault of our going was our own; what could be 
thought fitting or necessary we had, but what we should 
find or want, or where we should be, we were all ignor- 
ant ; and, supposing to make our passage in two months 
with victual to live and the advantage of the Spring to 
work, we were at sea five months, which we both 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 225 

now come upon the infant settlement, and they 
turned their eyes upon Smith, as the only man 
who could rescue them from the difficulties in 
which they were involved. The new President 
and Martin were neither able nor popular, and 
the official rank of the former was but dust in 
the balance, when weighed against Smith's native 
superiority. From this time the chief manage- 
ment of affiiirs devolved upon him. 

He entered upon his duties with characteristic 
ardor and energy. He set about the building of 
Jamestown, and by kind words and encouraging 
promises, and, more than all, by his own example, 
taking upon himself the most laborious and fa- 
tiguing duties, he pushed on the work with so 

^m '— ■■ ■ — -■■ II ■ — ■—■ ■■■ -■ ■■■—■■■■■■■ .,,,■ „ , ■■^ 

spent our victual in passing and lost the opportunity of 
the time and season to plant, hy the unskilful presump- 
tion of our ignorant transporters, that understood not at 
all what they undertook. Such actions have ever since 
the world's beginning been subject to such accidents, 
and every thing of worth is found full of difficulties, 
but nothing so difficult as to establish a commonwealth 
so far remote from men and means, and where men's 
minds are so untoward as neither to do well themselves 
nor suffer others." Stith, on the other hand, an accu- 
rate and painstaking writer, accuses the council and 
especially Sir Thomas Smith, their treasurer, of want 
of care and thoughtfulness, and says that the same 
mismanagement and carelessness marked the whole 
of that gentleman's administration of the affairs of 
the colony. 

VOL. II. 15 



896 AHEBtCAN BIOGRAPHY. 

much diligence, that he had in a short time pro^ 
Tided most of them with lodgings, neglecting any 
for himself. Their stock of provisions being well 
High exhausted, he resolved to make search for a 
fi'esh supply. His ignorance of the language of 
the natives, and his want of men and equipments, 
were great impediments to the expedition, but 
no discouragement to his adventurous spirit. At* 
tended by only five or six men, he went down 
the river m a boat, to Kecoughtan, where Hamp- 
ton now stands. The natives, who were aware 
of their condition, treated them with contempt 
as poor, starved creatures, and, when invited to 
traffic, would scoffingly give them a handful of 
com or a piece of bread in exchange for their 
swords, muskets, and clothing. 

Finding that kind looks and courteous treat- 
ment produced only insult and contumely. Smith 
felt himself constrained by necessity to adopt a dif- 
ferent course, though he frankly acknowledges that 
he thereby exceeded the terms of his commission. 
He discharged his muskets among them and ran 
his boat ashore, the affrighted Indians betaking 
themselves to the shelter of the woods. March- 
ing to their houses he found them abounding with 
com ; but he would not permit his men to touch it, 
expecting that the Indians would return in large 
numbers to attack him, in which expectation he 
was not disappointed. Sixty or seventy of them 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S2T 

soon appeared, some pamted black, some red, 
some white, and some party-cdored, in a square 
column, singing and dancing, with their Oket 
ix>me before them. This was an idol made of 
skins, stuffed with moss, painted, and ornamented 
with copper chains, Thejr were armed with 
clubs, shields, bows, and arrows, and boldly ad- 
vanced upon the English, who received them with 
a volley of musketry, which brought many of 
them to the ground, and with them their idol. 
The rest fled in dismay to the woods* They sent 
a priest with a proposition to make peace and re- 
store their idol. Smith told them, that, if six of 
them would come unarmed and load his boat with 
corn, he would not only return them their idol, 
but give them beads, copper, and hatchets 
besides, and be their friend. These terms were 
accepted and the stipulaticms performed. They 
brought ample supplies, not cmly of corn, but of 
turkeys, venison, iwd wild fowl, and continued, 
until the English departed, singing and dancing in 
token of friendship. 

The success of this expedition induced Captain 
Smith to repeat hb excursions, both by land and 
water, in the course of one of which he discovered 
the people of Chickahommy, who lived upon the 
banks of the river of that name. The provisions^ 
however, which he so carefully and toilsomely 
provided, the colcmi^ impzovidently wasted^ 



228 AMERICAN BIOGI^APHT. 

Whenever Smith was out of sight, owing to the 
President's imbecility and Martin's ill health, 
every thing was in tumultuous confusion, like a 
school in the absence of its teacher. Wingfield 
and Kendall, who were smartmg under their re- 
cent disgrace, took advantage of one of these sea- 
sons of insubordination to conspire with some 
disorderly malcontents, to escape to England in 
the bark, which by Smith's direction had been 
fitted up for a trading voyage to be undertaken 
the next year. Smith's unexpected return nip- 
ped their project in the bud, which was not done, 
however, without recourse to arms, and in the ac- 
tion Captain Kendall was slain. Soon after- 
wards the President and Captain Archer mtended 
to abandon the country, which purpose was also 
frustrated by Smith, a circumstance which puts in 
the strongest hght his power and influence. We 
are told, " that the Spaniard never more greedily 
desired gold than he victual, nor his soldiers 
more to abandon the country than he to keep it." 
Having found plenty of corn in the neighborhood 
of Chickahominy River, he made an excursion 
there, where he found hundreds of Indians await- 
ing his approach with loaded baskets in their 
hands. At the approach of winter too, the rivers 
were covered with swans, geese, and ducks, 
which, with corn, beans, and pumpkins supplied 
by the Indians, furnished their tables amply and 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 229 

luxuriously. This abundance of good cheer had 
its natural effect in producing good-humor and 
curing home-sickness, " none of our Tuftaffety 
humorists " (to borrow a curious expression of the 
historian) desiring to return to England. A crav- 
ing stomach has in all ages been the fruitful 
source of discontent and mutiny; and Captain 
Smith showed his knowledge of human nature, in 
taking so much pains to address it with the only 
arguments whose force it b capable of acknowl- 
edging. 



CHAPTER V. 



Captain Smithes Captivity among the Indians. — 
His Life is saved by Pocahontas. — His Re- 
turn to Jamestown. 

Captain Smith's gleams of prosperity and re- 
pose were, like the " uncertain glories of an April 
day," broken by constant interruptions of clouds 
and misfortune. He was murmured against by 
some cross-grained spirits, and even rebuked by 
the council, for his dilatoriness in not penetrating 
to the source of Chickahominy river, a charge, 
one would think, the most unreasonable that could 
ba brought against such a man. Stung by these 



280 AMERICAN BIO0RA9Hlr« 

unmerited domplamtSy be iihniediately set out 
upon a new expedition. He proceeded as far as 
his barge could iSoat, reaching that point with 
great labor, and bavrog been obliged to cut a 
way through the trees wbich had fallen into the 
river. Haring left the barge securely moored, 
with strict orders to his men not to leare it till his^ 
return, and taking with him two Englishmen and 
two Indians as guides, he went higher up in a 
canoe. This he left in charge of the Englishmen 
and went up twenty miles further to the meadows 
at the head of the river, where he occupied him- 
self in shooting game. The disorderly and ill- 
disciplined crew, whom he had left in charge of 
the barge, had disobeyed his injunctions and gone 
-Straggling into the woods. They were suddenly 
attacked by a party of three hundred bowmen 
commanded by Opechancanough, King of Pamun- 
key and brother to Powhatan, and one of their 
number, George Cassen by name, was taken, pris- 
oner. The rest, with great difficuhy, regained 
their barge. The Indians extorted from their 
prisoner information of the place where Captain 
Smith was, and then put him to death in the most 
barbarous manner. In their pursuit of Captain 
Smith, they came upon the two men, by name 
Robinson and Emry, who had been left with the 
canoe and who were sleeping by a fire, and dis- 
charged their arrows at them with fatal effect. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 231 

Havmg diacovered Smith, they wounded him in 
the thigh with an arrow. Finding himself besel 
with numbers, he bound one of his Indian guides 
to his left arm with his garters as a buckler, 
and defended himself so skilfully with his gun, that 
he killed three and wounded many others. His 
enemies retreating out of gun-shot, he attempted 
to reach his canoe, but paymg more heed to his 
foes than to his own footsteps, he sunk, with his 
guide, up to the middle in a treacherous morass. 
Helpless as he was, his bravery had inspired such 
terror, that they dared not approach him, until, 
being almost dead with cold, he threw away his 
arms and surrendered himself. They drew him 
out, and led him to the fire, by which his slain 
companions had been sleeping, and diligently 
chafed his benumbed limbs. 

Though in expectation of an immediate and 
cruel death, his presence of mind did not forsake 
him, and his inexhaustible resources were not 
found wanting in that trying hour, when he was 
an unarmed captive in the hands of merciless sav- 
ages. Without asking for his life, which would 
only have lowered the respect with which his 
bravery had inspired them, he demanded to speak 
with their chief. When he was presented to 
him, he showed to him a pocket compass which 
he happened to have with him. The tremulous 
vibrations of the needle, which they could see, but 



S32 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

not touch, on account of the glass^ amused and 
surprised the Indians ; and when Captain Smith, 
partly by language, he having acquired some 
knowledge of their tongue, and partly by signs, 
proceeded to explain to them the nature and 
properties of this wonderful instrument, and the 
discoveries to which it had led, and also described 
to them the courses of the heavenly bodies, the 
spherical shap^ of the earth, the alternations of 
day and night, the extent of the continents, 
oceans, and seas, the variety of nations and 
their relative position, which made some of them 
antipodes to others, they were filled with wonder 
and amazement.^ 

Notwithstanding this, within an hour they tied 
him to a tree and prepared to shoot him with 
their arrows. But when the chief held up the 
compass, they threw down their arms, and led 
him in a sort of triumphal procession, to Orapax, 

* The above is the account contained in Smith's His- 
tory, and, of course, came originally from Smith himself. 
It is impossible to believe, that the ignorant Indians 
could have comprehended such abstruse matters. They 
probably regarded the compass as the Englishman's god, 
a " great medicine," like the wig of the officer, which 
came off when grasped by his swarthy foe, and cheated 
him of a scalp to his inexpressible amazement A wig 
and a mariner's compass would be equally mysterious, 
and entitled to equal reverence, in the eyes of these untu- 
tored children of nature. " Omne ignotum pro magnifico,^ 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 233 

a village situated a few miles northeast of where 
Richmond now stands. They marched in single 
file, their chief being in the midst, with the En- 
glish swords and muskets borne before him. 
After him came Captain Smith held by three 
stout men, and on each side six archers. When 
they arrived at the village, the women and chil- 
dren flocked round to behold their pale-faced cap- 
tive. The warriors who conducted him, after 
some military manoeuvres, placing Smith and their 
chief in the midst, performed a war-dance around 
them with frightful yells and strange contortions 
of their limbs and features. After this dance 
had been thrice performed, they conducted him 
to a "long house," where he was guarded by 
forty men. He was served so liberally with pro- 
visions, that he supposed their intention was to 
fatten and eat him, a reflection which did not at 
all tend to sharpen his appetite. 

At this time one of those little incidents oc- 
curred which show that even barbarous manners, 
fierce hostility, and familiarity with scenes of 
bloodshed and cruelty, cannot turn the heart 
wholly into stone, or quench the natural instinct 
of compassion. An Indian to whom Smith, upon 
his first arrival in Virginia, had given some beads 
and trinkets, brought him a garment of furs, 
which was a most acceptable present, as he 
was well nigh perishing with the cold, which in 



884 AMERICAM BIOGRAPHY. 

that year (1607) was very great both m Europe 
and America. The name of this grateful and 
benevolent savage was Maocassater. I take 
pleasure in recording it, as well as the anecdoteji 
which has made it so deserving of being pre^ 
served, and is so deUghtful an exception to the 
acts of cruelty, treachery, and oppression, that 
generally mark the conduct of both whites and 
Indians towards each other. 

Two days after thb, he was attacked, and, but 
for his guard, would have been killed by an 
old Indian, whose son was lying at the point of 
death. Whether this was a natural sickness, 
which the father supposed was occasioned by the 
sorceries of Smith, and was therefore provoked 
to seek revenge, or whether he had been wounded 
by Smith before his capture, we do not learn ; 
probably the latter. They brought him to the 
dying man's side, in hopes that he might recover 
him. Smith told them that he had a medicine 
at Jamestown which would restore him. But 
they would not permit him to go after it. 

The Indians were making great preparations 
to attack Jamestown, and desired to secure 
Smith's aid and cooperation. They promised 
him in return for his services, not only life and 
liberty, but as much land and as many women 
as he could wish. He endeavored to dissuade 
them from their attempt, and pointed out the 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 

• 

formidable dangers to which they would bo 
exposed from the springmg of mines, the can- 
nonSf and warlike engines; to which they lis* 
tened with alarmed attention. In order that 
his statements might be confirmed, he proposed 
to send messengers to the colony, to which they 
assented. He wrote a note, in which he in- 
formed his countrymen of the plans in agitatioo 
against them, desired them to send him certain 
enumerated articles, and to give the messengers a 
wholesome inght, at the same time mforming 
these last of all that would happen to them. These 
men started off in a season of extreme cold and 
arrived at Jamestown. Seeing men come out 
to meet them, as Smith had told them would 
be the case, they fled in dismay, leaving their 
note behind them. Coming again in the even- 
nuig, they found the articles mentioned in t)ie 
note, in the very spot where Smith told them 
to look for them. They returned in three days 
and related their adventures to the great amaze* 
ment of all, who supposed, that ^^ he could either 
divine, or the paper speak.'' 

This incident, which confirmed their suspicion 
of Smith's supernatural powers, induced them 
to lay aside all thoughts of attacking Jamestown. 
They then carried him about in triumph through 
the country, showing him to the various tribea 
which dwelt on the Rappahannoc, and Potowmao 



S36 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

rivers, and finally brought him to Pamunkey, 
the residence of Opechancanough, which was 
situated near the fork of York River. Here 
they performed a strange ceremony, the object 
of which was, as they told him, to ascertain 
whether his intentions towards them were friendly 
or not. The following was the order of per- 
formances. Early in the morning, a great fire 
was made in a long house, and a mat spread 
on each side, on one of which he was seated, 
and then his guard retired. ^^ Presently came 
skipping in a great, grim fellow, all painted over 
with coal, mingled with oil, and many snakes' 
and weasels' skins stufied with moss, and all their 
tails tied together, so as they met on the 
crown of his head in a tassel ; and round about 
the tassel was a coronet of feathers, the skins 
hanging round about his head, back, and shoul- 
ders, and in a manner covered his face; with 
a hellish voice and a rattle in his hand." This 
personage, who was a priest, commenced his 
invocation by a variety of wild gestures and 
grimaces, and concluded by surrounding the 
fire with a circle of meal. This being done, 
"three more such like devils came nishing in 
with the like antique tricks," whose bodies 
were painted half black and half red, and their 
faces daubed with red and white streaks to re- 
semble mustachios. Th^se three danced about 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 237 

for some time^ ^^ and then came in three more 
as ugly as the rest/' with their eyes painted 
red and with white streaks upon their black 
faces. Finally, they all seated themselves op- 
posite* to the prisoner, three on the right hand 
of the priest and three on his left. They then 
began a song, accompanying it with their rat- 
tles ; and when this was done, the chief priest 
laid down five grains of corn, and after a short 
oration, attended with violent muscular exertion, 
laid down three more. After that they began 
their song again, and then another oration, 
laying down as many grains of com as be- 
fore, till they had twice encircled the fire. 
Then, continuing the incantation, they laid sticks 
between the divisions of the corn. The whole 
day was spent in these ceremonies, during which 
time neither Smith nor the performers tasted 
food, but at night they feasted abundantly on 
the best provisions they had. These rites were 
contmued for three successive days. They 
told him that the circle of meal signified their 
own country, the circles of corn the bounds 
of the sea, and the sticks his country. They 
imagined the world to be flat and round like 
a trencher, and themselves to be placed in the 
middle of it. 

They afterwards showed him a bag of gun- 
powder, which they had taken firom him or 



B38 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

liis companions^ and ivhich they carefully pre- 
seired till the next spring to plant, as they did 
their com, supposing it to be a grain. He was 
afterwards invited by Opitchapan, the second 
brother of Powhatan, to his house, and sump- 
tuously entertained ; but here, as on all other occa- 
sions^ none of the Indians would eat with him, 
though they would partake of the portions which 
be left unconsumed. 

At last they brought him to Werowocomoco, 
the residence of Powhatan, which was situated 
on the north side of York River, in Gloucester 
County, about twenty-five miles below the 
fork of the river. It was at that time Powhatan^s 
principal place of residence, though afterwards, 
not being pleased with its proximity to the 
English, he removed to Orapax. Upon Smith's 
arrival in the village, he was detained, until 
the Indian emperor and his court could make 
suitable preparations to receive their captive in 
proper state. In the meanwhile more than two 
hundred of his " grim courtiers " came to gaze 
at him, as if he had been a monster. Powhatan, 
who was at that time about sixty years old, is 
described as having been, in outward appearance, 
" every inch a king." His figure was noble, his 
stature majestic, and his countenance full <rf 
the severity and haughtiness of a ruler, whose 
will was supreme and whose nod was law. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 289 

He received Captain Smith with imposing, 
though rude ceremony. He was seated on a 
kind of throne, elevated above the iSoor of a 
large hut, in the midst of which was a fire. 
He was clothed with a robe of racoon skins. 
Two young women, his daughters, sat one on 
his right and the other on his left ; and on each 
side of the hut there were two rows of men 
in front, and the same number of women be- 
hind. These all had their heads and shoulders 
painted red. Many had their hair ornamented 
with the white down of birds. Some had chains 
of white beads around their necks, and all had 
more or less of ornament. When Smith was 
brought home, they all set up a great shout. 

Soon after his entrance, a female of rank was 
directed to bring him water to wash his hands, 
and another brought a bunch of feathers instead 
of a towel to dry them with. They then feast- 
ed him in the best manner they could, and held 
a long and solemn consultation to determine his 
fate. The decision was against him. Two 
large stones were brought in and placed before 
Powhatan, and Smith was dragged up to them 
and his head was placed upon them, that his 
brains might be beaten out with clubs. The 
&tal weapons were already raised and the stem 
executioners looked for the signal, which should 
bid them descend upon the victkn's defenceless 



240 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

head. But the protecting shield of divine Pro- 
vidence was over him, and the arm of violence 
was arrested. Pocahontas, the King's favorite 
daughter, — at that time a child of twelve or 
thirteen years of age, — finding that her piteous 
entreaties to save the life of Smith were un- 
avsuling, rushed forward, clasped his head in 
her anns, and laid her own upon it, determined 
either to save his hfe, or share his fate. Her 
generous and heroic conduct touched her father^s 
iron heart, and the life of the captive was spar- 
ed, to be employed in making hatchets for him- 
self, and bells and beads for his daughter. 

The account of this beautiful and most touch- 
ing scene, familiar as it is to every one, can 
hardly be read with unmoistened eyes. The 
incident is so dramatic and startling, that it 
seems to preserve the freshness of novelty 
amidst a thousand repetitions. We could almost 
as reasonably expect an angel to have come 
down from heaven, and rescued the captive, 
as that his deliverer should have sprung Gx)m 
the bosom of Powhatan's family. The uni- 
versal sympathies of mankind and the best feel- 
ings of the human heart have redeemed this 
scene from the obscurity which, in the progress 
of time, gathers over all, but the most impor- 
tant events. It has pointed a thousand morals 
and adorned a thousand tales. Innumerable 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 5241 

bosoms have throbbed and are yet to throb 
with generous admiration for this daughter of 
a people, whom we have been too ready to 
underrate. Had we known nothing of her, 
but what is related of her in this incident, she 
would deserve the eternal gratitude of the inhabi- 
tants of this country ; for the fate of the colony 
may be said to have hung upon the arms of 
Smith's executioners. He was its life and soul, 
and, without the magic influence of his perso- 
nal qualities, it would have abandoned, in de- 
spsur, the project of permanently settling the 
country, and sailed to England by the first op- 
portunity. 

The generosity of Powhatan was not con- 
tent with merely sparing his prisoner's life. 
He detained him biit two days longer. At 
the end of that time, he conducted him to a 
large house in the woods, and there left him alone 
upon a mat by the fire. In a short time, from be- 
hind another mat that divided the house, " was 
made the most dolefuUest noise he ever heard ; 
then Powhatan, more like a devil than a man, 
with some two hundred more, as black as him- 
self," came in and told him, that they were now 
fiiends, and that he should return to Jamestown ; 
and that, if he would send him two pieces of can- 
non and a grindstone, he would give him the 
country of Capahowsic, and esteem him as 

VOL. n. 16 



342^ AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

has own son. He was faithful to h» word, anci 
despatched him immediately^ with twelve guides. 
That night they quartered in the woods ; and 
during the whole journey Captam Smith ex- 
pected every moment to be put to death, not- 
withstanding Powhatan's fidr words. But, as 
the narrative of his adventures has it, " Almighty 
Crod, by his divme Providence, had mollified 
the hearts ot those stem barbarians with com- 
passion.'^ Smith reached Jamestown in safety, 
after an absence of seven weeks, and treated 
lus savage guides with great hospitality and 
kindness. He showed them two demi«culverins 
and a millstone, which they proposed to carry 
to Powhatan, but found them too heavy. He 
ordered the culverins to be loaded with stones 
and discharged among the boughs ot a tree 
covered with icicles, in order to magnify to them 
the effects of these formidable engines. When 
they heard the report and saw the ice and the 
branches come rattling down, they were greatly 
terrified. A few trinkets restored their confidence, 
and they were dismissed with a variety of pres* 
ents for Powhatan and his family. 

The generous conduct of Powhatan, in re- 
storing a prisoner who had given such fatal 
proofs of courage and prowess, b worthy of 
the highest admiration. There is hardly any 
thing in history, that can sSbtd a parallel to^ 



OJPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S48 

U. He WAS itimuIatBd to take tbe prisaner^g 
li&y not only by revenge, a passion strongest in 
sarage breasts, but by policy aind that regard 
to hi» own interests, which Christian and 
civilized monaiehs are justified in observing. 
He seems tor bave ac^ted from some religious 
ieelifigy regarding Smith, either as a supernatural 
beings or as under the special protection of a 
higher power. How fiur this may have actuated 
bim^ or how fas he may have been influeneed 
by affection fiar his daughter, it is impossible 
to say; but, supposing both to have operated, 
we only eievate hb conduct by elevating his 
motives. He must have been a noble being 
indeed, in whom rd^on or domestic affecticm 
could overoome the strong impulses of passicHi^ 
vevei^, atid intlerest* 



■k^Mk^Mb 



CHAPTER VI, 

Arriffal of Newport frcm, England. — flw Visit 
to Potbhatan, ^ His Return, 

Smitb's absence from Jamestown seems to 
have been always attended with evil con- 
sequences to the cdony. The moment his= 
back was turned^ the unruly spirits^ whom he 



844 AMBBICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

al(me could curb, broke out into disafl^tioii and 
mutiny. He found ^^ all in combustion" on his 
return. The colony was split into two (actions, 
the stronger of which was preparing to quit the 
country in the bark. Captain Smith, at the haz- 
ard of his life, defeated this project, brin^g his 
cannon to bear upon the bark, and threatening 
to sink her if they did not stay.* In revenge for 
this, a conspiracy was formed by several, and 
among them the President, to put him to deatfi, 
for the lives of Robinson and Emry, whom they 
sud, he had led to their death, and he was c(»ise- 
quently guilty of their murder. Such cobweb 
meshes as these could not hold a man Uke Smith ; 
for ^^ he quickly took such order with such law- 
yers, that he laid them by the heels, till he sent 
some of them prisoners to England." Hb relation 
of the plenty he had witnessed in the Indian terri- 
tory, and of the power and liberality of Powhatan, 
cheered their drooping spirits, which were re- 
vived and sustained by the kindness of Poca- 
hontas; whose deliverance of Smith was not a 
transient impulse, but consistent with her whole 
character, and who, with her attendants, every 
four or five days brought them abundance of 
provisions, thereby saving the lives of many 
that must otherwise have perished with hun- 
ger. The savages also came in great numbers, 
bringing presents continually to Captain Smith, 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 345 

aDd offering commodities for sale, at the prices 
which he himself set. His influence over them 
was unbounded^ and they were ready, at his nod, 
to do any thing he required. They knew that 
he worshipped one supreme God, the Creator 
and Preserver of all things, whom they would 
call, in conversation, the God of Captain Smith. 
This high opinion was much confirmed by the 
arrival of Captain Newport, at the time at which 
Smith had predicted to them it would hap- 
pen, being in the latter part of the year 1607. 
Two ships had sailed from England, one com- 
manded by Newport, and the other by Captain 
Nelson, the latter of which was dismasted on the 
coast of America, and blown off to the West 
Indies. Newport brought with him a reinforce- 
ment of men and provisions, and all things neces- 
sary. His arrival was a source of great joy 
to the colonists, but was in the end productive 
of some embarrassments. The President and 
council (Ratcliffe and Martin, Smith himself 
being the third), who had been always jealous 
of Smith's influence over the natives, endeavored 
to raise their ciedit and authority over them high- 
er than his, by giving them four times as much 
for their goods as he had appointed. To gratify 
the mariners also, they gave them liberty to 
trade as much as they pleased ; and the conse- 
quence was in a short time, that the market was 



846 AMESICAN BIOORAPHT. 

SO glutted, Uiat a pound of copper could not pR>* 
euro what was fiinnerly obtuned fer an ounce, 
the laws of political economy operating, be£>re 
ibe science was heard of. Their trade was also 
injured by Captain Newport, who lavished his 
{vesents with the profiiseness of a true sailor. 
They served, however, to impress Powhatan with 
a high idea of Newport's greatness, and made 
Urn very desirous of seeing him. 

Accordingly the bark was prepared for a visit 
to Powhatan. Captain Newport was attended 
by Smith and Mr. Matthew Scrivener, a gentle^ 
man of sense and discretion, who had come over 
with Newport, and been admitted a member of 
the council, and by a guard of thirty or forty men. 
When they came to Werowooomooo, Newport 
began to entertain suspicions of treachery. They 
were obliged to cross many creeks and streams on 
bridges loosely made of poles and bark, and so 
frail that he imagined them to be traps set by the 
Indians. But Smith assured him there was 
nothing to fear, and with twenty men, leaving the 
bark, undertook to go forward and accomplish the 
journey alone. He went on, and was met by 
two or three hundred Indians, who conducted him 
and his companions into the town. He was re- 
ceived with shouts of welcome on all sides. Pow** 
hatan exerted himself to the utmost to set before 
him the most sumptuous and plentiful banquet ho 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 5M7 

m 

m 

could provide. Four or five hundred men attend- 
ed as a guard) and proclamadon was made, that 
no one should do anj harm to the English oa 
pain of death. 

The next daj. Newport came on shore, and 
was likewise warmly and hospitably received. 
An English boy, named Thomas Savage, wai 
given by bim to Powhatan, and he received in 
exchange, an intelligent and faithful Indian, nam- 
ed Namontack. Three or four days they spent 
in feasting, dancmg, and trading, during which 
time the old chief behaved with such dignity, dis- 
cretion, and propriety, as impressed his English 
visitors with the highest opinion of his natural ca- 
pacity. His shrewdness in driving a bargain was 
displayed in a manner, which, but for Smith's 
superior tact, would have resulted in the great 
pecuniary loss of the English. 

He would not condescend to baggie and barter 
for specific articles, as his subjects did, and told 
-Captain Newport that it was not agreeable to his 
greatness ^^to trade for trifles in this peddling 
manner," and that, as they were both great and 
powerful men, their mutual transactions ought 
to be conducted on a scale of proportionate mag- 
nitude. He proposed to him, that Newport should 
lay down his commodities in a lump, and that he 
should select firom them what he wanted, and 
give m return what he considered an equivalent. 



348 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

The proposal was interpreted to Newport by 
Smithy who^ at the same time^ told him that all 
these fine words meant merely that Powhatan in- 
tended to cheat him if he could, and warned him 
fiot to accept his terms. Newport, however, who 
was a vain, ostentatious man, expecting to dazzle 
the chief with his greatness, or charm him with 
his liberality, accepted them, in the hope of hav- 
ing any request, he might make, readily granted. 
The result proved that Smith was right ; for Pow- 
hatan, in selecting the articles that he wbhed and 
giving others in return, valued his com at such a 
rate, that, as the writer of the narrative says, it 
might have been bought cheaper in old Spain, fhr 
they hardly received four bushels where they 
counted upon twenty hogsheads. 

Smith was much provoked at Newport's being 
so palpably overreached ; but, dissembling his cha- 
grin so as to avoid suspicion, he determined to 
obtain an equivalent advantage over the wily sav- 
age. He took out, as if accidentally, a variety of 
toys and gewgaws, and contrived to let Powhatan 
observe some blue beads. His eyes sparkled with 
pleasure at the sight, and he eagerly desired to 
obtain them. Smith, however, was reluctant to 
part with them, they being, as he said, composed 
of a very rare substance, of the color of the skies, 
and fit to be worn only by the greatest kings in the 
world. Powhatan's ardor was inflamed by oppo- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 5249 

sition, and he resolved to have the precious jewels 
at any price. A bargain was finally struck to the 
satisfaction of all parties, by which Smith ex- 
changed a pound or two of blue beads for two or 
three hundred bushels of com. A similar negoti- 
ation was entered into with Opechancanough at 
Pamunkey. These blue beads were held in such 
estimation among the Indians, that none but 
their principal chiefs and the members of their 
families were allowed to wear them. 

They returned with their treasures to James- 
town, where, shortly after, a fire broke out, which 
burnt several of their houses (they being thatched 
with reeds, which rendered them very combusti- 
ble), and occasioned them a considerable loss in 
arms, bedding, wearing-apparel, and provision. 
Among the principal sufierers, was their good 
clergyman, Mr. Hunt, who lost all he had, in- 
cluding his books, which must have been a most 
severe affliction to a scholar in that lone wilderness. 
Yet we are told, that no one ever heard him re- 
pine on account of his loss. Notwithstanding this 
nusfortune, their remaining stock of oat-meal, 
meal, and corn would have been sufficient for their 
wants, had not the ship loitered in the country 
fourteen weeks, when she might have sailed in 
fourteen days, and thereby greatiy increased the 
number of mouths to be fed. They were also 
obliged, on the departure of the ship, to furnish 



SSO AMERICAN BI06BAPHT. 

to the crew abundant provisions without aoy 
equivalent, as they had neither money, goods, 
nor credit. All this was to be done cbeerfuUjTi 
that the report of it might induce others to 
come, and gain ** golden opinions " for them 
from the council at home. ^^ Such," says Stith, 
'^was their necessity and misfortune, to be 
under the- lash of those vile commcmders, and to 
buy their own provisions at fifteen times their 
value ; suffering them to feast at their charge, 
whilst themselves were obliged to last, and yet 
dare not repine, lest they should incur the censure 
of being factious and seditious pers(xis." Their 
stock of provisions was so contracted by these 
means and by their unlucky fire, that they wexe 
reduced to great extremity. The loss of their 
houses exposed many, with very imperfect shd- 
ter, to the severity of a most bitter winter; 
and not a few died before spring, fix)m the com- 
bined effects of cold and hunger. 

The delay of Newport's ship was occasioned 
by one of those gold-fevers which break out so 
frequently among men, to the great prejudice 
of their reason and common sense. As it is 
well known, the most extravagant notions were 
entertained in Europe of the riches of the New 
World ; and it is not going too far to say, that it 
was thought impossible to thrust a shovel into 
American soil, without bringing up a lump of 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 251 

gold. As a proof that Virginia formed no 
exception to this general rule, among those who 
left England with Captains Newport and Nel* 
son, were two goldsmiths, two refiners, and one 
jeweller, artificers, one would think, in very 
little demand in a new colony, where most men 
would, like .Ssop's cock, prefer a grain of barley 
to the most precious gem in the world.* 

* There appears to haye been a great want of judg- 
ment shown in the selection of the colonists. Of 
eighty-two persons, whose names are preserved, that 
first came oyer to Jamestown, forty-eight were desig- 
nated gentlemen, four were carpenters, twelve were 
laborers, and the others boys and mechanics. Of 
seventy-four names of those who came out with Newport 
and Nelson (one hundred and twenty in all,) thirty- 
two were gentlemen, twenty-three were laborers, six 
were tailors, and two apothecaries. These " gentlemen * 
were probably dissolute, broken-down adventurers, bank* 
rupts in character as well as fortune, needy and ex- 
travagant younger sons of good families, whom their 
friends were happy to be quit of on any terms ; in- 
capable alike of industry and subordination, indolent, 
mutinous, and reckless. These are the men, who so 
constantly tried the patience of Smith, a saving grace, 
which, as the reader may have perceived, he had not 
in great abundance ; and who provoked him to write 
in the foUowing terms; << Being for the most part of 
such tender educations and small experience in 
martial accidents, because they found not £nglish cities^ 
nor such fair houses, nor at their own wishes any of 



252 AMEBICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

In a small rivulet near Jamestown was found 
a glittering, yellowish sand, (its lustre probably 
derived lh)m particles of mica,) which their 
excitable imaginations immediately believed to 
be gold. This became the all-absorbing topic 
of thought and discourse, and " there was no 
talk, no hope, no work, but dig gold, wash 
gold, refine gold, load gold/' The unskilful 
refiners, whom Newport had brought over with 
him, pronounced this shining sand to be very 
valuable ore, forgetting that ^^all that glisters 
is not gold." This, of course, carried the 
firenzy to its height, and, confirmed by the testi- 
mony of men of supposed skill and experience, 
every one indulged in the most magnificent 

their accustomed dainties, with feather beds and down 
pillows, taverns and ale-houses in every breathing- 
place, neither such plenty of gold (and silver and dis- 
solute liberty, as they expected, they had little or no 
care of any thing, but to pamper their bellies, to fly 
away with our pinnaces, or procure their means to re- 
turn for England. For the country was to them a mise- 
ry, a ruin, a death, a hell, and their reports here and 
their actions there according." Another writer, describ- 
ing the character of the colonists at the time of Smith's 
departure for England, observes, after enumerating a few 
useful mechanics, " All the rest were poor gentlemen, 
tradesmen, serving-men, libertines, and such like, 
ten times more fit to spoil a commonwealth, than 
either begin one, or but help to maintain one." — 
Smithes Virginia, (Richmond Edition^) Vol. I. p. 241. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 353 

visions of wealth and aggrandizement. Nothing 
would content Newport, but the freighting of 
his ship with this worthless trash, to the great 
mortification and chagrin of Captain Smith, 
who was no beUever in golden dreams, and 
foresaw the evil consequences of neglecting duties 
of the most important nature, to chase phantoms 
and bubbles. The writer of this portion of 
the History of the colony says, " Never did any 
thing more torment him, than to see all neces- 
sary business neglected, to fraught such a drunk- 
en ship with so much gilded dirt.'' Wingfield 
and Captsun Archer returned with Newport 
to England, which afforded to Smith a slight 
balm of consolation for his troubles and vexa- 
tions. 

As soon as the spring opened, Smith and 
Scrivener (who had been admi.tted a member 
of the council) set themselves diUgently to work 
to rebuild Jamestown, to repair the church, store- 
house, and fortifications, and to cut down trees 
and plant com for the ensuing season. While 
they were thus occupied. Captain Nelson arrived 
in the Phoenix, from the West Indies, where he 
had remained during the winter. He was receiv- 
ed with great joy, as he had long been given up 
for lost. He brought an ample stock of provis-^ 
ions, enough to relieve the colony from all appre- 
hensions of want for the next half-year. His 



3S4 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT* 

generous and manly conduct endeared him to the 
settlers, and his presehce seemed to difiiise a gen- 
eral activity and spirit of enterprise among them. 
Even the President was roused from his usual 
sluggishness and imbeciUty ; for, says the writer of 
tbas portion of the History > '^ to re-lade this ship 
with some good tidings, the President (not holding 
it stood with the dignity of his place to leave the 
fort) gave order to Captain Smith to discover and 
search the commodities of the Monacans' coun- 
try beyond the Falls." Sixty men were allotted 
to him for this expedition, which he was prevent- 
eid irom undertaking, by troubles near at hand. 
At Captain Newport's departure, Powhatan, 
who perceived the superiority of the English 
weapons over the rude ones of his own people, 
made him a present of twenty turkeys, as a token 
of his regard, desiring him to send in retum 
twenty swords, which request waa inconsiderately 
granted. He afterwards made a similar present to 
Captain Smith, expecting a like retum ; but, find^- 
ing himself disappointed, he ordered his people to 
hover round Jamestown, and take possession of 
the Englishmen's weapons, whenever they had 
an opportunity, either by stratagem or force. 
These orders were faithfully executed, and were 
productive of great annoyance and inconvenience 
to the colonists. No notice was taken of their 
depredations for a time, because they had strict 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S6ft 

orders from England to keep on the best possible 
terms with Powhatan and his people. ^^ This 
eharitable humcMr prevsuled till well it chanced 
they meddled with Captain Smith," who then took 
the matter into his own hands, and acted with 
such promptness and energy, punishing so se- 
verely the offenders whom he detected, that Pow- 
hatan found he was playmg a losing game ; so 
^^ he sent his messengers and his dearest daugh- 
ter Pocahontas with presents, to excuse him of the 
injuries done by some rash untoward captains, 
his subjects, desiring their liberties for this time 
with the assurance of his love for ever."* 
Smith dismissed his prisoners, after giving them 
"what correction he saw fit," pretending to be 
thus merciful only for the sake of Pocahontas. 
His conduct was too resolute and spirited to meet 
the approbation of his colleagues in the council ; 
though it bad struck such terror into the Indians, 
and that too without any bloodshed, that they no 
longer molested the colonists, whereas before they 
" had sometime peace and war twice in a day, 
and very seldom a week but they bad some 
treacherous villany or other." 

The Phoenix was sent home in June, 1606, 
. 

* How consistent is tyranny ! Powhatan's disavowal 
of bis express ordess is worthy of King John or Louia 
the Sleventh«. 



256 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY* 

with a^ load of cedar, by Captain Smith's in- 
fluence ; though Martin was very anxious that she 
also should be loaded with golden sand. He was 
^^ willingly admitted " to return with her to Eng- 
land, being a sickly and inefficient man, and hav- 
ing his head so full of golden dreams, as to 
make him useless, whatever might have been his 
natural capacity. 



CHAPTER VII. 



Captain Smith explores the Chesapeake in two 
Expeditions. — He is chosen President of the 
Colony. 

The enterprising character of Captain Smith 
prompted him to an arduous undertaking, namely, 
the examination and survey of Chesapeake Bay, 
to ascertain more completely the resources of the 
country and to open a friendly communication 
with its native inhabitants. He set out in an open 
barge of about three tons' burthen, accompanied 
by Dr. Russell and thirteen others. They left 
Jamestown on the 2d of June, 1608, in company 
with the Phoenix, and parted with her at Cape 
Henry. They then crossed the bay to the east- 
em shore and fell in with a cluster of islands 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 2S7 

east of Cape Charles, to which they gave the 
name of Smith's Isles, in honor of their comman- 
der, an appellation still retained. 

They were directed by two Indians, whom they 
saw, to Accomac, the habitation of their chief, 
sdtuated in the southwestern part of Northampton 
county. He received them with kindness, and 
is spoken of by them as the most alSable and 
good-looking savage they had ever seen. He 
spoke the language of Powhatan, and told them 
that his people had been afflicted with a heavy 
pestilence, which had carried them almost all off. 
They then coasted along the eastern shore of 
the bay, searching every inlet that seemed proper 
for habitations or harbors, and landing frequent- 
ly, sometimes upon the main land, sometimes 
upon the islands, which they called Russell's 
Islands, since called Tangier Islands. They 
discovered and sailed up the River Pocomoke 
in search of fresh water, for want of which 
they suffered a good deal, that which they ob- 
tained being very muddy. 

Leaving this river, they directed theur course 
to certain other islands, and when they were 
among them, their sail and mast were blown 
overboard by a sudden squall, and for two days 
the weather was so stormy, that they had great 
difficulty in keeping their boat finom sinking. 
They named these islands Ldmbo, in commemo- 

VOL* II. 17 



S5S AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

ration of their toils and suffermgs, a name which 
has since been changed to Watts's Islands. 

Departing from these islands, they came to 
the River Wicomico, on the Eastern Shore of 
Maryland, where the natives were at first dispos- 
ed to resist them, but were concUiated and made 
friendly by some toys left in their huts, after 
they had been a little frightened by discharges 
of fire-arms. These Indians were the wealthi- 
est and most given to commerce and manufac- 

• 

tures of any they had ever seen. Finding the 
eastern coast Uned with low, irregular islands, 
and for the most part without fresh water, 
they directed their course westward to the 
mouth of Patuxent River. They sailed thirty 
leagues further to the north without finding any 
inhabitants, the coast being well watered but 
mountainous and barren, except the valleys, 
which were fertile, well wooded, and abound- 
ing in wolves, bears, deer, and other animals. 
They passed by many coves and small streams, 
and came to a large river, which they named 
Bolus, and which was probably that now called 
Patapsco. At this place, discontent broke out 
among Smith's crew, who were most of them 
unaccustomed to a life of such toil and hardship. 
They had spent twelve or fourteen days in an 
open boat, toiling at the oar, and their bread was 
damaged with the rain ; yet, as we are told, ^so 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 359 

good were their stomachs that they could digest 
it.'' Captain Smith addressed them in terms of 
mingled authority and persuasiveness ; told them 
how disgraceful it would be for them to return, 
while they had such abundance of provision, and 
before they bad accomplished any thing of impor- 
tance ; and assured them of his readiness to share 
every danger and labor, and to take the worst 
upon himself whenever there was any choice. 
Their reluctance to proceed any further was 
much increased by adverse weather, and, three or 
four of them falling sick, their piteous entreaties 
induced Captain Smith to return. 

On the 16th of June they fell in with the 
mouth of the Potomac. The sight of this majes- 
tic river revived their drooping spirits, and, their 
invalids having recovered, they readily consented 
to explore it. For thirty miles, they found no 
inhabitants, but were afterwards conducted by 
two of the natives up a little creek, where they 
found themselves surrounded by three or four 
thousand Indians, lying in ambuscade, ^^ so strange- 
ly painted, grimed, and disguised, shouting, yell- 
ing, and crying, as so many spirits from hell could 
not have showed more terrible." Their demean- 
or was very menacing ; but Smith prepared to 
receive them with great coolness, and command- 
ing the muskets to be discharged, the grazing of 
the bullets upon the water, and the report, which 



260 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

the woods multiplied into a thousand echoes, filled 
thera with alarm. They threw down their arms, 
and made professions of peace, which was ratified 
by an exchange of hostages. They now treated 
the English with great kindness, and firankly told 
them that they had been commanded to lie 
in wait for them, and cut them off, by Powha- 
tan, who had been informed of the expedition, 
and incited to take this step, by some discoo^ 
tented spirits at Jamestown, because Captain 
Smith obliged them to stay in the countiy ' 
against their will. This fact alone will give the 
reader some notion of the infamy and W(»rth- 
lessness of some of the colonists. 

They were conducted by Japazaws, the 
chief of the Indians in that part, to a mine, of 
which they had heard a good deal, upon one 
of the tributary streams of the Potomac. It 
produced a substance like antimony, which the 
Indians, after having washed it and put it up in 
bags, used to paint themselves and their idols 
with. It made "them look like Blackamoores 
dusted over with silver." Newport had carried 
some of these bags to England, and reported 
that the substance they contained was half sil- 
ver. They reached the mine, and brought back 
as much of its product as they could carry, 
which proved in the end to be of no value. 
No mineral treasures at all were found, but 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S61 

they coUected some furs. The Indians, whom 
they met, generously supplied them with the flesh 
of animals. They frequently found the waters 
alive with innumerable fish, and not having any 
net, as their bark was sailing among them, they 
attempted to catch them with a frying-pan, 
'* but,'* the narrative gravely adds, " we found it 
a bad instrument to catch fish with.'' 

They explored the Potomac as far as their 
bark would go, and then returned. Though 
they frequently were exposed to danger from 
the open or treacherous assaults of the savages. 
Captain Smith's resolute conduct always averted 
it. He invariably met them with great boldness ; 
and, if they were desirous of peace, he would 
demand their weapons and some of their children, 
as sureties for their good faith, and by their refusal 
or compliance he learned in what Ught to con- 
sider them and what measures to take with them. 

Desiring before his return to visit the Indians 
whom he had known in his captivity, he en- 
tered the mouth of the River Rappahannoc, 
where, at low tide, their boat ran aground. 
While they were waitmg for the flood, they 
occupied themselves in sticking with the points 
of their swords the fishes, which were left upon 
the flats in such numbers, that they took in this 
way more in an hour than they could eat in a 
day. Captain Smith, in taking fix>m the point of 



S62 AMSRXCAN BIOGRAPHT. 

his sword a stingray ^ (which is described in the 
narrative as ^^ being much in the fashion of a 
thornback/' but with ^^ a long tail like a riding-ixxl, 
whereon the midst is a most poisoned sting, of 
two or three inches long, bearded like a saw on 
each side/') was wounded by its sharp thorn, to 
the depth of an inch and a half, in the wrist. 
The wound, though it drew no blood, became 
extremely painful ; and in a few hours his arm 
and shoulder were so much swollen, that his 
companions concluded bis death was at hand, 
and were so confident of it, that with heavy hearts 
they dug his grave in an island hard by. But 
by the timely application of a " precbus oil " by 
Dr. Russell, after the wound had been probed, 
be recovered from the ill effects of it so quickly, 
that he was able to take his revenge upon the 
fish by eating a piece of it for his supper. The 
place, where this accident occurred, was named 
in consequence of it Stingray Point, as it is still 
called. 

They returned to Jamestown on the 21st of 
July. By way of frolic, they disguised their 
boat with painted streamers in such a way, that 
they were mistaken by the colonists for a Spanish 
frigate, to their no small consternation. Smith 
found that his absence had been attended with 
its usual ill consequences. All those who had 
lately come over were sick ; and the whole com- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 363 

pany were spiritless, discontented, and full of 
Indignation against their selfish and inefficient 
Pk'esident ; who, instead of actively mingling in 
the interests of the colonists, and sharing their 
toils and privations, had been living in abundance 
upon the public stores, and was building for 
himself a pleasant retreat in the woods, where 
his ear might not be pained by murmurs and 
complaints. 

They were somewhat comforted by the ac* 
counts of the expeditioD, and (what now cannot 
be read without a smile) by ^'the good hope 
we had by the savages' relation, that our bay 
had stretched into the South Sea or somewhat 
near it." They would not hear, however, of 
Ratcli&'s continuing in the (^ce of President, 
but insisted upon his being deposed, which 
was accordingly done, and Smith chosen in his 
place ; by which he was invested with the title 
and badges of a station, the substantial authority 
of which he had long enjoyed. Being about 
to depart upon another expedition, he appointed 
Mr. Scrivener, his deputy, who at that time 
was sick with a fever. This deputy distributed 
impartially the public stores which Ratclifie 
had engrossed, and made such arrangements as 
would enable the colonists to interrupt their 
labors during the extreme heat of the summer, 
and thus recruit their wasted strength. 



964 AMEBICAM BIOGBAPHT. 

Captain Smith remained at home but three 
days, and on the 24th of July set out on another 
exploring expedition accompanied by twelve 
men. They were detdned two or three days 
at Kecoughtan (Hampton) by contrary winds, 
where they were hospitably entertained by the 
Indians. At night they discharged a few rockets 
into the air, which greatly alarmed their simple 
hosts. The first night of their voyage they 
anchored at Stingray Point, and the next day, 
crossing the Potomac at its mouth, they has- 
tened on to the River Bolus (Patapsco.) They 
proceeded onwards to the head of the bay, 
which ended in four streams, all of which they 
explored as far as their boat would carry them. 
Two of them they found with inhabitants oa 
their banks, namely the Susquesahanoc (Sus- 
quehanna) and Tockwogh, since called Sassafras. 
In crossing the bay they met seven or eight 
canoes full of Massawomecs. These were a 
great and powerful nation dwelling far to the 
north, of whom Captain Smith had heard a 
great deal among Powhatan's people. They 
were a great terror to the tribes hving on the 
Chesapeake Bay, with whom they were almost 
constantly at war. * 

* The Massawomecs are supposed to have been the 
great Northern Confederacy, called by the French the 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 965 

They prepared at first to assault the English, 
which might have been attended with fatal con- 
sequences to the whole company, as they had 
but six men who could stand upon their feet, 
the rest being disabled by sickness. By putting 
upon sticks the hats of the sick and stationing 
between every two sticks a man with two mus- 
kets, they contrived to multiply their apparent 
strength, so that the Indians paddled swiftly to 
the shore. They were followed, and with some 
difficulty persuaded to go on board the barge, 
where presents were interchanged. By signs 
they intimated that they were at war with the 
Indians dwelling on the river Tockwogh ; and 
the fresh and bleeding wounds upon some of 
them showed that there had been a recent bat- 
tle. 

The next day, on entering the river Tockwogh, 
they were surrounded with a fleet of canoes filled 
with armed men.- On seeing the weapons of the 
Massawomecs in the hands of the English, 
(which they had received as presents, but 
which, sacrificing truth to policy, they gave the 
Indians to understand had been taken in battle,) 

Iroquois, and by the English, The Five Nations, and af- 
terwards, The Six Nations ; whose seat was in the State 
of New York, but whose conquests were extended so 
far, that they have been called the Romans of America. 
— StUhy p. 67 ; Encydopcsdia Americana^ Art Iroquois. 



266 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

they led them m triumph to their village and en- 
tertained them hospitably. They saw among 
this people hatchets, knivesy and pieces of iron 
and brass, wliich, they said, were obtamed from 
the Susquesahanocs, a mighty nation, who 
dwelt upon the river of the same name, two days' 
journey above the Falls, and who were mortal 
enemies of the Massawomecs. Captain Smith 
prevailed upon them to send an embassy to this 
people inviting them to come and see him ; wliich 
was accordingly done, and, in three or four days, 
sixty of them came down with presents of various 
kinds. 

Captain Smith has spoken of these Susquei^- 
hanocs in terms which would lead one to sup- 
pose that he borrowed more from imagination 
than memory in his description, and that his ro- 
mantic fancy and ardent temperament made 
hira, perhaps unconsciously, exaggerate the sober 
truth. He speaks of them as a race of giants, 
" and, for their language, it may well beseem their 
proportions, sounding from them as a voice in 
a vault." Their clothing was the skins of bears 
and wolves, with the paws, the ears, and the head 
disposed in such a way, as to make it at once 
more picturesque and terrible. " One had the 
head of a wolf hanging in a chain for a jewel, his 
tobacco-pipe three quarters of a yard long, pret- 
tily carved with a bird, a deer, or some such de- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* S67 

vice at the great end, sufScient to beat out one's 
brains ; with bows, arrows, and clubs, suitable to 
their greatness/' To those who have since seen 
this gigantic people, with the unassisted eye of 
reason^ the^ have dwindled to the common pro- 
portions of mankind. 

Their tribe was a numerous one, mustering six 
hundred JSghting men. They dwelt in palisadoed 
towns to defend themselves against the Massa- 
womecs, their deadly foes. In their manners 
they were mild and simple, and knew nothing 
of Powhatan or his people except by name. 
They informed the English, that their hatchets 
and other ccxnmodities came from the French 
in Canada. They looked upon the English as 
beings of an order superior to men, and for Cap- 
tain Smith their veneration was unbounded. An 
incident is related by the narrator of the progress 
of this expedition, which shows at once the piety 
of Captain Smith, and that natural instinct of re- 
ligion which dwells alike in the breast of the hea- 
then and the Christian, the savage and the civil- 
ized man. " Our order was daily to have prayer 
with a psalm, at which solemnities the poor sav- 
ages much wondered ; our prayers being done, a 
while they were busied with a consultation till 
they had contrived their business. Then they 
began in a most passionate manner to hold up 
their hands to the sun, with a most fearful song ; 



268 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

then embracing our Captain^ they began to adore 
him in like manner; though he rebuked them, 
yet they proceeded till their song was finished." 
They afterwards invested him with the office of 
a chief, loaded him with presents, and invited him 
to come and aid them against the Massawomecs. 

Leaving these kind and friendly strangers, they 
returned down the bay, to the Rappahannoc, 
exploring every inlet and river of any con- 
sequence, and giving to the various capes and 
headlands the names of members of the company 
or of their friends. At the extreme points to 
which they explored the several rivers, they cut 
crosses in the bark of trees, and in some places 
bored holes in them, wherein they deposited 
notes, and, in some cases, brazen crosses, to signify 
that the English had been there. 

In passing up the river Rappahannoc, they 
were kindly entertained by a tribe of Indians 
called the Moraughtacunds. They met there an 
Indian named Mosco, who is styled an "old 
fnend," though we bear of him now for the first 
time. They had probably seen him on their for- 
mer expedition. They supposed him to be the son 
of some Frenchman, because, unlike every other 
Indian whom they had seen, he bad a bushy black 
beard. He was not a little proud of this distinc- 
tion, and called the Englishmen " his country- 
men." He devoted himself to them with . great 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 269 

assiduity and uniform kindness. He advised 
them not to visit the Rappahannocs^ who lived 
higher up the river^ as they would endeavor to 
kill them for being the friends of the Moraughta- 
cundsy who had lately stolen three of their chief's 
women. 

Captain Smith, thinking that this was merely 
an arti£be to secure a profitable trade to his own 
friends, dbregarded his counsels ; but the event 
proved that he was right. Under pretence of 
trade, the English were decoyed by them into a 
creek, where an ambuscade was prepared for 
them. A skirmish took place in which the Rap- 
pahannoes had many killed and wounded, but 
none of the English were hurt. They took three 
or four canoes, which they presented to Mosco in 
requital of his kindness. 

Before proceeding any further, they employed 
themselves in surrounding their boat with a sort 
of bulwark, made of the targets, which they had 
received fixMn the Massawomecs^ and which they 
had found a great protection against the arrows 
of the Rappahannocs. They were made of small 
twigs, woven together with strings of wild hemp 
and silk-grass, so firmly and compactly as to maker 
them perfectly arrow-proof. Their virtue was soon 
put to the test ; for on the next day they received 
a volley, while they were in a narrow part of the 
river, firom thirty or forty Rappahannocs, who 



S70 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

^^ had so accommodated themselves with branch- 
es," that they were mistaken for bushes growing 
along the shore. Their arrows however, striking 
against the targets, fell harmless into the river. 

They were kindly treated by the rest of the 
nations as far as the Falls. While they were 
upon the river, they lost one of their number, Mr. 
lUchard Fetherstone, by death. He had borne an 
unexceptionable character from the first, behaving 
himself " honestly, valiantly, and industriously.'' 
His remains were buried, with appropriate honors, 
on the shore of a small bay, which they called 
by his name. The other members of the expe^ 
dition, who had almost all of them been m(H« or 
less sick, had now recovered their health* 

Having sailed up the Rappahannoc as far as 
their bark would carry them, they set up crosses 
and carved their names upon the bark of trees, 
as usual. While they were rambling about the 
Falls, they were suddenly attacked by about a 
hundred Indians, who, in their irregular mode of 
warfare, kept darting about from tree to tree, con- 
tinually discharging arrows, but with no effect. 
In about half an hour they retreated as sudden- 
ly as they approached. As the English returned 
from pursuing them they found one of their num- 
ber lying upon the ground, having been wounded 
in the knee with a bullet. Mosco, who had be- 
haved with great courage in the skirmish, showed, 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 271 

at the sight of him, the unrelenting cruelty of his 
race ; for, says the narrative, with more force than 
elegance, ^^ never was dog more furious against a 
bear, than Mosco was to have beat out his brains." 
But he was rescued from this violence ; and, his 
wounds having been dressed by the surgeon, he 
was in an hour so far recovered as to be able to 
eat and speak. By the aid of Mosco, they 
learned from him that he was the brother of the 
chief of the tribe of Hassininga^ one of the four 
which made- up the nation of the Mannahocs. 
When asked why his people attacked the Eng- 
lish, who came to them with both the intentions 
and the appearance of friends, he said, that they 
had beard that the English were a nation come 
from under the world to take their world from 
them. Bebg further asked how many worlds he 
knew, he answered, that he knew of none but 
that which was under the sky that covered him, 
whose sole inhabitants were, besides his own 
nation, the Powhatans, the Monacans, and the 
Massawomecs. To the inquiry, what there was 
beyond the mountains, he replied, the sun. 
They made him many presents and persuaded 
him to accompany them. 

At night they set sail and proceeded down the 
river. They were presently followed by the 
Mannahocs on the banks, who kept discharging 
arrows at the boat and yelling and shrieking so 



S72 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

loud, as to render it impossible for their coun- 
tryman in the boat, whose name was Amorolec, 
to make his voice audible to them. But in the 
calm of the morning they anchored in a quiet 
and broad bay, and their captive was able to 
address his countrymen and inform them, how 
kindly the English had treated him ; that he had 
been promised his liberty if they would be friend- 
ly ; and that as to injuring the strangers at all 
with their inferior weapons, it was quite out of the 
question. Encouraged by these statements, they 
hung their bows and arrows upon the trees, and 
two of them, without suspicion, swam to the bark, 
bringing the one a bow and the other a quiver of 
arrows, which they presented to Captain Smith in 
token of submission. He received them very 
kindly, and told them that, if the chiefs of their 
four tribes would submit to him, that the great 
King, whose subject he was, would be their 
friend. This was immediately assented to ; and, 
on going ashore on a low, jutting point of land, 
the four chiefs came and received their coun- 
tryman, Amorolec. They wondered at every 
thing belonging to the English, and mistook 
their pistols for pipes. After giving and receiv- 
ing many presents, the English took their depart- 
ure, leaving four or five hundred Indians smging, 
dancing, and making merry. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 273 

On their return, they visited their friends the 
Moraughtacundsy who were desirous that Captain 
Smith should make peace with the Rappahan- 
noes, as he had done with the Mannahocs. 
This pacific counsel, so foreign to the Indian 
character, was probably given, that they them* 
selves might be more secure, as they were gene- 
rally understood to be the friends and allies of the 
English. Captain Smith told them that he was 
ready to make peace, but that, as the Rappahan- 
noes had twice assaulted him without any prov- 
ocation, and when he came with the most friendly 
intentions, he should exact certain conditions from 
them. These were, that they should present him 
witli the bow and arrows of their chief, in token 
of submission, that they should never come armed 
into his presence, that they should make peace 
with the Moraughtacunds and give up their chief's 
son, to be a hostage and a security for the per- 
formance of the stipulated tenns. 

A message was sent to the chief of the Rap- 
pahannocs, who accepted all the conditions ex- 
cept the last, saying that he had but one son and 
could not live without him, a strong instance of 
affection, in one of a race, which has generally 
been supposed to be peculiarly devoid of the 
finer sensibilities of the heart. He offered, in- 
stead of his son, to give up the three women 
whom the Moraughtacunds had stolen &om him, 

VOL. II. 18 



274 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY, 

which proposition was accepted. The women 
being brought before Captain Smith, he presented 
each of them with a chain of beads. He then per- 
mitted the chief of the Rappahannocs to choose, 
from the three, the one whom he preferred ; 
to the chief of the Moraughtacunds he gave the 
next choice ; and the remaining woman he gave to 
Mosco ; an arrangement which was satisfactory to 
all parties. The triple peace was concluded with 
great rejoicmgs of men, women, and children, of 
whom no less than six or seven hundred were 
assembled. Mosco, to express his love for the 
English, changed his name to Uttasantougb, 
which means stranger^ the word by which they 
were called. 

On departing from the Rappahannoc, they 
explored the Piankatank as far as it was naviga- 
ble, and steered for home. While they were in 
the bay, a few miles south of York River, they 
were surprised in the night with so violent a 
storm of rain, attended with thunder and light- 
ning, that they gave themselves up for lost, but 
were enabled finally to reach Point Comfort. As 
they had discovered so many nations at a dis- 
tance, they thought it would be hardly consistent 
for them to return home, without visiting their 
neighbors, the Chesapeakes and Nansemonds, of 
whom as yet they had only heard. Therefore 
they set sail for the southern shore, and went up 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 275 

a narrow river, then called the Chesapeake but 
since Elizabeth, on which Norfolk stands. They 
sailed six or seven miles, but seeing no living 
beings, though they observed signs of habitation, 
they returned. Having coasted along the shore 
to the mouth of the Nansemond, they perceived 
there six or seven Indians mending their weirs for 
fishing, who fled at the sight of the English. 
They went on shore and left some toys in the 
place, where the Indians had been working, and 
returned to their boat. They had not gone far, 
before the Indians returned, and began to sing and 
dance and call them back. One of them came 
into the boat of his own accord, and invited them 
to his house, which was a few miles up the river. 
This invitation they accepted and sailed six or 
seven miles, the other Indians accompanying 
them, running on the banks. They saw on the 
western shore large corn-fields, and in the midst 
of the riveran island, upon which was situated the 
house of the Indian who was with them, and 
which was also thickly covered with com. The 
Indian treated them kindly, and showed them 
his wife and children, to whom they made suitable 
presents. Tlie other Indians invited them fiirther 
up the river to their houses, and accompanied 
them for some distance in a canoe. 

Some suspicious circumstances in their deport- 
ment led the English to apprehend that all was 



S76 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

not right, and to provide for the worst, especially 
when they perceived that they were followed by 
seven or eight canoes full of armed men. They 
were not long left in suspense, for they were sud- 
denly attacked by two or three hundred men, 
from each side of the river, who discharged ar- 
rows at them as fast as they could draw their 
bows. Those in the canoes also shot at them ; 
but they returned so galling a fire from their 
muskets, that most of them leaped overboard, and 
swam to the shore. The English soon fell down 
the stream, till they reached a position, where the 
arrows of the Indians could not touch them, but 
which was within musket-shot of their foes, and 
a few discharges made them retire behind the 
trees. The English then seized upon their de- 
serted canoes, and moored them in the stream. 
Though they had received more than a hundred 
arrows in their targets, and about the boat, no 
one was hurt. They determined to punish the 
treacherous Indians, by burning every thing upon 
the island at night, and in the mean time began 
to demolish their canoes. At the sight of this, 
those on shore threw down their arms and sued 
for peace ; which was granted on condition that 
they would bring their chief's bow and arrows 
and a chain of pearl, and four hundred baskets of 
com, otherwise their canoes should be destroyed 
and their houses burnt. These conditions they 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 377 

« 

assented to, and loaded the boat with corn as full 
as it would hold, with which the English departed, 
and arrived at Jamestown without any further ad- 
venture, on the 7th of September, 1608. 

In these two expeditions Captain Smith was 
absent a little over three months, excepting an 
interval of three days which was spent at James- 
town ; and he had sailed, upon his own compu- 
tation, about three thousand miles. It was an 
enterprise of great difficulty and considerable 
hazard, and its complete success is to be ascribed 
to his remarkable personal qualities. His in- 
tercourse with the natives required the exercise of 
the greatest firmness, address, and self-command ; 
while, in the management of his own company, 
authority and persuasive influence were to be min- 
gled with the nicest tact. He was obliged to 
overawe the refractory, to encourage the sick and 
drooping, to enliven the desponding, and to in- 
fuse his own adventurous and enterprising spirit 
into the indolent and timid. He explored the 
whole of the Chesapeake Bay, and of the coun- 
try lying upon its banks, and constructed a map 
of it, which is very accurate, takmg all circum- 
stances into consideration. 



278 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Second Arrival of Newport, — Abortive Expe- 
dition to eocplore the Interior,"^ Injvdidous 
Condtict of the Council in England, — Their 
Letter to Captain Smith. — His Reply. 

On their arrival at Jamestown they found that 
many had died during their absence and many 
were still sick ; but that some, whom they had left 
sick, Mr. Scrivener among the rest, were restored 
to health. This gentleman had performed well 
the duties of deputy-governor, and had provided 
for the gathering and storing of the harvest. 
Ratclifie, their late President, was a prisoner for 
mutiny. On the 10th of September, Captain 
Smith was formally inducted into the office of 
President, and entered upon the administration of 
its duties with his usual spirit and activity. The 
church and store-house were repaired, and a new 
building was erected for the supplies, which were 
expected from England. The fort was put in 
order, a watch duly set, and the whole company 
was drilled in military exercises, every Saturday, 
on a plain towards the west, where the Indians 
would often gather round them in great numbers, 
to witness the execution done by their bullets 
upon the bark of a tree, which they used as a 
target. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 279 

As it was about the time of the Indian harvest, 
an expedition set out under the command of 
Lieutenant Percy to trade with the Indians ; but, 
meeting Captain Newport in the bay, they came 
back with him. He had brought over about sev- 
enty individuals, some of whom were persons of 
dbtinction, and two of whom, Captain Peter 
Wynne and Captain Richard Waldo, were ap- 
pointed members of the council. In this ship 
there came the first Englishwomen, that ever 
were in Virginia, Mrs. Forrest and her maid 
Anne Burras. The company had also, with sin- 
gular want of judgment, sent out eight Germans 
to make pitch, tar, glass, and potash, who would 
have been welcome to a populous and thriving 
country, but who were useless incumbrances in an 
infant colony, which was struggling for existence, 
and all the energies of which were directed to 
the procuring of daily bread. 

The instrucuons which Captain Newport had 
brought out with him, and the authority with 
which he had been clothed, are a monument of 
the folly of the council in England, in dictating 
the measures and course of policy to be pursued 
in a colony, three thousand miles distant, and of 
whose interests and condition they showed them- 
selves so thoroughly ignorant. Stith, in his 
homely fashion, says of Newport himself, that he 
was " an empty, idle, interested man, very fearful 



.A 



S80 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

and suspicions in times of danger and difficulty^ 
but a very great and important person in his own 
talk and conceit." He had a mean jealousy of 
Captain Smith on account of his brilliant qualities 
and the estimation in which he was held by the 
colonists ; and his influence with the council and 
company in England induced them to give him 
such peculiar powers as would enable him at once 
to gratify his own conceit, and, as he thought, to 
▼ex and mortify his rival. He obtained from 
them a special commission, by which he was au- 
thorized to act, in certain cases, independently of 
the council, and in which three objects were laid 
down as essential. He was not to return without 
either discovering the South Sea, or bringing back 
a lump of gold or some one of the lost company, 
which had been sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh.* 
It is difficult to believe that such preposterous 
requisitions could have been made by men in 
their senses ; but their madness was deliberate, as 
its " method " will show. A barge had beea 
constructed and brought over, which was capable 
of being taken to pieces and put together again, and 

* This refers to a colony of one hundred persons, who 
had been left on the island of Roanoke in North Caroli- 
na, by Captain White, under the guidance and direction 
of Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1587, and were never after- 
wards heard of, being probably cut off by the In- 
dians. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 281 

in which they were to make a voyage to the head 
of the river. It was then to be carried across 
the mountains and launched upon the streams, 
which we're supposed to run westerly and flow in- 
to the South Sea. As they must pass through 
Powhatan's territory, it was proper to make ex- 
traordinary exertions to secure his favor ; and for 
this purpose a royal present was brought over for 
him, consisting of a bascHi and ewer, a bed and 
furniture, a chair of state, a suit of scarlet clothes, 
a cloak, and a crown. 

Newport soon opened his budget, and unfolded 
to the council his strange powers and wild 
schemes. Captain Smith, whose strong good 
sense and knowledge of the country enabled him 
to perceive, at a glance, their impolicy and even 
impracticability, opposed their execution most 
strenuously. He said, that it was sheer madness 
to employ the precious time of the colonists, 
which ought to be fully occupied in providing 
for the winter, in the visionary scheme of a search 
for the South Sea, through an unknown country, 
full of merciless enemies ; and that, worn out with 
fatigue and sickness as they were, it would be 
impossible for them to carry the boat over the 
mountains. As to the sumptuous presents 
brought over for Powhatan, he was opposed to 
their being presented, because he said that he 
could always be sure of his good-will by a piece 



of copper or a few beads> but that this ^^ stately 
kind of soliciting " would make him insolent and 
contemptuous beyond all endurance. These ar- 
guments, convincing in themselves and strongly 
recommended by the character and experience of 
their supporter, were however overruled in coun- 
cil principally by means of Newport's sanguine 
promises and assurances. He was ungenerous 
enough to insinuate that Smith's opposition to his 
expedition arose from a wish to monopolize the 
glory of the discovery himself, and that the only 
obstacle to its success would be the desire of the 
Indians to take vengeance upon the English for 
the cruelties which he had formerly inflicted upon 
them. 

This decision afforded to Captain Smith an 
opportunity to show the real greatness and mag- 
nanimity of his character. Though he was 
President, no sooner did he find the majority 
of the council against him, than, without any 
further opposition or sullen obstinacy, he lent 
his most vigorous eiSbrts to the prosecution of 
the plans they had decided upon. To show 
how unfounded were Newport's charges of 
cruelty and how little he himself had to fear 
from the Indians, he volunteered to go with four 
others and invite Powhatan to Jamestown to 
receive his presents. He travelled by land 
twelve miles and crossed York River in a canoe 



CAPTAIN JPQN $MITH, 283 

to Werowocomoco, where he expected to find 
Powhatan. But he was thirty miles distant, 
and was unmediately sent for. Pocahontas and 
her women did their utmost to entertain their 
guests. 

As they were seated around the fire, they 
suddenly heard a hideous noise in the woods. 
The English, supposing that they were betrayed, 
seized upon two or three old men who sat near, 
as hostages for their safety. But Pocahontas 
came running up to them, and assured them that 
no harm was mtended to them, and that, if 
any happened, she would willingly give up 
the lives of herself and her women to atone for 
it. Her assurances removed their suspicions, and 
enabled them to attend to the pageant, which 
was prepared for their entertainment. Thirty 
young women sallied from the woods, variously 
painted, clothed only with a girdle of leaves, 
and ornamented with sundry devices. The wri- 
ter of the narrative describes their dance, in 
the following rather ungallant terms; "These 
fiends with most hellish shouts and cries, 
rushing fi-om among the trees, cast themselves 
in a ring about the fire, singing and dancing 
with most excellent ill variety, oft falling into 
their infernal passions, and solemnly again to 
sing and dance ; having spent near an hour in this 
mascarado, as they entered, in like manner 



384 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

they departed." This dance was followed by 
a feast, at which the good Captain was much 
annoyed by the officious caresses of the above 
mentioned masquerading damsels. The ikiglish- 
men were then conducted to their lodgings, with 
firebrands carried before them instead of torches. 
The next day Powhatan arrived, and Cap- 
tain Smith deUvered to him his message, de- 
riring him to come to Jamestown, to receive the 
presents from the hands of his father, Captain 
Newport, and concert with him plans for taking 
revenge upon his enemies the Monacans. The 
reply of the savage monarch is strikingly char- 
acteristic of his haughtiness, self-respect, and 
knowledge of human nature. " If your King," 
said he, " have sent me presents, I also am a 
King and this is my land ; eight days I will stay 
to receive them. Your father is to come to 
me, not I to him, nor yet to your fort, neither will 
I bite at such a bail; as for the Monacans, I 
can revenge my own injuries ; for any salt water 
beyond the mountains, the relations you have 
had from my people are false." At the same 
time, he drew upon the ground a rude chart 
of the countries of which he spoke. After 
some complimentary discourses, Captain Smith 
took leave of him, and carried his answer to 
Jamestown. 



CAPTA.IN JOHN SMITH. 285 

Whereupon the presents were sent round by 
water, and Captains Smith and Newport went 
across by land, with a guard of fifty anned men. 
All having met at Werowocomoco, the next day 
was appointed for Powhatan's coronaUon. Then 
his presents were brought to him, and the bas(xi, 
ewer, bed, and furniture were set up. His 
scarlet cloak and suit were put on, but not until 
he had been persuaded by Namontack (the 
Indian youth whom he had formerly presented 
to Newport, and who had been to England 
with him), that there was nothing dangerous 
in them. 'Aey had great trouble in induc- 
ing him to kneel in order to receive his 
crown. He understood nothing of the ^' majesty 
pr meaning "(as the narrative has it) of a crown, 
nor of the cerem(»iy of bending the knee ; which 
obliged them to use so many arguments and so 
much persuasion, that their patience was en- 
tirely worn out. They succeeded at last in 
making him stoop a little by leaning hard upon 
his shoulders ; and, as soon as the crown was put 
upon his head, a volley was fired from the 
boats, at which he started up in great affright, 
till he was informed what it meant. What 
would this sylvan monarch have said, if he 
bad witnessed the cumbrous splendor of a mod- 
em coronation? 



286 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

By way of making a proper acknowledgment 
of the honors which had been shown to him, 
he generously presented Captain Newport with 
his mantle and old shoes. He endeavored to 
dissuade the English from their wild scheme 
of exploring the inland country, and refused to 
give them men or guides for that object, except 
Namontack. After many civil speeches had 
been exchanged, he gave Newport a heap of 
ears of com contaming seven or eight bushels, 
and about as much more was purchased in the 
village, with which they returned to James- 
town. 

Immediately after this. Captain Newport set 
out upon his expedition of discovery, with a hun- 
dred and twenty chosen men, leaving Captain 
Smith at Jamestown with eighty or ninety weak 
and sickly ones, to load the ship. The enter- 
prise proved a total failure, and its history may 
be told in a very few words. They proceeded in 
their boat to the Falls of James River, and then 
went by land about forty miles, through a fertile 
and well-watered country. They discovered two 
villages of the Monacans on the south side of the 
river, the inhabitants of which used- them neither 
well nor ill, but, by way of security, they took 
one of their petty chiefs and led him bound in or- 
der to guide them. A journey of two days and a 
half sufficed to cool their spirit of adventure and to 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 287 

weary their delicate limbs so much, that they 
turned about and resumed their march homeward, 
taking with them some quantity of a certain 
earth, from which their refiner pretended to have 
extracted silver. They arrived at Jamestown 
" half sick, all complaining, and tired with toD, 
famine, and discontent ; " having gained nothing 
but experience. Every thing had turned out ex- 
actly as Captain Smith had foretold, which, of 
course, sharpened the sting of disappointment. 

Captain Smith who would allow no man to 
be idle, immediately set them all at work ; some 
in making glass ; others, tar, pitch, and potash. 
These he left under the care of the council 
at Jamestown, and he himself took thirty men 
about five miles down the river, and employed 
them in cutting timber and making clapboards. 
Among these wer^ several young gentlemen, who 
had not been used to felling trees and sleeping on 
the ground ; but, as there was something exciting 
in the employment, and their President shared all 
their toils and hardships, they soon became recon- 
ciled to their situation, " making it their delight to 
hear the trees thunder as they fell." But the 
axe firequently blistered their tender fingers, so that 
" many times every third blow had a loud oath to 
drown the echo." To correct this evil habit, the 
President contrived an ingenious and effectual 
remedy, which operated without any loss of good 



S88 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

humor on the part of the offenders. He had a 
register kept of the number of oaths every man 
uttered in the course of the day, and at night, he 
ordered the same number of cans of water to be 
poured down his sleeve. The consequence was, 
that there was hardly an oath to be heard in 
a week. The writer of the narrative says, that 
though these thirty gentlemen, who worked with 
spirit and from choice, would accomplish more 
than a hundred who must be driven to it, yet 
twenty good stout workmen would do more than 

all. 

Captain Smith, on his return to Jamestown, 
finding that much time had been unprofitably 
spent, and that their provisions were running low, 
resolved to go in search of com among the In- 
dians. He went up the river Chickahominy, in 
two barges with eighteen men, leaving orders for 
Lieutenant Percy to follow him. He found the 
Indians surly and disobliging, who, though they 
knew his wants, refused to trade, with many con- 
temptuous expressions. Immediately changing 
his tone, and appearing no longer in the attitude 
of a petitioner for food, he told them that his pur- 
pose was to avenge his own imprisonment, and 
the death of his countrymen whom they had slain. 
■ He then landed his men and drew them up in 
military order. This spirited conduct produced 
a sudden change of opinion in the Indians, who 



OAPTAIH JOHN SMITH* 289 

sent ambassadors to make their peace, with pres- 
ents of com, fish, and wildfowl. They told him 
that their harvest had not been abundant that 
year, and that they had hardly enough to supply 
their own wants ; but they furnished him with 
two hundred bushels of com, which was a most 
welcome gift to the colony. 

Captain Smith's enemies seem to have tumed 
his most praiseworthy and successful efforts into 
accusations ; for we read, " that though this much 
contented the company, (that feared nothing 
more than starving,) yet some so envied his good 
success, that they rather desired to hazard a starv- 
ing, than his pains should prove so much more ef- 
fectual than theirs." A plot was even formed 
by Newport and Ratcliffe to depose him, be- 
cause, being President, he had left his place and 
the fort without their consent ; but " their horns 
were so much too short to effect it, as they them- 
selves more narrowly escaped a greater mischief." 

While the ship remained, a brisk trade was 
carried on between the sailors and the Indians, to 
the great gain of the former, but to the prejudice 
of the colony. They would even pilfer articles 
from the public stores in order to exchange them 
for furs and other valuable commodities. And 
these very men, after havrng enriched themselves 
in this manner at the expense of the colonists, 
would grossly misrepresent them to the council in 

VOL. II. 19 



290 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

England, and report that they had great abun- 
dance of every thing ; so that they took no 
pains to supply them with stores, and would send 
over crowds of hungry adventurers to eat up their 
hard-earned substance. Captain Smith was so 
provoked with Newport's conduct, that he threat- 
ened to send the ship home without him and de^ 
tain him a year in the colony, that he might have 
the benefit of a iuU experience of their sufferings ; 
but, upon his making proper submission, he con- 
sented to let him go. He carried with him, in 
bis ship, specimens of pitch, tar, firankincense, 
potash, clapboards, and wainscot, also a quantity 
of poconesy a red root used in dyeing. 

The council in England had not been satisfied 
with the proceedings of the colony. They had 
listened to misrepresentations and calumnies from 
interested or offended individuals, and had taken 
little pains themselves to ascertain the true state of 
affairs. They were disappointed in not receiving 
any gold and silver fi-om Virginia ; and under the 
influence of these iiTJtated feelings, and probably 
instigated by Newport, they had written by him an 
angry letter to Captain Smith. They complained 
of the vain hopes with which they had been enter- 
tained, and the disappointments in which these 
had ended ; they reproved the colonists for their 
dissensions, and spoke of a project for dividing the 
country, about which the former President had writ- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 291 

ten a letter to the Eari of Salisbury ; and threat- 
ened them, that, unless the expenses of the pre- 
sent voyage, amounting to two thousand pounds, 
were defrayed hj the ship's return, the colony 
would be deserted and left to shift for themselves* 
To this tirade, Captain Smith sent a reply by 
Newport, combining the dignity proper to his 
office with a soldier^Uke iirankness and spirit. 
He denies indignantly the charge of awakening 
hopes which have never been realized ; and, as to 
the plot for dinding the country, he says he never 
heard nor dreamed of such a thing. He says, 
that their directions sent by Newport had all been 
strictly followed, though he was opposed to them 
himself, and that all had been taught by experi- 
ence to ccmfess that he was right. For the two 
thousand pounds, which the voyage had cost, the 
colony had not received the benefit of a hundred. 
He tells them of the great preparations, which 
Newport had made for his expedition, and its utter 
failure ; and says, '^ As for the quartered boat to 
be borne by the soldiers over the Falls, if he had 
burnt her to ashes, one might have carried her in 
a bag ; but, as she is, five hundred cannot, to a na-» 
vigable place above the Falls." He takes them to 
task for their folly in sending the Germans to make 
pitch, tar, and glass ; and in his remarks shows 
great good sense, and even considerable knowr 
ledge of political economy. He tells them, that 



392 AMSKICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

they could buy, in a single week, as great a quan- 
tity of these articles as would freight a ship, in 
Russia or Sweden, countries peculiarly adapted 
by nature to the manufiicture of them ; but that it 
was most impolitic and unprofitable to devote to 
such occupations any part of the energies of 
ft young colony, in which they all had as much as 
they could do to provide subsistence and defend 
themselves against the Indians/ 

He complains of Newport, of his vain projects, 
and his indolence, and contrasts the luxury and 
plenty, in which he and his sailors lived, with the 
coarse and scanty fare of the colonists. He says, 
that Archer and Ratclifie were the authors of aU 
their factions and disturbances ; and that the latter 
is an impostor, whose real name is Sicklemore ; 
and he sends him home to save his throat frc»n be- 
ing cut by the colonists, by whom he is detested. 
He entreats them to send out carpenters, husband- 
men, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, and ma- 
sons, thirty of whom would be worth more than 
a thousand idle gentlemen, and to provide for 
their support and subsistence for the present, and 
leave all projects of gain for the future. At the 
same time, he sent them two barrels of stones, 
which he conjectured to be iron ore, with labels, 
designating the places in which he found them. 
To convince them that he could make as ample 
a discovery as Newport, and at a less expense 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. S93 

than he had incurred at every meal, he trans- 
mitted to them a map of Chesapeake Bay and 
its rivers, which he had explored, together with a 
description of the same."*^ 



CHAPTER IX. 



DificuJties in Procuring Provision. — Captain 
SmitVs Unsuccessful Attempt to obtain Pos* 
session of Powhatan^ s Person. 

Upon the departure of the ship, the colonists 
began to be in apprehension that they should 

• 

* This was sent by Captain Nelson, who left James- 
town early in June, 1608, and it contains a narrative of 
events up to that date. It was printed the same year 
in London, and does not differ materially from the 
accounts subsequently published in the History. The 
original pamphlet is rare and curious, being in black 
letter and of the quarto size. There is a copy of it in 
the Library of Harvard College, but the title-page is 
wanting. In Mr. Rich's CatoZogiie of American Books, 
the title is printed as follows ; <' True Relation of such 
Occurrences and Accidents of Noate, as hath happened 
in Virginia since the Planting of the Colony." There 
is also a copy of the same work in Colonel Aspinwall's 
invaluable collection of books relating to America. It 
was written in the form of a letter and addressed to 
an individual ; probably to the Secretary of the London 
Company. 



S94 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

suffer from want of food, their supply being but 
scanty. In order to obtain com, Captain 
Smith, with Captain Wynne and Mr. Scriv- 
ener set out for Nansamond, where, upon his 
arrival, the Indians not only refused to give 
him the four hundred bushels, which they had 
promised, but would not trade with him at all ; 
saying that their stock was almost consumed, 
and that they had been commanded by Pow- 
hatan to keep what was left, and not permit 
the English to enter their river. Captain Smith, 
finding that persuasion did no good, was con- 
strained to employ force. At the first discharge 
of the muskets, the Indians fled without shoot- 
ing an arrow. The English marched towards their 
houses, and set fire to the first one they came 
to. Upon the sight of the flames, the Indians 
came forward and offered to give them half 
the com they had, if they would desist from 
further violence. 

They loaded the three boats, with which 
the English retumed to their place of encamp- 
ment, four miles down the river. This was 
an open plain, sheltered by a hiJl, and at that 
time the ground was frozen hard and covered 
with snow. They were accustomed to dig away 
the snow, and make a large fire ; and, when the 
ground was thoroughly warmed, they would 
remove the fire and ashes, spread their mats 



CAPTAIH JOHH SMITH. 296 

upon the spot and lie down, using another mat 
as a screen against the wind. When the ground 
grew cold, they shifted their fire again. Many 
cold winter nights they passed in this manner ; 
and those, who were thus exposed to the elements 
in these expeditions, were always stouter and 
healthier than those, who remained at home and 
slept in warm beds. 

Soon after their return to Jamestown, the 
first marriage which took place in Virginia, was 
celebrated between John Laydon and Anne 
Burras. 

Captain Smith, indefatigable in securing the 
settlers against even the apprehension of want, 
remained but a short time at Jamestown, but, 
accompanied by Captain Waldo, went up the 
bay in two barges. The Indians, on all sides, 
fled at the sight of them, till they discovered the 
river and people of Appomatox. These had 
but little com ; but that little they divided with 
the English, and received in exchange bits of 
copper and other trifles, with which they were 
well contented. 

The supplies procured in this manner were, 
however, temporary and precarious; and Cap- 
tain Smith, who was determined that no one 
should be in fear of starvation, while he was 
President, resolved upon the bold and question- 
able measure of surprising Powhatan, and taking 



S96 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHY. 

possession of all his store. In this project be 
was seconded by Captain Waldo, but opposed by 
Captain Wynne and Mr. Scrivener, which latter 
gentleman had become an enemy to him. As 
if to &vor his purposes, he was requested by 
jPowhatan to come and see him, with a prombe, 
that he would load his ship with com, if Smith 
would build him a house, give him a grmd- 
6tone, fifty swords, some muskets, a cock and 
a ben, and a large quantity of beads and copper. 
Captain Smith determined to improye the oppor- 
tunity thus fortunately presented, although he 
suspected that the crafty old savage had some 
ulterior design in his specious offers. He ac- 
cordingly sent two Englishmen and four Ger- 
mans to build him a house, giving them instruc- 
tions as to their conduct, and unluckily informing 
them of his plans. He soon after set out himself 
in the bark and two barges, accompanied by 
Captain Waldo and forty-six men. As this 
was an enterprise of great danger, he took with 
him only those, who volunteered to go. He 
left the government in the hands of Mr. Scriv- 
ener. 

On the 29th of December, they departed 
from Jamestown, carrying with them provisions 
for only three or four days. They lodged that 
night at Warraskoyac, an Indian village, a few 
miles from Jamestown, where they made addi- 
tions to their stores. 



-CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 297 

The chief of the tribe treated tliem with great 
kindness, and endeavored to dissuade Captain 
Smith from gobg to see Powhatan ; but, finding 
him resolved, he warned him to be on hb guard, 
for that Powhatan, notwithstanding all his seem- 
ing kindness, had sent for them merely for the 
purpose of cutting their throats. The Captain 
thanked him for his caution, and requested him to 
furnish guides to the nation of the Chawonocs, 
who dwelt between the rivers Nottaway and Me- 
herrin, in North Carolina, to which he readily 
consented. Mr. Michael Sicklemore, a valiant 
and honest soldier, was sent upon this enterprise, 
the object of which was to obtain silk-grass and to 
inquire after Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony. 

The next night they lodged at Kecoughtan 
(Hampton), where they were detained several 
days by violent storms. This obliged them to 
keep their Christmas among the Indians.* But 
we are told that they had a very merry one, 
warmed by blazing fires, and their tables amply 
spread with fish, flesh, oysters, and wildfowl. 
After various accidents, they arrived on the 12th 

* The narrative states, that they left Jamestown on 
the 29th of December, and yet that they afterwards kept 
Christmas among the savages. Of course, both state- 
ments cannot be correct The . matter is fortunately of 
littJe consequence, as there are no means of ascertaining 
which is right 



296 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

of January at Werowocomoco, where they found 
the river frozen to nearly half a mile from the 
shore. They broke the ice to make a passage 
for the barge, till she was grounded by the ebbing 
of the tide, when they leaped out and waded to 
the shore through the ice and mud. 

They quartered in the first cabins which they 
found, and sent for provisions to Powhatan, who 
supplied them with bread, turkeys, and venison. 
The next day, after having given them an enter- 
tamment, he very inhospitably inquired of them 
when they purposed to go away, saying, that he 
had never invited them to come, and that nei- 
ther he nor his people had any com to spare. 
Captain Smith then confronted him with the men 
who had brought his invitation, and quietly asked 
him how he came to be so forgetful ; " thereat 
the King concluded the matter with a merry 
laugh," and asked for his commodities. Nothing 
suited him, however, but guns and swords, and 
he valued a basket of corn at a higher rate than 
a basket of copper. Captain Smith, perceiving 
that the wily savage was trifling with him, said to 
him with some sternness, that he had confidently 
relied upon his promises to supply the colony 
with provisions, and had neglected to procure any 
from other sources, which he might have done ; 
and, to testify his regard to him, he had sent me- 
chanics to construct buildings for him, while his 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 299 

own were standing unfinished. He charged him 
with having monopolized his people's com and 
forbidden them to trade with the English, in 
hopes, by starvation, to bring them to his own 
terms. As to guns and swords, he had none to 
spare, as he had told him long before ; but they 
would contrive to keep from starving by the aid of 
those which they had, though they would do him 
no wrong nor violence, nor break the friendship 
which existed between them, unless constrained 
to do so by ill usage. 

Powhatan listened attentively to this discourse 
and promised that both he and his people would 
supply the English with as much corn as could 
be spared, and that they should receive it within 
two days. " But," he added, " I have some 
doubts about the reason of your coming here. I 
am informed by many, that you come, not to 
trade, but to invade my people, and to pos- 
sess my country. This makes me less ready to 
relieve you, and frightens my people from bring- 
ing in their com. And therefore to ease them of 
that fear, leave your arms aboard, since they are 
needless here, where we are all friends." 

Powhatan's doubts were very reasonable, and 
his wary conduct perfectly justifiable ; for Smith's 
whole plot had been revealed to him by the Ger- 
mans, who had been sent to build a house for 
him. These men, seeing Powhatan's wealth and 



300 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

{>lent7, and the wretched condition of the colony, 
and supposing that he must finally extirpate them, 
bad, in order to secure his favor, basely betrayed 
the purposes of the English. Their treachery 
was the more odious, because one of them had 
been honored with particular marks of confidence 
by Captain Smith on account of his intelligence 
and supposed integrity, and had been sent on this 
errand to act as a spy upon Powhatan. Captain 
Smith was entirely unsuspicious of the fact at 
the time, and did not hear of it till six months 
afterwards ; so it is easy to see what an advan* 
tage the savage monarch had over him, which be 
did not fail to improve to the utmost. 

A contest of ingenuity ensued between Cap- 
tain Smith and Powhatan, reminding us of the 
efforts of two skilful boxers, to find an opening to' 
plant the first blow. The savage chieftain was 
very anxious that the English should lay aside 
their arras, of which he and his people had a most 
wholesome terror ; and he made use of arguments 
of the following tenor. " Captain Smith," said he, 
"I am a very old man, having seen the death 
of three of the generations of my people, and 
know well the difference between peace and 
war. I must soon die, and ray brothers must suc- 
ceed rae. I wish to live quietly with you, and I 
wish the same for thera. But the rumors, which 
have reached us, disturb us, and alann my peo- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 301 

pie so that they dare not visit you. What ad- 
vantage will it be to you to destroy us, who sup- 
ply you with food ? What can you gain by war, 
if we escape to the woods and hide our provis- 
ions there ? Why are you so suspicious of us ? 
You see we are unarmed, and are ready to sup- 
ply your wants. Do you think I am so simple 
as not to prefer eating good meat, sleeping qui- 
etly with iny wives and children, laughing and 
making merry with you, having copper, hatchets, 
and every thing else, as your friend, to flying from 
you, as your enemy, lying cold in the woods, liv- 
ing upon acorns, roots, and such trash, being so 
hunted by you that we can neither rest, eat, nor 
sleep in peace, but if a twig break, my men will 
cry out, * Here comes Captain Smith.' In this 
miserable manner, I must come to a miserable 
end, and you likewise, sooner or later. Be as- 
sured of our friendship then, and we will readily 
and abundantly supply you with com. Lay aside 
your guns and swords, and do not come armed as 
into an enemy's country." 

To these sentimental speeches Captain Smith 
replied after the following fashion. " As you will 
not understand our words, we must make our 
deeds speak for us. We have scrupulously ad- 
hered to the terms of the treaty of peace con- 
cluded between us, which your men have con- 
stantly violated ; and, though we have had ample 



SOS AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

opportunities for avenging ourselves, we have 
reiirained out of our regard to you. And you 
know enough of us to know, that, if we had in- 
tended you any injury, we could long ago have 
succeeded in domg it. It is our custom to wear 
arms in the same manner as clothes, and we can 
by no means part with them. Your people 
come frequently to Jamestown with bows and 
arrows, and are entertained without suspicion or 
remark. As to your flying into the woods and 
biding your provisions out of our reach, you 
need not think that will trouble us. We have 
a way of discovering hidden things, unknown to 
you." 

Many other discourses, of the same tenor, 
passed between them. Powhatan, seeing that 
his wishes were not received* as law by the En- 
glish, and that they would not lay aside their 
arms or omit any of their usual precautions, gave 
utterance to these sentiments, with a heavy sigh. 
" Captain Smith, I have never treated any chief 
with so much kindness as I have you ; but I have 
never in return received any at your hands. 
Captain Newport gave me swords, copper, 
clothes, and every thing else I desired, taking, 
in exchange, whatever I offered him. He would 
at any time send away his guns at my request. 
No one refuses to gratify ray wishes, but you. 
You will give me nothing, to which you attach 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 303 

any value ; and yet you insbt upon having every- 
thing irom me, which you desire. You call 
Captain Newport father, and so you do me ; but 
I see, in spite of us both, you will have your 
own way, and we must study to please you. If 
your intentions are as friendly as you profess 
them to be, send away your arms, and I will be- 
lieve you." 

Captain Smith, seeing that Powhatan was mere- 
ly wasting the time in idle speeches, in order to 
gain an opportunity to attack them and put them 
to death, resolved to strike a decisive blow. He 
gave directions to the Indians to break a passage 
through the ice, that his boat might come to the 
shore, and ordered some more of his men to land, 
to aid him in surprising Powhatan. In order to 
keep him free from suspicion, till the proper hour 
came, he entertained him with ^' much specious 
and fallacious discourse,^ telling him, that he was 
his friend and not his subject, and promising the 
next day to give up his arms, and to show him, 
that he honored him as a father, by trusting im- 
plicitly to his words. The wily chieftain, when 
he heard that they were breaking a passage 
through the ice, suspected that all was not right, 
and suddenly fled with his women, children, and 
luggage. To avoid suspicion, he left two or 

* Stith, p. 88. 



304 AMSRICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

three women to talk with Captain Smithy while 
he secretly made his escape ; and in the mean 
time his warriors beset the house, in which they 
were ccwiversing. When this was told to Captain 
Smith, he boldly sallied out armed with sword, 
pistol, and target, with which, as we are told, "he 
made such a passage among these naked devils, 
that, at his first shot, they next him tumbled one 
over another, and the rest quickly fled, some one 
way, some another." He reached the main body 
of his men without any injury. 

The Indians, seeing that he had escaped 
unharmed and was guarded by eighteen resolute, 
well armed men, endeavored to put a fair construc- 
tion upon their unequivocal doings ^ and Powha- 
tan, to excuse his flight and the sudden gathering 
of his warriors, sent an "ancient orator," who, 
like more civilized diplomatists, sought to gain a 
favorable hearing by a present of a great bracelet 
and a chain of pearls, and addressed Captain 
Smith, as follows ; " Captain Smith, our king is 
fled, fearing your guns, and knowing that, when the 
ice was broken, more men would come. He sent 
the warriors, whom you assaulted, to guard your 
corn, which might be stolen without your know- 
ledge. Though some have been injured in conse- 
quence of your mistake, Powhatan is still your 
friend, and will ever continue so. Now, since the 
ice is broken, he would have you send away your 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 305 

com ; and, if you would have his company, your 
guns also, which so afiright his people, that they 
dare not come to you, as he has promised they 
should." The com referred to in the Indian am- 
bassador's speech consisted of a quantity amount- 
ing to eighty bushels, which had been purchased 
of Powhatan for a copper kettle. 

The English were immediately oppressed with 
attentions. Baskets were provided for lliem to 
carry tlie com to the boat, and the Indians kind- 
ly offered their services to guard their arms, 
that none might steal them. This favor was, 
with suitable acknowedgments, declined. To 
show the dread which they had of fire-arms, we 
are told, that "a great many they were of 
goodly, well proportioned fellows, as grim as 
devils; yet the very sight of cocking our 
matches and being to let fly, a few words 
caused them to leave their bows and arrows to 
our guard, and bear down our com upon their 
backs ; we needed not importune them to make 
despatch." The English were under the necessity 
of waiting for the next tide before they could 
depart, and the day was spent in feasting and 
merry sports. 

Powhatan, who burned to get possession of 
Smith's head, had prepared his forces to make 
an attack upon the English at night, which would 
probably have been fatal to them all, had they not 

VOL. II. 20 



306 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

been warned of it by Pocahontas, on this, as on all 
occasions, the guardian angel of the whites. It is 
better to relate the incident in the unvamisbed 
language of the original narrative, than to orna- 
ment it with any rhetorical embellishments of my 
own. After mentioning that a plot had been 
formed by Powhatan, it states that, " Notwith- 
standing, the eternal, all-seeing God did prevent 
bim, and by a strange means. For Pocahontas, 
his dearest jewel and daughter, in that dark night, 
came through the irksome woods, and told our 
Captain great cheer should be sent us by and by ; 
but Powhatan, and all the power he could make, 
would after come kill us all, if they that brought 
it could not kill us with our own weapons, when 
we were at supper. Therefore, if we would live, 
she wished us presently to be gone. Such things 
as she delighted in he would have given her ; but, 
with the tears running down her cheeks, she said 
she durst not be seen to have any ; for, if Powha- 
tan should know it, she were but dead ; and so she 
ran away by herself, as she came." This simple 
and beautiful picture of disinterested attachment 
and heroic self-forgetfulness needs not the " for- 
eign aid of ornament " to recommend it to the 
heart, which has a throb left for generous deeds 
and noble qualities. 

Pocahontas had been gone less than an hour, 
when there came eight or ten stout fellows, with 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 307 

large platters of venison and other articles of food, 
who invited them to sit down and eat, and were 
verj importunate for them to put out their matches, 
the smoke of which, as they said, made them sick. 
But Captain Smith made them taste of every dish 
(probably to ascertain whether it was poison- 
ed or not), and sent some of them back to Pow- 
hatan, bidding him make haste for he was ready 
to receive him, telling him that he knew upon 
what deadly errand his first messengers were 
sent, but that he could guard against that as well as 
all his other intended villanies. Messengers came 
from Powhatan from tinie to time, to learn the po- 
sition of things ; but the English passed the night 
in such watchful preparation, that no blow was 
struck. They departed at high water, and left 
behind them the Germans, whose good faith was 
entirely unsuspected, and (what seems a little 
strange, after these events) one of their own num-» 
ber, Edward Brynton by pame, to kill birds for 
Powhatan. 

The conduct of Captain Smith in attempting 
to seize the person of Powhatan cannot be justi* 
fied, and no one can feel sorry that he did not 
succeed. The principle of gratitude should 
alone have prevented bim from dealing so treach- 
erously with a man who had spared his life, whea 
he had him in his power. His only excuse is to 
be found in the strong necessity of the case, of 



308 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

the extent of which, however, we have no means 
of forming a conception. The opinions of the 
age, in all that relates to the rights of men and 
nations, were characterized, not even by a nice 
sense of honor, much less by a feeling of Chris- 
tian brotherhood. The manner in which his con- 
spiracy was betrayed to Powhatan, enforces the 
lesson taught by all the great plots and intrigues 
of the world, that he who aims at treacherous 
designs is never sure of his instruments. When 
a man has once consented to become a spy and 
act a borrowed part, it is easy for him to go a 
step further and betray his employer by a dou- 
ble treachery. He, who has once deserted the 
path of moral rectitude, has never a firm footing, 
and is continually liable to slide into deeper and 
more inextricable guilt. 



CHAPTER X. 

Captain Smith's Adventures with Opechancch 
nought Chief of Pamunkey. — His Return to 
Jamestown, 

No sooner had the English set sail, than Pow- 
hatan sent two of the Germans to Jamestown. 
These imposed upon Captain Wynne with a 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 309 

plausible stoiy^ that every thing was gcMDg on well, 
and that Captain Smith had need of some weap- 
ons, ammunition, and clothing, all of which were 
unsuspectingly delivered to them. While they 
were there, by their artful speeches and by wolf- 
ing upon the hopes of the selfish and the fears of 
the timid, they prevailed upon six or seven to 
leave the colony and join them with Powhatan. 

These apostates, among their other accomplish- 
ments, had a pecuhar dexterity in stealing, which 
they exerted so successfully, that they filched 
from the colonists a great number of swords, pike- 
heads, and muskets, with large quantities of pow- 
der and shot. There were always Indians prowling 
around in the neighborhood to carry them off. 
By these means, and by the labors of one of the 
Germans, who had remained behind and who 
seems to have been a blacksmith, the armory of 
Powhatan was very materially increased. 

Captain Smith and his party in the mean 
while had arrived at Pamunkey, the seat of Ope- 
chancanough, the brother of Powhatan, who re- 
ceived them kindly and entertained them many 
days in his most hospitable style. A day was 
appointed for traffic, upon which Captain Smith 
with fifteen others went up to the village where 
the chief resided, about a quarter of a mile firom 
the river. They found no human being there, 
except a lame man and a boy, and the bouses 



310 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY* 

were abandoned and stripped of every thing« 
Soon, however, the chief arrived with many 
warriors, armed with bows and arrows ; but their 
commodities were so trifling and* offered at so 
exorbitant a price, that Captain Smith remon- 
strated with him in the following manner ; " Ope- 
chancanough, you profess, with your words, great 
love to me, but your actions are inconsistent with 
your professions. Last year, you kindly freighted 
our ship, but now you have invited us here that 
you might see us starve with hunger. You know 
my wants and I know your plenty, of which I 
will, by some means, have a share. Remem- 
ber that it becomes kings to keep their prom- 
ises. I offer you my goods ; you may take your 
choice, and the rest I will apportion justly among 
your people." The chieftain accepted his offer 
seemingly with a good grace, persuaded, probably, 
more by the muskets, than by tlie intrinsic force 
of the suggestions themselves. He sold them 
what they wanted, at their own prices, promising 
the next day to meet them with more people and 
more commodities. 

On the next day, Captain Smith and his party 
marched up. to his house, where they found four 
or five Indians newly arrived, each furnished with 
a great basket. The chief himself soon after ar- 
rived, and with a " strained cheerfulness " magni- 
fied the pains he had been at in keeping his pro- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 311 

mise. While they were discoursing, Mr. Russell, 
one of the party came suddenly in and with a 
face of alarm, told Captain Smith that they were 
all lost, for seven hundred armed men had envi- 
roned the bouse and were swarming round about 
in the fields* 

Captain Smith seeing dismay painted in the 
countenances of his followers at these tidings, ad- 
dressed to them a few woids of encouragement. 
He told them that he felt far less concern at the 
number of the enemy than for the malicious mis- 
representations, which the council would make 
in England, of his readiness to break the peace 
and expose their lives ; that they had nothing to 
fear, for that he alone had been once assaulted by 
three hundred, and but for an accident, would 
have made good his way through them ; that 
they were sixteen in number, and the Indians not 
more than Seven hundred, and that the very smoke 
of their pieces would be enough to disperse them. 
At any rate, he exhorted them to fight hke men, 
and not tamely die like sheep ; and if they would 
resolutely follow his example, he doubted not that 
he should be able, with the blessing of God, to ex- 
tricate them from their present perilous situation. 

They all resolutely promised to second him in 
whatever he attempted, though it should cost 
them their lives. Whereupon he addressed Ope- 
chancanough to the following eflfect ; " I see that 



312 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

you have entered into a plot to murder me, but I 
have no fears as to the result. Let us decide 
the matter by single combat. The island in the 
river is a fit place, and you may have any wea- 
pons you please. Let your men bring each a bas- 
ket of corn and I will stake their value in copper, 
and the conqueror shall have all and be ruler 
over all our men." 

This proposal was declined by the chief, who 
had no chivalrous notions of honor, and could not 
conceive of any one's voluntarily giving up any 
advantage, which he could gain by treachery or 
other means over an enemy. He artfully endea- 
vored to quiet Smith's suspicions, and invited 
him outside of the door to receive a present, 
where he had stationed two hundred men, with 
their arrows on the string, ready to shoot at him 
the moment he appeared. Captain Smith, who 
had discovered, or at least strongly suspected his 
perfidious purpose, no longer restrained his indig- 
nation, but seizing him by his long lock of hair, 
and clapping his pistol to his breast, led him out 
trembling into the midst of his people. They 
were petrified with horror, that any one should 
dare to lay violent hands on the sacred person 
of their chief, and were amazingly frightened be- 
sides. He readily gave up his vambrace,* bow, 

* Vambrace, armor for the arm. Avant-braSf Fr. 
— Bailey, 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 313 

and arrows in token of submission, and his sub- 
jects followed his example. 

Captain Smith, still retaining his grasp upon 
him, addressed his subjects as follows ; " I per- 
ceive, ye Pamunkeys, the desire you have to kill 
me, and that my longsuffering has brought you 
to this pitch of insolence. The reason I have for- 
borne to punish you is the promise which I for- 
merly made to you, that I would be your friend 
till you gave me just cause to be your enemy. 
If I keep this vow, my God will keep me and 
you cannot hurt me ; but if I break it, he will de- 
stroy me. But if you now shoot one arrow to 
shed a drop of blood, or steal any of these beads, 
or of this copper, I will take such a revenge, as 
that you shall not hear the last of me while there 
is a Paraunkey alive who will not deny the name. 
I am not now half-drowned in the mire of a 
swamp, as I was when you took me prisoner. 
If I be the mark you aim at, shoot, if you dare. 
You promised to load my vessel with com, and 
if you do not, I will load her with your carcasses. 
But, if you will trade with me like friends, I once 
more promise that I will not trouble you, unless 
you provoke me, and your chief shall be my 
friend, and go free ; for I did not come to hurt him 
or any of you." 

This speech had an effect like magic. The 
savages threw down their bows and arrows, and 



314 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

th)rOnged round Captain Smith with their com- 
moditieSy in such numbers, for the space of two 
or three hours, that he became absolutely weary 
of receiving them. He accordingly retired, and, 
overcome with his toils and excitements, fell 
asleep. The Indians seeing him in this condi- 
tion, and his guard rather carelessly dispersed. 
Went into the house in great numbers armed with 
clubs or English swords, and with intentions by no 
means friendly. The noise they made aroused 
him from his slumbers, which we may suppose 
were not very deep ; and, though surprised and 
confused at seeing so many grim forms around 
him, he seized his sword and target, and, being 
seconded by some of his countrymen, drove out 
the intruders more rapidly than they came in. 
Opechancanough made a long 'speech to excuse 
the rude conduct of his subjects. The rest of the 
day] was spent in kindness and good-will, the 
Indians renewing their presents and feasting the 
English with their best provisions. 

Captain Smith here received the news of a 
most melancholy accident which took place at 
Jamestown during his absence. Mr. Scrivener 
had received some letters from England, which 
gave him extravagant notions of his own impor- 
tance, and made him feel very coldly towards 
Captain Smith, who still regarded him with the 
affection of a brother. He took it into his head 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 315 

to visit an island in the vicinity of Jamestown, 
called Hog Island^ on a very cold and stormy 
day, when it seemed little short of madness 
to tempt the angry elements. Notwithstanding 
the most earnest remonstrances he persisted in 
going, and persuaded Captain Waldo with nine 
others to accompany him. The skiff would 
have hardly floated with so large a freight, in 
calm weather; but, as it was, she sunk immedi- 
ately, and all who were in her were drowned. 
Their dead bodies were found by the Indians, 
which encouraged them in their projected- enter- 
prises against the colony. 

No one, for some time, would undertake to in- 
form Captain Smith of this heavy news, till final- 
ly Mr. Richard Wiffin volunteered. His jour- 
ney was full of dangers and difficulties. He 
at first went to Werowocomoco, where he found 
that all were engaged in warlike preparations, 
which boded no good to his countrymen. He 
seems to have narrowly escaped with his life 
here ; for we are told, that " Pocahontas hid him 
for a time, and sent them who pursued him the 
clean contrary way ta seek him." He finally 
reached Captain Smith after travelling three days, 
and communicated his sad message to him ; who 
charged him to keep it a secret from his fol- 
lowers, and, dissembling his grief as much as he 
could, at night-fall he went on board the boat, 



316 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

leaving Opechancanougb at liberty and unmolest- 
ed according to his promise. 

Captain Smith cherished a hope, that he might 
be able, on his return, to entrap Powhatan, an 
intention which he had never abandoned. Pow- 
hatan, on his part, had commanded his subjects, 
OD pam of death, to kill Captain Smith by some 
means or other. The consequence was, that on 
their second meeting, as at their first, both parties 
were on their guard ; and, though many stratagems 
were practised on both sides, nothing decisive 
took place. Such a terror was Captain Smith 
to the Indians, that not even the commands of 
Powhatan could induce them to attack him in 
battle, notwithstanding their immense superiority 
in numbers ; and they were ready to propitiate 
him by loads of provision, if they had any reason 
to suspect hostile intentions on his part towards 
them. ' We are told, however, that they attempt- 
ed to take his life by poison, a mode more cha- 
racteristic of civilized malice, than of savage 
hatred. The particulars are not related ; it is 
said that Captain Smith, Mr. West, and others 
were taken sick, and thus threw off from the sto- 
mach some poisonous substance which would 
have been fatal, had it been left to its natural 
operation. It was probably not prepared with 
great skill by these untutored chemists. No 
other notice was taken of the outrage, except that 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 317 

the Indian who brought the poisoned articles was 
soundly beaten by Captam Smith's own hand, 
which, we have every reason to believe, was a 
very heavy one. He finally returned to James- 
town after an enterprise full of perils and difficulty, 
bringing with him two hundred pounds of deer 
suet, and four hundred and seventy-nine bushels 
of com. 



CHAPTER XI. 

Troubles with the Indians. — Scarcity of Pro- 
visions. — Mutinous and Treacherous Disposi- 
tion of Some of the Colonists, — Arrival of 
Captain Argall. 

Captain Smith, on his arrival, found as usual 
that nothing had been done during his absence. 
Their provisions had been much injured by the 
rain, and many of their tools and weapons had 
been stolen by or secretly conveyed to the 
Indians. The stock of food which remained, 
increased by that which had been procured from 
the Indians, was, however, found on compu- 
tation to be sufficient to last them a year; and 



318 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

consequently their apprehensions of starving were 
for the present laid aside. They were divided 
into companies of ten or fifteen, as occasion re- 
quired, and six hours of each day were spent in 
labor and the rest in amusement and exhilarating 
exercises. 

The majority of them, unaccustomed to dis- 
cipline or regular employment, showed symp- 
toms of stubborn resistance to his authority, which 
provoked him to reprove them in sharp terms. 
He told them, that their recent sufferings ought 
to have worked a change in their conduct, and 
that they must not think that either his labors 
or the purses of the adventurers would for ever 
maintain them in idleness. He did not mean 
that his reproaches should apply to all, for many 
deserved more honor and reward than they 
could ever receive ; but the majority of them 
must be more industrious or starve. That it 
was not reasonable that the labors of thirty or 
forty honest and industrious men should be de- 
voted to the support of a hundred and fifty idle 
loiterers, and that, therefore, whoever would not 
work must not eat. That they had often been 
screened in their disobedience to his commands 
by the authority of the council ; but that now 
the power, m effect, rested wholly in him. That 
they were mistaken in their opinion, that his 
authority was but a shadow, and that he could 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 319 

not touch the lives of any without peril of his 
own. That the letters patent would show them 
the contrary, which he would have read to them 
every week, and that they might be assured 
that every one, who deserved punishment, should 
receive it. 

He also made a register, in which he recorded 
their merits and demerits, "to encourage the 
good, and with shame to spur on the rest to 
amendment ; '' a simple device, one would think, 
for those who had long left school, but which, 
owing probably to the President's great personal 
influence, proved of considerable efficacy. They 
missed fix)m time to time powder, shot, arms, 
and tools, without knowing what had become of 
them, but found afterwards that they were secret- 
ly conveyed to the Germans, who were with 
Powhatan, by their countrymen and confederates 
at Jamestown. Four or five of these latter, 
accordmg to a previous agreement, had deserted 
fix)m Jamestown, a short time before, to join the 
former; but, meeting in the woods some of 
Captain Smith's party on their return, to avoid 
suspicion they came back. Their countrymen 
sent one of their number, disguised as an Indian, 
to learn the reason of their delay. He came as 
far as the glass-house, which was about a mile 
from Jamestown, and was the scene of all their 
plots and machinations, and their common place 
of rendezvous. 



320 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

At the same time and near the same place, 
forty Indians were lying in ambush for Captain 
Smith. He was immediately informed of the 
German's arrival (how or by whom we are not 
told), and, taking twenty men, marched to the 
glass-house to apprehend him ; but he had gone 
away before they came. He despatched his 
followers to intercept him, and returned alone to 
Jamestown, armed only with a sword, not suspect- 
ing any danger. In the woods he met the chief 
of the Pashiphays, a neighboring tribe of Indians, 
a tall and strong man, who at first attempted by 
artful persuasion to bring Captain Smith within 
reach of the ambuscade. Failing, however, in 
this, he attempted to shoot him with his bow, 
which Smith prevented by suddenly grappling 
with him. Neither was able to make use of his 
weapons, but the Indian drew his adversary by 
main strength into the river, in the hope of 
drowning him. There they struggled for a long 
time, till Captain Smith seized his antagonist's 
throat with such a grasp as nearly strangled him. 
This momentary advantage enabled him to draw 
his sword, at which his foe no longer resisted, 
but begged his life with piteous entreaties. Cap- 
tain Smith led him prisoner to JamestQwn and 
put him in chains. 

The German meanwhile had been taken ; and, 
though he attempted to account for his conduct. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 3S1 

his treachery was suspected and finally confirmed 
by the confession of the captive chief, who was 
kept in custody, and offered to Powhatan in 
exchange for the faithless Germans whom he 
had with him. Many messengers were sent, 
but the Germans would not come of their own 
accord, neither would Powhatan force them. 
While these negotiations were going on, the 
chief himself escaped through the negligence of 
his guards, though he was in irons. An at- 
tempt was made to retake him, but without 
effect. Captain Smith made prisoners of two 
Indians, by name Kemps and Tussore, who are 
described as being " the two most exact villains 
in all the country." He himself went with an 
expedition to punish the tribe of Pashiphays for 
their past injuries and deter them from any 
future ones, in which he slew several of them, 
burned their houses, took their canoes and fishing- 
weirs, and fixed some of the latter at Jamestown. 
As he was proceeding to Chickahominy, he 
was assaulted by some of their tribe ; but, as 
soon as they saw who he was, they threw down 
their arms and sued for peace, a young man, 
named Okaning, thus addressing him ; " Captain 
Smith, the chief, my master, is here among us, 
and he attacked you, mistaking you for Captain 
Wynne, who has pursued us in war. If he has 
offended you in escaping imprisonment, remember 

VOL. II. 21 



88S AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

that fishes swim, the birds fly, and the very beasts 
strive to escape the snare and the Ime ; blame not 
him, therefore, who is a man. He would ask you 
to recollect what pains he took, when you were a 
prisoner, to save your life. If he has injured you 
since, you have taken ample vengeance and great- 
ly to our cost. We know that your purpose is to 
destroy us ; but we are here to desire your friend- 
ship, and to ask you to permit us to enjoy our 
houses and plant our fields. You shall share 
in their firuit ; but if you drive us oflT, you will be 
the greatest losers by our absence. For we 
can plant any where, though it may cost us 
more labor ; but we know you cannot live, unless 
you have our harvests to supply your wants. 
If you will promise us peace, we will trust you ; 
if not, we will abandon the country.** 

This " worthy discourse," as it is justly called 
by the writer of the narrative, had its desired 
efiect. Captain Smith made peace with them 
on condition that they would supply him with 
provisions. This good understanding continued 
so long as Captain Smith remained in the coun- 
try. 

When Smith returned to Jamestown, complaint 
was made to him, that the people of Chicka- 
hominy, who had always seemed honest and 
friendly, had been guilty of frequent thefts. A 
pistol, among other things, had been recently 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 823 

Stolen and the thief escaped ; but his two broth- 
ers, who were known to be his confederates, were 
apprehended. According to the President's usual 
summary mode of proceeding in such cases, one 
of these was sent home with a message, that if 
the pistol were not forthcoming in twelve hours, 
the other (who meanwhile was imprisoned) 
should be hung. The messenger came back 
before midnight with the pistol, but a sad specta* 
cle awaited him. Captain Smith, pitying the 
poor naked Indian who was shivering in his dark, 
cold dungeon, had sent him some food and char* 
coal to make a fire with. The simple savage, 
knov\Tng nothing of the mysteries of carbonic 
acid gas,* soon fainted away under its deleterious 
influence, and was brought out to all appearance 
dead. His brother, seeing his confident hopes 
so cruelly disappointed, broke out into the most 
passionate lamentations, and Captain Smith, to 
pacify him, told him that he would restore him to 
life. By the application of brandy and vinegar, 
he was restored to consciousness ; but his faculties 
remained in such a state of confusion and disor* 
der, as alarmed his brother hardly less than his 
seeming death. But a night's sound sleep re- 
stored him to his senses, and they were both pre- 



* The English writer was not much wiser ; he says 
the Indian was smothered with the smoke. 



324 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

sented with a piece of copper and sent home. 
From this circumstance, a report was spread far 
and wide, among the Indians, that Captain Smith 
was able to restore the dead to life. 

Another incident took place about this time, 
which increased the awe in which the English 
were held. An " ingenuous savage " at Wero- 
wocomoco had by some means obtained posses- 
sion of a bag of gunpowder and of the back- 
piece of a suit of armor. Wishing to display his 
superior accomplishments to his countrymen, he 
proceeded to dry the powder over the fire, upon 
the armor, as he had seen the soldiers do at 
Jamestown. Many thronged around him and 
peeped over his shoulders, to watch the process, 
when suddenly the powder exploded, killed the 
unfortunate operator and one or two others, and 
wounded several more, which gave the whole na- 
tion a great distaste to gunpowder. " These and 
many other such pretty accidents," as we are 
told, so amazed and alarmed Powhatan and his 
whole people, that they desired peace from all 
parts, bringing in presents and restoring stolen 
articles, which had long been given up in despair. 
After this, if any Indian was detected in steal- 
ing, he was apprehended and sent to Jamestown 
to be punished, and the whole country became 
as free and safe to the English as to the Indians 
themselves. 



CAPTAISr #•■!! SMITH. 3S 



Tbts Kiiiglislij &B naBolatod Skbl 
were ^"M^ to Aevtmt flbeir vnAiidec 
to the jntBtml afiks of tlie cnftoar. T&rr 
themselYes lo hbor vidi iiABai* and 
In the ^aoeof ilvBe nw—h^ dbcj had made a 
coDsidenifale yaiiii of lar, piick, and pcatiA: 
produced a sample of ^as ; 6a^ a vdSl of 
water in the fbit, an ailide which tiaer had 
had in abandanoehefafe;hink iveuii newhooseSy 
new coYeied the chmch ; pronided nets and waa 
for fishing ; and boih a hlodt-hoose oo the JMlawit 
of Jamestown, in wUch a ganinn was ^laiiooed 
to trade with the Indians, and which no one was 
allowed to pass withoot an ofder fiom the Pres- 
ident. Tfairtj or fixtj ai^es of groond were abo 
dug and planted. A Uock-hoose was likewise 
erected on Hog Island, and a garrison staticxied 
there to give notice of any yessels that might arrive. 
At leisure times they exercised themselves in 
cutting down trees and making clapboards and 
wainscoting. About this time Captain Wynne 
^ed, so that Captain Smith was left with the 
whole and absolute power, being both President 
and council. 

Their prosperous and contented industry re- 
ceived a sudden interruption. On examining 
their store of com, they found that half of it had 
rotted, and the rest was nearly all consumed by 
the rats, which had been left by the ship, and in« 



326 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

creased in great numbers. This put a stop to all 
their enterprises and obliged them to turn their 
whole attention to the procuring of food. 

The Indians were very friendly to them, bring- 
ing in deer and wildfowl in abundance, and Pow- 
hatan spared them nearly half his stock of com. 
The river also supplied them with sturgeon and 
oysters ; so there was no danger of their starving 
to death. But then food could not be procured 
without considerable toil and trouble ; and many of 
them were so intolerably lazy, that, as the narra- 
tive says, " had they not been forced nolens vo- 
lens perforce to gather and prepare their victual, 
they would all have starved or have eaten one 
another." These men were very clamorous that 
be should sell their tools and ircHi, their swords 
and muskets, and even their houses and ordnance > 
to the Indians for com, so that they might enjoy 
the luxury of idleness. 

They endeavored also by all means in their 
power to induce him to leave the country. Ne- 
cessity obliged Captain Smith to overlook for 
a time their mutinous and disorderly proceed- 
ings; but, having detected and severely pun- 
ished the principal ringleader, he addressed 
the remainder in the following terms. " Fellow- 
soldiers, I did not think that any one was so 
false as to report, or that you were so simple as to 
beheve, either that I intended to starve you, or 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 8S2T 

that Powhatan had, at this time, any com for 
himself, much less for you, or that I would n<^ 
procure com, if I knew where it was to be had« 
Neither did I think tliat any were so malicious^ 
as I find many are ; but I will not so yield to in- 
dignation as to prevent me from doing what I can 
for the good of my most inveterate enemy. But 
dream no IcHiger of any further assistance from 
Powhatan, and do not imagine that I shall not 
compel the indolent to work, as well as punish 
the refiract(»ry» If I find any one attempting to 
escape to Newfoundland in the pinnace, let him 
be assured that the gallows shall be his portion. 
You cannot deny that I have often saved your 
lives at the risk of my own, and provided you 
food when otherwise you might have starved. 
But I protest, by the God that made me, that 
since necessity has no power to compel you to 
gather for yourselves the fruits which the earth 
yields, I will oblige you to gather them, not only 
for yourselves, but also for the sick. You know 
that I have fared like the meanest of you, and 
that my extra allowance I have always distrib* 
uted among the sick. The sick shall not starve, 
but shall fare like the rest of us ; therefore, who- 
ever does not gather as much every day as I do, 
the next day he shall be put over the river and 
be banished from the fort, until he either alters 
bis conduct or starves.'' 



388 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

These orders were murmured against as being 
extremely cruel and tyrannical; but no one 
dared to disobey them. All exerted themselves 
diligently to procure food, so that they not only 
did not suffer from want, but grew strong and 
healthy. Many were billeted among the In- 
dians, a fact which shows how moch confidence 
there was on one side, and how much respect, or 
at least fear, on the other. These last were so 
well treated by their kind entertainers, that many 
deserted from Jamestown and took up their 
abode with them ; but the Indians, who knew 
that they had acted contrary to Captain Smith's 
orders, received them with great coldness, and 
finally brought them back to him. He mfiicted 
on them such exemplary punishment, that no 
one ventured to follow their example. The good 
conduct of the Indians at this crisis extorts fi:t)m 
the writer of the narrative the remark, that there 
was more hope to make good Christians and 
good subjects of them, than of one half of those 
who pretended to be both. 

At this period, Mr. Sicklemore returned from 
his expedition, but without gaining any satisfac- 
tory account of Sir Walter Raleigh's lost com- 
pany or of the silk-grass. Captain Smith, who 
thought it proper not to abandon a point so 
strongly urged by the council in England, sent 
upon the same errand two of his company to the 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH* 3S9 

Mangoags ; a tribe of Indians, not subject to Pow- 
hatan, who dwelt somewhere on the borders of 
North Carolina and Virginia. They were fur- 
nished with guides by the chief of the Quiyough- 
hohanocs, a small tribe dwelling on the southern 
banks of the James River, about ten miles from 
Jamestown. " This honest, proper, promise-keep- 
ing king," as he is styled, was ever friendly to 
the English ; and, though he zealously worshipped 
his own false gods, he was ready to acknowledge 
that their God exceeded his, as much as guns did 
bows and arrows. He would often send presents 
to the President, in a time of drought, begging 
him to pray to his God for rain, lest his com 
should spoil, because his own gods were angry 
with him. The result of this expedition was, 
like that of the former one, entirely unsuc- 
cessful. 

The Germans, who were with Powhatan, gave 
them constant trouble. One Volday, a Swiss, 
was employed to solicit them to return to the 
colony ; but, instead of that, he basely and treach- 
erously entered into a conspiracy with them to cut 
off the English, and diligently exerted himself to 
bring it to a successful issue. Seeing that these 
were obliged to wander about in search of provis- 
ions and leave the fort but feebly defended, they 
endeavored to prevail upon Powhatan to lend 
them his forces, promising to bum the town, to 



330 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

seize the bark, and make the greater part of the 
colonists his subjects and slaves. 

This plot was.communicated to some of the mal- 
contents at Jamestown ; and two of them, ^^ whose 
Christian hearts relented at such an unchristian 
act," revealed' it to the President. When it 
became generally known in the colony, the senti- 
ment of indignation was so lively, that severed 
volunteered to go and slay tke Germans, though in 
the very presence of Powhatan. Two were 
accordingly sent on this errand ; but, on their ar- 
rival, the Germans made such plausible excuses, 
and accused Volday so warmly, that they were 
unaccountably suffered to go unpunished. Pow- 
hatan seems to have observed a strict neutraUty 
in this business. He sent a message to Captain 
Smith, informing him that he would neither at- 
tempt to detain the Germans, nor to hinder his 
men from executing his commands. One of these 
Germans, we are told, afterwards returned to his 
duty, on promise of full pardon for the past ; the 
other remained with Powhatan. 

The writer of this portion of the History of 
Virginia, after relating these incidents, and stating 
that their great security against the treacherous 
machinations of these foreigners, and their unprin- 
cipled coadjutors at Jamestown, was the love and 
respect in which Captain Smith was held, by all 
the neighboring Indians, goes on to remark upon 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 381 

his merits in a strain of honest admiration ; '^ Bjr 
this you may see, for all those crosses, treacheries, 
and dissensions, how he wrestled and overcame 
(without bloodshed) all that happened ; also what 
good was done ; how few died ; what food the 
country naturally affordeth ; what small cause there 
b men should starve or be murdered by the sav- 
ages, that have discretion to manage them with 
courage and industry. The two first years, though 
by his adventures he had often brought the sav* 
ages to a tractable trade, yet you see how the 
envious authority ever crossed him, and frustrated 
his best endeavors. But it wrought in him that 
experience and estimation amongst the savages, 
as otherwise it had been impossible he had ever 
e&cted that he did. Notwithstanding the many 
miserable, yet generous and worthy adventures 
he had oft and long endured in the wide world, 
yet in this case he was again to learn his lecture 
by experience ; which with much ado having 
obtained, it was his ill chance to end, when he 
had but only learned how to begin." 

In the spring of the year 1609, Captain Sam- 
uel Argall, afterwards a governor of the colony, 
arrived at Jamestown. He came to trade with 
the colony and to fish for sturgeon, in a ship sup- 
plied with wine and provisions. This, says Stith, 
was a prohibited trade, but it viss j^nmved at^ 
because Argall was a relation of Sir Thomas 



839 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Smith. The necessity of the colony obliged 
them to take his provisions, by which the object 
of his voyage was defeated ; but as ^9on as they 
received supplies from England, they revictual- 
led him home, with letters giving a full account 
of the state of their affairs. By him Captain 
Smith received letters, blaming him for his cruel 
usage of the Indians, and for not sending back the 
former ships freighted. By him they also heard 
of the great preparations in England for sending 
out an expedition, under the command of Lord 
Delaware, and of the entire change projected in 
the government of the colony. 



CHAPTER XII. 



New Charter granted to the Virginia Compa' 
ny. — Expedition despatched to Jamestovm. — 
Confusion which ensues on its Arrival. — 
Captain Smith returns to England. 

The administration of Captain Smith, and the 
general course of events from the first, at James- 
town, had been far from satisfactory to the com- 
pany in England. They had founded the colony 
solely from selfish motives, in the hope of acquir- 



V. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 338 

ing great and sudden fortunes by the opening of a 
passage to the South Sea, or by the discovery of 
abundant mines of gold and silver. The splendid 
success of the Spaniards in South America had 
filled the imaginations of all Europe with golden 
dreams ; and the company were disappointed and 
irritated, because there had not been found in 
Virginia the mineral treasures of Peru and Mexi- 
co. They chose to visit their displeasure upon 
the innocent head of Captain Smith, as if he had 
either been the cause of their extravagant hopes, 
or had, by some potent magic, banished the pre- 
cious metals from the soil of Virginia. 

Their prejudice against him was increased, 
undoubtedly, by their extreme ignorance of every 
thing relating to the history and situation of the 
colony, which disqualified them from judging of 
the propriety of his measures. Their minds too 
had been poisoned by the misrepresentations of 
Newport, who possessed their entire confidence, 
and who hated Captain Smith with that untiring 
and dogged hatred, with which an inferior be- 
ing contemplates an enemy, who is too much 
above him to allow the most distant hope of rival- 
ship. They were dissatisfied, among other things, 
with his treatment of the Indians, thinking it too 
harsh and peremptory, and that a milder and 
more conciliatory one would have induced them 
to discover the hidden treasures, which they were 
persuaded existed somewhere in the country. 



334 AMERICAN BIOGBAPHT. 

Captain Smith, as the reader must have 
observed, considered himself bound from the 
first, to provide for the protection and support 
of the colony, rather than the pecuniary interests 
of the council at home. He endeavored to give 
it a permanent footing in the country, an object 
about which they cared very little, as is shown 
by their shameful neglect in supplying it with 
provisions, as well as by the character of the ad- 
venturers whom they sent out. 

He perceived at once the futility of any ex- 
pectations of raising a revenue from Virginia, and 
dwelt upon it in all his communications to Eng- 
la^id. He saw that a handful of Englishmen 
were surrounded by numerous and formidable 
tribes of Indians, and that there could never be 
any security to life or property, unless they 
were promptly overawed by firm and spirited 
conduct. With great propriety he considered 
himself far better able to judge of the measures 
which ought to be adopted for the colony, than 
a company of gentlemen, three thousand miles 
distant, who derived their information from im- 
perfect or Interested sources. His administration, 
as we have seen, was vigorous and decided, 
aiming rather to benefit the colony, than to 
please the council at home. He was too in- 
dependent and proud a man to stoop to con- 
ciliate those whose favor was not to be won by 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 335 

a steady adherence to duty. He had not a drop 
of the courtier's blood in his whole body. His 
intercourse with his superiors in station was 
marked with dignity and self-respect. His letter 
to the council, which he sent by JNewport, and 
of which we have given an account, is cer- 
tainly unmarked by delicate official deference, 
and little calculated to win or regain favor. 
All these things had combined to render 
him and his administration unpopular ; and 
he, whose services to the colony had been in- 
calculable, was made the victim of their capri- 
cious displeasure, and dismissed from an office 
which he had filled so honorably, so successfully, 
and with such constant self-sacrifice. 

The Virginia company, having induced many 
persons of rank and wealth to join with them, 
in order to increase at once their dignity and 
their funds, applied to King James for a new 
charter, which was granted, and which bears 
date. May 23d, 1609. It gave the most ample 
powers to the council in England and showed the 
most wanton disregard of the rights and privileges 
of the colonists who had emigrated on the faith 
of the first charter, and who had toiled, suffered, 
and accomplished so much. By virtue of these 
powers, the new council appointed Lord Dela* 
ware, a nobleman of high rank and distinguished 
character, captain-general of the colony; Sir 



886 AHKBICAIT BIOORAPHT. 

Thomas Gates, HeutODaiit-geiieral ; Sir George 
SomerSy admiral ; Captain Newport (the only 
one who had ever been in Vir^nia), Tice-admirri ; 
Sir Thomas Dale, high marshall ; Sir Fmdi- 
nando Wumnan, master of the horse. The 
.countenance of so many honorable and distin- 
guisbed persons made the enterprise fashionable 
and popular, so that they were able to equip 
nine ships, in which five hundred persons con8ist« 
ing of men, women, and children, embarked. 

The expedition set sail firom England in May, 
1609, under the command of Sir George Somers, 
Sir Thomas Gates, and Captain Newport, each 
of whom had a conmiissdcm authorizing him, who 
first arrived, to supersede the existing adminis- 
tration, and to govern the colony by the terms 
and provisions of the new charter, until the arri- 
val of Lord Delaware with the remainder of the 
recruits and supplies. By a most extraordinary 
oversight, no precedence in rank was assigned 
to either of these gentlemen, and they were 
unable to settle the point among themselves, 
neither being willing to resign his chance of being 
the temporary head. 

To obviate this difficulty, they adopted a 
most injudicious and unfortunate expedient ; they 
all determined to embark in the same vessel, 
their weak and childbh ambition inducing them 
to take a step which defeated the very object of 



CAPTAIH JOHH SMITH. 337 

this triiim¥irate divisioD of antboiity. In thor 
ship were cootained also the bills of lading, the 
new commission, instmctioiis and directicHis <^ 
the most ample nature, and the greater part <^ 
their provisi(Mis. This vessel, on the 25th of 
July, parted firom the rest of the squadron in a 
violent storm, and was wrecked on one of the 
Bermuda Islands ; another small vessel foundered 
at sea ; the seven others arrived safelj at James- 
town. The President, who was informed of 
their arrival by his scouts, and who had no expec- 
tation of so large a fleet, supposed them to be 
Spaniards coming to attack the colony, and with 
his usual promptness put it in a posture of de- 
fence. The Indians at thb crisis gave the 
strongest proof of their good-will, by coming 
forward with the greatest alacrity, and offering to 
fight side by side with the Elnglish against 
their enemies. 

These unfounded apprehensions were soon 
dissipated, but only to be replaced by substantial 
evils. With the seven ships came three indi- 
viduals, of whom the reader has before heard, 
Ratcliffe (whose real name, as has been stated, 
was Sicklemore), Archer, and Martin, all of 
whom were enemies to Captain Smith, and had 
so prejudiced the minds of their companions 
against him, that they were prepared to dislike 
without ever having seen him. Their ships had 

VOL. II. 22 



89B AlIXBICAV BIOttBAFMT. 

1mm greatlj sbillared in ikeir stomij passage, 
Ifaeir pfovisioDS waie nmung low, mwaj of 
Ihem were sick, and dMj airived at the season 
fCtbe year most trying to the constitoticm. The 
gieater patt of the companj, moieover, eoosnsled 
of persons <^ moofa itter/' as Stilh says, ^ to spoil 
mt ruin a conmonweahb than to help to laise 
m muntaia oiiie." They consisted of dissipated 
young men, exiled by their friends to escape a 
irorse destiny at home ; bankrupt tradesmen ; 
needy adrmtnrers ; gentlemen, hsy, poor, and 
pioud ; inofligate hangeis-on of great men, and 
llie like. 

A scene of unld coofiision took place kmnedi- 
ately upon their landing. They bad broogbt 
no commission with them which could, supcarsede 
die old one, and no cske could, with legal pro- 
priety, supplant Captain Smith. The new 
comers, however, disdained to submit to hb au- 
thority, prejudiced as they were against him, and 
looking with contempt upon the little band of 
colonists, whom they were sent to cast into 
the shade. 

He, at first, allowed them to have every thing 
in their own way, and in consequence there was 
an entire end of all government, discipline, and 
subordination. The new comers, though having 
neither the authority nor the capacity, under- 
took to remodel the government. They con- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 889 

ferred the chief power first on one and then on 
another; to-day, they administered the govern- 
ment according to the old commission ; to-morrow, 
according to the new ; and the next day, after a 
new fiishion of their own. There was no con- 
sistency, no responsibiUty, and in &ct no govern- 
ment ; but instead of it a wild anarchy and mis- 
rule, to which nothing but chaos could furnish 
a parallel. 

The sensible and judicious part of the com* 
munity, both of the new comers and of the old 
setders, perceived that this state of things, if 
long continued, would brmg the colony to utter 
ruin, and, justly appreciating the distinguished 
merit o( Captain Smith, entreated him to re- 
sume his abandoned authority, and save them 
from destruction, before it was too late. He 
was himself so disgusted with the new comers 
and their proceedmgs, that, had he consulted 
his own wishes alone, he would have abandoned 
the country and gone to England. But there 
was no alloy of selfishness in his nature. Hq 
felt for the colony, of which he was the soul 
and life-blood, the pride and affection which a 
parent feels for a favorite child. To its prosperity 
he was ever ready to sacrifice his private feelings, 
and he saw plainly, that the present system 
would end in its ruin. 



840 AHERIOAK BIOORAPHT. 

He felt emboldened too hj the ^sonvictioii. .of 
the fsiCtf tiuit he was and had been its legal head^ 
and that no one had any official authority lor 
soperaeding him. He did not hesitate, therefine, 
to resume the station, which he had ibr a diort 
tkne tacitly resigned, though in dcing so he ex- 
posed himself to infinite vexations and no little 
actual danger from the secret, and open oppori- 
tion of his enemies. The most obstinate and 
refiractory of them he cast into priscm 6x safe 
keeping, until there was leisure for a fair and 
legal trial. It was thought expedient to divide 
their numbers, and accordingly Captain Martin 
was sent with a hundred and twen^ men to 
Nansemood, and Captain West, with the Uke 
number to the Falls of James River, each receiv- 
ing a due proportion of provisions from the com- 
mon stock. 

Before these settlements were planted, Cap- 
tain Smith, having established a regular govern- 
ment, and being near the end of the year of his 
presidency, resigned it in favor of Martin, who 
was the only person that could be chosen to the 
office. He had the good sense to perceive, that 
he was not qualified for so arduous a station, and, 
restoring it to Captain Smith in less than three 
hour», proceeded with his company to Nanse- 
mond. His experiment proved a total failure. 
The Indians were kindly disposed towards him. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 341 

till his injudicious conduct converted them into 
determined enemies. They made a successfiil 
attack upon him, killing many of his men, and 
carrying off a thousand bushels of his com^ He 
made a feeble resistance, and did not attempt to 
recover what he had lost, but sent to Jamestown 
for thirty soldiers to aid him. These were 
promptly despatched, but he made no use of 
them ; and they soon returned of their own ac- 
cord, disgusted with his cowardice and imbeciUty. 
Martin himself shortly followed them, leaving his 
company to take care of themselves. 

Disasters also followed the settlement at the 
Falls. It was originally made in a place exposed 
to the inundations of the river and to other great 
inconveniences ; and Captain West returned to 
Jamestown to obtain advice and assistance in the 
removal of it. Captain Smith immediately pur- 
chased of Powhatan the place called by his name, 
which was a short distance lower down the river, 
and went up to the Falls himself, to superin- 
tend their establishment in their new abode. But 
the mutinous and disorderly company, seeing him 
attended with only five men, refused to obey his 
orders, and, on his attempting to use force, resisted 
him and obliged him to take refuge on board his 
vessel, having narrowly escaped with his life. 

He remained here nine days, in the hope that 
they would listen to reason and consult their own 



84S AllBmiOAir BlOflBAFHT. 

iBterast b putting themsdves iiiid«r his guid-r 
moB* But tbey obstiaateljr rofiised to the last. 
Hie IndiaiiSy meanwhile, flecked aiound him 
with bitter oomplainti of the treatment they had 
mceived from the settlers, saying, that they bad 
nbbed their gardens, stden their com, beat^ 
them, broken into their houses, and carried <tf 
some of their people and detained them pdsoB* 
cfs. They ofoed to asnrt him in bring^g them 
to subjection by the strong' arm of power, and 
told, him, that they had borne these insults and 
injuries fix)m his countrymen out of respect to 
hkn ; but that he must fbrgiTe them if hereafter 
they defended themselves to the utmost of their 
ability, and repelled unprovoked aggresaons by 
ibrce. 

Fmdiog his eflforts to be unavailing, Captain 
Smith departed ; but his vessel grounded, after 
she had proceeded about half a league, a very 
fortunate circumstance, as the result showed. 
For no sooner was his back turned, than some 
Indians, not more than twelve in number it is 
stated, burning for revenge, assaulted the settlers, 
and, killing several stragglers whom they found in 
the woods, struck such a panic into the rest, that 
they sent down in great alarm to Captain Smith, 
offering to accede to any terms that he would 
propose, if he would come and assist them. He 
returned, and, after punishing six or seven of the 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH, 348 

cluef ofienders, renaoved the rest to Powhatm, a 
place eveiy way adapted to their purposes, as it 
had been brought under cultivation by the Indi- 
ans, who had also erected a strong ibrt there. 

As soon as they were settled in their new 
habitation^ Captain West returned and began to 
undo all that had been [doae. Captain Smith, 
unwUling to contend with him, opposed him in 
nothing, but left him to manage every thing in his 
own way. By his influenoe they were induced to 
return to their former situation, for what reason 
it is not stated. 

Captain Smith met with a most unhappy acci- 
dent as he was returning to Jamestown. While he 
was sleeping in the boat, a bag of powder lying 
near him exploded, and tore and burned his flesh in 
the most shocking manner. His clothes being on 
fire, he leaped overboard to quench the flames, 
and was with difficulty rescued from drowning. 
In this sad condition he arrived at Jamestown, 
where things were in such a state as to require 
all his faculties of mind and body. The time 
set for tlie trial of RatcliflTe, Archer, and the 
others who had been imprisoned, drew near, and 
their guilty consciences made them shrink from 
an inquiry, about the result of which they could 
entertain no doubt. Seeing too the helpless state 
of the President, they entered into a plot to 
murder him in his bed ; but the heart of the base 



344 AMEBICAN BI06BAPHT. 

wretch, who was chosen to be the instrument of 
their wickedness, failed him at the last moment, 
and he had not the courage to fire his murderous 
pbtol. Having failed in this, thej endeavoreid 
to usurp the government and thereby escape pun- 
ishment. Fevered and tormented by his wounds, 
Captain Smith became weary of this perpetual 
struggle agamst the violence and malice of his 
enemies, and of supporting his rightful authority 
by force and severity ; and he now determined to re- 
turn to England, though his old friends, indignant at 
the treatment he had received, odered and indeed 
entreated to be allowed to bring him the heads of 
his foes. But he would not permit the colony to 
be embroiled in a civil war on his account. His 
wounds also grew very dangerous, from the want 
of surgical aid; and he believed that he could 
never recover, unless he went home as soon as 
possible to be cured there. He therefore, in the 
early part of the autumn of 1609, departed from 
Virginia never to return to it again. He left be- 
hind him four hundred and ninety colonists, one 
hundred of whom were trained and expert sol- 
diers, three ships, seven boats, twenty-four pieces 
of ordnance, three hundred muskets and other 
arms, abundance of ammunition and tools, wear- 
ing apparel sufficient for all their wants, and an 
ample stock of domestic animals and provisions. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 345 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Remarks on Captain Smithes Administration 

in Virginia. 

Captain Smith resided a little more than two 
years in Virginia ; during one of which he was 
President of the colony. The reader, who has 
gone thus far with me, will be enabled to form a 
conception of what he accomplished, and the 
disadvantages against which he contended. It is 
difficult for those who have been reared on the lap 
of civilization, and had wants created by the facil- 
ities of gratifying them, to have a full sense of the 
labors and sufferings of the first settlers of a new 
country. Familiar with the luxuries of artificial 
life, they are thrown into a situation where ani- 
mal existence can hardly be supported. Severe 
and unremitted toil wears down the firame and 
depresses the mind. Famine often lays siege to 
them, and new and strange diseases prostrate their 
strength. A vague sense of apprehension ever 
darkens their lot, and not a leaf stirs, but makes 
them start with the expectation of encountering 
some great and unknown danger. 

The bright hopes, with which they began their 
enterprise, are apt to languish and die ; and their 
hearts faint under the influence of that homesick- 



846 AHXSIOAH BXO«RAPHT. 

ness, for which there is no medidiie but a draught 
of the air of one's native hukL To be the suc- 
cessful leader of a band of new settlers under 
the most fiivorahle circumstances, requires an 
extraordinary combination of powers. He must 
be able to use his hands as well as his head, to 
act as well as to command, to show how things are 
to be done as well as to pve directions to do 
them. He must be able to awe the refisctofyy lb 
encourage the distiustfiil, and to cheer up the 
drooping. He must have courage, fiirtitude, aell^ 
<K>mmand, and perseverance ; he must be just, 
yet not stem, dignified, jret ajSUile and eesf of 
approach. 

The Virginia cdtooj, and its head in particular, 
had trials and perils of a peculiar nature to eiH 
oounter, in addition to those which thejr mig^t nat- 
urally have expected. In the first place, they were 
surrounded by numerous and powerful tribes of 
Indians, whose occupation was war, and who were 
organized into a powerful confederacy under a 
ruler of extraordinary resources, the idol of his 
people, full of courage and enterprise, rivalling 
in dissimulation the most accomplished European 
diplomatist ; and, if not the implacable enemy of 
the whites, he has been represented as being still 
very far from their friend, and, with a prophetic 
spirit, apparently realizing from the first, that 
their permanent residence and increase would in- 
volve the ruin of his own people. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 347 

As we have seen, too, Captain Smith had 
much to contend against in the characters of many 
of the settlers themselves, whom the old wodd 
seems to have shaken off, as bemg too worth- 
less and desperate to be any longer tolerated at 
home. They were continually irritating him by 
their surly opposition, and infecting the well- 
disposed by their ill example; for labors and 
hardships are much lightened when they are 
shared by all. Instead of receiving aid from the 
council at home, they were to him a source of 
unmixed vexation and disappointment. 

Chagrined by the failure of their visionary 
hopes, with a truly consistent selfishness they 
abandoned to unwarrantable neglect the settlers, 
whom they had sent into a howling wilderness, 
taking no pains to provide for their wants, and, 
by their absurd exactions, making the expeditions 
they sent out to them a tax and a burden. 
Captain Smith they honored with peculiar dislike, 
because he preferred the interests of the colony 
to their own ; believing all that his enemies could 
say of him, giving him reproof where honor was 
due, and finally depriving him of his command, 
at the very moment, when, by his extraordinary 
exertions, he had established the colony upon a 
firm basis, and could look confidently forward to 
its steady increase and continued prosperity. 



M8 AJEKBICAK BIOdRAPHT. 

It is hardl J posdble for Captain Smith's ' ser- 
vises to the eolaaj to be exaggerated. Nothing 
but the fiirce of his character could have con- 
dncted it through so numy difficulties and dan- 
gers. Upcm his single life its existence hung^ 
and without him the enterprise. would have been 
reUnqiiished again and agun, as in the case, of 
die setdements on the coast of North Caiofina, 
and the establishment of a permanent colony 
in America would have been delayed to an in- 
defimte period, since every uhsuccessfid attonpt 
would have been a fresh discouragement to such 
an undertaking. It is easy to be seen that he 
embraced the mterests of the col<»iy with the 
whole force of his fervid and enthuaasdc char- 
acter. He was its right eye and its right arm. 
In its service he displayed a perseverance, which, 
no obstacles could dishearten, a courage, which 
bordered upon rashness, and a fertility of resour- 
ces, which never left him at a loss for remedies 
against every disaster, and for the means of extri- 
catmg himself from every difficulty and embarrass- 
ment. 

It is curious to observe that he seemed not 
only to superintend, but to do every thing. His 
official dignity never encumbered him when any 
thing was to be done. We find him, at one time, 
cutting down trees with bis own hands ; at another, 
heading an exploring expedition, venturing, vrith a 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 349 

few timid followers in an open bark, into unknown 
regions densely peopled with savage tribes ; and 
at another, marching with a few soldiers to pro- 
cure provisions, and sleeping on the bare ground 
in the depth of winter. He had the advantage 
of possessing an iron frame and a constitution 
which was proof against sickness and exposure ; 
so that, while others were faint, drooping, and 
weary, he was vigorous, unexhausted, ready to 
grapple with danger, and contemplating every 
enterprise with cheerful confidence in the result. 

In the government of his colony he was rigid- 
ly impartial, just, and, as might be expected from 
one who had so long been a soldier, strict even 
to severity. This was indeed one of the objec- 
tions made to his administration by the council in 
England, and it without doubt created him many 
enemies in Jamestown. But the intelligent rea- 
der will find for him a sufficient apology in the 
desperate character of many of the settlers, and 
in the absolute necessity of implicit subordination^ 
which their situation required. 

The whole power was centred in his own 
person, and a refusal to obey him was a refiisal 
to obey the laws, upon which their safety and 
even existence depended. His severity arose 
from a sense of duty, and no one ever accused 
him of being wantonly cruel or revengeful. No 
man was more ready to forgive ofiences, aimed 



8^ AMBBICAir BIO^&JkPHT. 



at himself penoiuill j ; a striking proof of which 
ia, that we hear of no ptmiahments being inflicted 
on the dastardly wretches who attempted to as- 
sassinete htm, as he was lying helpless fiora his 
womds^ during the last days of his admidstratioii. 

His conduct to the Indians, though not always 
dictated by a spirit of Christian justice or bfotiM^ 
hood, will be fixind very honorable to Ustt, if 
tried by the standard ci the opinions of lua day. 
WmOf too, his apology must be fixnid ia the pec»* 
Uar drcumstances in which he was jdaeed. He 
was not the head of a powerfiil body, meeting 
mid trading with the Indians on terms of equal- 
ity, *but of a feeUe band, whom they, if they 
had known their own strength, might haTO ctusb- 
ed m a moment* The passion of fear* is the 
parent of cruelty and of treacheiy» It was 
necessary (or at least it was deemed so) to 
overawe the Indians^ to strike terror into them ; 
and, if the means resorted to for accomplishing 
these ends were not strictly justifiable, there was 
at least an excuse for them. 

The English were also more than once threat- 
ened with famine, while their Indian neighbors 
were generally well supplied with provisions ; and 
reason and experience tell us that starving mea will 
not be very nice in their expedients to obtaia food, 
or coolly examine into the right and wrong of 
measures, when a fierce animal instinct is goading 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 351 

them on. Captain Smith, hj his prudence and 
firmness, established a most harmonious feeling 
between the two races. 

The respect of the Indians for him hardly- 
stopped short of idolatry. His great qualities 
were evident to these untutored children of na- 
ture, and their reverence \^s the instinctive hom- 
age which is paid to innate superiority. This is 
alone sufficient to prove that he never treated the 
Indians, even as they thought, with injustice, cru- 
elty, or caprice ; had it been so, he never would 
have been so admired and honored by a race of 
men who are proverbial for never forgetting an 
injury. 

The genuine merits of Captain Smith, as a pre- 
siding officer, can only be fairly estimated by com- 
paring him with others. We have se^i that when- 
ever he departs from Jamestown every thing is 
thrown into confusion, and that, as soon as he re- 
turns, order is restored and the jarring notes of dis- 
cord cease to be heard. As none but himself cotdd 
bend the bow of Ulysses, so no one was capable 
of sustaining the office of Presklent for a single 
day but Captain Smith. We have seen in what 
difficulties and embarrassments Captain Martin at 
Nansemond and Captam West at the Falls sever- 
ally involved themselves j and from this specimen 
we may draw "ominous conjecture" of what 
would have been the &te of the whole colony^ had 
either of these gentlemen been at Us head«. 



352 AMERICAN BI06BAPHT. 

Compare also the results of his brilliant expe- 
dition to explore the Chesapeake with Newport's 
pompous march into the country of the M onacans, 
in which his failure was as wretched as his means 
of success were ample. The miserable adven- 
tures of the colony, too, after he, its ruling and 
moving spirit, had departed, are in themselves a 
splendid encomium upon his energeUc and suc- 
cessful administration. 

The reader may have some curiosity to know 
what became of the Germans, whose treachery 
and misconduct we have so often been obliged to 
record. One of them, by name Samuel, never 
returned to the English from the time he first left 
them, but spent his days in Powhatan's service. 
Another, named Adam, returned, upon promise 
of pardon, at the time of Volday's conspiracy. 
During the troubles in the colony after the 
arrival of the last expedition, he, with another 
of his countrymen, named Francis, taking ad 
vantage of the general confusion, fled again to 
Powhatan, promising that they would do wonders 
for him at the arrival of Lord Delaware. But 
the savage monarch, with that sagacity and ele- 
vation of character which were peculiar to him, 
told them that the men, who were ready to 
betray Captain Smith to him, would certainly 
betray him to Lord Delaware, if they could gain 
any thing thereby, and immediately ordered their 
brains to be beaten out. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 353 

As to Volday, himself he contriyed to go to 
£«Dgland, where be imposed upon many merchants 
with stories of the rich mmes he had discovered 
and of how much he could enrich them, so that 
he was sent out with Lord Delaware ; but, his 
real character being discovered and his falsehoods 
detected, he died in misery and disgrace. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Captain Smith's First Voyage to New England, 

From the time of Captain Smith's departure 
jfrom Virginia, till the year 1614, there is a 
chasm in his biography. So active a mind as 
his could not have been idle during that time, 
but, unfortunately, no records are preserved of 
what he attempted or accomplished. We have 
every reason to suppose that his favorite subject 
of settlmg the American continent occupied a 
large portion of his time and thoughts. His 
distinguished reputation, and his great knowledge 
and experience upon that head, would naturally 
point him out as the most proper person in Eng- 
land to be consulted by those who had any 
projects of the kind in contemplation, and as 

VOL. 11. 23 



354 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

the best qualified to take a part in them him- 
self. 

In 1614, probably by his advice and at his 
suggestion, an expedition was fitted out by 
some London merchants, in the expense of which 
he also shared, for the purposes of trade and 
discovery in New England, or, as it was then 
called, North Virginia. An attempt had been 
made to establish a colony on the coast of 
Maine, by the Plymouth company as early as 
1607, and forty-five individuals passed the win- 
ter there. As the winter of 1607 — 8 was 
remarkably severe all over the world, we can 
easily imagine their sulSerings ; and shall not be 
surprised to learn, that they abandoned the enter- 
prise, and returned to England in the first vessel 
which was sent out to them. They gave a most 
unfavorable account of the country, describing 
it as cold, barren, and rocky in the extreme. 
Disheartened, it would seem, by these represen- 
tations, the company for some years confined 
their efforts to one or two voyages, the objects 
of which were, to catch fish and traffic with the 
Indians, till, as we have stated, they associated 
with themselves the enterprising genius of Cap- 
tain Smith. 

In March, 1614, he set sail from London with 
two ships, one commanded by himself, and the 
other by Captain Thomas Hunt. They arrived, 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 355 

April 30th, at the island of Manhegin on the 
coast of Maine, where they built seven boats. 
The purposes, for which they were sent, were to 
capture whales and to search for mines of gold 
or copper, which were said to be there, and, if 
these failed, to make up a cargo of fish and 
furs. 

Of mines they found no indications, and they 
found whale-fishing a " costly conclusion " ; for, 
although they saw many, and chased them too, 
they succeeded in taking none. They thus lost 
the best part of the fishing season ; but, after 
giving up their gigantic game, they diligently 
employed the months of July and August in 
taking and curing cod-fish, an humble, but more 
certain prey. While the crew were thus em- 
ployed. Captain Smith, with eight men in a 
small boat, surveyed and examined the whole 
coast, from Penobscot to Cape Cod, trafficking 
with the Indians for furs, and twice fighting with 
them, and taking such observations of the pro- 
minent points, as enabled him to construct a map 
of the country. He then sailed for England, 
where he arrived in August, within six months 
after his departure. 

He left Captain Hunt behind him, with orders 
to dispose of his cargo of fish in Spain. Un- 
fortunately, Hunt was a sordid and unprincipled 
miscreant, who resolved to make his country-* 



356 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

men odious to the Indians, and thus prevent the 
establishment of a permanent colony, which 
would diminish the large gains he and a few 
others derived by monopolizing a lucrative traffic. 
For this purpose, having decoyed twenty-four of 
the natives on board bis ship, he carried them off 
and sold them as slaves in the port of Malaga. 

History, fruitful as it is in narratives of injustice, 
oppression, and crimes, has recorded few acts so 
infamous as this. He was indignantly dismissed 
from his office by his employers, when they heard 
of his guilt ; but this could not undo the mischief 
which had been done, nor prevent its evil conse- 
quences. The outrage sunk deep into the hearts 
of the Indians, and, with the indiscriminating 
vengeance of savage natures, they visited their 
wrongs in after times upon innocent heads, 
because they belonged to that hated race with 
whom their early associations were so tragical. 

Captain Smith, upon his return, presented his 
map of the country between Penobscot and Cape 
Cod to Prince Charles (afterwards Charles the 
First), with a request that he would substitute 
others, instead of the " barbarous names " which 
had been given to particular places. Smith himself 
gave to the country the name of New England, as 
he expressly states, and not Prince Charles, as is 
commonly supposed. With his request Prince 
Charles graciously complied, and made many alter- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 357 

ations in the nomenclature, which were generally 
marked by good taste. The . name which Smith 
had given to Cape Ann, was Cape Tragabigzanda, 
in honor of his Turkish mistress, whom I hope 
my readers have not forgotten. Those, who 
have occasion to pronounce the name frequently, 
will congratulate themselves on the change. 
Cape Cod, the name given by Gosnold, was 
altered by the Prince to Cape James, in honor 
of his father; but posterity has pertinaciously 
adhered to the old, homely title, in spite of the 
double clahns of the new one, as being the 
name of a king and bestowed by a prince. 
With his characteristic modesty. Smith had given 
his own name only to a small cluster of islands, 
which the Prince did not alter; but, by some 
strange caprice, they are now caljed the Isles of 
Shoals, a change which has neither justice nor 
taste to recommend it. 

The first port, into which Captain Smith put 
on his return to England, was Plymouth. 
There he related his adventures to some of his 
friends, " who," he says. " as I supposed. Were 
interested in the dead patent of this unregarded 
country." The Plymouth company of adven- 
turers to North Virginia, by flattering hopes and 
large promises induced him to engage his ser- 
vices to them. Upon his arrival in London, 
overtures wer^ niade to him by his ojd employers 



358 AMERICAN BIOGRAPEtY. 

the South Virginia company, who had proba- 
bly, by experience of others, learned to fonn a 
more just estimate of his merits and abilities; 
but these, on account of his previous engagement, 
he was constrained to decline. His refusal seems 
to have given some ofience to those \^hose good 
opinion he valued ; for he takes pains to state, 
that it proceeded from no disinclination to them 
Or their cause, but he considered himself in 
honor bound to the Plymouth compiiny. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Captain Smith sails a Second Time for New 
England. — Is tolcen by a French Squadron 
and carried to France. — MaJces his Escape. 
— Arrives in England. — Publishes his De- 
scription of New England. 

When Captain Smith left Plymouth for Lon- 
don, it was with the understanding that he should 
return to the former place at Christmas and 
take charge of an expedition of four ships, which 
the company were to furnish him. The London 
company made him an offer of the same nature, 
which, as we have stated, he was obliged to de- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 359 

eline. He endeavored to induce the two com- 
panies to fit out an expedition in common, fot 
which there were many inducements. 

The Londoners had the most capital, but the 
men of Plymouth were better acquainted with 
the art of taking and curing fish, and could more 
easily fit out vessels for that object ; so that it was 
desirable that funds should be raised in London 
m behalf of an expedition which should sail from 
Plymouth. Besides, as Captain Smith says, "it 
is near as much trouble, but much more danger, 
to sail from London to Plymouth, than fix>m Ply- 
mouth to .New England^ so that half the voyage 
would be thus saved." This project, though re- 
commended by reason and expediency, could 
never be realized on account of the absurd jeal- 
ousy which the two companies entertained to- 
wards each other, and the unwillingness of either 
to give precedence to the other. 

Early in January, 1615, Captain Smith, with 
two hundred pounds in his pocket, and attended 
by six of his friends, left London for Plymouth, 
expecting to find the four ships waiting for him. 
But his sanguine expectations were destined to 
be disappointed. The ill success of the expedi- 
tion, which sailed the June previous from the 
Isle of Wight, under the command of Harley and 
Holson, occasioned by the flame of excitement 
which the outrage of Hunt had kindled in the In- 



360 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

dians had chilled the zeal of the Plymouth com* 
pany.* But by the indefatigable exertions of 
Captain Smith, and the liberal assistance of Sir 
Ferdinando Gorges, Dr. Sutliffe, Dean of Exeter, 
and others, two ships were prepared and equipped, 
one of two hundred Ions, and the other of fifty, 
in which, besides seamen, there were sixteen 
men destined to remain as settlers. 

They set sail in March ; but, after they had gone 
about a hundred and twenty leagues, they en- 
countered a violent storm, which separated the 
two vessels, dismasted Captain Smith's, and oblig- 
ed him to return under a jury-mast to Plymouth. 
His consort, commanded by Thomas Dermer, 
meanwhile proceeded on her voyage, and return- 
ed with a profitable cargo in August; but the 
object of the enterprise, which was to eflfect a 
permanent settlement, was frustrated. 

Captain Smith's vessel was probably found to 
be so much shattered as to render it inexpe- 
dient to repair her ; for we find that he set sail a 
second time from Plymouth, on the 24th of 
June, in a small bark of sixty tons, manned by 
thirty men, and carrying with him the same six- 
teen settlers, he had taken before. But an evil 
destiny seemed to hang over this enterprise, and 

* See Prince's Chronological History ofJVew England, 
p. 133, ed. 1826. Belknap's Life of Gorges, in his 
American Biography, Vol. I. p. 358. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 361 

to make the voyage a succession of disasters and 
disappointments. Soon after his departure he 
was chased by an English pirate, to whom his 
crew importuned him to surrender without resis- 
tance ; which however he disdained to do, though 
he had only four guns and the pirate thirty-siii. 
The apprehensions of all parties were soon agree- 
ably and sbgularly dispersed ; for Captain Smith, 
on speaking with her, found that her commander 
and some of his crew had been fellow-soldiers 
with him (probably in his Turkish campaigns), 
and had recently run away with the ship from 
Tunis. 

They were in want of provisions and in a mu- 
tinous state, and offered to Captain Smith, either 
to put themselves under his command, or to carry 
him wherever he desired ; but these offers were 
declined. Near Fayal, he met with two French 
pirates, one of two hundred tons and the other of 
thirty. His crew were again panic-stricken, and 
would have surrendered without firing a gun ; but 
Captain Smith, whose impetuous valor made him 
disregard the greatest odds against him, told them 
that he would rather blow up the ship, than yield 
while he had any powder left. After a running 
fight he contrived to make his escape. 

Near Flores, he was chased and overtaken 
by four French men-of-war, who had orders from 
their sovereign to make war upon the Spaniards 



362 AMERICAN BI06RAPHT. 

and Portuguese and to seize pirates of all nations^ 
At the command of the admiral, Captain Smttb 
went on board his ship, and showed him bis com- 
mission under the great seal, to prove that he 
was no pirate. The Frenchman (as it was his 
interest to prevent any settlement of English id 
New England, who might compete with his own 
countrymen at Acadia, in their {HX>fitable trade 
with the natives), in open defiance of the laws ot 
nations, detained him prisoner, plundered his 
vessel, manned her with Frenchmen, and dis- 
persed her crew among the several ships of the 
fleet. But, after a few days, they gave them back 
their vessel and the greater part of their provis- 
ions, and Captain Smith made preparations for coor 
tinning his voyage, though a grestt many of the 
crew were desirous of going back to Plymouth. 
But before they parted from the French fleet 
the admiral on some pretence sent for Captain 
Smith to come on board his ship, which he did ac- 
cordingly, alone. While he was there, the French 
ship, seeing a strange sail, gave chase, detaining 
him on board ; and during the next night the dis- 
afiected part of his own crew entered into a plot 
to turn their ship's head homeward, which 
they accordingly did, the sixteen landsmen, who 
were going out as settlers, knowing nothing of it, 
till they found themselves safe at Plymouth again. 
The abduction of Captain Smith by the French- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 363 

man was undoubtedly intentional, being caused, 
as Smith himself says, by the calumnies of some 
of his own crew, who were anxious to be rid of 
him and return home. 

Captain Smith soon found that those who cap- 
tured him were no better than pirates. The ad- 
miral's ship was separated from the rest of the 
fleet by a storm and followed her fortunes alone. 
Her cruise was very eventful and lucrative. 
Captain Smith had the misfortune to see more 
than one English ship plundered, without any 
means of preventing it. Whenever they fell in 
vdth one of these, they confined him in the cab- 
m; but whenever they had engagements with 
Spanish ships, they insisted upon his fighting with 
them. Having spent the summer in this way, 
th^ carried hita fo Rochelle, where, notwith- 
standing their promises to remunerate him for all 
his losses by giving him a share of their prizes, 
they detained him a prisoner on board a vessel in 
the harbor. 

They accused him of having burnt the French 
settlements at Port Royal in 1613 (which was 
the act of Captain Argall),* and endeavored to 
compel him to give them a discharge in full for 
all demands before the Judge of the Admiralty, 
threatening him with imprisonment in case he 
fefiised. While he was deliberating upon this 

* See Holmes's American Annals, for the year 1613. 



364 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

proposal, Providence held out to him the means 
of making his escape, without any violence to 
bis sense of justice, or any degradation to his 
pride. A violent storm arose, whose "pitiless 
pelting '^ drove all the people below ; and, as soon 
as it was dark. Captain Smith pushed off from 
the ship in a boat, with a half-pike for an oar, 
hoping to reach the shore. But he fell upon a 
strong current which carried him out to sea, where 
be was exposed to great danger, in a small, crazy 
boat, when the storm was so violent as to strew the 
coast with wrecks. Twelve hours he passed in 
this fearful state, expecting every moment to be 
swallowed up by the waves; till by the returning 
tide he was thrown upon a marshy island, where 
he was found by some fowlers, nearly drowned 
and totally exhausted with cold, fatigue, and hun- 
ger. By pawning his boat, he found the means 
of conveyance to Rochelle, where he learned 
that the ship which had captured him, with one of 
her prizes, had been driven ashore, and the cap- 
tain and one half the crew drowned. 

On landing at Rochelle, he lodged a complaint 
with the Judge of the Admiralty, and supported 
his claims by the evidence of some of the sailors, 
who had escaped from the wreck of the French 
ship. We are not informed what was the final 
result of this process ; but he received from the 
bands of the Judge a certificate of the truth pf 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 365 

his Statement, which he presented to the English 
ambassador at Bordeaux. Both at this place 
and Rochelle he found much sympathy, and 
received many friendly offices; among others, he 
says, " the good lady Madam Chanoyes bounti- 
fully assisted me." He returned to England, we 
are not told at what time, but probably in the lat- 
ter part of the year 1615, and, proceeding to Ply- 
mouth, took measures to punish the ringleaders of 
the mutiny among his crew. 

While he had been detained on board the 
French pirate, in order, as he says, " to keep my 
perplexed thoughts from too much meditation of 
my miserable estate," he employed himself in 
writing a narrative of his two voyages to New 
England, and an account of the country. This 
was published in a quarto form, in June, 1616. 
It contained his map. of the country, and the de- 
positions of some of the men, who were on board 
his ship, when he was detained and carried off by 
the French, inserted, as he says, " lest my own 
relations of those hard events might by some con- 
structors be made doubtful, envy still seeking to 
scandalize my endeavors, and seeing no power 
but death can stop the chat of ill tongues." As 
a proof of his indefatigable zeal . in the promotion 
of his favorite object, he spent the whole summer 
in journeying about in the West of England, dis- 
tributing copies of this book (seven thousand in 



866 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

number, according to his own account,) among all 
persons of any note, and endeavoring to awaken 
an interest in the subject of settling America. 
But, he says, " all availed no more than to hew 
rocks with oyster-shells," so desponding were 
the minds of men on account of the ill-success 
which had attended so many enterprises of that 
nature. He reaped, however, an abundant har- 
vest of promises, and the Plymouth company, in 
token of their respect for his services, formally 
conferred upon him the title of Admiral of New 
England. 

Captain Smith's work on New England was the 
first to recommend that country as a place of 
settlement, and to disabuse the public mind of the 
erroneous impressions which had arisen from the 
dismal accounts of the settlers, who had returned 
after the failure of Popham's expedition, and who 
had represented the whole country as a coJd, 
rocky, and barren waste. It is evidently written 
in the spirit of an advocate, and not of a judge, 
and is tinged throughout with the sanguine tem- 
perament of its author. Still it is never visionary 
or wild ; it is full of good sense, accurate observa- 
tion, and a sagacity that sometimes almost assumes 
the shape of prophecy. No one can read it with- 
out admiration of this extraordinary man, in whom 
the powers of action, reflection, and observation 
were so harmoniously blended. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 367 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Visit of Pocahontas to England. — Captain 
Smithes Interview with her. — Death of Poc€h 
hontas. 

The order of events in the life of Captain 
Smith again associates him with Pocahontas. Af- 
ter his departure finom Virginia she continued to be 
the firm friend of the settlers, as before. In 1610, 
when Ratcliffe and thirty men were cut off by 
Powhatan, a boy named Henry Spilman was 
saved by her means, and lived many years among 
the Potomacs. We next hear of her in 1612, 
when Captain Argall, who had gone on a trading 
voyage to the country of the Potomacs, learnt 
from Japazaws, their chief, that she was living in 
seclusion near him, having forsaken her father's 
dominions and protection. 

We are not informed of the reasons which in- 
duced her to take this step. It has been conjec- 
tured that her well-known afifection for the Eng- 
lish bad given displeasure to her father, or that 
her sensibility was pained at witnessing the 
bloody wars which he waged against them, with- 
out her having the power of alleviating their 
horrors. When Captain Argall heard of this, he 
perceived how advantageous to the settlers it 



362 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

and Portuguese and to seize pirates of all nations* 
At the command of the admiral, Captain Smith 
went on board his ship, and showed him his com- 
mission under the great seal, to prove that he 
was no pirate. The Frenchman (as it was his 
interest to prevent any settlement of English hi 
New England, who might compete with his own 
countrymen at Acadia, in their profitable trade 
with the natives), in open defiance of the laws of 
nations, detained him prisoner, plundered his 
vessel, manned her with Frenchmen, and &- 
persed her crew among the several ships of the 
fleet. But, after a few days, they gave them back 
their vessel and the greater part of their provis- 
ions, and Captain Smith made preparations for coor 
tinning his voyage, though a grestt many of the 
crew were desirous of going back to Plymouth. 
But before they parted from the French fleet 
the admiral on some pretence sent for Captain 
Smith to come on board his ship, which he did ac- 
cordingly, alone. While he was there, the French 
ship, seeing a strange sail, gave chase, detaining 
him on board ; and during the next night the dis- 
affected part of his own crew entered into a plot 
to turn their ship's head homeward, which 
they accordingly did, the sixteen landsmen, who 
were going out as settlers, knowing nothing of it, 
till they found themselves safe at Plymouth again. 
The abduction of Captain Smith by the French- 



CAPTAIH JOHN SMITH. 363 

man was undoubtedly intentioDal, being caused, 
as Smith himself says, by the calunmies of some 
of his own crew, who were anxious to be rid of 
him and return home. 

Captain Smith soon found that those who cap- 
tured him were no better than pirates. The ad- 
miral's ship was separated from the rest of the 
fleet by a storm and followed her fortunes alone. 
Her cruise was very eventful and lucrative. 
Captain Smith had the misfortune to see more 
than one English ship plundered, without any 
means of preventing it. Whenever they fell in 
with one of these, they confined him in the cab- 
m; but whenever they had engagements with 
Spanish ships, they insisted upon his. fighting with 
them. Having spent the summer in this way, 
th^ carried hita to Rochelle, where, notwith- 
standing their promises to remunerate him for all 
his losses by giving him a share of their prizes, 
they detained him a prisoner on board a vessel in 
the harbor. 

They accused him of having burnt the French 
settlements at Port Royal in 1613 (which was 
the act of Captain Argali),* and endeavored to 
compel him to give them a discharge in full for 
all demands before the Judge of the Admiralty, 
threatening him with imprisonment in case he 

fefiised. While he was deliberating upon this 

• — • - 

* See Holmes's American Annals^ for the year 1619. 



364 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

proposal, Providence held out to him the means 
of making his escape, without any violence to 
bis sense of justice, or any degradation to his 
pride. A violent storm arose, whose "pitiless 
pelting '^ drove all the people below ; and, as soon 
as it was dark, Captain Smith pushed off from 
the ship in a boat, with a half-pike for an oar, 
hoping to reach the shore. But he fell upon a 
strong current which carried him out to sea, where 
be was exposed to great danger, in a small, crazy 
boat, when the storm was so violent as to strew the 
coast with wrecks. Twelve hours he passed in 
this fearful state, expecting every moment to be 
swallowed up by the waves; till by the returning 
tide he was thrown upon a marshy island, where 
he was found by some fowlers, nearly drowned 
and totally exhausted with cold, fatigue, and hun- 
ger. By pawning his boat, he found the means 
of conveyance to Rochelle, where he learned 
that the ship which had captured him, with one of 
her prizes, had been driven ashore, and the cap- 
tain and one half the crew drowned. 

On landing at Rochelle, he lodged a complaint 
with the Judge of the Admiralty, and supported 
his claims by the evidence of some of the sailors, 
who had escaped from the wreck of the French 
ship. We are not informed what was the final 
result of this process ; but he received from the 
bands of the Judge a certificate of the truth pf 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 365 

his statement, which he presented to the English 
ambassador at Bordeaux. Both at this place 
and Rochelle he found much sympathy, and 
received many friendly offices; among others, he 
says, " the good lady Madam Chanoyes bounti- 
fully assisted me." He returned to England, we 
are not told at what time, but probably in the lat- 
ter part of the year 1615, and, proceeding to Ply- 
mouth, took measures to punish the ringleaders of 
the mutiny among his crew. 

While he had been detained on board the 
French pirate, in order, as he says, " to keep my 
perplexed thoughts from too much meditation of 
my miserable estate," he employed himself in 
writing a narrative of his two voyages to New 
England, and an account of the country. This 
was published in a quarto form, in June, 1616. 
It contained his map. of the country, and the de- 
positions of some of the men, who were on board 
his ship, when he was detained and carried off by 
the French, inserted, as he says, " lest my own 
relations of those hard events might by some con- 
structors be made doubtful, envy still seeking to 
scandalize my endeavors, and seeing no power 
but death can stop the chat of ill tongues." As 
a proof of his indefatigable zeal ^ in the promotion 
of his favorite object, he spent the whole summer 
in journeying about in the West of England, dis- 
tributing copies of this book (seven thousand in 



number, Bceas^og to bis aw& ooecmoly) moi^ all 
f&aosm of aoy note, and ^M^mmig to awak^eii 
pa iotera^ in the subject ol seti&E% Aw^&m> 
Slut, be says, ^^^1 ai^^aiied m fiMve tbanu %o bMr 
.lop]^ with QfsiifiT^h§)i$f 90 daqpoii^Qg wene 
Ibe minds of ineo on aceount <^ tbe i^-wecmis 
jpibich bad attended so mmj ^oteifp^Qes of ibtf 
joplwe. Ho j^s^d, bowever, an abuHfliM bu^ 
^▼j^ of pfomises, and tbe Pljmoptb oomf^ingr* m 
token of their respect lor im pmrmet^ Ibtmsfly 
4Gmfen^ upon mm tbe titlod^f JUmini ^ Mew 

\ Captain Smitb'^s ^pork <m Now E^^and mis Amb 
iSnt to recommend that cow^ aa a fiace of 
settlement) and to disabuse the pubSo IxMiid of the 
:Oiraieous imfNTesaipiis wUch had «(imi 6om tl|e 
dismal accounts of the settlers, B^Jifit trotoisi^ 
after the failure of Popham's exped]&>n, and who 
had represented the whole country as a cold, 
rocky, and barren waste. It is evidently written 
in the spirit of an advocate, and not of a judge, 
and is tinged throughout with the sanguine tem- 
perament of its author. Still it is never visionary 
or wild ; it is full of good sense, accurate observa- 
tion, and a sagacity that sometimes abnost assumes 
the shape of prophecy. No one can read it with- 
out admiration of this extraordinary roan, in whom 
the powers of action, reflection, and observation 
were so harmoniously blended. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 367 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Visit of Pocahontas to England. — Captain 
Smiths Interview with her. — Death of Poca^ 
hontas. 

The order of events in the life of Captain 
Smith again associates him with Pocahontas. Af- 
ter his departure from Virginia she continued to be 
the firm friend of the settlers, as before. In 1610, 
when Ratcliffe and thirty men were cut oflF by 
Powhatan, a boy named Henry Spilman was 
saved by her means, and lived many years among 
the Potomacs. We next hear of her in 1612, 
when Captain Argall, who had gone on a trading 
voyage to the country of the Potomacs, learnt 
from Japazaws, their chief, that she was living in 
seclusion near him, having forsaken her father's 
dominions and protection. 

We are not informed of the reasons which in- 
duced her to take this step. It has been conjec- 
tured that her well-known afifection for the Eng- 
lish bad given displeasure to her father, or that 
her sensibility was pained at witnessing the 
bloody wars which he waged against them, with- 
out her having the power of alleviating their 
horrors. When Captain Argall heard of this, he 
perceived how advantageous to the settlers It 



368 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

would be to obtain possession of her person, and 
that so valuable a prize would enable them to 
dictate their own terras to Powhatan. He pre- 
vailed upon Japazaws to lend him his assistance 
in this project, by that most irresistible bribe in an 
Indian's eyes, a copper kettle ; assuring him at the 
same time that she should not be harmed, and 
that they would detain her only till they had con- 
cluded a peace with her father. The next thing 
was to induce her to go on board Argall's ship, 
and the artifice by which this was brought about, 
is curious and characteristic of the Indian race. 
Japazaws ordered his wife to ajSfect, in the pres- 
ence of Pocahontas, a great desire to visit the 
English ship; which she accordingly did, and 
acted her part so well, that when he refused to 
gratify her and threatened to beat her for her im- 
portunity, she cried from apparent vexation and 
disappointment. Wearied at last by her exces- 
sive entreaties, he told her that he would go with 
her if Pocahontas would consent to accompany 
them, to which proposal she with unsuspecting 
good-nature signified her assent. They were re- 
ceived on board by the captain and hospitably 
entertained in the cabin, " Japazaws treading oft 
on the captain's foot, to remember he had done 
his part." When Pocahontas was informed that 
she was a prisoner, and must go to Jamestown and 
be detained till a peace could be concluded with 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH, 369 

her father, she wept bitterly, and the old hypo- 
crite Japazaws and his wife set up a most dismal 
cry, as if this were the first intimation they had 
ever had of the plot. Pocahontas, however, soon 
recovered her composure, either from the sweet 
equanimity of her character, or because she felt 
that her reception and treatment by the English 
could not be any thing but kind and friendly. 
The old couple were sent home, happy in the 
possession of their kettle and various toys. 

As soon as Pocahontas arrived at Jamestown, a 
messenger was despatched to Powhatan informing 
him of the fact, and that she would be restored to 
him only on condition that he should give up all 
his English captives, swords, muskets, and the 
like. This was sad news to Powhatan ; but the 
demands of the English were so exorbitant, that 
he returned no answer to their proposals for the 
space of three months. He then liberated and sent 
home seven of his captives, each carrying a rusty, 
worn-out musket, with a message, that if they 
would give up his daughter, he would make satis- 
faction for all the injuries he had done, present 
them with five hundred bushels of com, and ever 
be their friend. It was not thought expedient 
to trust to his promises; and an answer was 
accordingly returned to him, that his daughter 
should be well treated, but that they should not 
restore her till he sent back all the arms which he 

VOL. II. 24 



870 AMERICAK BIOCIRAPHT. 

bad ever, hj aoy means, obtsuned from them. 
Tbb displeased Powhatan so much, that they 
beard no more from him for a long time. 

In the beginning of the year 1613, Sir Thomas 
Dale, taking Pocahontas with him, marched with 
a hundred and fifty men to Werowocomoco in- 
lending to compel Powhatan to ransom his daugh- 
ter on the proposed terms. The chief himself did 
not appear ; but his people received the English 
with scornful bravadoes, tellmg them^ that if they 
came to fight, they were welcome, and should be 
treated as Captain Ratclifib and his party had 
been. These were not words to ** turn away 
wrath," and the boats were immediately manned, 
and a party landed, who burned and laid waste 
every thing they could find, not without resistance 
on the part of the Indians. After this, much time 
was spent in fruitless negotiation, and in mutual 
reproaches and defiance. Two brothers of Poca- 
hontas came to see her, and were very happy to 
find her well and contented. Two messengers, 
Mr. John Rolfe and Mr. Sparks, were also de- 
spatched from the English to Powhatan. They 
did not see the chief himself, but were kindly treat- 
ed by Opechancanough, who promised them to 
use his influence with his brother to induce him to 
comply with their wishes. The English returned 
to Jamestown to attend to their agricultural labors 
without bringing matters to any definite result. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 371 

The troubles between Powhatan and the Eng- 
lish were soon to be healed by the intervention 
of a certain blind god, who, if tales be true, has 
had a large share in the management of the great- 
est concerns o{ the woild. A mutual attach- 
ment had long existed between Pocahontas and 
Bir. John Rolfe, who is said to have been an 
^^ honest gentleman and of good behavior." He 
had conGded hb hopes and fears to Sir Thomas 
Dale, who gave him warm encouragement ; and 
Pocahontas had also " told her love " to one of 
her brothers. Powhatan was duly • informed of 
thb, and his consent requested for their marriage, 
which he immediately and cheerfully gave, and 
sent his brother and two of his sons to be present 
at the ceremony and to act as his deputies. 

The marriage took place in the beginning of 
April, 1613, and was a most auspicious event to 
the English. It laid the foundation of a peace 
with Powhatan, which lasted as long as his life, 
and secured the friendly alliance of the Chicka- 
bominies, a brave and powerful race, who con- 
sented to call themselves subjects of King James, 
to assbt the colonbts in war, and to pay an annual 
tnbute of Indian com. 

In the spring of 1616, Pocahontas and her hus- 
band accompanied Sir Thomas Dale to England. 
She had learned to speak English during her resi- 
dence in Jamestown, had been instructed in the 



37S AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

doctrines of Christianity, and ^^ was become very 
formal and civil after the English manner." 
They arrived in England on the 12th of June, 
1616, where her name and merits had preceded 
her, and secured her the attentions and hospitali- 
ties of many persons of rank and influence. As 
soon as Captain Smith heard of her arrival, he ad- 
dressed the following letter to Queen Anne, the 
wife of James the First. 

'^ To the most high and virtuotu Princess 
Queen Anne of Great Britain, 

" Most admired Queen, 
" The love I bear my God, my king, and coun- 
try, hath so oft emboldened me in the worst of ex- 
treme dangers, that now honesty doth constrain 
me to presume thus far beyond myself, to pre- 
sent your majesty this short discourse. If ingrati- 
tude be a deadly poison to all honest virtues, I 
must be guilty of that crime, if I should omit any 
means to be thankful. So it is, that some ten years 
ago, being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the 
power of Powhatan, their chief king, I received 
from this great savage exceeding great courtesy, 
especially from his son Nantaquas, the most manli- 
est, comliest, boldest spirit, I ever saw in a savage, 
and his sister Pocahontas, the king's most dear 
and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of 
twelve or thirteen years of age, whose compas- 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 373 

sionate, pitiful heart, of desperate estate, gave me 
mucb cause to respect her; I being the first 
Christian thb proud king and his grim attendants 
ever saw ; and thus enthralled in their barbarous 
power, I cannot say I felt the least occasion of 
want that was in the power of those my mortal 
toes to prevent, notwithstanding all their threats. 

^' After some six w&eks fatting amongst those 
savage courtiers, at the minute of my execution, 
she hazarded the beating out of her own brains to 
save mine ; and not only that, but so prevailed 
with her father, that I was safely conducted to 
Jamestown, where I found about eight and thirty 
miserable, poor, and sick creatures, to keep pos- 
session -of all those large territories of Virginia ; 
such was the weakness of this poor common- 
wealth, as, had the savages not fed us, we direct- 
ly had starved. 

'^And this relief, most gracious queen, was 
commonly brought us by this lady, Pocahontas. 
Notwithstanding all these passages when incon- 
stant fortune turned our peace to war, this tender 
virgin would still not spare to dare to idsit us ; and 
by her our jars have been oft appeased, and our 
wants still supplied. Were it the policy of her 
fiither thus to employ her, or the ordinance of 
(jod thus to make her his instrument, or her ex- 
tiracMrdinary afi^tion to our nation, I know not. 
But ot thb I am sure ; when her father, with the 



374 AMERICAK BIOGRAPHY. 

Utmost of his policy and power, sought to surprise 
me, having but eighteen with me, the dark 
night could not affright her from coming through 
the irksome woods, and with watered eyes gave 
me intelligence, with her best advice to escape 
his fury ; which had he known, he had surely 
slain her. Jamestown, with her wild train, she as 
freely frequented, as her dither's habitation ; and, 
during the time of two or three years, she next 
under God was still the instrument to preserve 
this colony from death, famine, and utter confu- 
sion, which if in those times had once been dis- 
solved, Virginia might have lain as it was at our 
first arrival to this day. 

^^ Since then, this business having been turned 
and varied by many accidents from that I left it 
at, it is most certain, after a long and trouble- 
some war after my departure betwixt her fath- 
er and our colony, all which time she was not 
heard of, about two years after she herself was 
taken prisoner ; being so detained near two years 
longer, the colony by that means was relieved, 
peace concluded, and at last rejecting her barba- 
rous condition, was married to an English gentle, 
man, with whom at present she is in England; 
the first Christian ever of that nation, the first 
Virginian ever spake English, or had a child in 
marriage by an Englishman, a matter surely, if 
my meaning be truly considered and well under- 
stood, worthy a prince's understanding. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 37S 

'^ Thus, most gracious lady, I have related to 
your majesty, what at your best leisure our ap« 
proved histories will account you at large, and 
done in the time of your Majesty's life ; and 
however this might be presented you^ from a more 
worthy pen, it cannot come from a more honest 
heart, as yet I never begged any thing of the 
state or any ; and it is my want of ability and 
ber exceeding desert, your birth, means, and au- 
thority, her birth, virtue, want, and simplicity 
doth make me thus bold, humbly to beseech your 
majesty to take this knowledge of her, though 
it be from one so unworthy to be the reporter as 
myself, her husband's estate not being able to 
make her fit to attend your majesty. The most 
and least I can do, is to tell you this, because 
none hath so oft tried it as myself; and the 
rather being of so great a spirit, however her 
stature. If she should not be well received, see- 
ing this kingdom may rightly have a kingdom by 
her means, her present love to us and Christianity 
might turn to such scorn and {uty, as to divert 
all this good to the worst of evil ; where finding so 
great a queen should do her some honor more 
than she can imagine, for being so kind to your ser- 
vants and subjects, would so ravish her with con- 
tent, as endear her dearest blood to effect that, 
your majesty and all the king's honest subjects 
most earnestly desire. And so I humbly kiss 
your gracious hands." 



376 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Captain Smith gives us a few details of the 
residence of Pocahontas in England, and an ac- 
count of his own interview with her, which the 
reader will probably prefer to read without any 
alteration. ^^ Being about this time preparing to 
set sail for New England," he says, " I could not 
stay to do her that service I desired and she well 
deserved ; but hearing she was at Bcanford 
[Brentford] with divers of my fnends, I went 
to see her. After a modest salutation, without 
any word, she turned about, obscured her face, 
as not seeming well contented ; and in that hu- 
mor, her husband with divers others, we all left 
her two or three hours, repenting myself to have 
writ she could speak English. But not long 
after, she began to talk, and remembered me well 
what courtesies she had done ; saying, * You did 
promise Powhatan what was yours should be his, 
and he the like to you ; you called him father 
being in his land a stranger, and by the same 
reason so must I do you ; ' which though I would 
have excused, I durst not allow of that title, be- 
cause she was a king's daughter, with a well-set 
countenance, she said, ' Were you not afraid to 
come into my father's country, and caused fear 
in him and all his people but me, and fear you 
here I should call you father ? I tell you then I 
will, and you shall call me child, and so I will be 
for ever and ever your countryman. They did 



an 



teD OS ahnrs inm we deadL and I knew no 
odier tfll I came id FlriDoiitli : Tct Powtianun did 
CGamuuid Unamattimikkin to se^ you and know 
the tmd^ because your ccOTmenwiU lie much.' 
"Hus savmse, one of Powtiatan's council, 
being amongst tbem hekl an understanding fel- 
k>w, the King puqioselv sent Um, as they say, 
to number the peojrfe here, and inibnn him well 
what we were and our state. Airiving at Ply- 
mouth, acc(»ding to his directicMis, he got a long 
stick, whereon by notches he did think to have 
kept the number of all the men he could see, 
but he was quickly weary] of that task.* Com- 
ing to London, where by chance I met him, 
having renewed our acquaintance, where many 
were desirous to hear and see his behavior, he 
told me Powhatan did bid him to find me out 
to show him our God, the king, queen, and 
prince, I so much had told them of. Concerning 
God, I told him the best I could ; the king, I 
heard he had seen, and the rest he should see 
when he would. He denied ever to have seen 
the king, till by circumstances he was satisfied 
he had. Then he replied very sadly, * You 

* When he returned to Virginia, it in ftatcfd, that 
Powhatan asked him how many people there wore in 
Eni^d, and that he replied, ^ Count the fftam in Um nkj^ 
the leaves on the trees, and the sand apon the im%Mu$fm^ 
Boch is the munber of people in England^—' HliUh^ p« i4C 



378 AMERICAN BIOGHAPHT. 

gave Powhatan a white dog, which Powhatan 
fed as himself, but your king gave me nothings 
and I am better than your white dog.' 

^^The small lime I staid in London divers 
courtiers and others, my acquaintances, have gone 
with me to see her, that generally concluded they 
did think God had a great hand in her conver- 
inon, and they have seen many English la£es 
worse favored, proportioned, and behaviored; 
and, as since I have heard, it pleased both the 
king and queen's majesties honorably to esteem 
her, accompanied with that honorable lady, 
the Lady Delaware, and that honorable lord, 
her husband, and divers other persons of good 
qualities, both publicly at the masks and other- 
vnse, to her great satisfaction and content, which 
doubtless she would have deserved, had she 
lived to arrive in Virginia." 

Pocahontas, or the Lady Rebecca, as she 
was now called,* was destined never to leave 
the country, which had become her own by adop- 
tion, nor to gladden again the eyes of her 
aged father, whose race of life was almost 

* Perhaps it is not generally known that her true and 
original name was Matoax or Matoaka, which the In- 
dians carefully concealed from the English under the 
assumed one of Pocahontas, having a superstitious no^ 
tion, that, if they knew her real name, they would be 
able to do her some mischief. — Stithy p. 136. 



CAFTAIV JOHH SMITH. 379 

iiiD.f Eaily in the year 1617, as she was prepar- 
ing to return to Yiiginia, she was taken sick at 
(jiavesend and died, being then about twenty- 
two yeais old. The firmness and resignatioQ 
with which she met her death bore testimcxiy 
to the sincerity of the religious principles, which 
she had Icxig professed. 

It b difficult to speak of the character of 
Pocahontas, without falling into extravagance. 
Though our whcde knowledge of her is confined 
to a few briUiant aod striking incidents, yet there 
is in them so complete a consistency, that reason, 
as well as imagination, permits us to construct 
the whole character from these occasional mani- 
festations. She seams to have possessed every 
quality essential to the perfection of the female 
character ; the most graceful modesty, the most 
Trinning sensibility, strong affections, tenderness 
and delicacy of feeling, dovelike gentleness, and 
most entire disinterestedness. These beautifiil 
qualities were not in her nurtured and trained by 
the influences of refined life, but were the native 
and spontaneous growth of her heart and soul. 

Her mind had not been formed and fed by 
books, or the conversation of the gifted and culti* 
vated ; the nameless graces of. polished life had 
not surrounded her from her birth and created 

tHe died in the spring of 1618, probably botweea 
seventy and eighty years of age. 



380 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

that tact in manner and deportment, and becom- 
ing propriety in carriage and conversation, which 
all well-bred people, however differing originally 
in refinement and delicacy of perception, seem 
to possess in about the same degree ; nor had the 
coarse forms of actual life been, to her eyes, con- 
cealed by the elegant drapery which civilization 
throws over them. From her earliest years 
she had been familiar with rude ways of living, 
uncouth habits and lawless passions. Yet she 
seems to have been, from the first, a being dis- 
tinct firom and unlike her people, though in the 
midst of them. She reminds one of a delicate 
wild-flower, growing up in the cleft of a rock, 
where the eye can discern no soil for its roots 
to grasp, and sustain its slender stalk. We 
behold her as she came fix)m the hands of her 
Maker, who seems to have created her in 
a spirit of rebuke to the pride of civilization, 
giving to an Indian girl, reared in the depths 
of a Virginian forest, that symmetry of fem- 
inine loveliness, which we but seldom see, with 
all our helps and appliances, and all that moral 
machinery with which we work upon the raw 
material of character. 

But in our admiration of what is lovely and 
attractive in the character of Pocahontas, we 
must not overlook the higher moral qualities, 
which command respect almost to reverence. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 381 

Moral courage, dignity, and independence are 
among her most conspicuous traits. Before we 
can do justice to them we must take into con- 
sideration the circumstances under which they 
were displayed. At the time when the English 
first appeared in Virginia, she was a child 
but twelve or thirteen years old. These for- 
midable strangers immediately awakened in the 
breasts of her people the strongest passions of 
hatred and fear, and Captain Smith, in particular, 
was looked upon as a being whose powers of 
injuring them were irresistible and superhuman. 
What could have been more natural than that 
this young girl should have had all these feelings 
exaggerated by the creative imagination of child- 
hood, that Captain Smith should have haunted 
her dreams, and that she should not have had the 
courage to look upon the man to whom her 
excited fancy had given an outward appearance 
corresponding to his frightful attributes ? 

But the very first act of her life, as known to 
us, puts her far above the notions and prejudices 
of her people, and stamps at once a seal of mark- 
ed superiority upon her character. And from 
this elevation she never descends. Her motives 
are peculiar to herself, and take no tinge from the 
passions and opinions around her. She thinks 
and acts for herself, and does not hesitate, when 
thereto constrained, to leave her father, and trust 



883 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

for protection to that respect, which was awaken- 
ed alike by her high birth and high character 
among the whole Indian race. It is certainly a 
remarkable combination which we see in her, of 
gentleness and sweetness with strength of mind, 
decision, and firm consistency of purpose, and 
would be so in any female, reared under the 
most favorable influences. 

The lot of Pocahontas may be considered a 
happy one, notwithstanding the pang which her 
affectionate nature must have felt, in being called 
so early to part from her husband and child. 
It was her good fortune to be the instrument, in 
the hand of Providence, for bringing about a 
league of peace and amity between her own 
nation and the English, a consummation most 
agreeable to her taste and feelings. The many 
favors, which she bestowed upon the colonists, 
' were by them gratefully acknowledged, and 
obtained for her a rich harvest of attentions in 
England. Her name and deeds have not been 
suffered to pass out of the minds of men, nor are 
they discerned only by the glimmering light of 
tradition. Captain Smith seems to have repaid 
the vast debt of gratitude which he owed her, by 
the immortality which his eloquent and feeling 
pen has given her. Who has not heard the 
beautiful story of her heroism, and who, that has 
heard it, has not felt his heart throb quick with 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 383 

generpus admiration? She has become one of 
the darlings of history, and her name is as familiar 
as a household word to the numerous and power- 
fiil descendants of the " feeble folk," whom she 
protected and befriended. 

Her own blood flows in the veins of many 
honorable families, who trace back with pride 
their descent from this daughter of a despised 
people. She has been a powerful, though silent 
advocate in behalf of the race to which she be- 
longed. Her deeds have covered a multitude of 
their sins. When disgusted with numerous reci- 
tals of their cruelty and treachery, and about to 
pass an unfavorable judgment in our minds upon 
the Indian character, at the thought of Pocahon- 
tas our "rigor relents." With a softened heart 
we are ready to admit that there must have been 
fine elements in a people, from among whom such 
a being could spring.''*' 

* The child of Pocahontas was left behind in England 
and did not accompany his father to Virginia, his tender 
years rendering a sea-voyage dangerous and inexpe- 
dient, without a naother's watchful care. He was left in 
charge of Sir Lewis Steukley, whose treacherous con- 
duct to Sir Walter Raleigh has given him an infamous 
notoriety. Young Rolfe was afterwards transferred to 
the care of his uncle, Henry Rolfe, in London. He came 
to Virginia afterwards, and was a person of consequence 
and consideration there. He left an only daughter, who 
was mairied to Colonel Robert Boiling, by whom she 



384 AMERICAN BIOORAPHT. 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Captain Smithes Examination by ihe Commit^ 
sioners for the Reformation of Virginia. — 
His Death, — His Character. 

Captain Smith, in his account of his interview 
with Pocahontas in the early part of 1617, speaks 
of his being on the eve of sailing for New England. 
This confident expectation was probably founded 
on a promise of the Plymouth company to send 
him out, in the spring of that year, with a fleet of 
twenty ships. But this promise was never kept, 
and Captain Smith, so far as is known to us, pass- 
ed the remainder of his life in England. But, 
though his body was there, his spirit was in Amer- 
ica ; and he was unwearied in his endeavors to 
encourage his countrymen to settle in that country. 

had an only son, Major John Boiling, who was father to 
Colonel John Boiling and several daughters. These 
were married to Colonel Richard Randolph, Colonel 
John Fleming, Dr. William Gay, Mr. Thomas Eldridge, 
and Mr. James Murray. 

The above is taken from Stith, who adds, " that this 
remnant of the imperial family of Virginia, which long 
ran in a single person, is now increased and branched out 
into a very numerous progeny." Her descendants are nu- 
merous in Virginia at this day. Among them, as is well 
known, was the late gifled and eccentric John Randolph 
of Roanoke, who was not a little proud of the distinction. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMIT^. 385 

The 27th day of March, 1622, was rendered 
memorable by the dreadful massacre of the Eng- 
lish settlers at Jamestown, by the Indians under 
the direction and by the instigation of Opechan- 
canough, who had succeeded to Powhatan's pow- 
er and influence over his countrymen, and who 
was compounded of treachery, cruelty, and dissim- 
ulation. The design had been for a long time 
formed and matured with deliberate skill and fore- 
thought. The English were entirely unsuspicious 
and defenceless, and three hundred and forty-seven 
of them were cruelly slain. The massacre was 
conducted with unsparing and indiscriminate bar- 
barity. Six of the council were among the victims. 

This disastrous event threw the whole colony 
into mourning and gave to its progress and pros- 
perity a blow, from the effects of which it was 
long in recovering. The news created a great 
excitement in England, and Captain Smith, in 
particular, was deeply affected by this misfor- 
tune, which happened to a colony, whose recent 
flourishing condition he had contemplated with so 
much pride and satisfaction. He was desirous of 
going over to Virginia in person, to avenge the 
outrage. He made proposals to the company, 
that if they would allow him one hundred soldiers 
and thirty sailors, with necessary provisions and 
equipments, he would range the country, and 
keep the savages under subjection and in check. 

VOL. II. 25 



386 Al^ERICAN BIOGRAPKT. 

Upon tbb proposal there was a division of 
opinioii in the council, some being warmly in 
&vor of it, while others were too avaricious and 
short-sighted to lay out present money for future 
and contingent good. The only answer which 
Captain Smith could obtain from them was, that 
their capital was too much exhausted to undertake 
so expensive a plan, that they thought it was the 
duty of the planters themselves to provide for their 
own defence, and that they would give him per- 
mission to go on such an enterprise, provided he 
would be content with one half of the pillage for 
hb share. This pitiful ofier was rejected with the 
contempt which it deserved. Captain Smith says 
he would not give twenty pounds for all the pil- 
lage, which could be obtained from the savages 
in twenty years. 

The calamities of the colony in Virginia and 
the dissensions of the company in England having 
been represented to King James, a commission 
was issued on the 9th of May, 1623, under the 
great seal of England to certain of the Judges and 
other persons of distinction, seven in number, 
giving authority to them, or any four of them, to 
examine the transactions of the company from its 
first establishment, report to the Privy Council all 
grievances and abuses, and suggest any plan by 
which they might be remedied, and the aiBfadrs of 
the colony be well managed in future. Seve- 



CAlPtAIN JOHN SMITH* 387 

ral queslioBs were propounded by these com- 
missioners to Captain Smith, which, together 
with his answers, he has bknself preserved. 
These answers are marked by his usual good 
sense, sagacity, and perfect knowledge of the 
subject. He ascribes the misfortunes of the 
Gokmy to the rapid successicm of governors, to the 
ntftnerous and costly offices with which they 
were burdened, and to the fact that their afiairs 
ill England were managed by an association far too 
numerous to be efficient, the majority of whom 
were bent upon nothing but their own gain. 

As is well known, King James, in 1624, 
dissolved the Virginia company, arrogated to 
himself their powers, and issued a special com- 
mission, appointing a governor and twelve coun- 
sellors, to whom the whole government of the 
colony wa» entrusted, and making no provision 
for a house of representatives. His death 
taking place soon after, King Charles immedi- 
ately upon his accession to the throne, published 
a proclamation, in which he signified his entire as** 
sent to the changes introduced into the admin- 
istration of the colony by his father, and his 
determinati(Hi to make its government depend 
entirely upon himself. He declared, that the 
whole administration should be vested in a 
council, nominated and directed by himself, and 
responsible to him alone. 



378 1.MERIC1.N BIOGH1.PHT* 

gave Powhatan a white dog, which Powhatan 
fed as himself, but your king gave me nothings 
and I am better than your white dog.' 

^^The small lime I staid in London divers 
courtiers and others, my acquaintances, have gone 
with me to see her, that generally concluded they 
did think God had a great hand in her conver- 
sion, and they have seen many Ekiglbh ladies 
worse favored, proportioned, and behaviored; 
and, as since I have heard, it pleased both the 
king and queen's majesties honorably to esteem 
her, accompanied with that honorable lady, 
the Lady Delaware, and that honorable lord, 
her husband, and divers other persons of good 
qualities, both publicly at the masks and other- 
wise, to her great satisfaction and content, which 
doubtless she would have deserved, had she 
lived to arrive in Virginia." 

Pocahonlas, or the Lady Rebecca, as she 
was now called,* was destined never to leave 
the country, which had become her own by adop- 
tion, nor to gladden again the eyes of her 
aged father, whose race of life was almost 

* Perhaps it is not generally known that her true and 
original name was Matoax or Matoaka, which the In- 
dians carefully concealed from the English under the 
assumed one of Pocahontas, having a superstitious no- 
tion, that, if they knew her real name, they would be 
able to do her some mischief. — StUh, p. 136. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 379 

run.f Early in the year 1617, as she was prepar- 
ing to return to Virginia, she was taken sick at 
Gravesend and died, being then about twenty- 
two years old. The firmness and resignation 
with which she met her death bore testimony 
to the sincerity of the religious principles, which 
she had long professed. 

It is difficult to speak of the character of 
Pocahontas, without falling into extravagance. 
Though our whole knowledge of her is confined 
to a few brilliant aud striking incidents, yet there 
is in them so complete a consistency, that reason, 
as well as imagination, permits us to construct 
the whole character from these occasional mani- 
festations. She seems to have possessed every 
quality essential to the perfection of the female 
character ; the most graceful modesty, the most 
winning sensibility, strong affections, tenderness 
and delicacy of feeling, dovelike gentleness, and 
most entire disinterestedness. These beautifiil 
qualities were not in her nurtured and trained by 
the influences of refined life, but were the native 
and spontaneous growth of her heart and soul. 

Her mind had not been formed and fed by 
books, or the conversation of the gifted and culti- 
vated ; the nameless graces of. polished life had 
not surrounded her from her birth and created 

t He died in the spring of 1618, probably between 
seventy and eighty years of age. 



380 1.MERIC1.N BIOGRAPHY. 

that tact in manner and deportment, and becom- 
ing propriety in carriage and conversation, which 
all well-bred people, however differing originally 
in refinement and delicacy of perception, seem 
to possess in about the same degree ; nor had the 
coarse forms of actual life been, to her eyes, con- 
cealed by the elegant drapery which civilization 
throws over them. From her earliest years 
she had been familiar with rude ways of living, 
uncouth habits and lawless passions. Yet she 
seems to have been, from the first, a being dis- 
tinct from and unlike her people, though in the 
midst of them. She reminds one of a delicate 
wild-flower, growing up in the cleft of a rock, 
where the eye can discern no soil for its roots 
to grasp, and sustain its slender stalk. We 
behold her as she came from the hands of her 
Maker, who seems to have created her in 
a spirit of rebuke lo the pride of civilization, 
giving to an Indian girl, reared in the depths 
of a Virginian forest, that symmetry of fem- 
inine loveliness, which we but seldom see, with 
all our helps and appliances, and all that moral 
machinery with which we work upon the raw 
material of character. 

But in our admiration of what is lovely and 
attractive in the character of Pocahontas, we 
must not overlook the higher moral qualities, 
which command respect almost to reverence. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 381 

Moral courage, dignity, and independence are 
among her most conspicuous traits. Before we 
can do justice to them we must take into con- 
sideration the circumstances under which they 
were displayed. At the time when the English 
first appeared in Virginia, she was a child 
but twelve or thirteen years old. These for- 
midable strangers immediately awakened in the 
breasts of her people the strongest passions of 
hatred and fear, and Captam Smith, in particular, 
was looked upon as a being whose powers of 
injuring them were irresistible and superhuman. 
What could have been more natural than that 
this young girl should have had all these feelings 
exaggerated by the creative imagination of child- 
hood, that Captain Smith should have haunted 
her dreams, and that she should not have had the 
courage to look upon the man to whom her 
excited fancy had given an outward appearance 
corresponding to his frightful attributes ? 

But the very first act of her life, as known to 
us, puts her far above the notions and prejudices 
of her people, and stamps at once a seal of mark- 
ed superiority upon her character. And from 
this elevation she never descends. Her motives 
are peculiar to herself, and take no tinge from the 
passions and opinions around her. She thinks 
and acts for herself, and does not hesitate, when 
thereto constrained, to leave her father, and trust 



393 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

worldly advancement, being content to point out 
to others the way to wealth, while be remained 
poor himself. He never coveted official dignity ; 
and, when he obtained it, he made it no excuse for 
indolence or self-indulgence, and did not regard it 
as of so delicate a texture as to render a dignified 
and lofty seclusion necessary to preserve it unim- 
pcdred. He was never actuated by the motives 
or spirit of a hireling. 

We have seen him in Virginia struggling against 
a host of difficulties, contending, not only with 
those natural obstacles which he might reason- 
ably have expected, but with mutiny, treachery, 
and disaffection in the colony and base injustice 
and persecution at home ; yet never abandoning 
his post in disgust and despair, but, for the sake 
of the settlement, doing every thing and suffering 
every thing. And what was his conduct on his 
return ? He showed no peevish resentment and 
betrayed none of the irritation of disappointment. 
He never magnified his own wrongs nor the ill- 
treatment of the company. He did not write 
pamphlets to beg of the public the consolation of 
their sympathy, and to pour into the general ear 
the lale of his great merits and great neglect. His 
conduct was magnanimous, dignified, and noble. 
Strong in the confidence of innocence, he made 
no appeal and attempted no justification. He 
continued, as before, the active and zealous firiend 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 393 

of the colony at Jamestown, and of all similar 
projects. 

He frequently volunteered his own personal 
services, and twice sailed to the coast of New 
England. By the writing and distribution of 
pamphlets, and by personal exertions, he diffused 
information among all classes upon the subject of 
America ; enforcing eloquently its advantages as 
a place either for trade or for permanent settle- 
ment, and appealing, in its behalf, to avarice, am- 
bition, enterprise, and that noble spirit of benevo- 
lent self-sacrifice, which dwelt in bosoms kindred 
to his own. Never was a scheme for obtaining 
wealth or personal aggrandizement pursued by 
any individual with more fervor and singleness of 
purpose, and never was one crowned with more 
splendid success, though he hhnself ^^ died before 
the sight." 

Captain Smith must have been something 
more than mortal, had he possessed so many 
brilliant and substantial good qualities without 
any tincture of alloy. The frankness of his 
character reveals to us his faults no less than his 
virtues. He was evidently a man of an impa- 
tient and irritable temperament, expecting to find, 
in every department of life, the prompt and un- 
hesitating character of military obedience. He 
had keen sensibility and lively feelings, and was 
apt to regard as studied neglect or intentional hos- 



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-• Notbiiig ii riDKM . JiflkMh>vAfi^''.ip^ ' tmy MttKt*. 
jOMMofitiBB, 10 Ut Ast anctflMftim =rf'itii|iiii 
In^fHMOl io odieM^'tfldiiiUefaiieqfQd^iiiMi^^ 

■tosB geo6ftted bj undiia bci6ooi^rf<6K*ini|)iiffliafa>i 

We have Captain Smith's own authority that he 
had a great many enemies. These were un- 
doubtedly made by his haughty bearing, his uncom* 
promising freedom of speech, the warmth of his 
temper, and the impatience of his blood. His 
resentments were lively, his antipathies strong, 
and prudence had never dictated to him to refrain 
from the expression of them. 

There is one circumstance which may serve 
to palliate some of these weaknesses' in Captain 
Smith. His birth was nothing more than re* 
spectable in an age when the greatest importance 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 396 

was attached to nobility. It is easy to perceive 
that this peculiarity in his fortunes may have pro- 
duced in him a soreness of feeling and jealousy 
of temper ; may have made him suspicious and 
fearful, lest he should not receive from others the 
respect and consideration, which he knew were 
due to his personal merit. This inequality be- 
tween one's lot and one's merits and wishes is a 
severe trial of character, and, in men of high 
spirit, is apt to beget a morbid sensitiveness and 
pride, a surly independence of manner, and a 
painful uneasiness lest their dignity should be 
ruffled by too familiar contact. To this source 
is undoubtedly to be ascribed much of that tart'' 
ness of expression which we find frequently in hi0 
writings, and of that haughtiness which we have 
every reason to suppose was characteristic of his 
deportment. 

Those who have read this biography will, I 
think, be ready to allow, that the debt of gratitude 
which we of this country owe to Captain Smith 
can hardly be exaggerated. With the excep- 
tioa of Sir Walter Raleigh (and perhaps Richard 
Hakluyt) no one did so much towards colonizing 
and settling the coast of North America. The 
state of Virginia is under peculiar obligations 
to him as its virtual founder ; since, without his 
remarkable personal qualities and indefatigable 
exertk)nsy the colony at Jamestown could never 



896 ▲MERICl.N BIOGRAPHY. 

have taken root. In reading the history of his 
administration, we are made to feel in regard to 
him, as we do in regard to Washington, when we 
contemplate the events of the American Revolu- 
tion ; that he was a being specially appointed by 
divine Providence to accomplish the work en- 
trusted to him. He was exactly fitted for the 
place which he filled, and not one of his many 
remarkable gifts could have been spared without 
serious detriment. 

His claims upon the gratitude of the people of 
New England are hardly inferior. He was the 
first to perceive the advantages held out by it as 
a place of settlement, in spite of its bitter skies 
and iron bound coast, and to correct the errone- 
ous, unfavorable impressions prevalent concerning 
it. Though he himself had no direct share in 
the settlement of Plymouth, yet without doubt 
it was owing to the interest which had been 
awakened by his writings and personal exertions, 
that the ranks of the colonists were so soon 
swelled by those accessions of men of character 
and substance, which gave them encouragement 
and ensured them prosperity and success. It was 
the peculiar good fortune of Captain Smith to 
stand in so interesting a relation to the two oldest 
states in the union, and through them to the 
northern and southern sections of the country. 
The debt of gratitude due to him is national and 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 397 

American, and so should his glory be. Wher- 
ever upon this continent the English language is 
spoken, his deeds should be recounted, and his 
memory hallowed. His services should not only 
be not forgotten, but should be " freshly remem- 
bered." His name should not only be honored 
by the silent canvass, and the cold marble, but 
his praises should dwell living upon the lips 
of men, and should be handed down by fathers 
to their children. Poetry has imagined nothing 
more stirring and romantic than his life and ad- 
ventures, and History, upon her ample page, has 
recorded few more honorable and spotless names. 



NOTE. 



Account of Captain Smith's ffritings. 

It is a proof of the versatility of Captain Smith's pow- 
ers, that, afler having passed so many years in stirring 
and eventful action, he was able to sit quietly down in 
the autumn of life, and compose book after book, as if he 
had never gone beyond the walls of his study. It is 
fortunate, both for us and for his own fame, that he was 
able to handle the pen as well as the sword, to describe 
what he had observed and experienced, and to be at once 
the champion and the herald. 

He published, in 1612, "A Map of Virginia, with a 
Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, 
Government, and Religion. Written by Captaine Smith, 
sometimes Gouvernor of the Countrey. Whereunto is 
annexed the Proceedings of those Colonies since their 
first Departure from England, with the Discourses, Ora- 
tions, and Relations of the Salvages, and the Accidents 
that befell them in all their Journies and Discoveries, &c. 
by W. S. [William Simons.] Ctuarto. Oxford." The 
" Proceedings," &c. is separately printed with a distinct 
title and paging, and an Address signed " V. Abbay." 
The above title is copied from Mr. Rich's catalogue. 
There is a copy of the same work in Colonel Aspin- 
walPs collection. 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 3d9 

In 1020, he published a pamphlet entitled <^ JVVti^ Eng- 
land's TriaUy declaring the Successe of 26 Ships em- 
ployed thither within these Six Yeares." A second edi- 
tion of the same work was published in 1622 with this 
title ; " JVew EnglaruPs Triala, declaring the Success of 
80 Ships employed thither within these Eight Years." 
An extract from this work is contained in Purchas, (Vol. 
rV. p. 1837.) There is no copy, so far as I am aware, of 
either of these editions in America. 

In 1626, he published the following work ; " TOc Gretr- 
eraU Historie of Virginia^ New England^ and the Sum- 
mer Ides, with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, 
and Governours, from their first Beginning, An. 1584, to 
this present 1626. With the Proceedings of those Sev- 
erall Colonies, and the Accidents that befell them in all 
their Joumyes and Discoveries. Also the Maps and De- 
scriptions of all those Countryes, their Commodities, Peo- 
ple, Government, Customes, and Religion, yet knowne. 
Divided into Six Bookes. By Captaine John Smith, 
sometymes Govemour in those Countries and Admirall of 
New England." There are copies of this work with the 
dates 1627 and 1632, but Mr. Rich states, that they 
are apparently the same edition with merely an altera- 
tion in the tide-page. A great part of it had been 
printed in 1625, by Purchas in his " Pilgrims." * It 
is a compilation made up of the previously written 
tracts of Captain Smith and a great number of journals, 
letters, and narratives by his friends and companions. 

*I find in Colonel Aspinwall's Catalogue the following 
work ; " Smith's History of Virginia, fo. cf. gt. front maps 
and pits, large paper. Lord Rich's copy. London. 1624." 
If this date be correct it would seem that the <' General His- 
tory " was published two years earlier than has been gener- 
ally supposed. 



3 



40» 4ii«itic4« imi.o«ti^f^i^ 

liliiirt IHotf/* and jNKMilf tiie iM^ of . tbe tivwi^^ 
Vlqrinia, panted at QxfiMrd u 16UL Tbe jMictf^liaiif 
k,wiiC(eii1by'Capttm.ftiiitfa iretbiw 0idMerU>ed; <<Jd|||l 
JWth writ thiB with his onw hand.*' The whole oftfil; 
iglemd^uMl eizth bjooks «re wiitlmi bj hn^hiit ^||p: 
UBier four koolka he etas^ <Niily in the ielition.<^ ctilp^* 
intennixing occasionally hie own olieerfatioiiB and leftiiK 
tioiie with the nanativea which he coUeoted and f^ 
xanged. -Tlib tidid^book, which, contaiae the hirtoiytftf«^ 
oolony at Jameelown daring Captain Smiths remiemim 
Ihi|r6i and from which I ha?e so teqnentyr quoted, i»fl|||Fi 
t^ to be ** extracted fimn theanthon following,^ 
tmiiam Simons, Doctour of Divinitie.^ It is fi littlBjB»> 
lioas, that the narratives in Ais comi^blixm of SiiooM^ii 
axe none of them written by one individnaL For ift- 
stance, a chi^[»ter, detailing tim evenls which took, plaiii 
i|lCaptain Smith's first expedition to jrtmrey tibe Ghenb- 
pedle, is said to be written by Waltm Rnssell, Anas 
Todkill, and Thomas Momford ; and the next one in or- 
der, giving an account of the second expedition for the 
same purpose, is subscribed by Antony Bagnall, Nathan- 
iel Powell, and Anas Todkill. This accounts for the 
fact, that in quoting from this book, I have not mentioned 
the name of any author. The work is dedicated to the 
Duchess of Richmond. 

There are a great many copies of commendatory 
verses, some prefixed to the first, and some subjoined to 
the third and fifth books of this History, which were 
written mostly by his personal friends. Some of these 
are very curious (particularly one by Purchas, which is 
stuffed full of learning and extravagant conceits), though 
not very smooth or poetical. In subjoining those to the 
third book. Captain Smith says, ^ Now seeing there is 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 401 

much paper here to spare, that you should ^not be alto- 
gether cloyed with prose, such verses as my worthy 
friends bestowed upon New England, I here present 
you, because with honesty I can neither reject nor omit 
their courtesies," His own prose will be found more po- 
etical than his friends' poetry. 

This ** General History " is reprinted in the thirteenth 
volume of Pinkerton's Collection of Voyages. A perfect 
copy should contain an engraved title-page, with the 
portraits of Elizabeth, James the First, and Charles the 
First ; four maps, one of Virginia, one of Old Virginia, 
(part of North Carolina) with five plates in the compart- 
ments, representing Captain Smith's adventures among 
the Indians ; (these two are reprinted in the Richmond 
edition ;) a map of the Somers' Islands with a view of the 
forts ; and map of New England with a portrait of Cap- 
tain Smith in one corner ; also a portrait of the Duch- 
ess of Richmond and another of Pocahontas. Mr. Rich 
says, " The original portraits of Mataoka (Pocahontas) 
and the Duchess of Richmond are rarely found in the 
book, but are sometimes supplied by well executed mod- 
em fac-similes." There are two copies of this work in 
the Library of Harvard University, one with the date 
1636 and the other 1682, neither of which is perfect. 

In 1630 he published " The true Travels, Adventvres, 
and Observations of Captaine John Smithy in Europe, 
AsiOy Affrica, and America, from 1593 to 1629. Togeth- 
er with a Continuation of his Generall History of Vir- 
ginia, Summer Isles, New England, and their Proceed- 
ings, since 1624 to this present 1629 : as also of the 
new Plantations of the great River of the Amazons, the 
Isles of St. Christopher, Mevis, and Barbadoes in the 
West Indies." In his Dedication to the Earl of Pem- 
broke he observes, that he has been induce^ to publis}^ 

VOL. II. 36 



4MI jkMmm4L4)Am 9€ommMnKt3k 

f^n ^ tM he MS dM tnoiewiPiBrigi iiiMflj wi* % 
ll8c•lM9»1^r IwA beeome so . mota ri mm m ii^im p9lt^$tff 
•^M i^n the fUg«. «*To |i««eiil (MMtoriil IbMt 
»ii|niBioii8,'' he says, <<I hftte ^uii|iilef Uni trti^'iii* 
•iMxee.'' r It k eeiitiiaed in tli» (MooMt iuliiMj^ eT 

. This wcxri^ tegiBtber with die <« GeMitti Hl^^ 
fima," WM repfivM w 18^91, el ItkifaMBoa^ Virgiaiii^ le 
tiro oetiTo Wadie% tad n e meaaer iwijr inetlifciliiir;il 
IImi priBteir ead peUiBliert Tlia vekie of . tUi «eiiiiptt 
woaldy howeTerihave been imtdieiliaBoedi if UnMilM 
keen eometfaing intbe wajof p«elk6eytti}ilea«te^wi ' 
tooripltoiHgiTOgeiieceemitofliiectrigin^ 
As it ifl, the leader is left wHhoiit guide or eanMliii^ 
Anem, «a it were, upon e see of totMngffneonn leirtiniiiii 
iHthoiit chart Of don^MHS. There et<e ie apotea^ BO-^ail>* 
alory i^aaiifla, aethiiig to mpffy InmkB aai <6iMWH% 
sothing but the erigiaal waits IheadseitiM^ tiepAdUd 
word for word. But notwithstanding this, we owe modi 
to the publishers, who have thus given to the public in a 
cheap and accessible form, works interesting to every 
American, and indispensable to one who desires to be 
well acquainted with our early history, which in their 
original editions are very expensive and difficult to be 
obtained. 

The last thirty or forty pages of the " General Histo- 
ry " contained in this edition, are devoted to an account 
of the settlement at Plymouth ; and in the " Continua- 
tion " (which is prefixed to his Travda, MventureSySfc^ but 
forms the concluding portion of the Richmond edition) 
he gives a very brief sketch of their proceedings from 
1624 to 16^. In this he says that New England had 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 403 

always been represented as a rocky, barren country, tiU 
his account of it was published, which had raised its 
credit so high that forty or fifty sail had gone there every 
year to trade and fish ; but that nothing had been done 
to establish a settlement, " till about some hundred of 
your Brownists of England, Amsterdam, and Leyden 
went to New Plymouth, whose humorous ignorances 
caused them, for more than a year, to endure a wonder* 
ful deal of misery with an infinite patience." 

Captain Smith, a man of the world and a soldier, loyal 
in his feelings and probably a member of the Church of 
England, could not appreciate the motives which led to 
the settlement at Plymouth. The high religious enthu- 
siasm, made morbid in some instances by persecution, 
could not appear to him as any thing else than wild 
fanaticism. But, though hot capable of sympathizing 
with them, he regarded their settlement with lively inter- 
est, as is proved by the narrative of their proceedings for 
the first four years contained in his ** General History," 
and the remarks he makes upon it. He is sanguine in 
his anticipations of their complete and final success, and 
says, that if there were not an Englishman left in Ameri- 
ca, he would begin the colonizing of the country again 
notwithstanding all he had lost and suffered. 

In 1631 there appeared from his pen the following work. 
** MverHsements for the unexperienced Planters of JSTew 
England, or any where. Or, the Pathway to Experience 
to erect a Plantation. With the yearely Proceedings of 
this Country in Fishing and Planting, since the Yeare 
1614 to the Yeare 1630, and their present ISstate. Also 
how to prevent the greatest Inconveniences, by their Pro- 
ceedings in Virginia and other Plantations, by approved 
Examines. With the Countries Armes, a Description of 
the Coast, Harbours, Habitations, Land-markes, Latitude 



404 AMEKICAN BIOQKAPHT. 

and Longitude ; with the Map, allowed by our Royall 
King Charles. By Captaine John Smith, sometimes 
Governor of Virginia and AdmiraU of New England.'' 
I have quoted the title at length, since, like most of the 
titles of those days, it gives a tolerable abstract of the 
book itself. 

This is a curious work, and in literary merit the most 
finished of his productions. It is rambling and desultory 
in its character, combining narrative, disquisition, advice, 
and apology without order or method. Here we have a 
paragraph in praise of a ship, another in reproof of reli- 
gious dissensions ; — here an account of the discoveries 
of former navigators, and, near to it, a sketch of the qual- 
ities requisite to form a good governor of a plantation. 
Many paragraphs are borrowed, some with a little alterar- 
tion, others with none, firom his former writings. He takes 
grreat pains to justify his own conduct and policy, when 
he was in Virginia, points out the errors and mistakes of 
those who had succeeded him, and alludes to the injudi- 
cious conduct of the council in England, and to the 
annoyance which they occasioned him while he was 
President. 

He speaks occasionally in a disparaging and taunting 
manner of tlie " Brownists " of Plymouth, " the factious 
humorists " as he calls them. The pertinacity inspired 
by religious enthusiasm was offensive to his notions of 
military discipline, and irritated him not a little. And 
yet his sense of justice prompts him to do honor to the 
firmness and constancy, with which they endured their 
trials and sufferings. He speaks of Governor Winthrop 
in terms of the highest admiration and respect. He al- 
ludes to his "General History" occasionally, in which, he 
says, one may read of many " strange actions and acci- 
dents, that to an ordinary capacity might rather seem 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 405 

miracles than wonders possibly to be effected; which 
though they are but wound up as bottoms of fine silk, 
which with a good needle might be flourished into a far 
larger work, yet the images of great things are best dis- 
cerned, contracted into smaller glasses." 

A further and more extended notice of this work 
would be superfluous, as it has lately been reprinted by 
the Massachusetts Historical Society, in their Collec- 
tions (Third Series, Vol. III.), and thus rendered accessi- 
ble to all who feel an interest in the subject. There is a 
copy of the original edition of this work, in the Library 
of Harvard University. 

It has been generally supposed that the literary labors 
of Captain Smith D^ere confined to subjects connected 
either with his own personal adventures, or with America 
and the settlements established there ; but such is not 
the fact In 1626, he published " An Accidence^ or the 
Pcdhway to Experience^ necessary for aU young Seamen ; " 
and, in 1627, " A Sea Grammar ^ trnih theplaine Exposition 
of Smith's Accidence for young Stamen^ erdargedJ^ Of 
this latter work a second edition was published in 1653, 
and a third, with additions, in 1692. He alludes to this 
work once or twice in his other writings. In his " Ad- 
vertisements," &c., he says, " Of all fabrics a ship is the 
most excellent, requiring more art in building, rigging, 
sailing, trimming, defending, and mooring, with such a 
number of several terms and names in continual not un- 
derstood of any landman, as none would think of, but 
some few that know them, for whose better instruction I 
writ my Sea Grammar." In the Dedication of his 
" Travels, Adventures, and Observations " to the Earl of 
Pembroke, he says, " My Sea Grammar (caused to be 
printed by my worthy fnend Sir Samuel Saltonstall) hath 
found such good entertainment abroad, that I have been 



, • 4 



mrmumm^^mmtff mill jSiiU'ii U^m-i^'^^fm fm 



,-» -.fi-: J ■ .'* 



■I jwiiiihJd, iWM ytiiw% telt uafinMieiHii M* tafly, 
TkmtiB« tm^wariBt Mcribad to O^MbHSMMi^ it 
W«tfr » BOliiaMft Mfeuu^^ (tin tmUt^tm Om ]M|j| 
vlaeh wfre not written b J him. .yi?i.: f "^ 

ltir«rtBM?li^ irtiioiili»f»¥een imil<#flai ttw wittingg 
of C^tup SllM^ wiH «n«bk tin l«i[ite to^l^ Idlei^ 
aM^MReetopiniiittof Ui-m K irffl lit 

Miiiy ihit lie motee Wst n nnui ^scoiei^ etiMUfvaliuiiy smI 
tdMi wteee aoqiMiftkNie ere bf iHi^neeiw oenteiBpilble^ 
Init lite bee been trained to the oee'^^f tto eweti oUI 
Ml ef the pea» Thc^ is • lengii vigor «ni enei^ ie 
Ills Btfle etuffaeteriitie of the man; bot it wants the deai^ 
ness and polish of a practised writer. He betrays in it 
the irritability of his temperament, and he uses no siU^eB 
phrases to express his displeasure and disgust His own 
unbounded activity made him have no patience with 
sloth, imbecility, and procrastination. He could not seo 
things going wrong, and be silent. But it is impossible 
to read any of his works without perceiving that he was 
largely endowed by nature, a man of lively sensibili- 
ties and of easily excited blood, with many of the ele- 
ments which go to form the poetical character. His writ- 
ings abound with picturesque and eloquent passages, and 
with expressions full of a native grace which Quinctilian 
himself could never have taught 



CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. 407 

He was alive to the beautifbl and grand in the out- 
ward world, as his animated descriptions testify ; and, 
above all, Ms style is characterized by fervor, earnestness, 
and enthusiasm. His heart is in every thing which he 
writes. His mind is warmed and kindled by the con- 
templation of hii^ subject, and it is impossible to read any 
of his works (after being accustomed to his antiquated 
diction) without ourselves catching a portion of their 
glow. If he has not the smoothness, he has not the mo- 
notony of a professed man of letters. His style has the 
charm of individuality. It has a picture-like vividness 
arising from the circumstance, that he describes, not 
what he has heard, but what he has seen and experi- 
enced. 

Reading his tracts, as we do now, with the conmienta- 
ry which the lapse of two centuries has given them, we 
cannot but wonder at the extent of his knowledge, the 
accuracy of his observation, and the confidence, amount- 
ing almost to inspiration, with which he makes predic- 
tions, which, it is needless to say, have been most amply 
fblfilled. Had he done nothing but write his books, we 
should have been under the highest obligations to him ; 
and the most impartial judgment would have assigned to 
him an honorable station among the authors of his 
age. 



CAMBRIDGE: 
CHARLES FOLSOM, 

PRIITTER TO THE UITITEBSITT. 




(;AiiBBiDaE> . . 



ll^fPilip|p;«N|l,JU..p|ip nil