Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.Vol. I. The Transplanting of Culture: 16071650
Captain John Smith
[From “A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as hath happened in Virginia, etc.” London, 1608.]
He kindly welcomed me with good words, and great platters of sundry victuals, assuring me his friendship, and my liberty within four days. He much delighted in Opechan Comough’s relation of what I had described to him, and oft examined me upon the same.
He asked me the cause of our coming.
I told him being in fight with the Spaniards, our enemy, being overpowered, near put to retreat, and by extreme weather put to this shore, where landing at Chesipiack, the people shot us, but at Kequoughtan they kindly used us; we by signs demanded fresh water, they described us up the river was all fresh water: at Paspahegh also they kindly used us: our pinnace being leaky, we were enforced to stay to mend her, till Captain Newport, my father, came to conduct us away.
He demanded why we went further with our boat. I told him, in that I would have occasion to talk of the back sea, that on the other side the main where was salt water. My father had a child slain which we supposed Monocan, his enemy [had done]; whose death we intended to revenge.
After good deliberation, he began to describe me the countries beyond the falls, with many of the rest; confirming what not only Opechancanoyes, and an Indian which had been prisoner to Pewhatan had before told me: but some one called it five days, some six, some eight, where the said water dashed amongst many stones and rocks, each storm; which caused oft times the head of the river to be brackish.
Anchanachuck he described to be the people that had slain my brother: whose death he would revenge. He described also upon the same sea, a mighty nation called Pocoughtronack, a fierce nation that did eat men, and warred with the people of Moyaoncer and Pataromerke, nations upon the top of the head of the Bay, under his territories: where the year before they had slain an hundred. He signified their crowns were shaven, long hair in the neck, tied on a knot, swords like pollaxes.
Beyond them, he described people with short coats, and sleeves to the elbows, that passed that way in ships like ours. Many kingdoms he described me, to the head of the bay, which seemed to be a mighty river issuing from mighty mountains betwixt the two seas: The people clothed at Ocamahowan, he also confirmed. And the southerly countries also, as the rest that reported us to be within a day and a half of Mangoge, two days of Chawwonock, six from Roonock, to the south part of the back sea. He described a country called Anone, where they have abundance of brass, and houses walled as ours.
I requited his discourse (seeing what pride he had in his great and spacious dominions, seeing that all he knew were under his territories) in describing to him the territories of Europe, which was subject to our great king whose subject I was, the innumerable multitude of his ships, I gave him to understand the noise of trumpets, and terrible manner of fighting [which] were under Captain Newport my father: whom I intituled the Meworames, which they call the king of all the waters. At his greatness he admired: and not a little feared. He desired me to forsake Paspahegh, and to live with him upon his river, a country called Capa Howasicke. He promised to give me corn, venison, or what I wanted to feed us: Hatchets and copper we should make him, and none should disturb us.
[From “A Description of New England,” etc. London, 1616.]
[From the Same.]
Then, who would live at home idly (or think in himself any worth to live) only to eat, drink, and sleep, and so die? Or by consuming that carelessly, his friends got worthily? Or by using that miserably, that maintained virtue honestly? Or, for being descended nobly, pine with the vain vaunt of great kindred, in penury? Or (to maintain a silly show of bravery) toil out thy heart, soul, and time, basely, by shifts, tricks, cards, and dice? Or by relating news of others actions, shark here or there for a dinner, or supper; deceive thy friends, by fair promises, and dissimulation, in borrowing where thou never intendest to pay; offend the laws, surfeit with excess, burden thy country, abuse thyself, despair in want, and then cozen thy kindred, yea even thine own brother, and wish thy parents’ death (I will not say damnation) to have their estates? though thou seest what honors, and rewards, the world yet hath for them will seek them and worthily deserve them.
I would be sorry to offend, or that any should mistake my honest meaning: for I wish good to all, hurt to none. But rich men for the most part are grown to that dotage, through their pride in their wealth, as though there were no accident could end it, or their life.
And what hellish care do such take to make it their own misery, and their country’s spoil, especially when there is most need of their employment? drawing by all manner of inventions, from the Prince and his honest subjects, even the vital spirits of their powers and estates: as if their bags, or brags, were so powerful a defence, the malicious could not assault them: when they are the only bait, to cause us not to be only assaulted; but betrayed and murdered in our own security, ere we well perceive it.
[From the Same.]
Thus, though all men be not fishers: yet all men whatsoever, may in other matters do as well. For necessity doth in these cases so rule a commonwealth, and each in their several functions, as their labors in their qualities may be as profitable, because there is a necessary mutual use of all.
For gentlemen, what exercise should more delight them, than ranging daily those unknown parts, using fowling and fishing, for hunting and hawking? and yet you shall see the wild hawks give you some pleasure, in seeing them stoop (six or seven after one another) an hour or two together at the schools of fish in the fair harbors, as those ashore at a fowl: and never trouble nor torment yourselves, with watching, mewing, feeding, and attending them: nor kill horse and man with running and crying. See you not a hawk? For hunting also: the woods, lakes, and rivers afford not only chase sufficient, for any that delights in that kind of toil, or pleasure: but such beasts to hunt, that besides the delicacy of their bodies for food, their skins are so rich, as may well recompense thy daily labor, with a captain’s pay.
For laborers, if those that sow hemp, rape, turnips, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, and such like: give 20, 30, 40, 50, shillings yearly for an acre of ground, and meat, drink, and wages to use it, and yet grow rich: when better or at least as good ground, may be had, and cost nothing but labor: it seems strange to me, any such should there grow poor.
My purpose is not to persuade children from their parents: men from their wives: nor servants from their masters: only, such as with free consent may be spared: but that each parish, or village, in city or country, that will but apparel their fatherless children of thirteen or fourteen years of age, or young married people, that have small wealth to live on: here by their labor may live exceeding well: provided always that first there be a sufficient power to command them, houses to receive them, means to defend them, and meet provisions for them: for any place may be overlain: and it is most necessary to have a fortress (ere this grow to practice) and sufficient masters (as, carpenters, masons, fishers, fowlers, gardeners, husbandmen, sawers, smiths, spinsters, tailors, weavers, and such like) to take ten, twelve, or twenty, or as there is occasion, for apprentice. The masters by this may quickly grow rich: these may learn their trades themselves, to do the like: to a general and an incredible benefit for king, and country, masters, and servant.
[From the “General History of Virginia,” etc. (1624), Lib. III.]
At his returne to Opechancanough’s all the King’s women and their children, flocked about him for their parts, as a due by custom, to be merry with such fragments.
At last they brought him to Werowocomoco, where was Powhatan their Emperor. Here more then two hundred of those grim courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had been a monster; till Powhatan and his train had put themselves in their greatest braveries. Before a fire upon a seat like a bedstead, he sat covered with a great robe, made of raccoon skins, and all the tails hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 or 18 years, and along on each side the house, two rows of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red; many of their heads bedecked with the white down of birds; but every one with something: and a great chain of white beads about their necks.
At his entrance before the King, all the people gave a great shout. The Queen of Appamatuck was appointed to bring him water to wash his hands, and another brought him a bunch of feathers, instead of a towel to dry them. Having feasted him after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was held, but the conclusion was, two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could laid hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beat out his brains, Pocahontas the King’s dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head in her arms, and laid her own upon his to save his from death: whereat the Emperor was contented he should live to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him as well of all occupations as themselves. For the King himself will make his own robes, shoes, bows, arrows, pots; plant, hunt, or do any thing so well as the rest.
Two days after, Powhatan having disguised himself in the most fearfulest manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and there upon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after from behind a mat that divided the house, was made the most dolefulest noise he ever heard: then Powhatan more like a devil than a man, with some two hundred more as black as himself, came unto him and told him now they were friends, and presently he should go to Jamestown, to send him two great guns, and a grindstone, for which he would give him the County of Capahowosick, and for ever esteem him as his son Nantaquoud.
So to Jamestown with 12 guides Powhatan sent him. That night they quartered in the woods, he still expecting (as he had done all this long time of his imprisonment) every hour to be put to one death or other for all their feasting. But almighty God by his divine providence, had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion. The next morning betimes they came to the fort, where Smith having used the savages with what kindness he could, he showed Rawhunt, Powhatan’s trusty servant, two demi-culverins and a millstone to carry Powhatan: they found them somewhat too heavy; but when they did see him discharge them, being loaded with stones, among the boughs of a great tree loaded with icicles, the ice and branches came so tumbling down, that the poor savages ran away half dead with fear. But at last we regained some confidence with them, and gave them such toys: and sent to Powhatan his women, and children such presents, as gave them in general full content.
[From the Same, Lib. IV.]
Being at Patawomeke, as it seems, thinking her self unknown, was easily by her friend Japazaws persuaded to go abroad with him and his wife to see the ship, for Captaine Argall had promised him a copper kettle to bring her but to him, promising no way to hurt her, but keep her till they could conclude a peace with her father. The savage for this copper kettle would have done any thing, it seemed by the Relation.
For though she had seen and been in many ships, yet he caused his wife to fain how desirous she was to see one, and that he offered to beat her for her importunity, till she wept. But at last he told her, if Pocahontas would go with her, he was content: and thus they betrayed the poor innocent Pocahontas aboard, where they were all kindly feasted in the cabin. Japazaws treading oft on the Captain’s foot, to remember he had done his part, the Captain when he saw his time, persuaded Pocahontas to the gun-room, faining to have some conference with Japazaws, which was only that she should not perceive he was any way guilty of her captivity: so sending for her again, he told her before her friends, she must go with him, and compound peace betwixt her country and us, before she ever should see Powhatan, whereat the old Jew and his wife began to howl and cry as fast as Pocahontas, that upon the Captain’s fair persuasions, by degrees pacifying her self, and Japazaws and his wife, with the kettle and other toys, went merrily on shore, and she to Jamestown.
A messenger forthwith was sent to her father, that his daughter Pocahontas he loved so dearly, he must ransom with our men, swords, pieces, tools, &c., he treacherously had stolen.
This unwelcome news much troubled Powhatan, because he loved both his daughter and our commodities well, yet it was three months after ere he returned us any answer: then by the persuasion of the Council, he returned seven of our men, with each of them an unserviceable musket, and sent us word, that when we would deliver his daughter, he would make us satisfaction for all injuries done us, and give us five hundred bushels of corn, and forever be friends with us.
That he sent, we received in part of payment, and returned him this answer:—That his daughter should be well used, but we could not believe the rest of our arms were either lost or stolen from him, and therefore till he sent them, we would keep his daughter.
This answer, it seemed, much displeased him, for we heard no more from him a long time after, when with Captain Argall’s ship and some other vessels belonging to the Colony, Sir Thomas Dale, with a hundred and fifty men well appointed, went up into his own River, to his chief habitation, with his daughter.
With many scornful bravados they affronted us, proudly demanding why we came thither; our reply was, we had brought his daughter, and to receive the ransom for her that was promised, or to have it perforce.
They nothing dismayed thereat, told us, We were welcome if we came to fight, for they were provided for us, but advised us, if we loved our lives to retire; else they would use us as they had done Captain Ratcliffe. We told them, we would presently have a better answer; but we were no sooner within shot of the shore than they let fly their Arrows among us in the ship.
Being thus justly provoked, we presently manned our boats, went on shore, burned all their houses, and spoiled all they had we could find; and so the next day proceeded higher up the river, where they demanded why we burnt their houses, and we, why they shot at us: They replied it was some straggling savage, with many other excuses; they intended no hurt, but were our friends. We told them, we came not to hurt them, but visit them as friends also.
Upon this we concluded a peace, and forthwith they dispatched messengers to Powhatan, whose answer, they told us, wee must expect four and twenty hours ere the messengers could return:…
Then they told us, our men were run away for fear we would hang them, yet Powhatan’s men were run after them: as for our swords and pieces, they should be brought us the next day, which was only but to delay time: for the next day they came not.
Then we went higher, to a house of Powhatan’s, called Machot, where we saw about four hundred men well appointed: here they dared us to come on shore which we did: no show of fear they made at all, nor offered to resist our landing, but walking boldly up and down amongst us, demanded to confer with our captain, of his coming in that manner, and to have truce till they could but once more send to their king to know his pleasure, which if it were not agreeable to their expectations, then they would fight with us, and defend their own as they could. Which was but only to defer the time, to carry away their provisions: yet we promised them truce till the next day at noon, and then if they would fight with us, they should know when we would begin by our drums and trumpets.
Upon this promise two of Powhatan’s sons came unto us to see their sister, at whose sight, seeing her well, though they heard to the contrary, they much rejoiced, promising they would persuade her father to redeem her, and forever be friends with us. And upon this the two brethren went aboard with us, and we sent Master John Rolfe and Master Sparkes to Powhatan, to acquaint him with the business; kindly they were entertained, but not admitted the presence of Powhatan, but they spoke with Opechancanough, his brother and successor; he promised to do the best he could to Powhatan, all might be well.
So it being April and time to prepare our ground and set our corn, we returned to Jamestown, promising the forbearance of their performing their promise, till the next harvest.
Long before this, Master John Rolfe, an honest gentleman, and of good behaviour, had been in love with Pocahontas, and she with him, which thing at that instant I made known to Sir Thomas Dale by a letter from him, wherein he entreated his advice, and she acquainted her brother with it, which resolution Sir Thomas Dale well approved. The bruit of this mariage came soon to the knowledge of Powhatan, a thing acceptable to him, as appeared by his sudden consent, for within ten days he sent Opachisco, an old uncle of hers, and two of his sons, to see the manner of the mariage, and to do in that behalf what they requested, for the confirmation thereof, as his deputy; which was accordingly done about the first of April. And ever since we have had friendly trade and commerce, as well with Powhatan himself, as all his subjects.
[From the Same, Lib. IV.]
Being about this time preparing to set sail for New England, I could not stay to do her that service I desired, and she well deserved; but hearing she was at Bradford with divers of my friends, I went to see her, after a modest salutation, without any word, she turned about, obscured her face, as not seeming well content; and in that humor her husband, with diverse 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 this 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, because 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 tell us always you were dead, and I knew no other till I came to Plymouth: yet Powhatan did command Uttamatomakkin to seek you, and know the truth, because your countrymen will lie much.
This savage, one of Powhatan’s council, being amongst them held an understanding fellow; the king purposely sent him, as they say, to number the people here, and inform him well what we were and our state. Arriving at Plymouth, according to his directions, 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.
Coming 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 gave Powhatan a white dog, which Powhatan fed as himself: but your King gave me nothing, and I am better than your white dog.
The small time I stayed in London, divers courtiers and others, my acquaintances, hath gone with me to see her, that generally concluded, they did think God had a great hand in her conversion, and they have seen many English ladies worse favored, proportioned, and behaviored; and as since I have heard, it pleased both the King and Queen’s majesty honorably to esteem her, accompanied with that honorable lady the Lady De la Ware, and that honorable lord her husband, and divers other persons of good qualities, both publicly at the masks and otherwise, to her great satisfaction and content, which doubtless she would have deserved, had she lived to arrive in Virginia.