It was time for England to assert her rights, and to plant colonies in the vast and fertile regions Cabot had discovered almost a century before. So thought Sir Walter Raleigh, one of the most brilliant Englishmen of an exceptionally brilliant period, when he despatched two vessels, under Captains Anadas and Barlow, to the New World.
Landing at Cape Hatteras in July, they received a friendly welcome, and trafficked with the natives, who came off to their ship in boats, and whom they described as "a handsome and goodly people, most gentle, loving, and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as lived after the manner of the golden age."
Among these visitors was Granganameo, the king's brother, who, taking a fancy to a pewter dish, made a hole through it and hung it about his neck for a breastplate. From him they learned that Wingina, the king of that country, was confined at home by a wound received in battle. The Christians drove excellent bargains with these simple heathen, the price of the pewter dish being twenty deerskins, worth five pounds sterling, and fifty deerskins for a copper kettle. The simple natives "marvelled much" at the whiteness of the strangers.
The chief's wife came to see them. She wore a long cloak of leather, with a piece of leather about her loins, around her forehead a band of white coral, and from her ears bracelets of large pearls "of the bigness of good pease" hung down to her middle. The other women wore pendants of copper, as did the children, five or six in an ear. Their boats were hollowed trunks of trees.
They kept their white visitors supplied with game and fruits, and did all they could for their comfort. Captain Barlow, with seven men, visited the chief's residence, and in his absence were most hospitably entertained by his wife. Her house of five rooms she placed at their disposal; she and her women provided bountifully for their wants, washing and drying their clothing, and even bathing their feet in warm water, and placing a guard over their boat while they slept. They were feasted upon hominy, boiled venison, and roasted fish, with a dessert of melons and other vegetables. After exploring the coast and acquiring information, the expedition, about the middle of September, returned to England. Two of the natives, Wanchese and Manteo, accompanied them on the return voyage.
The glowing accounts they gave of the country made it easy to gather a company of emigrants to colonize Virginia, for so the country had been named by Queen Elizabeth. Under the lead of Ralph Lane, a soldier of some reputation, one hundred and eight colonists embarked at Plymouth in seven vessels, commanded by Sir Richard Greenville, a kinsman of Raleigh, and one of the best known of the naval captains of the age.
Two years later, Greenville, in his single ship off the Azores, fought fifteen great Spanish galleons for fifteen hours, and when at last mortally wounded, exclaimed with his latest breath, "Here die I, Richard Greenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, fighting for his country, queen, religion, and honor." One of the ships that bore Lane's colony was commanded by Captain Amadas, another by a young captain named Thomas Cavendish, who a year afterwards made a famous voyage round the world. Thomas Hariot was the scientific man of this well-equipped expedition, and John White the artist.
Landing in August, Lane established his colony at Wocokon, on Roanoke Island. Here they found tobacco, to the use of which they soon accustomed themselves, maize, or Indian corn, which attracted their attention from its extraordinary productiveness, and the potato, which, when boiled, they found very palatable. The country was explored as far south as the Indian village of Secotan, and northwardly to the territory of the Chesapeakes in the bay of that name.
The inhabitants who were on the boundary of the Algonkin and Southern or Appalachian races were a mixture of both. Each clan obeyed its own chief, but all were associated in a general confederacy which was ruled by Powhatan, whose council-fire and residence were on the James River. They were described by one of the colonists as a very strong and lusty race, and swift warriors. He tells us, "Their skin is tawny, not so born, but with dyeing and painting themselves, in which they delight greatly. The maids shave close the forepart and sides of their heads, and leave the hair long behind, where it is tied up and hangs down to the hips. The married women wear their hair all of a length, but tied behind as that of the maid's is. The women scratch on their bodies and limbs with a sharp iron, pictures of birds, fishes, and beasts, and rub into the drawings lively colors, which dry into the flesh and are permanent. The people are witty and ingenious, but steal anything they can lay hands on—yea, are so practised in this art, that looking in our faces they would with their foot convey between their toes a chisel, knife, or any indifferent light thing, which, having once conveyed, they hold it an injury to take the same from them. They are naturally given to treachery, howbeit we could not find it in our travel up the river, but rather a most kind and loving people."
They were exceedingly fond of ornaments, some of which were very singular, not to say repulsive. An early traveller tells us, "Their ears they bore with holes, commonly two or three, and in the same they do hang heavy chains of stained pearl, bracelets of white bone, or shreds of copper beaten thin and bright, and wound up hollow, and with a great pride, certain fowles legs, eagles, hawks, turkeys, etc. The claws thrust through, they let hang upon the cheek to the full view, and some there be who will wear in these holes a small green and yellow live snake, near half a yard in length, which, crawling and lapping himself about his neck, oftentimes familiarly he suffereth to kiss his lips. Others wear a ded rat tyed by the tail, and such like conundrums."
Their towns were small, the largest containing but thirty dwellings. Their greatest chief could not muster more than seven hundred or eight hundred warriors. Mathematical instruments, the burning-glass, guns, clocks, mirrors, and the use of letters, attracted their superstitious regard, and the English were reverenced as superior beings. Fire-arms were terrible to them, and every sickness was attributed to wounds from invisible bullets discharged by unseen beings inhabiting the air.
"To make their children hardy," says an early writer, "they wash them in the river in the coldest mornings, and by paintings and ointments so tan their skins that after a year or two no weather will hurt them. To practise their children in the use of their bows and arrows, the mothers do not give them their breakfast in a morning before they have hit a mark which she appoints them to shoot at, and commonly so cunning (skilful) they will have them as, throwing up in the air a piece of moss or some light thing, the boy must with his arrow meet it in its fall and hit it, or else he shall not have his breakfast."
Gradually the friendly disposition of the Indians towards the colonists changed, owing to the greed and cruelty of the whites. They believed that the English were come to kill them and take their places. This belief led to a feeling of enmity. The English perceived it, and fearing a wide-spread conspiracy to destroy them, determined to anticipate it. Obtaining an interview with Wingina, the principal chief, who was wholly unsuspicious of their design, at a preconcerted signal the English fell upon him and his followers and put them all to death. It is not strange that acts of cruelty like these were remembered by the natives, and that savage retribution followed.
Very soon Lane's colony became dissatisfied; provisions were scarce, the Indians were unfriendly, and the colonists were homesick and anxious to return to England. The fleet of Sir Francis Drake opportunely arriving on the coast, he permitted them to embark, and thus ended the first attempt at English colonization. A few days after their departure a ship arrived, laden with all the stores needed by the colony. Greenville, with further supplies, also appeared a little too late. He left fifteen men on Roanoke Island to hold possession for England; they were all killed by the Indians.
Constant to his purpose of colonization, Raleigh now determined to plant a colony of emigrants, with their wives and families, who would make permanent homes in the New World. John White was appointed its governor. In the month of July, 1587, it arrived on the coast of North Carolina, and laid the foundations of the city of Raleigh on Roanoke Island.
Here the first white child of English parents was born to Eleanor Dare, the daughter of Governor White, and named Virginia from the place of its birth.
Captain Stafford, with twenty men, was sent to Croatan to seek lot the lost colonists. He heard that they had been set upon by the Indians, and after a sharp skirmish had taken boats and gone to a small island near Haterask, and afterwards had gone none knew whither. A party, under the guidance of Manteo, an Indian who had accompanied Amadas and Barlow to England, was sent to avenge their supposed murder. By mistake they attacked and killed some members of a friendly tribe. Such mistakes have been only too common in our intercourse with the Indians.
When the ship which had brought them was about to return, the emigrants prevailed on Governor White to go back and see to the prompt despatch of reinforcements and supplies. No seasonable relief, however, arrived, and the fate of the colony remains to this day a mystery. Owing to the threatened invasion of England by the Spanish armada, and to other untoward events, it was not until three years had elapsed that White could return to seek for his colony. It had disappeared, leaving no trace behind. He found the island of Roanoke a desert. Raleigh's efforts and sacrifices to colonize America were all in vain; but his faith was still unshaken, and to his friend Cecil he wrote the memorable words, "I shall yet live to see it an Inglishe nation." America owes a large debt of gratitude to the illustrious man who did so much to promote her colonization.
A period of twenty years now elapsed before a permanent English settlement was made. St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest town in the United States, had been founded by the Spaniards in 1565, and in 1605 the French had begun the settlement of Nova Scotia. On the 14th of May, 1607, Captain Christopher Newport's colony planted itself at Jamestown, Virginia. The colonists at once set manfully to work, felling trees and erecting a fort.
Three weeks before, a party had explored the James River, visiting on the way several Indian kings, or werowances, as they were called, "the people in all places kindly entertaining us," says Captain John Smith, one of the explorers, "dancing, and feasting us with strawberries, mulberries, bread, fish, and other country provisions, whereof we had plenty, for which Captain Newport kindly requited them with bells, pins, needles, and glass beads, which so contented them that his liberality made them follow us from place to place, and ever kindly to respect us."
A remarkable man has come upon the scene, the first to render illustrious the otherwise prosaic name of John Smith. He was now twenty-eight years of age, and from his earliest youth had led a roving and adventurous life. His military career began in the service of the gallant Henry of Navarre, under whose banner we find at the same time Captain Thomas Dudley, afterwards governor of the Massachusetts colony. Smith's exploits in the wars with the Turks in Hungary, his capture and sale in the slave market at Adrianople, his cruel treatment by his master, and his escape, as told by himself, make a most entertaining and romantic, if not a strictly veracious, narrative.
While a slave in the Crimea he was clothed in the skin of a wild beast, an iron collar was fastened about his neck, and he was cuffed and kicked about like a dog. One day he avenged himself by breaking his master's skull with a flail, and then mounting his horse fled in disguise to Poland, and thence made his way to Morocco. Here he joined an English roan-of-war, and after a fierce sea-fight arrived in England just in time to embark in the colonization of Virginia.
These experiences, taken in connection with his subsequent career in Virginia, make Captain John Smith by far the most picturesque character in our annals. Even if we give up the chivalric exploit of the slaying of the three Turks, one after the other, in single combat before the walls of Regall, for the pastime of the ladies, and the romantic story of his rescue from death by Pocahontas, enough remains to immortalize the name of Captain John Smith in all time to come.
As soon as the natives became aware of the purpose of the whites to dispossess them of their territory, they began to be troublesome. They would skulk about at night, and hang around the fort by day, bringing sometimes presents of deer, but given to theft of small articles, and showing jealousy of the invasion of their soil. The day before the return of a second exploring party, two hundred Indians attacked the fort. They fought bravely, but were driven off after an hour's fight by the guns of the ship. In this affair the colonists had eleven men wounded and a boy killed. For several days alarms and attacks continued, and it was unsafe for any to venture beyond the fort.
Newport's colony consisted mainly of "gentlemen." No more useless commodity could have been sent here. Among them were ruined spend-thrifts, broken tradesmen, fortune-hunters, rakes, and libertines. They expected to find gold; they found instead danger, disappointment, toil, and sickness.
"We did not come here to work," they said.
"Then you shall not eat," said the redoubtable Captain Smith. "The labor of a few industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain idle loiterers."
In order to stop profanity Smith kept a daily account of every man's oaths, and at night a can of cold water poured down the offender's sleeve was the penalty for each transgression. To the company in England who had sent out the colony he wrote: "When you send again, I entreat you send thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, or diggers up of roots, well provided, rather than a thousand of such as we have." After Smith's return to England they had things their own way; they plundered the Indians, who in turn slew them, and were reduced by famine to the greatest straits. When relieved by Sir Thomas Gates, from four hundred and ninety their number had dwindled to sixty.
With so many drones in the hive there was soon a scarcity of food. But for the kindness of the natives, who brought them maize and other provisions, they must have starved. Smith made several excursions up the Chickahominy River to trade with the Indians for corn. When, as it sometimes happened, the savages were insolent, and refused to trade, he brought them to terms by force of arms. But for his energy in procuring supplies, and his success in dealing with the Indians, it is probable that the colony would have famished. With all his vanity and impatience of restraint, Smith possessed extraordinary executive ability.
Not long after the settlement was begun, Smith, while engaged in exploring the sources of the Chickahominy, was set upon by the natives. Seizing the Indian guide who had accompanied him, he used him as a shield against their arrows, at the same time defending himself with his pistol. He was soon surrounded by two hundred Indians, led by Opechanganough, chief of the Pamunkeys, the brother of Powhatan. Sure of making him prisoner they would not shoot, but laid down their bows and demanded his arms. Let the valiant captain tell the rest of the story in his own words:
"In retiring," says Smith, "being in the midst of a low quagmire, and minding them more than my steps, I stept fast into the quagmire, and also the Indian in drawing me forth. Thus surprised, I resolved to try their mercies and cast my arms from me, till which none durst approach me.
"Having seized on me they drew me out, diligently chafed my benumbed limbs, and led me to the king. I presented him with a compass-dial, describing by my best means the use thereof; whereat he so amazedly admired, as he suffered me to proceed in a discourse of the roundness of the earth, the course of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. (Much of this learned discourse must have been thrown away upon an unlettered savage.) With kind speeches and bread he requited me. I expected they would execute me, yet they used me with what kindness they could. I was taken to their town, six miles off, only made as arbors and covered with mats, which they remove as occasion requires. For supper I had a quarter of venison and some ten pounds of bread; what I left was reserved for me. Each morning three women presented me three great platters of fine bread, and more venison than ten men could eat. I had my gowne, points, and garters; my compass and tablets they gave me again. Though eight ordinarily guarded me, I wanted not what they could devise to content me, and still our longer acquaintance increased our better affection."
Smith also greatly astonished the Indians by writing a letter to be sent to his friends, for they could not understand how a message could be put on paper. And when the articles for which he had sent were delivered to diem, they regarded him as a wonderful powwow or conjuror.
Some days later he was conducted to the residence of Powhatan, the principal chief of the country, near the historic field of Yorktown, but on the other side of the river.
Powhatan was at this time about seventy years of age, and of majestic appearance. He was tall, well proportioned, and exceedingly vigorous. By his bravery, energy, and policy he had raised himself to kingly power. He swayed many nations upon the great rivers and bays, as far as the Patuxent, most of whom he had conquered. There were thirty of these, with a population of twenty-four thousand. He wore an ornamented robe of raccoon-skins, and his head-dress was composed of many feathers wrought into a kind of crown. He usually kept a guard of forty or fifty of the most resolute and well formed of his warriors about him, especially when he slept; but after the English came into his country he increased it to about two hundred. Smith's interview with this great chief, who received him with much ceremony, is best given in his own words:
"Arriving at Woramocomoco, on the Pamunkey [York] River," says Smith, "their emperor was proudly lying upon a bedstead a foot high, upon ten or twelve mats, richly hung with many chains of great pearls about his neck, and covered with a great covering of raccoon-skins. At his head sat a woman; at his feet another. On each side, sitting on a mat upon the ground, were ranged his chief men, ten in a rank, and behind them as many young women, each having a great chain of white beads over their shoulders, their heads painted red. At my entrance before the king all the people gave a great shout. The Queen of Appomattuck was appointed to bring me water to wash my hands, and another brought a bunch of feathers instead of a towel to dry them.
"With such a grave and majestical countenance as drew me into admiration to see such state in a naked savage, Powhatan 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 Opechanganough's relation of what I had described to him, and oft examined me upon the same. 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. This I promised to perform; and thus having, with all the kindness he could devise, sought to content me, he sent me home."
When Powhatan inquired of Smith the cause of their coming, he was careful not to let him know that the English had come to settle in the country. He told him that in a fight with the Spaniards they had been overpowered and compelled to retreat, and by stress of weather had to put to that shore. Perhaps Powhatan believed him. Smith had a decided knack for romancing.
This account of his captivity was written by Smith at the time, and was soon afterwards published in London. In it nothing is said about Pocahontas saving his life. That romantic story, first published sixteen years later, and since everywhere repeated, has latterly been questioned. It is wholly inconsistent with what Smith had previously told of the kind treatment he received from Powhatan. It is as follows:
"Having feasted him (Smith) after the 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 him 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 capable of all occupations as themselves." There can be little doubt that Smith owed his escape from death to his own native wit and readiness.
Smith thus describes some of the religious and other ceremonies performed by their medicine-men, or powwows:
"Three or four days after my taking," he says, "seven of them came rushing in, painted half black, half red, in the house where I lay; round about him these fiends danced a pretty while; then each, with a rattle, began, at ten o'clock in the morning, to sing about the fire, which they environed with a circle of meal, and afterwards, a foot or two from that, at the end of each song, laid down two or three grains of wheat, continuing this order till they have included six hundred or seven hundred in a half-circle, and, after that, two or three more circles in like manner, a hand's-breadth from the others; that done, at each song they put between every three, two, or five grains a little stick, so continuing, as an old woman her paternoster.
"One, disguised with a great skin, his head hung round with little skins of weasels and other vermin, with a coronet of feathers on his head, painted as ugly as possible, came skipping in with a fearful yell, and a rattle in his hand. At the end of each song he made many signs and demonstrations, with strange and vehement actions; great cakes of deer suet; deer, and tobacco he cast in the fire. Their howling would continue till six o'clock in the evening ere they would depart. Three days they used this ceremony, the meaning whereof was to show if I intended them well or no.
Each morning, in the coldest frosts, the principal, to the number of twenty or thirty, assembled themselves in a circle a good distance from the town, where they told me they consulted where to hunt the next day. So fat they fed me that I much doubted they intended to have sacrificed me to the power they worship. To cure the sick, a man with a rattle, and extreme howling, shouting, singing, and such violent gestures and antic actions, labors over the patient. In passing over the water in foul weather they offer tobacco to their god to conciliate his favor. Death they lament with great sorrow and weeping; their kings they bury betwixt two mats, within their houses, with all his beads, jewels, hatchets, and copper; the others in graves like ours. For the crown their heirs inherit not, but the first heirs of the sister."
The colonists were constantly in fear of the savages, who lurked in the neighboring forest. One of them brought in a glittering stone one day, and said he would show them where there was a great abundance of it. Smith went to see this mine, but was led hither and thither until he lost patience, and seeing that the Indian was fooling him, gave him twenty lashes with a rope. He then handed him his bow and arrows, told him to shoot if he dared, and let him go.
Smith was always prompt and "square" with the Indians, keeping his promises to them, and never hesitating to attack or punish them when necessary. They feared and respected him. Smith was a great boaster, but there was no nonsense about him.
He was a born explorer, and in one of his voyages discovered and sailed up the Potomac River, collecting from the natives a quantity of furs. Fish were so abundant that his men attempted, though without success, to catch them with frying-pans; the fishes very properly declined this premature introduction to the frying-pan, not being dressed for the occasion. In a subsequent journey he made acquaintance with the Susquehannocks, a tribe of large stature and of honest and simple disposition. "Their voices were proportioned to their size," says Smith, "sounding, as it were, a great voice in a vault or cave, as an echo."
Early in the following year Smith, with Newport and about twenty others, went to Powhatan's residence to trade. Three hundred savages conducted Smith to Powhatan, who received him in great state. Before his house were ranged forty or fifty great platters of bread. Entering his house, "with loud tunes they made all signs of great joy."
The emperor sat upon his bed of mats, his pillow of leather embroidered with pearls and white beads, and his attire "a fair robe of skins, as large as an Irish mantle." He welcomed Smith with kindness, caused him to sit beside him, and with pleasant converse renewed their old acquaintance. Smith presented him with a suit of red cloth, a white greyhound, and a hat. Powhatan professed a great desire to see Smith's "father," Captain Newport, upon whose greatness Smith had before freely enlarged. That night the English were feasted liberally, and entertained with singing, dancing, and orations.
Next day Newport came on shore, and presents were exchanged. Newport gave Powhatan a white boy, thirteen years old, named Thomas Savage. This boy remained a long time with the Indians, and was useful to the colonists as an interpreter. In return, Powhatan gave Newport a bag of beans, and an Indian, named Namontack, for his servant. The party stayed three or four days, feasting, dancing, and trading with the natives.
In the matter of trade, Smith says of Powhatan, "he carried himself so proudly, yet discreetly (in his savage manner), as made us all to admire his natural gifts.
"'Captain Newport,' said he, 'it is not agreeable to my greatness in this peddling manner to trade for trifles; therefore lay down all your commodities together, what I like I will take, and in recompense give you what I think fitting their value.'"
Smith saw through his craftiness and warned Newport; but the latter resented his interference and placed all his goods before Powhatan, who in return gave him only a few bushels of corn, whereas he expected to have obtained twenty hogsheads. Smith, who was as wily as the Indian, showed him, as if by accident, a few blue beads which he pretended he did not wish to part with, as they were of great price, being of the color of the skies, and worn only by great kings. He so stimulated Powhatan's eagerness to possess such treasures that for a pound of blue beads he paid him two or three hundred bushels of corn.
It had been decided by the company in England to crown Powhatan, and to present him with a basin and ewer, bed, bedding, and clothes. The ceremony of coronation, which took place at Worawocomoco, is thus humorously described by Smith:
"The presents were brought him, his bed and furniture set up, his scarlet cloke and apparel with much adoe put on him. But a foule trouble there was to make him kneel to receive his crown; he not knowing the majesty nor meaning of a crown, nor bending of the knee, endured so many persuasions, examples, and illustrations as tired them all. At last, by bearing hard on his shoulders, he a little stooped, and three having the crown in their hands put it on his head, when, by the warning of a pistol, the boats were prepared with such a volley of shot that made the king start up in a horrible fear, till he saw all was well. Then, remembering himself to congratulate their kindness, he gave his old shoes and his mantle to Captain Newport."
Of this absurd ceremonial Smith observes, "We had his favor and better for a plain piece of copper, till this stately kind of solicitation made him so much overvalue himself that he respected us as much as nothing at all."
Nothing could be more plausible or apparently more free from treacherous intent than Powhatan's talk with Smith, when upon one occasion the latter, to extort food for the famished settlers which the Indians withheld, threatened to take it by force.
"Why should you," said the chief, "take by force that from us which you can have by love? Why should you destroy us who have provided you with food? What can you get by war? We can hide our provisions and fly into the woods, and then you must, consequently, perish by wronging your friends. What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed, and willing to supply your wants if you will come in a friendly manner, and not with guns and swords as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple as not to know it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly, to laugh and be merry with the English, and being their friend, to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want, than to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots, and such trash, and to be so hunted that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep, unless in this miserable manner to end my miserable life; and, Captain Smith, this might be your fate too, through your rashness and unadvisedness. I, therefore, entreat you to peaceable counsels, and, above all, I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness, be removed and sent away."
Smith rightly interpreted this cunning speech exactly contrary to what it expressed, and it confirmed rather than lessened his former suspicions that the wily chief sought an opportunity to destroy them. At length, finding all artifices in vain, Powhatan resolved to fall upon the English in their cabins in the night. From this peril they were saved by Pocahontas, who came alone to Jamestown, in a dismal night, through the woods, and informed Smith of her father's design. To show his gratitude, Smith says he would have given her "such things as she delighted in, but with the tears rolling down her cheeks she said she durst not be seen to have any, for if Powhatan should know it she were but dead; and so she ran away by herself as she came."
Another of Smith's wonderful exploits must now be recorded. With fifteen of his men he visited Opechanganough's residence, where he soon found himself surrounded by seven hundred armed savages seeking his life. Boldly charging the king with intent to murder him, he challenged him to single combat, Smith to be as naked as the king. The latter still professed friendship, but Smith seizing him by his long hair, in the midst of his guard, with his pistol at his breast led him trembling and near dead with fear among all his people. The king gave up his arms, and the savages, astonished at the daring of Smith, threw down their bows and loaded his men with corn and other commodities. A picture of this astonishing feat in Smith's "Generall Historic," represents the savage king as of gigantic stature, Smith appearing like a boy beside him.
Smith once encountered the king of Paspahegh, "a most strong, stout savage," who, seeing that the Englishman had only his sword, attempted to shoot him. Smith grappled with him, and the savage bore him into the river to drown him. Finally Smith got him by the throat and nearly strangled him. Then drawing his sword he was about to cut off his head, when the king begged his life so earnestly that Smith led him a prisoner to the fort and put him in chains. The chief afterwards succeeded in making his escape.
If the Indian was treacherous, so was the white man. Captain Argall, an English trader, with the gift of a copper kettle for himself, and a few toys for his squaw, induced a chief to entice Pocahontas on board his vessel. No wonder she had no suspicion of this base design, for she had proved her friendship for the English on more than one occasion, at a great sacrifice to herself.
This Indian maiden, as we are told by Smith, "far excelled all others for feature, countenance, and proportion," and for wit and spirit was "the only nonpareil of this country." In the early days of the colony, when but about twelve years of age, she had been sent by her father to Jamestown, to procure the release of some Indians detained at the fort. She was accompanied by Rawhunt, her father's trusty messenger, who assured Smith of Powhatan's love and kindness, in that he had sent his child whom he most esteemed to see him, and a deer and bread besides for a present. The prisoners were given to Pocahontas "in regard to her father's kindness, and Pocahontas also we requited with such trifles as contented her."
Pocahontas was taken by Argall to Jamestown, and a ransom was demanded of her father. Angry and indignant, as he well might be, Powhatan prepared for war.
One of the few romances that enliven the pages of our early history prevented such a calamity, and was the beginning of a firm and lasting peace. It happened that this dusky Indian maiden was beloved by John Rolfe, a worthy young Englishman who was the first to cultivate the tobacco plant In Virginia. Gaining her favor, he asked her in marriage. Her baptism was soon followed by her nuptials with Rolfe. In April, 1614, with the approbation of her father and friends, Opachisea, her uncle, gave the bride away, and the marriage ceremony was performed according to the forms of the English Church. Two years later the pair visited England. She was taken to the court, where she was known as the Lady Rebecca, and was received with great favor, everywhere attracting general attention as the daughter of the Virginia emperor, but died just as she was about to return to her native land, at the age of twenty-one. Among the distinguished Virginians who claim descent from this Indian princess was the celebrated John Randolph, of Roanoke.
While Pocahontas was in England, Smith went to see her. She had believed him dead, and was displeased at his neglect of her. Being a king's daughter, he would not permit her to call him father, at which she was greatly offended. "I will call you father," so she told him, and you shall call me child. They did tell me always you were dead, for your countrymen will lie much, and I knew no other till I came to Plymouth."
The Lady Rebecca and her husband had been accompanied to England by an Indian named Tomocomo, who was commissioned by Powhatan to inquire into the state of the country, and to note the number of its inhabitants. Arriving at Plymouth, he procured a long stick and began the performance of his task by cutting a notch for each person he saw. This primitive manner of taking the census was soon abandoned. His report of the state of the country he visited, if he ever made one, would to-day be very interesting reading.
An unlucky accident, which nearly cost Smith his life, put an end to his connection with the colony, and compelled him to go to England for proper surgical aid. While lying in his boat an explosion of gunpowder tore the flesh from his thigh and set fire to his clothing. He threw himself out of the boat into the water, and was nearly drowned before he could be rescued. He left Virginia in the autumn of 1609, and never returned. His efforts to preserve the colony, and to restrain the evil and turbulent spirits with which it abounded, had made him unpopular, and his life had been many times endangered by the machinations of his enemies. His later years were employed in explorations of the New England coast, in the composition of his valuable and interesting memoirs and descriptions of the New World, and in efforts to interest London capitalists in its colonization.
The only monument to the memory of this extraordinary man is a little marble shaft on the southerly summit of Star Island, one of the Isles of Shoals. His epitaph, given in Stow's "Survey of London," begins thus:
A tablet, with three Turks' heads engraved upon it, in St. Sepulchre's Church, London, marks the place of his burial.
Powhatan's successor, the famous Opechanganough, the gigantic chief who had captured Smith, for twenty-five years acted an important part in the history of Virginia. During his sway the most terrible of Indian massacres took place. Idle and vicious white men had stolen the Indians' corn, driven the game out of the country, and wronged them in many ways. Their lands had been taken from them, and scattered settlements had sprung up on the bay and the rivers running into it, in many cases remote from each other. The haughty Opechanganough had ever been intent on the destruction of the English, and by a course of craft and policy had lulled them into a fatal security. Having matured his plans, a general rising of the Indians took place, and three hundred and forty-seven persons, including six members of the council, were cut off.
The secrecy and dissimulation of the Indians were perfect. Treachery and falsehood are the natural weapons of the weak and timorous. Only two days before the fatal blow fell they sent one of their youth to live with the English and learn their language. On the very morning of the massacre they came unarmed among them and traded as usual, and even sat down to breakfast with their victims in several instances. No respect was paid to age, sex, or condition. Their best friends were among their first victims.
Those attacked were at a distance from Jamestown; there, fortunately, the people had warning. The night before the massacre a converted Indian was told by his brother of the proposed extermination of the English, and was urged to do his part by murdering his master. This seems to have been the only instance in which any obligation to the white man for benefits received was remembered. The Indian revealed the plot to his master.
Before daylight the planter, who lived opposite to Jamestown, crossed the river and warned the inhabitants. The people assembled with their arms, word was sent to all the settlements within reach, and the larger part of the colonists were by this means saved, the Indians making no attack where they seemed likely to encounter resistance.
Virginia was well-nigh ruined. The settlements were reduced from eighty to less than eight. All the smaller settlements and plantations were abandoned. Industries of all kinds ceased, except in the vicinity of the large towns, and the colonists at once set about to take "a sharp revenge upon the bloody miscreants." They destroyed the towns, the crops, the fishing weirs of the natives, shot them down as they would wild beasts wherever found, tracked them with blood-hounds to their hiding-places in the forest, and trained their mastiffs to tear them in pieces. This state of things lasted for years, and it was long before the planters returned to their old occupations.
A second massacre of the settlers, also planned by the now aged Opechanganough, who, borne upon a litter, accompanied his warriors, lasted two days. Three hundred persons were murdered. Its progress was finally checked by Sir William Berkeley, at the head of an armed force.
The old chief was taken prisoner not long afterwards, and carried to Jamestown. The soldier who guarded him barbarously shot him, inflicting a mortal wound. Just before he died, observing a curious crowd about hum, he roused himself from his lethargy, and in a tone of authority demanded that the governor should be summoned. When he came, Opechanganough indignantly said to him,
"Had it been my fortune to have taken Sir William Berkeley prisoner, I would not meanly have exposed him as a show to my people."
From this period the native population of Virginia gradually disappeared, leaving as memorials only the names of their mountains and streams.