Captaine Bartholomew Gosnoll, one of the first movers of this plantation, having many yeares solicited many of his friends, but found small assistants; at last prevailed with some Gentlemen, as Captaine Iohn Smith, Master Edward-maria Wingfield, Master Robert Hunt, and divers others, who depended a yeare vpon his proiects, but nothing could be effected, till by their great charge and industrie, it came to be apprehended by certaine of the Nobilitie, Gentry, and Marchants, so that his Maiestie by his letters patents, gaue commission for establishing Councels, to direct here; and to governe, and to execute there. To effect this, was spent another yeare, and by that, three ships were provided, one of 100 Tuns, another of 40, and a Pinnace of 20. The transportation of the company was committed to Captaine Christopher Newport, a Marriner well practised for the Westerne parts of America. But their orders for government were put in a box, not to be opened, nor the governours knowne vntill they arrived in Virginia. . . . On the 19 of December, 1606, we set sayle from Blackwell, but by vnprosperous winds, were kept six weekes in the sight of England; all which time, Master Hunt our Preacher, was so weake and sicke, that few expected his recovery.
We watered at the Canaries, we traded with the Salvages at Dominica; three weekes we spent in refreshing our selues amongst these west-India Isles; in Gwardalupa we found a bath so hot, as in it we boyled Porck as well as over the fire. And a little Isle called Monica, we tooke from the bushes with our hands, neare two hogsheads full of Birds in three or foure houres. In Mevis, Mona, and the Virgin Isles, we spent some time; where, with a lothsome beast like a Crocodil, called a Gwayn, Tortoises, Pellicans, Parrots, and fishes, we daily feasted.
Gone from thence in search of Virginia, the company was not a little discomforted, seeing the Marriners had 3 dayes passed their reckoning and found no land; so that Captaine Ratliffe (Captaine of the Pinnace) rather desired to beare vp the helme to returne for England, then make further search. But God the guider of all good actions, forcing them by an extreame storme to hull. all night, did driue them by his providence to their desired Port, beyond all their expectations; for never any of them had scene that coast.
The first land they made they called Cape Henry; where thirtie of them recreating themselues on shore, were assaulted by fiue Salvages, who hurt two of the English very dangerously.
That night was the box opened, and the orders read, in which Bartholomew Gosnoll, Iohn Smith, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, Iohn Ratliffe, Iohn Martin, and George Kendall, were named to be the Councell, and to choose a President amongst them for a year, who with the Councell should governe. Matters of moment were to be examined by a Iury, but determined by the maior part of the Councell, in which the President had two voyces.
Untill the 13 of May they sought a place to plant in; then the Councell. was sworne, Master Wingfield was chosen President, and an Oration made, why Captain Smith was not admitted of the Councell as the rest.
Now falleth every man to worke, the Councell contriue the Fort, the rest cut downe trees to make place to pitch their Tents; some provide clapbord to relade the ships, some make gardens, some nets, &c. The Salvages often visited vs kindly. The Presidents overweening iealousie would admit no exercise at armes, or fortification but the boughs of trees cast together in the forme of a halfe moone by the extraordinary paines and diligence of Captaine Kendall.
Newport, Smith, and twentie others, were sent to discover the head of the river: by divers small habitations they passed, in six dayes they arrived at a Towne called Powhatan, consisting of some twelue houses, pleasantly seated on a hill; before it, three fertile Iles, about it many of their cornefields, the place is very pleasant, and strong by nature, of this place the Prince is called Powhatan, and his people Powhatans. To this place the river is navigable: but higher within a myle, by reason of the Rocks and Isles, there is not passage for a small Boat, this they call the Falles.2 The people in all parts kindly intreated them, till being returned within twentie myles of Iames towne, they gaue iust cause of iealousie: but had God not blessed the discoverers otherwise than those at the Fort, there had then beene an end of that plantation; for at the Fort, where they arrived the next day, they found 17 men hurt, and a boy slaine by the Salvages, and had it not chanced a crosse barre shot from the Ships strooke downe a bough from a tree amongst them, that caused them to retire, our men had all beene slaine, being securely all at worke, and their armes in dry fats.
Herevpon the President was contented the Fort should be pallisadoed, the Ordnance mounted, his men armed and exercised: for many were the assaults, and ambuscadoes of the Salvages, and our men by their disorderly stragling were often hurt, when the Salvages by the nimblenesse of their heels well escaped.
What toyle we had, with so small a power to guard our workemen adayes, watch all night, resist our enemies, and effect our businesse, to relade the ships, cut downe trees, and prepare the ground to plant our Corne, &c. I referre to the Readers consideration. Six weekes being spent in this manner, Captaine Newport (who was hired onely for our transportation) was to returne with the ships.
Being thus left to our fortunes, it fortuned that within ten days scarce ten amongst vs could either goe, or well stand, such extreame weaknes and sicknes oppressed vs. And thereat none need marvaile, if they consider the cause and reason, which was this.
Whilst the ships stayed, our allowance was somewhat bettered, by a daily proportion of Bisket, which the sailers would pilfer to sell, giue, or exchange with vs, for money, Saxefras, furres, or loue. But when they departed, there remained neither taverne, beere house, nor place of reliefe, but the common Kettell. Had we beene as free from all sinnes as gluttony, and drunkennesse, we might haue beene canonized for Saints; But our President would never haue beene admitted, for ingrossing to his private, Oatmeale, Sacke, Oyle, Aquavitœ, Beefe, Egges, or what not, but the Kettell; that indeed he allowecl equally to be distributed, and that was halfe a pint of wheat, and as much barley boyled with water for a man a day, and this having fryed some 6 weekes in the ships hold, contained as many wormes as graines; so that we might truely call it rather so much bran than corne, our drinke was water, our lodgings Castles in the ayre.
With this lodging and dyet, our extreame toile in bearing and planting Pallisadoes, so strained and bruised vs, and our continuall labour in the extremitie of the heat had so weakened vs, as were cause sufficient to haue made vs as miserable in our natiue Countrey, or any other place in the world.
From May, to September, those that escaped, liued vpon Sturgeon, and Sea-crabs, fiftie in this time we buried, the rest seeing the Presidents proiects to escape these miseries in our Pinnace by flight (who all this time had neither felt want nor sicknes) so moved our dead spirits, as we deposed him; and established Ratcliffe in his place, (Gosnoll being dead) Kendall deposed. Smith newly recovered, Martin and Ratcliffe was by his care preserved and relieued, and the most of the souldiers recovered with the skilfull diligence of Master Thomas Wotton our Chirurgian generall.
But now was all our provision spent, the Sturgeon gone, all helps abandoned, each houre expecting the fury of the Salvages; when God the patron of all good indevours, in that desperate extremitie so changed the hearts of the Salvages, that they brought such plenty of their fruits, and provision, as no man wanted. . . .
The new President, and Martin, being little beloved, of weake iudgement in dangers, and lesse industrie in peace, committed the managing of all things abroad to Captaine Smith: who by his owne example, good words, and faire promises, set some to mow, others to binde thatch, some to build houses, others to thatch them, himselfe alwayes bearing the greatest taske for his owne share, so that in short time, he provided most of them lodgings, neglecting any for himselfe.
This done, seeing the Salvages superfluitie beginne to decrease (with some of his workmen) shipped himselfe in the Shallop to search the Country for trade. The want of the language, knowledge to mannage his boat without sailes, the want of a sufficient power (knowing the multitude of the Salvages), apparell for his-men, and other necessaries, were infinite impediments.
Being but six or seauen in company he went downe the river to Kecoughtan: where at first they scorned him, as a famished man; and would in derision offer him a handfull of Corne, a peece of bread, for their swords and muskets, and such like proportions also for their apparell. But seeing by trade and courtesie there was nothing to be had, he made bold to try such conclusions as necessitie inforced, though contrary to his Commission: Let fly his muskets, ran his boat on shore; whereat they all fled into the woods.
So marching towards their houses, they might see great heapes of corne: much adoe he had to restraine his hungry souldiers from present taking of it, expecting as it hapned that the Salvages would assault them, as not long after they did with a most hydeous noyse. Sixtie or seaventie of them, some blacke, some red, some white, some party-coloured, came in a square order, singing and dauncing out of the woods, with their Okee (which was an Idoll made of skinnes, stuffed with mosse, all painted and hung with chaines and copper) borne before them: and in this manner, being well armed with Clubs, Targets, Bowes and Arrowes, they charged the English, that so kindly receiued them with their muskets loaden with Pistoll shot, that downe fell their God, and divers lay sprauling on the ground; the rest fled againe to the woods, and ere long sent one of their Quiyoughkasoucks to offer peace, and redeeme their Okee.
Smith told them, if onely six of them would come vnarmed and loade his boat, he would not only be their friend, but restore them their Okee, and giue them Beads, Copper, and Hatchets besides: which on both sides was to their contents performed: and then they brought him Venison, Turkies, wild foule, bread, and what they had; singing and dauncing in signe of friendship till they departed.
In his returne he discovered the Towne and Country of Warraskoyack.
Made them thus kind, would vs deuour.
Smith perceiving (notwithstanding their late miserie) not any regarded but from hand to mouth: (the company being well recovered) caused the Pinnace to be provided with things fitting to get provision for the yeare following; but in the interim he made 3, or 4, iournies and discovered the people of Chickahamania: yet what he carefully provided the rest carelesly spent.
Wingfield and Kendall liuing in disgrace, seeing all things at randome in the absence of Smith, the companies dislike of their Presidents weaknes, and their small loue to Martins never mending sicknes, strengthened themselues with the sailers and other confederates, to regaine their former credit and authority, or at least such meanes abord the Pinnace, (being fitted to saile as Smith had oppointed for trade) to alter her course and to goe for England.
Smith vnexpectedly returning had the plot discovered to him, much trouble he had to prevent it till with store of sakre and musket shot he forced them stay or sinke in the riuer: which action cost the life of captaine Kendall.
These brawles are so disgustful, as some will say they were better forgotten, yet all men of good iudgement will conclude it were better their basenes should be manifest to the world, then the busines beare the scorne and shame of their excused disorders.
The President and captaine Archer not long after intended also to haue abandoned the country, which project also was curbed, and suppressed by Smith. The Spaniard never more greedily desired gold than he victuall; nor his souldiers more to abandon the Country, then he to keepe it. But finding plentie of Corne in the riuer of Chickahamania, where hundreds of Salvages in diuers places stood with baskets expecting his comming.
And now the winter approaching, the rivers became so covered with swans, geese, duckes, and cranes, that we daily feasted with good bread. Virginia pease, pumpions, and putchamins, fish, fowle, and diverse sorts of wild beasts as fat as we could eate them: so that none of our Tuftaffaty humorists desired to goe for England.
But our Comœdies never endured long without a Tragedie; some idle exceptions being muttered against Captaine Smith, for not discovering the head of Chickahamania river, and taxed by the Councell, to be slow in so worthy an attempt. The next voyage hee proceeded so farre that with much labour by cutting of trees insunder he made his passage; but when his Barge could passe no farther, he left her in a broad bay out of danger of shot, commanding none should goe a shore till his returne; himselfe with two English and two Salvages went vp higher in a Canowe; but hee was not long absent, but his men went a shore, whose want of government gaue both occasion and opportunity to the Salvages to surprise one George Cassen, whom they slew, and much failed not to have cut of the boat and all the rest.
Smith, little dreaming of that accident, being got to the marshes at the rivers head, twentie myles in the desert, had his two men slaine (as is supposed) sleping by the Canowe, whilst himselfe by fowling sought them victuall: who finding he was beset with 200 Salvages, two of them hee slew still defending himselfe with the ayd of a Salvage his guid, whom he bound to his arme with his garters, and vsed him as a buckler, yet he was shot in his thikh a little, and had many arrowes that stucke in his cloathes but no great hurt, till at last they tooke him prisoner.
When this newes came to Iames towne, much was their sorrow for his losse, fewe expecting what ensued. Sixe or seuen weekes those Barbarians kept him prisoner, many strange triumphes and coniurations they made of him, yet hee so demeaned himselfe amongst them, as he not onely diverted them from surprising the Fort, but procured his owne libertie, and got himselfe and his company such estimation amongst them, that those Salvages admired him more than their owne Quiyouckosucks.
At last they brought him to Meronocomoco, where was Powhatan their Emperor. Here more than two hundred of those grim Courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had beene a monster; till Powhatan and his trayne had put themselues in their greatest braveries. Before a fire vpon a seat like a bedsted, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun skinnes, and all the tayles hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 15 or 18 yeares, and along on each side the house, two rowes of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red: many of their heads bedecked with the white downe of Birds; but every one with something: and a great chayne of white beads about their necks.
At his entrance before the king, all the people gaue a great shout. The Queene of Appamatuck was appointed to bring him water to wash his hands, and another brought him a bunch of feathers, in stead of a Towell to ry 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 layd hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocohontas, the King's dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laide her owne vpon his to saue him from death: whereat the Emperour was contented he should liue to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him aswell of all occupations as themselues. For the King himselfe will make his owne robes, shooes, bowes, arrowes, pots; plant, hunt, or doe any thing so well as the rest.
They say he bore a pleasant shew,
Two dayes after, Powhatan having disguised himselfe in the most fearefullest manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and there vpon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after from behinde a mat that divided the house, was made the most dolefullest noyse he ever heard; then Powhatan more like a devill than a man, with some two hundred more as blacke as himselfe, came vnto him and told him now they were friends, and presently he should goe to Iames towne, to send him two great gunnes, and a gryndstone, for which he would giue him the Country of Capahowosick, and for ever esteeme him as his sonne Nantaquoud.
So to Iames towne 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 houre to he put to one death or other: for all their feasting. But almightie God (by his divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those sterne Barbarians with compassion. The next morning betimes they came to the Fort, where Smith having vsed the Salvages with what kindnesse he could, he shewed Rawhunt, Powhatans trusty servant, two demi-Culverings and a millstone to carry Powhatan: they found them somewhat too heavie; but when they did see him discharge them, being loaded with stones, among the boughs of a great tree loaded with Isickles the yce and branches came so tumbling downe, that the poore Salvages ran away halfe dead with feare. But at last we regained some conference with them, and gaue them such toyes; and sent to Powhatan, his women, and children such presents, as gaue them in generall full content.
Now in Iames Towne they were all in combustion, the strongest preparing once more to run away with the Pinnace; which with the hazzard of his life, with Sakre falcon and musket shot, Smith forced now the third time to stay or sinke.
Some no better than they should be, had plotted with the President, the next day to haue put him to death by the Leviticall law, for the liues of Robinson and Emry; pretending the fault was his that had led them to their ends; but he quickly tooke such order with such Lawyers, that he layd them by the heeles till he sent some of them prisoners for England.
Now ever once in foure or fiue dayes, Pocahontas with her attendants, brought him so much provision, that saved many of their liues, that els for all this had starved with hunger. . . .
Thus you may see what difficulties still crossed any good indevour; and the good successe of the businesse being thus oft brought to the very period of destruction; yet you see by what strange means God hath still delivered it.
Now whether it had beene better for Captaine Smith, to haue concluded with any of those severall proiects, to haue abandoned the Countrey, with some ten or twelue of them, who were called the better sort, and haue left Master Hunt our Preacher, Master Anthony Gosnoll, a most honest, worthy, and industrious Gentleman, Master Thomas Wotton and some 27 others of his Countrymen to the fury of the Salvages, famine, and all manner of mischiefes, and inconveniences, (for they were but fortie in all to keepe possession of this large Country;) or starue himselfe with them for company, for want of lodging: or but adventuring abroad to make them provision, or by his opposition to preserve the action, and saile all their liues; I leaue to the censure of all honest men to consider.
1From Smith's "General History of Virginia." Edward Arber has contended that, had not John Smith "strove, fought and endured as he did the present United States of America might never have come into existence." Spaniards and French alike had failed in their attempts at colonization, and so had the repeated expeditions sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh. Smith carried the Jamestown settlement through its difficulties,Smith, the "self-denying, energetic, so full of resources, and so trained in dealing with the savage races." Had Jamestown failed the Pilgrim fathers "would not have gone to New England." Smith was not the sole author of the "History of Virginia." Others contributed to the work.