Captain John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles (1624)
The Names of them that were the first Planters, were these following.
Mr. Edward Maria Wingfield
Captain Bartholomew Gosnoll
Captain John Smith
Captain John Ratliffe
Captain George Kendall
47 gentlemen listed.
4 carpenters listed
12 laborers listed, including one named "Old William"
James Read, Blacksmith
Jonas Profit, Sailer
Thomas Cowper, Barber
William Garret, Bricklayer
Edward Brinto, Mason
William Love, Taylor
Nic. Scott, Drum
William Wilkinson, Surg.
With divers others to the number of 100.
What Happened Till the First Supply
Being thus left to our fortunes, it fortuned that within ten days scarce ten amongst us could either go or well stand, such extreme weakness and sickness oppressed us. And thereat none need marvel, if they consider the cause and reason, which was this: Whilst the ships stayed, our allowance was somewhat bettered by a daily proportion of biscuit, which the sailors would pilfer to sell, give, or exchange with us for money, sassafras, furs, or love. But when they departed, there remained neither tavern, beer house, nor place of relief but the common kettle. Had we been as free from all sins as gluttony and drunkenness, we might have been canonized for saints. But our President would never have been admitted, for engrossing to his private [use] oatmeal, sack, oil, aquavitae, beef, eggs, or what not, but the [common] kettle. That, indeed, he allowed equally to be distributed, and that was half a pint of wheat, and as much barley boiled with water for a man a day. And this having fried some 26 weeks in the ship's hold contained as many worms as grains, so that we might truly call it rather so much bran than corn. Our drink was water, our lodgings castles in the air. With this lodging and diet, our extreme toil in bearing and planting Pallisadoes so strained and bruised us, and our continual labor in the extremity of the heat had so weakened us, as were cause sufficient to have made us as miserable in our native country or any other place in the world. From May to September those that escaped lived upon sturgeon and sea crabs. Fifty in this time we buried. The rest seeing the President's projects to escape these miseries in our pinnace by flight (who all this time had neither felt want nor sickness) so moved our dead spirits that we deposed him and established Ratcliffe in his place (Gosnold being dead), Kendall deposed. Smith newly recovered [from illness], Martin and Ratcliffe was by his care preserved and relieved, and the most of the soldiers recovered with the skillful diligence of Master Thomas Wotton, our surgeon general. But now was all our provision spent, the sturgeon gone, all helps abandoned. Each hour expecting the fury of the savages, when God, the patron of all good endeavors, in that desperate extremity so changed the hearts of the savages, that they brought such plenty of their fruits and provisions that no man wanted.
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 to 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 ignorant; 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, where we both spent our victual and lost the opportunity of the time and season to plant by the unskillful presumption 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 everything 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 do well themselves nor suffer others. But to proceed.
The new President and Martin, being little beloved, of weak judgment in dangers and less industry in peace, committed the managing of all things abroad to Captain Smith; who by his own example, good words, and fair promises set some to mow, others to bind thatch, some to build houses, others to thatch them, himself always bearing the greatest task for his own share, so that in short time he provided most of them lodgings, neglecting any for himself.
This done, seeing the savages' superfluity begin to decrease (with some of the workmen) shipped himself in the shallop to search the country for trade. The want of the language, knowledge to manage his boat without sails, the want of a sufficient power (knowing the multitude of the savages), apparel for his men, and other necessaries, were infinite impediments, yet no discouragement. Being but six or seven in company, he went down the river to Kecoughtan, where at first they scorned him, as a famished man, and would in derision offer him a handful of corn, a piece of bread for their swords and muskets, and such like proportions also for their apparel. But seeing by trade and courtesy there was nothing to be had, he made bold to try such conclusions as necessity enforced, though contrary to his commission. [He] 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 heaps of corn: much ado he had to restrain his hungry soldiers from present taking of it, expecting as it happened that the savages would assault them; as not long after they did with a most hideous noise. Sixty or seventy of them, some black, some red, some white, some parti-colored came in a square order, singing and dancing out of the woods, with their Okee (which was an idol made of skins, stuffed with moss, all painted and hung with chains and copper) borne before them. And in this manner, being well armed with clubs, targets, bows and arrows, they charged the English, that so kindly received them with their muskets loaden with pistol shot, that down fell their god and divers lay on the ground. The rest fled again to the woods and ere long sent one of the Quiyoughkasoucks to offer peace and redeem their Okee. Smith told them if only six of them would come unarmed and load his boat, he would not only be their friend, but restore them their Okee, and give them beads, copper, and hatchets besides: which on both sides was to their contents performed: and then they brought him venison, turkeys, wild fowl, bread, and what they had, singing and dancing in sign of friendship till they departed. . . .
Thus God unboundless by his
Made them thus kind, would us devour.
Smith, perceiving (notwithstanding their late misery) 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 year following. But in the interim he made three or four journeys and discovered the people of Chickahamania. Yet what he carefully provided the rest carelessly spent. Wingfield and Kendall living in disgrace, seeing all things at random in the absence of Smith, the company's dislike of their President's weakness, and their small love to Martin's never mending sickness, strengthened themselves with the sailors and other confederates to regain their former credit and authority, or at least such means aboard the pinnace (being fitted to sail as Smith had appointed for trade) to alter her course and to go for England. Smith unexpectedly returning had the plot discovered to him. Much trouble he had to prevent it, till with store of saker and musket shot he forced them to stay or sink in the river; which action cost the life of Captain Kendall. These brawls are so disgustful, as some will say, they were better forgotten, yet all men of good judgment will conclude it were better their baseness should be manifest to the world than the business bear the scorn and share of their excused disorders.
The President and Captain Archer not long after intended also to have abandoned the country, which project also was curbed and suppressed by Smith. The Spaniard never more greedily desired gold than he [Smith] victual; nor his soldiers more to abandon the country than he to keep it. But [he found] plenty of corn in the river of Chickahominy, where hundreds of savages in diverse places stood with baskets expecting his coming. And now the winter approaching, the river became so covered with swans, geese, ducks, and cranes that we daily feasted with good bread, Virginia peas, pumpkins, and putchamins [persimmons], fish, fowl, and diverse sorts of wild beasts as fat as we could eat them, so that none of our tuftaffaty [silly] humorists desired to go for England.
But our comedies never endured long without a tragedy. Some idle exceptions being muttered against Captain Smith for not discovering the head of Chickahominy River and [being] taxed by the Council to be too slow in so worthy an attempt, the next voyage [in December] he proceeded so far that with much labor by cutting trees in sunder he made his passage, but when his barge could pass no farther, he left her in a broad bay out of danger of shot, commanding none should go ashore till his return. Himself, with two English and two savages, went up higher in a canoe. But he was not long absent but his men went ashore, whose want of government gave both occasion and opportunity to the savages to surprise one George Cassen, whom they slew, and much failed not to have cut off the boat and all the rest.
[Among the colonists on the next ship arriving included the following tradesmen.]
Daniel Stallings, Jeweller.
Richard Belfield, a Goldsmith.
William Dawson, a refiner.
Abram Ransack, a refiner.
Post Ginnat, a Surgeon
William Johnson, a Goldsmith.
John Lewes, a Cooper.
Peter Keffer, a gunsmith.
Robert Cotton, a tobacco pipe-maker.
Rob: Alberton, a perfumer.
Richard Dole, a Blacksmith.
The Accidents that happened in the Discovery of the Bay of Chesapeake
The prodigality of the President's state went so deepe into our small store, that Smith and Scrivener tied him and his Parasites to the rules of proportion. But now Smith being to depart, the President's authority so overswayed the discretion of Master Scrivener that our store, our time, our strength and labors were idly consumed to fulfill his fantasies. The second of June 1608 , Smith left the fort to perform his discovery with this company [Six gentlemen and Seven soldiers, and One doctor]
These being in an open barge near three tons burden, leaving the Phoenix at Cape Henry, they crossed the Bay to the eastern shore and fell with the isles called Smith's Isles, after our captain's name. The first people we saw were two grim and stout savages upon Cape Charles, with long poles like javelins, headed with bone. They boldly demanded what we were and what we would, but after many circumstances they seemed very kind and directed us to Accomac, the habitation of their werowance, where we were kindly entreated. This king was the comeliest, proper, civil savage we encountered. His country is a pleasant fertile clay soil, some small creeks, good harbors for small barks but not for ships. He told us of a strange accident lately happened him, and it was: Two children being dead, some extreme passions or dreaming visions, fantasies, or affection moved their parents again to revisit their dead carcasses, whose benumbed bodies reflected to the eyes of the beholders such delightful countenances, as though they had regained their vital spirits. This as a miracle drew many to behold them, all which being a great part of his people, not long after died and but few escaped.
They spake the language of Powhatan, wherein they made such descriptions of the Bay, isles, and rivers that often did us exceeding pleasure. Passing along the coast, [we searched] every inlet and bay fit for harbors and habitations. Seeing many isles in the midst of the Bay we bore up for them, but ere we could obtain them such an extreme gust of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning happened that with great danger we escaped the unmerciful raging of that oceanlike water. The highest land on the main, yet it was but low, we called Keale's Hill, and these uninhabited isles, Russell's Isles.
The next day searching them for fresh water we could find none, the defect whereof forced us to follow the next eastern channel, which brought us to the river of Wighcocomoco [Pocomoke].
The people at first with great fury seemed to assault us, yet at last with songs and dances and much mirth became very tractable. But searching their habitations for water, we could fill but three barricoes [kegs] and that such puddle [water] that never till then we ever knew the want of good water. We digged and searched in many places but before two days were expired, we would have refused two barricoes of gold for one of that puddle water of Wighcocomoco.
Being past these isles, which are many in number but all naught for habitation, falling with a high land upon the main, we found a great pond of fresh water but so exceeding hot we supposed it some bath. That place we called Point Ployer in honor of that most honorable House of Moussaye in Brittany that in an extreme extremity once relieved our captain.
From Wighcocomoco to this place all the coast is low broken isles of morap [marsh], grown a mile or two in breadth and ten or twelve in length, good to cut for hay in summer and to catch fish and fowl in winter; but the land beyond them is all covered over with wood, as is the rest of the country.
Being thus refreshed, in crossing over from the main to other isles we discovered, the wind and waters so much increased with thunder, lightning, and rain that our mast and sail blew overboard and such mighty waves overracked us in that small barge that with great labor we kept her from sinking by freeing [bailing] out the water.
Two days we were enforced to inhabit these uninhabited isles, which for the extremity of gusts, thunder, rain, storms, and ill weather we called Limbo. Repairing our sail with our shirts, we set sail for the main and fell with a pretty convenient river on the east called Kuskarawaok [Nanticoke]. The people ran as amazed in troops from place to place and diverse got into the tops of trees. They were not sparing of their arrows, nor [of] the greatest passion they could express of their anger. Long they shot, we still riding at an anchor without their reach, making all the signs of friendship we could.
The next day they came unarmed with everyone a basket, dancing in a ring to draw us on shore. But seeing there was nothing in them but villainy, we discharged a volley of muskets charged with pistol shot; whereat they all lay tumbling on the ground, creeping some one way, some another into a great cluster of reeds hard by, where their companies lay in ambuscado. Towards the evening we weighed [anchor] and approaching the shore, discharging five or six shot among the reeds, we landed where there lay a many of baskets and much blood, but saw not a savage. A smoke appearing on the other side of the river, we rowed thither, where we found two or three little houses, in each a fire. There we left some pieces of copper, beads, bells, and looking glasses, and then went into the Bay; but when it was dark we came back again.
Early in the morning four savages came to us in their canoe, whom we used with such courtesy. [They] not knowing what we were nor had done, having been in the Bay a fishing, bade us stay and ere long they would return, which they did and some twenty more with them; with whom after a little conference, two or three thousand men, women, and children came clustering about us, everyone presenting us with something, which a little bead would so well requite that we became such friends they would contend who should fetch us water, stay with us for hostage, conduct our men any whither, and give us the best content.
Here doth inhabit the people Sarapinagh, Nause, Arseek, and Nantaquake, the best merchants of all other savages. They much extolled a great nation called Massawomekes, in search of whom we returned by Limbo. This river, but only at the entrance, is very narrow, and the people of small stature as them of Wighcocomoco; the land but low, yet it may prove very commodious because it is but a ridge of land betwixt the Bay and the main ocean. Finding this eastern shore shallow broken isles, and for most part without fresh water, we passed by the straits of Limbo for the western shore. So broad is the Bay here we could scarce perceive the great high cliffs on the other side. By them we anchored that night and called them Rickard's Cliffs.
Thirty leagues we sailed more northwards not finding any inhabitants, leaving all the eastern shore, low islands but overgrown with wood, as all the coast beyond them so far as we could see. The western shore by which we sailed we found all along well watered but very mountainous and barren, the valleys very fertile but extreme thick of small wood so well as trees and much frequented with wolves, bears, deer, and other wild beasts.
We passed many shallow creeks but the first we found navigable for a ship we called Bolus [Patapsco], for that the clay in many places under the cliffs by the high water mark did grow up in red and white knots as gum out of trees; and in some places so participated together as though they were all of one nature, excepting the color; the rest of the earth on both sides being hard sandy gravel, which made us think it bole-armeniac and terra sigillata.
When we first set sail some of our gallants doubted nothing but that our captain would make too much haste home. But having lain in this small barge not above twelve or fourteen days, oft tired at the oars, our bread spoiled with wet so much that it was rotten (yet so good were their stomachs that they could digest it) they did with continual complaints so importune him now to return as caused him bespeake them in this manner:
Gentlemen, if you would remember the memorable history of Sir Ralph Lane, how his company importuned him to proceed in the discovery of Moratico, alleging they had yet a dog that being boiled with sassafras leaves would richly feed them in their returns; then what a shame would it be for you (that have been so suspicious of my tenderness) to force me [to] return with so much provision as we have and scarce able to say where we have been nor yet heard of that we were sent to seek? You cannot say but I have shared with you in the worst which is past; and for what is to come of lodging, diet, or whatsoever I am contented you allot the worst part to myself. As for your fears that I will lose myself in these unknown large waters or be swallowed up in some stormy gust, abandon these childish fears, for worse than is passed is not likely to happen. And there is as much danger to return as to proceed. Regain, therefore, your old spirits, for return I will not (if God please) till I have seen the Massawomekes [and] found Potomac or the head of this water you conceit to be endless.
Two or three days we expected [experienced] wind and weather whose adverse extremities added such discouragement that three or four fell sick, whose pitiful complaints caused us to return, leaving the Bay some nine miles broad at nine and ten fathom water.
The 16th of June we fell with the river Potomac. Fear being gone and our men recovered, we were all content to take some pains to know the name of that seven mile broad river. For thirty miles' sail we could see no inhabitants. Then we were conducted by two savages up a little bayed creek towards Onawmanient [Nomini Bay], where all the woods were laid with ambuscados to the number of three or four thousand [more likely hundred] savages, so strangely painted, grimed and disguised, shouting, yelling, and crying as so many spirits from hell could not have showed more terrible.
Many bravadoes they made, but to appease their fury our captain prepared with as seeming a willingness (as they) to encounter them. But the grazing of our bullets upon the water (many being shot on purpose they might see them) with the echo of the woods so amazed them as down went their bows and arrows; and exchanging hostages, James Watkins was sent six miles up the woods to their king's habitation. We were kindly used of those savages of whom we understood they were commanded to betray us, by the direction of Powhatan; and he so directed from the discontented at Jamestown because our captain did cause them stay in their country against their wills.
(The like encounters we found at Potomac, Cecocawonce and diverse other places; but at Moyaones, Nacotchtant, and Toags the people did their best to content us.)
Having gone so high as we could with the boat, we met diverse savages in canoes well loaden with the flesh of bears, deer, and other beasts; whereof we had part. Here we found mighty rocks growing in some places above the ground as high as the shrubby trees and diverse other solid quarries of diverse tinctures; and diverse places where the waters had fallen from high mountains they had left a tinctured spangled scurf that made many bare places seem as gilded. Digging the ground above in the highest cliffs of rocks, we saw it was a clay sand so mingled with yellow spangles as if it had been half pin-dust.
In our return, inquiring still for this matchqueon [as the Indians called this spangled pin-dust], the king of Potomac gave us guides to conduct us up a little river called Quiyough [Aquia Creek], up which we rowed so high as we could. Leaving the boat, with six shot and diverse savages he marched seven or eight miles before they came to the mine. [He led the bound hostages by] a small chain [which] they were to have for their pains, being proud so richly to be adorned.
The mine is a great rocky mountain like antimony, wherein they digged a great hole with shell and hatchets. And hard by it runneth a fair brook of crystal-like water where they wash away the dross and keep the remainder, which they put in little bags and sell it all over the country to paint their bodies, faces, or idols, which makes them look like blackamoors dusted over with silver. With so much as we could carry we returned to our boat, kindly requiting this kind king and all his kind people.
The cause of this discovery was to search [for] this mine of which Newport did assure us that those small bags we had given him, in England he had tried [and found] to hold half silver; but all we got proved of no value. Also to search what furs the best whereof is at Kuskarawaok, where is made so much roanoke [shells] or white beads that occasion as much dissension among the savages as gold and silver among Christians. And what other minerals, rivers, rocks, nations, woods, fishings, fruits, victual, and what other commodities the land affordeth. And whether the Bay were endless or how far it extended.
Of mines we were all ignorant, but a few beavers, otters, bears, martins, and minks we found. And in diverse places that abundance, of fish lying so thick with their heads above the water [that] as for want of nets (our barge driving among them) we attempted to catch them with a frying pan, but we found it a bad instrument to catch fish with. Neither better fish, more plenty, nor more variety for small fish had any of us ever seen in any place so swimming in the water, but they are not to be caught with frying pans. Some small cod also we did see swim close by the shore by Smith's Isles, and some as high as Rickard's Cliffs. And some we have found dead upon the shore.
To express all our quarrels, treacheries, and encounters amongst those savages I should be too tedious. But in brief, at all times we so encountered them and curbed their insolencies that they concluded with presents to purchase peace; yet we lost not a man. At our first meeting our captain ever observed this order: to demand their bows and arrows, swords, mantles, and furs, with some child or two for hostage; whereby we could quickly perceive when they intended any villainy.
Having finished this discovery (though our victual was near spent) he intended to see his imprisonment-acquaintances upon the river of Rappahannock, by many called Tappahannock. But our boat by reason of the ebb chancing to ground upon a many shoals lying in the entrances, we spied many fishes lurking in the reeds. Our captain sporting himself by nailing them to the ground with his sword set us all a fishing in that manner. Thus we took more in one hour than we could eat in a day.
But it chanced our captain taking a fish from his sword (not knowing her condition) being much of the fashion of a thornback but a long tail like a riding rod, whereon the middest is a most poisoned sting of two or three inches long, bearded like a saw on each side, which she struck into the wrist of his arm near an inch and a half. No blood nor wound was seen but a little blue spot. But the torment was instantly so extreme that in four hours had so swollen his hand, arm, and shoulder we all with much sorrow concluded [anticipated] his funeral and prepared his grave in an island by, as himself directed. Yet it pleased God by a precious oil Doctor Russell at the first applied to it when he sounded it with a probe (ere night) his tormenting pain was so well assuaged that he ate of the fish to his supper, which gave no less joy and content to us than ease to himself. For which we called the island Stingray Isle after the name of the fish.
Having neither surgeon nor surgery but that preservative oil, we presently set sails for Jamestown, passing the mouths of the rivers Piankatank and Pamunkey. The next day we safely arrived at Kecoughtan.
The simple savages seeing our captain hurt and another bloody by breaking his skin, our numbers of bows, arrows, swords, mantles, and furs would needs imagine we had been at wars. The truth of these accidents would not satisfy them, but impatiently importuned us to know with whom. Finding their aptness to believe, we failed not (as a great secret) to tell them anything that might affright them, what spoil we had got and made of the Massawomekes. This rumor went faster up the river than our barge, that arrived at Warraskoyack the 20th of July, where trimming her with painted streamers and such devices as we could we made them at Jamestown jealous of [suspicious of being] a Spanish frigate, where we all, God be thanked, safely arrived the 21st of July.
There we found the last Supply [of new settlers] were all sick, the rest some lame, some bruised-all unable to do anything but complain of the pride and unreasonable needless cruelty of the silly President that had riotously consumed the store and to fulfill his follies about building him an unnecessary building for his pleasure in the woods had brought them all to that misery, that had we not arrived they had as strangely tormented him with revenge.
But the good news of our discovery and the good hope we had by the savages' relation that our Bay had stretched into the South Sea or somewhat near it, appeased their fury. But conditionally that Ratcliffe should be deposed and that Captain Smith would take upon him the government, as by course it did belong.
Their request being effected, he substituted Master Scrivener, his dear friend, in the Presidency, equally distributing those private provisions the other had engrossed, appointing more honest officers to assist Master Scrivener (who then lay exceeding sick of a calenture). And in regard of the weakness of the company and heat of the year, they being unable to work, he left them to live at ease to recover their health, but embarked himself to finish his discovery. . . .
So setting sail for the southern shore, we sailed up a narrow river up the country of Chesapeake. It hath a good channel but many shoals about the entrance. By [the time] that we had sailed six or seven miles we saw two or three little garden plots with their houses, the shores overgrown with the greatest pine and fir trees we ever saw in the country. But not seeing nor hearing any people and the river very narrow, we returned to the great river to see if we could find any of them, coasting the shore towards Nansemond which is mostly oyster banks. At the mouth of that river we espied six or seven savages making their weirs, who presently fled. Ashore we went and where they wrought we threw diverse toys and so departed. Far we were not gone ere they came again and began to sing and dance and recall us. And thus we began our first acquaintance. At last one of them desired us to go to his house up that river. Into our boat voluntarily he came; the rest ran after us by the shore with all the show of love that could be. Seven or eight miles we sailed up this narrow river. At last on the western shore we saw large cornfields; in the midst [of the river] a little isle, and in it was an abundance of corn. The people, he told us, were all a hunting but in the isle was his house, to which he invited us with much kindness. To him, his wife, and children we gave such things as they seemed much contented them. The others being come, desired us also to go but a little higher to see their houses. Here our host left us, the rest rowed by us in a canoe till we were so far past the isle the river became very narrow.
Here we desired some of them to come aboard us, whereat pausing a little they told us they would but fetch their bows and arrows and go all with us. But being ashore and thus armed, they persuaded us to go forward, but we could neither persuade them into their canoe nor into our boat. This gave us cause to provide for the worst. Far we went not ere seven or eight canoes full of men armed appeared following us, staying to see the conclusion. Presently from each side the river came arrows so fast as two or three hundred could shoot them, whereat we returned to get the open. They in the canoes let fly also as fast, but amongst them we bestowed so many shot [that] the most of them leaped over board and swam ashore; but two or three escaped by rowing. Being against their plains [open, flat land], our muskets they found shot further than their bows, for we made not twenty shot ere they all retired behind the next trees. Being thus got out of their trap, we seized on all their canoes and moored them in the midst of the open. More than a hundred arrows stuck in our targets and about the boat. Yet none [was] hurt; only Anthony Bagnall was shot in his hat and another in his sleeve. But seeing their multitudes, and suspecting, as it was, that both the Nansemonds and the Chesapeakes were together, we thought it best to ride by their canoes a while to bethink if it were better to burn all in the isle or draw them to composition [peace] till we were provided to take all they had, which was sufficient to feed all our colony. But to burn the isle at night it was concluded.
In the interim we began to cut in pieces their canoes, and they presently lay down their bows, making signs of peace. Peace, we told them, we would accept it, would they bring us their king's bows and arrows with a chain of pearl, and when we came again give us four hundred baskets full of corn; otherwise we would break all their boats and burn their houses and corn and all they had. To perform all this they alleged only the want of a canoe. So we put one adrift and bade them swim to fetch her, and till they performed their promise we would but only break their canoes. They cried to us to do no more; all should be as we would, which presently they performed. Away went their bows and arrows and tag and rag came with their baskets. So much as we could carry we took, and so departing good friends we returned to Jamestown, where we safely arrived the 7th of September, 16o8.
There we found Master Scrivener and diverse others well recovered; many dead, some sick; the late President a prisoner for mutiny; by the most honest diligence of Master Scrivener the harvest gathered, but the provision in the store much spoiled with rain.
Thus was that summer (when little wanted) consumed and spent and nothing done (such was the government of Captain Ratcliffe) but only this discovery. Wherein to express all the dangers, accidents, and encounters this small number passed in that small barge, by the scale of proportion about three thousand miles with such watery diet in those great waters and barbarous countries (till then to any Christian utterly unknown) I rather their merit to the censure of the courteous and experienced reader than I would be tedious or partial, being a party.
No sooner were we landed but the President dispersed so many as were able, some for glass, others for tar, pitch, and soap-ashes, leaving them with the fort to the Council's oversight.
But thirty of us he conducted down the river some five miles from Jamestown to learn to make Clapboard, cut down trees, and lay in woods. Amongst the rest he had chosen Gabriel Beadle and John Russell, the only two gallants of this last Supply, and both proper gentlemen. Strange were these pleasures to their conditions; yet lodging, eating and drinking, working or playing, they [were] but doing as the President did himself. All these things were carried so pleasantly as within a week they became masters making it their delight to hear the trees thunder as they fell. But the axes so oft blistered their tender fingers that many times every third blow had a loud oath to drown the echo. For remedy of which sin, the President devised how to have every man's oaths numbered,. and at night for every oath to have a can of water poured down his sleeve, with which every offender was so wash (himself and all) that a man should scarce hear an oath in a week
By this let no man think that the President and these gentlemen spent their times as common wood-haggers at felling of trees or such like labors; or that they were pressed to it as hirelings or common slaves. For what they did, after they were but once a little inured, it seemed, and some conceited it, only as a pleasure and recreation, yet 30 or 40of such voluntary gentlemen would do more in a day than one hundred of the rest that must be pressed to it by compulsion. But twenty good workmen had been better than them all.
Master Scrivener, Captain Waldo, and Captain Winne at the fort, every one in like manner carefully regarded their charge. The President returning from amongst the woods, seeing the time consumed and no provision gotten (and the ship lay idle at a great charge and did nothing) presently embarked himself in the discovery barge, giving order to the Council to send Lieutenant Percy after him with the next barge that arrived at the fort. Two barges he had himself and eighteen men. But arriving at Chickahominy, that dogged nation was too well acquainted with our wants, refusing to trade with as much scorn and insolence as they could express. The President perceiving it was Powhatan's policy to starve us, told them he came not so much for their corn as to revenge his imprisonment and the death of his men murdered by them. And so landing his men, and ready to charge them, they immediately fled; and presently after sent their ambassadors with corn, fish, fowl, and what they had to make their peace. Their corn being that year but bad, they complained extremely of their own wants, yet freighted our boats with a hundred bushels of corn and in like manner Lieutenant Percy's that not long after arrived. And having done the best they could to content us, we parted good friends and returned to Jamestown. . . .
All this time our old tavern made as much of all them that had either money or ware as could be desired. This time they were become so perfect on all sides (I mean the soldiers, sailors, and savages) as there was ten times more car to maintain their damnable and private trade than to provide for the colony things that were necessary. Neither was it a small policy in Newport and the mariners to report in England we ha such plenty and bring us so many men without victuals when they had so many private factors in the fort that within six or seven weeks [out] of two or three hundred axes, chisels, hoes, and pickaxes scarce twenty could be found. And for pike-heads, shot,, powder, or anything they could steal from their fellows [that] was vendible, they knew as well (and as secretly) how to convey them to trade with the savages for furs, baskets, mussanecks, young beasts, or such like commodities, as exchange them with the sailors for butter, cheese, beef, pork, aqua vitae, beer, biscuit, oatmeal, and oil; and then feign all was sent them from their friends. And though Virginia afforded no furs for the store, yet one master in one voyage hath got so many by this indirect means as he confessed to have sold in England for £30.
Those are the saint-seeming worthies of Virginia (that have notwithstanding all this meat, drink, and wages): but now they begin to grow weary, their trade being both perceived and prevented. None hath been in Virginia that hath observed anything which knows not this to be true. And yet the loss, the scorn, the misery, and shame was the poor officers, gentlemen, and careless governors who were all thus bought and sold, the Adventurers couzened, and the action overthrown by their false excuses, informations, and directions. By this let all men judge how this business could prosper, being thus abused by such pilfering occasions. And had not Captain Newport cried Peccavi, the President would have discharged the ship and caused him to have stayed one year in Virginia to learn to speak of his own experience.
Master Scrivener was sent with the barges and pinnace to Werowocomoco, where he found the savages more ready to fight than trade. But his vigilancy was such as prevented their projects, and by the means of Namontack [he] got three or four hogsheads of corn; and as much puccoon, which is a red root which then was esteemed an excellent dye. Captain Newport, being dispatched with the trials of pitch, tar, glass, frankincense, soap-ashes, [along] with that clapboard and wainscot that could be provided, met with Master Scrivener at point Comfort, and so returned for England. We remaining were about two hundred.
THE COPY OF A LETTER SENT TO THE TREASURER AND COUNCIL OF VIRGINIA FROM CAPTAIN SMITH, THEN PRESIDENT IN VIRGINIA.
Right Honorable, etc.
I received your letter wherein you write that our minds are so set upon faction and idle conceits in dividing the country without your consents and that we feed you but with ifs and ands, hopes, and some few proofs, as if we would keep the mystery of the business to ourselves. And that we must expressly follow your instructions sent by Captain Newport, the charge of whose voyage amounts to near two thousand pounds, the which if we cannot defray by the ship's return we are like to remain as banished men. To these particulars I humbly entreat your pardons if I offend you with my rude answer.
For our factions: Unless you would have me run away and leave the country I cannot prevent them, because I do make many stay that would else fly any whether. For the idle letter sent to my Lord of Salisbury by the President [Ratcliffe] and his confederates for dividing the country, etc.: What it was I know not, for you saw no hand of mine to it, nor ever dreamt I of any such matter. That we feed you with hopes, etc.: Though I be no scholar I am past a schoolboy, and I desire but to know what either you and these here do know but that I have learned to tell you by the continual hazard of my life. I have not concealed from you anything I know, but I fear some cause you to believe much more than is true.
Expressly to follow your directions by Captain Newport, though they be performed I was directly against it; but according to our commission, I was content to be overruled by the major part of the Council. I fear to the hazard of us all, which now is generally confessed when it is too late. Only Captain Winne and Captain Waldo I have sworn of the Council and crowned Powhatan according to your instructions.
For the charge of this voyage of two or three thousand pounds: We have not received the value of a hundred pounds. And for the quartered boat to be borne by the soldiers over the falls: Newport had one hundred twenty of the best men he could chose. If he had burnt her to ashes one might have carried her in a bag, but as she is five hundred cannot to a navigable place above the falls. And for him at that time to find in the South Sea a mine of gold or any of them sent by Sir Walter Raleigh: at our consultation I told them was as likely as the rest. But during this great discovery thirty miles (which might as well have been done by one man and much more for the value of a pound of copper at a seasonable time) they had the pinnace and all the boats with them but one that remained with me to serve the fort.
In their absence I followed the new begun works of pitch and tar, glass, soap-ashes, and clapboard; whereof some small quantities we have sent you. But if you rightly consider what an infinite toil it is in Russia and Swethland [Sweden] where the woods are proper for naught else, and though there be the help both of man and beast in those ancient commonwealths, which many a hundred years have used it; yet thousands of those poor people can scarce get necessaries to live but from hand to mouth. And though your factors there can buy as much in a week as will fraught you a ship or as much as you please, you must not expect from us any such matter, which are but a many of ignorant, miserable souls that are scarce able to get wherewith to live and defend ourselves against the inconstant savages; finding but here and there a tree fit for the purpose, and want all things else the Russians have.
For the coronation of Powhatan: By whose advice you sent him such presents I know not, but this give me leave to tell you: I fear they will be the confusion of us all ere we hear from you again. At your ship's arrival the savages' harvest was newly gathered, and we going to buy it, our own not being half sufficient for so great a number. As for the two ships' loading of corn Newport promised to provide us from Powhatan, he brought us but four teen bushels, and from the Monacans nothing, but the most of the men sick and near famished. From your ship we had not pro vision in victuals worthy twenty pounds, and we are more than two hundred to live upon this: the one half sick, the other little better. For the sailors: I confess they daily make good cheer, but our diet is a little meal and water and not sufficient of that. Though there be fish in the sea, fowls in the air, and beasts in the woods, their bounds are so large, they so wild, and we so weak and ignorant we cannot much trouble them. Captain Newport we much suspect to be the author of those inventions.
Now, that you should know I have made you as great a discovery as he for less charge than he spendeth you every meal, I have sent you this map of the Bay and rivers, with an annexed relation of the countries and nations that inhabit them, as you may see at large. Also two barrels of stones and such as I take to be good iron ore at the least, so divided as by their notes you may see in what places I found them.
The soldiers say many of your officers maintain their families out of that you send us, and that Newport hath a hundred pounds a year for carrying news. For every master you have yet sent can find the way as well as he, so that a hundred pounds might be spared, which is more than we have all that helps to pay him wages.
Captain Ratcliffe is now called Sicklemore, a poor counterfeited imposture.* I have sent you him home, lest the company should cut his throat. What he is now everyone can tell you. If he and Archer return again, they are sufficient to keep us always in factions.
When you send again I entreat you rather send but thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided, than a thousand of such as we have. For except we be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before hey can be made good for anything.
Thus if you please to consider this account and of the unnecessary wages to Captain Newport or his ships so long lingering and staying here (for notwithstanding his boasting to leave us victuals for twelve months, though we had eighty-nine by this discovery lame and sick and but a pint of corn a day for a man, we were constrained to give him three hogsheads of that to victual him homeward) or yet [not] to send into Germany or Poland for glassmen and the rest till we be able to sustain ourselves and relieve them
When they come. It were better to give five hundred pounds a ton -for those gross commodities in Denmark than send for them hither till more necessary things be provided. For in over-toiling our weak and unskillful bodies to satisfy this desire of present profit we can scarce ever recover ourselves from one Supply to another.
And I humbly entreat you hereafter let us know what we should receive and not stand to the sailors' courtesy to leave us what they please, else you may charge us with what you will but we not you with anything.
These are the causes that have kept us in Virginia from laying such a foundation that ere this might have given much better content and satisfaction, but as profitable returns. So I humbly rest.
Source: John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles . . .  (Glasgow, 1907). *Some spelling has been modernized.
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