Abbildungen der Seite



Such were the regulations under which the patentees pro ceeded to the arduous task of founding a colony at the distance of three thousand miles from the mother country, in a region filled with powerful tribes of savages, who, if they should at first receive them as friendly visiters, would not be slow to discover that their occupation of the soil was dangerous to themselves and their posterity.

Having procured their charter, the patentees proceeded to fit out a squadron of three small vessels, the largest not exceeding one hundred tons burden, bearing one hundred and five men destined to remain. This squadron was placed under the command of Captain Newport; and sailed from England on the 19th of December, 1606, one hundred and nine years after the discovery of the continent by Cabot.

Among the emigrants were some gentlemen of distin guished families, particularly Mr. Percy, brother to the Earl

Northumberland; but there was a great deficiency of artisans, mechanics, and labourers, so absolutely necessary in a new settlement, and none of the men brought families with them, which at the present day we should consider quite essential to the success of such an enterprise. On the voyage, dissensions arose ; and as King James had concealed the names and instructions of the council in a box, which was not to be opened till their arrival, no one could assume the authority necessary to repress disorders. Smith, on account of his superior merit and ability, was particularly obnoxious to the other adventurers.

Captain Newport pursued the old track by the way of the Canaries and the West Indies, and, as he turned to the north, he was carried by a severe storm beyond Roanoke, whither he had been ordered, into Chesapeake bay.. Having discovered and named Cape Henry and Cape Charles, in honour of the king's sons, he sailed up the noble bay. All the company were filled with admiration of its extent, the fertility of its shores, and the magnificent features of the surrounding scenery.

They soon entered the river Powhatan, which in honour of the king was called James river; and, after seventeen days' search, fixed upon the peninsula of Jamestown, about fifty miles above the mouth of the stream, as a suitable site for the colony. They landed on the 13th of May, 1607; and, hav

Who commanded the first expedition What bay, capes, and river were dis under this charter?

covered? When did it sai ?

Where did they land ? What happened on the voyage ? When ?

[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]


ing learned, from the papers contained in the king's box, who were the appointed members of the council, that body elected Wingfield for their president, and excluded Captain Smith from their number, on a charge of sedition.

A few huts were raised to protect them from the inclemency of the weather, and a small fort for defence against the natives. A part of the men were employed in cutting timber and loading the ships for England, while Newport and Smith with a small party ascended the river, and visited the Indian king, Powhatan, in his capital, which consisted of twelve wigwams. His subjects regarded the English as intruders, but the king himself manifested a friendly disposition.

In a month, Newport set sail for England; and then the difficulties of the colonists began to be apparent. Their provisions were spoiled, and the climate was soon found to be as uncongenial to European constitutions as the wild country was to their idle and dissipated habits. During the summer, nearly every man was sick, and, before autumn, fifty of their number had died. Among them was Bartholomew Gosnold, the original projector of the settlement, and one of the ablest and best men in the council.

The incapacity and dissensions of the council made it necessary to confide the management of affairs to Captain Smith, whose energy and prudence soon revived the hopes

Who was excluded ?
Who was intrusted with the com-

mand of the colony ?
What were their first proceedings ?
Who visited Powhatan?
How were they regarded by his sub-

jects ?

By himself?
What did the colonists endure after

the ships left them ?
Who died?
Who was afterwards intrusted with

the management of affairs ?




of the colonists. In the autumn the Indians brought them a supply of provisions; and abundance of wild fowl and game was found in the woods.

It had been enjoined upon them, by the London company, to explore some stream running from the north-west, in hopes of finding a passage to the Pacific Ocean; and Smith, with probably very little expectation of making such a discovery, obeyed this injunction by sailing up the Chickahominy as far as he could in boats; and then, to gratify his own fondness for adventure and research, he landed and proceeded into the interior. The party was surprised by the Indians, and all but Smith were put to death.

In this emergency, the self-possession and courage of this remarkable man preserved his life. Taking out a pocket compass, he showed it to the Indians, explained to them its wonderful properties, and amused and astonished them by such ideas as he was able to convey of the system of the universe. They already believed him a superior being, and granted him the permission which he desired, to send a letter to his friends at Jamestown. The effect of this letter made him a still greater object of wonder. He was conducted through their villages, and finally brought to the king, Powhatan ; who, after detaining him some time, would have put him to death, if his daughter, Pocahontas, a child of twelve years old, had not rushed between him and the executioner, and begged her father to spare his life., At her intercession he was saved

The Indians now sought to attach him to themselves, and gain his assistance in destroying the colony ; but he had sufficient address to induce them to abandon this hostile design, and permit his return. This event was followed by a better understanding, and a more frequent intercourse between the Indians and his countrymen.

On his return to Jamestown, Smith found but forty of the colonists alive, and a part of these were preparing to desert with the pinnace. This he prevented at the peril of his life. Soon after, Newport arrived with a supply of provisions and instruments of husbandry, and a reinforcement of one hundred persons, composed of many gentlemen, several refiners, gold


[ocr errors]

What discovery was attempted ? What events followed ?
What befell the party ?

What was the condition of the colony How did Smith escape?

on Smith's return to Jamestown? Whither was he conducted ?

What did he prevent ? Wha! prevented the Indians from What relief arrived ?

murdering him?


[blocks in formation]


Captain Smith rescued by Pocahontas. smiths and jewellers, and a few labourers. The hopes of the colonists were revived by this seasonable relief.

Not long after their arrival, there was unfortunately discovered, in a small stream of water near Jamestown, some shining earth, which was easily mistaken for gold dust. This was a signal for abandoning all the profitable pursuits of industry, in the search for gold. • There was no thought,' says Stith, in his history, no discourse, no hope, and no work, but to dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, and load gold. And, notwithstanding Captain Smith's warm and judicious representations, how absurd it was to neglect other things of immediate use and necessity, to load such a drunken ship with gilded dust, yet was he overruled, and her returns were made in a parcel of glittering dirt, which is to be found in various parts of the country, and which they very sanguinely concluded to be gold dust.'

Finding himself unable to prevent this folly, Smith employed himself in surveying the Chesapeake bay and its tributary rivers. The two voyages which he made in an open boat, for this purpose, lasted three months, and embraced a navigation of nearly three thousand miles. The map which he delineated and sent to the London company still exists, and presents correctly the great natural features of the country which he explored.

On his return, (Sept. 10, 1608,) Smith was made president of the council, and was performing the duties of that office with his usual energy and good judgment, when New port returned with seventy emigrants, two of whom were

What diverted the colonists from pro- What did he effect ? fitable industry?

To what office was he elected ? How did Smith employ himself ? What kind of emigrants now arrived ? 42



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

females. The men were not the description of persons required in a new country; and Smith entreated the company to send him rather, but thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers up of trees' roots, than a thousand such as they had.'

After the departure of the ships, Smith exerted himself to bring the people into industrious habits; requiring them to work six hours in the day; but they were still so unskilful in agriculture, that the principal dependence of the colony for provisions was on the Indians. The number of deaths during the season was only seven, out of a population of two hundred.

The company in England had anticipated great and sudden wealth from the discovery of mines, as well as from its commerce with India, which they expected their ships to reach by sailing up the Chesapeake and its tributary rivers. Although disappointed in these sanguine hopes, they were by no means discouraged from pursuing their career of adventure; and in order to increase their funds, their numbers, and their privileges, they petitioned for a new charter, which was granted on the 23d of May, 1609. It was not more favourable to civil liberty than that which it superseded.

The change which now took place in the constitution of the colony was a remarkable one. The new charter gave to the company the powers which had previously belonged to the king. The council in Virginia was abolished. The stockholders were allowed to choose the supreme council, resident in England, and to exercise the powers of legislation and government. The governor was subject to their instructions, but might rule the colonists even in criminal and capital cases without any other controul. He might also declare martial law, whenever he should deem it necessary for the suppression of mutiny and rebellion. The people were thus deprived of all power of self government. They were entirely at the mercy of the company in London ; holding their fortunes and their lives subject to the controul of masters who could be but imperfectly acquainted with their condition and wants.

The territory of the colony was extended by a grant of all the lands from Cape or Point Comfort along the sea coast, two hundred miles to the northward, and from the same point, along the sea coast two hundred miles to the southward, and.

[merged small][ocr errors]

What is observed of their habits ?
What is said of the Virginia company

in England ?
When did they obtain a new charter?

What were the chief provisions of the

second charter ? What extent of territory did it



« ZurückWeiter »