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a pledge that their recent reconciliation was sincere. On the following day, the Indians in the neighborhood voluntarily sued for peace. Captain Newport sailed for England, on the 15th of June, leaving one hundred and four persons behind, and promising to return again in twenty weeks with fresh supplies.
The colony, owing to gross mismanagement and improvidence in the council in England, were very inadequately furnished with provisions, While the ships remained, they did not suffer from want, as they could always, either for "love or money," obtain a portion of the sailors' stores, of which they had great abundance. But this resource was cut off by the departure of the squadron, and they were reduced to a daily allowance of a half-pint of barley and the same quantity of wheat, both of the worst quality, and, from their long remaining in the ship's hold, alive with insects. Their historian says, with melancholy mirth, that "had they been as free from all sins as gluttony and drunkenness, they might have been canonized for saints;" for this wretched fare, with some sturgeon and shell-fish from the river, was all they had to subsist upon till the month of September. Disease and death made frightful havoc among them; for, besides their scanty and unhealthy food, their constitutions were weakened by ex
treme toil in the heat of the summer, by imperfect shelter, and by the sudden change from the habits and comforts of civilized life to con
stant labor and exposure. Before September, fifty of their number had died, including Captain Gosnold, the first projector of the expedition.
The President, Wingfield, by embezzling the public stores and converting them to his own use, had escaped the general famine and sickness, * but had thereby much increased the dislike, which had always been felt towards him. In the beginning of the Autumn he laid a plan to escape to England in the colony's bark, which treacherous conduct (to borrow the language of the historian) "so moved our dead spirits, that we deposed him." Captain John Ratcliffe was elected in his place. Kendall, who was concerned with him in the plot, was expelled from the council, so that it was now reduced to three members, the President, Martin, and Smith. After the discovery of this conspiracy, the sufferings of the colonists reached their utmost extent. Their provisions were consumed, no prospect of relief appeared, and they were in hourly expectation of an attack
*This charge seems hardly credible; but it is positively asserted by Smith, whose honesty and integrity are beyond suspicion, and not contradicted by any writer, to my knowledge.
from the Indians, to whom they could have offered no effectual resistance, in their present enfeebled condition. But they, so far from doing them any violence, supplied them liberally with provisions; a treatment so welcome and unexpected, that the grateful piety of Smith ascribes it to a special interposition of divine Providence.*
Smith's eminent abilities and high character, it was evident from the beginning, would sooner or later give him the first place in the colony, whatever might be his nominal rank. In times of peril and adversity, men, by a kind of unerring instinct, discover who is the ruling spirit, and put the helm into his hands as the only pilot that can weather the storm. Such times had
*The writer in Smith's History acquits the council in England of all blame in respect to their scanty provisions, and sums up the causes, which led to their difficulties, in the following terms.
"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, which we both
now come upon the infant settlement, and they turned their eyes upon Smith, as the only man who could rescue them from the difficulties in which they were involved. The new President and Martin were neither able nor popular, and the official rank of the former was but dust in the balance, when weighed against Smith's native superiority. From this time the chief management of affairs devolved upon him.
He entered upon his duties with characteristic ardor and energy. He set about the building of Jamestown, and by kind words and encouraging promises, and, more than all, by his own example, taking upon himself the most laborious and fatiguing duties, he pushed on the work with so
spent our victual in passing and lost the opportunity of the time and season to plant, by the unskilful 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 every thing 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 to do well themselves nor suffer others." Stith, on the other hand, an accurate and painstaking writer, accuses the council and especially Sir Thomas Smith, their treasurer, of want of care and thoughtfulness, and says that the same mismanagement and carelessness marked the whole of that gentleman's administration of the affairs of the colony.
much diligence, that he had in a short time provided most of them with lodgings, neglecting any for himself. Their stock of provisions being well nigh exhausted, he resolved to make search for a fresh supply. His ignorance of the language of the natives, and his want of men and equipments, were great impediments to the expedition, but no discouragement to his adventurous spirit. Attended by only five or six men, he went down the river in a boat, to Kecoughtan, where Hampton now stands. The natives, who were aware of their condition, treated them with contempt as poor, starved creatures, and, when invited to traffic, would scoffingly give them a handful of corn or a piece of bread in exchange for their swords, muskets, and clothing.
Finding that kind looks and courteous treatment produced only insult and contumely, Smith felt himself constrained by necessity to adopt a different course, though he frankly acknowledges that he thereby exceeded the terms of his commission. He discharged his muskets among them and ran his boat ashore, the affrighted Indians betaking themselves to the shelter of the woods. Marching to their houses he found them abounding with corn; but he would not permit his men to touch it, expecting that the Indians would return in large numbers to attack him, in which expectation he was not disappointed. Sixty or seventy of them