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Smith. The necessity of the colony obliged them to take his provisions, by which the object of his voyage was defeated; but as soon as they received supplies from England, they revictualled him home, with letters giving a full account of the state of their affairs. By him Captain Smith received letters, blaming him for his cruel usage of the Indians, and for not sending back the former ships freighted. By him they also heard of the great preparations in England for sending out an expedition, under the command of Lord Delaware, and of the entire change projected in the government of the colony.
New Charter granted to the Virginia Company. - Expedition despatched to Jamestown. Confusion which ensues on its Arrival. Captain Smith returns to England.
THE administration of Captain Smith, and the general course of events from the first, at Jamestown, had been far from satisfactory to the company in England. They had founded the colony solely from selfish motives, in the hope of acquir
ing great and sudden fortunes by the opening of a passage to the South Sea, or by the discovery of abundant mines of gold and silver. The splendid success of the Spaniards in South America had filled the imaginations of all Europe with golden dreams; and the company were disappointed and irritated, because there had not been found in Virginia the mineral treasures of Peru and Mexico. They chose to visit their displeasure upon the innocent head of Captain Smith, as if he had either been the cause of their extravagant hopes, or had, by some potent magic, banished the precious metals from the soil of Virginia.
Their prejudice against him was increased, undoubtedly, by their extreme ignorance of every thing relating to the history and situation of the colony, which disqualified them from judging of the propriety of his measures. Their minds too had been poisoned by the misrepresentations of Newport, who possessed their entire confidence, and who hated Captain Smith with that untiring and dogged hatred, with which an inferior being contemplates an enemy, who is too much above him to allow the most distant hope of rivalship. They were dissatisfied, among other things, with his treatment of the Indians, thinking it too harsh and peremptory, and that a milder and more conciliatory one would have induced them to discover the hidden treasures, which they were persuaded existed somewhere in the country.
Captain Smith, as the reader must have observed, considered himself bound from the first, to provide for the protection and support of the colony, rather than the pecuniary interests of the council at home. He endeavored to give it a permanent footing in the country, an object about which they cared very little, as is shown by their shameful neglect in supplying it with provisions, as well as by the character of the adventurers whom they sent out.
He perceived at once the futility of any expectations of raising a revenue from Virginia, and dwelt upon it in all his communications to England. He saw that a handful of Englishmen were surrounded by numerous and formidable tribes of Indians, and that there could never be any security to life or property, unless they were promptly overawed by firm and spirited conduct. With great propriety he considered himself far better able to judge of the measures which ought to be adopted for the colony, than a company of gentlemen, three thousand miles distant, who derived their information from imperfect or interested sources. His administration, as we have seen, was vigorous and decided, aiming rather to benefit the colony, than to please the council at home. He was too independent and proud a man to stoop to conciliate those whose favor was not to be won by
a steady adherence to duty. He had not a drop of the courtier's blood in his whole body. His intercourse with his superiors in station was marked with dignity and self-respect. His letter to the council, which he sent by Newport, and of which we have given an account, is certainly unmarked by delicate official deference, and little calculated to win or regain favor. All these things had combined to render him and his administration unpopular; and he, whose services to the colony had been incalculable, was made the victim of their capricious displeasure, and dismissed from an office which he had filled so honorably, so successfully, and with such constant self-sacrifice.
The Virginia company, having induced many persons of rank and wealth to join with them, in order to increase at once their dignity and their funds, applied to King James for a new charter, which was granted, and which bears date, May 23d, 1609. It gave the most ample powers to the council in England and showed the most wanton disregard of the rights and privileges of the colonists who had emigrated on the faith. of the first charter, and who had toiled, suffered, and accomplished so much. By virtue of these powers, the new council appointed Lord Delaware, a nobleman of high rank and distinguished character, captain-general of the colony; Sir
Thomas Gates, lieutenant-general; Sir George Somers, admiral; Captain Newport (the only one who had ever been in Virginia), vice-admiral; Sir Thomas Dale, high marshall; Sir Ferdinando Wainman, master of the horse. The countenance of so many honorable and distinguished persons made the enterprise fashionable and popular, so that they were able to equip nine ships, in which five hundred persons consisting of men, women, and children, embarked.
The expedition set sail from England in May, 1609, under the command of Sir George Somers, Sir Thomas Gates, and Captain Newport, each of whom had a commission authorizing him, who first arrived, to supersede the existing administration, and to govern the colony by the terms and provisions of the new charter, until the arrival of Lord Delaware with the remainder of the recruits and supplies. By a most extraordinary oversight, no precedence in rank was assigned to either of these gentlemen, and they were unable to settle the point among themselves, neither being willing to resign his chance of being the temporary head.
To obviate this difficulty, they adopted a most injudicious and unfortunate expedient; they all determined to embark in the same vessel, their weak and childish ambition inducing them to take a step which defeated the very object of