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THE LIFE

OF

CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH.

BOOK I.-CHAPTER I.

In the long roll or catalogue which the world may exhibit of the great or remarkable men who have distinguished its several epochs and conditions, none have ever so completely ravished the regards of contemporaries as those who have been equally marked by the great and spontaneous readiness of their thoughts, and the resolute activity and eagerness with which they advance to the performance of their actions. In such persons, under peculiar laws of temperament, the blood and the brain work together in the most exquisite unanimity. There is no reluctance of the subordinate to follow the commands of the superior; no failure in the agent properly to conceive, and adequately to carry out, the designs and desires of the principal. The soul responds generously to the dictates of the mind, and no tardy ratiocination, slowly halting in the rear of the will, finally supervenes to reprove the deed when it is too late for its repair, and compel a vain regret for the hasty and unconsidered action. But, on the contrary, the impulses of the blood, and the counsels of the

brain, as if twinned together, harmoniously prompt and perform those admirable achievements, which ordinary men regard as the fruits of a sudden instinct, or a happy inspiration. Tried by calm reflection, the process chosen, the labor done, seem to have met the necessity precisely, as if the most deliberate wisdom had sat in judgment upon the event; and yet the performance will have been as prompt as the exigency which provoked it. With persons thus fortunately constituted, deliberation is rather an obstacle than a help to right performance. They seem to conceive and to think more justly while in action than in repose. It is the necessity which provokes the thought. It is the sudden call upon their genius that shows them to be possessed of the endowment. Such are the men who commonly appear to shape and regulate the transition periods in society; to time and to direct its enterprises; to infuse its spirit with eagerness and enthusiasm, and to meet, with the happiest resources and the most unfailing intrepidity, the frequent exigencies which hang about the footsteps of adventure.

Of this class of persons, living in modern periods, and by reason of merits such as these commended to our attention, the name and fortunes of him who is the subject of these pages possess a more than common interest for the American. Capt. John Smith, the real founder of Virginia, is one of the proverbial heroes of British settlement in this western hemisphere. His career will happily illustrate the peculiar sort of character upon which we have thought proper briefly to expatiate. His story is one of those real romances which mock the incidents of ordinary fiction. This we are to gather chiefly from his own narratives, and partly from his contemporaries, by whom his deeds are amply confirmed and put beyond dispute. Of his adventures, which lift into heroic dignity a

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