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an honored, welcome guest; that the old Emperor was exceedingly kind to him; that he was assured he would be liberated in four days; that he was sumptuously feasted; that the wives of Powhatan washed his hands in the royal basin and wiped them on the royal feathers! According to Captain John Smith he and the Emperor were, from the very first, as chummy as possible, and regaled each other by exchanging knowledge and experience. Pocahontas is not mentioned at all.
It is not a case of omitting an incident; it is a case of contradiction. If Smith's narrative of 1608 isn't a tissue of falsehoods there was no occasion for Pocahontas to save him from death.
Some years previous to the landing of the Jamestown colony, a party of white men had gone into the Pamunkey region-from a ship, necessarily and had killed a chief and carried off twenty odd Indians. Now, when Captain John Smith and his men rowed up the Chickahominy, the Indians feared another raid. Because of this, they killed one of the men Smith left in the boat; and captured Smith himself. They treated him well, and he himself states that the only attempt on his life was made by the father of one of the warriors whom he had shot in the swamp. The guards prevented the grief-stricken vengeful old man from killing the Captain. As Smith was careful to relate this incident, how can any one believe that he would have failed to picture the more dramatic scene alleged to have occurred in Powhatan's "palace?"
chief in that region-was told, by those who had seen the leader of the kidnapping band, that Smith was not the man, he was treated with generous hospitality. So urgently was he pressed to eat more and more of their rich and varied food, that he became suspicious. Thought they wanted to fatten him up so that he would be good eating for them.
Opecancannough took Captain Smith to his brother, Powhatan, who was then at Werowocomoco. After having been cordially greeted, and handsomely entertained, the valiant. Captain was given an escort to Jamestown.
Not only does Captain Smith express lively appreciation of the manner in which Powhatan received him, lavished attentions upon him, and sent him away laden with food; not only is nothing whatever said of Pocahontas and the alleged narrow escape from death; not only does Smith positively assert that his captors (even before their suspicions that he was the kidnapper had been removed) protected his life from the Indian who wanted to revenge the killing of his son; but the narrative of one of these original colonists (F. Studley), written in 1608 is equally inconsistent with the alleged rescue of Smith by the Indian princess. Studley's narrative mentions such incidents as that the preacher got very sick; and that they stopped for water in the Canary Islands. He refers to Captain Smith's venture on the Chickahominy, but says nothing of Pocahontas.
The story first appears, so far as I can discover, in the narrative of as Opecancannough- Anas Todkill, which was written in
1612. It was Todkill, apparently, who invented the story that Captain Smith was "saved" twice, on that one trip. He was saved the first time by exhibiting a mariner's compass, supplemented by a lecture on astronomy. How it was that Smith and these Indians could so readily hold lengthy conversations, is nowhere explained.
Having delivered his hero from death, while he was in the power of Opecancannough, the worthy Anas thought it necessary to save him again, when he came into the power of Powhatan. Why the compass had lost its talismanic virtue, we are not told.
By 1612, Anas Todkill knew Pocahontas well as the old Emperor's favorite child; by 1612, the worthy Anas had learned the Indian custom of giving a prisoner to any woman that wanted him. Throughout his narrative, Anas invents lengthy speeches-Smith to the Indians, and the Indians to Smithwhich he pretends to have heard and to have reproduced, word for word, years after they were made.
Being of that inventive turn, Anas may have created the Smith-Pocahontas fable.
At all events, the narrative of Captain Smith, if true, absolutely explodes the story. Read carefully what he himself wrote at the time. I have put his words in modern spelling but have not changed a syl
"But within a quarter of an hour I heard a loud cry, and a halloaing of Indians, but no warning peace. Supposing them surprised, and that the Indians had betrayed us, pres
ently I seized him and bound his arm fast to my hand in a garter, with my pistol ready bent to be revenged on him; he advised me to fly, and seemed ignorant of what was done.
But as we went discoursing, I was struck with an arrow on the right thigh, but without harm; upon this occasion I espied two Indians drawing their bows, which I prevented in discharging a French pistol.
By that I had charged again, three or four more did the like; for the first fell down and fled; at my discharge, they did the like. My hinde (Indian) I made my barricade, who offered not to strike. Twenty or thirty arrows were shot at me but short. Three or four times I had discharged my pistol ere the king of Pamaunck called Opeckankenough with 200 men, environed me, each drawing their bow; which done they laid themselves upon the ground, but without shooting.
My hinde treated betwixt me and them of conditions of peace; he discovered me to be the Captain; my request was to retire to the boat; they demanded my arms, the rest they said were slain, only me they they would reserve.
The Indian importuned me not to shoot. In retiring being in the midst of a low quagmire, and minding them more than my steps, I stepped fast into the quagmire, and also the Indian in drawing me forth.
Thus surprised, I resolved to try their mercies; my arms I cast from me, till which none durst approach me.
Being seized on me, they drew me out and led me to the king. I presented him with a compass dial, de
scribing by my best means the use thereof; whereat he so amazedly admired, as he suffered me to proceed in a discourse of the roundness of the earth, the course of the sun, moon, stars and planets.
With kind speeches and bread he requited me, conducting me where the canoe lay and John Robinson slain, with twenty or thirty arrows in him. Emry I saw not.
The Captain conducting me to his lodging, a quarter of venison and some ten pound of bread I had for supper; what I left was reserved for me, and sent with me to my lodging.
Each morning three women precented me with great platters of fine bread, more venison than ten men could devour I had; my gown, points and garters, my compass and my tablet they gave me again. Though eight ordinarily guarded me, I wanted not what they could devise to centent me; and still our longer acquaintance increased our better affection.
I desired he would send a messenger to Paspahegh (the district in which Jamestown was situated), with a letter I would write, by which they should understand how kindly they used me, and that I was well, lest they should revenge my death. This he granted and sent three men, in such weather as in reason were unpossible by any naked to be indured. Their cruel minds towards the fort I had deserted, in describing the ordinance and the mines in the fields, and also the revenge Captain Newport would take of them at his return. Their intent, I incited the fort, (as also of) the people of Ocanahonum and the back
sea; this report they after found divers Indians that confirmed.
The next day after my letter, came a savage to my lodging (still at Rasawrack), with his sword, to have slain me; but being by my guard intercepted, with a bow and arrow he offered to have effected his purpose; the cause I knew not, till the King understanding thereof came and told me of a man dying, wounded with my pistol; he told me of another I had slain, yet they must conceal that they had any hurt. This was the father of him I had slain, whose fury to prevent, the King presently conducted me to another kingdom, upon the top of the next northerly river, called Yought
The next day another king of that nation, called Kekataugh, having received some kindness of me at the Fort, kindly invited me to feast at his house. The people from all places flocked to see me, each showing to content me.
From thence, this kind king conducted me to a place called Tepahannock, a kingdom upon another river northward. The cause of this was, that the year before, a ship had been in the river of Pamaunke, who having been kindly entertained by Powhatan their Emperor, they returned thence and discovered the river of Topahanocke; where being received with like kindness, yet he slew the king, and took off his people, and they supposed I were he. But the people reported him to be a great tall man that was the Captain, and using me kindly, the next day we departed.
Arriving at Weramocomoco (on or about 5 January, 1608) their Em
peror proudly laying upon a bedstead a foot high, upon ten or twelve mats, richly hung with great chains of many pearls about his neck, and covered with a great covering of rahaughcums. (Raccoon skins.) At his head sat a woman, at his feet another; on each side sitting upon a mat upon the ground, were ranged his chief men on each side of the fire, ten in a rank, and behind them as many young women, each with a great chaine of white beads over their shoulders, their heads painted in red; and Powhatan with such a grave and majestical countenance, as drew me into admiration to see such state in a naked savage.
He kindly welcomed me with good words, and great platters of sundry victuals, assuring me his friendship, and my liberty within four days. He much delighted in Opechan Conoughs relation of what I had described to him, and oft examined me upon the same. He desired me to forsake Paspahegh (i. e. James Town) and to live with him upon his river, a country called Capa Howasicke. He promised to give me corn, venison, or what I wanted to feed us; hatchets and copper we should make him, and none should disturb us.
This request I promised to perform; and thus, having with all the kindness he could devise, sought to content me, he sent me home, with four men; one that usually carried my gown and knapsack after me, two other loaded with bread, and one to accompany me."
I have not omitted anything which bears upon the mooted subject. To save space, the dialogue
between Smith and Powhatan, about Europe and America, was left out.
Note three important points: (1) While Smith relates that he showed Opecannough the compass, he as plainly lets it be seen that he is in no immediate danger of death, is not tied to a tree, nor fettered in any way.
(2) Fearing that his friends at Jamestown might revenge themselves for his supposed death, he sends them a letter to let them know that he is being kindly treated.
(3) Powhatan receives Captain Smith ceremoniously, in state, as kings have always received strangers of distinction. In modern parlance, we would say that King Opecancannough "presented" Captain Smith at the court of the Emperor, That's practically what took place. At that time, Captain Smith had his pistols on his person, one discharge of which would have emptied that "palace" in just about two seconds. In fact, the first time Powhatan heard a pistol-shot, he ran howling into the woods!
Instead of being bound with cords, and then thrown to the ground, with a rock for a pillow, Captain Smith was as unshackled as Powhatan; and was soon filling the inner man with "great platters of sundrei victuals." The head men present were the councillors, not warriors.
How on earth can anyone believe in the Pocahontas story, and, at the same time, believe Captain John Smith?
But there is cumulative evidence: In Smith's last reference to Pocahontas in the narrative of 1608 he
writes of her as "a child of ten years old," who therefore was but nine years old, at the time he first appeared before Powhatan. He describes her (all the colonists did) as the brightest, prettiest of the savage girls; but he gives not the faintest hint of her having saved his life, the year before. He gave her trinkets, on this occasion, and released some prisoners, in accordance with a message which Smith says had been taught her by Powhatan. Afterwards, the little maiden did save the Captain's life twice, once by warning, and again, by concealing him.
If, before the girl was sent to Jamestown to plead for the prisoners, she had risked her life to save Captain Smith's, would not Powhatan, or Pocahontas, or Smith himself, have made some allusion to the fact? Would not the petition of the old Emperor and his daughter have been made upon that ground?
The plea was based upon the Powhatan's kindness in sending his favorite child to visit Smith. And Smith states that he granted the release of the prisoners, "in regard for her father's kindness in sending her."
The prisoners were fed, and were given "their bows, arrows, or what else they had, and then sent pack ing."
"Pocahontas also we requited with such trifles as contented her." Not a word from either Captain Smith or Pocahontas about her enormous service to him the year before! Not a word about the unpayable debt that Smith owed her! He speaks of her as he would of any other intellingent, beautiful little
girl; and he makes her happy-with glass beads, probably-as he would gratify any other maiden of the forest, sent to him by the Powhatan. If she had, before that, saved him from an awful death, would he not have written of her differently?
It is far more natural to surmise that the little girl was grateful to the handsome white chief who had given her the first presents she had ever received-gifts altogether different from anything within her previous knowledge-and that, on this account, she admired and loved the brave Captain. Because of this, and because of her innate tenderness of heart, she saved his life twice, after her first visit to Jamestown.
Read what Captain Smith wrote, in 1608, and draw your own conclusions:
"Powhatan understanding we detained certain savages, sent (i. e. in May, 1608) his daughter, a child of ten years old; which, not only for feature, countenance, and proportion, much exceeded any of the rest of his people; but for wit, and spirit, the only Nonpariel of his country. This he sent by his most trusty messenger, called Rawhunt, as much exceeding in deformity of person; but of a subtle will and crafty understanding.
He, with a long circumstance, told me, how well Powhatan loved and respected me; and in that I should not doubt any way of his kindness, he had sent his child, which he most esteemed, to see me; a deer and bread besides, for a present; desiring me that the boy (Thomas Salvage) might come again, which he