( Originally Published 1908 )
IN HIS younger days Powhatan had been a great warrior. He was the chief, or werowance, of eight tribes. Through conquest his dominions had been extended until they reached from the James River to the Potomac, from the sea to the falls in the rivers, and included thirty of the forty tribes in Virginia. It is estimated that his subjects numbered eight thousand. The name of his nation and the Indian name of the James River was Powhatan. His enemies were two neighbouring confederacies, the Mannahoacs, between the Rappahannock and York rivers, and the Monacans between the York and James rivers, above the falls.
Powhatan lived sometimes at a village of his name, where Richmond now stands, and sometimes at Werowo-convoco on the York River. He had in each of his hereditary villages a house built like a long arbour for his especial reception. When Powhatan visited one of these villages a feast was already spread in the long house or arbour. He had a hunting town in the wilderness called Orapax. A mile from this place, deep in the woods, he had another arbour-like house, where he kept furs, copper, pearls, and beads, treasures which he was saving against his burial.
Powhatan had twenty sons and eleven daughters living. We know nothing of his sons except Nanteguas, "the most manliest, comliest, boldest spirit" ever seen in "a savage." Pocahontas was Powhatan's favourite daughter. She was born in 1594 or 1595. Of her mother nothing is known. Powhatan had many wives; when he tired of them he would present them to those of his subjects whom he considered the most deserving.
Indians are frequently known by several names. It is a disappointment to learn that the name which the romantic story of this Indian princess has made so famous was not her real name. She was called in child-hood Metoax, or Metoake. Concealing this from the English, because of a superstitious notion that if these pale-faced strangers knew her true name they could do her some harm, the Indians gave her name as Pocahontas.
Powhatan's authority, like that of all Indian chiefs, was held in check by custom. "The lawes whereby he ruleth," says Captain Smith, "is custome. Yet when he listeth, his will is a law, and must be obeyed: not only as a king, but as halfe a god they esteeme him."
Each village and tribe had its respective chief, or "werowance," as he was called among the Powhatan Indians. The affairs of the tribe were settled in a council of the chiefs and warriors of the several villages.
Powhatan was the great werowance over all, "unto whom," says Captain Smith, "they pay tribute of skinnes, beads, copper, pearle, deere, turkies, wild beasts, and come. What he commandeth they dare not disobey b the least thing. It is strange to see with what care and adoration all these people do obey this Powhatan. For at his feete they present whatsoever he commandeth, and at the least frown of his brow, their greatest spirits will tremble! and no marvell, for he is very terrible and tyrannous in punishing such as offend him."
It was a barbarous life in which the little Pocahontas was bred. Her people always washed their young babies in the river on the coldest mornings to harden them. She was accustomed to see her old father sitting at the door of his cabin regarding with grim pleasure a string of his enemy's scalps, suspended from tree to tree, and waving in the breeze. Men in England in her time idealised her into a princess and fine lady. In our time historians have been surprised and indignant at finding that she was not a heroine of romance, but simply an Indian maiden. Such as her life made her she was — in her manners an untrained savage. But she was also the steadfast friend and helper of the feeble colony, and that is why her life is heroic and full of interest.
Powhatan, sensible of the pomp and dignity proper to his position as a great warrior, particularly desired to impress the English who were settling at Jamestown. A member of the colony, Captain Smith had been prisoner for several weeks and was detained until preparations had been made to receive him in state.
When Powhatan and his train had had time to deck themselves in all "their greatest braveries," Captain Smith was admitted to the chief's presence. He was seated upon a sort of divan resembling a bedstead. Before him was a fire, and on either hand sat two young women about eighteen years of age. Powhatan, "well beaten with many cold and stormy winters," wore strings of pearls around his neck, and was covered with a great robe of raccoon skins decorated with the tails. Around the council house was ranged a double row of warriors. Behind these were as many women, The heads and shoulders of the Indians were painted red, many had their hair decorated with white down, and all wore some savage ornament.
On the appearance of the prisoner a great shout arose from these primitive courtiers. An Indian woman was appointed to bring water for the prisoner to wash his hands in. Another woman brought him feathers to dry them and Captain Smith was then feasted in the "best barbarous manner," and a council was held to decide his fate. This debate lasted a long time, but the conclusion could hardly have been favourable to Captain Smith, since Powhatan was jealous of the white colony already encroaching upon his seclusion at Werowocomoco.
During this solemn debate Captain Smith must have felt anything but comfortable. He did not know his doom until two stones were brought in and placed before Powhatan. Then as many as could lay hands on him dragged him to the feet of the chief and laid his head up-on the stones. The executioners raised their clubs to beat out his brains. Such a scene was not uncommon in this forest court. From childhood these savage men and women were accustomed to exult in the most barbarous tortures and executions. It is then the more wonderful that the heart of a little Indian maiden should have been touched with pity for the doomed white man. Pocahontas, a child of ten or twelve, and "the king's dearest daughter," pleaded for he life of the captive. But "no entreaty could prevail' with the stern Powhatan.
The warriors were ready to strike the blow, when the child flew to the side of Captain Smith, took "his head in her arms and laid her own upon his to save him from death, whereat," says the quaint narrative "the Emperor [Powhatan] was contented he should live to make him hatchets and her beads and copper," thinking he was accustomed to follow all occupations. "For," says the story, "the king himself will make his own robes, shoes, bows, arrows, and pots," while he would " plant,- hunt, or do any thing so well as the rest."
Powhatan did not long detain Captain Smith for such trivial uses as making trinkets for Pocahontas. It had become the desire of his heart to possess the powerful weapons and tools of the English. He saw that a friend in Jamestown would be a good thing, and he perhaps hoped from friendly commerce with the colony to ac-quire ascendancy over other Indian tribes.
He took occasion to express his wishes to Captain Smith in a curious manner.
Two days after his rescue from death he had the captive taken to one of his arbour-like buildings in the woods and left alone upon a mat by the fire. The house was curtained off in the centre with a mat. Soon a most doleful noise came from behind the mat, and Powhatan, disguised in "the most fearfullest manner," and looking "more like a devil than a man," entered, with some two hundred Indians, painted black. The out-come of this impressive ceremony was that Powhatan told Captain Smith that they were now friends, and that he would presently send him home, and that when he arrived at Jamestown he must send him two great guns and a grindstone. In return he said he would give him the country of Capahowosick, and would always consider him his son.
Captain Smith was accordingly sent to Jamestown with twelve guides. The Indians delayed on their journey, though the distance was short. They camped in the woods one night, and feasted sumptuously; but Captain Smith was in constant fear of his life still, "expecting every hour to be put to one death or another." He was, however, led in safety to the fort. Here he treated his savage guides with great hospitality, and showed Rawhunt, a trusty servant of Powhatan, two demi-culverins (long cannons carrying a nine-pound shot) and a mill-stone to carry to his chief. The Indians however, "found them somewhat too heavy." For their benefit, Captain Smith had the guns loaded with stones, and discharged among the boughs of trees covered with icicles. The crashing fall of the ice-laden limbs so frightened the Indians that they fled, "half dead with fear," and it was some time before they could be induced to return. Presents of various toys were given them for Powhatan and his family, and they went away satisfied.
The winter of 1607-08 was remarkably cold, both in Europe and America. In the midst of its severity an accident resulted in a fire which destroyed many of the reed-thatched cottages, the palisades, and much of the provisions of the colonists at Jamestown.
Powhatan still looked with covetous eyes upon the glittering swords, the ponderous muskets, and the service-able pistols of the English. So long as the white man used supernatural bullets and sharp-edged swords and the red man possessed only tomahawks of stone and stone-pointed arrows and javelins, so long were the English safe from Indian attacks. It was now the ambition of Powhatan's life to obtain a goodly store of English weapons, instead of the rude wooden swords used by the Indians. Savage-like, he went about his purpose in the most crafty way with the most innocent air. And sent twenty turkeys "to express his love," with the request that Captain Smith, would return the compliment with a present of twenty swords. But Smith refused, knowing it would cut the throat of the colony to put such weapons into the hands of the crafty chief.
Powhatan was not to be thus outdone. If he could not procure the swords in one way he would in another. "He caused his people with twenty devices to obtain" as many swords. The Indians became "insolent." They surprised the colonists at their work. They would lie in ambuscade at the very gates of Jamestown and procure the weapons of stragglers by force. The council in England had deemed it the only wise policy to keep peace with the savages at all hazards, and a wise policy it was if it were not carried too far. The orders from this body had been very strict; the colonists were in no way to offend the Indians.
Thus a "charitable humour prevailed" until Captain Smith was the man they "meddled" with. This fiery soldier did not wait for deliberation. He hunted the miscreants, and those whom he captured he "terrified" with whipping and imprisonment. In return, the Indians captured two straggling Englishmen, and came in force to the very gates of Jamestown, demanding seven Indians, whom, "for their villainies," Smith had detained. The irrepressible Captain immediately headed a sally in which he forced the Indians to surrender the Englishmen unconditionally. He then examined his prisoners, but they were faithful to their chief, and he could get nothing from them. He made six of them believe, by "several volleys of shot," that he had caused one of their number to be killed. They immediately confessed, in separate examinations, to a plot on the part of Powhatan to procure the weapons, and then to cut the throats of the colonists. Captain Smith still detained the Indians, resolving to give them a wholesome fright.
Pocahontas presently came to Jamestown, accompanied by Indian messengers. Her father had sent them with presents, and a message excusing "the injuries done by some rash, untoward captains, his subjects, desiring their liberties for this time with the assurance of his love forever."
When Captain Smith had punished his seven prisoners as he thought fit, he "used them well" for a few days, and delivered them to Pocahontas, pretending that he saved their lives only for the sake of the little Indian girl.
One cannot refrain from admiring in the brave colonists and their captain the fortitude and persistence that they showed, and the wonderful tact with which they managed the natives. Many had died, some had re-covered, and others were still sick.
Captain Smith had been installed as president. He governed the colony wisely. His measures were doubt-less severe, but severity was necessary among these men totally unqualified for a frontier life, with an unwise management in England, and endless discontent and jealousy at Jamestown. Men shut up together in hard circumstances are sure to fall out.
Captain Smith went energetically to work to better the condition of the colony. Jamestown was once more the scene of busy activity. Church and storehouse were repaired, new houses built for more supplies, and the fort altered in form. The soldiers were drilled every day upon a plain called Smithfield. Here crowds of Indians would gather to watch with wonder the English men shoot at a mark.
Heroines Every Child Should Know Captain Smith, to quiet all fears, and to show his willingness to assist in the business on hand, as well as to hasten an affair which would consume so much valuable time, undertook with four companions a journey to Werowocomoco, to ask Powhatan to come to James-town.
It was now the season to trade for corn with the Indians.
When the Englishmen reached the home of Powhatan they found that he was some thirty miles away. They were received by the steadfast friend of all white men, Pocahontas. She sent messengers for her father, and undertook to entertain her friends while they waited.
The Englishmen were left in an open space, seated on a mat by the fire. Suddenly they heard a "hideous noise" in the woods. Supposing that Powhatan and his warriors were upon them, they sprang to their feet, grasped their arms and seized two or three old Indians who were near them. Pocahontas came to them, however, with her apology, saying that they might kill her "if any hurt were intended." Those who stood near, men, women and children, assured the white men that all was right. Presently thirty young women came rushing out of the woods. Their only covering was a cincture or apron of green leaves; they were gaily painted, some one colour and some another. Every girl wore a pair of deer's horns on her head, while from her girdle and upon one arm hung an otter's skin. The leader wore a quiver of arrows, and carried a bow and arrow in her hands. The others followed with swords, clubs and pot-sticks.
"These fiends, with most hellish shouts and cries.
says the ungallant narrator, "cast themselves in a ring about the fire, singing and dancing with most excellent ill variety." This masquerade lasted about half an hour, when the Indian girls disappeared as they had come.
They again reappeared in their ordinary costume. Pocahontas invited Captain Smith to a dinner which had been spread for him with "all the savage dainties" which they could procure. They tormented the captain by pressing around him saying, "Love you not me? Love you not me?" While he feasted they danced, and ended by conducting him to his lodging with firebrands for torches.
Powhatan arrived the next day. Cold weather had come and famine began to stare the colonists in the face. The president set out for the country of the Nansemond Indians. These people refused not only to provide the four hundred bushels of corn which they had promised in their treaty with the colonists on their previous visit, but they refused to trade at all. Their excuse was that they had used up the most that they had, and that they were under commands from Powhatan neither to trade with the English nor to allow them to enter their river. The English had recourse to force, and the Indians fled at the first volley of musketry without shooting a single arrow. The first cabin the white men discovered they set on fire. The Indians immediately desired peace, and promised the English half that they had. Before night all the boats were loaded with corn, and the English sailed some four miles down the river. Here they camped out for the night in the open woods on frozen ground covered with snow.
The manner in which these adventurers of nearly three hundred years ago made themselves comfortable is interesting. They would dig away the snow and build a great fire, which would serve to dry and warm the ground. They would then scrape away the fire, spread a mat on the place where it had been, and here they would sleep with another mat hung up as a shield against the wind. In the night, as the wind shifted, they would change their hanging mat, and when the ground grew cold they would again remove their fire and take its place. Their story says that many "a cold winter night" did the adventurers sleep thus; and yet those who went on these expeditions " were always in health, lusty and fat."
Finding that the old Indian chief had determined to starve the colony out of existence by a refusal to trade with the white men, Captain Smith, appreciating the desperate extremity, resolved to take, as usual, the boldest plan out of the difficulty. He meditated a plan for surprising and entrapping Powhatan into his power. Smith saw no other chance to procure food, and starving men do not stop to debate whether a course is right or wrong.
About this time Powhatan sent a message to Smith inviting him to visit him, and saying that if he would but build him a house, give him a grindstone, fifty swords, some firearms, a hen and rooster, and much beads and cop-per, he would fill the ship with corn. Captain Smith made haste to accept this offer. He sent some of the Dutchmen and some Englishmen ahead to begin the building of Powhatan's house.
On the twelfth of January the English neared Werowocomoco. The ice extended nearly half a mile from shore in the York River. Captain Smith pushed as near the shore as he could in the barge, by breaking the ice. Impatient of remaining in an open boat in the freezing cold, he jumped into the half-frozen marsh, and waded ashore. His example was followed by eighteen of his men.
The English quartered at the first cabins they reached, and announced their arrival in a message to Powhatan, requesting provision. The chief sent them plenty of bread, venison and turkeys, and feasted them according to his custom. The following day, however, he desired to know when they "would be gone," pretending that he had not sent for the English. He made the astonishing statement that he himself had no corn, and his people had much less; but that he would furnish them forty baskets of this grain for as many swords. Captain Smith quickly confronted him with the men who had brought Powhatan's message to Jamestown, and asked the chief " how it chanced he became so forgetful." Powhatan answered with "a merry laughter," and invited the English to show their commodities. But the crafty chief was not suited with anything, unless it were guns or swords.
"Powhatan," said Captain Smith, "believing your promises to supply my wants, I neglected all to satisfy your desire, and to testify my love I sent you my men for your building, neglecting mine own. As for swords and guns, I told you long ago I had none to spare, and you must know those I have can keep me from want. Yet steal or wrong you I will not, nor dissolve that friendship we have mutually promised, except you constrain me by your bad usage."
Powhatan listened attentively to this speech, and promised that he would spare them what he could, which he would deliver to them in two days.
"Yet, Captain Smith," said the chief, "I have some doubt of your coming hither that makes me not so kindly seek to relieve you as I would, for many do inform me your coming hither is not for trade, but to invade my people and possess my country, who dare not bring you corn, seeing you thus armed with your men. To free us of this fear, leave aboard your weapons, for here they are needless, we being all friends."
But Captain Smith was not to be cajoled into a council without weapons. That night was spent at Werowocomoco, and the following day the building of Powhatan's house went forward.
Meanwhile the English managed "to wrangle" some ten bushels of corn out of the chief for a copper kettle.
The chief was dissatisfied that he could not have his way.
" Captain Smith," said Powhatan with a sigh, " I never used any werowance so kindly as yourself, yet from you I receive the least kindness of any. Another captain gave me swords, copper, clothes, a bed, towels or what I desired, ever taking what I offered him,, and would send away his guns when I entreated him; none doth deny to lie at my feet or refuse to do what I desire but only you, of whom I can have nothing but what you regard not, and yet you will have whatsoever you demand. You call me father, but I see you will do what you list, and we must seek to content you. But if you intend so friendly as you say, send hence your arms, that I may believe you."
The wily old chief was right. Captain Smith was determined to have his own way. He saw that nothing could be gained thus. Powhatan was watching with lynx eyes for a chance to get the white men into his power while he delivered eloquent and persuasive speeches. Captain Smith asked the savages to break the ice for him that his boat might reach the shore, to take him and the corn. He intended, when the boat came, to land more men and surprise the chief. Meanwhile, to entertain Powhatan and keep him from suspecting anything, he made the following reply to his last speech:
"Powhatan, you must know as I have but one God I honour but one king, and I live not here as your subject, but as your friend, to pleasure you with what I can. By the gifts you bestow on me you gain more than by trade, yet would you visit me as I do you, you should know it is not our custom to sell our courtesies. To content you, to-morrow I will leave my arms and trust to your promise. I call you father indeed, and as a father you shall see I will love you; but the small care you have . for such a child caused my men to persuade me to look to myself."
But Powhatan was not to be fooled. His mind was on the fast disappearing ice. He managed to disengage himself from the captain's conversation, and secretly fled with his women, children and luggage. To avoid any suspicion, two or three women were left to engage Captain Smith in talk while warriors beset the house where they were. When Captain Smith discovered what they were doing, he and John Russell went about making their way out with the help of their pistols, swords and Indian shields. At the first shot the savages tumbled "one over another" and quickly fled in every direction, and the two men reached their companions in safety.
Powhatan saw that his stratagem had failed. He immediately tried to remove the unfavourable impression which this event and the sudden appearance of so many warriors might make on the minds of the English.
He sent an " ancient orator" to Captain Smith with presents of a great bracelet and chain of pearls.
"Captain Smith," said the Indian, "our werowance has fled, fearing your guns, and knowing when the ice was broken there would come more men; he sent these numbers but to guard his corn from stealing. Now since the ice is open, he would have you send away your corn, and if you would have his company, send away also your guns, which so affrighteth his people that they dare not come to you as he promised they should."
The Indians provided baskets that the English might carry their corn to the boat. They were officious in tendering their services to guard the colonists' arms while they were thus occupied, lest any one should steal them. There were crowds of those grim, sturdy savages about; but the sight of the white men cocking their matchlock guns rendered them exceedingly meek. They were easily persuaded by this sight to leave their bows and arrows in charge of the Englishmen, while they themselves carried the corn down to the boats on their own backs. This they did with wonderful dispatch.
Ebb tide left the boat stuck in the marsh, and the adventurers were obliged to remain at Werowocomoco until high water. They returned to the cabins where they were at first quartered. The savages entertained them until night with "merry sports," and then left them. Powhatan was gathering his forces and planning the certain destruction of his visitors. The English were alone in the Indian cabins. Suddenly Pocahontas, Powhatan's "dearest jewel and daughter," as she is styled in the quaint narrative, appeared before Captain Smith. She had come this dark night through the "irksome woods" alone from her father's cabin.
"Captain Smith,"said she, "great cheer will be sent you by and by; but Powhatan and all the power he can make will after come and kill you all, if they that bring you the cheer do not kill you with your own weapons when you are at supper. Therefore, if you would live, I wish you presently to be gone."
Captain Smith wished to give Pocahontas presents of those trifles dear to the heart of an Indian, and such as Pocahontas most delighted in.
"I dare not," said the girl, with tears running down her cheeks, "be seen to have any, for if Powhatan should know it, I am but dead."
She then ran away into the woods as she had come. Within less than an hour, eight or ten savages came, bringing great platters of vension and other food. They begged the Englishmen to put out the matches of their guns, for the "smoke made them sick," and to sit down to eat. But the Captain was vigilant. He made the Indians first taste of every dish, and he then sent them back to Powhatan, asking him, "to make haste," for he was awaiting his arrival. Soon after more messengers came, "to see what news," and they were followed in a short time by still more. Thus the night was spent by both parties with the utmost vigilance, though to all appearances they were on very friendly terms. When high water came the English prepared to depart. At Powhatan's request they left a man named Edward Brynton to hunt for him, while the Dutchmen remained to finish his house.
On an eminence near where Werowocomoco must have been, still stands a stone chimney which is known to this day as "Powhatan's Chimney," and according to tradition is the chimney of the house which the colonists erected for this chief.
For several years Powhatan continued to be hostile to the colonists. In one way and another he possessed himself of many English arms, and detained a number of Englishmen as prisoners. Some time after this Pocahontas happened to be among the Potomacs on the river of that name. One account says that she had gone thither, feasting among her friends, but another writer of that time says that she had been sent to the Potomacs to trade with them. Perhaps also Powhatan distrusted her friendship for the whites. Whatever may have been the cause, Pocahontas was certainly making a stay on the Potomac River.
The English Captain Argall had gone to trade with the Indians on the Potomac. Some friendly Indians in-formed him that Pocahontas was in the region. A plan for bringing Powhatan to terms immediately suggested itself to the unscrupulous captain. He sent for one of the Indian chiefs, and told him that if he did not give Pocahontas into his hands they would no longer be "brothers nor friends." The Potomac ' Indians were at first unwilling to do this, fearing that it might involve them in a war with Powhatan. Captain Argall assured them that he would take their part in such a war, and they consented to his plan.
The following story is told of the manner in which Pocahontas was betrayed. The Indian girl manifested no desire to go aboard Captain Argil's vessels, having many a time been on English vessels, in her friendly relations with the whites. Captain Argall offered an old Indian named Japazaws the irresistible bribe of a copper kettle if he would betray Pocahontas into his power. Japazaws undertook to do this with the assistance of his wife. This wife became immediately possessed with an intense desire to visit the English ship, which she said had been there three or four times and she had never been aboard it. She begged her husband to allow her to go aboard, but Japazaws sternly refused, saying she could not go unless she had some woman to accompany her. He at last threatened to beat her for her persistence.
The tender heart of Pocahontas was moved with pity; she offered to accompany the woman on board the English vessel. Japazaws and his wife with the chief's daughter were taken on to the ship, where they were well entertained and invited to supper. The old man and his wife were so well pleased with their success that during the whole meal they kept treading on Captain Argall's toes. After supper the captain sent Pocahontas to the gun-room while he pretended to have a private conversation with Japazaws. He presently recalled her, and told her that she must remain with him, and that she should not again see Powhatan until she had served to bring about a peace between her father and the English. Immediately Japazaws and his wife set up "a howl and cry," and Pocahontas began to be "exceedingly pensive and discontented." The old people were rowed to shore, happy in the possession of their copper kettle and some trinkets.
Captain Argall sent an Indian messenger to Powhatan, informing him that "his delight and darling, his daughter Pocahontas," was a prisoner, and informing him that "if he would send home the Englishmen whom he had detained in slavery, with such arms and tools as the Indians had gotten and stolen, and also a great quantity of corn, that then he should have his daughter restored, otherwise not."
Powhatan was "very much grieved," having a strong affection both for his daughter and for the English weapons which he possessed. It was a hard alternative. He sent, however, a message desiring the English to use Pocahontas well, and promising to perform the conditions for her rescue.
It was a long time before anything more was heard from Powhatan. After three months he sent to the governor by way of ransom seven Englishmen, overjoyed to be free from slavery and the constant fear of cruel death, three muskets, a broadaxe, a whip-saw, and a canoe full of corn. These were accompanied by a message to the effect that he would satisfy injuries, give the English a large quantity of corn, and be forever their friend when his daughter was delivered up. The English received these things "in part payment," and returned such an answer as this to Powhatan:
"Your daughter shall be well used, but we cannot believe the rest of our arms are either lost or stolen from you, and therefore, till you send them we will keep your daughter."
The wily old chief was much grieved at this message, and it was again a long time before anything was heard from him. At last Sir Thomas Dale, then the governor of the colony, taking with him Pocahontas and one hundred and fifty men, embarked in the colony's vessels for a visit to Powhatan. The party sailed up the York River. Powhatan was not to be seen. The English told the Indians that they had come to deliver up the daughter of Powhatan and to receive the promised return of men and arms. These overtures were received with scornful threats and open hostility. Skirmishing ensued, in which some of the Indian houses were burned and property spoiled.
The Indians asked why this had been done. The English answered by asking why they had shot at them. The Indians excused themselves, laying the blame on some straggling savages. They protested they intended no harm, but were the white man's friends. The English rejoined that they did not come to hurt them, but came as friends.
A peace was patched up and messengers were sent to Powhatan. The Indians told the English that their imprisoned men "were run off" for fear the English would hang them, but that Powhatan's men "were run after to bring them back." They promised to return them with the stolen swords and muskets on the following day. The English perceived that this story was told only to gain time.
Meantime two brothers of Pocahontas came aboard the ship to visit her. They had heard that she was not well, and were overjoyed to find her in good health and contented. While they were visiting with their sister, Mr. John Rolfe and Mr. Sparks were sent to negotiate with Powhatan. They were received kindly and hospitably entertained, but they were not admitted to the presence of the offended chief. His brother, Opechancanough, saw them and promised to do the best he could with Powhatan, saying that "all might be well." With such slight satisfaction the English were obliged to return to Jamestown, for it was now April and time to sow corn.
Pocahontas had been about a year a prisoner at Jamestown. There can be no doubt that she was treated with the greatest friendliness by the colonists. Her feelings had always been warm for the white strangers. Now that she was an innocent and interesting young prisoner among them, what more natural than that she should be honoured and petted? Pocahontas was now a woman, being about eighteen to nineteen years of age. To judge from her portrait she could not have had the beauty with which tradition has invested her, but she had at least a pleasant and interesting face, and there must have been some charm in her large black eyes and straight black hair.
There was one colonist at least who took a great interest in the young prisoner. Mr. John Rolfe is styled in the different records "an honest gentleman of good behaviour," "an honest and discreet English gentleman," "a gentleman of approved behaviour and honest carriage."
The subject of the conversion of Pocahontas had weighed heavily upon the mind of Mr. Rolfe. He accordingly attempted to convert her to Christianity, and in doing so fell in love with her. Pocahontas became a Christian, and what more natural than that the constant. friend of the white men should love an Englishman?
Long before the trip up the York River Mr. Rolfe had loved the Indian maiden. He wrote a long letter to the governor, Sir Thomas Dale, asking his advice. Sir Thomas readily consented to the marriage. Pocahontas, on her part, told her brother of her attachment to Mr. Rolfe. He informed Powhatan, who seemed to have been well pleased with the proposition, for within ten days an old uncle of Pocahontas and two of her brothers arrived at Jamestown. Powhatan had sent them as deputies to witness the marriage of his daughter, and to do his part toward the confirmation of it.
Pocahontas was first baptised. It was deemed necessary to give her a Christian name at her baptism. She was christened Rebecca, and as a king's daughter she was known after this as the Lady Rebecca, and sometimes at the Lady Pocahontas.
In April, 1614, the odd bridal procession moved up the little church with its wide-open windows and its cedar pews. The bridegroom was a young Englishman, the bride an Indian chief's daughter, accompanied by two red-skinned warriors, her brothers. Before the altar with its canoe-like front Pocahontas repeated in imperfect English her marriage vows, and received her wedding ring. The wedding is briefly mentioned by the old recorders only as something bearing upon the welfare of the colony. It was the first union between the people who were to possess the land and the natives. The colonists doubtless regarded it as a most auspicious event, binding as it did the most powerful chief in Virginia to their interests.
From this day friendly intercourse and trade were again established with Powhatan and his people. To the day of his death the old chief never violated the peace which was thus brought about.
In still another way the marriage of Pocahontas benefited the colony. The nearest neighbours of the English were the Chickahominys, a powerful tribe of Indians who were just now free from the yoke of Powhatan, whom they regarded as a tyrant. They had taken advantage of the recent differences between this chief and the colonists to hold themselves exceedingly independent of both. But now that Powhatan and the English were united, the Chickahominys began to fear for their own liberty. They sent a deputation to Sir Thomas Dale desiring peace. Dale visited them, entered their council, and concluded a treaty stipulating that the Chickahominy Indians should call themselves Tassantessus, or Englishmen, as a sign of friendship„ and fulfil other conditions.
Sir Thomas Dale had been five years in Virginia when in 1616 he settled the affairs of the colony., and embarked for England. He took with him Mr. Rolfe, Pocahontas, Tomocomo, one of Powhatan's chief men, married to his daughter, Matachanna, and other Indians. Tomocomo, who was considered among the Indians "an understanding fellow," had been charged by Powhatan to count the people in England and give him an exact idea of their strength.
The vessel reached Plymouth on the 12th of June, 1616. On leaving the vessel Tomocomo was prepared with a long stick and a knife ready to make a notch for every man he saw. He kept this up till "his arithmetic failed him." We can imagine the excitement that fol-lowed these travellers everywhere. They were all wonders, but especially was the "Princess" Pocahontas.
Pocahontas was now mother to a little son, Thomas Rolfe, whom she "loved most dearly." Immediately on her arrival the Virginia Company took measures for the maintenance of her and her child. Persons of great "rank and quality" took much notice of Pocahontas. She did not like the smoke of London, and was removed to Brantford.
Captain Smith was at this time between two voyages and his stay in London was limited. He met Tomocomo, and they renewed old acquaintance.
"Captain Smith," said the Indian, "Powhatan did bid me find you out, to show me your God, and the king and queen and prince you so much had told us of."
"Concerning God," says Smith, in writing of this meeting, " I told him the best I could, the king I heard he had seen, and the rest he should see when he would."
Tomocomo, however, denied having seen King James till Smith satisfied him that he had by the circumstances.
Tomocomo immediately looked very melancholy and said:
"You gave Powhatan a white dog, which Powhatan fed as himself, but your king gave me nothing, and I am better than your white dog."
Captain Smith, desiring to return the courtesy of Pocahontas, wrote the following letter to Queen Anne immediately upon hearing of the arrival of Pocahontas:
To the most high and virtuous Princess, Queen Anne of Great Britain
MOST ADMIRED QUEEN: The love I bear my God, my king, and country hath so oft emboldened me in the worst of extreme dangers, that now honesty doth constrain me to presume thus far beyond myself to present Your Majesty this short discourse. If ingratitude be a deadly poison to all honest virtues, I must be guilty of that crime if I should omit any means to be thankful.
So it is that some ten years ago, being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan, their chief king, I received from this great savage exceeding great courtesy, especially from his son Nantequas, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit I ever saw in a savage, and his sister Pocahontas, the king's most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of twelve or thirteen years of age, whose compassionate, pitiful heart, of desperate estate, gave me much cause to respect her. I being the first Christian this proud king and his grim attendants ever saw, and thus enthralled in their barbarous power, I cannot say that I felt the least occasion of want that was in the power of those mortal foes to prevent, notwithstanding all their threats.
After some six weeks fatting among these savage courtiers, at the minute of my execution she hazarded the beating out of her own brains to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father that I was safely conducted to Jamestown, where I found about eight-and-thirty miserable, poor and sick creatures to keep possession of all those large territories of Virginia. Such was the weakness of this poor commonwealth as, had the savages not fed us, we directly had starved.
And this relief, most gracious queen, was commonly brought us by this lady, Pocahontas. Notwithstanding all these passages when inconstant fortune turned our peace to war, this tender virgin would still not spare to dare to visit us; and by her our jars have oft been appeased and our wants still supplied. Were it the policy of her father thus to employ her, or the ordinance of God thus to make her his instrument, or her extraordinary affection to our nation, I know not. But of this I am sure, when her father, with the utmost of his policy and power sought to surprise me, the dark night could not affright her from coming through the irksome woods; and with watered eyes gave me intelligence, with her best advice to escape his fury; which had he known he had surely slain her. Jamestown, with her wild train, she as freely frequented as her father's habitation; and, during the time of two or three years, she, next, under God, was still the instrument to preserve this colony from death, famine, and utter confusion, which if in those times had once been dissolved, Virginia might have lain as it was at our first arrival to this day.
Since then this business having been turned and varied by many accidents from that I left it at. It is most certain after a long and troublesome war after my departure, betwixt her father and our colony, all which time she was not heard of, about two years after she herself was taken prisoner. Being so detained near two years longer, the colony by that means was relieved, peace concluded, and at last, rejecting her barbarous condition, she was married to an English gentleman, with whom at present she is in England; the first Christian ever of that nation, the first Virginian ever spoke English: a matter surely, if my meaning be truly considered and well understood, worthy a prince's understanding.
Thus, most gracious lady, I have related to Your Majesty what at your best leisure our approved histories will account you at large, and done in the time of Your Majesty's life. And, however, this might be presented to you from a more worthy pen, it cannot come from a more honest heart, as yet I never begged anything of the State or any; and it is my want of ability and her exceeding desert, your birth, means and authority, her birth, virtue, want and simplicity, doth make me thus bold humbly to beseech your majesty to take this knowledge of her, though it be from one so unworthy to be the reporter as myself, her husband's estate not being able to make her fit to attend your majesty. The most and least I can do is to tell you this, because none hath so oft tried it as myself; and the rather being of so great a spirit, however her stature. If she should not be well received, seeing this kingdom may rightly have a kingdom by her means, her present love to us and Christianity might turn to such scorn and fury as to divert all this good to the worst of evil; where, finding so great a queen should do her some honour more than she can imagine, for being so kind to your servants and subjects, would so ravish her with content, as endear her dearest blood to effect that Your Majesty and all the king's honest subjects most earnestly desire. And so I humbly kiss your gracious hands.
Captain Smith went to Brentford with several others to see Pocahontas. She saluted him modestly, and without a word turned round and "obscured her face as not seeming well contented." Smith, with her husband and the other gentlemen, left her "in that humour" for several hours. The captain was disappointed, and repented having written the queen that she could speak English. But when the gentlemen returned Pocahontas began to talk, and said that she remembered Captain Smith well, "and the courtesies she had done."
"You did promise Powhatan," said Pocahontas, "what was yours should be his, and he the like to you. You called him father, being in his land a stranger, and by the same reason so must I do to you."
Captain Smith tried to excuse himself from this honour. He "durst not allow that title because she was a king's daughter."
"Were you not afraid," said Pocahontas, with a look of determination, "were you not afraid to come into my father's country, and caused fear in him and all his people but me, and fear you here I should call you father? I tell you then I will, and you shall call me child, and so I will be forever and ever your countryman. They did tell us always you were dead, and I knew no other until I came to Plymouth; yet Powhatan did command Tomocomo to seek you and know the truth, because your countrymen will lie much."
Pocahontas had really felt a warm affection for Smith as a friend of her childhood.
Pocahontas, it is said, had been so well instructed that she "was become very formal and civil after our English manner." During his brief stay in London Captain Smith made frequent visits to Pocahontas, accompanied by courtiers and other friends who wished to see the Indian lady. The gentlemen, said Smith, "generally concluded they did not think God had a great hand in her conversion," and said that they had seen "many English ladies worse favoured, proportioned, and behavioured."
While Pocahontas was in England her portrait was drawn and engraved. She is represented in the fashionable costume of the day. Beneath the picture were these words:
Matoaks als Rebecka, daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan, Emperor of Attanough-kornouck als Virginia, converted and baptised in the Christian faith, and wife to the worshipful Mr. John Rolfe. Aged 21. Anno Domini 1616.
Pocahontas was destined never to return to America. She died at Gravesend on the eve of her departure for America, being about twenty-two years of age. The few words devoted in Smith's History to her death are quite characteristic of the times:
It pleased God at Gravesend to take this young lady to His mercy, where she made not more sorrow for her unexpected death than joy to the beholders to hear and see her make so religious and godly an end.
In the parish register at Gravesend is the following blundering entry, which could hardly have referred to any other than Pocahontas:
1616, May 21, Rebecca Wrothe
The child of Pocahontas was left in England in the care of Sir Lewis Stewkley, and afterwards transferred to the care of his uncle, Mr. Henry Rolfe, a London merchant. He was educated in England and afterwards returned to America. From him descended some of the most respectable families in Virginia. There is on record a petition signed by Pocahontas's son, Thomas Rolfe, and addressed to the authorities of the colony in 1641, praying to be allowed to go to the Indian country to visit his mother's sister, known among the white people as Cleopatra.