« AnteriorContinuar »
The acclamations of the crowd affected to tears the 'sensibility of Pocahontas; but her native modesty was abashed; and it was with delight that she obeyed the invitation of Captain Smith to wander with him, remote from vulgar curiosity, along the banks of the river. It was then she gave loose to all the tumultuous extasy 'of love ; hanging on his arm, and weeping with an eloquence much more powerful than words.
The same year Captain Newport arrived from England with a reinforcement of men, and a supply of provisions. The ship also brought a quantity of such trinkets as the Indians are captivated with, and she was sent back loaded with cedar, skins, and furs.
It was the opinion of many chimerical heads in England, that the bay of Chesapeak had its source not far from the South Sea. Smith, however he discredited this idea, was ever ready to promote discoveries ; and, in a boat adapted to the
voyage, he' traced the bay to its very head. He also sailed up the Potomac river to its falls;
Sensibility had left its signature upon the countenance of Pocahontas. It needed no Ghost, to inform him who delights to read the human face divine, that the softer passions had produced a mechanical effect on the aspect of this Indian Maid. The characters were too plain not to be understood; they gave a turn and cast to her features that made a forcible impression on the mind of the beholder. Her beauty did not depend on mere features, but temper and sentiment. And we ought not to wonder that her looks afterwards captivated a man of elegant education.
and having an eye for the wonders of nature, beheld with awful admiration that vast volume of water obstructed by irregular rocks, over which it broke with a roar that filled the country around.
In the absence of Captain Smith, Powhatan having taken offence at some act of the Colonists, sent them a hatchet, which was a token of defi. ance; and laid waste to the fields of corn, which he judged it might be difficult to protect. When Smith returned to the fort, he found his people reduced to a state bordering on famine; and that there was no alternative left but to invade a neighbouring town, and levy contributions on their grain. A detachment of the bravest men was selected from the Colonists, and an early hour of the morning was fixed for their departure ; but the crafty Powhatan by the means of his spies anticipated their march; the oldest warriors were posted in ambush to wage among them unseen destruction ; and the whole party would inevitably have been destroyed by the Indians, had not the kind, the faithful, the lovely Pocabontas, in a dismal night of thunder, lightning, and rain, stole through the woods, and apprized Smith of his danger.
Can the wild legends of rude ages, or the sentimental fictions of refinement, supply an heroine whose qualities would not be eclipsed by the Indian Pocahontas?
The return of Captain Smith restored to the
colony its former importance. His care, courage, and vigilance, not only defeated the projects of the neighbouring Indians, but inspired even Powhalan with awe; and the Colonists no longer entertained any fear from the incursions of the natives.
But at this period an accident happened to Captain Smith, which deprived the colony of his services. From the sea to the falls of James river, the face of the country is uniformly level; but where the water becomes obstructed the land swells into the prospect of hills rising over hills.
Smith finding it necessary, from the great influx of emigrants to the colony, to establish a new Settlement, made choice of this spot; and assisted himself in throwing up a fortification. But while he was lying asleep one night in his boat, a spark from a fire which had been kindled by a boy, communicated to his powder-bag, which blew up, and tore the flesh from his thighs and part of his body, in a manner that endangered his life.
In this deplorable condition Captain Smith was carried to James-town, where, there being neither a Surgeon nor Surgeon's chest, he embarked in a ship that had brought over a supply of men, and was preparing to sail for England. It was on Michaelmas day, 1609, that Captain Smith bade farewell to that shore on which he had founded a Colony, that was decreed in the progress of time to become an independant empire, and confederating itself with other colonies, to hold a distinguished rank among the nations of the earth.
Though the breast of Pocabontas cherished the deepest affection for Captain Smith, yet, such is the native modesty of the sex in all countries, that she could not collect resolution to tell him of her love; and the Captain, like a true soldier, unwilling to put bis unhoused free condition, into circumscription and confine, though he returned her endearments, never dropped the slightest hint about marriage. Pocahontas had, however, the discernment to perceive that among people of a civilized nation, no bonds but those of marriage could secure to a woman the object of her affections; and that little confidence was to be reposed in the fond assurances of a lover till he evinced their sincerity by becoming a husband. Averse to any solemn engagement with Pocahontas, yet, conscious of her own ardour for such an union, Smith devised an expedient that could not fail to cure her of her passion. He embarked privately for England, and enjoined the Colonists as they valued their own safety, to represent that he was dead; for Smith knew the mischief every woman feels an impulse to perpetrate whose passion has been scorned; but he also remembered the position, that where there was no hope there could be no longer love; and the breast, which, knowing him to be living, would glow
with an impatience of revenge, would, on thic belief of his death, be accessible only to the softness of sorrow. The project of our adventurer was founded on an acquaintance with the human heart; for when Pocahontas again, under pretence of carrying provisions to the fort, gratified her secret longing to meet her beloved Englishman, she yielded to every bitterness of anguish on hearing of his death. A Colonist of the name of Wright, undertook to practise the deceit. He pretended to shew the afflicted girl the
grave of Captain Smith, recounting the tender remembrance he expressed for her in his dying moments, and the hope he fondly indulged to meet her in the world of spirits. Love is ever credulous; but Pocahontas listened to this artful tale with catholic faith. She prostrated herself on the pretended grave, beat her bosom, and uttered the most piercing cries.
Mr. John Rolfe, one of the Colonists, was young, brave, generous, but of impetuous passions. His fine talents had been cultivated by a liberal education ; but his feelings, ever tremblingly alive to external impressions, made him resentful of even an involuntary design to offend; and an affair of honour with a superior officer had driven him to the shores of the new world.
Possessing a supreme contempt for the vulgar, there were few of the Colonists whose company he could endure. The only companion of his social hour for a long time had been Snitb; but