Captain John Smith by Charles Dudley Warner, chapter name FIRST ATTEMPTS IN VIRGINIA


John Smith has not chosen to tell us anything of his life during the interim perhaps not more than a year and a half between his return from Morocco and his setting sail for Virginia. Nor do his contemporaries throw any light upon this period of his life.

One would like to know whether he went down to Willoughby and had a reckoning with his guardians; whether he found any relations or friends of his boyhood; whether any portion of his estate remained of that "competent means" which he says he inherited, but which does not seem to have been available in his career. From the time when he set out for France in his fifteenth year, with the exception of a short sojourn in Willoughby seven or eight years after, he lived by his wits and by the strong hand. His purse was now and then replenished by a lucky windfall, which enabled him to extend his travels and seek more adventures. This is the impression that his own story makes upon the reader in a narrative that is characterized by the boastfulness and exaggeration of the times, and not fuller of the marvelous than most others of that period.

The London to which Smith returned was the London of Shakespeare. We should be thankful for one glimpse of him in this interesting town. Did he frequent the theatre? Did he perhaps see Shakespeare himself at the Globe? Did he loaf in the coffee-houses, and spin the fine thread of his adventures to the idlers and gallants who resorted to them? If he dropped in at any theatre of an afternoon he was quite likely to hear some allusion to Virginia, for the plays of the hour were full of chaff, not always of the choicest, about the attractions of the Virgin-land, whose gold was as plentiful as copper in England; where the prisoners were fettered in gold, and the dripping-pans were made of it; and where an unheard-of thing you might become an alderman without having been a scavenger.

Was Smith an indulger in that new medicine for all ills, tobacco? Alas! we know nothing of his habits or his company. He was a man of piety according to his lights, and it is probable that he may have had the then rising prejudice against theatres. After his return from Virginia he and his exploits were the subject of many a stage play and spectacle, but whether his vanity was more flattered by this mark of notoriety than his piety was offended we do not know. There is certainly no sort of evidence that he engaged in the common dissipation of the town, nor gave himself up to those pleasures which a man rescued from the hardships of captivity in Tartaria might be expected to seek. Mr. Stith says that it was the testimony of his fellow soldiers and adventurers that "they never knew a soldier, before him, so free from those military vices of wine, tobacco, debts, dice, and oathes."

But of one thing we may be certain: he was seeking adventure according to his nature, and eager for any heroic employment; and it goes without saying that he entered into the great excitement of the day adventure in America. Elizabeth was dead. James had just come to the throne, and Raleigh, to whom Elizabeth had granted an extensive patent of Virginia, was in the Tower. The attempts to make any permanent lodgment in the countries of Virginia had failed. But at the date of Smith's advent Captain Bartholomew Gosnold had returned from a voyage undertaken in 1602 under the patronage of the Earl of Southampton, and announced that he had discovered a direct passage westward to the new continent, all the former voyagers having gone by the way of the West Indies. The effect of this announcement in London, accompanied as it was with Gosnold's report of the fruitfulness of the coast of New England which he explored, was something like that made upon New York by the discovery of gold in California in 1849. The route by the West Indies, with its incidents of disease and delay, was now replaced by the direct course opened by Gosnold, and the London Exchange, which has always been quick to scent any profit in trade, shared the excitement of the distinguished soldiers and sailors who were ready to embrace any chance of adventure that offered.

It is said that Captain Gosnold spent several years in vain, after his return, in soliciting his friends and acquaintances to join him in settling this fertile land he had explored; and that at length he prevailed upon Captain John Smith, Mr. Edward Maria Wingfield, the Rev. Mr. Robert Hunt, and others, to join him. This is the first appearance of the name of Captain John Smith in connection with Virginia. Probably his life in London had been as idle as unprofitable, and his purse needed replenishing. Here was a way open to the most honorable, exciting, and profitable employment. That its mere profit would have attracted him we do not believe; but its danger, uncertainty, and chance of distinction would irresistibly appeal to him. The distinct object of the projectors was to establish a colony in Virginia. This proved too great an undertaking for private persons. After many vain projects the scheme was commended to several of the nobility, gentry, and merchants, who came into it heartily, and the memorable expedition of 1606 was organized.

The patent under which this colonization was undertaken was obtained from King James by the solicitation of Richard Hakluyt and others. Smith's name does not appear in it, nor does that of Gosnold nor of Captain Newport. Richard Hakluyt, then clerk prebendary of Westminster, had from the first taken great interest in the project. He was chaplain of the English colony in Paris when Sir Francis Drake was fitting out his expedition to America, and was eager to further it. By his diligent study he became the best English geographer of his time; he was the historiographer of the East India Company, and the best informed man in England concerning the races, climates, and productions of all parts of the globe. It was at Hakluyt's suggestion that two vessels were sent out from Plymouth in 1603 to verify Gosnold's report of his new short route. A further verification of the feasibility of this route was made by Captain George Weymouth, who was sent out in 1605 by the Earl of Southampton.

The letters-patent of King James, dated April 10, 1606, licensed the planting of two colonies in the territories of America commonly called Virginia. The corporators named in the first colony were Sir Thos. Gates, Sir George Somers, knights, and Richard Hakluyt and Edward Maria Wingfield, adventurers, of the city of London. They were permitted to settle anywhere in territory between the 34th and 41st degrees of latitude.

The corporators named in the second colony were Thomas Hankam, Raleigh Gilbert, William Parker, and George Popham, representing Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth, and the west counties, who were authorized to make a settlement anywhere between the 38th and 48th degrees of latitude.

The letters commended and generously accepted this noble work of colonization, "which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of all true knowledge and worship of God, and may in time bring the infidels and savages living in those parts to human civility and to a settled and quiet government." The conversion of the Indians was as prominent an object in all these early adventures, English or Spanish, as the relief of the Christians has been in all the Russian campaigns against the Turks in our day.

Before following the fortunes of this Virginia colony of 1606, to which John Smith was attached, it is necessary to glance briefly at the previous attempt to make settlements in this portion of America.

Although the English had a claim upon America, based upon the discovery of Newfoundland and of the coast of the continent from the 38th to the 68th north parallel by Sebastian Cabot in 1497, they took no further advantage of it than to send out a few fishing vessels, until Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a noted and skillful seaman, took out letters-patent for discovery, bearing date the 11th of January, 1578. Gilbert was the half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh and thirteen years his senior. The brothers were associated in the enterprise of 1579, which had for its main object the possession of Newfoundland. It is commonly said, and in this the biographical dictionaries follow one another, that Raleigh accompanied his brother on this voyage of 1579 and went with him to Newfoundland. The fact is that Gilbert did not reach Newfoundland on that voyage, and it is open to doubt if Raleigh started with him. In April, 1579, when Gilbert took active steps under the charter of 1578, diplomatic difficulties arose, growing out of Elizabeth's policy with the Spaniards, and when Gilbert's ships were ready to sail he was stopped by an order from the council. Little is known of this unsuccessful attempt of Gilbert's. He did, after many delays, put to sea, and one of his contemporaries, John Hooker, the antiquarian, says that Raleigh was one of the assured friends that accompanied him. But he was shortly after driven back, probably from an encounter with the Spaniards, and returned with the loss of a tall ship.

Raleigh had no sooner made good his footing at the court of Elizabeth than he joined Sir Humphrey in a new adventure. But the Queen peremptorily retained Raleigh at court, to prevent his incurring the risks of any "dangerous sea-fights." To prevent Gilbert from embarking on this new voyage seems to have been the device of the council rather than the Queen, for she assured Gilbert of her good wishes, and desired him, on his departure, to give his picture to Raleigh for her, and she contributed to the large sums raised to meet expenses "an anchor guarded by a lady," which the sailor was to wear at his breast. Raleigh risked L 2,000 in the venture, and equipped a ship which bore his name, but which had ill luck. An infectious fever broke out among the crew, and the "Ark Raleigh" returned to Plymouth. Sir Humphrey wrote to his brother admiral, Sir George Peckham, indignantly of this desertion, the reason for which he did not know, and then proceeded on his voyage with his four remaining ships. This was on the 11th of January, 1583. The expedition was so far successful that Gilbert took formal possession of Newfoundland for the Queen. But a fatality attended his further explorations: the gallant admiral went down at sea in a storm off our coast, with his crew, heroic and full of Christian faith to the last, uttering, it is reported, this courageous consolation to his comrades at the last moment: "Be of good heart, my friends. We are as near to heaven by sea as by land."

In September, 1583, a surviving ship brought news of the disaster to Falmouth. Raleigh was not discouraged. Within six months of this loss he had on foot another enterprise. His brother's patent had expired. On the 25th of March, 1584, he obtained from Elizabeth a new charter with larger powers, incorporating himself, Adrian Gilbert, brother of Sir Humphrey, and John Davys, under the title of "The College of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the Northwest Passage." But Raleigh's object was colonization. Within a few days after his charter was issued he despatched two captains, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow, who in July of that year took possession of the island of Roanoke.

The name of Sir Walter Raleigh is intimately associated with Carolina and Virginia, and it is the popular impression that he personally assisted in the discovery of the one and the settlement of the other. But there is no more foundation for the belief that he ever visited the territory of Virginia, of which he was styled governor, than that he accompanied Sir Humphrey Gilbert to Newfoundland. An allusion by William Strachey, in his "Historie of Travaile into Virginia," hastily read, may have misled some writers. He speaks of an expedition southward, "to some parts of Chawonock and the Mangoangs, to search them there left by Sir Walter Raleigh." But his further sketch of the various prior expeditions shows that he meant to speak of settlers left by Sir Ralph Lane and other agents of Raleigh in colonization. Sir Walter Raleigh never saw any portion of the coast of the United States.

In 1592 he planned an attack upon the Spanish possessions of Panama, but his plans were frustrated. His only personal expedition to the New World was that to Guana in 1595.

The expedition of Captain Amadas and Captain Barlow is described by Captain Smith in his compilation called the "General Historie," and by Mr. Strachey. They set sail April 27, 1584, from the Thames. On the 2d of July they fell with the coast of Florida in shoal water, "where they felt a most delicate sweet smell," but saw no land. Presently land appeared, which they took to be the continent, and coasted along to the northward a hundred and thirty miles before finding a harbor. Entering the first opening, they landed on what proved to be the Island of Roanoke. The landing-place was sandy and low, but so productive of grapes or vines overrunning everything, that the very surge of the sea sometimes overflowed them. The tallest and reddest cedars in the world grew there, with pines, cypresses, and other trees, and in the woods plenty of deer, conies, and fowls in incredible abundance.

After a few days the natives came off in boats to visit them, proper people and civil in their behavior, bringing with them the King's brother, Granganameo (Quangimino, says Strachey). The name of the King was Winginia, and of the country Wingandacoa. The name of this King might have suggested that of Virginia as the title of the new possession, but for the superior claim of the Virgin Queen. Granganameo was a friendly savage who liked to trade. The first thing he took a fancy was a pewter dish, and he made a hole through it and hung it about his neck for a breastplate. The liberal Christians sold it to him for the low price of twenty deer-skins, worth twenty crowns, and they also let him have a copper kettle for fifty skins. They drove a lively traffic with the savages for much of such "truck," and the chief came on board and ate and drank merrily with the strangers. His wife and children, short of stature but well-formed and bashful, also paid them a visit. She wore a long coat of leather, with a piece of leather about her loins, around her forehead a band of white coral, and from her ears bracelets of pearls of the bigness of great peas hung down to her middle. The other women wore pendants of copper, as did the children, five or six in an ear. The boats of these savages were hollowed trunks of trees. Nothing could exceed the kindness and trustfulness the Indians exhibited towards their visitors. They kept them supplied with game and fruits, and when a party made an expedition inland to the residence of Granganameo, his wife (her husband being absent) came running to the river to welcome them; took them to her house and set them before a great fire; took off their clothes and washed them; removed the stockings of some and washed their feet in warm water; set plenty of victual, venison and fish and fruits, before them, and took pains to see all things well ordered for their comfort. "More love they could not express to entertain us." It is noted that these savages drank wine while the grape lasted. The visitors returned all this kindness with suspicion.

They insisted upon retiring to their boats at night instead of lodging in the house, and the good woman, much grieved at their jealousy, sent down to them their half-cooked supper, pots and all, and mats to cover them from the rain in the night, and caused several of her men and thirty women to sit all night on the shore over against them. "A more kind, loving people cannot be," say the voyagers.

In September the expedition returned to England, taking specimens of the wealth of the country, and some of the pearls as big as peas, and two natives, Wanchese and Manteo. The "lord proprietary" obtained the Queen's permission to name the new lands "Virginia," in her honor, and he had a new seal of his arms cut, with the legend, Propria insignia Walteri Ralegh, militis, Domini et Gubernatoris Virginia.

The enticing reports brought back of the fertility of this land, and the amiability of its pearl-decked inhabitants, determined Raleigh at once to establish a colony there, in the hope of the ultimate salvation of the "poor seduced infidell" who wore the pearls. A fleet of seven vessels, with one hundred householders, and many things necessary to begin a new state, departed from Plymouth in April, 1585. Sir Richard Grenville had command of the expedition, and Mr. Ralph Lane was made governor of the colony, with Philip Amadas for his deputy. Among the distinguished men who accompanied them were Thomas Hariot, the mathematician, and Thomas Cavendish, the naval discoverer. The expedition encountered as many fatalities as those that befell Sir Humphrey Gilbert; and Sir Richard was destined also to an early and memorable death. But the new colony suffered more from its own imprudence and want of harmony than from natural causes.

In August, Grenville left Ralph Lane in charge of the colony and returned to England, capturing a Spanish ship on the way. The colonists pushed discoveries in various directions, but soon found themselves involved in quarrels with the Indians, whose conduct was less friendly than formerly, a change partly due to the greed of the whites. In June, when Lane was in fear of a conspiracy which he had discovered against the life of the colony, and it was short of supplies, Sir Francis Drake appeared off Roanoke, returning homeward with his fleet from the sacking of St. Domingo, Carthagena, and St. Augustine. Lane, without waiting for succor from England, persuaded Drake to take him and all the colony back home. Meantime Raleigh, knowing that the colony would probably need aid, was preparing a fleet of three well appointed ships to accompany Sir Richard Grenville, and an "advice ship," plentifully freighted, to send in advance to give intelligence of his coming. Great was Grenville's chagrin, when he reached Hatorask, to find that the advice boat had arrived, and finding no colony, had departed again for England. However, he established fifteen men ("fifty," says the "General Historie") on the island, provisioned for two years, and then returned home.

[Sir Richard Grenville in 1591 was vice-admiral of a fleet, under command of Lord Thomas Howard, at the Azores, sent against a Spanish Plate-fleet. Six English vessels were suddenly opposed by a Spanish convoy of 53 ships of war. Left behind his comrades, in embarking from an island, opposed by five galleons, he maintained a terrible fight for fifteen hours, his vessel all cut to pieces, and his men nearly all slain. He died uttering aloud these words: "Here dies Sir Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, fighting for his country, queen, religion, and honor."]

Mr. Ralph Lane's colony was splendidly fitted out, much better furnished than the one that Newport, Wingfield, and Gosnold conducted to the River James in 1607; but it needed a man at the head of it. If the governor had possessed Smith's pluck, he would have held on till the arrival of Grenville.

Lane did not distinguish himself in the conduct of this governorship, but he nevertheless gained immortality. For he is credited with first bringing into England that valuable medicinal weeds called tobacco, which Sir Walter Raleigh made fashionable, not in its capacity to drive "rheums" out of the body, but as a soother, when burned in the bowl of a pipe and drawn through the stem in smoke, of the melancholy spirit.

The honor of introducing tobacco at this date is so large that it has been shared by three persons Sir Francis Drake, who brought Mr. Lane home; Mr. Lane, who carried the precious result of his sojourn in America; and Sir Walter Raleigh, who commended it to the use of the ladies of Queen Elizabeth's court.

But this was by no means its first appearance in Europe. It was already known in Spain, in France, and in Italy, and no doubt had begun to make its way in the Orient. In the early part of the century the Spaniards had discovered its virtues. It is stated by John Neander, in his "Tobaco Logia," published in Leyden in 1626, that Tobaco took its name from a province in Yucatan, conquered by Fernando Cortez in 1519. The name Nicotiana he derives from D. Johanne Nicotino Nemansensi, of the council of Francis II., who first introduced the plant into France. At the date of this volume (1626) tobacco was in general use all over Europe and in the East. Pictures are given of the Persian water pipes, and descriptions of the mode of preparing it for use. There are reports and traditions of a very ancient use of tobacco in Persia and in China, as well as in India, but we are convinced that the substance supposed to be tobacco, and to be referred to as such by many writers, and described as "intoxicating," was really India hemp, or some plant very different from the tobacco of the New World. At any rate there is evidence that in the Turkish Empire as late as 1616 tobacco was still somewhat a novelty, and the smoking of it was regarded as vile, and a habit only of the low. The late Hekekian Bey, foreign minister of old Mahomet Ali, possessed an ancient Turkish MS which related an occurrence at Smyrna about the year 1610, namely, the punishment of some sailors for the use of tobacco, which showed that it was a novelty and accounted a low vice at that time. The testimony of the trustworthy George Sandys, an English traveler into Turkey, Egypt, and Syria in 1610 (afterwards, 1621, treasurer of the colony in Virginia), is to the same effect as given in his "Relation," published in London in 1621. In his minute description of the people and manners of Constantinople, after speaking of opium, which makes the Turks "giddy-headed" and "turbulent dreamers," he says: "But perhaps for the self-same cause they delight in Tobacco: which they take through reedes that have joyned with them great heads of wood to containe it, I doubt not but lately taught them as brought them by the English; and were it not sometimes lookt into (for Morat Bassa [Murad III.?] not long since commanded a pipe to be thrust through the nose of a Turke, and to be led in derision through the Citie), no question but it would prove a principal commodity. Nevertheless they will take it in corners; and are so ignorant therein, that that which in England is not saleable, doth passe here among them for most excellent."

Mr. Stith ("History of Virginia," 1746) gives Raleigh credit for the introduction of the pipe into good society, but he cautiously says, "We are not informed whether the queen made use of it herself: but it is certain she gave great countenance to it as a vegetable of singular strength and power, which might therefore prove of benefit to mankind, and advantage to the nation." Mr. Thomas Hariot, in his observations on the colony at Roanoke, says that the natives esteemed their tobacco, of which plenty was found, their "chief physicke."

It should be noted, as against the claim of Lane, that Stowe in his "Annales" (1615) says: "Tobacco was first brought and made known in England by Sir John Hawkins, about the year 1565, but not used by Englishmen in many years after, though at this time commonly used by most men and many women." In a side-note to the edition of 1631 we read: "Sir Walter Raleigh was the first that brought tobacco in use, when all men wondered what it meant." It was first commended for its medicinal virtues. Harrison's "Chronologie," under date of 1573, says: "In these daies the taking in of the smoke of the Indian herbe called 'Tabaco' by an instrument formed like a little ladell, whereby it passeth from the mouth into the hed and stomach, is gretlie taken-up and used in England, against Rewmes and some other diseases ingendred in the longes and inward partes, and not without effect." But Barnaby Rich, in "The Honestie of this Age," 1614, disagrees with Harrison about its benefit: "They say it is good for a cold, for a pose, for rewmes, for aches, for dropsies, and for all manner of diseases proceeding of moyst humours; but I cannot see but that those that do take it fastest are as much (or more) subject to all these infirmities (yea, and to the poxe itself) as those that have nothing at all to do with it." He learns that 7,000 shops in London live by the trade of tobacco-selling, and calculates that there is paid for it L 399,375 a year, "all spent in smoake." Every base groom must have his pipe with his pot of ale; it "is vendible in every taverne, inne, and ale-house; and as for apothecaries shops, grosers shops, chandlers shops, they are (almost) never without company that, from morning till night, are still taking of tobacco." Numbers of houses and shops had no other trade to live by. The wrath of King James was probably never cooled against tobacco, but the expression of it was somewhat tempered when he perceived what a source of revenue it became.

The savages of North America gave early evidence of the possession of imaginative minds, of rare power of invention, and of an amiable desire to make satisfactory replies to the inquiries of their visitors. They generally told their questioners what they wanted to know, if they could ascertain what sort of information would please them. If they had known the taste of the sixteenth century for the marvelous they could not have responded more fitly to suit it. They filled Mr. Lane and Mr. Hariot full of tales of a wonderful copper mine on the River Maratock (Roanoke), where the metal was dipped out of the stream in great bowls. The colonists had great hopes of this river, which Mr. Hariot thought flowed out of the Gulf of Mexico, or very near the South Sea. The Indians also conveyed to the mind of this sagacious observer the notion that they had a very respectably developed religion; that they believed in one chief god who existed from all eternity, and who made many gods of less degree; that for mankind a woman was first created, who by one of the gods brought forth children; that they believed in the immortality of the soul, and that for good works a soul will be conveyed to bliss in the tabernacles of the gods, and for bad deeds to pokogusso, a great pit in the furthest part of the world, where the sun sets, and where they burn continually. The Indians knew this because two men lately dead had revived and come back to tell them of the other world. These stories, and many others of like kind, the Indians told of themselves, and they further pleased Mr. Hariot by kissing his Bible and rubbing it all over their bodies, notwithstanding he told them there was no virtue in the material book itself, only in its doctrines. We must do Mr. Hariot the justice to say, however, that he had some little suspicion of the "subtiltie" of the weroances (chiefs) and the priests.

Raleigh was not easily discouraged; he was determined to plant his colony, and to send relief to the handful of men that Grenville had left on Roanoke Island. In May, 1587, he sent out three ships and a hundred and fifty householders, under command of Mr. John White, who was appointed Governor of the colony, with twelve assistants as a Council, who were incorporated under the name of "The Governor and Assistants of the City of Ralegh in Virginia," with instructions to change their settlement to Chesapeake Bay. The expedition found there no one of the colony (whether it was fifty or fifteen the writers disagree), nothing but the bones of one man where the plantation had been; the houses were unhurt, but overgrown with weeds, and the fort was defaced. Captain Stafford, with twenty men, went to Croatan to seek the lost colonists. He heard that the fifty had been set upon by three hundred Indians, and, after a sharp skirmish and the loss of one man, had taken boats and gone to a small island near Hatorask, and afterwards had departed no one knew whither.

Mr. White sent a band to take revenge upon the Indians who were suspected of their murder through treachery, which was guided by Mateo, the friendly Indian, who had returned with the expedition from England. By a mistake they attacked a friendly tribe. In August of this year Mateo was Christianized, and baptized under the title of Lord of Roanoke and Dassomonpeake, as a reward for his fidelity. The same month Elinor, the daughter of the Govemor, the wife of Ananias Dare, gave birth to a daughter, the first white child born in this part of the continent, who was named Virginia.

Before long a dispute arose between the Governor and his Council as to the proper person to return to England for supplies. White himself was finally prevailed upon to go, and he departed, leaving about a hundred settlers on one of the islands of Hatorask to form a plantation.

The Spanish invasion and the Armada distracted the attention of Europe about this time, and the hope of plunder from Spanish vessels was more attractive than the colonization of America. It was not until 1590 that Raleigh was able to despatch vessels to the relief of the Hatorask colony, and then it was too late. White did, indeed, start out from Biddeford in April, 1588, with two vessels, but the temptation to chase prizes was too strong for him, and he went on a cruise of his own, and left the colony to its destruction.

In March, 1589-90, Mr. White was again sent out, with three ships, from Plymouth, and reached the coast in August. Sailing by Croatan they went to Hatorask, where they descried a smoke in the place they had left the colony in 1587. Going ashore next day, they found no man, nor sign that any had been there lately. Preparing to go to Roanoke next day, a boat was upset and Captain Spicer and six of the crew were drowned. This accident so discouraged the sailors that they could hardly be persuaded to enter on the search for the colony. At last two boats, with nineteen men, set out for Hatorask, and landed at that part of Roanoke where the colony had been left. When White left the colony three years before, the men had talked of going fifty miles into the mainland, and had agreed to leave some sign of their departure. The searchers found not a man of the colony; their houses were taken down, and a strong palisade had been built. All about were relics of goods that had been buried and dug up again and scattered, and on a post was carved the name "CROATAN." This signal, which was accompanied by no sign of distress, gave White hope that he should find his comrades at Croatan. But one mischance or another happening, his provisions being short, the expedition decided to run down to the West Indies and "refresh" (chiefly with a little Spanish plunder), and return in the spring and seek their countrymen; but instead they sailed for England and never went to Croatan. The men of the abandoned colonies were never again heard of. Years after, in 1602, Raleigh bought a bark and sent it, under the charge of Samuel Mace, a mariner who had been twice to Virginia, to go in search of the survivors of White's colony. Mace spent a month lounging about the Hatorask coast and trading with the natives, but did not land on Croatan, or at any place where the lost colony might be expected to be found; but having taken on board some sassafras, which at that time brought a good price in England, and some other barks which were supposed to be valuable, he basely shirked the errand on which he was hired to go, and took himself and his spicy woods home.

The "Lost Colony" of White is one of the romances of the New World. Governor White no doubt had the feelings of a parent, but he did not allow them to interfere with his more public duties to go in search of Spanish prizes. If the lost colony had gone to Croatan, it was probable that Ananias Dare and his wife, the Governor's daughter, and the little Virginia Dare, were with them. But White, as we have seen, had such confidence in Providence that he left his dear relatives to its care, and made no attempt to visit Croatan.

Stith says that Raleigh sent five several times to search for the lost, but the searchers returned with only idle reports and frivolous allegations. Tradition, however, has been busy with the fate of these deserted colonists. One of the unsupported conjectures is that the colonists amalgamated with the tribe of Hatteras Indians, and Indian tradition and the physical characteristics of the tribe are said to confirm this idea. But the sporadic birth of children with white skins (albinos) among black or copper-colored races that have had no intercourse with white people, and the occurrence of light hair and blue eyes among the native races of America and of New Guinea, are facts so well attested that no theory of amalgamation can be sustained by such rare physical manifestations. According to Captain John Smith, who wrote of Captain Newport's explorations in 1608, there were no tidings of the waifs, for, says Smith, Newport returned "without a lump of gold, a certainty of the South Sea, or one of the lost company sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh."

In his voyage of discovery up the Chickahominy, Smith seem; to have inquired about this lost colony of King Paspahegh, for he says, "what he knew of the dominions he spared not to acquaint me with, as of certaine men cloathed at a place called Ocanahonan, cloathcd like me."

[Among these Hatteras Indians Captain Amadas, in 1584, saw children with chestnut-colored hair.]

We come somewhat nearer to this matter in the "Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia," published from the manuscript by the Hakluyt Society in 1849, in which it is intimated that seven of these deserted colonists were afterwards rescued. Strachey is a first-rate authority for what he saw. He arrived in Virginia in 1610 and remained there two years, as secretary of the colony, and was a man of importance. His "Historie" was probably written between 1612 and 1616. In the first portion of it, which is descriptive of the territory of Virginia, is this important passage: "At Peccarecamek and Ochanahoen, by the relation of Machumps, the people have houses built with stone walls, and one story above another, so taught them by those English who escaped the slaughter of Roanoke. At what time this our colony, under the conduct of Captain Newport, landed within the Chesapeake Bay, where the people breed up tame turkies about their houses, and take apes in the mountains, and where, at Ritanoe, the Weroance Eyanaco, preserved seven of the English alive four men, two boys, and one young maid (who escaped [that is from Roanoke] and fled up the river of Chanoke), to beat his copper, of which he hath certain mines at the said Ritanoe, as also at Pamawauk are said to be store of salt stones."

This, it will be observed, is on the testimony of Machumps. This pleasing story is not mentioned in Captain Newport's "Discoveries" (May, 1607). Machumps, who was the brother of Winganuske, one of the many wives of Powhatan, had been in England. He was evidently a lively Indian. Strachey had heard him repeat the "Indian grace," a sort of incantation before meat, at the table of Sir Thomas Dale. If he did not differ from his red brothers he had a powerful imagination, and was ready to please the whites with any sort of a marvelous tale. Newport himself does not appear to have seen any of the "apes taken in the mountains." If this story is to be accepted as true we have to think of Virginia Dare as growing up to be a woman of twenty years, perhaps as other white maidens have been, Indianized and the wife of a native. But the story rests only upon a romancing Indian. It is possible that Strachey knew more of the matter than he relates, for in his history he speaks again of those betrayed people, "of whose end you shall hereafter read in this decade." But the possessed information is lost, for it is not found in the remainder of this "decade" of his writing, which is imperfect. Another reference in Strachey is more obscure than the first. He is speaking of the merciful intention of King James towards the Virginia savages, and that he does not intend to root out the natives as the Spaniards did in Hispaniola, but by degrees to change their barbarous nature, and inform them of the true God and the way to Salvation, and that his Majesty will even spare Powhatan himself. But, he says, it is the intention to make "the common people likewise to understand, how that his Majesty has been acquainted that the men, women, and children of the first plantation of Roanoke were by practice of Powhatan (he himself persuaded thereunto by his priests) miserably slaughtered, without any offense given him either by the first planted (who twenty and odd years had peaceably lived intermixed with those savages, and were out of his territory) or by those who are now come to inhabit some parts of his distant lands," etc.

Strachey of course means the second plantation and not the first, which, according to the weight of authority, consisted of only fifteen men and no women.

In George Percy's Discourse concerning Captain Newport's exploration of the River James in 1607 (printed in Purchas's "Pilgrims") is this sentence: "At Port Cotage, in our voyage up the river, we saw a savage boy, about the age of ten years, which had a head of hair of a perfect yellow, and reasonably white skin, which is a miracle amongst all savages." Mr. Neill, in his "History of the Virginia Company," says that this boy "was no doubt the offspring of the colonists left at Roanoke by White, of whom four men, two boys, and one young maid had been preserved from slaughter by an Indian Chief." Under the circumstances, "no doubt" is a very strong expression for a historian to use.

This belief in the sometime survival of the Roanoke colonists, and their amalgamation with the Indians, lingered long in colonial gossip. Lawson, in his History, published in London in 1718, mentions a tradition among the Hatteras Indians, "that several of their ancestors were white people and could talk from a book; the truth of which is confirmed by gray eyes being among these Indians and no others."

But the myth of Virginia Dare stands no chance beside that of Pocahontas.