The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3

Author: Charles Dudley Warner

XVI Story of Pocahontas, Continued

Sir Thomas Dale was on the whole the most efficient and discreet Governor the colony had had. One element of his success was no doubt the change in the charter of 1609. By the first charter everything had been held in common by the company, and there had been no division of property or allotment of land among the colonists. Under the new regime land was held in severalty, and the spur of individual interest began at once to improve the condition of the settlement. The character of the colonists was also gradually improving. They had not been of a sort to fulfill the earnest desire of the London promoter’s to spread vital piety in the New World. A zealous defense of Virginia and Maryland, against "scandalous imputation," entitled " Leah and Rachel; or, The Two Fruitful Sisters," by Mr. John Hammond, London, 1656, considers the charges that Virginia "is an unhealthy place, a nest of rogues, abandoned women, dissolut and rookery persons; a place of intolerable labour, bad usage and hard diet"; and admits that "at the first settling, and for many years after, it deserved most of these aspersions, nor were they then aspersions but truths.... There were jails supplied, youth seduced, infamous women drilled in, the provision all brought out of England, and that embezzled by the Trustees."

Governor Dale was a soldier; entering the army in the Netherlands as a private he had risen to high position, and received knighthood in 1606. Shortly after he was with Sir Thomas Gates in South Holland. The States General in 1611 granted him three years’ term of absence in Virginia. Upon his arrival he began to put in force that system of industry and frugality he had observed in Holland. He had all the imperiousness of a soldier, and in an altercation with Captain Newport, occasioned by some injurious remarks the latter made about Sir Thomas Smith, the treasurer, he pulled his beard and threatened to hang him. Active operations for settling new plantations were at once begun, and Dale wrote to Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury, for 2,000 good colonists to be sent out, for the three hundred that came were "so profane, so riotous, so full of mutiny, that not many are Christians but in name, their bodies so diseased and crazed that not sixty of them may be employed." He served afterwards with credit in Holland, was made commander of the East Indian fleet in 1618, had a naval engagement with the Dutch near Bantam in 1619, and died in 1620 from the effects of the climate. He was twice married, and his second wife, Lady Fanny, the cousin of his first wife, survived him and received a patent for a Virginia plantation.

Governor Dale kept steadily in view the conversion of the Indians to Christianity, and the success of John Rolfe with Matoaka inspired him with a desire to convert another daughter of Powhatan, of whose exquisite perfections he had heard. He therefore despatched Ralph Hamor, with the English boy, Thomas Savage, as interpreter, on a mission to the court of Powhatan, "upon a message unto him, which was to deale with him, if by any means I might procure a daughter of his, who (Pocahuntas being already in our possession) is generally reported to be his delight and darling, and surely he esteemed her as his owne Soule, for surer pledge of peace." This visit Hamor relates with great naivete.

At his town of Matchcot, near the head of York River, Powhatan himself received his visitors when they landed, with great cordiality, expressing much pleasure at seeing again the boy who had been presented to him by Captain Newport, and whom he had not seen since he gave him leave to go and see his friends at Jamestown four years before; he also inquired anxiously after Namontack, whom he had sent to King James’s land to see him and his country and report thereon, and then led the way to his house, where he sat down on his bedstead side. "On each hand of him was placed a comely and personable young woman, which they called his Queenes, the howse within round about beset with them, the outside guarded with a hundred bowmen."

The first thing offered was a pipe of tobacco, which Powhatan "first drank," and then passed to Hamor, who "drank" what he pleased and then returned it. The Emperor then inquired how his brother Sir Thomas Dale fared, "and after that of his daughter’s welfare, her marriage, his unknown son, and how they liked, lived and loved together." Hamor replied "that his brother was very well, and his daughter so well content that she would not change her life to return and live with him, whereat he laughed heartily, and said he was very glad of it."

Powhatan then desired to know the cause of his unexpected coming, and Mr. Hamor said his message was private, to be delivered to him without the presence of any except one of his councilors, and one of the guides, who already knew it.

Therefore the house was cleared of all except the two Queens, who may never sequester themselves, and Mr. Hamor began his palaver. First there was a message of love and inviolable peace, the production of presents of coffee, beads, combs, fish-hooks, and knives, and the promise of a grindstone when it pleased the Emperor to send for it. Hamor then proceeded:

"The bruite of the exquesite perfection of your youngest daughter, being famous through all your territories, hath come to the hearing of your brother, Sir Thomas Dale, who for this purpose hath addressed me hither, to intreate you by that brotherly friendship you make profession of, to permit her (with me) to returne unto him, partly for the desire which himselfe hath, and partly for the desire her sister hath to see her of whom, if fame hath not been prodigall, as like enough it hath not, your brother (by your favour) would gladly make his nearest companion, wife and bed fellow [many times he would have interrupted my speech, which I entreated him to heare out, and then if he pleased to returne me answer], and the reason hereof is, because being now friendly and firmly united together, and made one people [as he supposeth and believes] in the bond of love, he would make a natural union between us, principally because himself hath taken resolution to dwel in your country so long as he liveth, and would not only therefore have the firmest assurance hee may, of perpetuall friendship from you, but also hereby binde himselfe thereunto."

Powhatan replied with dignity that he gladly accepted the salute of love and peace, which he and his subjects would exactly maintain. But as to the other matter he said: "My daughter, whom my brother desireth, I sold within these three days to be wife to a great Weroance for two bushels of Roanoke [a small kind of beads made of oyster shells], and it is true she is already gone with him, three days’ journey from me."

Hamor persisted that this marriage need not stand in the way; "that if he pleased herein to gratify his Brother he might, restoring the Roanoke without the imputation of injustice, take home his daughter again, the rather because she was not full twelve years old, and therefore not marriageable; assuring him besides the bond of peace, so much the firmer, he should have treble the price of his daughter in beads, copper, hatchets, and many other things more useful for him."

The reply of the noble old savage to this infamous demand ought to have brought a blush to the cheeks of those who made it. He said he loved his daughter as dearly as his life; he had many children, but he delighted in none so much as in her; he could not live if he did not see her often, as he would not if she were living with the whites, and he was determined not to put himself in their hands. He desired no other assurance of friendship than his brother had given him, who had already one of his daughters as a pledge, which was sufficient while she lived; "when she dieth he shall have another child of mine." And then he broke forth in pathetic eloquence: "I hold it not a brotherly part of your King, to desire to bereave me of two of my children at once; further give him to understand, that if he had no pledge at all, he should not need to distrust any injury from me, or any under my subjection; there have been too many of his and my men killed, and by my occasion there shall never be more; I which have power to perform it have said it; no not though I should have just occasion offered, for I am now old and would gladly end my days in peace; so as if the English offer me any injury, my country is large enough, I will remove myself farther from you."

The old man hospitably entertained his guests for a day or two, loaded them with presents, among which were two dressed buckskins, white as snow, for his son and daughter, and, requesting some articles sent him in return, bade them farewell with this message to Governor Dale: "I hope this will give him good satisfaction, if it do not I will go three days’ journey farther from him, and never see Englishmen more." It speaks well for the temperate habits of this savage that after he had feasted his guests, "he caused to be fetched a great glass of sack, some three quarts or better, which Captain Newport had given him six or seven years since, carefully preserved by him, not much above a pint in all this time spent, and gave each of us in a great oyster shell some three spoonfuls."

We trust that Sir Thomas Dale gave a faithful account of all this to his wife in England.

Sir Thomas Gates left Virginia in the spring of 1614 and never returned. After his departure scarcity and severity developed a mutiny, and six of the settlers were executed. Rolfe was planting tobacco (he has the credit of being the first white planter of it), and his wife was getting an inside view of Christian civilization.

In 1616 Sir Thomas Dale returned to England with his company and John Rolfe and Pocahontas, and several other Indians. They reached Plymouth early in June, and on the 20th Lord Carew made this note: "Sir Thomas Dale returned from Virginia; he hath brought divers men and women of thatt countrye to be educated here, and one Rolfe who married a daughter of Pohetan (the barbarous prince) called Pocahuntas, hath brought his wife with him into England." On the 22d Sir John Chamberlain wrote to Sir Dudley Carlton that there were ten or twelve, old and young, of that country."

The Indian girls who came with Pocahontas appear to have been a great care to the London company. In May, 1620, is a record that the company had to pay for physic and cordials for one of them who had been living as a servant in Cheapside, and was very weak of a consumption. The same year two other of the maids were shipped off to the Bermudas, after being long a charge to the company, in the hope that they might there get husbands, "that after they were converted and had children, they might be sent to their country and kindred to civilize them." One of them was there married. The attempt to educate them in England was not very successful, and a proposal to bring over Indian boys obtained this comment from Sir Edwin Sandys:

"Now to send for them into England, and to have them educated here, he found upon experience of those brought by Sir Thomas Dale, might be far from the Christian work intended." One Nanamack, a lad brought over by Lord Delaware, lived some years in houses where "he heard not much of religion but sins, had many times examples of drinking, swearing and like evils, ran as he was a mere Pagan," till he fell in with a devout family and changed his life, but died before he was baptized. Accompanying Pocahontas was a councilor of Powhatan, one Tomocomo, the husband of one of her sisters, of whom Purchas says in his "Pilgrimes": "With this savage I have often conversed with my good friend Master Doctor Goldstone where he was a frequent geust, and where I have seen him sing and dance his diabolical measures, and heard him discourse of his country and religion.... Master Rolfe lent me a discourse which I have in my Pilgrimage delivered. And his wife did not only accustom herself to civility, but still carried herself as the daughter of a king, and was accordingly respected, not only by the Company which allowed provision for herself and her son, but of divers particular persons of honor, in their hopeful zeal by her to advance Christianity. I was present when my honorable and reverend patron, the Lord Bishop of London, Doctor King, entertained her with festival state and pomp beyond what I had seen in his great hospitality offered to other ladies. At her return towards Virginia she came at Gravesend to her end and grave, having given great demonstration of her Christian sincerity, as the first fruits of Virginia conversion, leaving here a goodly memory, and the hopes of her resurrection, her soul aspiring to see and enjoy permanently in heaven what here she had joyed to hear and believe of her blessed Saviour. Not such was Tomocomo, but a blasphemer of what he knew not and preferring his God to ours because he taught them (by his own so appearing) to wear their Devillock at the left ear; he acquainted me with the manner of that his appearance, and believed that their Okee or Devil had taught them their husbandry."

Upon news of her arrival, Captain Smith, either to increase his own importance or because Pocahontas was neglected, addressed a letter or "little booke" to Queen Anne, the consort of King James. This letter is found in Smith’s "General Historie" ( 1624), where it is introduced as having been sent to Queen Anne in 1616. Probably he sent her such a letter. We find no mention of its receipt or of any acknowledgment of it. Whether the "abstract" in the "General Historie" is exactly like the original we have no means of knowing. We have no more confidence in Smith’s memory than we have in his dates. The letter is as follows:

"To the most high and vertuous Princesse Queene Anne of Great Brittaine.


"The love I beare my God, my King and Countrie hath so oft emboldened me in the worst of extreme dangers, that now honestie doth constraine mee presume thus farre beyond my selfe, to present your Majestie this short discourse: if ingratitude be a deadly poyson to all honest vertues, I must be guiltie of that crime if I should omit any meanes to bee thankful. So it is.

"That some ten yeeres agoe being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhaten, their chiefe King, I received from this great Salvage exceeding great courtesie, especially from his sonne Nantaquaus, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit, I ever saw in a Salvage and his sister Pocahontas, the Kings most deare and welbeloved daughter, being but a childe of twelve or thirteen yeeres of age, whose compassionate pitifull 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 I felt the least occasion of want that was in the power of those my mortall foes to prevent notwithstanding al their threats. After some six weeks fatting amongst those Salvage Courtiers, at the minute of my execution, she hazarded the beating out of her owne braines to save mine, and not onely that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestowne, where I found about eight and thirty miserable poore and sicke creatures, to keepe possession of all those large territories of Virginia, such was the weaknesse of this poore Commonwealth, as had the Salvages not fed us, we directly had starved.

"And this reliefe, most gracious Queene, was commonly brought us by this Lady Pocahontas, notwithstanding all these passages when inconstant Fortune turned our Peace to warre, this tender Virgin would still not spare to dare to visit us, and by her our jarres have been oft appeased, and our wants still supplyed; were it the policie of her father thus to imploy her, or the ordinance of God thus to make her his instrument, or her extraordinarie affection to our Nation, I know not: but of this I am sure: when her father with the utmost of his policie and power, sought to surprize mee, having but eighteene with mee, the dark night could not affright her from comming through the irksome woods, and with watered eies gave me intilligence, with her best advice to escape his furie: which had hee known hee had surely slaine her. Jamestowne with her wild traine she as freely frequented, as her father’s habitation: and during the time of two or three yeares, she next under God, was still the instrument to preserve this Colonie from death, famine and utter confusion, which if in those times had once beene dissolved, Virginia might have laine as it was at our first arrivall to this day. Since then, this buisinesse having been turned and varied by many accidents from that I left it at: it is most certaine, after a long and troublesome warre after my departure, betwixt her father and our Colonie, all which time shee was not heard of, about two yeeres longer, the Colonie by that meanes was releived, peace concluded, and at last rejecting her barbarous condition, was maried to an English Gentleman, with whom at this present she is in England; the first Christian ever of that Nation, the first Virginian ever spake English, or had a childe in mariage by an Englishman, a matter surely, if my meaning bee truly considered and well understood, worthy a Princes understanding.

"Thus most gracious Lady, I have related to your Majestic, what at your best leasure our approved Histories will account you at large, and done in the time of your Majesties life, and however this might bee presented you from a more worthy pen, it cannot from a more honest heart, as yet I never begged anything of the State, or any, and it is my want of abilitie and her exceeding desert, your birth, meanes, and authoritie, her birth, vertue, want and simplicitie, doth make mee thus bold, humbly to beseech your Majestic: to take this knowledge of her though it be from one so unworthy to be the reporter, as myselfe, her husband’s estate not being able to make her fit to attend your Majestic: the most and least I can doe, is to tell you this, because none so oft hath tried it as myselfe: and the rather being of so great a spirit, however her station: if she should not be well received, seeing this Kingdome may rightly have a Kingdome by her meanes: her present love to us and Christianitie, might turne to such scorne and furie, as to divert all this good to the worst of evill, when finding so great a Queene should doe her some honour more than she can imagine, for being so kinde to your servants and subjects, would so ravish her with content, as endeare her dearest bloud to effect that, your Majestic and all the Kings honest subjects most earnestly desire: and so I humbly kisse your gracious hands."

The passage in this letter, "She hazarded the beating out of her owne braines to save mine," is inconsistent with the preceding portion of the paragraph which speaks of "the exceeding great courtesie" of Powhatan; and Smith was quite capable of inserting it afterwards when he made up his

"General Historie."

Smith represents himself at this time—the last half of 1616 and the first three months of 1617—as preparing to attempt a third voyage to New England (which he did not make), and too busy to do Pocahontas the service she desired. She was staying at Branford, either from neglect of the company or because the London smoke disagreed with her, and there Smith went to see her. His account of his intercourse with her, the only one we have, must be given for what it is worth. According to this she had supposed Smith dead, and took umbrage at his neglect of her. He writes:

"After a modest salutation, without any word, she turned about, obscured her face, as not seeming well contented; and in that humour, her husband with divers others, we all left her two or three hours repenting myself to have writ she could speak English. But not long after she began to talke, remembering me well what courtesies she had done: saying, ’You did promise Powhatan 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 you:’ which though I would have excused, I durst not allow of that title, because she was a king’s daughter. With a well set countenance she said: ’Were you not afraid to come into my father’s country and cause fear in him and all his people (but me), and fear you have I should call you father; I tell you then I will, and you shall call me childe, and so I will be forever and ever, your contrieman. They did tell me alwaies you were dead, and I knew no other till I came to Plymouth, yet Powhatan did command Uttamatomakkin to seek you, and know the truth, because your countriemen will lie much."’

This savage was the Tomocomo spoken of above, who had been sent by Powhatan to take a census of the people of England, and report what they and their state were. At Plymouth he got a long stick and began to make notches in it for the people he saw. But he was quickly weary of that task. He told Smith that Powhatan bade him seek him out, and get him to show him his God, and the King, Queen, and Prince, of whom Smith had told so much. Smith put him off about showing his God, but said he had heard that he had seen the King. This the Indian denied, James probably not coming up to his idea of a king, till by circumstances he was convinced he had seen him. Then he replied very sadly: "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."

Smith adds that he took several courtiers to see Pocahontas, and "they did think God had a great hand in her conversion, and they have seen many English ladies worse favoured, proportioned, and behavioured;" and he heard that it had pleased the King and Queen greatly to esteem her, as also Lord and Lady Delaware, and other persons of good quality, both at the masques and otherwise.

Much has been said about the reception of Pocahontas in London, but the contemporary notices of her are scant. The Indians were objects of curiosity for a time in London, as odd Americans have often been since, and the rank of Pocahontas procured her special attention. She was presented at court. She was entertained by Dr. King, Bishop of London. At the playing of Ben Jonson’s "Christmas his Mask" at court, January 6, 1616-17, Pocahontas and Tomocomo were both present, and Chamberlain writes to Carleton: "The Virginian woman Pocahuntas with her father counsellor have been with the King and graciously used, and both she and her assistant were pleased at the Masque. She is upon her return though sore against her will, if the wind would about to send her away."

Mr. Neill says that "after the first weeks of her residence in England she does not appear to be spoken of as the wife of Rolfe by the letter writers," and the Rev. Peter Fontaine says that "when they heard that Rolfe had married Pocahontas, it was deliberated in council whether he had not committed high treason by so doing, that is marrying an Indian princesse."

It was like James to think so. His interest in the colony was never the most intelligent, and apt to be in things trivial. Lord Southampton (Dec. 15, 1609) writes to Lord Salisbury that he had told the King of the Virginia squirrels brought into England, which are said to fly. The King very earnestly asked if none were provided for him, and said he was sure Salisbury would get him one. Would not have troubled him, "but that you know so well how he is affected to these toys."

There has been recently found in the British Museum a print of a portrait of Pocahontas, with a legend round it in Latin, which is translated: " Matoaka, alias Rebecka, Daughter of Prince Powhatan, Emperor of Virginia; converted to Christianity, married Mr. Rolff; died on shipboard at Gravesend 1617. This is doubtless the portrait engraved by Simon De Passe in 1616, and now inserted in the extant copies of the London edition of the "General Historie," 1624. It is not probable that the portrait was originally published with the "General Historie." The portrait inserted in the edition of 1624 has this inscription:

Round the portrait:

Matoaka als Rebecca Filia Potentiss Princ: Pohatani Imp: Virginim."

In the oval, under the portrait:

"Aetatis suae 21 A.
1616" Below:

"Matoaks als Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan Emprour of Attanoughkomouck als virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith, and wife to the worth Mr. job Rolff. i: Pass: sculp. Compton Holland excud."

Camden in his "History of Gravesend" says that everybody paid this young lady all imaginable respect, and it was believed she would have sufficiently acknowledged those favors, had she lived to return to her own country, by bringing the Indians to a kinder disposition toward the English; " and that she died, "giving testimony all the time she lay sick, of her being a very good Christian."

The Lady Rebecka, as she was called in London, died on shipboard at Gravesend after a brief illness, said to be of only three days, probably on the 21st of March, 1617. I have seen somewhere a statement, which I cannot confirm, that her disease was smallpox. St. George’s Church, where she was buried, was destroyed by fire in 1727. The register of that church has this record:

"1616, May 2j Rebecca Wrothe
Wyff of Thomas Wroth gent
A Virginia lady borne, here was buried
in ye chaunncle."

Yet there is no doubt, according to a record in the Calendar of State Papers, dated "1617 29 March, London," that her death occurred March 21, 1617.

John Rolfe was made Secretary of Virginia when Captain Argall became Governor, and seems to have been associated in the schemes of that unscrupulous person and to have forfeited the good opinion of the company. August 23, 1618, the company wrote to Argall: "We cannot imagine why you should give us warning that Opechankano and the natives have given the country to Mr. Rolfe’s child, and that they reserve it from all others till he comes of years except as we suppose as some do here report it be a device of your own, to some special purpose for yourself." It appears also by the minutes of the company in 1621 that Lady Delaware had trouble to recover goods of hers left in Rolfe’s hands in Virginia, and desired a commission directed to Sir Thomas Wyatt and Mr. George Sandys to examine what goods of the late "Lord Deleware had come into Rolfe’s possession and get satisfaction of him." This George Sandys is the famous traveler who made a journey through the Turkish Empire in 1610, and who wrote, while living in Virginia, the first book written in the New World, the completion of his translation of Ovid’s "Metamorphosis."

John Rolfe died in Virginia in 1622, leaving a wife and children. This is supposed to be his third wife, though there is no note of his marriage to her nor of the death of his first. October 7, 1622, his brother Henry Rolfe petitioned that the estate of John should be converted to the support of his relict wife and children and to his own indemnity for having brought up John’s child by Powhatan’s daughter.

This child, named Thomas Rolfe, was given after the death of Pocahontas to the keeping of Sir Lewis Stukely of Plymouth, who fell into evil practices, and the boy was transferred to the guardianship of his uncle Henry Rolfe, and educated in London. When he was grown up he returned to Virginia, and was probably there married. There is on record his application to the Virginia authorities in 1641 for leave to go into the Indian country and visit Cleopatra, his mother’s sister. He left an only daughter who was married, says Stith (1753), "to Col. John Bolling; by whom she left an only son, the late Major John Bolling, who was father to the present Col. John Bolling, and several daughters, married to Col. Richard Randolph, Col. John Fleming, Dr. William Gay, Mr. Thomas Eldridge, and Mr. James Murray." Campbell in his "History of Virginia" says that the first Randolph that came to the James River was an esteemed and industrious mechanic, and that one of his sons, Richard, grandfather of the celebrated John Randolph, married Jane Bolling, the great granddaughter of Pocahontas.

In 1618 died the great Powhatan, full of years and satiated with fighting and the savage delights of life. He had many names and titles; his own people sometimes called him Ottaniack, sometimes Mamauatonick, and usually in his presence Wahunsenasawk. He ruled, by inheritance and conquest, with many chiefs under him, over a large territory with not defined borders, lying on the James, the York, the Rappahannock, the Potomac, and the Pawtuxet Rivers. He had several seats, at which he alternately lived with his many wives and guard of bowmen, the chief of which at the arrival of the English was Werowomocomo, on the Pamunkey (York) River. His state has been sufficiently described. He is said to have had a hundred wives, and generally a dozen—the youngest—personally attending him. When he had a mind to add to his harem he seems to have had the ancient oriental custom of sending into all his dominions for the fairest maidens to be brought from whom to select. And he gave the wives of whom he was tired to his favorites.

Strachey makes a striking description of him as he appeared about 1610: "He is a goodly old man not yet shrincking, though well beaten with cold and stormeye winters, in which he hath been patient of many necessityes and attempts of his fortune to make his name and famely great. He is supposed to be little lesse than eighty yeares old, I dare not saye how much more; others saye he is of a tall stature and cleane lymbes, of a sad aspect, rownd fatt visaged, with graie haires, but plaine and thin, hanging upon his broad showlders; some few haires upon his chin, and so on his upper lippe: he hath been a strong and able salvadge, synowye, vigilant, ambitious, subtile to enlarge his dominions:.... cruell he hath been, and quarellous as well with his own wcrowanccs for trifles, and that to strike a terrour and awe into them of his power and condicion, as also with his neighbors in his younger days, though now delighted in security and pleasure, and therefore stands upon reasonable conditions of peace with all the great and absolute werowances about him, and is likewise more quietly settled amongst his own."

It was at this advanced age that he had the twelve favorite young wives whom Strachey names. All his people obeyed him with fear and adoration, presenting anything he ordered at his feet, and trembling if he frowned. His punishments were cruel; offenders were beaten to death before him, or tied to trees and dismembered joint by joint, or broiled to death on burning coals. Strachey wondered how such a barbarous prince should put on such ostentation of majesty, yet he accounted for it as belonging to the necessary divinity that doth hedge in a king: "Such is (I believe) the impression of the divine nature, and however these (as other heathens forsaken by the true light) have not that porcion of the knowing blessed Christian spiritt, yet I am perswaded there is an infused kind of divinities and extraordinary (appointed that it shall be so by the King of kings) to such as are his ymedyate instruments on earth."

Here is perhaps as good a place as any to say a word or two about the appearance and habits of Powhatan’s subjects, as they were observed by Strachey and Smith. A sort of religion they had, with priests or conjurors, and houses set apart as temples, wherein images were kept and conjurations performed, but the ceremonies seem not worship, but propitiations against evil, and there seems to have been no conception of an overruling power or of an immortal life. Smith describes a ceremony of sacrifice of children to their deity; but this is doubtful, although Parson Whittaker, who calls the Indians "naked slaves of the devil," also says they sacrificed sometimes themselves and sometimes their own children. An image of their god which he sent to England "was painted upon one side of a toadstool, much like unto a deformed monster." And he adds: "Their priests, whom they call Quockosoughs, are no other but such as our English witches are." This notion I believe also pertained among the New England colonists. There was a belief that the Indian conjurors had some power over the elements, but not a well-regulated power, and in time the Indians came to a belief in the better effect of the invocations of the whites. In "Winslow’s Relation," quoted by Alexander Young in his " Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers," under date of July, 1623, we read that on account of a great drought a fast day was appointed. When the assembly met the sky was clear. The exercise lasted eight or nine hours. Before they broke up, owing to prayers the weather was overcast. Next day began a long gentle rain. This the Indians seeing, admired the goodness of our God: "showing the difference between their conjuration and our invocation in the name of God for rain; theirs being mixed with such storms and tempests, as sometimes, instead of doing them good, it layeth the corn flat on the ground; but ours in so gentle and seasonable a manner, as they never observed the like."

It was a common opinion of the early settlers in Virginia, as it was of those in New England, that the Indians were born white, but that they got a brown or tawny color by the use of red ointments, made of earth and the juice of roots, with which they besmear themselves either according to the custom of the country or as a defense against the stinging of mosquitoes. The women are of the same hue as the men, says Strachey; "howbeit, it is supposed neither of them naturally borne so discolored; for Captain Smith (lyving sometymes amongst them) affirmeth how they are from the womb indifferent white, but as the men, so doe the women," "dye and disguise themselves into this tawny cowler, esteeming it the best beauty to be nearest such a kind of murrey as a sodden quince is of," as the Greek women colored their faces and the ancient Britain women dyed themselves with red; "howbeit [Strachey slyly adds] he or she that hath obtained the perfected art in the tempering of this collour with any better kind of earth, yearb or root preserves it not yet so secrett and precious unto herself as doe our great ladyes their oyle of talchum, or other painting white and red, but they frindly communicate the secret and teach it one another."

Thomas Lechford in his "Plain Dealing; or Newes from New England," London, 1642, says: "They are of complexion swarthy and tawny; their children are borne white, but they bedawbe them with oyle and colors presently."

The men are described as tall, straight, and of comely proportions; no beards; hair black, coarse, and thick; noses broad, flat, and full at the end; with big lips and wide mouths’, yet nothing so unsightly as the Moors; and the women as having "handsome limbs, slender arms, pretty hands, and when they sing they have a pleasant tange in their voices. The men shaved their hair on the right side, the women acting as barbers, and left the hair full length on the left side, with a lock an ell long." A Puritan divine—"New England’s Plantation, 1630"—says of the Indians about him, "their hair is generally black, and cut before like our gentlewomen, and one lock longer than the rest, much like to our gentlemen, which fashion I think came from hence into England."

Their love of ornaments is sufficiently illustrated by an extract from Strachey, which is in substance what Smith writes:

"Their eares they boare with wyde holes, commonly two or three, and in the same they doe hang chaines of stayned pearle braceletts, of white bone or shreeds of copper, beaten thinne and bright, and wounde up hollowe, and with a grate pride, certaine fowles’ legges, eagles, hawkes, turkeys, etc., with beasts clawes, bears, arrahacounes, squirrells, etc. The clawes thrust through they let hang upon the cheeke to the full view, and some of their men there be who will weare in these holes a small greene and yellow-couloured live snake, neere half a yard in length, which crawling and lapping himself about his neck oftentymes familiarly, he suffreeth to kisse his lippes. Others weare a dead ratt tyed by the tayle, and such like conundrums."

This is the earliest use I find of our word "conundrum," and the sense it bears here may aid in discovering its origin.

Powhatan is a very large figure in early Virginia history, and deserves his prominence. He was an able and crafty savage, and made a good fight against the encroachments of the whites, but he was no match for the crafty Smith, nor the double-dealing of the Christians. There is something pathetic about the close of his life, his sorrow for the death of his daughter in a strange land, when he saw his territories overrun by the invaders, from whom he only asked peace, and the poor privilege of moving further away from them into the wilderness if they denied him peace.

In the midst of this savagery Pocahontas blooms like a sweet, wild rose. She was, like the Douglas, "tender and true." Wanting apparently the cruel nature of her race generally, her heroic qualities were all of the heart. No one of all the contemporary writers has anything but gentle words for her. Barbarous and untaught she was like her comrades, but of a gentle nature. Stripped of all the fictions which Captain Smith has woven into her story, and all the romantic suggestions which later writers have indulged in, she appears, in the light of the few facts that industry is able to gather concerning her, as a pleasing and unrestrained Indian girl, probablv not different from her savage sisters in her habits, but bright and gentle; struck with admiration at the appearance of the white men, and easily moved to pity them, and so inclined to a growing and lasting friendship for them; tractable and apt to learn refinements; accepting the new religion through love for those who taught it, and finally becoming in her maturity a well-balanced, sensible, dignified Christian woman.

According to the long-accepted story of Pocahontas, she did something more than interfere to save from barbarous torture and death a stranger and a captive, who had forfeited his life by shooting those who opposed his invasion. In all times, among the most savage tribes and in civilized society, women have been moved to heavenly pity by the sight of a prisoner, and risked life to save him—the impulse was as natural to a Highland lass as to an African maid. Pocahontas went further than efforts to make peace between the superior race and her own. When the whites forced the Indians to contribute from their scanty stores to the support of the invaders, and burned their dwellings and shot them on sight if they refused, the Indian maid sympathized with the exposed whites and warned them of stratagems against them; captured herself by a base violation of the laws of hospitality, she was easily reconciled to her situation, adopted the habits of the foreigners, married one of her captors, and in peace and in war cast in her lot with the strangers. History has not preserved for us the Indian view of her conduct.

It was no doubt fortunate for her, though perhaps not for the colony, that her romantic career ended by an early death, so that she always remains in history in the bloom of youth. She did not live to be pained by the contrast, to which her eyes were opened, between her own and her adopted people, nor to learn what things could be done in the Christian name she loved, nor to see her husband in a less honorable light than she left him, nor to be involved in any way in the frightful massacre of 1622. If she had remained in England after the novelty was over, she might have been subject to slights and mortifying neglect. The struggles of the fighting colony could have brought her little but pain. Dying when she did, she rounded out one of the prettiest romances of all history, and secured for her name the affection of a great nation, whose empire has spared little that belonged to her childhood and race, except the remembrance of her friendship for those who destroyed her people.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Charles Dudley Warner, "XVI Story of Pocahontas, Continued," The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3, ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner—Volume 3 (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024,

MLA: Warner, Charles Dudley. "XVI Story of Pocahontas, Continued." The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3, edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner—Volume 3, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Warner, CD, 'XVI Story of Pocahontas, Continued' in The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner— Volume 3, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner—Volume 3, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from