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authority of emperor so long as he lived. Beverley says, that Opechancanough was not esteemed by the Indians to be in any way related to Powhatan; and that they represented him as the prince of a foreign nation residing at a great distance somewhere in the Southwest. He might be an emigrant or an exile from the empire of Mexico, or from some of the tribes between that region and Virginia. The same his torian describes him as a man of large stature, noble presence and extraordinary parts. Stith calls, him a politic and haughty prince. Burk entitles him the Hannibal of Virginia.
He was perhaps the most inveterate and troublesome enemy which any of the American colonies have ever met with among his race. The general causes which made him so, independently of his inherent talents and principles, are to be looked for in the situation of the tribes under his command, and especially in the relations existing between them and the colonists. He saw that either the white or red man must sooner or later establish an exclusive superiority; and he very reasonably decided upon doing all in his power to determine the issue in favor of his country and himself
. But more particular provocations were not wanting. Even after the peace of 1636, great as the anxiety was for its preservation,“ the subtle Indians,” says Beverley, “re sented the encroachments on them by Hervey's grants.” A late historian expresses himself in warmer terms. It was not enough, he writes, that they had abandoned to their invaders the delightful regions on the sea-shore where their fathers had been placed by the bounty of Heaven—where their days had rolled on in an enchanting round of innocence and gaiety-where they had possessed abundance without labor, and independence without government. The little that remained to them was attempted to be wrested from them by the insatiable avarice and rapacity of their enemies.
The following brief biographical sketch of Captain John Smith is quoted in Burk’s Virginia, as from “a late American biographer, probably Belknap.)
He was born at Willoughby, in Lincolnshire, England, in the year one thousand five hundred and seventy-nine. From the first dawn of reason he discovered a roving and romantic genius, and delighted in extravagant and daring actions among his school-fellows. When about thirteen years of age, he sold his books and satchel, and his puerile trinkets, to raise money, with a view to convey himself privately to sca; but the death of his father put a stop for the present to this attempt, and threw him into the hands of guardians, who endeavored to check the ardor of his genius, by confining him to a compting-house. Being put apprentice to a merchant at Lynn, at the age of fifteen, he at first conceived hopes that his master would send him to sea in his service; but this hope failing, he quitted his master, and with only ten shillings in his pocket, entered into the train of a young nobleman who was travelling to France.
At Orleans he was discharged from his attendance on Lord Bertie, and had money given him to return to England.
With this money he visited Paris, and proceeded to the Low Countries, where he enlisted as a soldier and learned the rudiments of war,a science peculiarly agreeable to his ardent and active genius. Meeting with a Scots gentleman abroad, he was persuaded to pass into Scotland, with the promise of being strongly recommended to King James. But being baffled in this expectation, he returned to his native town, and finding no company there which suited his taste, he built a booth in the wood, and betook himself to the study of military history and tactics, diverting himself at intervals with his horse and lance; in which exercises he at length found a companion, an Italian gentleman, rider to the Earl of Lincoln, who drew him from his sylvan retreat to Tattersal.
Having recovered a part of the estate which his father had left him, he put himself into a better condition than before, and set off again on his travels in the winter of the year one thousand five hundred and ninety-six, being then only seventeen years of age. His first stage was Flanders, where, meeting with a Frenchman who pretended to be heir to a noble family, he, with his three attendants, prevailed upon Smith to go with them to France. In a dark night they arrived at St. Valory, in Picardy, and by the connivance of the shipmaster, the Frenchmen were carried ashore with the trunks of our young traveller, whilst he was left on board till the return of the boat. In the mean time they had conveyed the baggage out of his reach, and were not to be found. A sailor on board, who knew the villains, generously undertook to conduct him to Mortain, where they lived, and supplied his wants till their arrival at the place. Here he found their friends, from whom he could get no recompense, but the report of his sufferings induced several persons of distinction to invite him to their houses.
Eager to pursue his travels, and not caring to receive favors which he was unable to requite, he left his new friends, and went from port to port in search of a ship of war. In one of these rambles near Dinan, it was his chance to meet one of the villains who had robbed
Without speaking a word they both drew, and Smith, having wounded and disarmed his antagonist, obliged him to confess his guilt before a number of persons who had assembled on the occasion. Satisfied with his victory, he retired to the seat of an acquaintance, the Earl of Ployer, who had been brought up in England, and having received supplies from him, he travelled along the French coast to Bayonne, and from thence crossed over to Marseilles, visiting and observing every thing in his way which had any reference to military or naval architecture.
At Marseilles he embarked for Italy, in company with a rabble of pilgrims. The ship was forced by a tempest into the harbor of Toulon, afterwards obliged by a contrary wind to anchor under the little island of St. Mary, off Nice, in Savoy. The bigotry of the pilgrims made them ascribe their ill-fortune to the presence of a heretic on board. They devoutly cursed Smith and his queen, Elizabeth, and in a fit of pious rage threw him into the sea. He'swam to the island, and the next day was taken on board a ship of St. Malo, which had also put in there for shelter. The master of the ship, who was well known to his noble friend the Earl of Ployer, entertained him kindly, and carried him to Alexandria in Egypt; from thence he coasted the Levant, and on his return had the high satisfaction of an engagement with a Venetian ship, which they took and rifled of her rich cargo.
Smith was set on shore at Antibes, with a box of one thousand chequins, (about two thousand dollars), by the help of which he made the tour of Italy, crossed the Adriatic, and travelled into Stiria, to the seat of Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria. Here he met with an Eng. lish and Irish Jesuit, who introduced him to Lord Eberspaught, Baron Kisel, and other officers of distinction; and here he found full scope for his genius,-for the emperor being then at war with the Turks, he entered into his army as a volunteer.
He communicated to Eberspaught a method of conversing at a dis. tance by signals made with torches, which, being alternately shown and hidden a certain number of times, designated every letter of the alphabet.
He had soon after an opportunity of making the experiment. Eber. spaught, being besieged by the Turks in the strong town of Olimpack, was cut off from all intelligence and hope of succor from his friends. Smith proposed his method of communication to Baron Kisel, who approved it
, and allowed him to put it in practice. He was conveyed by a guard to a hill within view of the town, and sufficiently remote from the Turkish camp. At the display of the signal, Eberspaught knew and answered it, and Smith conveyed to him this intelligence: «Thursday night I will charge on the east; at the alarm, sally thou.” The answer was, “I will.”
Just before this attack, by Smith's advice, a great number of false fires were made in another quarter, which divided the attention of the enemy, and gave advantage to the assailants, who, being assisted by a sally from the town, killed many of the Turks, drove others into the river, and threw succors into the place, which obliged the enemy next day to raise the siege. This well-conducted exploit produced to our young adventurer the command of a company, consisting of two hundred and fifty horsemen, in the regiment of Count Meldrich, a nobleman of Transylvania.
The regiment in which he served being engaged in several hazardous enterprises, Smith was foremost in all dangers, and distinguished himself by his ingenuity and by his valor, and when Meldrich left the imperial army and passed into the service of his native prince, Smith followed him.
At the siege of Regal, the Ottomans derided the slow approaches of the Transylvanian army, and sent a challenge, purporting that the
Lord Turbisha, to divert the ladies, would fight any single captain of the Christian troops.
The honor of accepting this challenge, being determined by lot, fell on Captain Smith, who, meeting his antagonist on horseback, within view of the ladies on the battlements, at the sound of music began the encounter, and in a short time killed him, and bore away his head in triumph to his general, the Lord Moyzes.
The death of the chief so irritated his friend Crualgo, that he sent a particular challenge to the conqueror, who, meeting him with the same ceremonies, after a smart combat, took off his head also.
Smith then in his turn sent a message into the town, informing the ladies that if they wished for more diversion, they should be welcome to his head in case their third champion could take it.
The challenge was accepted by Bonamalgro, who unborsed Smith, and was near gaining the victory; but remounting in a critical moment, he gave the Turk a stroke with his falchion which brought him to the ground, and his head was added to the number.
For these singular exploits he was honored with a military procession, consisting of six thousand men, three led horses, and the Turks' heads on the points of their lances. With this ceremony Smith was conducted to the pavilion of his general, who, after embracing him, presented him with a horse richly furnished, a scymetar and belt worth three hundred ducats, and a commission to be major in his regiment.
The Prince of Transylvania, after the capture of the place, made him a present of his picture set in gold, and a pension of three hundred ducats per annum, and moreover granted him a coat of arms, bearing three Turks' heads in a shield.
The patent was admitted and received in the college of heralds in England, by Sir Henry Segar, garter king at arms.
Smith was always proud of this distinguished honor, and these arms are accordingly blazoned in the frontispiece to his history, with this motto, "Vincere est vivere."
After this, the Transylvanian army was defeated by a body of Turks and Tartars near Rotention, and many brave men were slain, among whom were nine English and Scots officers, who, after the fashion of that day, had entered into this service from a religious zeal to drive the Turks out of Christendom.
Smith was wounded in this battle, and lay among the dead. His habit discovered him to the victors as a person of consequence; they used him well till his wounds were healed, and then sold him to the Basha Bogul, who sent him as a present to his mistress, Tragabig. zanda, at Constantinople, accompanied with a message as full of vanity as void of truth, that he had conquered a Bohemian nobleman and presented him to her as a slave.
The present proved more acceptable to the lady than her lord intended. She could speak Italian, and Smith in that language not only informed her of his country and quality, but conversed with her in so pleasing a manner as to gain her affections. The connection
proved so tender, that to secure him for herself, and to prevent his being ill-used, she sent him to her brother, the bashaw of Nalbraitz, in the country of the Cambrian Tartars on the borders of the sea of Azoph. Her pretence was, that he should there learn the manners and language, as well as religion of the Tartars.
By the terms in which she wrote to her brother, he suspected her design, and resolved to disappoint her. Within an hour after Smith's arrival he was stripped, his head and beard were shaven, an iron collar was put about his neck, he was clothed with a coat of hair-cloth, and driven to labor among the Christian slaves.
He had now no hope of redemption, but from the love of his mistress, who was at a great distance, and not likely to be informed of his misfortunes. The hopeless condition of his fellow slaves could not alleviate his despondency.
In the depth of his distress an opportunity presented for an escape, which
a person of a less courageous and adventurous spirit would have been an aggravation of misery. He was employed in threshing at a grange in a large field, about a league from the house of his tyrant, who in his daily visits treated him with abusive language, accom. panied with blows and kicks.
This was more than Smith could bear; wherefore watching an opportunity, when no other person was present, he levelled a stroke at him with his threshing instrument, which despatched him.
Then hiding his body in the straw, and shutting the door, he filled a bag with grain, mounted the bashaw's horse, and betaking himself to the desert, wandered for two or three days ignorant of the way, and so fortunate as not to meet with a single person who might give information of his flight.
At length he came to a post erected in a cross road, by the marks on which he found his way to Muscovy, and in sixteen days he arrived at Exapolis, on the river Don, where was a Russian garrison, the commander of which, understanding that he was a Christian, received him courteously, took off his iron collar, and gave him letters to the other governors in that region.
Thus he travelled through part of Russia and Poland, till he got back to his friends in Transylvania, receiving presents in his way from many persons of distinction, among whom he particularly mentions a charitable lady, Callamata, being always proud of his connection with that sex, and fond of acknowledging their favors. At Leipsic he met with his colonel, Count Meldrich, and Sigismund, prince of Transyl. vania, who gave him one thousand five hundred ducats to repair his losses.
With this money he was enabled to travel through Germany, France, and Spain, and having visited the kingdom of Morocco, he returned by sea to England, having in his passage enjoyed the pleasure of another naval engagement,
At his arrival in his native country, he had a thousand ducats in his purse, which, with the interest he had remaining in England, he devoted to seek adventures and make discoveries in North America.