Page images

ftupidity. They often smile at the tricks of a young villain, and ever feen pleased with boyish profligacy.

15. Hence it happens, that their offspring frequently prove a scourge to them, and that they feel that iting, which, to use Shakespeare's expresion, is sharper than a serpent'a tooth; the sting inflicted by a thankless, an immoral, an ignorant, an extravagant, and an infidel child.



PERHAPS they who are not particularly aequainted with the history of Virginia, Atay be ignorant that Pocahontas was the protectress of the English, and often icreened them from the cruelty of her father.

She was but twelve years old, wheti captain Smith, the bravest, the most intelligent, and the moft humane of the first colonifts fell into the hands of the favages. He already understood their language, had traded with them several times, and often appeased the quarrels between the Europeans and them. Often had be becn obliged also to fight them, and to punish their perfidy.

3. At length, however, under the pretext of commerce, he was drawn into an ambush, and the only two comparions, who accompanied him, fell before his eyes; but though alone, by his dexterity he extricated himself from the troop which surrounded him; until, unfortunately, imagining he could save himself by crossing a morass, he stuck falt, fo that the savages, againit whom he had no means of vicfending himself, at lait took and bound him, and conducted him to Powhatan.

4. The king was so proud of having Captain Smith io his power, that he sent him in triumph to all the tributary princes, and ordered that he should te splendidly treated till he returned to suffer that death which was prepared for bim.

5. The fatal moment at last arrived. Captain Smith was laid upon the hearth of the favage king, and his head placed upon a large stone to receive the stroke of death ; when Pocahontas, the youngest and darling daughter of


Powhatan, threw herself upon his body, clasped him in her arms, and declared, that if the cruel sentence was execu. ted, the first blow should fall on her.

6. All favages (absolute fovereigns and tyrants not excepted) are invariably more affected by the tears of infancy, than the voice of humanity, Powhatan could not resist the tears and prayers of his daughter.

7. Captain Smith obtained his life, on condition of paying for his ransom a certain quantity of muskets, powder, and iron utensils; but how were they to be obtained ? They would neither permit him to return to James-Town, nor let the English know where he was, left they should demand him sword in hand.

8. Captain Smith, who was as sensible as courageous, said, that if Powhatan would permit one of his subjects to carry to James-Town a leaf which he took from his pocketbook, he should find under -a tree, at the day and hour appointed, all the articles demanded for his ransom.

9. Powhatan confented; but without having much faithin his promises, believing it to be only an artifice of the Captain to prolong his life. But he had written on the leaf a few lines, sufficient to give an account of his fituation. The messenger returned. The king sent to the place fixed upon, and was greatly astonished to find every thing which had been demanded.

Powhatan could not conceive this mode of transmitting thoughts; and Captain Smith was henceforth looked upon as a great magician, to whom they could not how too much respect. He left the savages in this opinion, and huftened to return home.

Two or three years after, some fresh differences arising amidst them and the English, Powhatan, who no Jonger thought them forcerers, but still feared their power, laid a horrid plan to get rid of them altogether. His project was to attack them in profound peace, and cut the throats of the whole colony.

12. The night of this intended conspiracy, Pocahontas took advantage of the obscurity; and in a terrible storm which kept the favages in their tents, escaped from her father's house, advised the English to be on their guard, but conjured them to spare her family; to appear ignoran: of


[ocr errors]


N 2

the intelligence she had given, and terminate all their differences by a new treaty.

13: It would be tedious to relate all the services which this angel of peace rendered to both nations.

I shall only add, that the English, I know not from what motives, but certainly againft all faith and equity, thought proper to carry her off. Long and bitterly did the deplore her fate and the only consolation she had, was Captain Smith, in whum she found a second father.

14. She was treated with great respect, and married to a planter by the name of Rolfe, who foon after took her to England. This was in the reign of James the First ; and it is said, that the monarch, pedantic and ridiculous in every point, was fo infatuated with the prerogatives of royalty, that he expreffed his displeasure, that one of his subjects should dare to marry the daughter even of a favage king.

15. It will not perhaps be difficult to decide on this óccasion, whether it was the savage king who derived honor. from finding himfelf placed upon a level with the European prince, or the English nonarcb, who, by bis pride and prejudices, reduced himself to a level with the chief of the favages.

16. Be that as it will, Captain Smith, who had returned to London before the arrival of Pocahontas, was extremely happy to see her again ; but dared not treat her with the fame familiarity as at James-Town. As soon as. the saw him, she threw herself into his arms, calling him her father ; but finding that he neither returned her careffes with equal warmth, nor the endearing title of daughter, The turned aside her head and wept bitterly; and it was a, long time before they could obtain a single word from her.

17. Captain Smith inquired feveral times what could be the caufe of her a Miction, 65 What ! faid fhe, did I not Laye thy life in America ! When I was torn from the arms. of my father, and conducted aniongst thy friends, didst thou, not promise to be a father to me? Didit thou not assure me that if I went into thy country, thou would it be my father, and that I fhould be thy daughter ? Thou haft deceived me, and behold me now here, a stranger and an orphan.”

18. It was not difficult for the Captain to make his peace with this charming creature, whom he tenderly loved.


He presented her to several people of the first quality ; but never dared to take her to court, from which, however, she received several favors.

After a residence of several years in England, an example of virtue and piety, and attachment to her husband, she died, as she was on the point of embarking for: America. She left an only son, who was married, and left none but daughters ; and from these are descended some of the principal characters in Virginia,



IT'is but too common, my countrynien, to ob; serve a material difference between the behavior of those who stand candidates for places of power and trust, before and after their obtaining them. They solicit them in one. manner, and execute them in another.

2. They set out with a great appearance of activity, humility, and moderation ; but they quickly fall into foth, pride, and avarice. It is undoubtedly no easy matter to dil.. charge, to general fatisfaction, the duty of a fupreme commander in troublesome times.

3. You have committed to my conduct the war againstJugurtha. The patricians are offended at this., But, where would be the wifdom of giving such a command to one of their honorable body ? a person of illustrious birth, of ancient family, of innumerable ftatues, but--of no experience!

What fervice would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitude of motionless statues, do his country in the day of battle ? What could, such a general, do, but in his trepidation, and inexperience, have recourse to fome inferior commander for direction in difficulties to which he was not himself equal ? Thus, your patrician general would in fact have a general over him ; so that the acting com. mander would still be a plebeian.

5. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have, myself, known those who have been chosen consuls, begin then to read the history of their own country, of which, till that time, they were totally ignorant ; that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the proper discharge of it.

6. I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between pa. trician haughtiness and plebeian experience. The very actions which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading, I know by action. They are pleased to flight my mean birth; I despise their mean characters. 7.

Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me ; want of personal worth, against them. But are not all men of the same species ? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endutyments of the mind? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man.

8. If the patricians have reafon to despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honors bestowed upon me ? let them envy, likewise, my labors, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country, by which I have acquired them. 9.

But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honors you can beftow; while they aspire to honors as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They lay claim to the rewards of activity, for their having enjoyed the pleafures of luxury. Yer none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors, . 10. And they imagine they honor themselves by celebrating their forefathers; whereas they do the very contrary; for, as much as their ancestors were difinguifhed for their virtues, so much are they dilgraced by their vices.

The glory of ariceltors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity ; but it only ferves to show what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers; but I hope I may answer the cavils of


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »