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Smith
Smith
72

he made a last attempt, but the three vessels in which he and his company were embarked were kept in port by bad weather, and the expedition was abandoned. Henceforth Smith's exertions on behalf of American colonisation were confined to the production in London of maps and pamphlets. He died in June 1631, and was buried in St. Sepulchre's Church, London. His will, which was proved on 1 July, is at Somerset House (P.C.C. St. John, 89). It is printed in Mr. Arber's edition of his works.

Much controversy has arisen as to the truth of the stories published by Smith about his own adventures. But the modern historian, while recognising the extravagance of the details of many of the more picturesque of Smith's self-recorded exploits, is bound to give full weight to his record of his more prosaic achievements—in laying the solid foundations of the prosperity of the new settlement of Virginia. Of his works those numbered 2 and 4 below contain numerous passages professedly written not by Smith himself, but by those who were associated with him in Virginia.

Smith's published writings are:

  1. ‘A true Relation of such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as hath passed in Virginia since the first planting of that Colony,’ 1608; ed. C. Deane, 1866.
  2. ‘A Map of Virginia, with a Description of the Country,’ Oxford, 1612 (cf. Madan, Early Oxford Press, pp. 83–5).
  3. ‘A Description of New England,’ 1616; other editions 1792, 1836, 1865; translated into German 1628.
  4. ‘New England's Trials,’ 1620; 2nd edit. 1622; other editions 1836, 1867.
  5. ‘The General History of Virginia, Summer Isles, and New England,’ 1624; other editions 1626, 1627, 1632.
  6. ‘An Accidence, or the Pathway to experience necessary for all Young Seamen …,’ 1626; republished in the next year, enlarged by another hand, under the title of ‘The Seaman's Grammar;’ other editions under the latter title 1653 and 1691.
  7. ‘The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, from Anno Domini 1593 to 1629, together with a Continuation of his General History of Virginia,’ &c., 1630; other editions 1732, 1744, and 1819; translated into Dutch 1678, 1707, and 1727.
  8. ‘Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England,’ 1631; edited for the Massachusetts Historical Society 1792, and translated into Dutch 1706 and 1727.

A portrait of Smith was engraved by Simon Pass in 1616, ‘æt. 37,’and prefixed to his later works. Copies and reproductions of this form the frontispiece to most of the modern ‘Lives.’

[A complete list and full account of Smith's writings is in Mr. Arber's introduction to the reprint of them in the English Scholar's Library (1884). After Smith's own works, which constitute our sole authority for many of his exploits, the most valuable contemporary sources are Newport's Discoveries in Virginia (first published in 1860 in Arch. Americana, iv. 40–65), Wingfield's Discourse of America (ib. pp. 67–163), and Spelman's Relation of Virginia (London, 1872). Slightly later in origin are Robert Johnson's New Life of Virginia (1612) and Whitaker's Good Newes from Virginia (1613). These chronicles of eye-witnesses were followed in the eighteenth century by Keith's History of Virginia (1738) and by the important History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, by William Stith, Williamsburg, 1747. A much less trustful view of Smith's statements is taken by Mr. Edward Duffield Neill in his Virginia Company in London (1869) and his valuable English Colonisation of America (1871). Similar suspicion, with varying degrees of reservation, is expressed in Coit Tyler's History of American Literature (1879), in Mr. J. A. Doyle's English in America (1881–2), in Professor S. R. Gardiner's History (vol. ii. 1883), in Winsor's History of America (vol. iii. 1886), and in the later editions of Bancroft's History of the United States. An extremely pessimistic view of Smith's character and influence is taken by Alexander Brown in Genesis of the United States of America (vol. ii. 1890). Fuller, in his Worthies of England, was the first to give a biographical account of Smith, whose exploits formed the subject of numerous ‘marvellous’ biographies, especially in America, during the next two hundred years. A type of these is that by J. Bilknap, published at Boston in 1820, with startling coloured illustrations. More serious productions were the Lives by George S. Hillard (in vol. ii. of Sparks's Library of American Biogr. 1834), by Mrs. Edward Robinson (London, 1845), by W. Gilmore Simms (New York, 1846), and by George C. Hill (New York, 1858). But the first critical investigation of Smith's career was that made by Charles Deane in his Notes on Wingfield's Discourse of America, printed at Boston in 1859, and in his edition of Smith's Relation, issued in 1866. The line of research thus indicated was followed up with much ingenuity by the Virginia Historical Society, which published in 1888 its invaluable Abstract of the Proceedings of the Virginia Society in London. The new evidence adduced by these biographical investigations led to the rewriting of the early chapters of the history of Virginia by Neill and others (see above). It also bore fruit in the ultra-iconoclastic Life and Writings of John Smith, by Charles Dudley Warner (1881). An attempt at strict impartiality is maintained in the Memoir by Charles Kiltridge True (New York, 1882) and in Appleton's