Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter VII >> Page 109

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Page 109

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription SMITH AND POCAHONTAS. 109
fine contrasts, and spirit-stirring actions. The early voyagers,
down to the time of Smith, would form the subject of a most
delightful chapter ; and then we open upon the career of Smith
himself that remarkable man, excellent politician, and truly
noble gentleman and soldier. He seems to have been the last
representative of an age which had passed from sight before he
entered upon the stage. He was the embodiment of the best
characteristics of chivalry. How manly his career with what
a noble self-esteem did he prepare for the most trying issues
how generous his courage�how disinterested his virtues�how
devoted to the sex� a preux chevalier, not unworthy to have
supped with Bayard after the battle of Mari ;nano. Neither
England nor America has ever done justice to the genius or the
performances of this man, and I fear that his name was some-
what in the way of his distinctions. It is difficult to believe in
the heroism of a man named Smith. Men do not doubt that he
will fight, but mere fighting is not heroism. Heroism is the model
virtue ; and we are slow to ally it with the name of Smith�in-
deed, with any name of a single syllable. There are really few
or no flaws in the character of the founder of Virginia."
I am not sure of that ! Wliat do you say to his treatment
of the beautiful daughter of Powhatan ? His coldness "
You have simply stumbled in the track of a popular error.
It is a vulgar notion that he encouraged and slighted the affec-
tions of Pocahontas. All this is a mistake. He neither beguiled
her with false shows of love, nor was indifferent to her beauties
or her virtues. Pocahontas was a mere child to Smith, but
twelve years old when he first knew her, and he about forty."" But his neglect of her when she went to England "
He did not neglect her."" She reproached him for it."
Yes ; the poor savage in her unsophisticated child-heart,
knew nothing of that convention which, in Europe, lay as bur-
densomely upon Smith as upon herself. Even then, however,
he treated her as tenderly as if she were his own child, with this
difference, that he was required to approach her as a princess.
His reserves were dictated by a prudent caution which did not
venture to outrage the pedantic prejudices of the Scottish Solo-
mon, then upon the throne, who, if you remember, was very