Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter I >> Page 12

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Page 12

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
this latter statement, it is surely not improbable. Nothing
is positively known of him after this event, and what
we have of conjecture, describes him as living a life of
ignominy, and dying miserably at last.
The claim of France to the possession of the Caro-
linas, rested upon the discoveries of one John Verazzani,
a Florentine, who was sent out in 1523, by Francis the
First. He reached the coast somewhere, as is supposed,
in the latitude of Wilmington, North Carolina. Here he
found the country full of beauty to the eye. The forests
were noble, and the various perfumes which reached the
seamen from the shore, intoxicated them with a thou-
sand oriental fancies. The yellow sands gave ample
promise of gold, which was the prime motive for most
of the adventures of the time ; and the hospitality of the
Indians suffered no obstacle to prevent the free exam-
ination of their country by the strangers.
Verazzani describes the natives as "gentle and cour-
teous in their manners ; of sweet and pleasant counte-
nance, and comely to behold." Their population, accord-
ing to the imperfect account which he has given us, was
" numerous ; well formed in limb ; having black and
great eyes, with a cheerful and steady look ; not strong
of body, yet sharp witted ; nimble, and exceeding great
runners." The women are described as handsome, and
of comely forms ;" and, which seems to have been not
unusual among the North American savages, the govern-
ment of the tribe was in the hands of a woman.
They seem to have possessed proofs of a more decided
civilization than were apparent among the northern
tribes. They dwelt in log-houses, so covered with