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ture, than for a "successful life," in the narrowest sense.
He overworks and dies too soon, and after a dreary and material existence he enriches his family or endows a theological seminary, or very likely leaves a bankrupt's memory. To him the hotel has been more than the library, the stock-exchange better than the poem. He has benefited literature indirectly, if at all, and has got from it no good save the remote memory of school-day “reading-books," and the mixed instruction afforded by the daily newspaper. Such Americans have been depicted in novels a thousand times, duly described by Herbert Spencer, and delicately satirized by Matthew Arnold. They have existed, and they now exist. Missing the true meaning of life, they do not create or develop that literature which springs only from large and true life. Again, America has a criminal class, a great body of ignorant voters, a fashion of irreverence, a fondness for display, a subservient and title-hunting tendency strangely at variance with its better spirit of liberty. Fifty million people, in a republic based upon the most liberal plan of suffrage, must include the vicious, the ignorant, the extravagant, the plutocrat, the demagogue and his following. But when we take the larger view, when we study the general spirit and the average result, when we estimate in the severest way the state-craft, social economy, scientific product, education, and books of the nation, the whole, to say the least, compares favorably with the presentation made by any other land in the same period. American literature is the literature of a cultured
and genuine Democracy, a sort of Saxon-Greek renaissance in the New World ; a liberty that is as far removed from anarchy as it is from despotism. If such a literature cannot exist and be true and grow great, then all the predictions of wise men from Plato to Milton, from Cicero to Victor Hugo, have been at fault.
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH was born in Willoughby by Alford, Lincolnshire, England, in January, 1579 (O. S.), having been baptized on the ninth day of that month. He was not a university graduate, and evi- John Smith, dently had little education of the academic 1579-1631, kind. By nature and by early choice he was a wanderer, pioneer, fighter, egotist. He served in the French army at the age of seventeen ; fought in the Dutch army for three years in the Netherlands; was shipwrecked when twenty-one ; travelled extensively on the Continent; was a soldier under Sigismund Bathori against the Turks in Transylvania, where, he claimed, he killed three Turks in single-combat; was, according to his own story, caught and enslaved in Constantinople ; returned to England by way of Africa ; and could call himself a battle-scarred veteran and an experienced traveller at twenty-five. The mania for colonization and enrichment in America was prevalent in London ; Smith made the acquaintance of Bartholomew Gosnold, caught Gosnold's enthusiasm, and set sail with the adventurers and intending settlers who lest London in three ships on December 19, 1606. On the voyage
he was arrested on the charge that he designed to kill his fellow-leaders and make himself “king of Virginia"; but he was released when the shores of Jamestown were reached, thereby, he assures us, escaping the “gallows,” but temporarily losing his membership in the council of seven managers. He carefully explored interior Virginia and Chesapeake Bay ; quarrelled with, sued, or executed several prominent colonists; and once more narrowly escaped condemnation to death. He finally quit Virginia in September, 1609, after two years of zeal, turmoil, and discovery, in which his services to the colony were great and of lasting value. Five years later he explored the New England coast, of which he made a map, and started to return thither with the idea of founding a colony in New England, in 1615. But captured by a French man-of-war off Flores, he was transported to Rochelle, after which his immediate career is doubtful. In 1616, having escaped, and receiving from James I. the title of “ Admiral of New England,” he actively turned his attention to book-making, chiefly with the unselfish idea of furthering schemes of American colonization. His influence upon subsequent Pilgrim and Puritan settlement in New England was considerable, but he reaped little material advantage from his incessant labors. He died in London in 163!, aged fifty-two, after a brave, intensely active, romantic, tolerably chivalrous, and, on the whole, decidedly useful life. His zeal was greater than his discretion, and his industry was often fruitless; but as an explorer and describer of American men, soil, and possibilities
his service to the nascent colonies was unquestionable. This bald list of his adventures, discoveries, and doings explains his prominence in the American history of the seventeenth century.
His voluminous writings deserve but a humble place in literature. Strictly speaking, they are a part of English, not American, literature, for Smith's continuous residence on American soil was a matter of but two years' lasting; and, all told, he was in the New World but two years and eight months. It is uncertain what share Smith had in the writing of the works passing under his name ; some of his assertions (as the famous legend of the rescue of his life by Pocahontas) are questionable, and others demonstrably false. At their best, his books lack high literary merit, and are material for the historian rather than the critic. The list of productions under his name is as follows:
A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of noate as hath hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Collony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last return from thence. [Final title-page.] Written by Captain Smith, Coronell of the said Collony, to a worshipfull friend of his in England. London, 1608.
Map of Virginia. With a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government, and Religion. Written by Captaine Smith, sometimes Governour of the Countrey. Whereunto is annexed the proceedings of those Colonies, since their first departure from England, etc., by W. S[immonds, D.D.). Oxford, 1612.