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[129] He was more wakeful to gather provisions than the
Chap IV.} 1607
covetous to find gold; and strove to keep the country more than the faint-hearted to abandon it. As autumn approached, the Indians, from the superfluity of their harvest, made a voluntary offering; and supplies were also collected by expeditions into the interior. But the conspiracies, that were still formed, to desert the settlement, first by the selfish Wingfield, and again by the imbecile Ratcliffe, could be defeated only after a skirmish, in which one of the leaders was killed; and the danger of a precipitate abandonment of Virginia continued to be imminent, till the approach of winter, when not only the homeward navigation became perilous, but the fear of famine was removed by the abundance of wild fowl and game.1 Nothing then remained but to examine the country.

The South Sea was considered the ocean path to every kind of wealth. The coast of America on the Pacific had been explored by the Spaniards, and had been visited by Drake; the collections of Hakluyt had communicated to the English the results of their voyages; and the maps of that day exhibited a tolerably accurate delineation of the continent of North America. With singular ignorance of the progress of geographical knowledge, it had been expressly enjoined on the colonists to seek a communication with the South Sea by ascending some stream which flowed from the northwest.2 The Chickahominy was such a stream. Smith, though he did not share the ignorance of his employers, was ever willing to engage in discoveries. Leaving the colonists to enjoy the abundance which winter had brought, he not only ascended the river as far

1 Smith, i. 1—54, and 154, 155. Purchas, IV. 1690. Stith, 48.

2 Stith, 43.

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