previous next

[16] a colony he wished to plant there. A large expedition was promised, and he received the title “Admirall of New England” ; but nothing came of his hopes save the title, which he invariably attached to his name thereafter.

It was evidently by accident that Smith became a historian. In the spring of 1608 Wingfield, one of his opponents at Jamestown, a cousin by marriage to the Earl of Southampton, departed for England, his mind full of his wrongs. Two months later another ship departed, carrying a long letter from Smith to his friends filled with a hopeful account of the colony. This letter was handed about among the members of the Company and late in the year came into the hands of one who had it published with the title, A true relation of such Occurrences and accidents of Noate as Hath Hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Collony. A preface explained: “Somewhat more was by him written, which being as I thought (fit to be private) I would not adventure to make it publicke.” The True relation is the first printed American book, and of all Smith's writings it is the one which posterity most esteems. It is not boastful, or controversial, although it is very personal. The style is direct, vivid, and generally simple. It was well received, and seems to have awakened literary ambitions in its author.

Smith's second effort was made in 1612, when he published A map of Virginia. With a description of the Countrey. It contained a good map of the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and an account of the natural history of Virginia, together with supplementary chapters on events in the colony from June, 1608, to the end of 1609. These accounts were written by some of his friends and are in his praise. Smith calls them “examinations” and had them taken down while their authors were in London. They were evidently prepared to revive his waning fortunes. In 1616, after his return from New England, he published A description of New England, and in 1620 New Englands Trials, a tract on the fisheries. The Trials was brought down to date in 1622, and an account of the colony at Plymouth was included in it.

Smith was now a confirmed hack writer. Possibly he had Purchas and Hakluyt in mind when in 1624 he gave to the world a book containing all that he knew about Virginia. It

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New England (United States) (3)
Southampton (United Kingdom) (1)
Plymouth (United Kingdom) (1)
Jamestown, N. Y. (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Smith (6)
Edward M. Wingfield (1)
New Englands Trials (1)
Purchas (1)
Richard Hakluyt (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1624 AD (1)
1622 AD (1)
1620 AD (1)
1616 AD (1)
1612 AD (1)
1609 AD (1)
June, 1608 AD (1)
1608 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: