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Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number V (Feb. 1937)

Fish, Carl Russell
Representative Americans,   pp. 184-185


Page 185


February, 1937                                                          
                            185
cision, induces one to divine other motives such as   wrong in imagining
ecstasies, held in proper Indian
the glitter of brass pots and a certain vagueness as to  restraint, when
the young white husband whom her
territorial rights which was characteristic of the In-  determination finally
secured her proposed a trip to
dian civilization. It is a dolorous fact that in prac-  England. One hopes
that they withstood the voy-
tically every case, these first favorable decisions were  age. The good impression
that she made at King
regretted by the successors of those who made them,   James' court need surprise
no one acquainted with
and from fifteen to fifty years after, belated attempts  Indian ceremonial
decorum. Quite plainly she was
were made to revoke them.                             considered there as
superior to her husband.  The
  At any rate, Powhattan, with no great cordiality,   center of a widespread
interest, she long gave the title
spared the first Virginians, and fed them, and from   La Belle Sauvage to
many an English tavern. One
his people they learned some of the special tricks of  wonders whether English
decorum, with its change in
living in America.  By the patronage of such as       the fashion of dress,
may not have been accountable
Powhattan, European settlement on our coast was       for her early death
from consumption while still in
made easier than   it would                                             
   England.   She did not die,
have been but for the presence                                          
  however, before'giving-birth
of native inhabitants.  This                                            
   to Thomas Rolfe, through
wIas a contribution of no small                                         
   whom she passed the imperial
dimensions which may be con-                                            
   of chieftain by blood of Pow-
nected with the name of the                                             
  hattan to many of the first
Emperor of Virginia.  It was                                            
   families of Virginia.
another that he became a great
anetore  ohiefly Americans. by herlIN the case of John Smith
ancsreartor of lothscands.1                                             
   rebto        opatclrfc
   (1579-1631) we do not have
  POWHATTAN'S daugh-                                                    
  to rely upon the impressions
ter, Pocahontas, baptized Re-                                           
  of others, though such records
becka (1595-1617) is a far                                              
  are numerous enough.       He
more lively and individualized                                          
   used the pen as freely as he
memory. In her case also we                                             
  wished people to believe he
have to rely entirely upon the                                          
   used the sword. In his volu-
evidence of aliens, and aliens                                          
  minous writings he was his
of the opposite sex. The ob-                                            
   own hero, and he did not
serving males of Jamestown                                              
   lack luxurious   imagination.
were chiefly impressed by her                                           
   Much of what he tells was
disregard for clothes and a                                             
   true, but of no particular fact
prediliction for sports which                                           
   can one be ,certain, unless it be
in England were unfeminine,                                             
  otherwise corroborated. Never-
They did not see traits of nice-                                        
   tHeless no one, even a person
ness and refinement, products                                           
   much more subtle than John,
pofseasedfor here from thefirst afascinatiProf. Carl Russell Fish       
   n  wre sormunewthure were
were doubtless present, and by          "That his works might live"
        vealingn salient points of char-
which any Indian would have                                             
   acter.
divined a chief's daughter.                                             
     John Smith belonged in his
  Her open and insistent seeking of a white husband,  activities to the generation
with which we are now
may well have been merely a princely habit of de-     dealing.  Spiritually,
however, 'he was a ~delayed
manding and getting what she wanted; a simple in-     Elizabethan. He was
never racked by internal con-
dication of rank. Her defiance of her father's com-   flict, but consumed
by an ardent curiosity, and filled
mands to shun the aliens, her leaving of his protection  with the joy of
action. His career is characteristic of
and exiling herself to another village, and the final  the explorer rather
than of the settler.  He died in
winning of her desire, are more indicative of personal  England, he left
no descendants in America, he made
strength of character.  In fact we may believe that   no fortune, he was
a lesser Raleigh. One need not
determination, personal pride, and impetuosity were   pity him, however,
a fortune and a family entailing
characteristic of her family, exhibited particularly in  a quiet life would
have bored him.
her uncle, Openhancanough, who twice, in 1622,           An orphan, not penniless,
he was sent to school,
and in 1 644 at the reputed age of a hundred, endeav-  and he attained there
or elsewhere the tools necessary
ored to retrive the racial and dynastic error of his  for his way of life.
He could write, navigate, and
brother Powhattan, by exterminating the English.      make maps, knew somewhat
of history, and was an
  More individual still, and in the nature of true    expert in geography.
He ran away from school, and
romance, was the undoubted fact that the white men    started out to see
the world. For young men with
possessed for her from the first a fascination. This  such a purpose and
not of great fortune, there were
fancy came before the age of love, and was not di-    then two roads open,
the career of a mercenary sol-
rected toward one individual. It was the lure of the  dier, and that of a
sailor.  Smith took :both, and
new and strange for a young girl. As other maidens    in the order named.
After adventures in Eastern
decide to marry a soldier or a missionary or a blond,  Europe, the truth
of which as related by himself is
she decided to marry a white man. It is quite pos-    unimportant, he returned
to England.   At least he
sible that Captain Smith was telling the truth in re-  had not lost confidence
in himself, had learned much
lating that she proposed to him; though his saying so  about the management
of men, and the art of win-
adds no weight to, the conjecture.  One cannot be     ning the ear of the
powerful. (Please turn to page 210)


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