After Smith had his purse filled by Sigismund he made a thorough tour of Europe, and passed into Spain, where being satisfied, as he says, with Europe and Asia, and understanding that there were wars in Barbary, this restless adventurer passed on into Morocco with several comrades on a French man-of-war. His observations on and tales about North Africa are so evidently taken from the books of other travelers that they add little to our knowledge of his career. For some reason he found no fighting going on worth his while. But good fortune attended his return. He sailed in a man-of-war with Captain Merham. They made a few unimportant captures, and at length fell in with two Spanish men-of-war, which gave Smith the sort of entertainment he most coveted. A sort of running fight, sometimes at close quarters, and with many boardings and repulses, lasted for a couple of days and nights, when having battered each other thoroughly and lost many men, the pirates of both nations separated and went cruising, no doubt, for more profitable game. Our wanderer returned to his native land, seasoned and disciplined for the part he was to play in the New World. As Smith had traveled all over Europe and sojourned in Morocco, besides sailing the high seas, since he visited Prince Sigismund in December, 1603, it was probably in the year 1605 that he reached England. He had arrived at the manly age of twenty-six years, and was ready to play a man’s part in the wonderful drama of discovery and adventure upon which the Britons were then engaged.
FIRST ATTEMPTS IN VIRGINIA
John Smith has not chosen to tell us anything of his life during the interim—perhaps not more than a year and a half—between his return from Morocco and his setting sail for Virginia. Nor do his contemporaries throw any light upon this period of his life.
One would like to know whether he went down to Willoughby and had a reckoning with his guardians; whether he found any relations or friends of his boyhood; whether any portion of his estate remained of that “competent means” which he says he inherited, but which does not seem to have been available in his career. From the time when he set out for France in his fifteenth year, with the exception of a short sojourn in Willoughby seven or eight years after, he lived by his wits and by the strong hand. His purse was now and then replenished by a lucky windfall, which enabled him to extend his travels and seek more adventures. This is the impression that his own story makes upon the reader in a narrative that is characterized by the boastfulness and exaggeration of the times, and not fuller of the marvelous than most others of that period.