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Letter from John Rolfe to Sir Thomas Dale Regarding His Request to Marry Pocahontas, 1614

An excerpt from A true discourse of the present estate of Virginia, and the successe of the affaires there till the 18 of Iune 1614. Together with a relation of the seuerall English townes and fortes, the assured hopes of that countrie and the peace concluded with the Indians. The christening of Powhatans daughter and her marriage with an English-man. Written by Raphe Hamor the yonger, late secretarie in that colony ... London, Printed by Iohn Beale for W. Welby, 1615.

HOnourable Sir, and most worthy Gouernor: when your leasure shall best serue you to peruse these lines, I trust in God, the beginning will not strike you into a greater admiration, then the end will giue you good content. It is a matter of no small moment, concerning my own particular which here I impart unto you, and which toucheth mee so neerely, as the tendernesse of my saluation. Howbeit I freely subject my selfe to your graue and mature iudgement, deliberation, approbation and determination; assuring myselfe of your zealous admonitions, and godly comforts, either perswading me to desist, or incouraging me to persist therin, with a religious feare and godly care, for which (from the very instant, that this began to roote it selfe, within the secret bosome of my brest) my daily and earnest praiers haue bin, still are, and euer shall be proed

Duc forthwith, as sincere, a godly zeale, as I possiblely may to be directed, aided and gouerned in all my thoughts, words and deedes, to the glory of God, and for my eternal consolation. To perseuere wherein I neuer had more neede, nor (till now) could euer imagine to haue bin moued with the like occasion.

But (my case standing as it doth) what better worldly refuge can I here seeke, then to shelter my selfe under the safety of your fauourable protection? And did not my case proceede from an unspotted conscience, I should not dare to offer to your view and aprroued iudgement, these passions of my troubled soule, so full of feare and trembling is hypocrisie and dissimulation. But knowing my owne innocency & godly fervor, in the whole prosecution hereof, I doubt not of your benigne acceptance, and clement construction. As for malicious deprauers, & turbul?t spirits, to whom nothing is tastful, but what pleaseth their unfavory pallat, I passe not for them being well assured in my perswasion (by the often triall and prouing of my selfe, in my holiest meditations and praiers) that I am called hereunto by the spirit of God; and it shall be sufficient for me to be protected by your selfe in all vertuous and pious indeuours. And for my more happie proceeding herein, my daily oblations shall euer be addressed to bring to passe so good effects, that your selfe, and all the world may truely say: This is the worke of God, and it is maruelous in our eies.

But to auoide tedious preambles, and to come neerer the matter: first suffer me with your patence, to sweepe and make cleane the way wherein I walke, from all suspicions and doubts, which may be couered therein, and faithfully to reueale vnto you, what should moue me hereunto.

Let therefore this my well aduised protestation, which here I make betweene God and my own conscience, be a sufficient witnesse, at the dreadfull day of iugdement (when the secret of all mens harts shall be opened) to condemne me herein, if my chiefest intent and purpose be not, to striue with all my power of body and minde, in the undertaking of so mightie a matter, no way led (so farre forth as mans weakenesse may permit) with the unbridled desire of carnall affection: but for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our countrie, for the glory of God, for my owne salvation, and for the conuerting to the true knowledge of God and Iesus Christ, an unbeleeuing creature, namely Pokahuntas. To whom my hartie and best thoughts are, and haue a long time bin so intangled, and inthralled in so intricate a laborinth, that I was euen awearied to unwinde my selfe thereout. But almighty God, who neuer faileth his, that truely inuocate his holy name hath opened the gate, and led me by the hand that I might plainely see and discerne the safe paths wherein to treade.

To you therefore (most noble Sir) the patron and Father of us in this countrey doe I utter the effects of this my setled and long continued affection
(which hath made a mightie warre in my meditations) and here I doe truely relate, to what issue this dangerous combate is come vnto, wherein I haue not onely examined, but throughly tried and pared my thoughts euen to the quicke, befor I could finde any fit wholesome and apt applications to cure so daungerous an vlcer. I neuer failed to offer my daily and faithfull praiers to God, for his sacred and holy assistance. I forgot not to set before mine eies the frailty of mankinde, his prones to euil, his indulgencie of wicked thoughts, with many other imperfections wherein man is daily insnared, and oftentimes ouerthrowne, and them compared to my present estate. Nor was I ignorant of the heauie displeasure which almightie God conceiued against the sonnes of Leuie and Israel for marrying strange wiues, nor of the inconueniences which may thereby arise, with other the like good motions which made me looke about warily and with good circumspection, into the grounds and principall agitations, which thus should prouoke me to be in loue with one whose education hath bin rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed, and so discrepant in all nurtriture from my selfe, that oftentimes with feare and trembling, I haue ended my priuate controuersie with this: surely these are wicked instigations, hatched by him who seeketh and delighteth in mans destruction; and so with feruent praiers to be euer preserued from such diabolical assaults (as I tooke those to be) I haue taken some rest.

Thus when I had thought I had obtained my peace and quietnesse, beholde another, but more gracious tentation hath made breaches into my holiest and strongest meditations; with which I haue bin put to a new triall, in a straighter manner then the former: for besides the many passions and sufferings which I haue daily, hourely, yea and in my sleepe indured, euen awaking mee to astonishment, taxing mee with remisnesse, and carelesnesse, refusing and neglecting to performe the duteie of a good Christian, pulling me by the eare, and crying: why dost not thou indeuour to make her a Christian? And these haue happened to my greater wonder, euen when she hath bin furthest seperated from me, which in common reason (were it not an vndoubted worke of God (might breede forgetfulnesse of a farre more worthie creature. Besides, I say the holy spirit of God hath often demaunded of me, why I was created? If not for transitory pleasures and worldly vanities, but to labour in the Lords vineyard, there to sow and plant, to nourish and increase the fruites thereof, daily adding with the good husband in the Gospell, somewhat to the tallent, that in the end the fruites may be reaped, to the comfort of the laborer in this life, and his saluation in the world to come? And if this be, as vndoubtedly this is, the seruice Iesus Christ requireth of his best seruant: wo vnto him that hath these instruments of pietie put into his hands, and wilfully despiseth to worke with them. Likewise, adding hereunto her great apparance of loue to me, her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capablenesse of vndestanding, her aptnesse and willingnesse to receiue anie good impression, and also the spirituall, besides her owne incitements stirring me vp hereunto.

What should l doe? Shall l be of so vntoward a disposition, as to refuse to leade the blind into the right way? Shall I be so vnnaturall, as not to giue bread to the hungrie? or vncharitable, as not to couer the naked?. Shall I despise to actuate these pious dueties of a Christian? Shall the base feare of displeasing the world, ouerpower and with holde mee from reuealing vnto man these spirituall workes of the Lord, which in my meditations and praiers, I haue daily made knowne vnto him? God for bid, I assuredly trust bee hath thus delt with me for my eternall felicitie, and for his glorie: and I hope so to be guided by his heauenly graice, that in the end by my faithfull paines, and christianlike labour, I shall attaine to that blessed promise, Pronounced by that holy Prophet Daniell vnto the righteous that bring many vnto the knowledge of God. Namely, that they shall shine like the starres foreuer and eur. A sweeter comfort cannot be to a true Christian, nor a greater incouragement for him to labour all the daies of his life, in the performance thereof, nor a greater gaine of consolation, to be desired, at the hower of death, and in the day of iudgement.

Againe by my reading, and conference with honest and religious persons, haue I receiued no small encouragement, besides serena mea conscientia, the cleerenesse of my conscience, clean from the filth of impurity, quæ est instar muri ahenei, which is vnto me, as a brasen wall. If I should set down at large, the perturbations & godly motions, which haue striuen within mee, I should but make a tedious & vnnecessary volume. But I doubt not these shall be sufficient both to certifie you of my tru intents, in discharging of my dutie to God, & to your selfe, to whose gracious prouidence I humbly submit my selfe, for his glory, your honour, our Countreys good, the benefit of this Plantation, and for the conuerting of one vnregenerate, to regeneration; which I beseech God to graunt, for his deere Sonne Christ Iesus his sake.

Now if the vulgar fort, who square all mens actions by the base rule of their own filthinesse, shall taxe or taunt me in this my godly labour: let them know, it is not any hungry appetite, to gorge my selfe with incontinency; sure (if I would, and were so sensually inclined) I might satisfie such desire, though not without a seared conscience, yet with Christians more pleasing to the eie, and lesse fearefull in the offence vnlawfully committed. Nor am I in so desperate an estate, that I regard not what becommeth of mee; nor am I out of hope but one day to see my Country, nor so void of friends, nor mean in birth, but there to obtain a mach to my great content:  nor haue I ignorantly passed over my hopes there, or regardlesly seek to loose the loue of my friends, by taking this course: I know them all, and haue not rashly overslipped any.

But shal it please God thus to dispose of me (which I earnestly desire to fullfill my ends before sette down) I will heartely accept of it as a godly taxe appointed me, and I will neuer cease, ( God assisting me) vntill I haue accomplished, & brought to perfection so holy a worke, in which I will daily pray God to blesse me, to mine, and her eternall happines. And thus desiring no longer to liue, to enioy the blessings of God, then this my resolution doth tend to such godly ends, as are by me before declared: not doubting of your fauourable acceptance, I take my leaue, beseeching. Almighty God to raine downe vpon you, such plenitude of his heauenly graces, as your heart can with and desire, and so I rest,

At your commaund most willing to be disposed off
Iohn Rolfe.

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