Richard of Jamestown - James Otis




Candles or Rushlights

To provide lights for ourselves, now that the evenings were grown longer, was a much more difficult task than to cook without proper conveniences, for it cost considerable labor. We had our choice between the candle wood, as the pitch pine is called, or rushlights, which last are made by stripping the outer bark from common rushes, thus leaving the pith bare; then dipping these in tallow, or grease, and allowing them to harden.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

In such manner did we get makeshifts for candles, neither pleasing to the eye nor affording very much in the way of light; yet they served in a certain degree to dispel the darkness when by reason of storm we were shut in the dwellings, and made the inside of the house very nearly cheerful in appearance.

To get the tallow or grease with which to make these rushlights, we saved the fat of the deer, or the bear, or even a portion of the grease from turkeys, and, having gathered sufficient for the candle making, mixed them all in one pot for melting.

The task of gathering the candle wood was more pleasing, and yet oftentimes had in it more of work, for it was the knots of the trees which gave the better light, and we might readily fasten them upon an iron skewer, or rod, which was driven into the side of the house for such purpose.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

Some of our people, who were too lazy to search for knots, split the wood into small sticks, each about the size of a goose quill, and, standing three or four in a vessel filled with sand, gained as much in the way of light as might be had from one pine knot.

[Illustration] from Richard of Jamestown by James Otis

Of course, those who were overly particular, would find fault with the smoke from this candle wood, and complain of the tar which oozed from it; but one who lives in the wilderness must not expect to have all the luxuries that can be procured in London.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Who I am
Left Alone in the World
An Idle Boy
Captain Smith Comes to London
Meeting Captain Smith
Captain Smith Speaks to Me
Plans of the London Company
The Vessels of the Fleet
How I Earned my Passage
When the Fleet Set Sail
The Voyage Delayed
Nathaniel's Story
We Make Sail Again
The First Island
Captain Smith Accused
Captain Smith a Prisoner
I Attend My Master
Several Islands Visited
A Variety of Wild Game
The Tempest
The New Country Sighted
The Leader Not Known
Arrival at Chesapeake Bay
An Attack by the Savages
Reading the Company's Orders
Captain Smith on the Council
Smith Remains Aboard
Exploring the Country
People Land from the Ships
Captain Smith Proven Innocent
We Who were Left Behind
Baking Bread without Ovens
Unequal Division of Labor
Building a Home of Logs
Keeping House
Lack of Cleanliness
Cave Homes
The Golden Fever
Ducks and Oysters
Roasting Oysters
Leaning to Cook
The Sweet Potato Root
A Touch of Homesickness
Master Hunt's Preaching
Neglecting the Future
Surprised by Savages
Strengthening the Fort
Sickness and Death
Smith Gains Authority
Disagreeable Discipline
Signs of Rebellion
Second Proclamation
Building a Fortified Village
Trapping Turkeys
A Crude Kind of Chimney
Cooking a Turkey
Candles or Rushlights
The Visit of Pocahontas
Captain Kendall's Plot
Death of Captain Kendall
Captain Smith's Expedition
An Exciting Adventure
Taken Before Powhatan
Pocahontas Begs for Smith
Captain Smith's Return
A New Church
Captain Newport's Return
Gold-Seekers
A Worthless Cargo
Condition of the Colony
Tobacco
Captain Newport's Return
Gazing at the Women
Hunt Brings Great News
Captain Newport's Instructions
The Story of Roanoke
The Crowning of Powhatan
Preparing for the Future
Stealing Company Goods
What the Thieving Led To
Fear of Famine
The Unhealthful Location
Gathering Oysters
Sturgeon for Food
Turpentine and Tar
Making Clapboards
Providing for Children
Dreams of the Future
A Plague of Rats
Treachery During Smith's Absence
Captain Smith's Speech
The New Laws
The Accident
Captain Smith's Departure
The "Starving Time"
Our Courage Gives Out
Abandoning Jamestown
Lord De la Warr's Arrival
The Young Planters