st entirely upon original contemporary material, illumined as it now is by the labors of special editors. I believe that I have read everything that is attributed to his pen, and have compared his own accounts with other contemporary narratives, and I think I have omitted the perusal of little that could throw any light upon his life or character. For the early part of his career--before he came to Virginia--there is absolutely no authority except Smith himself; but when he emerges from romance into history, he can be followed and checked by contemporary evidence. If he was always and uniformly untrustworthy it would be less perplexing to follow him, but his liability to tell the truth when vanity or prejudice does not interfere is annoying to the careful student.
As far as possible I have endeavored to let the actors in these pages tell their own story, and I have quoted freely from Capt. Smith himself, because it is as a writer that he is to be judged no less than as an actor. His development of the