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of guests at the ordinary In this tavern (and there are several large taverns in Petersburg) is fifty, consisting of travellers, store-keepers, lawyers, and doctors.
'A Virginian planter is a republican in politics, and exhibits the high-spirited independence of that character. But he is a slavemaster, irascible, and too often lax in morals. A dirk is said to be a common appendage to the dress of a planter in this part of Virginia.
'I never saw in England an assemblage of countrymen who would average so well as to dress and manners: none of them reached any thing like style; and very few descended to the shabby.
'As it rained heavily, every body was confined the whole day to the tavern, after the race, which- took place in the forenoon. The conversation which this afforded me an opportunity of hearing, gave me a high opinion of the intellectual cultivation of these Virginian farmers.
'Negro slavery was the prevailing topic—the beginning, the mid-.
all deplored, many were anxious to fly, but for which no man can devise a remedy. One gentleman, in a poor state of health, dared not encounter the rain, but was wretched at the thought of his family being for one night without his protection—from his own slaves! He was suffering under the effects of a poisonous potion, administered by a negro, who was his personal servant, to whom he had given indulgences and privileges unknown to the most favoured valet of an English gentleman. This happened in consequence of some slight unintentional affront on the part of the indulgent master. It is stated a» a melancholy fact, that severe masters seldom suffer from their slaves' resentment.' p. 16, 17.
Here they left the vessel, and proceeded in the steam boat to Richmond, where every thing seemed to be dear beyond ex-1 ample; eggs, 2d. a piece; butter, 3s. 6d. a pound; hay, 9s. per cwt.; a warehouse 200/. a year; and ground to build upon, from 2000J. to 3000/. an acre. It is reckoned the dearest and worst supplied town in the United States. We must here pause to extract a passage containing this calm and accurate observer's testimony to the radical and incurable evils of negro slavery, even in a form by far the most mitigated; for who can compare the state of the slave in the Sugar Islands with that in North America?
'I saw two female slaves and their children sold by auction in the street,—an incident of common occurrence here, though horrifying to myself and many other strangers. I could hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle; and when I heard their sobs, and saw the big tears roll down their cheeks at the thought of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping with them. It> selling these unhappy beings, little regard is had to the partings
die and the end—an evil
i's thoughts; which
of the nearest relations. Virginia prides itself on the comparative mildness of its treatment of the slaves; and in fact they increase in numbers, many being annually supplied from this state to those farther south, where the treatment is said to be much more severe There are regular dealers, who buy them up and drive them in gangs, chained together, to a southern market. I am informed that few weeks pass without some of them being marched through this place. A traveller told me that he saw, two weeks ago, one nundred and twenty sold by auction, in the streets of Richmond; and that they filled the air with their lamentations.
'It has also been confidently alleged, that the condition of slaves in Virginia, under the mild treatment they are said to experience, is preferable to that of our English labourers. I know and lament the degrading state of dependent poverty, to which the latter have been gradually reduced, by the operation of laws originally designed for their comfort and protection. I know also, that many slaves pass their lives in comparative ease, and seem to be unconscious of their bonds, and that the most wretched of our paupers might envy the allotment of the happy negro: This is not, however, instituting a fair comparison, to bring the opposite extremes of the two classes intocompetition. Let us take a view of some particulars which operate generally.
« In England, exertion is not the result of personal fear: in Virginia, it is the prevailing stimulus.
• The slave is punished for mere indolence, at the discretion of an overseer:—The peasant is only punished by the law when guilty of a crime.
'In England, the labourer and his employer are equal in the eye of the law. Here, the law affords the slave no protection, unless a white man gives testimony in his favour.
'Here, any white man may insult a black with impunity: whilst the English peasant, should he receive a blow from his employer, might and would return it with interest, and afterwards have his remedy at law for the aggression.
'The testimony of a peasant weighs as much as that of a lord in a court of justice; but the testimony of a slave is never admitted at all, in a case where a white man is opposed to him.
'A few weeks ago, in the streets of Richmond, a friend of mine saw a white boy wantonly throw quicklime in the face of a negroman. The man shook the lime from his jacket, and some of it accidentally reached the eyes of the young brute. This casual retaliation excited the resentment of the brother of the boy, who complained to the slave's owner, and actually had him punished withr thirty lashes. This would not have happened to an English peasant.
'I must, however, do this justice to the slave-master of Virginia: It was not from him that I ever heard a defence of slavery; some extenuation on the score of expediency, or necessity, is the utmost range now taken by that description of reasoners, who, in former times, would have attempted to support the principle as well as the practice.
• Perhaps it is in its depraving influence on the moral sense of both slave and master, that slavery is most deplorable. Brutal cruelty, we may hope, is a rare and transient mischief; but the degradation of soul is universal, and, as it should seem, from the general character of free negroes, indelible.
'All America is now suffering in morals through the baneful influence of negro slavery, partially tolerated, corrupting justice at the very source.' p. 21-24.
Our party journeyed on in hired carriages and diligences to Washington; where they were struck with the absurd inconsistency of the architectural ornaments affected. in the publick buildings. 'Ninety marble capitals,' says Mr Birkbeck, 'have been * imported at a vast cost from Italy, to crown the columns of 'the capitol, and show how un-American is the whole plan.'— 'There is nothing,' he adds, with his usual sagacity and neatness, ' to which I can liken this affectation of splendor, ex'cept the painted face and gaudy head-dress of a half-naked 'Indian.' When, continuing their route, they arrived at the point on the road to Pittsburg, where their stage coach stopt, they found themselves 130 miles of mountain country short of that place, and had no means of proceeding, except on foot, or by waiting for vehicles and horses from a great distance. They preferred walking, and set out, nine in number, to traverse the Alleghany Ridge with the current of emigrants setting in towards the same quarter, and which he thus in a simple picturesque manner describes.
'We have now fairly turned our backs on the old world, and find ourselves in the very stream of emigration. Old America seems to be breaking up, and moving westward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this grand track towards the Ohio, of family groups, behind and before us, some with a view to a particular spot; close to a brother perhaps, or a friend, who has gone before, and reported well of the country. Many like ourselves, when they arrive in the wilderness, will find no lodge prepared for them.
'A small waggon (so light that you might almost carry it, yet strong enough to bear a good load of bedding, utensils and provisions, and a swarm of young citizens,—and to sustain marvellous shocks in its passage over these rocky heights) with two small horses; sometimes a cow or two comprises their all; excepting a little store of hard-earned cash for the land-office of the district, where they may obtain a title for as many acres as they possess half-dollars, being one-fourth of the purchase-money. The waggon has a tilt, or cover, made of a sheet, or perhaps a blanket. The family are seen before, behind, or within the vehicle, according to the road or weather, or perhaps the spirits of the party.
world—a sphere of being in imagination, which, to our real life, is no more than the world of a dream; yet, long as we are held in it by the transport of our delusion, we live, not in de-, light only, but in the conscious exaltation of our nature. It is in this world that the spirit of Byron mast work a reformation for itself. He knows, far better than we can tell him, what have been the most hallowed objects of love and of passion to the souls of great poets in the most splendid eras of poetry,— and he also knows well, that those objects, if worshipped by him with becoming and steadfast reverence, will repay the worship which they receive, by the more fervent and divine inspiration which they kindle.
Art. IV. Notes on a Journey in America, from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of the Illinois. By Morris BirkBeck. Second Edition. 8vo. pp. 163. London. Ridgway, 1818.
"17s^"e have no hesitation in pronouncing this one of the most ~J interesting and instructive bopks that have appeared for many years. The subject is curious and important in the highest degree; the rapid growth of one country, still in its early infancy,—and the formation of another in its neighbourhood, by the overflowings of its population. The author is an eyewitness of every thing he describes; and, with a good sense extremely rare among authors, he is content to tell what is material, without tedious dissertations or trifling details, and to tell it in the plainest language.' His matter is condensed, and his style is unexceptionable. We think he deserves peculiar credit, too, for the unassuming appearance, and moderate price of his book. What he has given for a few shillings, in the form of a pamphlet, would have swelled to a guinea quarto in the bands of a regular bookmaker. Indeed, which of the costly volumes for the last twenty years poured upon the publick by travellers of all descriptions, can vie with this modest little tract, in the importance, the novelty, or the interest of its contents? 'We have heard much said of Mr Birkbeck's work; and its merits have been very generally allowed. But we have found, that this tribute is most reluctantly paid in certain quarters, where his statements, and their effect on the publick mind, have given great umbrage, and even excited considerable alarm. •They who hate America, as it were, personally; who meanly .regard with jealousy every step she advances in renown, or foolishly view with apprehension each accession to her power, or ridiculously consider all that she gains of wealth as taken from England—this class of reasoners (if the term may be so applied) can with difficulty conceal their dismay at the testimony borue by Mr Birkbeck, to the prodigious rapidity with which that marvellous community is advancing in every direction. Their favourite course of argument, indeed, had always been a little inconsistent. To make the Americans the more detested, they often represented them as dangerous competitors for• wealth and power, and actually succeeded in producing a war with them by spreading the alarm. But the same feeling that made them hate those rivals, induced a strong desire to make them also the objects of contempt; and, forgetting that it was difficult at once to dread and despise any thing, they used every means to underrate the importance of the United States. This last course of attack proved, in the end, the most gratifying both to the senseless feelings of animosity against the Americans, and to the sense of national pride: Accordingly, when required to chuse between the two inconsistent arguments, it was preferred; and of late years the tone assumed by the party has been that of unsparing detraction and bitter sneering at every thing beyond the Atlantic,—except the province of Canada, which the same judicious authorities represent upon all occasions as the very right arm of British strength. These contemptuous feelings seem to have augmented pretty nearly in proportion as their object was rising in importance and power; and they appeared to be approaching their acme, if indeed they had not reached it, when, unhappily, Mr Birkbeck's 'plain tale' comes forth to put them down. So untoward an event has not often happened in such controversies; and the rage and disappointment excited by it have been proportioned to its decisive influence upon the question, and to the necessity which existed for stifling the outward expression of it. The remains of stubborn pride and dignified contempt for America forbade jthat; and the inoffensive modest character of the much hated volume seemed equally to prescribe, at least, the semblance of moderation to its adversaries. Accordingly, while they mutter curses both loud and deep, they are beginning already to change the manner of attack, and, precluded from indulging their spleen in the shape of contempt, they are preparing to seek relief by venting it in open hatred, drawing, from Mr Birkbeck's statements, the materials of alarm.