« AnteriorContinuar »
with water, for a man, a day; and this being fryed some 26 weeks in the ship's hold, contained as many wormes as graines; so that we might trulie call it rather so much branne as corne. Our drink was water; our lodgings castles in the ayre.'
This notable president was deposed, and another chosen, “who,' says the historian, being little beloved, and of weake judgment in dangers, and lesse industrie in peace, committed the managing of all things abroad to captaine Smith, who, by his owne example, good wordes, and faire promises, set some to mow, others to binde the thatch, some to build houses, others to thatch them, himselfe bearinge the greatest taske for his owne share, 80 that, in a short time, he provided most of them with lodgings, neglectinge any for himselfe.' How admirably this simple picture sets
forth the fine character of Smith; himself the first example of industry, in procuring shelter, and the last to take advantage of it. Only give such men a sphere of action, and they will lead all mankind by the nose, whenever danger comes.
In this way Jamestown was built, on what was then the territory of the great emperor Powhatan, a name inseparably connected with the early history of Virginia. Powhatan appears to have been a salvage,' as the phrase then was, of liberal and magnanimous principles, although he became at last an irreconcilable enemy to the white people. It appears that the
salvages,' all along the coast of North America, with very few exceptions, treated the whites with hospitality, while they continued to think them mere visitors. But whenever it was discovered that they came with views of permanent settlement, a sort of vague perception of what would be the final result to themselves and their posterity, generally converted this friendly disposition into deep, permanent, and irreconcilable hostility. Powhatan was so called from the place of his residence; but his real name was Wahunsonack. The person and state of Powhatan the great emperor' is thus described.
He is of personage a tall, well-proportioned man, with a soure look, his head somewhat gray, his beard so thinne that it seemeth none at all; his age near sixtie, of a very able and hardy body to endure anye labour. About his person ordinarily attended 40 or 50 of the tallest men his countrie doth afforde. Every nighte upon the foure quarters of his house are foure sentinells, each from the other a Aight shoot, and at everye halfe houre one from the corps du guard doth hollow, shaking his lips with his finger between them, untoe whom every sentinell doth answer round from his stand. If any dothe faile, they presentlie send forth an officer that beateth them extreamelye.'
From Jamestown they penetrated up the river by degrees to a place at the · Falles,' where they founded a settlement, and called it Nonsuch, because they knew no place so strong, so pleasant and delightful, in Virginia.' This, I presume, was what is now called Richmond. I do not mean to enter into any further details of these matters; having neither time nor patience; although there is something in the fire-side simplicity and minuteness of these early historians that is inexpressibly interesting to their descendants, and countrymen of the first old argonauts of this western world. But to copy these is rather a tedious job; and so I must refer you to the history itself, which, however, is very scarce. In it you will read the familiar details of the progress of the colonists, the treachery of the salvages,' the gallantry of Smith—the treason of certain Dutchmen, and, above all, the beautiful and romantic story of the tutelary angel Pocahontas:how she sayed Smith first, and afterwards the colony from extermination-how she married
to Master John Rolfe, an honest gentleman, of good behaviour-how she went to England, was christended Rebecca, and died, in 1617, making a goodlie and religious ende. All this you will find told with that picturesque simplicity and nature, which so often accompanies the relations of those who tell what they have seen, and which is so infinitely preferable to the laboured and rhetorical flourishes of after writers, whose art seems to consist in spreading the least possible quantity of matter over the greatest possible surface.
Though I abhor copying any thing, and had rather write out of my own head, as the saying is, a great deal, yet I cannot just now refrain from transcribing the following curious directions for the outfit of such as shall have cause to provide to go to Virginia, whereby greate numbers may in parte conceive the better how to provide for themselves. It is worth all the vague talk in the world about the state of the times, and the simplicity of living among the first adventurers.
8. d. • A Monmouth cap,
1 10 3 Falling bands,
1 3 3 Shirts,
76 1 Waste coat,
serving for two men,
4 0 8 8 0 10 0 3
0 6 0
1. 4 6 0
What would one of our spruce supercargoes say to such an outfit for a new world, I wonder, Frank? The whole of the indispensable necessaries for a family emigrating to Virginia, clothes, victuals, arms, tools, furniture, &c. is estimated by the writer at twenty pounds!
Thus have I fairly settled Virginia, and as fairly settled you down in it, with my own hand. I will bring its history down to the present time in as few words as possible. Like other states it grew, and spread, and flourished, and increased in population by the good old way, only a good deal faster than they before did these things; the women, as will be found by experience, always accommodating themselves to the exigencies of a new country. In a little while the stately thatched castles of Jamestown became crowded with little white headed urchins, that grew by rolling and sunning themselves in the sand,-and when they got to be men, the hive swarmed, and the young bees went forth, made a new hive, which swarmed again,-until in process of time the land was peopled, and became a goodly state. Neither Neptune, nor Jupiter, nor Minerva, took them especially under their protection: nor did Medea assist them in overcoming the obstacles in their way by any of the arts of magic. Fortitude, valour, perseverance, industry, and little Pocahontas, were their tutelary deities; and their golden fleece, fields of corn, and plantations of tobacco. Good bye.
Letter II. Dear FRANK,-The first settlers of Virginia generally located larger tracts of land, than those to the north, either because they saw more clearly its prospective value, or that the early introduction of slaves enabled them to cultivate more extensively. Hence arose the distinction subsisting between the two parts of the Union—the one being occupied by farmers, cultivating farms, the other by planters, cultivating plantations.
To this day, the land in the occupancy of individuals lies mostly in large tracts, some of them containing several thousand acres. In one of
my late excursions previous to setting out on my grand tour, I spent several days at the seat of one of these planters; who, by the way, was a lady, and such a one as you will not see every day, Frank. In the place of general description, which is for the most part vague and unsatisfactory, take the following picture; which, however, is a favourable one; as the establishment was one of the most liberal and hospitable of any in Virginia.
The master of the house, at least the gentleman who officiated as such, was a son-in-law of the family, who dressed exceedingly VOL. IX.
plain, and who, I soon found, was a well educated, lively, goodhumoured, sensible man; though if I were to tell you, to tell your good lady-aunt Kate, that he never drank any thing but water, she would no more believe it, than she believes in the story of parson P—'s amorous propensities. A stranger here, is just as much at home as a child in its cradle. Indeed I have heard a story of a gentleman from our part of the world, who stopt here, en passant, with his wife, carriage, and servants; forgot in a little time that he was not at home, and staid more than half a year! Nay, so far did this delusion extend, that the lady visitor forgot herself so completely, as to find fault with the visits of the respectable country squires to the hospitable mansion, and to refuse to sit at table with them! In short, I am credibly informed, she quarrelled with a most respectable old silver family tea-pot, which still keeps its stand on the breakfast table, and out of which I used to drink tea with infinite satisfaction, because it was not gold, such as they used at her father's.
A day's residence here convinces you that you occasion no restraint; consequently that you are welcome; and therefore you feel all the freedom of home. Whenever I see the servants running about—the house in the hurry of preparation, and the furniture turned topsy turvy on my arrival, I make my visit very short; because I know by my own experience, that people never like what gives them trouble, and however they be inclined to give a hearty welcome, must inevitably be glad of my departure. Here the ladies attend, as usual, to their own amusements and employments. You are told the carriage or horses are at your service that you can fish, or hunt, or lounge, or read, just as you please; and every one makes his choice.
The plantation is large; containing, I believe, between nine and ten thousand acres; and several hundred negroes are attached to it. Some of the females are employed in taking care of the children, or in household occupations; others in the fields; while the old ones enjoy a sort of otium cum dignitate, at their quarters. These quarters consist of log cabins, disposed in two rows on either side a wide avenue, with each a little garden, in which they raise vegetables. White-washed and clean, they exhibited an appearance of comfort, which, in some measure, served to reconcile me to bondage. At the door of one of these, as we walked this way one evening, stood a little old negro, with his body bent in a curve, and his head as white as snow, leaning on what an Irishman would call a shillalah. He was the patriarch of the tribe; and enjoyed in his old age a life of perfect ease. You might hear him laugh half a mile; and he seemed to possess a full portion of that unreflecting gayety,
which, happily for his race, so generally falls to their portion, and perhaps makes them some amends for the loss of freedom. Relying on their master for the supply of all their wants, they are in a sort of state of childhood, -equally exempt with children, from all the cares of providing support and subsistence, for their offspring. This old man is of an unknown age; his birth being beyond history or tradition; and having once been in the service of lord Dunmore, he looks down with a dignified contempt on the plebeian slaves around him. The greatest aristocrat in the world, is one of these fellows who has belonged to a great man, -I mean with the exception of his master.
The harvest commenced while I was here; and you would have been astonished, to see what work they made with a field of wheat, containing, I was told, upwards of five hundred acres. All hands turned out; and by night it was all in shocks. An army of locusts could not have swept it
so soon, had it been green. I happened to be riding through the fields at twelve o'clock, and saw the women coming out singing, gallantly bonnetted with large trays, containing hoe and corn bread,-a food they prefer to all other. It was gratifying to see them enjoying this wholesome dinner; for since their lot is beyond remedy, it was consoling to find it mitigated by kindness and plenty. I hope, and trust, that this practice is general; for though the present generation cannot be charged with this system of slavery, they owe it to humanity-to the reputation of their country—they stand charged with an awful accountability to him who created this difference in complexion, to mitigate its evils as far as possible.
We, in our part of the world, are accustomed to stigmatize Virginia and the more southern states, with the imputed guilt of the system of slavery which yet subsists among them,-although records are still extant which show that it was entailed upon their ancestors by the British government; which encouraged the importation of slaves into these colonies, in spite of the repeated remonstrances of the colonial legislatures. The present generation found them on its lands,--and the great majority of planters with whom I conversed, lament an evil which cannot be cured by immediate emancipation-which seems almost to baffle the hopes of futurity—and which, while it appears as a stain on the lustre of their freedom, seems almost beyond the reach of a remedy. The country beyond the mountains has few slaves: and if I ever get there, I shall attempt perhaps to sketch the difference of character and habits originating in that circumstance.
I left this most respectable and hospitable mansion, after staying about a week; at the end of which I began to be able to