USGENWEB ARCHIVES VIRGINIA

Transcription by Donna Bluemink

LETTERS FROM VIRGINIA

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH

______

. . . . . . Virginia,

Earth's only Paradise.

Drayton.

______

Baltimore:
Published by Fielding Lucas, Jr.
J. Robinson, printer.
1816.

[Transcribed verbatim.]

* * * * * *

Memorandum to W. H. Sargeant
Norfolk Public Library
October, 1909.

The Library of Congress enters "Letters from Virginia, translated from the French" in their card catalogue under "Tucker, George, 1775-1861, supposed author". The following bibliographical note, prepared in the Catalogue Division, is appended to the entry:

Attributed to George Tucker, by Sabin, the Brinley catalogue, and M. Polock, the well known Philadelphian antiquarian and dealer who knew Tucker personally. Authority for the statement in regard to Polock is a letter, 12 April 1907, from M. A. Whitty, of Richmond, to W. H. Sargeant of Norfolk, loaned by the latter. The "Letters" have also been attributed to William Maxwell and to J. K. Paulding.

The Division of Bibliography has not been able to obtain any further information in regard to the authorship of the work. It is not mentioned in a biographical sketch of Professor George Tucker, printed in the Proceedings of the American philosophical society, vol. 9, pp. 64-70.

Respectfully submitted,
H. H. B. Meyer,
Chief Bibliographer
by W. O. Waters.

* * * * * *

District of Maryland, to wit:
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-first day of February, in the fortieth year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1816, Fielding Lucas, jun. of the said district, has deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words and figures following, to wit:

“Letters from Virginia, translated from the French. Virginia, Earth's only Paradise.–Drayton."

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned." And also to the act, entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, entitled "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

PHILIP MOORE,
Clerk of the District of Maryland.

[v] TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

HERE are some letters, which I have taken here and there, from a manuscript that lately fell into my hands. They were originally written in French, and I have only translated them as well as I could, for the sake of those who are not too wise to be amused with little things. It is unnecessary, I suppose, to explain by what accident they came into my possession, because all will see that I have just as good a right to be lucky as another man.

The translator is always allowed, and indeed required, to eulogise his author. But I believe I will not do it at present; partly because I think it superfluous, and partly because it is well to disappoint people sometimes. I will only say, that the letters please me, and I hope will please some others. They are on a variety of subjects, morals, manners, literature, religion, and other things in abundance, relating to the Ancient Dominion, so that every one may stand a chance to find something to his taste, [vi] and it will be his own fault if he doesn't choose to be amused.

As to the style, I don't know what great judges will think of it, but to me it appears light, familiar, and various. The writer is sometimes gay, sometimes sentimental, sometimes philosophical, always pleasing. His work indeed abounds with negligences and familiarisms, which I had some thoughts of retrenching, and supplying their place with something a little more elegant of my own; for I hope the reader will believe that I understand how to write long winding sentences of the most fashionable and soporific construction. I have not done it, however; First, because as an honest man I must translate my author as he is, not as I would have him to be—Secondly, because I even conceit a beauty in this pleasing defect of his style. It is like the morning dress of a Quaker girl, the more charming for its simplicity and neglect.

After all, it may perhaps be objected by your nice criticks, that the writer is a little too fond of trifles, and talks too much of himself, for an author by profession. The truth is, I dare say he never once dreamt of the honour of being translated by me, when he wrote, or he would have written more [vii] on his guard. I am, however, for one, better satisfied that he did not, for I have naturally a great passion for going behind curtains to see things as they are, without all this fuss and parade. However, this is merely my taste, and the reader is welcome to judge for himself.

With regard to the author of the Letters, I must confess I know more about him than I am willing to tell just now. I will only say, that he is a young Frenchman, of ancient family, who not being quite so well pleased with Bonaparte as some others, abandoned his native land, and went over to England. Here he became acquainted with an interesting family of his own countrymen, attached to the royal cause, and living in cheerful exile at their small cottage not far from Salisbury. From this place, after staying a short time with them, (long enough it seems to fall in love,) he came over to Virginia, principally with a view to recover a claim he had upon somebody, the nature of which he doesn't explain, and I can't pretend to guess. From this state it is that he writes his letters to them, upon any subject that comes to his pen, with all the freedom and ease of true friendship. This much by way of introducing him to his readers. I shall [viii] now leave him to speak for himself, and I hope he will contrive to make himself agreeable to the company.

For the rest, I have only to say by way of encouraging all persons to be pleased with this sample at the Letters, that I have more at them locked up in my secretary, which I may be prevailed upon to publish in due time, provided they show a proper sensibility to the merit of these first.

[9] LETTER I.
TO MR. LOUIS D___.
Norfolk

My dear Sir,
I ARRIVED here last evening, after a short, rough passage of only twenty-five days. The motion of the sea, however, still continues in my head, and I suppose I must consent to pursue my voyage a few days after my landing. I have taken up my lodgings, for the present, at the house of a widow lady with two charming daughters, who promise to console me, if possible, for my absence from you all. So you see my good star still shines upon me wherever I go.

My passage to this country has been so short, that I could hardly realize my distance from you, if I did not feel it in my heart. But alas! I begin already to inquire how long I must be absent from Belleville. You know the business which brings me here; and when I consider the delays of law, I tremble to [10] think that I may have passed sentence of perpetual banishment on myself, by coming over to prosecute my claim. But it is too late to repent now, and I must endeavor to hope for the best.

This evil, however, has some alleviation, as it gives me the opportunity I have so long desired, of examining for myself the institutions, laws, manners, and customs of a state so celebrated in the world as Virginia. But you know my views upon this subject already. I will repeat it in spite of you; it is here, if any where in the world, I expect to realize my hope of seeing a true republic, where the laws are made and administered by the best men, only to promote the happiness of the people. You may shrug up your shoulders as high as you please at this. But I tell you I am determined to have my dream out, and I positively will not be waked up by the wisest man living, till Experience opens my eyes. As yet every thing flatters my hopes. I feel myself in fine health, and charming spirits. I breathe a free air, and enjoy the light of Heaven without paying for it. I say, with my arms a-kimbo, I am a free man among free men. Indeed I even conceit, that there is something in the very atmosphere of this country, congenial with my no- [11] tions of liberty. I know you will smile and tell me in your way, that all this is nothing but the effect of coming off from a sea-voyage, and seeing the pretty girls I mentioned just now. But I shall insist upon it, that my feelings are of a more philosophical order than all that.

You may be sure I shall not forget my promise to send you an account of all I see, whether worth writing about or not. Remember however, as I haven't set up for an author yet, I shall claim the privilege of scribbling any thing and every thing I please. One thing too I must positively insist upon, to indulge my humour for raillery a little, and not to be thought serious when I am only jesting. Upon these terms, I promise you a most voluminous correspondence, letters enough at least to make a decent volume in quarto, which you will please to have well bound in morocco. But in good earnest, I hope that my letters will amuse your little circle; as you sit together by the fire or in the arbour, and remind you of one whose highest happiness must now be found in remembering you all. Indeed, my dear friend, I often feel my heart stealing away from me, to that delightful scene which I left with to many tears, Think no more, I entreat you, of [12] that cruel revolution, nor of all that it has ravished from your possession. Rather console yourself with what you have still left to you, denied to so many others—that charming retreat, in the midst of a people who respect your loyalty and misfortunes—the faithful partner of your bosom—your son—your daughter—and above all, the memory of your devotion to the best of kings, and a heart at peace with itself and with Heaven. Let us weep no more over the wrecks of our miserable country. Sat patriœ Priamoque datum. It only remains for us to trust our cause to that Gracious Providence, who knows how to bring light out of darkness, in his own time, at once to reproach and relieve our despair. But no more of this melancholy theme.

I shall set out in a day or two upon my observations, and as soon as I look about me, will write to you again. In the mean time, give my true love to my dear Mrs. D.___; to my brother Henry–and last but not least, to my own Emily. Tell her my poor valet La Rose is as merry and musical as ever, and seems determined not to forget his old trade of courtship, as long as he can find any one to listen to him.

Adieu! my dear D____, and may the blessings of both worlds be your's.

[13] LETTER II.
TO MISS EMILY D____.

My dearest Emily,
I HAVE this instant received your charming letter, which you sent so soon after me, and which has come, or rather flown, so swiftly to my bosom, that the wax seems to be stilt warm, and the dear symbol upon it looks as fresh and glowing as if it had but just left your lips. How shall I ever thank you enough for a kindness that anticipates even the wishes of my heart? I would certainly love you a thousand times better for it, if it were not quite impossible to increase a passion which is already without bounds. Yes! my dear Emily, assure yourself that your fears about me are entirely vain; and I would entreat you to dismiss them, if I did not rather cherish them as new proofs of your affection. Yet you must not wrong yourself so much as to believe, that you have any thing to apprehend from the fair ladies of Virginia, as lovely as they are. Still less surely have you to fear from absence, after all that malicious wits have told you about it. I know it is often said, as you remind me, [14] that Absence is the worst enemy of Love but for own part, I am ready to maintain that she is really the best friend he has in the world. I see you smile at this extravagance, as you will call it; and yet I am prepared to prove it by some excellent reasons. Thus I suppose you will readily agree, (for certainly you can have no interest in denying,) that Love must always be proportioned to the worth of its object. But doesn't Absence naturally increase this worth, at least in imagination? When it is present, we see it as it is; when it is away, we fancy it as we would have it to be; certainly much improved. The picture is now seen at the proper distance, its blemishes thrown into darkness, its beauties brought out to view, the whole finely softened and chastened by the melancholy light of our regret. Or you may consider the absence of a darling friend, as a sort of temporary death, which causes all evil qualities to be forgotten, while it leaves the good alone to be remembered with increased affection. The image now rises upon our hearts, through the shades of memory, like a spirit from the tomb, already invested with the purity of a better world, and only the more lovely because it melts from our embrace. I really think, [15] my dear Emily, there can be no need to strengthen this argument; but if you call upon me to do it, I will refer you at once to facts that confirm my theory beyond dispute. Thus I would beg you to recollect all the instances of romantic passion upon record, and tell me if they are not all cases in which the lovers, were kept absent from each other for weeks, months, and even years at a time. Pyramus and Thisbe were separated by that odious wall. Petrarch hardly saw Laura once a twelvemonth, nor then without a veil which kept her absent still. Eloisa was shut up in her convent, and was obliged to sigh for her amusement, because she had nothing else to do, while Abelard was away. Hero and Leander could afford to love well enough while they had a river to keep the peace between them. If they could have staid together a fortnight on the same side of it, he would have drowned himself perhaps, in swimming away from her, and spoilt all the charming poem of Musaeus. But if all these arguments should fail to satisfy you on this point, I have one which cannot– The experience of my own heart. Indeed, my dear Emily, to talk soberly a little, (for it is hard to jest with a serious passion,) I feel that this cruel se- [16] paration from your bosom, only serves to increase the ardour and impatience of my love. A thousand times a day do I reproach myself, for having suffered the temptations of fortune to seduce me from your arms. Indeed, if I didn't consider it as a duty which I owe to you more than my self, to pursue it for your sake, I would even now abandon my claim, and return at once to the shades where I feel that I have left my repose. And can you apprehend inconstancy from me? Alas! my dear Emily, I am myself only while I think of you, and have no other evidence of my existence than the consciousness of my love. Discard, then, these visionary fears, which are even worse than unjust to me, as they are injurous to yourself. Yes! my sweet girl, only be persuaded to look for a moment in the mirror of truth, and you will ask no other pledge for my fidelity than the discovery of your own charms. Adieu, my dear Emily, and believe that whether present or absent, I live only to unite my happiness and my being with thine.

[17] LETTER III.
TO MR. HENRY D___.

My dear Henry,
I have just returned from a ramble round this same town of Norfolk, and will now try to give you some idea of its situation and prospect.

Norfolk is seated on the East bank of Elizabeth River, about eight miles from its mouth, and thirty-two from the sea. The land on which it is built is low, and in some parts marshy. I suppose it may contain about ten thousand inhabitants, white and black.

The approach to the town is certainly not the most promising in the world. The banks of the river are flat and dull, with little or nothing but sand and pine-trees for your eyes, at least until you get to Craney Island, about five miles below, when you are treated with a distant view of the town. The banks now begin to brighten a little as you sail up. Passing one or two neat country boxes on your left, you come to Fort Norfolk, a strong fortification with a brick wall, in the shape of a half-moon. Fort Nelson is a little above on the other shore, and makes [18] quite a pleasing show with its green banks and white houses in the rear. You are now near up, and the town sits to you in all her charms, to paint her if you choose. It is on your left in the landscape, and appears to be almost divided into two parts, by the water running and shining between. Bridges are thrown over to unite these divisions, and the lower one, or the Point as they call it, shows a number of neat white houses, almost lost in trees. On your right the harbour opens before you in a beautiful basin, nearly a mile wide. The Marine Hospital, on Washington Point, at the head of it, comes out to meet you in front. Portsmouth, a neat rural village, sits in smiling silence on the other side; and still further up, Gosport with her navy-yard, ships and bridge, finishes the prospect. The whole scene is certainly very interesting, and indeed I hardly know where I should send you to look for a handsomer view.

So much for the entry. I am sorry to say that all isn't quite so handsome when you get into the town. The streets are surely a little too crooked for beauty, as even Hogarth, with all his passion for the "waving line," must have confessed; and beside this, are in some parts intolerably dirty, that is[19] where they hav'nt yet been paved The principal ones, however, are kept clean, and handsomely lighted. The houses too, for the most part, even on Main-street, are built in a very slovenly style, tho' I see with pleasure, some signs of better taste in the new ones which are shooting up. The public buildings are but few, and not over-elegant. The court­house is rather a shabby affair, altogether unworthy of such a place. The market-house, however, is convenient and handsome enough. Besides these, there are two or three neat churches, tho' I regret that they have no steeples to set off the picture. The Farmers' Bank, is a fine structure, built in a pure and elegant style. In general, the inhabitants appear to show but little passion for the graces of architecture, either in their private or public establishments.

What a pity it is, I often say to myself, these good people are so anxious to hide their taste. Can any thing be more proper and rational, than to adorn our cities with every innocent embellishment that its situation admits? Independent of its superior beauty to the eye, has not every judicious improvement some moral influence upon the heart? If were a prince here, with money enough to show my [20] genius, I would soon produce some change in the face of things. I would throw light airy bridges over the streams, which seem to have been made on purpose for them—drain and fill up unwholesome marshes —establish public walks and gardens—set spires to the churches—pave and light all the streets—persuade the citizens to build handsome houses, assisting them from my own purse—and make a thousand other improvements, too tedious to mention. In short, I would make the town a little paradise. Strangers should fall in love with it at first sight, and find it impossible to get away from its enchantment. In this manner too, (tho' perhaps it would be rather a vulgar consideration for a prince,) I would consult my interest as well as my fancy; for I should certainly raise the value of my estate by more than the expense of the improvement.

With this view of things, I am glad to find that the inhabitants are beginning to turn their thoughts to the plans of public utility. Certainly, with the great natural advantages which this place possesses, it can only require a proper spirit in its people, with the liberal aid of the Legislature, to make it a great and flourishing city. At present, indeed, it labours [21] under a serious disadvantage, in the want of a rich back country to feed its market. This evil, however, might be entirely removed by the canal which is talked of, to communicate with the waters of the Roanoke, and which would enable North Carolina to pour her riches into the lap of Norfolk.

After all, however, the chief boast of the place must be its inhabitants. These, as you may have heard before, are justly celebrated for their civility to strangers. For myself, I am ready to say, that they are the most agreeable people in the world. Their manners, (those of the better sort I mean,) are at once easy and polite; familiar, and yet sufficiently elegant. The style of intercourse is generally frank and sociable, without those contests of vanity and ambition which embitter society in larger places. But above all, they are most distinguished for their hospitality to strangers, that excellence which our whimsical Rousseau calls the virtue of savage life; but which I shall always consider as one of the finest fruits of our Christian religion. This is so free and spontaneous, that it supplies the place of merit in the guest, or rather takes it for granted. Perhaps, however, (if I may use the liberty to say it,) it is sometimes a little too indiscriminate to be [22] either safe or flattering. Perhaps, too, (since I am engaged in criticising,) if the people could find it in their hearts to pay a little more attention to public worship, and other duties of religion, it would not diminish their social happiness, nor indeed injure the town in any way that I can imagine.

I must not forget here to tell you, (as I know your taste so well,) that this place is particularly celebrated for the beauty of its ladies, and certainly, if you have any faith in my eye, not without good reason. They are indeed, often as handsome as you would wish, their forms delicate and graceful, and their cheeks sufficiently rosy to satisfy any reasonable man. They are besides, polite and agreeable, and can talk well enough when they please. Better yet, they are quite as kind to strangers as the other sex, and seem well disposed to amuse them, or even to make them happy upon occasion, when they are hard pressed. But far above all this, and without which indeed the rest is nothing, many of them are distinguished for those better graces of mind and heart, which are not only dear to their human admirers, but even grateful to Him whom it is their highest interest as well as duty to please.

[23] LETTER IV.
TO MR. LOUIS D___.

IN writing my letters to you, I shall imitate our friend Bonaparte, (of all the world,) in the fabrication of his bulletins. You know, when he has no grand battle on hand to entertain us with, he is glad to fill up his paper with a little scrap of any thing, such as the description of a village, a natural curiosity, a merry anecdote, a dying speech, or something of that sort. Just so, when I have nothing else to say, I shall tax your friendship, by writing any thing that comes to my pen, tho' it should prove to be nothing but the account of the weather or my own heart. The weather indeed has been such, for some days past, that I havn't been able to make any further discoveries of the natives here; and so you must put up with an account of a friend I have made, or rather found ready made, and with whom I have already formed a pretty strict union. This tho' perhaps you will think ought to be ranked among extraordinary events, and I dare say you are half right, as the world goes. I was a few evenings since at a small party at Mrs. D's, when she introduced the young gentleman to me, in a kind of [24] emphatic manner that seemed to say, you ought to know each other. Indeed I thought so at the very moment, for the simplicity and frankness of his address on the first introduction, convinced me that there was something congenial between us, and I said to myself, I have found a friend! He was very attentive to me the whole evening, and seeing that I was a stranger, was careful to do the honours of the town to me, with the most engaging civility in the world. He introduced me to several of his fair acquaintances, (with whom he seems to be on very good terms,) and made my evening altogether agreeable. He has been several times to see me since, and my first impressions in his favour are entirely confirmed. Indeed we have formed a friendship of years in a few days, and if was not afraid of doing myself too much honour, I would say that we have but one heart between us. But perhaps you will wish to know something more about him, and I must endeavour to satisfy your reasonable curiosity.

Mr. Manley is a young gentleman of respectable family and connections, and of a moderate paternal fortune. He is a native of this town, where he has always resided, except for a few years, when he was [25] absent for his education. This he had the happiness to receive at Yale College, in Connecticut, a circumstance to which he is probably indebted for more than he may always be willing to acknowledge. It was there at least, I think, that he imbibed his strong passion for polite letters, and what is still more valuable, his decided attachment to the cause of religion. In his own character, indeed, he appears to me to be almost a model for Christians, exhibiting a rare combination of qualities, which are but seldom united in any individual. He is at once ardent and meek, strongly attached to his own opinions, yet liberal to those of others. As to his own, indeed, some perhaps may think him rigid, as he is a warm advocate for our great reformer of Geneva, and contends for his doctrines, with a zeal and eloquence evidently inspired by a deep conviction of their truth and importance. Yet in him they are so well digested by a vigorous understanding, and so finely mellowed by an amiable heart, that it is not always easy to resist the charm of his persuasion. At the same time, he is careful to make his conduct a commentary upon his faith, and those who argue against his theory, are often refuted by his practice. Perhaps too, you will be [26] gratified to hear, (for I know your own feelings upon this point,) that he is a member of the Presbyterian church, which you know is substantially the same with our French Protestant. He is indeed warmly attached to this church, and often maintains that its structure is most conformed to the standard of the apostles, and that its simple form, rigorous discipline, and regular government, are best adapted to preserve the purity of sound doctrine, and the substance of vital religion. At the same time too, tho' he utterly denies the authority of the state in matters of religion, he thinks it an incidental recommendation of his church, that it is happily suited to the genius of the government under which he lives. But after all this, no man on earth can be freer from any thing like bigotry or sectarism, and I am quite sure, that if the world had a thousand times as many Christians as it has, his heart would hold them all.

But to come down to things of less importance, he is, as I said before, passionately fond of polite letters, and his knowledge is almost equal to his passion. He has a very extensive acquaintance with the classic authors of antiquity, and those of his own tongue, whether English or native. He is, besides, [27] surprisingly intimate with ours, (a great proof of his taste, I think,) and is perhaps even partial to their merits. You may judge how charming I find his society, when there is so perfect a sympathy between us. Besides this, he talks French agreeably enough, and what is more than all, like a true friend, he enters into all the feelings of my heart, as if they were his own. I have let him into all my secrets, and he already talks of your family circle as if he were one of us. I know you will all congratulate me on the acquisition of such a friend. Indeed I have met all his overtures of friendship with frankness and cordiality, and I am sure I shall never repent of it.

I had almost forgot to tell you, (and perhaps now I had better not,) that with all his excellencies, he has one small fault, rather too great a fondness for raillery and ridicule. I see you tremble at this account, for fear that I should be confirmed in my own bad habit this way. Indeed I must confess, I begin to suspect that the climate of Virginia is not the best in the world to cure my disease. However, you must not despair of me yet, as there is no knowing what your good advice and better example may do for me in time.

[28] My young friend has very obligingly offered to make me acquainted with every thing here that is worth notice. I shall call upon him too, to assist me in my researches into the laws, history, and general state of the country, and I promise myself great benefit from his services. So you see, you will be likely to hear of him very often in my letters, and I hope you are already sufficiently interested in his character, to wish for a further acquaintance.

[29] LETTER V.
TO THE SAME.

I have been deceived all this time, I have been deceived! It cannot be Virginia that I am in. They have landed me on some barbarous coast; charming indeed at the first approach, but full of horrors upon a nearer survey. Last night I could have dreamed that I was in the enchanted fields of Elysium, and to-day, alas! I know not where I am. But what does all this mean? I must tell you.

I took the boat this morning, and crossed the ferry over to Portsmouth, the small town which I told you lies opposite to this place. Here I rambled about for some time thro' the vacant streets, as my fancy led me, till I came to the court-house. It was court day, and a large crowd of people was gathered about the door. I had hardly got upon the steps to look in, when my ears were assailed by the voice of singing, and turning round to discover from what quarter it came, I saw a group of about thirty negroes, of different ages and sizes, following a rough looking white man, who sat carelessly lolling in his sulkey. They had just turned round the corner, and were coming up the main street to pass [30] by the spot where I stood, on their way out of town. As they came nearer, I saw some of them loaded with chains to prevent their escape; while others had hold of each others hands, strongly grasped, as if to support themselves in their affliction. I particularly noticed a poor mother, with an infant sucking at her breast as she walked along, while two small children had hold of her apron on either side, almost running to keep up with the rest. The countenances of these poor creatures exhibited several varieties of distress of lighter and darker shade, according to their several degrees of sensibility. Here, it was a soft and gentle sorrow, whose tears loved to flow at the memory of pleasures it had lost; there, it was a grim and threatening despair, that asked for nothing but a grave. Some indeed, more hardy than the rest, affected indifference, and when their fellow slaves would come up to shake them by the hand, and inquire where they were going, endeavoured to talk gaily of their exile; but it was easy to see that the affectation cost them a pang, and their eyes filled with tears as they spoke. They came along singing a little wild hymn of sweet and mournful melody; flying, by a divine instinct of the heart, to the consolation of religion, [31] the last refuge of the unhappy, to support them in their distress. The sulkey now stopped before the tavern, at a little distance beyond the court house, and the driver got out. A crowd soon gathered around the captives, from motives of curiosity or compassion. 'My dear sir,' said I, to one who stood next to me, 'can you tell me what these poor people have been doing? What is their crime? And what is to be their punishment?' 'O,' said he, 'it's nothing at all but a parcel of negroes sold to Carolina, and that man is their driver, who has bought them.' 'But what have they done that they should be sold into banishment?' 'Done!' said he, 'Nothing at all that I know of. Their masters wanted money, I suppose, and these drivers give good prices.' Here the driver having supplied himself with brandy, and his horse with water, (the poor negroes, of course, wanted nothing,) stepped into his chair again, cracked his whip, and drove on, while the miserable exiles followed in funeral procession behind him. O! my dear friend, what were my feelings upon this occasion! Heaven pardon me if I sinned; but there was something so rude in his countenance, something so brutal in the very sound of his voice, that, I know not, but I am [32] afraid, I was for calling down fire from above, to blast the wretch, who could thus trade in the misery of his fellow creatures. I know, indeed, that our divine religion commands us to love all mankind, but disguised as our nature was in this creature, is it wonderful if I forgot for a moment that he was a man?

Is it not strange, my dear D___, that a people of common humanity, should tolerate an abuse of this horrible character? The governor of the state, I am told, is authorized by law, to send slaves convicted of capital crimes, without its limits, as a commutation for death. And shall it then be endured, that this dreadful punishment shall be inflicted upon an innocent being, at the mere whim of a cruel or avaricious master? Or what must be the heart of that man who can abuse this license of the law, and sport with all the rights and feelings of nature, to gratify a sordid avarice or a base revenge? Gracious Heaven! can he hear without emotion, the shrieks of a mother, torn forever from the bosom of her children by this anticipated death, and condemned to live long hopeless years of exile, far from all those tender relatives that gladdened life, and gave a charm to slavery itself? Or can he see, [33] without one pang of heart, the little child of innocence, torn perhaps from its mother's bosom, and crying itself to sleep upon the lap of a stranger? There are those indeed who calmly tell us, that negroes have no feelings, What then! are they not human beings? Have they no heart? Do they not love their wives, their children, their homes, as well as their masters? The charge is a libel upon human nature, I had almost said, upon the Creator. The truth is, they feel, and exquisitely too. They weep with bitterness at these cruel separations. The sentence of banishment strikes them like the message of death. I have myself heard, with shuddering, their wild and frantic shrieks on these occasions, and my heart still trembles at the recollection. It is indeed an alleviation of their misery, when they are banished in families, and carry their wives and children along with them as the companions of their exile. Still they can never forget their home, the scene of their childhood, with all its native innocent pleasures. Even in the land of their banishment, it is said, they still cherish a filial attachment to the state which has cast them off from her bosom, and have several little wild songs which they sing with tears, recal- [34] ling the images of past felicity, their cabins and their cornfields. I have one of these poor exiles this moment before my eyes. The sun is just setting behind those trees. He is returning home from his labour; he casts his eye towards Virginia, and a thousand recollections rush upon his mind; his evening fire—his wife, she was his first love,—his children, its pledges—alas! they are dead to him!—the tears flow into his eyes—he hurries to his cabin, despair in his heart.

I know, my dear friend, that many who plume themselves upon the delicacy of their feelings, and are ready enough to weep over scenes of fictitious distress, can refuse a single tear to the real, but homely sorrows of these poor people. Perhaps, they would even ridicule all sympathy for their sufferings, as mean and vulgar. For my own part, my dear D___, you know that I despise the affectation of sensibility, as much as I honour the reality. But I must pity from my heart, that deplorable want of virtuous feeling, which makes man indifferent to the miseries of his fellow, a stranger to his own flesh, beholding his tears with levity or insult, all for the different complexion of his skin. Surely the Virginians are not barbarians. Habit [35] may make them forget the situation of these poor wretches, who tremble under their hands, and even reconcile them, in spite of themselves, to the daily horrors which pass under their eyes. But is it possible, that one single individual can be found, who does not feel for the wretchedness of slavery, when he sees it brought out in full relief before him, in a spectacle like that which I have so faintly described? I must say, indeed, in common justice, that many of the spectators appeared to be deeply afflicted at the scene. For myself, it has made an impression upon me that nothing will ever efface. It is still as fresh and vivid before my eyes, as the very moment when I saw it. I see the miserable group of exiles passing along—the mother!—I see her with her little children at her side—I hear the driver call on them to proceed—I see her lift her eyes to Heaven, in silent, but eloquent appeal, to the mercy of a tribunal where her tears will not be despised because she happens to be black. Adieu! my dear D___. My heart is full, and my hand refuses to guide the pen.

[36] LETTER VI.
TO MR. HENRY D___ .

MY young friend Manley came in to see me last evening: 'You are a traveller,' said he, 'and make it a point to see every thing. Pray have you seen a Yankee yet about our wharves?' 'A Yankee!' said I 'what sort of an animal is that?' 'A very strange animal, I assure you,' said he, with a smile. 'It has the body of a man, but not the soul. However, I mean one of our New-England friends, who visit us in small crafts, to get our money. These are certainly a very strange race of people. You will see them with their eelskins upon their hair, to save the expense of barbers; and their ear-rings in their ears, to improve their sight, to see how to cheat you better, I suppose. They would die sooner than part with one of these ornaments, unless you pay 'em well for it. At the same time, they live upon nothing. A rasher of pork is a feast for them, even on holidays. Their favourite drink is nothing but switchel, or molasses and water, which they will tell you is better than Burgundy or Champaign. They are, however, better taught than fed, and make the fittest bold sailors in the world. They can sail to [37] the North Pole and back again, in an egg-shell, if the ice does not break it. Indeed, they are seamen by birth, and box the compass in their cradles. You know our genteel laziness unfits us for the drudgery of commerce. So we leave it all to the Yankees. These crafting part of them come here at all seasons, in their sloops and schooners, bringing a miscellaneous cargo of all sorts of notions, not metaphysical but material, such as cheese, butter, potatoes, cramberries, onions, beets, coffins—you smile, but it is a fact, that understanding some years ago that the yellow fever was raging here with great violence, some of them very charitably risked their own lives, to bring us a large quantity of ready made coffins, of all sizes, in nests, one within another, to supply customers at a moment's warning; an insult which we have hardly forgiven them yet. You will see them sailing up into all our bays, rivers, and creeks, wherever the water runs. As the winter comes on, they creep into some little harbour, where they anchor their vessels, and open store on board, retailing out their articles of every kind, to the poor countrymen who come to buy. Towards the spring, they sail away with a load of plank or shingles, which they often get very cheap. [38] Indeed the whole race of Yankee seamen are certainly the most enterprising people in the world. They are in all quarters of the globe where a penny is to be made. In short, they love money a little better than their own lives. What is worst, they are not always very nice about the means of making it; but are ready to break laws like cobwebs, whenever it suits their interest. You know we passed an embargo-law sometime ago, to starve the English out of house and home, and made all our coasting captains give bond and take oath, that they would not sail to any foreign port or place whatever. Suddenly there began to blow a set of the most violent gales that had ever been known, and what was rather singular, they all insisted upon blowing towards the West Indies, in the very teeth of the law, as if on purpose to save the penalty of the bonds. It looked indeed, to good people, as if Providence had determined to take those islands under his care, and send them supplies to save them from famine, in spite of the American congress. Our rulers, however, who had learnt from history that these Yankees used formerly to deal with witches, began to suspect that all these storms were raised by the black art, or at least were manu- [39] factored in a notary's office, expressly for the occasion, and therefore resolved to lay them at once. So they passed a law, which declared in substance, that no kind of accident or distress should be given in evidence to save the penalties of the bonds. This act poured sweet oil upon the ocean at once, and produced a profound calm, in spite of witches and notaries, and the winds soon went on to blow from all points of the compass as formerly, any thing in the act entitled, an act laying an embargo, &c. to the contrary notwithstanding.

'But bless me,' said I, putting in a word at last, as he stopped to draw his breath, 'is it possible that you Virginians can laugh at your own countrymen at this rate? 'O! as to that,' said he, 'they return the compliment as well as they can, and between ourselves, if we have the most laugh, I am afraid we hav'nt always the most reason on our side.' Here a servant came, and called my young acquaintance away.

I don't know much about these Yankees, my dear Henry; but really if they have any sort of genius for a laugh, I think they might retaliate very easily upon the people of this quarter. The Virginians, I find, love to ridicule the New Englanders, as a [40] people of steady habits: for my part, I am glad that they are not a people of steady habits, for there is now some hope that they may change.

[41] LETTER VII.
TO MISS EMILY G___.

Would you believe it? My jest upon poor La Rose turns out to be a serious fact. The poor boy has hardly set his foot on shore but he has fallen in love, and, as he says, positively for the last time, unless, I suppose, by particular desire. But you shall hear all about it.

When I came home last evening from a visit, I found the poor lad sitting very thoughtfully by the fire, so intent upon something, that he was not sensible of my approach. 'What, my good fellow,' said I, tapping him on the shoulder, 'have I caught you napping?' He started up in great confusion, and looking at me with an inexpressible air, I perceived that his eyes were full of tears. I caught him by the hand. 'My dear La Rose,' said I, ' what is the matter—you are not well—you are thinking of home—you want to leave me.' His heart was so full that he couldn't answer me a word. 'Come, come,' said I, 'you shall tell me all. I will not be your master—make me your friend' 'Alas!' said he, 'it is because you are my [42] friend, that I am so much distressed.' This answer was sufficiently mysterious to make me long for an explanation. 'La Rose,' said I, with great earnestness, 'I know not what to make of all this. I insist upon it, you shall open your heart to me without reserve, at once.' He began here with a faultering voice. 'My dear master, you may have forgotten your kindness to me, but I have not. Can you remember that day when you rescued me from the dragoon who was in pursuit of me, and how you contrived to save me, and carry me over to England with you? That is the day of my second life. But for you, I had become the victim of that horrible conscription. But for you, I might have been bleeding in Spain, in a cause which I detest, for a tyrant whom I abhor. My poor mother's tears could not have saved me. I owe you every thing. I owe you myself. Dispose of my life and fortune as you please,' Here he burst into tears. 'My dear good fellow,' said I, 'all this is true; but what does it mean?' He hesitated—'for Heaven's sake proceed.' 'Alas! sir,' said he—'a charming young lady—the most charming you ever saw—wants— wants me to marry her, sir, that's all.' 'O ho!' said I, greatly relieved from my fright, as you may [43] suppose, 'I perceive it all now. You have taken it in your wise head to fall in love, and now you will leave me. You will leave me when I most want your services and friendship—in a strange land—you will leave me.' 'Never!' cried he, and threw himself at my feet. I raised him up. 'My good master, I will follow you forever.—'Yes,' said I, 'and die upon my hands I suppose. Do you think I will consent to have your murder upon my conscience? Come tell me the whole matter, and let me see if there is no remedy in the case.' He now went on with a lighter heart, to tell me the affair at large, and really it is pleasant enough. A silver-smith in town, it seems, has a pretty daughter, that wants a husband, of course. She set her eyes upon my poor La Rose, and his heart is gone in a moment. The father invites him to his house, and caresses him. Nobody like Mr. Rose. He is the sweetest flower in the world. She must pull him for her bosom. At last, yesterday afternoon, the old man takes him one side, and says, 'Mr. Rose, I see plainly you are in love with my daughter. She is, too, pretty as you see, and could make you happy enough. But you are a servant, and everybody is free here. None but negroes are slaves in [44] this country. No waiting man can have my daughter. But I'll tell you what—I don't want to break your heart—leave your master. I'll make you a silversmith—you shall work in my shop, and marry my daughter into the bargain.' The poor fellow no doubt jumped up to the ceiling at this offer. It is certain his head is quite turned ever since, and really I can't wonder at it. Liberty, fortune, and a pretty girl—who would not leave a poor master for these? Finding I began to listen with a smile, he ran on at a great rate, and told me a thousand fine plans he had formed, if I would only consent. In short, I found that he was quite as good a hand at a dream as his master, and had almost realized so many visions of happiness, that it would be a pity to spoil 'em. 'Well, well,' said I at last, ' you must leave me, then, I suppose—leave me and Miss Emily too—and all because you have been pleased to fall in love.' 'No, indeed sir,' cried he, 'it was not as I pleased—I could not help it.' 'Ah,' said I, 'so we all say, La Rose. However, we must submit to the will of Heaven. Go to bed and dream. To-morrow I will see the man and his daughter too, and if all things are right, I'll do the best I can for you,' He thanked me with tears and retired.

[45] I have been this morning to the silversmith's, and find Miss Nancy a pretty girl enough. She is indeed quite modest and tidy, and I dare say will make La Rose a very good wife, if she does'nt talk too much. So we have arranged the business, by a kind of compromise, to the satisfaction of all parties. He is to continue with me a short time longer during my travels, and I have promised to make him a handsome present at his wedding, besides gracing the ceremony with my company into the bargain.

I must not forget to tell you, that when I asksd him once if he could bear to think of seeing you no more; 'O, no,' cried he with great warmth, 'that would break my heart at once. But it must not be so. You must persuade Miss Emily to come over and live with us on this side of the water. It is much better than where she is. You shall have a fine seat in the country, and Nancy and I will have a little cottage close by. You must write to her directly, and tell her all about it.' O my dear Emily, shall I confess to you, that idle as this fancy is, it sooths my heart? Surely we lovers must be allowed to dream as we please, since it is but too often all the happiness we know.

[46] LETTER VIII.
TO MR. LOUIS D___
.

These is perhaps no country in the world that has been more pestered with travellers, of all sorts and sizes, than this. Some of them, indeed, have come over with pencils in their pockets, for the express purpose of making a book upon it. Others, however, have crossed with different views, and have only been made authors, in spite of themselves, by the magic of hunger or a bribe. Among this motley crowd, there have been philosophers, farmers, botanists, and even a little poet has flown over it, by accident or mistake. All, of course, feel themselves fully privileged to rail at every thing they see, ad libitum, and the poor country might say with Falstaff, "men of all sorts take a pride to gibe at me." You will, no doubt, take good care how you believe what those writers tell you. I can assure you, there is hardly a word of truth in their accounts, from beginning to end.

These travellers have been of all nations, particularly French and English. As to the former, I can at least do them the justice to say, that they [47] are more respectful than the others. It is true, they love to romance a little sometimes, and take a philosophical dream or two as they go along. But this is a sort of national privilege, you know, which nobody has a right to question. Sometimes, however, they see fit to indulge themselves in a rather more questionable liberty, a sort of poetical metonymy, (or putting one word for another,) which prose people might call a lie. But then, as that nice moralist, Voltaire, says, "Un beau mensonge vaut quelquefois une verite,"—a pretty lie is sometimes worth a truth. And, besides, they generally take good care to season their remarks with a spice of flattery, which makes them exceedingly agreeable to the natives.

The English, on the other hand, are not quite so complaisant in their style; but retail all sorts of insolence, without truth or mercy. Indeed, they seem to make it a point of conscience, to quarrel with every body that comes in their way, add determined, beforehand, not to be pleased with any thing whatever. The poor fellows are always troubled with a sick stomach, that puts them out of humour with themselves, and all the world. Thus they damn the stages, roads, bridges, taverns, laws, [48] ladies, even the ladies, all and singular, and then the whole in a lump. I may be mistaken perhaps, but I always fancy I can discover a little mortification in their remarks. They can't forget that these people were once their colonists, and are quite vexed, to see that they are doing so well since they have set up for themselves.

But of all these travellers, perhaps the most impertinent is the little singing Moore, whom you may remember to have seen at Bath. It seems the little museling flew over this state a few years ago, almost without lighting, and upon his return to England, sat down to write a libel upon it, in prose and rhyme. This place, of course, comes in for a pretty large share of his abuse. "Norfolk," he says, "it must be owned, is an unfortunate specimen of America. The characteristics of Virginia, in general, are not such as can delight either the politician or the moralist, and at Norfolk, they are exhibited in their least attractive form. At the time that we arrived, the yellow fever had not then disappeared, and every odour that assailed us in the streets, very strongly accounted for its visitation. It is, in truth, a most disagreeable place, and the best the journalist or geographer can say of it is, that it abounds [49] in dogs, in negroes, and in democrats." The people of Norfolk, however, seem to be more diverted than vexed by his petulance, and are satisfied to laugh at his malice, with their usual good humour. I was mentioning the subject to Manley last evening, and I expected to see him a little angry on the occasion; but he only smiled, and said in his way—'I remember seeing the little bard when he was here, (thro' a very fine magnifying glass,) and was more than once amused with him in his short visit. It was, indeed, very pretty to see him fluttering among the ladies, like a butterfly in a garden of flowers, always humming as he flew, and sipping the Colonel's wine, as the dove did that of Anacreon. The thing, indeed, was so novel to us here, that we were quite sufficiently disposed to caress him, and often smiled at the airy impertinence of his trifling, without ever once suspecting him of any designs against us. All this time, however, it seems, while we thought he was only loading his thigh with sweets, he was secretly whetting his sting, and setting it sharper in honey. He is indeed, I believe, the first who has thought proper to honour us with a lampoon in verse. Perhaps he thought it nothing but fair, that his censure should'nt want rhyme and [50] reason both. After all, tho,' I really can't find it in my heart, to be very angry with a thing of his size. I would only hint to him, if I were near, that to write travels and criticisms, upon whole nations, seems to be rather out of his line of business.—I would advise him therefore, to keep to his old employment of writing songs, (only taking care to be a little more decent,) or, if he must vary his occupations, to apply himself to the distillation of rose-water, or even the invention of a new wash for freckles. Surely,

"His humbler province is to tend the Fair,"
(and I would add for His comfort,)
"Not a less pleasing, tho' less glorious care."

Thus far Manley. For myself, I can't help wondering, that a poet of such amatory tendencies, didn't find it in his heart, to pardon the town for the sake of its ladies, whom he certainly couldn't have overlooked. And, indeed, I know not whether he ought to feel himself most flattered or mortified to learn, that his later songs in the Irish melodies, are often sung and admired, by the fair belles of this place, a proof, even he must concede, as much of their benevolence as of their taste. Surely, this [51] compliment at least, ought to rob him of his venom. But it is the snake that charms the bird.

Enough of such travellers, whose least concern is to tell the truth. For my own part, my dear D___, you may depend upon the authenticity of all I write you; only taking care to make a little allowance, you know, for my habit of raillery. With this caution, which you will do well to remember, I subscribe myself once more, &c.

[52] CHAPTER IX.
TO MR. HENRY D___.
AS Manley and I stood talking together this morning, nearly opposite the Exchange, I saw a very strange looking young man over the street, engaged in high conversation with the post-master. He was shabbily, and yet fantastically dressed, as if he had all the disposition in the world to be a beau, if he could only tell how to go about it. At the same time, he was talking with an air of so much importance, that I was sure he must be some great man in disguise. 'Do,' said I to Manley, 'tell me who is that young gentleman yonder,—I am certain he must be some distinguished character or other.'' Here, my companion burst out a laughing. 'Why, is it possible,' said he, 'that you have never seen him before? That is the celebrated Harry Whiffler, at your service. You a traveller, and not know a personage of his consequence!' 'It is even so,' said I, 'but take pity on my ignorance, and let me know all about him at once.' ' Well,' said he, 'let him go on to settle the affairs of the nation, [53] his own way, while I give you his history in a few words.'

Harry Whiffler, I believe, was born somewhere in the county of King and Queen. His father was a rich planter in that quarter, who, somehow or other, took a notion in his head, that it would be a very clever thing, to bring his son up to the trade and mystery of a gentleman. He was accordingly sent, in due time, to the college of William and Mary, where he soon went thro' the whole circle of vices taught in that polite seminary. It is true, he didn't make quite so great a progress in the sciences. He passed, however, for a lad of great genius, principally upon the ground of his laziness. For it was observed, that he played cards all night, and lay abed all day, and therefore, according to the logic of the place, it was justly inferred that he must have brilliant talents, if he could only be prevailed upon to show 'em. Once, too, he roused himself to make a splendid effort, and by the help of a few old dictionaries, actually wrote an oration for the Fourth of July, which gained him a great deal of applause. And no wonder, for as an old lady who heard it, observed at the time, 'it was a mighty learned piece indeed, as she was sure nobody, (except the Bishop,) [54] could understand a single word, from beginning to end.' After staying here a little while, finding himself grown, suddenly, wiser than his teachers, he resolved to leave the college, and so, to let the world know that he had been there, and to give himself greater eclat upon his coming out into life, he took occasion to pick a quarrel with one of his companions, about something or other, challenged him to a duel, and got a slight flesh wound by way of diploma. Thus accomplished, he resolved to take the station in society which fame had prepared for him, and display his great talents at the bar. Not, indeed, that he had any strong passion for the practice of law; but then it was genteel, and was, besides, the high road to the House of Delegates, and Congress. It is true, he hadn't read many books about it; but, he had heard a few lectures from the college professor, and genius could supply all the rest. As our good fortune would have it, our old borough of Norfolk appeared to him, to offer a fine field for his talents, especially as we hadn't, at that time, more than thirty lawyers among us. Here, then, he resolved to take his stand, as it is called, or, to speak more properly, his seat, at the bar, for he certainly wasn't very often upon his legs. [55] At last, however, being a little piqued at the fame of Demosthenes, Cicero, Wirt, and some others, he determined to cast them all into the shade at once. He, accordingly, watched his chance, and hearing of a good criminal who was to be tried in a few days, for a larceny, he concluded that this would be a fine opportunity to display himself. He, therefore, yielded to the soft whisper of pity, and volunteered to defend the innocent culprit. Here, I must do him the justice to state, that either from pride, modesty, benevolence, or some other cause, he positively received no fee, tho' some were malicious enough to say, that it was only because he couldn't get one. However, the generous orator set about preparing the defence, and wrote a very elegant exordium, and a most moving peroration for the occasion, taking care to note down, in the margin of his manuscript, all the proper places where a handkerchief could be pulled out, or a few tears might be shed, with grace and effect. Thus prepared, he caused it to be proclaimed by his friends, that he intended to come out, and that then, Messrs. T___, and T___, might go in, and hang themselves. He had even some thoughts, it is said, of sending a trumpeter with a flag round the town, to announce [56] the exhibition of his speech. This, however, he was over-persuaded to decline. At last the day of trial came, and a very large audience assembled in the court-house. The prisoner was arraigned—the witnesses were examined—the prosecutor opened the charge, and the orator rose to reply. Luckily for him, he had contrived his exordium with so much skill, that it was equally adapted to any possible case, and he made out to get through it with tolerable ease, not stopping to recollect his part more than half a dozen times, and repeating his words over again, only twice. Thus far all well. At length, however, he must come, whether he would or no, to say something about the evidence. Most unhappily, this was so entirely contrary to the statement of it in his paper, that he couldn't tell how to get along with it. Here he became suddenly restive, went backwards and forwards, crossed his track, said something, he did'nt know what, recalled his words, and swallowed 'em. In short, he misstated the testimony most dreadfully, tho' I really believe without any bad design. The old prosecutor too, maliciously insisted upon putting him right. This was the fatal moment; his thoughts were all broken; they refused to rally, and the rout be- [57] came universal. What is worse, and to be deplored by all posterity, in the confusion of the moment, he absolutely forgot the peroration in his pocket, and so the world lost one of the finest morsels of pathos that was ever composed. Here I am positive he would have shone, for he discovered, even in his very exordium, a serious disposition to be pathetic; and, in what ought to have been the argumentative part, succeeded in touching the feelings so well, that he made every body pity him. The issue of the case was dreadful indeed. The client was sent to the penitentiary, and the orator himself sentenced to perpetual silence at the bar, without even a hearing. I have never learnt whether he wrote off a copy of his speech, for the edification of his client in his confinement, as Cicero is said to have done, for the comfort of poor Milo in his banishment. If he did, I have no doubt in my own mind, that the said peroration consoled the convict very much.

After this unlucky attempt at the bar, our friend Harry very modestly concluded, that his great diffidence had prevented him from making a figure in that line, and being fearful that he should never be able to overcome it, he resolved to give over all [58] thoughts of his profession, and set himself up for a writer. He now therefore joined himself to a little club of wits, and began to write away for the newspapers. His compositions were of various kinds, and he was perhaps equally good in all, tho' some thought his talents best suited to the species of writing, (unknown I believe to the ancient criticks,) called an advertisement. He generally wrote under the signature of Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators against Caesar, having a particular desire to do them honour, I suppose. His chief pleasure indeed, always seemed to be to write against some distinguished character or other, not however from any malice towards him, but purely to imitate Junius, as he thought it would be a pity to hide his talent that way. He told me himself one day, that he believed he had nearly got thro' his catalogue, having written first and last against almost all the men of eminence in the United States, and added with great self-complacency; not one of them ever answered me!

Poor Whiffler has now joined the Mutual Assurance Company of Street-walkers, and lounges all weathers, about the post-office, the Tree of Knowledge, the tavern, and the gardens. He still, how- [59] ever, continues to write occasionally for the Herald, and generously lectures all the crowned heads of Europe gratis. But his chief ambition at present, appears to be to excel in nine-pins. I have besides, often observed him of late, very busy in carving something with his pen-knife, (an art which he probably acquired at the bar,) and I suspect he has some thoughts of getting a patent for a new-fashioned tee-totum.

By this time, Whiffler having settled the balance of power in Europe with the post-master, bid him good day, and came over the street to join us. 'Well, Mr. Manley,' said he, smiling fantastically as he spoke, 'this is the gentleman from France I suppose. I am really glad to see him at last. I have been wishing, Sir,' said he to me, 'to light upon you for some days. However, we meet most apropo now, as I have just finished a piece which I am about to send to the press, and should like to have your opinion of it before it goes.' Here he began to search his pockets for the manuscript. 'And what is the subject, Mr. Whiffler,' said Manley. 'O!' said he, 'you won't like it I know, but the gentleman will, I'm sure—at least if you haven't spoilt him already. It is an eulogium upon Bona- [60] parte.' 'An eulogium upon Bonaparte!' said Manley very gravely, 'it is certainly a subject, (making him a bow) well worthy of your pen, Mr. Whiffler.' 'I think so,' said he, 'He is my favourite hero, and I have no doubt if those vile kings would only mind their own business, and let him alone, he would carry on things at a fine rate in France. In the little composition I am searching for, (to be sure I haven't lost it,) I undertake to prove that he is a capital republican, because he wishes to destroy all kings—except a few that he sets up himself for amusement, as I set up nine-pins, only to knock 'em down again. Indeed I call him, by a very happy phrase, an imperial republican. To be sure my argument is rather ingenious—but bless me, what have I done with the manuscript.' 'O!' said Manley, 'pray don't trouble yourself any further to find it. We shall see it in the paper, you know.' 'Yes,' said he, 'but I wish to favour your friend here, by reading it to him before hand. O! here it is at last,' pulling it out of his pocket. 'Now you shall have it But stop a little, I really have got so bad a cold that I can't do it justice. Do wait a moment till I just step over to the bar-room, and get a glass to clear my throat. I'll bring the post-master with [61] me, and then I'll read it to you in style.' Here he bounced away in great haste across the street, leaving me fixed in wonder. But Manley clapp'd me on the shoulder, and with a sly wink, 'now's your time,' said he, 'to make your escape, if you don't want to be kept here for a fortnight.' 'Let's be off at once, there isn't a moment to be lost.' Just then a young lady of our acquaintance, (so Homer sends a fair divinity to the assistance of his heroes in distress) came up, passing along by the spot where we stood. We hastened at once to join her, and under her protection, happily effected our retreat in good order, without the loss of baggage, or any thing else worth having.

[62] CHAPTER X.
TO THE SAME.

Dear Henry,
ANTOTHER little volume of poems has just made its appearance, which I take this opportunity to send you. The author is a young Virginian by the name of Richard Dabney. It is true, the book has attracted very little notice; but this is no argument against its merit, considering the indifference of the public towards all poetical attempts. Indeed the author, if we may trust his preface, seems to have anticipated nothing better than neglect, and I am afraid he is not likely to be disappointed. One or two sentences I quote, to show you the discouragements which young unfledged bards have to encounter, in the antipoetical state of society which prevails here. "Notwithstanding these discouraging anticipations," says he, "the attempt is made. The author has not been induced to abandon, though he has become disgusted with the undertaking. He has often been tempted to substitute the tranquility of an unacknowledged Muse, to the sarcasms [63] which may attend publication. But if from the sarcastic he expects derision, from the candid he hope forgiveness." So, you see, the poor poet of this part of the world comes before the public, not with a laurel on his head, but with a halter about his neck, and instead of challenging applause, at the utmost, only ventures to beg for pardon. After all, however, I can't help looking upon this little book with some interest, at least as an evidence that the state is making progress towards the formation of a poetical taste. And, indeed, I must flatter myself, in spite of appearances, that the Muses have many lovers in Virginia who keep their passion to themselves, and are either too modest, or too timid, to declare themselves openly. But it is time to say something of the book before us, as I know you will not let me off without giving my opinion.

The Poems are either original, or translated.

The original pieces do not display either force of thought, or spirit of invention. Yet they certainly give evidence of more than common taste for poetry, which may require indeed, but will probably reward cultivation. They are blossoms which, tho' not without beauty in themselves, are chiefly pleas- [64] ing as they promise something better in their fruit. Even in these pieces, unpolished as they are, it is easy to see that the author has formed himself on the pure models of Grecian antiquity, those volumes which Horace advises his young poetical students to turn over night and day.

Vos exemplaria Græcse
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.
Ars. Poet, L. 268.

In his happier moments too, our young bard seems to have caught some portion of their spirit. The Fragment on Memory, is one of the best of these specimens, tho' unluckily for you and me, it is in blank verse. Perhaps you will like better the epigrammatic piece on Gold, which is not without beauty.

I.

I wish'd to win the smiles of love,
And all its tender raptures prove;
In Hymen's saffron woven bower,
To spend my life's love-brighten'd hour.
I wish'd on fame's proud wing to rise,
On fame's proud wing to reach the skies;
To win the meed of splendid praise,
And leare a name to future days.
[65] I wish'd to climb ambition's height,
And dazzle with factitious light;
To burst the bounds of simple worth,
And leave the low-bent sons of earth.


II.

I wish'd—but Love with scornful eye,
Ask'd gold, his purest joys to buy:
I wish'd—but Fame forbade to sing,
Ask'd gold, to wave her eagle wing.
I wish'd—Ambition aid denied,
Ask'd gold, my towering steps to guide.
No treasures in my coffer shine,
No Love, no Fame, no Power is mine.

p. 31.

If you like this piece, you will not refuse to read another, which is a pleasing specimen of our author's turn for gallantry.

TO ___.
In apology far neglecting an invitation to renew a long interrupted acquaintance.

I cannot, for my soul, forget,
That thou art young and blooming yet;
I cannot, for my soul, expose,
My heart to Love's returning woes;
[66] I cannot view a smile of thine,
Without suppressing all of mine.
O then, forgive the long delay,
That coldly keeps a friend away;
Yet—friend, alas, I cannot be,
While beauty dwells so sweet with thee.

II.
But drive the alluring charms away,
That round thy form seductive play;
Quench the soft brilliance of thy eyes,
And stain thy cheeks' luxuriant dies;
Obscure thy neck, divinely fair,
And spoil the hyacinths of thy hair;
And then I—yet I soon should find,
More brilliant beauties in thy mind;
O then, forgive the long delay,
That coldly keeps a friend away ;
Yet—friend, alas, I cannot be,
While genius dwells so bright with thee.

p. 64.

These I think are the best pieces. There are some others however, which are worth reading, and possibly you may think them even preferable to those I have quoted. Such are "The Wish," "Lines to a Wild Flower found out of season," and perhaps one or two others.

[67] As to the translations, they are principally from the Greek Minor Poets, some of those beautiful trifles which have been handed down to us from the ancients, and scattered as the seeds of poetry thro' most of our languages. Our author, I think, has succeeded pretty well in catching something of the graceful simplicity, and winning ease of the originals; tho' he is not always so happy in preserving that lively brevity, which is certainly not the least part of their charm. Thus that exquisite bagatelle of Ariphron's to Health, which you remember occupies only thirteen lines in the original, is diluted into no less than thirty-two in the imitation; so that the spirit of the author evaporates in his translator's verbosity. Another misfortune too for our poet, this piece has been so happily rendered by Mr. Bland in his "Collections from the Greek Anthology," that he must suffer by the inevitable comparison. Indeed, our author is too often unfortunate in attempting pieces, which have already employed the pens of the first masters. Thus he has boldly, not to say rashly, ventured upon a passage from the Medea of Euripides, which had previously inspired the Muse of Campbell. At other times however, (especially when we are not forced to [68] make odious comparisons,) he succeeds better. Take for example the piece imitated from Paulus Silentiarus.

I die by the look that so wantonly plays,
O'er the red and the white of thy cheek;
I die by the force of the magical rays,
From thy beauty, my bosom that seek.

I die by the rosied swell of thy lip,
With the nectar of Venus imprest,
Which he, happy mortal, who's destin'd to sip,
Ah! sure more than mortal is blest.

But I live by a something that laughs in thy eye,
Which seems most consoling to say,
That the warm furtive tear, and the heart-rending sigh,
Shall give way to rapture one day.


But I live by a something that beams in their rays,
Ah! far more benignant than thee—
For spite of thy frowns and thy scorn, still it says,
They cannot be cruel to me.

p. 111.

Take, also, the epigram from Argentarius.

You were rich and a lover—the smiles of the fair,
Expell'd from your bosom the demon of care,
In your presence, hope lighted the beams of their eye,
In your absence, they heav'd; or they seem'd so, the sigh.

[69] You are poor and deserted—the frowns of the fair,
Recall to your bosom the demon of care,
From your presence they now all indignantly fly,
And cold is the scorn of the once smiling eye.
Well, well, for the future you need not be told,
Love favours not any, but those who have gold.

p. 117.

And the epigram from Grinagorus.

We roses, to the vernal ray,
Were wont to unfold our bloom,
But now our willing charms display,
In winter's cheerless gloom.

To smile upon thy natal hour,
That hastens to return,
To blush within thy bridal bower,
Where Hymen's torches burn.

More blest in winter's cold to blow,
And form thy bosom wreath,
Than wait for spring's enliv'ning glow
When tepid breezes breathe.

p. 123.

So much for our author's beauties. Now for some of his defects—for I am really afraid I shall lose my character, as a critic, if I don't contrive to find fault with something or other. I think I have [70] already said, that he wants invention. But this is, perhaps, a talent which nature has denied to him, at least, in its sublimer flights. Still, he might certainly improve in this particular. I am more disposed to quarrel with him for his too frequent examples of loose, negligent, and slovenly diction; for this is more entirely within his province and power. Yet, he is often frightfully harsh in the choice of his words to fill up his measures. Thus I would leave it to our author himself, whether any of his Greek favourites would have tolerated such lines as these,

When joy's warm smiles at woe's frowns fly.
p 4.

First youth's warm looks with high blood glow.
p. 33.

When the torn bosom's warm throbs cease.
p. 45.

and twenty others full as bad. Lines of monosyllables, indeed, as Johnson observes, are hardly ever soft in English. And this, not only for the reason he gives, that English monosyllables are principally of Saxon origin, and so harsh in themselves; but, also, because it is difficult to find them of the proper [71] accent, which the verse requires to follow each other in musical succession. This brings me to remark, that our bard is, also, very apt to sin against our ears, (and his own too, I am sure,) by neglecting the proper complement of syllables, and order of accents in his lines, especially those he intends to pass off for anapaestics. Thus we have,


Indignant were her sad looks, and indignant her sighs.
p. 22.

The shadows of dull sloth that dark o'er them roll.
p. 23.

Glory's halo rays his head, and its fire lights his eye.
p. 36.

How smooth is the ocean wave, how fair laughs the morn.
p. 37.

And never to sail again, lies in port-wearied age.
p. 38.

I put it to our poet's conscience to say if there is any thing like music in such lines, and many others of the same cast, which he certainly must have writ sans pede in uno, tho' they have themselves, as Shakespeare says, rather too many feet for the verses. Another fault of his diction is, that from a [72] study of brevity perhaps, he is often harsh, and even ungrammatical. Brevis esse laboro, obscurus.

But, I must'nt run the young poet too hard, especially, as it is his first book. If I knew him, I would certainly encourage him to continue his devotions to the Muses, as I think they cannot refuse their smiles to a lover of so much promise. Perhaps I feel more interested for his success, as he evidently appears to be, (what I am told he is,) a young man of amiable manners, and correct morals. This is a title to our esteem at least, if not to fame. And, indeed, if Milton may be allowed to judge, a good heart is one of the best fountains of genuine poetry. Let our author then go on to improve his taste, by a diligent attention to those pure models, which he has had the judgment to select. Let him even contend with them for the palm; but, above all, let him contend with himself. Let him take more pains to please, and learn to practice that first and last duty of the writer—that art which Pope recommends, both by precept and example, the art of blotting, and he may yet live to gratify the favourite wish of his heart, by doing something for the honour of polite letters, in his native state.

[73] LETTER XI.
TO MR. LOUIS D___.

My dear Sir,
I hasten to answer your question, whether the blacks here are really inferior to the whites by nature as well as by law. I have examined the passage in Jefferson's Notes, to which you direct me, and can assure you, that as far as I have seen, there is no just excuse for his remarks. I am afraid, indeed, that his opinion is but too popular here, as I have heard several masters ready to justify their severity to these poor wretches, by alleging, that they are an inferior race, created only to be slaves.

What a horrible doctrine, my deaf D___ , and what a pity that any gentleman of Mr. J's reputation for talents, should lend it the countenance of his name. It is the more surprising from him too, because he has been so ready to refute a similar charge which Buffon has brought against the Indians, and Raynal against the Americans themselves. He confesses indeed, you see, towards the close of his remarks, that the subject is both diffi- [74] cult and delicate, and that his opinion of the inferiority of the blacks is rather a suspicion than a full belief. But even this indirect apology, is hardly sufficient to excuse him in the eye of reason and of heaven, for this libel upon so large a portion of his fellow-creatures. Do me the favour now to turn your eyes again upon the passage in his book, and suffer me to make a few notes upon his remarks.

He divides his strictures, you will observe, into "physical, and moral;" and maintains distinctly, that "the blacks are inferior to the whites in the endowment both of body and mind."

Now, as to his "physical" remarks upon their inferiority "in the endowment of body," it would hardly be necessary to notice them if there wasn't reason to apprehend, that he means to infer from the establishment of this point, their equal inferiority "in the endowment of mind." Indeed, he asserts in another place, that "the sympathy between body and mind, during their rise, progress, and decline, is too strict and obvious to endanger our being misled while we reason from the one to the other." (p. 315.) And accordingly we find him dexterously inferring from the alleged equality of the Indians with Europeans in point of body, a si- [75] milar equality in point of mind. (p. 89.) A word or two then upon the supposed physical inferiority of the blacks.

As to our author's remarks, indeed, upon the comparative beauty of the two races, I must certainly agree with him in taste, (tho' I own I was a little surprised at his decision after the stories I have heard of him.) I will never give up the lilies; and roses, and blushes of the whites, for the dull mask of the blacks. Nor shall I very readily consent to exchange our flowing hair for their woolly heads. I am not quite so satisfied, however, as he seems to be, about making my own judgment the standard of taste for all the world. Their preference of the whites, (in their amours I suppose he means, by his allusion to the obscene fable of the Oranootan,) can hardly be regarded as a concession of the point in our favour, as it may be very naturally ascribed to pride, and ambition to associate with superiors; for La Fontaine tells us, there is always a little grain of ambition in love. Nor is this supposed preference of theirs by any means universal, (whatever Mr. J's own experience may have been.) In Africa too, where artificial associations do not influence their natural notions in the [76] same way, the blacks appear to discover no such partiality for the beauty of the whites. On the contrary, we are told that, in their rude pictures, they are always sure to paint their angels black, and the devil white; which, to be sure, is rather a droll compliment to our superior beauty. And even in England, we are assured by intelligent travellers, that women of a lower order seem to feel no great qualms of taste in associating with woolly-headed husbands. But enough upon this point of beauty. For myself, tho' I shall certainly continue to prefer my own taste, I do not think it quite fair to insist upon their giving up the apple, without referring the matter to less partial judges than ourselves. After all, whether the blacks are uglier or handsomer than the whites, can prove nothing as to their inferiority in the endowments of the mind, unless we are to take it for granted that beauty and genius always go together, a proposition for which Mr. J. ought not to contend.

The observations upon other physical differences between the two races, are equally frivolous. If it is true that "they have less hair on the face and body," "secrete less by the kidneys," and have even "perhaps a difference of structure in the pulmonary [77] apparatus"; all this will do nothing towards proving them inferior in mind, until we can first establish what precise quantity of hair, what kind of secretion, and what structure of the "pulmonary apparatus," are best adapted to make men poets and philosophers. And even then, I am afraid, those who consider the soul as incorporeal, and immaterial, wouldn't think the point entirely settled. But do these points of difference even establish the alleged inferiority of the blacks in the endowments of the body? Not at all. They only prove that the blacks are different, not that they are inferior; that they are better fitted for a warm climate, and we for a cold; that they would have the advantage over us in a hot day, and we over them in a freezing one. Besides, are there not very great differences, (if not as great,) between the constitutions and temperaments of different white races in different countries, between Laplanders and Italians, for example? Are they therefore of different species? And how often do we find, that the constitution of the same individual, becomes altered upon his removal to another country. But does he change his species as often as he changes his climate? If so, who can tell us thro' what varieties [78] of being a man might pass, in a journey from the Equator to the Poles, by this new and subtle doctrine of transmigration.

But enough of these remarks upon the inferiority of the blacks in the endowments of the body. I should really think, that after the essay of Dr. Smith, no man can seriously doubt that even their striking difference in colour and structure of body, is purely the result of moral and physical causes, and not at all of any original distinction of nature. Indeed, the obvious change of the blacks since their importation into this commonwealth, and their gradual approach towards the colour and symmetry of the whites, would seem sufficient to establish the fact beyond debate.

But Mr. J. suggests some other considerations to prove the natural inferiority of these people, (tho' perhaps it is not easy to tell to which branch of his proposition he would refer them.) Let us notice the most material.

"They seem to require less sleep." This must be allowed to be an original discovery. But, even if the fact were true, it might certainly be ascribed to very obvious moral causes. At least I am quite sure, it was never imagined that black children re- [79] quired less sleep than their little white masters, whatever may be the case with adults. It is true, indeed, that "a black, after hard labour thro' the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements, to sit up till midnight or later; though knowing he must be out with the first dawning of the morning." But this is only true of those slaves who have hard masters over them, and who are scarcely allowed a moment's respite from toil during the day. Like ourselves, they have a quick and lively relish; for the pleasures of social intercourse. Is it wonderful then, that they seize the only moments in their power, to indulge this propensity of nature? The day was their masters; but the night is their own. And is it not even much to the credit of their minds, that they prefer spending the evening, and part of the night, in the "slightest amusement," rather than in the dull pleasure of sleep? And what are, not infrequently, their amusements on these occasions. Such as would not suffer from a comparison with those of their more enlightened masters. Legendary ballads, narratives of alternate dialogue and singing, and things of that sort, rude indeed and coarse enough in all conscience; but surely sufficient to show their taste for intellectual pleasures, [80] and to prove "the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation." And, that the fact doesn't proceed from their naturally requiring less sleep, look at these same fellows the day after one of these nocturnal wakes, and see how ready they are to fall asleep over their work, whenever the whip of the overseer will suffer them. And consider too, that the slaves of more indulgent masters, are as regular in their sleeping hours as the whites. All indeed, when no labour forbids, and no amusement invites, are disposed to sleep with as much readiness, and certainly with as much tranquility as their masters. Indeed, Mr. J. himself, you see, but a very few sentences afterwards, forgetting, or at least seeming to forget what he had just said, accuses them of having a great "disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour." He even goes on to give us the philosophy of the fact, by saying, that "an animal whose body is at rest, and who doesn't reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course." But, how this strange class of beings, (or animals, if he will have it so,) can naturally require so little sleep; and yet perversely forgetting their own nature, feel obstinately disposed to require so much, and as a [81] matter of course too, Mr. J. must help us to explain.

But, behold a compliment to the poor blacks in the midst of all the charges against them! "They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome." But stop, this compliment must have a little bitter to temper its sweetness. "This may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present." Thus their faults, it seems, are the faults of their nature; while their very virtues are but the consequences, or modifications of their faults. Humiliating hypothesis indeed! But, the praise is certainly due to these poor creatures, in its fullest extent. They are indeed, not infrequently, the very first to brave toils and dangers, in heroic contempt of all those motives, which might naturally be supposed to wither their enterprise and exertion. I have myself often witnessed with astonishment, their resolute intrepidity on occasions of fire, in rescuing the property of the whites from the flames, without any prospect but of some paltry reward, (if they even thought of that,) while the timid owners of that very property, looked on and trembled at their daring. Indeed, there cannot be a doubt, that ge- [82] nerous gratitude might rescue from oblivion, a thousand instances of sublime enterprise, in which these despised beings, the forlorn hope of human nature, have stormed dangers and difficulties, while their cowardly masters have fallen back, or fainted before the breach. But who is to record their exploits? Who "so poor to do them reverence," or even justice?

____Sed omnes illachrymabiles
Urgentur, ignotique, longa
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.

Hor. Lib. 4, Ca. 9.

In endless night they, sleep, unwept, unknown,
No bard had they to make all time their own.

Francis.

But let us pursue Mr. J. in his remarks. "They are more ardent after their females." If they appear to be so, (tho' I am by no means satisfied of the fact,) I think it may be fairly ascribed to the greater facilities of indulging a criminal intercourse which, their situation, allows, and the fewer restraints which their manners, morals, and mode of living impose upon the violence of their passions, rather than to any constitutional difference of nature. "But" it is added, love seems with them to be more an ea- [83] ger desire, than a tender, delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation." And isn't this equally the case with the lower class of whites ? Take a work-man from the bench, or a labourer from his plough, and see what he will say to this "tender, delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation." Or what figure does Mr. J. think one of his own rustic neighbours would cut, as a commentator upon the sentimental graces of Anacreon, or Tibullus!—"Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and, sooner forgotten with them." It is indeed, very true, that these poor blacks exhibit great patience, and even cheerfulness, under the hardships of their condition; but certainly not greater than the race of whites display in many despotic countries, not as great perhaps as the French, a volatile and sensible people, are manifesting at this moment under the execrable tyranny of Bonaparte. The truth is, hope is the food of liberty, as well as of love; and the food withdrawn, the passion expires. But what hope have these poor wretches of bettering their condition? Happy is it for them if with the hope, they have lost the wish of seeing fairer days. [84] And it is certainly a most merciful provision of heaven, if they can always escape the pang of suffering, in the slumber of insensibility. But, after all, is their apathy quite as great as is supposed? If it is, why this feverish solicitude of the laws to guard against the spirit of insurrection and revenge? And why are so many innocent bosoms still agitated with fearful anticipations, and the slumbers of wives and mothers disturbed by visions of murder and conflagration?

Our author, however, is not yet satisfied, but still pursues his hostilities, and now advances to his main charge against these people. "Comparing them,' says he, "by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found, capable of tracing, and comprehending, the investigations of Euclid; and, that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous." He seems, indeed to be aware of the very unequal ground on which they must stand, to be measured with the whites, and readily concedes, that it will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which [85] they move." But why, in the name of sense and justice, is not this difference quite sufficient, to account for any seeming inferiority in their Intellectual faculties? Why, "many of them have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters." And, is it then the fact, that the conversation of their masters is so strongly saturated with intelligence, that all who happen to breathe the same atmosphere must imbibe it of course, and almost of necessity? Has it lately been discovered that knowledge may be communicated without the trouble of teaching, and that people may learn every thing without labour; and even in spite of themselves? Or, is it true, that these masters are careful to impart their redundant intelligence to their slaves, if not by any regular course of instruction, yet, at least, by the endearing, familiarity, and winning ease of friendly conversation? "The whole commerce between master and slave," says our author himself, in another place, "is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions: the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other." Surely, intercourse of this kind cannot be very improving to these people, nor ought their [86] minds to be condemned, if they happen to make but little progress under such discipline. Still, however, it may be thought, perhaps, that they ought to imbibe some portion of intelligence from the society of more humane and indulgent masters, and their guests. Certainly this is reasonable. And in general I think nothing is more apparent, than that the mental improvement of the blacks, keeps an even pace with that of the whites with whom they are brought in contact, allowing, only, for the great difference of situation always left between them. But, "many," it is further said, "have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and, from that circumstance, have always been associated with the whites." Yes, and in these cases, they have proved themselves quite equal to the whites in the same employments. They have not, indeed, started up philosophers and poets from the work-bench; but, neither have their masters. Still, "the Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes, not destitute of design and merit." "They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory, &c." But, are not the Indians free—and is the want of freedom nothing to the negroes? Yet, is not the comparison so en- [87] tirely in favour of the former, as our author's partiality for them may suppose. On the contrary, I think, if a fair estimate could be made, it would not be difficult to establish the superiority of the latter in almost every point of mental excellence, except perhaps in eloquence alone. "In music," he allows himself, "they are more generally gifted than the whites;" (still more than his darling Indians.) And doesn't this concession, by the by, sufficiently answer his own charge, of deficiency in taste and imagination. Surely, music and fancy are connected together, by pretty close ties of friendship and affinity. Thus, there is not one of the Muses, (and the Greeks had some judgment in their notions,) but has a harp, or a lyre, or some other musical instrument at her command. Nor is there one of the poets, who most delight in the play of the imagination, but pipes on the reed or quavers on the string. The passion of the blacks then for music, is of itself sufficient to redeem them from the reproach, too hastily cast upon them, of being " in imagination, dull, tasteless, and anomalous." Still, it is said, there is no poetry among them, Nor is there much, I believe, among their masters. Neither misery nor love, has yet inspired either [88] race with any very extraordinary gifts in this fascinating art. But, perhaps, these will come in good time to both. Mr. J. continues: "The improvement of the blacks, both in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life." But how so? Surely, if this improvement of the breed follows from the cross, it can, at the utmost, only prove the actual superiority of the whites, without at all establishing the cause of that superiority as founded in original nature. A fruit tree, which has degenerated in a bad soil, may be unproved by a scion from its own native stock. But, there are moral causes enough, to explain the apparent superiority of the mulattoes over the blacks. It is notorious that for reasons which may be easily imagined, they are almost invariably treated with more favours, and indulged with more liberty than their sable companions. Hence, naturally results a greater confidence in their own mental powers, most favourable to their development; besides the sympathetic strength which they gain from the opinion of others. Possunt quia posse videntur.

[89] Our author now proceeds, to observe: "We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America." And "yet," it is afterwards added, "their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled too in science, insomuch, as to be usually employed as tutors to their master's children." Now, in answer to all this, I observe in the first place, I am not quite satisfied that the condition of Roman slaves in general, was really so much worse than that of those in this state. That "the commerce between the two sexes is almost without restraint" among the latter, while it was considerably confined among the former, maybe conceded at once without danger to our argument. Abstinuit Venere is a part of the character given to the man of great intellectual attainments, even by an Epicurean poet. Perhaps, indeed, no single circumstance has a more fatal efficacy in producing the debasement of their mental powers, than this very lawless commerce, which is strangely urged as an argument to prove their inferiority by nature. "Cato sold his sick and superannuated slaves," But are there no Catos in Virginia, Catos, [90] in the worst sense of the name, in want of feeling and common charity to their slaves? Is there no farmer here who would give, or at least take the Roman's advice, "vendat servum senem, servum, morbosum?" Diseased slaves indeed, thanks to the genius of Christianity, are never exposed to death on an island in the James, as they often were, partly, no doubt, from an absurd superstition, on the island of Æsculapius, in the Tyber. But, even this execrable practice, I am afraid, is not entirely without parallels of cruelty in this quarter. At least, when Mr. J. is so confident that such an exposure, if followed by death, would be punished capitally, it is fair to ask him how long it has been since it was found necessary to repeal a certain law of this Commonwealth which declared, in substance, that if a slave perished under the chastisement of his master, however wanton, the homicide should be considered only as manslaughter at the utmost. As to the case of Vidius Pollio, I am sorry to suspect, that it might not be altogether impossible to find a rival for him in the history of this state. But, individual examples prove nothing. The truth is, it is the natural consequence of tolerating slavery to harden the [91] heart in cruelty, and that, whether at Rome, or in Virginia.

I am aware, however, and am perfectly ready to concede, that, judging by the laws alone, the Roman slaves were treated with most severity. Yet, I must still think, that their situation was far more favourable to the expansion of the intellectual faculties, than that of the blacks in this state. It is no new observation, that the state of a nation is not always to be estimated by its laws, which often remain dead letters upon the statute book, and are silently repealed by the manners of the people.— That this was actually the case with the Roman slaves, we have little reason to doubt, from the evidence of facts. At all events, we cannot fail to remark, that there were some striking advantages, in favour of their condition, over that of those in Virginia—advantages too secured, or at least indulged by law. Thus, the kind of domestic slaves, (called Verna,) were but few, in comparison with the great class of those who lived abroad, (called Servi.)— The former, from being brought up in the family of their masters, were treated with a degree of liberty not often allowed to the blacks in this quarter. This may be fairly inferred, from the charac- [92] ters of them scattered through our classics, as well as from the testimony of more grave historians.— The latter had, evidently, still greater advantages. They were generally born free, being foreigners, (barbarians, as the Romans chose to call them,) whom the chance of war, or the various casualties of human misfortune, had reduced to servitude, when the faculties of their minds were already blown, and could no longer be nipped in the bud by the blast of domestic tyranny. Even in slavery, they were generally removed from their master's eyes, and favoured with the privilege of living, in some measure, after their own will and fancy. Each one had his own peculium, or separate property, which he employed as he pleased—in farming, in trade, in commerce, or in some mechanic art, rendering a stipulated sum to his owner, instead of baser services, animated in his pursuit by the hope of gain, and liberty along with it. "Will any one pretend, that their situation was not decidedly preferable to that of the negroes here, who are, generally, compelled to work under the eye of their masters, or low-bred overseers, with little or no motive to labour, but the dread of the impending lash over their heads? The Roman slave, too, [93] might have the privilege, as it was doubtless considered in a warlike age and nation, of bearing arms in company with freemen, and his ransom, if taken prisoner, was half that of his master's. In this state, the law would punish even a free person of colour, for presuming to keep a gun, sword, or other instrument for self defence, without a special license from the court. Add to this, that the Roman slave might often hope for liberty, (as acts of emancipation were frequent among the Romans,) and with it, the happiness of mingling with his former superiors, on some footing of equality. Here, the poor slave can hardly dream of liberty, or if he does, must feel the pleasure of the thought embittered by the horrible association of exile, and the harrowing reflection, that the disgrace of the scar will remain, when the galling of, the fetter is removed.—The Romans, encouraged their slaves to exert their talents, and rewarded their proficiency with the gift of freedom. The Virginians, discountenance all efforts to enlighten theirs, and punish their ignorance with perpetual bondage.

Besides all this, is it not fair to suppose, that the Roman slaves would catch some improvement, from sympathy with a refined state of society around [94] them? Mr. J. at least, certainly supposes so, when he makes it an argument, against the blacks, that "they have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad." But, will he seriously contend, that the literary character of Virginia can stand a comparison with that of Rome, and Rome, too, in the Augustan age? How long, pray, has it been, since he found it necessary to answer the reproach of Raynal:—On doit etre etonne que L'Amerique n'ait pas encore produit un bon poete, un habil mathematician, un homme de genie dans un seul art, ou une seule science,"—("one must be astonished, that America has not yet produced a good poet, an able mathematician, a man of genius in a single art, or a single science." And how many of his examples, to refute the calumny, did he find within the four corners of Virginia?

Our author continues: "Epictetus, Terence, and Phædrus were slaves. But they were of the race at whites." And, is it then perfectly fair to infer the superiority of a whole people from the eminence of a few individuals who must be admitted to be extraordinary? It is not, perhaps, possible for the great- [95] est human understanding to explain the causes why such a man of genius has appeared in such an age or country. Indeed, as genius is obviously no mechanical thing, it is clear that we cannot determine its phenomena by any settled principles of calculation. The most rational account of the subject is, that God gives us a capacity at our birth, or conception if you please, and causes this seminal germ to be developed by a combination of natural and moral causes, too fine and secret for human eyes. Nothing then, I think, can be fairly concluded against the blacks, altho' they cannot boast an equal triumvirate.

And again, if the blacks are to be condemned as an inferior race, because they have not yet produced a Terence or a Phædrus, is not Mr. J. aware that his argument may be turned against his own fellow-citizens who have not yet produced, by his own confession, a single poet, whether writer of comedies or fables? But, perhaps, he would answer, as he has already done: "When we shall have existed as a people as long as the Greeks did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Virgil, the French a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shakespeare and Milton, should the reproach be still [96] true, we will enquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the other countries of Europe and quarters of the earth, shall not have inscribed any name in the roll of poets." Then would it not be at least equally just and reasonable; to make the same concession of further time to the blacks, before we condemn them as absolutely mere lumps of prose? Or has the period already arrived when we may fairly plead the statute of limitations against their claims to intellect?

Once more, I would remark, that the individuals selected by Mr. J. as specimens of Roman slaves, were obviously placed in better circumstances of situation than most of the blacks in this region, so as to account, in part at least, for that superiority, of theirs which is made an argument and reproach against the latter. Thus, Terence, in particular, was a native of Africa, born free, brought over from Carthage as a captive, and soon liberated on account of his talents and attainments, which therefore couldn't have been acquired during his slavery.—Here too, from the beauty of his person and the graces of his mind, he soon became the darling companion of Scipio Africanus and Lelius, spending his time with them in the elegant amusements [97] of literature at their country seats. I pass over the common reports prevalent in his time, that his plays were actually composed by his illustrious friends, tho' he defends himself rather faintly against the charge in one of his prologues, and you remember our "downright Montaigne," (as Pope calls him,) positively insists upon it, that he never could have written them himself. Indeed, Boileau seems to adopt the same opinion in his verses to Moliere. But, throw the criticks away, and give the poet credit for his plays, was not his situation a little more favourable to literary exertions than that of any slave in Virginia, even within the philosophical atmosphere of Monticello, which shall be considered (for the sake of argument) as the seat of genius, the garden of taste, and, if you choose, the mountain of the muses into the bargain? Surely, this example at least, is a little unhappily chosen, for our author's purpose. Perhaps too, (I will just add in passing,) a delicate critick might remark upon the examples which are cited, that all these authors are remarkable for the feminine delicacy of their style, rather than for the manly boldness of their judgment, or vigour of their invention. Would not this seem to excuse a suspicion at least, [98] that their condition with all its comparative advantages, was not without some unfriendly influence upon their mental powers, and literary efforts? But enough of these discussions which are rather amusing than necessary to the argument. The state of Roman slaves, and the brilliant examples of Epictetus, Terence, and Phædrus will hardly justify our author's conclusion against the blacks: "it is not their condition then, but nature which has produced the distinction."

But to prove decisively that the inferiority of the negroes is the result of their situation alone, consider them, in their childhood before they have learnt the painful lesson that they are slaves, and compare them with the whites of their own age. They are now the play-fellows of their future masters, and share the sport with those who will one day refuse to share the toil with them. In this situation, though their infant minds are not very carefully cultivated, their thoughts shoot up wildly of themselves, for there is no one to prune them away. And though, even at this early period, the little imitative tyrants of the nursery cannot always repress the pride of domination, it would be hard to prove that their sable subjects exhibit less spirit, invention, or ge- [99] nius than themselves, in the games and amusements of their age. On the contrary, it is not at all uncommon to see these last taking the lead in their pursuits, and vindicating the full equality of their intellect in every mode of its exertion. Indeed, I am well persuaded, that if their masters would take but half the pains with them which they take with their horses or their pointers, they would have fewer imaginary causes of reproach against them, as well as fewer real ones against themselves. But pursue the progress of the child, and see the effect of slavery upon his mind. For my own part, I think there is not in nature a more melancholy picture than that of a little black when he first discovers that he is a slave. When the poor boy is taken from the street to be disciplined for the house, he is welcomed with smiles by all the family, especially the children. A waiter is put in his hands which he receives with a bow of gratitude. A new livery is put upon him, which he views again and again with delight, because he is yet to learn that it is the badge of sorrow and disgrace. The whole scene is new to him, and charming from its novelty. To be sure he has something to learn, and something to do. But the pleasure of learning re- [100] wards the trouble, and a smile from his mistress overpays his work. He perceives too that he is the the object of interest and amusement to the company, and feels a sympathy in their good humour. Perhaps even, if he behaves himself well, he may get the crust from the table which the good lady has promised, and this is a great encouragement to his little ambition. No wonder his motions are brisk, his spirits gay, and his sleep sweet; for indeed, except now and then an unlucky cuff from an envious fellow-waiter, or a rod from the cross cook, his life is pleasant enough. By and by however, the novelty of the scene wears off, and the pleasure with it. The smiles of encouragement grow less frequent, the customary crust is denied, and the voice of command begins to sound, he hardly knows how, a little harshly to his ear. Here the waiter that was once his pride, becomes a weight upon his arm, his thoughts will steal away to the kitchen or the street, the tears are in his eyes, and he longs to join his little play-fellows again. This is the time of transition from happy ignorance to painful knowledge. His carelessness and neglect of duty must be punished with the whip. With the first stroke the whole illusion of liberty vanishes never to re- [101] turn. The marks on his body indeed are soon effaced; but what time can obliterate the lashes from his mind? He is now a slave, and he feels that he is one. His mind soon sinks to the level of his condition, from which nothing, not even liberty at a subsequent period, shall ever raise it again. After this, let no man tell me that "it is nature, and not their condition," which has made the blacks inferior to the whites.

Indeed, Mr. J. himself has been constrained to admit that nature has done them full justice in the endowments of the heart. He even warmly declares, that notwithstanding the discouragements of their situation, "we find among them numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and unshaken fidelity." He says too, "that disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of their moral sense." But, how long has it been discovered, that slavery operates with more injurious efficacy upon the moral, than upon the mental powers? Homer doesn't countenance such an idea, (whatever our author may have supposed when he, made the quotation [102] from him,) as you will see at a glance. He knew better. The truth is, the influence of slavery is the same upon the mind and heart, alike pernicious, and almost fatal to both.

But why pursue our author any further, when he seems to tremble himself at his own conclusion? "I advance it therefore," says he, after all his previous assertions, "as as suspicion only, that the ,blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind." So, then, all our dispute is de lana caprina; for I never doubted the actual inferiority of the blacks, and if it is now conceded that this may be ascribed to "time and circumstances," it is all I contend for. Indeed, it is all that is worth contention. For surely if they have been made distinct only by "time and circumstances" there is some reason to hope that "time and circumstances" may operate to abolish the distinction, and restore them to that rank in the creation from which they have been degraded.

After all, that they are not "originally," that is by nature or creation, "a distinct race" any Christian I suppose may easily believe. In truth, if we [103] look into our Bible, as we ought to do upon this and every other question, the controversy is at an end. There we find it distinctly taught, that the whole race of mankind have sprung from one pair, the common parents of us all. Indeed, the doctrine of original sin, and that of salvation through faith in the Redeemer, the sum and substance of our religion, all depend upon the admission of this fundamental truth, as all involve the relationship which the members of the great human family must bear to their federal head.

Let others, then, think as they please, or, as they dare; for us, my dear D___, I am sure we shall not lightly change our faith for any thing that we have yet heard or read. And tho' I trust your belief requires no new confirmation, you may, perhaps, be pleased to find, that there is nothing in the race of blacks, or in Mr. J's remarks upon them, to disturb for a moment the tranquility of our devotion.

Adieu, my good friend, and pardon the long letter which you have so innocently provoked.

[104] LETTER XII.
TO THE SAME.

York.
I reached this place quite late last evening, too late indeed to see any thing of the town as I entered. It is now evening again, and I sit down to give you an account of the walk I have just been taking around it.

York, I find, is a small village, of about sixty indifferent houses, seated on the south bank of York river. The stream, just here, is about a mile and a quarter over to the Gloucester side, from point to point; tho' it is still wider above, and below the town stretches out into a fine ample bay, till it loses itself in the Chesapeake about ten miles down.—The situation is beautiful, and the place itself must always be interesting from the remembrance of its history. It was here, you know, that the revolutionary struggles of this country, were ended at last by the decisive capture of Cornwallis. It was here, in fact, (tho' the peace didn't follow immediately,) that the united arms of France and the States, [105] aided by the co-operation of our fleet, achieved the independence of the nation. It seems strange at first, I confess, that such a place should ever have become the scene of such an event, and a military man would probably think it a wonderful oversight in the British general, to choose this position for his troops. His lordship, however, trusted to the British fleet for his escape, and this he would have effected with ease, but for the timely arrival of the Count de Grasse. Indeed I must think that the providence of God, in his favour to the cause of American independence, was most strikingly displayed in all the circumstances of this event. It was his hand alone, whoever may doubt it, that led the old lion into the toils which had been judiciously prepared for his destruction.

But, besides this general cause of interest in the scenes of York, which I feel in common with the rest, I have another, as I told you, of a more private and tender nature, which is all my own. It was here, you know, that my ever dear and lamented father poured out his first blood at the shrine of Liberty. And happy would it have been, thrice happy, if he had only finished the sacrifice at once, instead of living to stain the axe of that in- [106] fernal guillotine. But I must not give way to these horrid recollections, that freeze my blood while I write.

With these feelings in my heart, you may judge with what enthusiasm I moved over this celebrated ground. The whole scene was already consecrated in my imagination, and now discovered a thousand visionary charms which I can never hope to describe. Indeed I felt, for the moment, some sort of kindred with those superior spirits who had made these fields the witnesses of their toils, and bequeathed the memory of their triumph as a legacy to their country. I almost fancied that I heard their voices in the breeze, and certainly felt the inspiration of the idea, in its full empire over my heart. I defy the proudest Virginian to enjoy the fine swell of patriotic feeling in greater perfection. The ground however, after all, retains fewer traces of the old business than I could have wished; tho' my guide, a gentleman who very politely offered his services on the occasion, took care to make the most of those that are left. Indeed I must say that he was very judicious, as well as obliging, in his care to provide for my amusement. What made him particularly qualified for the service, he had [107] been himself a young officer in the American army, and was actually present during the whole siege. You may be sure he talked quite at ease upon the subject, and told me a thousand little anecdotes of our countrymen that I found extremely interesting, tho' they will hardly bear repeating.

We walked first, as he led the way, to a large cave in the bank of the river, not far from the house. This, indeed, is not very curious in itself, but is worth notice from its having been occupied by Lord Cornwallis, for a short time, while he was a citizen of York. Here, it seems, the old gentleman came by the side of the sea, not like Demosthenes, to improve his oratory and harangue the waves, but simply to get out of the way of French and American balls. Stopping here but a moment, we traced back our steps, and took the road that leads into the fields. As we proceeded, my guide took care to point out the ruins of the old Secretary Nelson's house, almost demolished by balls and bombs, with the help of Time, stronger than both. This, it seems, had been the headquarters of my Lord, till it became rather too hot for his taste; when he prudently retired to his hole in the bank. We saw, besides, as we walked along [108] the marks of old entrenchments, mounds, ditches, and holes scooped out by falling shells. A considerable part of the ground, however, is now covered with corn; and the works of the soldier have been effaced by the less splendid, but not less useful labours of the farmer.

My companion, who certainly seemed to enter into all my feelings, as well as to renew his own, now led me directly to the Point of Rock, as they call it, which is a high precipice hanging over the edge of the river, about a mile below the town.—This is the spot immortalized by the storming of the redoubt upon it, by the Americans under Hamilton, on that memorable day when the troops of the allied nations were led out at the same moment, tho' in different quarters, to contend at once for victory against the enemy, and for glory with each other. My father commanded the chasseurs under Viomenel, in the attack which he led with our countrymen, against the redoubt that stood at some distance from this on the left I had heard him tell of it a thousand times, and the whole scene now came upon my memory with the clearness of vision. But judge of my disappointment when I looked around upon the fields before me, to locate the [109] facts which were already in my mind, and found no trace of the spot where my father had bled in the lap of victory. 'Alas!' said I, 'the French, always unhappy, have left no record of their prowess but in the page of the historian; while that of the more fortunate Americans, be engraved on this Rock forever!' 'Yes,' said my companion, 'it was here indeed, perhaps on this very spot, where that gallant hero, (worthy of a better death,) rushed on to the charge with his advance. I see him now. It is vain for the British to oppose. I see him fly with his troops like lightning to the assault. The sappers are too slow for the ardour of their courage. The abbattis and palisades are unremoved; but Eagles can fly over them. In an instant the stormers are in—every thing falls before them—I hear the voice of their leader, like the angel of Mercy, calling on them to spare the unresisting foe.'

When the feelings excited by these recollections had subsided a little, I looked around in vain for the "marble column, adorned with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his most Christian Majesty," which the old Congress decreed to be erected at this place, to perpetuate the [110] memory of their triumph. 'Here,' said I, 'would be the very spot for it. It would be visible from the bay, and the rough sailor returning to the shore of his country, would point it out to the stranger as the vessel passed along. The warrior might come to sharpen his sword against its pedestal—the statesman to kneel before its tablet, and the bard to hang his lyre upon its column. But alas! it will never be erected!'

My guide now led me away to the very field, as he judged, where the British troops laid down their arms at the feet of the allies. 'I was present myself,' said he, (kindling into enthusiasm at the recollection,) 'and certainly never was a more splendid spectacle presented to the admiration of the world. Here stood our Washington with his suite and staff. There, opposite to him, your Count Rochambeau and his train. The captive army approached along the road, which was lined by the victors on either side, and thousands of spectators who had come to witness the surrender. They moved forward, with their colors cased, and their drums beating a slow British march. As they drew near, I saw despair in their faces. For an instant they paused, and a funeral silence prevailed through- [111] out the whole multitude, who stood suspended at the view. O! how my heart bled inwardly for them! They had been our enemies indeed; but they were now our captives, and of course our friends. But it is impossible to describe the mingled feeling of our bosoms. It was an union of all that is elevating, with all that is tender, in the heart of man. We rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and wept with those who wept, at the same moment; and the tears of gratitude to Heaven for our triumph, were mingled with those of pity for its victims. I looked at our beloved commander. His countenance was that of a better world. At this moment, O'Hara, at the head of his column, went over to the Count to tender his submission; but soon discovering his mistake, returned to his Excellency with evident embarrassment in his looks, and, with respectful modesty, desired to receive his orders. Washington, with that air of majesty which was so peculiarly his own, referred him to General Lincoln, who had been selected to receive the submission of the captive army. The General now led them to yonder field, where they laid down their arms, in silence and in tears.

[112] 'This,' said my companion, turning to me, and visibly affected with his recollections, 'this was a proud day for my country!' 'Yes,' said I, taking him by the hand with kindred emotion, 'it was indeed a proud day for your country, and for mine too. I feel myself entitled to bear a part in your feelings of triumph on the event. This victory was the blessing of Heaven upon the United arms of our two nations. Your countrymen may forget it if they please; but I shall never cease to cherish the recollection, that France and America were once united!' 'Ah,' said he, 'that is very true; but your countrymen are no longer what they were. The brave men who fought with us, from real affection to our cause, will long be remembered with respect and gratitude. Their names are the ornaments of our history. It is the French of the present day, who are themselves the enemies of their memory, as of their principles. Alas! what do you imagine they would think and feel, if they could return from their graves, to behold the iron despotism of Napoleon. Indeed, I often figure to myself, their noble spirits exiled from unhappy France, which they can no longer recognize as their country; and delighting to hover over this scene, en- [113] deared to them by the memory of their virtue and their renown.'

O! my dear friend, what a tide of reflections rushes in my mind! I see in that field which I have just been viewing, the bed of our own guilty revolution, and a thousand horrible phantoms rise up from their graves to torment me. O! if those brave adventurers in reform, could have foreseen the fatal issue of their conduct! Happy, in my judgment, are those of them who have died. For the living !—poor La Fayette!—but my heart bleeds within me. They tell us that when Mr. Franklin was in France, soliciting our court for supplies of money to aid the revolutionary cause, but with very poor success, he happened to dine one day in a large company, when a French minister present said to him:—'Sir, your countrymen are exhibiting a superb spectacle to us.' 'Yes,' said the witty philosopher; 'but you don't pay us for it.' Alas! my dear friend, but we have paid for it now!

Nos patrie fines, et duliva linquimus arva;
Nos patriam fugimus.

Gracious God! when will thy just vengeance be satisfied with the tears of the French!

[114] LETTER XIII.
TO MR. HENRY D____.

I HAD been last evening to take another walk over the fields around this place, and returned with my heart and imagination full of the scenes and events connected with them. As I entered the room, I found my host engaged in very warm conversation with a group collected around him. 'By St Tammany!' said he, just as I came in, 'he died like a martyr!' The thought instantly struck me, this must be some revolutionary hero whose death he is celebrating with so much enthusiasm. I therefore drew near, and humbly begged leave to inquire who it was that had made so fine an end. Judge of my disappointment and confusion when he told me, with a very grave face, that he was talking of a Mr. Gormand, who had got his death by eating a barbecued pig, which raised a great insurrection in the interior, so that the poor man actually died a martyr to his appetite! And this was the theme which my host was descanting upon, with so many eloquent raptures, to an audience lost in admiration!

[115] You must know, my dear Henry, that this place, once so famous in history, is now the head-quarters of a company of gluttons, who come down from the upper country every season, not to view the scenes of the revolutionary war, but to make war themselves upon innocent, defenceless fish and oysters, and other dainties of this quarter. Their conversation, of course, turns altogether upon the topic of eating, a much more important subject with them than all the revolutions of this world—and those of the Heavenly bodies into the bargain. They will talk for hours at a time of the capture of a bineta, or the storming of oyster. Indeed they hardly have tongues for any thing else. When they first rise to their morning julep, they begin to anticipate dinner, (if they didn't smell it in their dreams,) and talk of this and that dish they must have for it.— They are, indeed, tolerably silent when it comes; but it is no sooner despatched than they begin to talk again, and pronounce long funeral eulogiums over the remains of the poor animals that died to furnish their repast. You may think how very interesting their conversation is to me! Indeed I am often tempted to wish, in my impatience, that the [116] whole race of epicures could be fed upon barbecued pigs to their heart's content.

Really, my good friend, from the specimen I have before my eyes, I am half inclined to think that gluttony is the most inelegant vice of our nature. It seems, however, to be almost a necessary consequence of indolence and idleness. Men must have something to do, and when they have no settled occupation, they eat and drink for amusement, and waste life in devouring the materials of living.

Whether it is from this or some other cause, these Virginians seem to have a marvelous passion for eating. I don't know if you ever remarked it, but you will find it true upon reflection, that different nations are very apt to select some particular part of the body for a favorite, according to their different tastes. Thus the Italian values himself upon his ear, the Frenchman upon his foot, the Englishman upon his arm, and the Virginian upon his mouth! And why so? Because he finds it serves him for his two darling employments, talking and eating, especially the last. Indeed these people are the very antipodes of our countrymen upon this point. We take care of the outside, and they of the in. A Frenchman feasts on a radish to [117] save his money for a ribbon; while a Virginian dresses in homespun to dine upon turtle. And so far is this humour carried with some, I find that they actually value themselves upon eating, as if it were a peculiar talent and accomplishment of their own. To say of a man, "he is a good eater," or "he eats well," is with them quite a sufficient passport to the Temple of Fame. In fact, I believe in my conscience, that they have hardly any other notion of human excellence than what lies in the swallow. I happened, not long since, to ask one of these gentry if he ever knew General Washington, hoping to draw some anecdote out of him. ‘O yes,' said he, 'I knew the General mighty well. That was a fine man indeed. It would have done you good to see him eat a sheepshead!'

After this, you will not be surprised to hear that some of these gluttons delight in playing the part of cooks. It is really diverting to see 'em, fat as they may be, sweating over a midsummer fire, boiling a fish or roasting a duck. They think it gives great relish to their food to have it cooked by themselves. And certainly I must, confess, to do 'em justice, the office of cook does seem to suit their capacities very exactly. I only wish they wouldn't [118] forget their places, and insist upon sitting at the table with gentlemen.

This brings to my mind a little story that I heard one of the company telling last evening, of a Col. Cutlet, I think his name was, or at least ought to be. He was riding one day, it seems, with several friends, and arrived at a paltry tavern on the road, when they were all pretty well set for their dinner. 'I tell you what,' says the Colonel, 'we can expect nothing here worth going into our mouths. I had rather ride, hot as it is, twelve miles further on to Bob Welcome's house, where I am sure of a good ham at least. However, I'll just step into the kitchen, and see what we can have if we stay.'– He goes, and to his great joy and surprise, discovers a fine large turkey ready for the spit. He returns to his friends in triumph: 'O you may stay,' says he, 'there's a noble turkey in the kitchen, fit for a Christmas dinner, and by the Landlady's leave, I'm to cook it myself; for I'm sure they'd spoil it.' He returns to the kitchen, off coat! and up sleeves! he spits the turkey, bastes, roasts, trusses it up, all ready for the mouth. He now comes back to his friends, washes, and prepares for the dinner.‘Now you shall see the finest, [119] turkey! and cooked quite in style I assure you.'— Here the turkey enters: "But O! how fall'n—how chang'd!" 'Good Heavens! Landlady, what have you done to the turkey?' ‘Why what's the matter with it Colonel, didn't you cook it yourself?' 'Yes, but what have you done to it since I left it on the dresser?' ' Why, la me, sir, you know a turkey is nothing without sauce, and having no butter in the house to-day, I just poured a bottle of molasses'–'Molasses! rhubarb and brimstone! Madame, I wish your house was on fire and you in it.' He mounted his horse, clapp'd spurs to his side, and gallopp'd off at a strain. I have never heard of him since.

I wish all the epicures in Virginia, well mounted, would set out in full speed after him.

[Handwritten in the book at the end of the letter is the note: "The whole of this letter is one continued tissue of damned lies, and Author (I do not name as all know him) deserves to be kicked. W.E.J.]

(Continued)

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