Travels in Virginia in Revolutionary Times by Alfred J. Morrison

Travels in Virginia in
Revolutionary Times


COPYRIGHTED BY
J. P. BELL COMPANY, INC.
LYNCHBURG, VA.
1922

Travels in Virginia
in Revolutionary
Times

Edited by
A. J. MORRISON


[5]

ADVERTISEMENT

This is a book of Travels in Virginia during a period that may be called revolutionary, from the year 1769 to the year 1802, when the United States lay still to the east of France and Spain, and the limit of Virginia to the west was the river Ohio: it was a proud commonwealth, and with reason, territorially, in the character of its ruling people, and in that inexplicable inheritance which has made Virginia significant. It is interesting to observe, among these travellers, how carefully the best informed of them estimate the strength of Virginia, whether justly or not regarded at home and here and there abroad as the most influential of the new states. Those were extraordinary years in the making of America, the fund of the capital of the country, as it were, accumulating to the point of application in surprising ways. It is well to look back, through foreign eyes, and see a little of what the situation was at that time in the State of the first dynasty.

Of these travellers, one was in the country before the war and his memoranda introduce the Revolution—very peaceful, then disturbances, and then musquetry, the author shooting for King George; another came with the good King’s troops and saw Virginia on parole; one was a chaplain in the army of the allies, one a general officer of that army, and there was a surgeon to the enemies from Hesse, whose book is excellent in a series of remarkable books. The others came after the war, men of science, youngsters seeing the world, a[6] missionary, a sad emigrant from France, and a sailor who had quitted the sea and embarked in the novelist’s business. A notable group of observers, and if, even where they are most explicit, we could see but a small part of what they intend us to see, what a picture. From year’s end to year’s end, decade to decade, the century is out, and everything is different; and to come at the truth of the matter as it was before we should have to retrace every step of the way, and that is impossible. As a makeshift we read novels and documented histories.

The method in the chapters following has been to let the traveller tell his own story, interrupting him where he seems least interesting, adding very little, making him responsible for his version of the facts. It is not so much the itemized account that is wanted as the proceeds of the whole, the general balance as one impression. As many travellers, so many roads and they may follow but one. The young man will be apt to lose his temper and record disagreeable things. The great man, treated with consideration, will, if his digestion is good, be careful to be polite. The season will be a factor, for earth roads are not the same winter and summer. However, we should not be greatly deceived by the verdicts of eleven intelligent men who traverse the greater part of a given region during a space of thirty years.

I.
NARRATIVE OF JOHN F. D. SMYTH.

1769-1775.

Captain Smyth—The Capes and Jamestown—Williamsburg and the Races—Richmond—Music of the Bullfrog—Blandford—Petersburg—Swede’s Bridge—Hicks’s Bridge—Mr. Willis—James River Lowgrounds—Summer Routine of the Planter. North Carolina—The Lower Sawra Towns—Journey to Kentucky—Indian Braves—Fort on Smith’s River—The Wart Mountain: Amazing Perspective—Judge Henderson’s Settlement.

JOHN FERDINAND DALZIEL SMYTH, it appears, changed his name in 1793 to Stuart. Smyth’s last published work was a poem in folio called “Destiny and Fortitude: An Heroic Poem on the Misfortunes of the House of Stuart.” His father, Wentworth Smyth, was killed in the Highlands of Scotland after being concerned in the attempt to bring in the Stuarts in 1745. J. F. D. Smyth studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He came to America possibly about 1769, and settled at first near Williamsburg as a physician. He was active in the Revolution, and for a time drew a pension of £300 a year for his losses sustained in America. He was killed accidentally in[10] London in 1814. In this case there is nothing in a name, because in tracing Smyth from the title page of his best known work, his “Tour in the United States,” nothing can be discovered about him. It is only by chance that in looking up Smyth the eye falls upon Stuart. Although he was in most of the English colonies, and saw the greater part of the Spanish possessions in Louisiana and Florida, Captain Smyth preferred the Potomac region, and lived there, both peacefully and adventurously, until finally disturbed by the war. He was not a Tory, because he was not strictly an American. In 1778, his correspondence proves, he was a captain in the Queen’s Rifles. Two years before he had been ingeniously farming some six hundred acres of good land on the Maryland side of the Potomac. Captain John Ferdinand Dalziel Smyth, explorer, planter, fighter and author, was (from his own account) not unlike the more famous Smith, who, if he had chosen, could have spelled the name with a y as well.

John F. D. Smyth came in sight of land on the 4th day of August (he neglects to give the year), “in the forenoon, in a fine day, with a clear, serene sky. We soon sailed within the capes of Virginia, Cape Henry and Cape Charles, which last is an island named Smith’s. We past Lynhaven Bay on our left, and the opening of the Chesapeak on the right, and in the evening anchored in Hampton Road, which appears to be very safe. The night being calm, we were assaulted by great numbers of musketoes, a very noxious fly.” After a day the ship proceeded to Jamestown, “passing a great number of most charming situations on each side of[11] this beautiful river.” Jamestown still sent a member to the House of Burgesses, but there was only one voter, who was the proprietor of the borough and also the Burgess, Champion Travers, Esq. Making an excursion with a companion to Williamsburg, with which town Captain Smyth was well pleased, they “dined very agreeably at the Raleigh Tavern, where we had exceeding good Maderia.” What with pocket boroughs and good Maderia, the traveler must have felt as if he had scarcely left home.

The author describes Williamsburg, that capital city, but being fond of sports, he gives most space to the races: “Very capital horses are started here, such as would make no despicable figure at Newmarket; nor is their speed, bottom or blood inferior to their appearance. Their stock is from old Cade, old Crab, old Partner, Regulus, Babraham, Bosphorus, Devonshire Childers, the Cullen Arabian, the Cumberland Arabian, &c., in England; and a horse from Arabia named the Bellsize, which was imported into America and is now in existence.” The quarter-racing of Southern Virginia and North Carolina struck Smyth as being a strange institution. Many early travelers devote a page or two to the quarter-race, a match between two horses to run one-quarter of a mile straight out. Smyth observes: “They have a breed in Virginia that performs it with astonishing velocity, beating every other for that distance with great ease; but they have no bottom. However, I am confident that there is not a horse in England, nor perhaps the whole world, that can excel them in rapid speed; and these likewise make excellent saddle horses for the road. The Virginians, of all[12] ranks and denominations, are excessively fond of horses, and especially those of the race breed. Nobody walks on foot the smallest distance, except when hunting; indeed, a man will frequently go five miles to catch a horse, to ride only one mile afterwards.”

Returning from Williamsburg to Jamestown, Smyth joined the ship again, which, on the 9th of August, got “under weigh” for City Point. They passed many delightful situations and charming seats, the names of which are still well known either actually or historically. At City Point the genial author hired a boat and four negroes for a dollar and a half per day to continue up the river to Richmond. “I slept on board the boat, and on the 11th, in the forenoon, landed at the town of Shokoes, at the falls of James River. There are three towns at this place. Richmond, the largest, is below the falls, and is separated only by a creek, named Shokoes, from the town of Shokoes. On the south side of the river stands the town of Chesterfield, best known by the name of Rocky Ridge.” In those days the river was the road to town. Tobacco was boated down to Westham, seven miles above the falls, and thence brought by land carriage to Shokoes, or Richmond. Smyth speaks of a man who, bringing a double load down to Westham, unconsciously kept on, passed all the falls, and arrived not quite sobered at Shokoes. “This is one of the most extraordinary accidents that has occurred, or perhaps was ever heard of.”

The great rivers of America, the great forests, the fierce electrical storms, the strange methods of agriculture, the lightning bugs, the mosquitoes and the bullfrogs astonished[13] the European. Of the bullfrog, Smyth remarks: “Their note is harsh, sonorous and abrupt, frequently appearing to pronounce articulate sounds, in striking resemblance to the following words: Hogshead tobacco, knee deep, ancle deep, deeper and deeper, Piankitank, and many others, but all equally grating and dissonant. They surprise a man exceedingly, as he will hear their hoarse, loud bellowing clamor just by him, and sometimes all around him, yet he cannot discover from whence it proceeds. They are of the size of a man’s foot.” Bullfrogs by day and the falls by night: “When a person arrives at Richmond his ears are continually assailed with the prodigious noise and roaring of the falls, which almost stuns him and prevents him from sleeping for several nights.”

Richmond was close to nature in those days. Captain Smyth used to take walks among the rocks and solitary romantic situations around the falls. His custom was to carry a book in his pocket, and read in the shade until he “insensibly dropt asleep. This was my daily recreation, which I never neglected. But I was once extremely surprised at beholding, as soon as I opened my eyes, a prodigious large snake, within a few feet of me, basking himself in the sun. He was jet black, with a copper-coloured belly, very fine, sparkling eyes, and at least seven feet long.”

August 28th Smyth set out for the South. Crossing the James in a ferry-boat early in the morning, he rode through the towns of Rocky Ridge and Warwick (about five miles beyond), stopped at Osborne’s, eight miles from Warwick, and reached Blandford in the afternoon, having crossed the[14] Appomattox by a lofty wooden bridge at the town of Pocahontas, one of the three towns at the falls of the Appomattox—Petersburg, Blandford, Pocahontas. “In Blandford, the charming, pretty town of Blandford, in a beautiful plain on the river brink, on a very pleasant and delightful spot, I found an excellent ordinary at Boyd’s.”

Smyth purchased two horses at Petersburg. For the best he gave £15 and the worst cost him £25. On the 4th of September he left Blandford and rode fifteen miles to Hatton’s Ordinary, and thence to the Nottoway River, at Swede’s Bridge. “I arrived at Stewart’s Ordinary to breakfast, which was toasted Indian hoecake and very excellent cyder. Being always particularly careful of my horses, and they having fared very indifferently the night before, I ordered the hostler to give them plenty of meat.” The hostler understanding meat to mean meat, put bacon before these Petersburg horses. A crowd assembled, and this new balanced ration became a great joke. The horses having been fed corn, which, after all, is a form of bacon, the party proceeded to Three Creeks, crossed them on three wooden bridges, and then crossed the Meherrin at Hicks’s Bridge, “remarkably lofty and built of timber, as all in the southern part of America appear to be.” Near Hicks’s Bridge[A] (and ford) lived Mr. Willis, breeder of the original stock of triumphant quarter racers. “We took some refreshment at Edwards’s Ordinary, an exceedingly good building, with excellent accommodations, lately erected at this place. At the distance of ten miles we entered the province of North Carolina.”

[15]Smyth mentions that the James River lowgrounds produced twenty-five, thirty, and sometimes thirty-five bushels of wheat from one of seed; the high land from eight to fifteen for one. “Much about the same quantity of Indian corn is produced from an acre, according to the quality and excellence of the soil, though it does not require more than a peck of seed to plant it. The produce of an acre in the culture of tobacco, in the best land, is about 1,660 pounds weight; on the worst about 500 pounds weight. An acre always contains nearly 1,250 hills of Indian corn, with two, three, and sometimes in strong land, four stalks in each hill, or about 5,000 plants of tobacco.”

In the summer-time, says Captain Smyth, the average planter “rises in the morning about 6 o’clock [the very rich men, he says, rose at 9]; he then drinks a julep, made of rum, water and sugar, but very strong; then he walks, or more generally rides, round his plantation, views all his stock and all his crop, breakfasts about 10 o’clock on cold turkey, cold meat, fried hominy, toast and cyder, ham, bread and butter, tea, coffee or chocolate, which last, however, is seldom tasted but by the women; the rest of the day he spends in much the same manner before described [i. e., in trying to keep cool]; he eats no supper; they never even think of it. The women very seldom drink tea in the afternoon, the men never.”

Captain Smyth, as already described (following his tour as he gives it), landed at Norfolk, saw Williamsburg, Richmond and Petersburg, and from Petersburg set out for Halifax, in North Carolina. From Halifax he took the Hillsborough[16] Road and thence passed to Camden, in South Carolina, coming back to Hillsborough as a base from whence to proceed to Kentucky, better known at that time as Henderson’s Settlement. Smyth saw Judge Henderson[B] in North Carolina, and had much talk with him, thought him an extraordinary man, and became curious to see the wonderful country beyond the Holston and the Big Sandy, the proprietary regions of Western Virginia. “From the conversation I had with this very extraordinary person, Mr. Henderson, I entertained a strong inclination to pay a visit to his domain; which must certainly afford a large field for speculation and enterprise, being situated in the very heart of the continent of America, and in a great degree precluded from the general intercourse of the rest of mankind, being likewise several hundred miles from any other settlement.” This was before the establishment of the county of Kentucky in 1776. After that year the number of emigrants from the coast country was so large it is almost a matter of surprise that anybody was left in Virginia east of the mountains.

Smyth made a rather difficult journey from Hillsborough to the North Carolina line. That was the back road in those times, which the Southern Railway has done so much to develop in recent years. In 1772 the road was scarcely a blazed path through the woods. Near the North Carolina line Captain Smyth stayed for about ten days at the upper and the lower Sawra Towns, old Indian settlements south of Dan River. “The whole settlement of the Lower Sawra Towns,[17] being a vast body of excellent and most valuable land containing 33,000 acres, of which more than 9,000 are exceedingly rich low grounds, is the property of Mr. Farley, of the island of Antigua, in the West Indies. About the year 1761 the whole of this extensive tract of land was sold to Mr. Maxwell, who concluded the purchase without seeing it. In the spring of the ensuing year he went out to view his new estate. It happened just at that time that a prodigious flood in the Dan had overspread the whole of the lowgrounds on the river, of which near 10,000 acres were covered by the inundation. This extraordinary circumstance and very awful appearance astonished and intimidated Mr. Maxwell, who on his return to Westover, expressing dissatisfaction with his purchase, the £500 was returned to him. That same year Mr. Farley, of Antigua, being on a visit in Virginia, immediately offered £1,000 for the purchase, without ever having seen it also; which offer was as readily accepted. In the year 1769 Mr. Farley’s son, James Farley, came into Virginia, and ventured out that distance in the back country to view the estate. After some difficulty in removing accidental settlers, he divided the tract into numerous plantations and farms which he rented out, keeping in his own hands a most valuable, excellent tract, the choice of the whole. In short, the value of this estate has augmented so exceedingly that in the year 1772 Mr. Farley refused £28,000 for the purchase of it.”

This transaction is interesting enough, as showing what the apparent opportunities were for land speculation in the later colonial period, and yet how impossible it was for any[18] exclusive business of that sort to succeed on a large scale. General Washington owned more than 500,000 acres of land to the west, the proceeds of which to his estate were not very considerable. Robert Morris, the shrewd financier, went bankrupt in attempting to develop the western country as a field for the operator in real estate. There was a continent of land to be exploited, and it was very difficult to corner even a small part of the market. The land could not be handled as capital until a sufficient number of settlers had come in, each contributing his accumulations to enhance the value of the common stock. It was from the necessity of the case a common stock at the first, and the pioneers were not long in finding that out.

In his journey to Kentucky, Captain Smyth happened upon some of these pioneers. His observations confirm the belief that the hero is a hero, but also a very fallible person. “On the 15th day of May I took my leave of Mr. Bailey and his family (at the Lower Sawra Towns), every one of whom seemed to be really more concerned for my safety than I could possibly have conceived, being all in tears and appearing almost certain that I should be destroyed by the savages; having used their most earnest persuasions and utmost endeavors to change my resolution of proceeding on this journey. The kind-hearted and truly amiable Miss Betsy Bailey insisted on piloting me over the Dan herself, rather than any of her brothers, although the ford at this place was exceedingly rapid, rocky and dangerous. In a very few hours, by pursuing the wrong path, I found myself in the woods without any track whatever to direct my course, that in which I[19] had been having terminated, being only made by the hogs, which run wild almost all over America, and especially in the Western frontiers. It is impossible for me to ascertain how far I had traveled in this most disagreeable of all imaginable situations, when all on a sudden, on the side of a gentle ascent, I perceived a number of men sitting on the ground, and such they were as I had never seen before, painted black and red and all armed with firelocks and tomahawks.”

These were Indians, and they were very hospitable to Smyth. He gave them the stone buckle and gold lace from the crown of his hat. “They seemed much pleased with the present and made signs for me to sit down and eat with them. This I readily complied with, and partook of a repast which consisted of venison, kernels of hickory nuts and wallnuts, all mixed together with wild honey, and every one eat with his hands. Having a keen appetite I eat very heartily, which seemed to afford a particular satisfaction to my hospitable savage friends, for such indeed they were to me.” Smyth spent the night with these warriors (they were really on the war path), and the next morning one of them put him into the way to Beaver Creek, upon Smith’s River, in what was then Pittsylvania County.

Along Leatherwood Creek, Captain Smyth, the bold tourist, saw several fine plantations deserted of the owners. The cattle and horses were wandering about and presented a very mournful, melancholy appearance. Reports of the movements of the Indians had driven the inhabitants to the fort on Smith’s River. About eight miles beyond Leatherwood[20] Creek (Patrick Henry lived on that stream for a year or two after the Revolution) a man appeared on horseback, whose horse was covered with foam and sweat. He was astonished beyond measure when Smyth told him he had come from the Sawra Towns and had eaten and slept with a party of Indians. “In riding about two or three miles further I at length came to the fort itself, which contained all the inhabitants of the country around. I was exceedingly happy at the thought of being once more among inhabitants, but this imaginary felicity was of very short duration, for when I went to the gate of the fort expecting to go in, I was positively refused admittance. They within insisted that I was an enemy or a Frenchman because I had been in company with the Indians and had escaped unmolested, and also as my accent was different from theirs. This I found they were informed of by the man I met on horseback, and who turned back full speed as soon as I acquainted him of my having been with the Indians. I continued to entreat for admittance until they threatened to fire upon me if I did not retire, which made me withdraw from the gate to consider what steps I must pursue, for I never found myself in so singular and unpleasant a predicament in my life. I wandered round and round this fortress until night began to advance, and then ventured to approach the gate once more. They again threatening to shoot me, I assured them that I would as soon be killed by them as by the Indians, and solemnly swore I would set fire to the stockades. Upon this I was desired to wait a few minutes, until they consulted together; at the conclusion[21] of which they agreed to admit me. The wicker gate was then opened and I crept in.” The conditions inside, of necessity, were not very agreeable.

How exactly truthful Captain Smyth is it is not possible to say. By his account after a few days at the fort he procured a guide and set out for the mountains, regardless of the Indians. He had heard of the Wart Mountain[C] and climbed that eminence for the view which, as he describes it, was an amazing prospect. Doubtless with a map before him he was able to include in his description more than the eye fell upon. “Language fails in attempting to describe this most astonishing and almost unbounded perspective. On the east you could perceive the deep and broken chasms, where the rivers Dan, Mayo, Smith’s, Bannister’s and Stanton direct their courses; some raging in vast torrents and some gliding in silent, gentle meanders. On the north you see the Black Water, a branch of the Stanton; and the break in the mountains where the Fluvannah, a vast branch of the James, passes through. On the northwest you will observe with great astonishment and pleasure the tremendous and abrupt break in the Alegany Mountains, through which the mighty waters of the New River and the Great Kanhawah pass. On the west you can very plainly discover the three forks or branches of the Holston, where they break through the Great Alegany Mountains, and still beyond them you may observe Clinch’s River or Pelisippi. On the south you can see the Dan, the Catawba, the Yadkin and the Haw,[22] breaking through the mighty mountains that appear in confused heaps and piled on each other in every direction.” It is safe to say that Smyth did not see all this. But the description is interesting. Many voyagers to the West must have beheld scenes comparable, with thoughts more or less defined that here was a land for the possessing and a new world indeed.

From the Wart Mountain Captain Smyth continued, by way of New River, the branches of the Holston (Stahlnaker’s Settlement on the middle fork), Clinch River and the Warrior’s branch to the Kentucky River. “In five more easy days’ journeys, the particulars of which are not worth relating, we at length arrived at the famed settlement near the mouth of the Kentucky on the 8th day of June, after having traveled at least 490 miles, from the fort on Smith’s River, in nineteen days. I was soon directed to the house of Mr. Henderson, where I found a most hospitable and kind reception.”

From that outpost of Virginia Captain Smyth passed down the Ohio to the territories of Spain, along the Gulf coast by water to East Florida, and so to Charleston.[D]

[23]
II.
THOMAS ANBUREY, AND THE CONVENTION ARMY IN VIRGINIA.

1779.

Lieutenant Anburey—Progress of the Convention Army—Winter Roads—Charlottesville—Colonel Harvey—The Piedmont Plantation—Roundabout Directions—The Quarter-Race—Richmond—Forest Fire—Barrack Cats.

GENERAL BURGOYNE, of amiable qualities but of no great skill as a commander, having had the misfortune to lose his army at Saratoga, in the month of October, 1777, a convention was agreed upon, stipulating the treatment to be accorded the defeated troops. Thereafter, until exchanged, these Saratoga troops were known among themselves as the Convention Army. The art of saving one’s face is one of the most intricate yet in existence. Young Thomas Anburey, who was perhaps a lieutenant in the Twenty-ninth Regiment of Foot under General Burgoyne, surrendered with his brother officers, and with them was sent first to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later to Virginia. Anburey, a very cheerful young person, kept a sort of journal of his military and other travels in America, and worked up his notes into the form of letters to a friend. His observations[24] are not profound, but are marked by good sense and ingenuousness, and make much better reading than more pretentious narratives.[E]

After being quartered for more than a year in Massachusetts, Anburey and his friends were sent South, in order to shift the incidence of taxation in the matter of subsistence for so many able-bodied men, numbers of whom (the Hessians, for instance) no doubt had in America their first opportunity of getting at least one square meal a day. “Especially the Germans,” says Anburey, “who seeing in what a comfortable manner their countrymen live, left us in great numbers, as we marched through New York, the Jerseys and Pennsylvania; among the number of deserters is my servant, who, as we left Lancaster, ran from me with my horse, portmanteau, and everything he could take with him.” It was at best a strange spectacle, this of an army of desirable citizens marching captive through an abounding wilderness, and merely on parole.

From Lancaster the Convention Army moved to Frederick Town, in Maryland, where they spent Christmas Day, 1778. The commissary of provisions at Frederick, Mr. McMurdo, was very polite to the officers quartered at his house. Anburey says: “His attention was such that although for this day (which is as much a day of festival as in England), he had been engaged for some time past among his friends and relations, he would stay at home and entertain us with an excellent Christmas dinner, not even forgetting plum pudding. I now experienced what had been often told me, that[25] the further I went to the southward I should find the inhabitants possess more liberality and hospitality.” Anburey’s impressions of the North, of course, were formed rather precipitately at Saratoga.

Charlottesville, almost a frontier town then, was the destination of the Convention Army. “After we left Frederick Town we crossed the Potowmack River with imminent danger, as the current was very rapid, large floats of ice swimming down it; though the river was only half a mile wide, the scow that I crossed over in had several narrow escapes. At one time it was quite fastened in the ice, but by great exertions of the men in breaking it, we made good our landing on the opposite shore, near a mile lower than the ferry.” And the river crossed, hardships only increased on the Virginia side. The roads were bad from a late fall of snow not sufficiently encrusted to bear a man’s weight. The troops were continually sinking in mud up to their knees and cutting their shins and ankles; and after a march of sixteen or eighteen miles over such badly metalled roads, the men often had to sleep in the woods and the officers in any cabin available.

“But on our arrival at Charlottesville no pen can describe the scene of misery and confusion that ensued. The officers of the First and Second Brigade were in the town, and our arrival added to their distress. This famous place we had heard so much of consisted only of a courthouse, one tavern, and about a dozen houses, all of which were crowded with officers. Those of our brigade, therefore, were obliged to ride about the country and entreat the inhabitants to take us in.” The men fared very badly. Instead of sleeping on the[26] snow, under the trees, they went into barracks, hastily covering over a few cabins which had been begun but were left unroofed, and half-filled with snow. The trouble was that Colonel Harvey, to whom Congress had assigned the business of getting quarters ready for the tourists, had in turn placed his brother in charge. Colonel Harvey’s brother said that the army was not expected until the spring. There was no whiskey provided, the stock of provisions was scant, and the quarters were as described of the fretwork description.

“As to the officers, upon signing a parole they might go to Richmond and other adjacent towns to procure themselves quarters. Accordingly a parole was signed, which allowed a circuit of near 100 miles. And after the officers had drawn lots, as three were to remain in the barracks with the men, or at Charlottesville, the principal part of them set off for Richmond, and many of them are at plantations twenty or thirty miles from the barracks. I was quartered, with four other officers of our regiment, at Jones’s Plantation, about twenty miles from the barracks. The face of the country appears an immense forest, interspersed with various plantations, four or five miles distant from each other. On these there is a dwelling house in the centre, with kitchens, smoke-house and outhouses detached, and from the various buildings each plantation has the appearance of a small village. At some little distance from the houses are peach and apple orchards, and scattered over the plantation are the cabins and tobacco houses.” The worm fence was an object of wonder to every foreigner, and yet in a country of abundant timber the most natural thing in the world. Anburey mentions[27] that in the New England settlements (where the holdings were smaller and fences could be made with more particularity) the inhabitants had a saying, “He is making Virginia fences,” used of a man not sober, but able to walk, as it were.

Anburey was twice at Richmond, once in the winter and once in the summer of 1779. The neighboring gentlemen were very hospitable, and would not let him leave until he had visited the whole circle. He speaks especially of Warwick and “Tuckahoe.” The proprietor of “Tuckahoe” was threatened with the burning of valuable mills because an English officer had been made welcome. It was an idle threat. On the way to Richmond, by the road through Goochland Courthouse, Anburey met that perennial, the celebrated roundabout directions: “If perchance you meet an inhabitant and enquire your way, his directions are, if possible, more perplexing than the roads themselves, for he tells you to keep the right-hand path, then you’ll come to an old field; you are to cross that, and then you’ll come to the fence of such a one’s plantation; then keep that fence, and you’ll come to a road that has three forks; keep the right-hand fork for about half a mile, and then you’ll come to a creek; after you cross that creek you must turn to the left, and there you’ll come to a tobacco house; after you have passed that you’ll come to another road that forks; keep the right-hand fork, and then you’ll come to Mr. Such-a-One’s ordinary, and he will direct you.” The fact of such directions as these, and the use made of them, are to be explained when we remember that the[28] backwoodsman carries a map in his head, whereas the cockney’s brain is damaged by the use of maps.

In the woods the Convention officer came upon a track for quarter-racing. “Near most of the ordinaries there is a piece of ground cleared in the woods for that purpose, where there are two paths, about six or eight yards asunder, which the horses run in. I think I can, without the slightest exaggeration, assert that even the famous Eclipse could not excel them in speed, for our horses are some time before they are able to get into full speed; but these are trained to set out in that manner the moment of starting. It is the most ridiculous amusement imaginable, for if you happen to be looking another way, the race is terminated before you can turn your head; notwithstanding which, very considerable sums are betted at these races. Only in the interior parts of this province are these races held, for they are much laughed at and ridiculed by the people in the lower parts, about Richmond and other great towns. At Williamsburg is a very excellent course for two, three or four-mile heats.”

On his summer trip to Richmond, Anburey was struck by the numbers of peach orchards in full fruit—“it is deemed no trespass to stop and refresh yourself and your horse with them”—and by the sight of a family leaving a most comfortable house and good plantation to set out for Kentucky over the mountains. The summer of 1779 apparently was a good peach season, and a bad season in the item of forest fires. “The town of Richmond, as well as the plantations around for some miles, has been in imminent danger; as the woods have been on fire, which for some time past has raged with[29] great fury, and that element seemed to threaten universal destruction; but, providentially, before it had done any material damage there fell a very heavy rain, which, nevertheless, has not altogether extinguished it [July 14, 1779]. During the summer months these fires are very frequent, and at Charlottesville I have seen the mountains on a blaze for three or four miles in length. They are occasioned by the carelessness of waggoners.”

During the winter of 1779 the Convention Army at Charlottesville lost heavily by desertion. “I should observe that this desertion is among the British troops. For what reason it is impossible to say, the Americans shew more indulgence to the Germans, permitting them to go round the country to labor, and being for the most part expert handicraftsmen, they realize a great deal of money exclusive of their pay.”

The officers made themselves pretty comfortable. They put up a coffee house, a theatre and a cold bath. Anburey made, or had made, a drawing entitled “Encampment of the Convention Army at Charlottes Ville, in Virginia, after they had surrendered to the Americans.” In this interesting print it is difficult to distinguish the theatre, but the coffee house is easily found.

September, 1780, when orders came to move to the North again, the officers were loath to go. They had understood that they were to remain at Charlottesville until exchanged. Several of them “had laid out great sums in making themselves comfortable habitations; for the barracks became a little town, and there being more society, most of the officers had resorted there. The great objection to residing at them on[30] our first arrival, was on account of the confined situation, being not only surrounded, but even in the woods themselves. The proprietor of the estate will reap great advantages, as the army entirely cleared a space of six miles in circumference around the barracks. After we quitted the barracks, the inhabitants were near a week in destroying the cats that were left behind, which impelled by hunger had gone into the woods. There was reason to suppose they would become extremely wild and ferocious and would be a great annoyance to their poultry.”

The Convention Army, crossing the “Pignet Ridge, or more properly, the Blue Mountains,” at Wood’s Gap, moved to Winchester, and thence, recrossing the Ridge at Williams’s Gap, proceeded to Frederick Town, and so to New York to take ship.

[31]
III.
THE ABBÉ ROBIN, ONE OF THE CHAPLAINS TO THE FRENCH ARMY IN AMERICA.

1781.

‘New Travels in America’—From Rhode Island to Maryland—Annapolis—The French Army in the Chesapeake—M. de La Fayette—Williamsburg—Tobacco—Yorktown after Siege—Billetting of the French Troops.

THE FRENCH ARMY, after a voyage of eighty-five days, landed at Boston June 24, 1781. With it came the Abbé Robin, a philosopher who was more than once in America and has left recorded descriptions of Louisiana as well as of the Atlantic Coast. The Abbé Robin was a genial, generalizing observer—his New Travels in America[F] is an interesting book, particularly in its passages with a bearing upon the activities and the good behavior of the Allies from France. We learn therein how the French introduced among us the brass band and set on foot improvements in the art of the dance: they also brought us to a knowledge of the ancient diversion faro.

The New Travels of the Abbé Robin, like so many other travellers’ books of that period, are in the form of letters to a friend. The author proceeded with the Army from Boston to Providence, through Connecticut (where he was struck[32] with traces of the “active and inventive genius” of the inhabitants), to the Camp at Philippsburg, down the Hudson into the Jerseys, past Philadelphia and Baltimore. He writes:

Annapolis, September 21, 1781.

The army was to prosecute the rest of the march to Virginia by land, and with that view took the road leading to Alexandria, a flourishing commercial town upon the Potomack; but upon the news of the arrival of the Romulus ship of war, with two frigates and a number of transports, we turned off towards Annapolis, but the horses and carriages continued their journey by land.

As we advance towards the south we observe a sensible difference in the manners and customs of the people. This opulence was particularly observable at Annapolis. That very inconsiderable town, standing at the mouth of the river Severn, where it falls into the bay, out of the few buildings it contains, has at least three-fourths such as may be styled elegant and grand. The state-house is a very beautiful building, I think the most so of any I have seen in America. The peristyle is set off with pillars, and the edifice is topped with a dome.

We are embarking with the greatest expedition; the weather is the finest you can conceive, and the wind fair: I think the impatience of the French will soon be at an end.

Williamsburgh, September 30, 1781.

The army has had a very agreeable passage hither, except the grenadiers, chasseurs, and the first American regiments[33] [these sailed from the Head of Elk], who were fourteen days on the water. Judge how inconvenient this must have been to troops crowded into a narrow space, and without any decks over them; while even the officers had nothing but biscuit to live upon. The shores of this Bay, which is formed by the influx of so many great rivers, are far from being lofty, neither are they much cleared of woods, and it is but rarely that you discover any habitations; but the few we saw were very agreeably situated. This country will be, in time, one of the most beautiful in the world.

When our little fleet had sailed up James River, celebrated for the excellent tobacco which grows upon its shores, we disembarked at James-Town, the place where the English first established themselves in Virginia. The troops have already joined the grenadiers, chasseurs, and the three thousand men brought hither by Count de Grasse, consisting of the regiments of Agenois, Gatinois and Touraine, under the command of Mons. de St. Simon, Maréchal de Camp. This General had a little before effected a junction with fifteen hundred or two thousand Americans, commanded by M. le Marquis de la Fayette, who, as you have heard, could never be reduced, notwithstanding the forces of Cornwallis were three or four times his number. I should have mentioned, that M. de la Fayette, in quality of Major-General of an American army, at the age of twenty-four years, found himself at this time superior in command to a French general officer, and continued so until the other detachments of the army were collected into one body under General Washington.

[34]Williamsburg does not contain above a hundred and fifty houses, and is the only town we have yet seen in Virginia worth mentioning not situated on the banks of any river. What makes the situation of this place valuable, is the neighbourhood of James and York rivers, between which grows the best tobacco in the whole State, and for this reason it seems to have been built where it is: I do not think, nevertheless, that it will ever be a place of any great importance; the towns of York, James, Norfolk, and Edenton, being more favourably situated for trade, will undoubtedly eclipse it.

With the most lively satisfaction I contemplated these monuments of the real glory of men, the college and the library; and while I contemplated them, they recalled to my mind places and persons most intimately connected with my heart. The tumult of arms has driven from hence those who had the care of these philosophical instruments, for the Muses, you know, take no pleasure but in the abodes of peace: We could only meet with one solitary professor, of Italian extraction; and I can not but say, his conversation and abilities appeared to be such, that after what he had told us in commendation of his brethren, we could not help regretting their absence.

About Williamsburg and the shores of the bay, the land is covered with trees yielding rozin; the meadows and marshes subsist great numbers of excellent horses, which far exceed those of the other states in point of beauty: vast quantities of hemp are raised here, as well as flax, Indian corn and cotton: the cotton shrubs produce annually, and at the first view we took them for beans in blossom. Silk worms succeed[35] here very well, and it is not improbable but they may at some future time form one of the most considerable branches of trade in this State. The commodity most in demand is tobacco; you well know the character it has, and for common use it may be considered as the best in the world. What the English imported yearly from this State, and from Maryland, might have amounted to about ninety-six thousand hogsheads; but among themselves they did not consume one sixth part of that quantity, and either disposed of the rest among us, or exported it to the north [of Europe]; judge then how valuable this commerce was to that nation. They purchased it here at the very lowest rate, taking it in exchange for their broad-clothes, linen and hard wares, and selling again for ready money what they did not want for their own home consumption, and thus they increased their capital every year to the amount of eight or nine millions. No other of their possessions, not even those in India, ever afforded them so clear a profit. Three hundred and thirty vessels, and about four thousand sailors were constantly employed in this trade: of these the city of Glasgow, in Scotland, owned the greatest part, and by that means supported its flourishing manufactures, which were perhaps more considerable than those of any town in England.

Since the war, the tobacco exportation has been only about forty thousand hogsheads annually; what advantages then would have accrued to the English, could they have sooner made themselves masters of Chesapeake-bay. There are now fifty or sixty vessels collected at York, under the cannon of[36] Cornwallis, sent on purpose to load with this weed, which three fourths and a half of the human race take such supreme delight in chewing, snuffing or smoking.

The army is at present before York. We hear the reports of the cannon very distinctly; and I am now going to join the troops, where I think I shall shortly have something very interesting to impart to you.

Camp at York, November 6, 1781.

I have been through the unfortunate little town of York since the siege, and saw many elegant houses shot through and through in a thousand places, and ready to crumble to pieces; rich household furniture crushed under their ruins, or broken by the brutal English soldier; carcases of men and horses half covered with dirt: books piled in heaps, and scattered among the ruins of the buildings, served to give me an idea of the tastes and morals of the inhabitants; these were either treatises of religion or controversial divinity; the history of the English nation, and their foreign settlements; collections of charters and acts of parliament; the works of the celebrated Alexander Pope; a translation of Montaigne’s Essays; Gil Blas de Santillane, and the excellent Essay upon Women, by Mr. Thomas.

The plan of the fortifications for the defence of York and Glocester has been entirely changed; they are drawing them into a narrower compass than before, have destroyed the English works, and are busy at constructing new ones. The travelling artillery is partly at Williamsburg and partly at York;[37] and the heavy cannon is at West Point (called Delaware in the maps), a place situated between the two rivers that form that of York.

On the twenty-fourth [of October] the troops began to go into winter quarters. The regiments of Bourbonnais and Royal Deux Ponts are at Williamsburg, where our head Quarters are fixed. The regiments of Soissonnais, and the grenadier companies, and Chasseurs of Saintonge are at York. The rest of the regiment of Saintonge is billetted about in the country betwixt York and Hampton; and this latter place, situated on James River, is occupied by the Legion of Lauzun.

This great and happy event, in which the French have had so considerable a share, will soon give a new turn to American affairs. The Southern States, so long harassed and distrest, will now assume new spirit and activity. To what a pitch of grandeur will not these new states shortly arise.

Note.—In his second letter the Abbé mentions M. de St. Simon. This was the philosopher, whose plans for reorganizing society are still of interest.

[38]

[39]
IV.
THE MARQUIS OF CHASTELLUX, MAJOR-GENERAL IN THE FRENCH ARMY, AND MEMBER OF THE FRENCH ACADEMY.

1782.

M. de Chastellux—Tour to the Natural Bridge—New Kent Court House—Hanover Court House—Offley—Secretary Nelson—Willis’ Ordinary—Monticello—New London—Cumberland Court House—Petersburg—Richmond—Formicola’s—Governor Harrison—College of William and Mary.

“FROM the moment the French troops were established in the quarters they occupied in Virginia, I formed the project of traveling into the upper parts of that province, where I was assured that I should find objects worthy of exciting the curiosity of a stranger; and faithful to the principles, which from my youth I had laid down, never to neglect seeing every country in my power, I burned with impatience to set out. The season, however, was unfavorable, and rendered traveling difficult and laborious; besides, experience taught me that traveling in winter never offered the greatest satisfaction we can enjoy—that of seeing Nature as she ought to be, and of forming a just idea of the general face of a country; for it is easier for the imagination to deprive[40] the landscape of the charms of spring than to clothe with them the hideous skeleton of winter; as it is easier to imagine what a beauty at eighteen may be at eighty, than to conceive what eighty was at eighteen.”

In these words, the Marquis of Chastellux, writing from Williamsburg about the 1st of May, 1782, begins the chronicle of his tour to the Valley of Virginia. He was in America with the army perhaps two years, during which time he sustained his reputation as a capable officer, an agreeable man, and a philosopher of tolerant insight. M. de Chastellux was a good traveler. In the country, if the bacon and eggs were stale and the vintage was spring water of the morning, he found something to admire in the landscape. At Philadelphia he dined with members of the Congress, of all parties, listened to political theories, drank tea with the ladies, was easily amused and formed opinions which may be discovered on a careful reading. Where is there a more sensible man than the old campaigner? The Marquis of Chastellux entered the army at fifteen, and was given command of a regiment at twenty-one. He served with distinction in the Seven Years’ War. His studies were never neglected, and being a man of rank he was early adopted among the scholars.

On the 8th of April, 1782, M. de Chastellux set out from Williamsburg for Rockbridge County. “On the 8th I set out with Mr. Lynch, then my aid-de-camp and adjutant, Mr. Frank Dillon, my second aid-de-camp, and M. le Chevalier d’Oyré, of the Engineers. Six servants and a led horse composed our train, so that our little caravan consisted of four[41] masters, six servants and eleven horses. I regulated my journey by the spring, and gave it time sufficient to precede us. The eighteen miles through which we passed before we baited our horses at Bird’s Tavern were sufficiently known to me, for it was the same road I traveled the year before in coming from Williamsburg. The remaining sixteen, which completed our day’s work and brought us to New Kent Courthouse, offered nothing curious. All I learned by a conversation with Mr. Bird was that he had been pillaged by the English when they passed his house in their march to Westover in pursuit of M. de la Fayette, and in returning to Williamsburg after endeavoring in vain to come up with him. Mr. Bird repeated with indignation that the refugee camp followers had taken from him the very boots from off his legs. As the next day’s journey was to be longer than that of the preceding one, we left New Kent Courthouse before 8 o’clock, and rode twenty miles to Newcastle, where I resolved to give our horses two hours repose. When the heat was a little abated and our horses were somewhat reposed we continued our journey that we might arrive before dark at Hanover Courthouse, from which we were yet sixteen miles. The country through which we passed is one of the finest of lower Virginia. There are many well cultivated estates and handsome houses. We arrived at Hanover Courthouse before sunset, and alighted at a tolerable handsome inn—a very large saloon and a covered portico to receive the company who assemble every three months at the courthouse, either on private or public affairs. This asylum is the more necessary, as there are no other houses in the neighborhood.”

[42]From Hanover Courthouse, which, as well as New Kent, had reason to remember the passage of the English, the party proceeded at 9 the next morning towards Offley, the residence for the time of General Nelson, recently Governor of the State. “I had got acquainted with him during the expedition to York, at which critical moment he was Governor, and conducted himself with the courage of a brave soldier and the zeal of a good citizen. I am sorry to add that the only recompense of his labors was the hatred of a great part of his fellow citizens, arising from the necessity under which he had often labored of pressing their horses, carriages and forage.”

M. de Chastellux and his aids arrived at Offley at 1 o’clock on the 10th of April, and spent two rainy days there. General Nelson was absent, but Secretary Nelson was there, an old man very gouty, who related with a serene countenance what the effect had been of the French batteries in front of Yorktown. “The tranquility which has succeeded these unhappy times by giving him leisure to reflect upon his losses, has not embittered the recollection; he lives happily on one of his plantations, where in less than six hours he can assemble seventy of his relations, children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. The rapid increase of his own family justifies what he told me of the population of Virginia in general, of which, from the offices he has held all his life, he must have it in his power to form a very accurate judgment. In 1742 the people subject to taxes in Virginia amounted only to the number of 63,000; by his account they now exceed 160,000.

[43]“After passing two days very agreeably with this interesting family, we left there the 12th at 10 in the morning, accompanied by the secretary and five or six of his young relations, who conducted us to Little River Bridge, a small creek on the road about five miles from Offley.”

Eleven miles through woods brought them to Willis’s Ordinary, a solitary place, but at the moment crowded. “As soon as I alighted I inquired what might be the reason of this numerous assembly, and was informed it was a cock fight. This diversion is much in vogue in Virginia, where the English customs are more prevalent than in the rest of America. Whilst our horses were feeding we had an opportunity of seeing a battle. The stakes were very considerable; the money of the parties was deposited in the hands of one of the principal persons, and I felt a secret pleasure in observing that it was chiefly French. Whilst the interested parties animated the cocks to battle, a child of fifteen, who was near me, kept leaping for joy and crying, ‘Oh, it is a charming diversion.’ We had yet seven or eight and twenty miles to ride to the only inn where it was possible to stop before we reached Mr. Jefferson’s.”

Keeping on towards Monticello, the party passed an ordinary, some sixteen miles from Willis’s, kept by an extremely fat man. They found him contented in an arm chair, which served him also for a bed. A stool supported his enormous legs. “A large ham and a bowl of grog served him for company, like a man resolved to die surrounded by his friends.”

They spent the night twelve miles farther on at a house where there were fourteen children, not one of them ten years[44] old; and set out at 8 o’clock the next morning through the foothills of the Southwest Mountain. That day, the 13th of April (an important day with Mr. Jefferson) they came to Monticello. “The visit which I made Mr. Jefferson was not unexpected, for he had long since invited me to come and pass a few days with him; notwithstanding which I found his first appearance serious, nay even cold; but before I had been two hours with him we were as intimate as if we had passed our whole lives together. Walking, books, but above all a conversation always varied and interesting, made four days pass away like so many minutes. I recollect with pleasure that as we were conversing one evening over a bowl of punch, after Mrs. Jefferson had retired, our conversation turned on the poems of Ossian. In our enthusiasm the book was sent for and placed near the bowl, where by their mutual aid the night far advanced imperceptibly upon us. Sometimes natural philosophy, at others politics or the arts, were the topics of our conversation, for no object had escaped Mr. Jefferson; and it seemed as if from his youth he had placed his mind, as he had his house, on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.”

Mr. Jefferson and M. de Chastellux rode over to Charlottesville, “a rising town,” to see Colonel Armand,[G] whose legion was in quarters there. Colonel Armand had a pet wolf which had been caught wild in the neighborhood. M. de Chastellux left Monticello on the 17th, and on the 19th arrived at the Natural Bridge, by way of Rockfish Gap and[45] Steel’s Tavern. Returning by way of New London (Bedford), “already a pretty considerable town, at least seventy or eighty houses,” the party of tourists reached Cumberland Courthouse on the 23d. “This is the chief manor house of a very considerable country; it is situated in a plain of about a mile diameter, sixteen miles from Hodnett’s, which we had passed. Besides the courthouse and a large tavern, its necessary appendage, there are seven or eight houses inhabited by gentlemen of fortune. I found the tavern full of people, and understood that the judges were assembled to hold a court of claims—that is to say, to hear and register the claims of sundry persons, who had furnished provisions for the army. We know that in general, but particularly in unexpected invasions, the American troops had no established magazine, and as it was necessary to have subsistence for them, provisions and forage were indiscriminately laid hold of on giving the owners a receipt, which they call a certificate. During the campaign, whilst the enemy was at hand, little attention was given to this sort of loans, which accumulated incessantly, without the sum total being known, or any means taken to ascertain the proofs. Virginia being at length loaded with these certificates, it became necessary, sooner or later, to liquidate these accounts.

“The last Assembly of the State of Virginia had accordingly thought proper to pass a bill, authorizing the justices of each county to take cognizance of these certificates, to authenticate their validity, and to register them, specifying the value of the provisions in money, according to the established tariff. I had the curiosity to go to the courthouse to[46] see how this affair was transacted, and saw it was performed with great order and simplicity. The justices wore their common clothes, but were seated on an elevated tribunal, as at London in the court of King’s bench or common pleas. We had rode forty-four miles, and night was closing fast upon us when we arrived at Powhatan Courthouse, a more recent settlement than that of Cumberland. We had a good supper and good beds, but our horses were obliged to do without forage.”

Early in the morning of the 24th they left Powhatan, and rode forty-four miles to Petersburg, passing Chesterfield Courthouse, where were still to be seen the ruins of the barracks occupied by the Baron Steuben and burned by the English. At Petersburg M. de Chastellux called at ‘Battersea’ and was entertained at ‘Bollingbrook.’ The town is described as already flourishing, and destined to become more so every day—the depot for a vast region to the south. “Five miles from Petersburg we passed the small river of Randolph over a stone bridge, and traveling through a rich and well peopled country, arrived at a fork of roads, where we were unlucky enough precisely to make choice of that which did not lead to Richmond, the place of our destination. But we had no reason to regret our error, as it was only two miles about and we skirted James River to a charming place called Warwick, where a group of handsome houses form a sort of village, and there are several superb ones in the neighborhood. As we had lost our way and traveled but slowly, it was near 3 o’clock when we reached Manchester, a sort of suburb to Richmond, on the right bank of the river, where you pass[47] the ferry. The passage was short, there being two boats for the accommodation of travelers. Richmond is divided into three parts. I was conducted to that on the west, where I found a good inn. Mr. Formicola, my landlord, is a Neapolitan, who came to Virginia with Lord Dunmore, but had gone rather roundabout, having been before in Russia. His only error was the exalted idea he had formed of the manner in which French general officers must be treated. After dinner I went to pay a visit to Mr. Harrison, then Governor of the State. He talked much of the first Congress in America, in which he sat for two years. This subject led us naturally to that which is the most favorite topic among the Americans—the origin and commencement of the present revolution.”

This conversation with Governor Harrison, other conversations, and M. de Chastellux’s own careful observations led him to form opinions about Virginia, then the most influential of the States, which were correct enough. His analysis was a forecast. There can be found no better summary of conditions in Virginia at that time, the statement of a man of great good sense and a wide experience of men and affairs. He remarks: “One must be in the country itself, one must be acquainted with the language, and take a pleasure in conversing and in listening, to be qualified to form, and that slowly, a proper opinion and a decisive judgment. After this reflection the reader will not be surprised at the pleasure I took in conversing with Mr. Harrison. He urged me to dine with him next day, and to pass another day at Richmond. We set out, however, on the 27th, at 8 in the morning for Westover. We traveled six and twenty miles without[48] halting, in very hot weather, but by a very agreeable road, with magnificent houses in view at every instant; for the banks of James River form the garden of Virginia.

“It is not by accident,” observes the Marquis of Chastellux, writing at Williamsburg, May 1, 1782, “that I have postponed the consideration of everything respecting the progress of the arts and sciences in this country until the conclusion of my reflections on Virginia; I have done it expressly because the mind, after bestowing its attention on the variety of human institutions, reposes itself with pleasure on those which tend to the perfection of the understanding, and the progress of information. The College of William and Mary, whose founders are announced by the very name, is a noble establishment which embellishes Williamsburg and does honor to Virginia. I must add that the zeal of the professors has been crowned with the most distinguished success, and that they have already formed many distinguished characters, ready to serve their country in the various departments of government. After doing justice to the exertions of the University of Williamsburgh, for such is the College of William and Mary, if it be necessary for its farther glory to cite miracles, I shall only observe that they created me a doctor of laws.”

[49]
V.
DR. JOHANN DAVID SCHOEPF, SURGEON TO THE HESSIAN TROOPS.

1783.

Dr. Schoepf—Leesburg—Plantation Houses—The Price of Land—Fredericksburg—Hunter’s Iron-Works—Richmond—The General Assembly—The Tavern Formicola—Manchester—Mr. Rubsamen—Williamsburg—Yorktown or Little York—Surry Court House—Smithfield—The Nation of Virginia—Suffolk—The Trade in Salt.

DR. JOHANN DAVID SCHOEPF was born at Weinsiedel in 1752 and died in the year 1800. He studied medicine at Hof, Erlangen, Berlin and Vienna, then traveled in Russia, Italy and Switzerland, and made his degree in medicine at Erlangen in 1776. That year he came to America as surgeon to the Hessian troops in the British army. In 1784 he went to London and traveled through England and in France, Spain and Italy. He published in 1787 a Materia Medica Americana. Dr. Schoepf was particularly interested in scientific matters, was an accurate observer of things and of people, and his book is one of the best of the early travels in this country. These volumes have now been translated, and the account given below is a modification. Dr. Schoepf approached Virginia from the north, coming through Western Maryland.

[50]“By this road Leesburg is the first town on the Virginia side, a place of few houses, small and wooden. On account of the high, pleasant and healthful situation a Latin school has been established here. An advertisement of this institution was to be seen on the tavern door, recommending it in a handsome style to the public, which should give it patronage, since schools hitherto, except in the chief cities, are scarce enough in America. It is not the universal custom in America to hang shields before the inns, but inns may always be identified by the great number of papers and notices with which the walls and doors of these public houses are plastered—and the best inns are in general the most papered. From such announcements the traveler gets a many-sided entertainment, and gains instruction as to where taxes are heavy, where wives have eloped or horses been stolen, and where the new doctor has settled.

“Along the road from Leesburg towards Fredericksburg there was not a little difference to be remarked between the appearance of the country and the thickly settled regions of Piedmont Maryland and Pennsylvania, through which we had just passed. It was strange to see so much wild and newly cleared ground, due not to any unfertility of the soil, but to the large estates whose owners were unwilling to sell and found it difficult to secure tenants where there is so much land to be had almost for the asking. And the contrast in the appearance of the plantations, after the Potomac is crossed, is rather striking. In this part of Virginia, as in lower Maryland, the farmer builds a small village about him. In some cases, however, all of his buildings would scarcely[51] make one comfortable house. From the time of his first clearing he is continually adding, and his plan may be not a very good one. We passed Moore’s Tavern and the Red House (30 miles from Goose Creek), and skirting the Bull Run Mountains, approached the strictly tobacco country. Fairly good tobacco is raised to the west along the foothills, but the profit is trifling on account of the heavy expense of carriage to warehouses whence it can be taken off by the European ships. In this region the crop had been greatly damaged by an August frost. The loss was the greater because many of these planters raise only the Sweetscented, a tender variety, but more profitable by 2½ shillings the hundred, or 25 shillings Virginia currency the hogshead.

“We spent a night at a plantation where, although no tavern is kept, the traveler is entertained for pay. There are disadvantages about this sort of inn, but on the one hand the proprietor escapes the payment of a liquor license and the trouble of catering to a crowd of idlers, and on the other hand the guest must answer only a few times the usual questions as to where he is going, where he came from, and what his business is. The captain had a large family, and wished to sell some of his land, of which he owned 4,000 acres. Land hereabouts can be bought for from 25 to 50 or 60 shillings Virginia currency. The captain would sell his for 40 shillings cash, and with the proceeds move to Kentucky. The people throughout are bent on providing for their children. This is difficult to do in the East, and hence the steady emigration to Kentucky.

[52]“Beyond this we got out of the right road, and meeting only a few darkeys, whose horizon was not extensive, traveled half a day before we were set right. We passed Cedar Run at a dangerous ford, and came to a plantation where there is a copper mine worked intermittently, a narrow vein. Following the direction, “keep straight on” (nobody thinks the stranger can be quite as ignorant as he says he is), we crossed Acquia Creek, and reached Fredericksburg. The public buildings of Fredericksburg—church, market house and court house—we found in bad condition, not because they had been damaged directly by the war, but simply because during the war there had been no use made of them. Tobacco was bringing a small price here, and at a sure profit to the buyers. No ships were in and taxes were due; the price had been knocked down to 25 shillings the hundred. The same at Alexandria. Hunter’s Iron Works, near Fredericksburg, at the falls above Falmouth, is one of the finest and most extensive works of this sort in America. There is a rolling and a slitting mill, both very ingeniously contrived, and of this description of iron works there have been up to this time only one or two established in all America. Under the British rule such enterprises were forbidden. Past Fredericksburg, we had the honor to breakfast with an American general, whose attire was conspicuous—a large white chapeau, a blue coat, a brown waistcoat and green breeches decorated him, and he a short, fat man.

“From this point on towards Richmond the country is open and level, and adorned with many large and at times tasteful dwellings. The rich Virginians do not prefer a town[53] life. Here and there we passed large wheat fields. Several years before the war, owing to the heavy English import duties on tobacco, the people had begun to raise wheat on a more extensive scale. Here, as in other parts of America, the cornfields are seeded to wheat without removing the stalks. The weevil is bad, especially if the grain lies long in the straw. After floating off the light seed the good, heavy grain is broadcasted, mixed with shell lime. Between Fredericksburg and Richmond we noticed a good many swampy spots, which might easily be drained. We met on this road, to our great surprise, two Alsatians traveling along on foot, with their bundles slung behind. They had come into the Chesapeake on a French ship, and were seeking their fortune in Virginia. A foot passenger is a very unusual sight in Virginia. Passing Hanover Courthouse (December 18, 1783) and Hanover Town, we came to Richmond. On this road we were struck with the little provision made for the winter feeding of cattle. How easy it would be to lay down grass. Near Richmond we saw mules, the first pair. Mules, being found well adapted to the country, are beginning to be used a good deal.

“Richmond, before 1779 not a very important town, is built on two heights, separated by a creek called Shokoes. The houses are in general of wood, and are irregularly scattered about. A recent census gives the number as 280, and the population about 2,000. The falls of the James engaged my curiosity first. The total fall of the river from Westham to Richmond (7 miles) is only seventy-one feet, and hence there is no stupendous cataract. But the falls as a whole, over innumerable[54] boulders, between winding wooded banks, present a great and striking appearance. The sound of the water, particularly at night, is heard not only through the entire town, but before the wind for several miles around. At the falls innumerable herring and shad are caught early in spring, and at times even in February. These appear in the Delaware and the Hudson not before the middle of April or the first of May. James River is one of the greatest and most beautiful of American streams.

“During my stay at Richmond the Assembly was in session. A small frame building serves as House of Assembly, and with a change of properties as ballroom and banquet room. The term is used, ‘the Assembly sits.’ This does not seem to me to be precisely descriptive. The members appeared to me to be anywhere rather than in their seats, and to be discussing anything except laws to be framed. The doorkeeper was busy, and in the vestibule there was an uproar. The vestments of the members are diverse—boots, trousers, Indian leggings, great-coats, the usual coat, and short jackets. In other words, each one wears what he pleases. The members from the West are greatly inconvenienced in coming so far. They even speak of establishing a separate government for the West, as in the province of New York, where there is a Governor at New York and another at Albany. If this is done, the West will very likely become in a short time an independent State. The pay of members has recently been fixed at 18 Virginia shillings or 3 Spanish dollars per diem. During the war they preferred tobacco (50 pounds) to currency. At a vote, the Speaker calls for the Ayes and Noes,[55] and judges with a critical ear which side has made the majority of sounds. If the predominance is a matter of doubt a division is called.

“I stopped at the Tavern Formicola, which was naturally much crowded at that season. Every evening there came generals, colonels, captains, senators, delegates, judges, doctors, clerks and gentlemen of every weight and calibre to sit around the fire, drink, smoke, sing and swap anecdotes. Very entertaining, but Formicola’s not being a spacious house, I found the crowd embarrassing. There is only one newspaper published at Richmond; this paper appears twice a week.

“On the south side of James River, opposite Richmond, lies a little town called Manchester. The rocks in the river between the two places have been bought up, as well as a narrow strip along each bank, and the owner proposes to throw a fine bridge across, which, if built, will be the first and only one of the kind in America. The project depends upon whether the Assembly will license this bridge as a toll bridge. At Manchester I visited Mr. Jacob Rubsamen, a German, who was before the war engaged in mining in Jersey. At the outbreak of the war he came to Virginia and set up a powder mill, the first powder mill to be established in this country. Rubsamen was able to find saltpetre in the mountains; his sulphur he brought from Europe, on account of the heavy expense of getting it out in this country. His works were not very profitable, and were destroyed in the end by the British. Mr. Rubsamen told me that lead ore is found on New River and the Greenbrier, copper on the Roanoke (Dan), and iron everywhere about, particularly in Buckingham[56] County. Coal was recently discovered twelve miles from Richmond by the mere chance of the uprooting of a tree by the wind. This coal brings 1 shilling a bushel (at the wharf), Virginia currency. Its smell is disagreeable, as I observed when at Richmond.

“Leaving Richmond we reached Williamsburg in two days, passing by Warwick (where the British had destroyed a considerable plant for the working of iron), Osborne’s, a pleasant place, though small, and Petersburg, a town of a thriving trade and larger than Richmond. Cotton is raised in this region on good new land or on heavily fertilized land, and the favorite tobaccos are the Sweetscented, the Long Green, the Varina, the Frederick, the Oroonoko, the Hudson, Thickjoint, Thickset, Shoestring and other varieties.

“Williamsburg is to be counted among the most beautiful of American cities. The Capitol, or Statehouse, closes one end of the High Street, a large and modern building. Because no better use can be made of it now, a Latin school is to be established where the government was once installed. Doctors in all the faculties are graduated at the College of William and Mary. Most of the students, however, complete their studies at the English and Scottish universities. The citizens of this town, as of all lower Virginia, greatly hope that the seat of government will be brought back to Williamsburg. At the tavern I found very good entertainment and paid high for it. The black attendants, neatly and modishly attired, make their bows with dignity and respectfulness. They spoke with enthusiasm of the politeness of the French officers lately quartered there.

[57]“We made an excursion to Yorktown, called also Little York, to see that famous place, and particularly to inspect the great oyster banks there. The inhabitants have not yet recovered from the disturbances of war, and many houses are still in ruins or half repaired. The spars of the ships sunk in the river to block the passage are yet to be seen. We returned the same day to Williamsburg, to set out the next morning for the South. Seven miles from Williamsburg, on the Southern road, we came to James River, and after much delay were obliged to turn back to Williamsburg because of an unfavorable wind at the ferry. The next day at sunrise, when the wind is generally still, we came again to the ferry and were put across, but not without delay. Lord Cornwallis was the excuse. They said he had ruined the wharf, and the tide was not yet high enough to take off men and horses from the bank, which is there low.

“Not far below the ferry lies James Island, formerly only a peninsula; in a fierce storm with high water the river broke through the slender tongue of land. Jamestown appears in several modern geographies as a place of eighty to a hundred houses. In reality there are there but one or two, and they ruinous. The most valuable land in this region is that along the rivers and creeks, not so much from the superior fertility, as because of the accessibility to water transportation. Such land sells at four, five or six pounds, Virginia. If the corn crop fails the planter is in straits, and if the price of tobacco is high everything else—bacon, corn, etc.—is high in proportion.[58] Desiring gain, and spending his time on tobacco, the planter loses through not giving attention to those articles of necessity which he might produce at home.

“Five miles from James River we came to Surry Courthouse, where there was a crowd, because it was court day. Eleven miles farther on we passed Nelson’s Ordinary, and after ten miles more reached Smithfield, or Isle of Wight Courthouse. The road from Williamsburg is mainly through woods, but we passed more churches (five, that is to say) than during any other day’s journey in America.

“Towards Smithfield the traveler passes beyond the tobacco country. The chief exports here are tar, pitch, turpentine and salted meat. A barrel of tar, thirty-one and one-half gallons, costs from 8 to 9 Virginia shillings; a barrel of turpentine 18 shillings, and a barrel of salted pork (220 pounds) 50 shillings. At Smithfield we spent the evening with a party of gentlemen from the neighborhood. The conversation was for the most part on the subject of Virginia, what advantages that State has over every other State in the world, and how the nation of Virginia is superior to every other nation—in resources, manners, purity of speech and in all respects.

“The stranger notes deficiencies. For instance, a gentleman of Petersburg remarked to me that he thought of sending his son to Edinburgh to make a doctor of him, since he would probably not marry and set up as a planter, being now past the age of twenty-one. But it must be admitted that physically, the Virginians are a comely race, and they show on all[59] subjects clear and strong understandings. It is to be regretted that they do not give more attention to the exact sciences. They read, but they do not study.

“Christmas Eve we came to Everett’s Bridge, and the next day to Suffolk, on another arm of Nansemond Creek. In the month of May, 1779, a great part of Suffolk was burned by the British. There are no stones at this place, and the deep, fine sand of the streets is an inconvenience. Before the houses they lay a sort of pavement, pitch and tar mixed with the sand and allowed to harden. They drive a trade from this place to the West Indies in small vessels, shallops of twenty to fifty tons burthen. Salt is an especial article of their traffic. When the vessels, which bring it from Tortola, Turk’s Island and other of the West Indies, are delayed, the price of salt is tripled and quadrupled. During the war the people were greatly in want of salt, and the attempt was made to get it from the sea by damming the water in ponds along the coast. Little success attended this experiment south of the thirty-seventh parallel, probably because of the frequent rain-storms which freshened the ponded sea water.

“From Suffolk to Cunningham’s we skirted the great Dismal Swamp. Along the road from York, in Virginia, to this point it is observable that the south bank of all the rivers and creeks is steeper and rougher than the north bank. This may be due to the weathering of the north and northeast storms.”

[60]

[61]
VI.
COUNT CASTIGLIONI, CHEVALIER OF THE ORDER OF ST. STEPHEN, P. M.

1786.

Luigi Castiglioni—Alexandria—Mount Vernon—General Washington—Fredericksburg—Peach Trees and Persimmons—Richmond—Petersburg—Colonel Banister—Dr. Greenway—Colonel Coles—Staunton River—Buckingham Court House—Eniscotty—Rockfish Gap—Staunton—Middle River Ford—Winchester—Charlestown.

IN the diary of George Washington for the year 1785 appear these entries: “Sunday, December 25.—Count Castiglioni came here to dinner. December 29.—Count Castiglioni went away after breakfast on his tour to the southward.”

This was Count Luigi Castiglioni, who had landed at Boston in May, and after going through New England and a part of Canada, had come to New York, whence, on the 27th of November, he had set out for the South, reaching Alexandria December 24th, and spending Christmas at Mount Vernon. Count Castiglioni was a man of science, Chevalier of the Order of St. Stephen, P. M., member of the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and also member of the Patriotical Society of Milan, Patrician of Milan. The[62] book written by him, Viaggio negli Stati Uniti, is particularly descriptive of the useful plants to be found in this country, with a view to their introduction into Europe, either for the farm and the kitchen garden or for practical inclusion in the materia medica. This book and that of Dr. Schoepf, 1783-1784, give an excellent statement as to the natural history, the methods of agriculture, milling, mining, etc., of that period in the history of the fourteen States.

“Alexandria,” says Count Castiglioni, “numbers 300 houses and possibly 3,000 inhabitants. At times, although the latitude is only 38 degrees 45 minutes, the cold is so great that the Potowmack may be ridden and driven over. Such freezing weather is never of long duration, and many winters the river is not frozen at all. This newly established town has already received the name and the privileges of a city, and as soon as the Potowmack is made navigable will become one of the most flourishing of the trading towns of Virginia.

“When I was there the plan for the improvement of the navigation (suggested by General Washington) was beginning to be put into effect. Near Alexandria brick and tiles are made at a reasonable price, the soil thereabouts being a soft, viscous clay. They make lime there from the oyster shells, which are found in extraordinary banks. The people have two theories about these great shell banks, one being that they are due to successive inundations of the sea, the other that the aborigines assembled them, either for burial mounds or for some other religious purpose.

“The morning of the 25th of December I left Alexandria and went to Mount Vernon. There I spent four memorable[63] days. General Washington is perhaps fifty-seven years of age, a man large and strong of build, of a majestic but kindly bearing, and, notwithstanding the fatigues of war, appears not yet to be aging. This celebrated man, who began and so happily carried through the American war, seems, as it were, to have been formed by nature to free this country of European rule and to inaugurate an epoch in the history of mankind. Bred to arms, he has not neglected the study of politics, and there is probably no one in America who has a better knowledge of the present condition of the United States or more sincerely desires their welfare. May Heaven spare him many years for the good of his country, for an example to it and to Europe.

“Leaving Mount Vernon December 29th, in the morning, I went by Colchester, a little place on the River Ochoquan, Dumfries, where there are several warehouses for tobacco; Aquaja (only a few houses), and fourteen miles beyond came to Falmouth, on the Rappahannock, whence it is the custom to ferry down to Fredericksburg, on the opposite bank. Fredericksburg, like Alexandria, is by law styled a city, and carries on a heavy trade in tobacco. From Fredericksburg many plantations are seen, larger and smaller. The large houses are generally built with a porch, and the outbuildings ranged at either side. The tobacco exhausts a cleared field in three years, and no attempt is made to manure, the cattle being kept at large in the woods. Two acres in tobacco bring about two hogsheads, or maybe 3,000 pounds. One thousand pounds (a hogshead) fetches from 27 to 39 shillings Virginia money the hundred.

[64]“The following day I traveled thirty miles through a district where much tobacco is raised, and much peach brandy and persimmon beer is made. The peach flourishes so in Virginia that often when a tract of land is cleared the peach trees take possession of the whole area, nothing being done for the propagation of them except letting in the sun on the ground. The persimmon is gathered from a sort of Guayakana in the woods. The fruit would be very good to eat but for the skin, which has an unpleasantness in the taste. In the evening I came to Richmond, now the capital of Virginia, a town which has grown rapidly, and numbers some 4,000 inhabitants, and 400 houses. The town is built on two hills, separated by a brook, over which is thrown a wooden bridge, with side ways for foot passengers. The trade of the place consists largely in tobacco, and there is much competition from the other markets at Alexandria and Petersburg. When I was there a well had just been dug to the depth of seventy feet on one of the hills, which rise one above another from the James, here a river foaming among great rocks. I visited the spot. The earth removed smelled of sulphur, and had the look of rotted wood, ash gray, but turning white on exposure to the air. There were found at the bottom of this well, bedded in the earth described, many bones, some larger than the bones of cattle, and also remains of the aboriginal Indians, stone implements, etc., proof that these tribes had been in possession of the land many centuries before.

“January 6th [1786] I passed on to Petersburg, through Osborne’s. Blandford, Pocahontas and Petersburg are now incorporated under the name Petersburg. Great quantity[65] of tobacco is brought to Petersburg, even from the North Carolina country, and is there exported to Europe as James River tobacco, which is the best sort.

“A mile from the town lives Colonel Banister, a nephew[H] of the famous John Banister, who gave up his place as professor of botany and librarian at the University of Oxford, and settling in this part of Virginia, at great pains and with rare judgment collected and described a number of the scarcest plants. From Colonel Banister’s I went, on the 9th, to Kingston, a rich plantation belonging to Captain Walker, in the county of Dinwiddie. The following day I visited Dr. Greenway, by birth an Englishman, and an amateur of botany.[I] I examined his collection with true pleasure, and the next day came again, since Dr. Greenway had given me leave to transscribe from his notes; I have included this material in my descriptions of American plants, relative to the medicinal practices of the aborigines. Five miles from Kingston the traveler passes the River Nottoway. The few Indians remaining of the tribe of that name live near Southampton Courthouse, forty miles distant.

“Having come from Kingston along this road, by the Nottoway and Hiksford (a wooden bridge leads over the Meherrin), thirteen miles beyond the Meherrin, I entered the State of North Carolina on the parallel thirty-six degrees thirty minutes. In this and other parts of Virginia, as also in both the Carolinas, there is found a very noxious serpent called by the inhabitants the Moquisson.

[66]“Returning from Georgia and the Carolinas, after I had passed the River Dan [May 11, 1786] three miles from the North Carolina line, I came to the plantation of Mr. W——. In the evening prayers were read, but after the first verse the announcement was made that it was bed time, and we had better disperse. The next day I reached Colonel Coles’s, having come forty miles through Paintonborough and by a bridge over Banister River. I had met Colonel Coles at Richmond, and was received by him with great cordiality. When he heard that I was on my way to Philadelphia he gave me a letter to his brother, Colonel John Coles, who has a place on that road, near Charlottesville. I examined with pleasure, at Colonel Coles’s (on Staunton River) several artificial meadows of clover and rye grass, or wild rye, and also the Colonel’s stud.

“I crossed the Staunton in a boat the morning of the 14th. Here I left the main road and traveled twenty miles through a rough country. The next day, after passing Johns’ Ordinary, I came to Buckingham Courthouse, situated on a high hill, at the foot of which runs the Appomattox.

“I spent the night at Mr. Patteson’s, who has a fine plantation near, and the following day reached James River, twenty miles beyond. A mile from the river a high wind began to blow and the sky was suddenly covered with black clouds.

“Thunder and lightning followed, and the rain and hail came down in streams. The horses were frightened and would not go on. When we reached the bank the storm had almost passed. We called to the ferryman, who was standing[67] in his door on the other side, but he moved not a foot until the rain had entirely ceased, and then gave as excuse that he had not seen us. While we were waiting a large serpent came out of the river onto the banks. I killed it, and found it to be not unlike what they call in Lombardy the smiroldo. On the other side of the river, in a group of houses, stands the building in which the court of Albemarle County was formerly held. I dried my clothes here, ate dinner, and kept on four miles to Eniscotty, the residence of Colonel John Coles, who received me hospitably as his brother. The situation, at the top of a hill, is such that the leaves fall later there, and appear earlier in the spring, than in the country adjacent. The calicanthus grows well, with such an exposure; the hill is called in the neighborhood the Green Hill, which, indeed, in situation and fertility may be compared with the foothills of Monte di Brianza. The mulberry and the vine should flourish here.

“May 18th I left Eniscotty. I crossed the Blue Ridge by the road through Rockfish Gap, which is not comparable, either in steepness or in length, to the roads over the Apennines, much less those over the Alps. Thick fog, followed by rain, compelled me to spend the day at a house on the divide, the proprietor of which told me much regarding the fertility of the lands in that region and the customs of the inhabitants. He informed me that many people from the lower country stayed at his house on their way to the springs in the Alleghany Mountains. Having crossed the Blue Mountains and the South River, I came to Stantown the morning of the 23d. Here I was enabled to see a mocking-bird.[68] These birds are often kept in cages, and are bought by the English at extravagant prices. They are very scarce to the north, and have many times fetched three to four guineas at Boston. About Stantown tobacco is only beginning to be cultivated. They raise wheat, Turkish corn [Indian corn] and hemp. Heavy rains kept me at Stantown until the 27th, and prevented me seeing the extraordinary Natural Bridge.

“At Middle River, a small stream usually fordable the year through, I found several travelers waiting for an opportunity to cross. I put up at a house nearby, and as often as the rain permitted went out, like the Egyptians, to measure with a rod the rise or fall of the waters.

“The morning of the 29th the good man of the house advised me that I might now cross. A crowd of people were at the bank to see us make the attempt. My servant stripped himself and ventured in (on horseback) with the carriage. He had hardly left the bank when the force of the stream swept him down and overturned the calesche. I called to him from where I was standing that his only hope was to let the horse go, and swim; he kept by the horse, and managed to save both it and himself. I resolved never again, in the matter of ferrying a swollen stream, to trust to the advice of these wild pioneers. The next morning I was able to cross, and at the North River was taken over in a flat canoe, the horses swimming at the side.

“The following day, having passed Smith Creek, a dangerous stream, I came into a new road, full of roots and bad from the rain besides. The wheels of the calesche, which[69] had already been many times repaired, broke into a hundred pieces, and at the first smithy I determined to abandon the vehicle and continue the journey on horseback. Beyond the Shenadore, which we crossed in a canoe, the horses swimming behind, we fell into a marshy and rocky road, which leads over Mill Creek and Stony Creek. Keeping on, through a country of many delightful prospects, between the Blue and the Alleghany Mountains, we passed through Millerstown, the county seat of the county of Shenadore, Stowerstown, Newtown, and arrived at Winchester.

“Winchester, for commerce, is one of the most important towns of Virginia. The number of the houses is about 200. The traffic is in wheat, flour and hemp, sold at Baltimore and Philadelphia, whence European manufactures are brought and expedited further beyond the mountains. The water at Winchester—limestone—has a strong effect on first being used. The 18th of June I left Winchester and spent that night at Weathers-don-Marsh, called also Charletown, and from there, on the following day, passed the Blue Ridge for the second time at Harper’s Ferry.”

[70]

[71]
VII.
DR. COKE IN VIRGINIA.

1785-1791.

Dr. Thomas Coke—The Eastern Shore—Alexandria—Swollen Creeks—The Pies of Mecklenburg—A Retired Dancing-Master—Halifax County—Following the Spring—Petersburg—Dan River Landscapes—Richmond—Port Royal.

IT would be an interesting book that should give the history of missions in this country. That godly man, Nicholas Ferrar, who was so active in the affairs of the London Company; the good minister of Jamestown, who came with the first supply; the pastors of the congregations that settled in Massachusetts; the Jesuit fathers; the emissaries of the Society of Friends; the Presbyterians from the north of Ireland and from Scotland; Whitefield, Asbury, Coke—how large was the share of these men in the making of America. Among them, Dr. Thomas Coke was not the least. He was nine times in this country and covered a great part of it as then known, including the islands of the British and several of the French Indies.

Dr. Coke was born in 1747, and was graduated B. A. at Oxford in 1768. In 1775 he was made D. C. L., and had considerable prospects of church preferment, but was reckoned a Methodist after 1776. His bishop reproved him, but[72] declined to remove him. His rector dismissed him. Wesley employed him for a time to assist in answering his voluminous correspondence. In 1782 he was the first president of the Irish Conference, and held the office for the rest of his life, with a few intermissions. In 1784 he drew up a plan for missions, and was appointed superintendent, with episcopal functions, in America. That year he came to this country and ordained Asbury, at Baltimore, as deacon, elder and superintendent. Wesley was very indignant at the change of the title superintendent to bishop, and the confirmation of the change led in 1792 to the O’Kellyan schism. Dr. Coke possessed a private fortune of £1,200 a year. He died in 1813 on a voyage to India. His work in the field of missions was cosmopolitan, and to him more than to any other the creation of the vast network of the Methodist foreign missions is due.

September, 1784, Dr. Coke sailed from King Road, Bristol, for New York. In November he was on the Eastern Shore. Returning to Philadelphia and Baltimore, he was at Alexandria March 9, 1785. This great man was able to enjoy the country. He was born in Wales. But he does not seem to have been skilled in the art of cross-country horsemanship in all weathers. He writes (March 9th): “In my ride this morning to Alexandria through the woods, I have had one of the most romantic scenes that ever I beheld. Yesterday there was a very heavy fall of snow and hail and sleet. The fall of sleet was so great that the trees seemed to be trees of ice. So beautiful a sight of the kind I never saw before.”

[73]There was no one to pilot Dr. Coke from Alexandria, and his servant had overstayed his time on a visit to the Eastern Shore. Between Alexandria and Colchester there were two runs to be crossed, both greatly swollen from the sudden thaw. “A friend who lives in Alexandria came with me over the first run, and everybody informed me I could easily cross the second if I crossed the first. When I came to the second (which was perhaps two hours after I crossed the first) I found that I had two streams to pass. The first I went over without much danger; but in crossing the second, which was very strong and very deep, I did not observe that a tree, brought down by the flood, lay across the landing place. I endeavored, but in vain, to drive my horse against the stream and go around the tree. I was afraid to turn my horse’s head to the stream and afraid to go back. In this dilemma I thought it most prudent for me to lay hold on the tree, and go over it, the water being shallow on the other side. No sooner did I execute my purpose so far as to lay hold of the tree (and that instant the horse was carried from under me) but the motion that I gave it loosened it, and down the stream it instantly carried me.” The tree, with passenger, lodged below at a little island, and then there floated down another tree. The doctor, besides being thoroughly wetted, was near losing his life. After more than a hundred years the suggestion may be offered that the first tree should never have been laid hold of. “I was now obliged to walk,” continues Dr. Coke, “about a mile, shivering, before I came to a house. The master and mistress were from home, and were not expected to return that night. But the[74] principal negro lent me an old ragged shirt, coat, waistcoat, breeches, etc., and the negroes made a large fire and hung my clothes up to dry all night.” Before bedtime the horse, having got around the tree, was recovered and brought in by a neighbor, who supposed the rider to be drowned. “As he seemed to be a poor man, I gave him half a guinea. I trust I shall never forget so awful but very instructive a scene.”

After this March welcome to Virginia, Dr. Coke passed through the State into North Carolina, and returned to Alexandria May 23d. He was at Fredericksburg and Williamsburg (where inquiring for a Methodist he was told there was one in the town, who proved to be “a good old Presbyterian” and hospitable), at Smithfield and Portsmouth, in Mecklenburg County, at New Glasgow, towards the mountains, and in Culpeper County. These sojournings are specified. There was a bad season in May that year, and near Alexandria the creeks were again difficult at the crossings. It was observed on this, the first tour, that in Mecklenburg County “they have a great variety of fruit pies—peach, apple, pear and cranberry, and puddings—very often.” About New Glasgow (on Buffalo River, just north of Amherst Courthouse) Dr. Coke remarks: “The wolves, I find, frequently come to the fences at night, howling in an awful manner; and sometimes they seize upon a straying sheep. At a distance was the Blue Ridge, an amazing chain of mountains. I prefer this country to any other part of America—it is so like Wales, my native country. And it is far more populous than I expected.”

[75]In April, 1787, Dr. Coke was a second time in Virginia, scarcely a fortnight. He had come from England to the Island of Antigua, and sailed from St. Eustatia in a large Dutch ship, February 10th, for Charleston. “In the course of our journey through North Carolina I preached at the house of a gentleman near Salisbury, who was formerly a dancing-master, and has amassed a considerable fortune, with which he has purchased a large estate. In traveling through Virginia our rides were so long that we were frequently on horseback till midnight after preaching in the middle of the day. Since I left Charleston I have got into my old romantic way of life, of preaching in the midst of great forests, with scores and sometimes hundreds of horses tied to the trees, which adds much solemnity to the scene.

“In the course of my journey through this State I visited the county of Halifax, where I met with a little persecution on my former visit. I am now informed that soon after I left the county on my former tour a bill was presented against me as a seditious person before the grand jury, and was found by the jury, and ninety persons had engaged to pursue me and bring me back again. Another bill was also presented in one of the neighboring counties, but was thrown out. Many of the people, I find, imagined that I would not venture amongst them again. However, when I came they all received me with perfect peace and quietness. Indeed, I now acknowledge that however just my sentiments may be concerning slavery, it was ill-judged of me to deliver them from the pulpit. Many of the inhabitants at Richmond, I was informed, said that I would not dare to venture into that[76] town. But they did not know me, for I am a plain, blunt man, that goes directly on. However, instead of opposition, the Governor of the State, who resides there, ordered the Capitol to be opened to me, and a very respectable and very attentive congregation I was favored with.” On the way from Richmond to Alexandria there was a plot laid for Dr. Coke by a company of agreeable men at one of the inns. “In the first dish of tea there was a little rum; in the second a little more, but the third was so strong that on our complaining of a conspiracy, it seemed as if the rum had sprung into our tea of itself, for both company and waiters solemnly protested they were innocent. On the last day of April Mr. Asbury and I arrived at Baltimore.”

The following year, 1788 (the Atlantic seems to have been but a ferry even then), Dr. Coke was in Virginia again for a few days, coming, as in 1787, from the West Indies by Charleston. “In traveling from North Carolina to Virginia we were favored with one of the most beautiful prospects I ever beheld. The country, as far as we could see from the top of a hill, was ornamented with a great number of peach orchards, the peach trees being all in full bloom, and displaying a diversity of most beautiful colors—blue, purple and violet. On the opposite side of a beautiful vale which lay at the foot of a hill, ran the River Yeadkin, reflecting the rays of the sun from its broad, placid stream; and the mountains which bounded the view formed a very fine background for the completing of the prospect. The two days following we rode on the ridge of a long hill, with a large vale on each side, and mountains rising above mountains for twenty, and[77] sometimes, I suppose, for forty miles on each hand. In Halifax County, Virginia, where I met with much persecution four years ago, almost all the great people of the county came in their chariots and other carriages to hear me, and behaved with great propriety: there were not less than five colonels in the congregation. On the 18th of April we opened our first Virginia Conference for the State of Virginia in the town of Petersburgh. From Petersburgh we set off for our second Virginia Conference, which we held in the town of Leesburgh, visiting Richmond by the way.”

Dr. Coke’s fourth and last journey in Virginia (the last, that is, recorded in his book, published 1793) was again in April, year 1791. As in 1787 and 1788, the approach was from the south. “On Monday, the 11th of April, we arrived at Dickes’s Ferry, in Virginia. Our ride on that day was remarkably pleasing. The variety arising from the intermixture of woods and plantations along the sides of the broad, rocky river Dan, near which we rode most part of the time, could not but be a source of great pleasure to an admirer of the beauties of nature. Hitherto (April 15th) I might be said to have traveled with the spring. As I moved from South to North the spring was, I think, as far advanced when I was in Georgia as when I came into Virginia. But now it has evidently got the start of me. The oaks have spread out their leaves, and the dogwood, whose bark is very medicinal, and whose innumerable white flowers form one of the finest ornaments of the forest, is in full bloom. The deep green of the pines, the bright transparent green of the oaks, and the fine white of the flowers of the dogwood, with other[78] trees and shrubs, form such a complication of beauties as are indescribable to those who have only lived in countries that are almost entirely cultivated.

“For about 800 miles which I have rode since I landed in South Carolina, we have had hardly any rain. But this day, the 16th, we were wetted to the skin. However, we at last happily found our way to the house of a friend by the preachers’ mark—the split bush.” This circumstance may appear to many immaterial; however, as it may convey some idea of the mode in which the preachers are obliged to travel in this country, I will just enlarge upon it. The method was to split two or three bushes, at the junction of several roads, along the road that should be followed; very useful to the itinerant at the formation of new circuits in the forest. Dr. Coke observes: “In one of the circuits the wicked discovered the secret, and split bushes in wrong places on purpose to deceive the preachers.”

The character of this great man appears in his book, written without artifice. The people were glad to see him. “On the 20th of April we opened our conference at Petersburgh. April 24th I preached in Richmond, in the Capitol where the Assembly sits, to the most dressy congregation I ever saw in America. However, they gave great attention. In the afternoon I rode to Colonel Clayton’s, about twenty-five miles from Richmond. April 20th I came among the cedar trees. This evening we arrived at Port Royal, where a numerous and very dressy congregation had been waiting for us about two hours with wonderful patience. A gentleman of the name of Hipkins, a capital merchant of the town, sent us a[79] genteel invitation to sup with him, and lodge at his house. I accepted of it. Soon after I came in he observed that the Philadelphia paper had informed the public of the death of Mr. Wesley.[J] I gave no credit to the account, but, however, intreated the favour of seeing the paper. He sent immediately to a neighboring merchant who took in that paper, and about 10 o’clock the melancholy record arrived. I evidently saw by the account that it was too true.

“The next morning I set off for New York, in order to be in time for the British packet. At Alexandria the news was confirmed by a letter from London. On the 29th I crossed the run of water called Akatenke, down which I was carried by the flood. We were now come into a country abounding with singing birds. But alas! I could take no pleasure in them, the death of my venerable friend had cast such a shade of melancholy over my heart. The night being very dark, it was with great difficulty that my friend, who traveled with me, and myself found our way from Alexandria to Blaidensburg.”

[80]

[81]
VIII.
A SUMMER AT BATH.

1791.

Captain Bayard, of the Artillery—From Baltimore to Bath—Bath described—Tea at Bath—Irish Comedians—Valley Lands—Winchester—Colonel P.—The Sabbath in America—Land Merchants.

IN the year VI (1798) there was published at Paris a book written by a retired captain of artillery, Ferdinand Marie Bayard, described on the title page, “A Journey Into the Interior of the United States, to Bath, Winchester, the Shenandoah Valley, etc., etc., During the Summer of 1791.” It is strange that this book has not been translated. It is interesting as a sort of sentimental journey of a very intelligent man (member of the Society of Sciences Letters and Arts at Paris), who visited a spot not often mentioned by the early traveler in this country. Captain Bayard was born at Moulins la Marche in 1768, and was living in 1836. He was in his twenty-third year the summer of 1791. He had already retired from the army and become a traveler in various parts of the world.

Captain Bayard seems to have landed at Baltimore, with his wife and small boy. He remarks, “The months of June, July and August are bad for children if kept in town in this[82] country. Bath, situated 120 miles from Baltimore, and near the Valley of the Shenandoah, offered a stopping place in the country and a point of departure from which to visit that fertile region, where, beneath skies almost always serene, the inhabitants cultivate a generous soil, which rewards liberally the slightest efforts of human industry. I wished to see this promised land, from the bosom of which an innumerable population is beginning to arise, prosperous and content, and already passing the limits of the Valley to occupy the vast spaces beyond. Besides, before returning home, I desired to gain a knowledge of the American people, and this I could better compass in the country than in the towns. For the trip I hired a carriage at Baltimore, at 41 francs the passenger, baggage included. The owner was the driver, and a very skilful one, as we learned on the road, which is often abominable and extremely dangerous.

“Four miles south of the Potomac [by way of Ellicott’s Lower Mill, Ellicott’s Upper Mill, the Red House, the Monocacy River, Fredericktown, and Middletown] we arrived at Bath, in Virginia. The town is situated in a triangular and very narrow gorge. The mountain to the west is high and steep, and in the month of March snow and earth become loosened from the declivity and descend in avalanches. The houses built next to this dangerous mountain are protected by heavy palisades. Several people, having neglected the precaution, have had their houses engulfed. The residents boast of the climate—the winter not too cold, and the heat of summer moderate. Bath has two public buildings—the theatre and the bathhouse. The first is a log edifice, and the second[83] a framed barrack, partitioned into eight cells, in each of which there are steps arranged for the convenience of the bathers. The spring is hard by. The water is dispensed in a goblet by the man in charge. The water is clear, lukewarm, and insipid, but very efficacious.

“I have seen many come to Bath fearfully rheumatic, who had to be carried to the spring at first, and in three weeks were able to walk with a crutch. Bath was formerly called Warm Springs. The name was changed in deference to the English resort. This imitative mania is a bad symptom, and augurs ill for that nation, whose name is dear to lovers of liberty everywhere. At Bath the young women ride about a great deal, and are excellent horsewomen. It is to be remarked that their physiognomy is distinct among American women. During the fall, boats come up the river from Alexandria and Georgetown, and return laden with grain. After that season there is no more traffic by water until the spring, and if any one has neglected to provide himself he must make a trip to Winchester for supplies, thirty-nine miles off. The inhabitants of this region are very fond of the English boxing match. Generally a bruiser (breaker of bones) is in charge of these combats, who sees to the strict carrying out of all the regulations.

“At our boarding house (excellent fare) there were about forty people, among them two Virginians—Madame B. and Madame A.—who spoke French tolerably well. Madame B. had read the works of Swedenborg, and entertained us with descriptions drawn from those mystical books. There were several very pious people at our boarding house, one of whom[84] had a theory that eating was not to satisfy the appetite. I noticed that he ate a great deal. At Bath it is the custom to drink tea at 5 o’clock. Everything is very ceremonious. At the right of the lady dispensing tea are ranged in a half circle all the other ladies. A profound silence follows the entrance of each invited guest; all the ladies as grave as judges on the bench. A small acajou table is placed before the dispenser of tea. Silver pots contain the coffee and the hot water, which serves to weaken the tea or to receive the cups. A domestic brings on a silver waiter the cup, the sugar dish, the cream pot, the butter balls, the thin slices of ham. A Frenchman is embarrassed at the necessity of watching his cup and saucer in one hand, and with the other receiving a tart or a slice of very thin ham.

“In sending back the cup the spoon must be placed in a manner to indicate whether you will begin again, or have finished drinking. A Frenchman on one occasion, unfamiliar with English and ignorant of this polite sign language, was overcome at seeing the sixteenth cup arrive, which, having emptied, he hit upon the device of stowing it in his pocket, dreading a seventeenth. The tea dispensed and consumed, there are songs. Mademoiselle L. was the accomplished artist at Bath. Her favorite song was one of a certain Patrick, who, absent, was still to be remembered.

“We had at Bath a troupe of Irish comedians, alternately emperors, shepherds, clowns, and no doubt very badly fed. The young man who played the lover found great difficulty in pronouncing his consonants. A tall, thin man played the tragic role of enamored prince. A blonde soubrette was solemnly[85] coquettish. The others of the troupe are scarcely to be recalled. We had tragedy, comedy, comic opera, and farce. Every week there was a dance. Billiards was an amusement, and there was play at the taverns, particularly after the arrival of a gentleman who kept a Pharaoh bank. He was treated with great courtesy, and I heard nothing said against his probity. Nevertheless, it happens that the planter who arrives at Bath with equipage and attendants goes home with nothing but a horse, and a very mean horse.

“I hired a horse to go to Winchester. For more than half of the way the country is wild. As you draw nearer the town in the Valley, many well-stocked farms appear, the land being very fertile. On the slope there range strong, long-wooled sheep, not afraid of wolves during the summer. Such war is made upon the wolves that even in this heavily timbered country there is little danger from them except when the snow lies deep upon the ground. It is a magnificent country about Winchester. The men are tall, well-made, of strong constitutions, and ruddy. The horses and cattle have the eye and the gait of health. I stopped at a tavern kept by a German, who has made a fortune in the business. I was treated with consideration, for having lived at Strasbourg and for having crossed the Rhine. At this tavern there is a good cook, the meat is excellent, there is game and fresh-water fish; the house is well furnished, wines of every country, good linen, good beds, the rooms well lighted, and the whole at a reasonable price. The day after I arrived there came to the tavern an old gentleman limping from the gout. I mentioned Thomas Payne to him and the ‘Rights of Man.’ He fixed me[86] with his eye, out the air with his stick, and said vehemently that he wished Thomas Payne was hanged. He left me, and at the same time I got up, whistling the air of ‘Ca Ira.’ I learned the cause of his behavior: he had held a lucrative office before the war, and was an incurable Tory.

“A Mr. Smith, who lives a mile from Winchester, asked me to dine. I spent the time very agreeably there. From the liberality of his opinions I was led to discuss the political situation of America with considerable frankness. Mr. Smith and his brother-in-law accompanied me back to Winchester, discoursing by the way of their fortunate lot, of the progress of agriculture, and of the richness of the inexhaustible soil, which yields an abundance to the inhabitants of this beautiful Valley.

“I had a letter of introduction to Colonel P., formerly aid de camp to General Washington. Colonel P. lives some sixteen miles from Winchester, greatly esteemed for his public and private virtues. On the way to his house I passed through a country of abundant harvests, fat pastures and well peopled; where there was forest the trees were of a magnificent growth, and in the intervals a deep green turf invited the traveler to repose. It was hot. I dismounted beneath a poplar tree, the white flower of which offered its corolla to the bee and the humming bird. The coolness of the place, the delicious perfumes exhaled by the acacias, the ivy, and the flowers springing from the sod, all gave to the senses that calm which is the precursor of sleep; but ideas of the happiness prepared for generations to come in this land of peace[87] and plenty, thoughts of the future greatness of the American people, supplied a reverie sweeter than that of dreams.

“Not far from the house of Colonel P., I met a large man on horseback, whose open countenance was an invitation to talk. He was dressed like a farmer during the busy season. I asked him the way. He showed me the road, and continued his path without adding a word to the precise answer he had given me. Arrived at the house, I found the overseer near the barn directing some negroes who were shelling corn. I had not been long in the house, a structure of logs, and very comfortable, when there entered the same man I had met in the road, none other than Colonel P. himself. I presented my letter, which he quickly read, and receiving me in the most friendly manner, offered me refreshments. We talked of the war, and he sketched for me in brief its causes. At dinner I drank old whiskey distilled on the place. The Colonel spoke with pleasure of his farm operations: he makes everything at home. He showed me the plan of his 1,000 acres, at the centre of which he will build a large and commodious house. At the present time his outbuildings are more carefully constructed than his mansion. I quitted Colonel P. at sunset, much pleased with him, and grateful for his kind attentions.[K] Shortly after, the moon appeared over the mountains to the south, and cast a light over the valley. The whippoorwill commenced its plaints, almost extinguished by[88] the various song of the melodious mocking-bird. The blacks were coming in from the fields singing behind the slow horses fatigued with the day’s work.

“The next day at Winchester I went to church, a frame building, and hitched around it horses of price well caparisoned. The negroes sat in the gallery, dressed in their Sunday clothes. Below were their masters and mistresses, whose appearance proclaimed them alive to the sanctity of the place and to the solemnity of the ceremony.

“The minister, a Presbyterian, was the grandson of a Frenchman. Coming back from church I observed that the doors of all the houses were closed. They remained so throughout the day. Mrs. B. and her daughters retired after dinner to read chapters of the Old and the New Testament. Throughout the United States this is the manner of observing Sunday.

“The Valley of the Shenandoah is a most prosperous and healthful region. Tobacco, corn, flax and wheat are the principal crops. Twelve miles from Winchester I could have bought land for 50 shillings the acre, but nearer the town the price of cleared land is from three to four pounds. Several Europeans who have settled hereabouts have not succeeded well, and for the reason that they failed to discard European customs. It should not be overlooked that the price of labor and that of produce is in reverse proportion to what prevails in Europe. Here labor is high and market values, net, are low. An especial error of foreigners is the attempt to improve too fast. A Frenchman who has bought 300 acres of land thinks he has a ‘property,’ and goes to work on the grand[89] scale. What with building and embellishments he is very apt to go bankrupt. There are men in this region who have made fortunes in land speculations. There is not a tavern at Winchester where land merchants may not be found. They are as enthusiastic in their offers as the women who sell toothpicks at the doors of Paris restaurants and cafés. An especially pleasing feature of their preliminaries is that they assure you their only motive is to make your fortune. I met one of these merchants who desired to enrich me, nolens volens, by selling me land at an excessively high price.

“Winchester is destined to be a manufacturing town, and to a degree incalculable as soon as communication with the Atlantic coast shall have been established by means of the rivers or by canal. Already there is a famous carriage works at Winchester; and boots, shoes, and saddles are made there, which, for use and for style of workmanship, equal the product of the older cities.

“I set out from Winchester for Bath at 4 o’clock in the morning, in order to be on the mountain before the sun was too high. A light fog covered the Valley, resembling transparent gauze, through which appeared the tops of trees, houses and cabins, the cabin chimneys already smoking. I observed that the squirrels were early awake. Coming to Bath, I found the great subject of talk was a duel lately fought and announced in the Gazette.”

[90]

[91]
IX.
ISAAC WELD.

1796.

Hoe’s Ferry—Freshwater Oysters—Vicissitudes of Ferriage—By-Ways and Hospitality—The Northern Neck—Tappahannock—A Forest Fire—From Urbanna to Gloucester—Norfolk—Richmond—The Mocking-Bird—Frogs—Columbia—The Green Springs—The Southwest Mountain—Monticello—Lynchburgh—New London—Botetourt County—The Lower Valley—Lexington, Staunton, Winchester.

1.
THE following are the observations of young Isaac Weld, of Dublin. He was on his way from Philadelphia, and stopped at the Falls of the Potomac:

“From hence I followed the course of the river downwards as far as George Town, where I again crossed it, and after passing through the Federal city, proceeded along the Maryland shore of the river to Piscatoway, and afterwards to Port Tobacco. In the neighborhood of Piscatoway there are several very fine views of the Virginian shore; Mount Vernon in particular appears to great advantage. From Port Tobacco to Hoe’s Ferry on the Potowmac River, the country is flat and sandy and wears a most dreary aspect. Nothing is[92] to be seen here for miles together but extensive plains that have been worn out by the culture of tobacco, overgrown with yellow sedge and interspersed with groves of pine and cedar trees, the dark green colour of which forms a curious contrast with the yellow of the sedge. In the midst of these plains are the remains of several good houses.

“Such a number of roads in different directions cross over these flats, upon none of which is there anything like a direction post, and the face of a human being is so rarely met with that it is scarcely possible for a traveler to find out the direct way at once. Instead of twelve miles, the distance by the straight road from Port Tobacco to the ferry, my horse had certainly traveled twice the number before we got there. After having waited for two hours and a half for my breakfast, the most I could procure was two eggs, a pint of milk and a bit of cake bread, scarcely as big as my hand.

“After having got into the ferry-boat the man of the house, as if conscious that he had given me very bad fare, told me that there was a bank of oysters in the river, close to which it was necessary to pass, and that if I chose to stop the men would procure abundance of them for me. The curiosity of getting oysters in fresh water tempted me to stop, and the men got near a bushel of them in a very few minutes. These oysters are extremely good when cooked, but very disagreeable eaten raw; indeed all the oysters found in America are, in the opinion of most Europeans, very indifferent and tasteless when raw. The Americans, on their part, find still greater fault with our oysters, which, they say, are not fit to be eaten in any shape, because they taste of copper.

[93]“The river at the ferry is about three miles wide, and with particular winds the waves rise very high; in these cases they always tie the horses, for fear of accidents, before they set out; indeed with the small open boats which they make use of it is what ought always to be done, for in this country gusts of wind rise suddenly. Having omitted this precaution, the boat was on the point of being overset two or three different times as I crossed over. On the Virginian shore, opposite to the ferry house from whence I sailed, there are several large creeks, which fall into the Potowmac. As I wished to go beyond these creeks I therefore hired the boatman to carry me ten miles down the Potowmac River in the ferry-boat, past the mouths of them all; this he accordingly did, and in the afternoon I landed on the beach, not a little pleased at finding that I had reached the shore without having been under the necessity of swimming any part of the way.

“The part of the country where I landed appeared to be a perfect wilderness. Taking a road, however, as nearly as I could guess, in a direct line from the river up the country, at the end of an hour I came upon a narrow road, which led to a large old brick house, somewhat similar to those I had met with on the Maryland shore. On inquiring here from two blacks for a tavern, I was told there was no such thing in this part of the country. In the course of five or six miles I saw several more of the same sort of old brick houses, and the evening now drawing toward a close, I began to feel the necessity of going to some one of them. I was considering within myself which house I should visit, when a lively old negro, mounted on a little horse, came galloping after me. On[94] applying to him for information on the subject, he took great pains to assure me that I should be well received at any of the houses I might stop at, and strongly recommended me to proceed under his guidance to his master’s house, which was but a mile farther on.

“‘Masser will be so glad to see you,’ added he; ‘nothing can be like.’

“I accordingly took the negro’s advice and rode to the dwelling of his master, made him acquainted with my situation, and begged I might be allowed to put my horse in his stable for the night. The reception, however, which this gentleman gave me differed so materially from what I had been led to expect, that I was happy at hearing from him that there was a good tavern at the distance of two miles. I apologized for the liberty I had taken, and made the best of my way to it. Instead of two miles, however, this tavern proved to be about three times as far off. The next day I arrived at Stratford, the residence of a gentleman, who, when at Philadelphia, had invited me to pass some time with him whenever I visited Virginia. Some of the neighbouring gentlemen dined here together, and having related to them my adventures on arriving in Virginia, the whole company expressed the greatest astonishment. Every one seemed eager to know the name of the person who had given me such a reception, and begged me to tell it. I did so, and the Virginians were satisfied, for the person was a Scotsman, and had, it seems, removed but a short time before from some town or other to the plantation on which I found him.

[95]“This part of Virginia is called the Northern Neck, and is remarkable for having been the birthplace of many of the principal characters which distinguished themselves in America, during the war, by their great talents.

“Though many of the houses in the Northern Neck are built of brick and stone, in the style of the old English manor houses, yet the greater number there and throughout Virginia are of wood, amongst which are all those that have been built of late years. This is chiefly owing to a prevailing, though absurd, opinion, that wooden houses are the healthiest, because the inside walls never appear damp. Tobacco is not near so much cultivated now as it was formerly, the great demand for wheat having induced most of the planters to raise that grain in preference. Those who raise tobacco and Indian corn are called planters, and those who cultivate small grain, farmers.

“Towards the end of April I crossed the Rappahannock River, which bounds the Northern Neck on one side, to a small town called Tappahannock, or Hobb’s Hole, containing about 100 houses. Before the war this town was in a much more flourishing state than at present; that unfortunate contest ruined the trade of this little place, as it did that of most of the seaport towns in Virginia. The Rappahannock is about three-quarters of a mile wide opposite the town. Sharks are very often seen in this river. What is very remarkable, the fish are all found on the side of the river next to the town.

“As I passed through this part of the country, from Tappahannock to Urbanna, I observed many traces of fires in the[96] woods, which are frequent, it seems in the spring of the year. I was a witness myself to one of these fires, that happened in the Northern Neck.

“The day had been remarkably serene; in the afternoon, however, it became sultry, and streams of hot air were perceptible now and then, the usual tokens of a gust. About 5 o’clock the horizon towards the north became dark, and a terrible whirlwind arose. I was standing with some gentlemen on an eminence at the time, and perceived it gradually advancing. As it came along it leveled the fence rails, and unroofed the sheds for the cattle. We made every endeavor, but in vain, to get to a place of shelter; in the course of two minutes the whirlwind overtook us; the shock was violent; it was hardly possible to stand, and difficult to breathe. The whirlwind passed over in about three minutes, but a storm, accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning, succeeded. On looking round immediately after the whirlwind had passed a prodigious column of fire now appeared in a part of the wood where some brushwood had been burning; in many places the flames rose considerably above the summit of the trees, which were of a large growth. It was a tremendous, and at the same time sublime sight. The negroes in the surrounding plantations were all assembled with their hoes, and watches were stationed at every corner to give the alarm if the fire appeared elsewhere.

“The country between Urbanna and Gloucester is neither so flat nor so sandy as that bordering upon the Rappahannock. The trees, chiefly pines, are of very large size, and afford abundance of turpentine, which is extracted from them in[97] large quantities by the inhabitants, principally, however, for home consumption. Gloucester contains only ten or twelve houses. There are remains here of one or two redoubts thrown up during the war. The town of York consists of about seventy houses, an Episcopalian church, and a gaol. Great quantities of tobacco were formerly inspected here; very little, however, is now raised in the neighborhood. The little that is sent for inspection is reckoned to be of the very best quality, and is all engaged for the London market. In the town the houses bear evident marks of the siege; and the inhabitants will not, on any account, suffer the holes perforated by the cannon balls to be repaired on the outside. Till within a year or two the broken shells themselves remained; but the New England men that traded to York, finding they would sell well as old iron, dug them up and carried them away in their ships. Twelve miles from York, to the westward, stands Williamsburg. The town consists of about 1,200 inhabitants, and the society in it is thought to be more extensive and more genteel at the same time than what is to be met with in any other place of its size in America. No manufactures are carried on here, and scarcely any trade.

“From Williamsburgh to Hampton the country is flat and uninteresting. From this town there is a regular ferry to Norfolk, across Hampton Roads, eighteen miles over. Norfolk would be a place of much greater trade than it is at present were it not for the impolicy of some laws which have existed in the State of Virginia. One of these laws, so injurious to commerce, was passed during the war. It was enacted that all merchants and planters in Virginia, who[98] owed money to British merchants, should be exonerated from their debts if they paid the money due into the public treasury instead of sending it to Great Britain. The treasury at first did not become much richer in consequence of this law. However, when the continental paper money became so much depreciated many of the people began to look upon the measure in a different point of view. In vain did the British merchant sue for his money when hostilities were terminated; he could obtain no redress.

“Another law, baneful in the highest degree to the trading interest, is one which renders all landed property inviolable. Owing to this law they have not yet been enabled to get a bank established at Norfolk. Repeated attempts have been made in the State Assembly to get this last mentioned law repealed, but they have all proved ineffectual. The debates have been very warm on the business.

“The houses in Norfolk are about 500 in number. These have all been erected since the year 1776, when the town was totally destroyed by fire. The losses suffered on that occasion were estimated at £300,000. Amongst the inhabitants are great numbers of Scotch and French. The latter are almost entirely from the West Indies, and principally from St. Domingo.

“Not a bit of fodder was to be had on the whole road from Norfolk to Richmond, excepting at two places. Oats were not to be had on any terms. Great crowds were assembled at Petersburgh, as I passed through, attracted to it by the horse races, which take place four or five times in the year. The[99] only particular circumstance in their mode of carrying on their races in Virginia is that they always run to the left.

“Richmond is situated immediately below the falls of James River, on the north side. The river opposite to the town is crossed by the means of two bridges, which are separated by an island. The bridge, leading from the south shore to the island, is built upon fifteen large flat-bottomed boats, kept stationary in the river by strong chains and anchors. The bows of them, which are very sharp, are put against the stream, and fore and aft there is a strong beam, upon which the piers of the bridge rest. The bridges thrown across this river, opposite the town, have repeatedly been carried away; it is thought idle, therefore, to go to the expense of a better one. The strongest stone bridge could hardly resist the bodies of ice that are hurried down the falls by the floods on the breaking up of a severe winter.

“Though the houses in Richmond are not more than 700 in number, yet they extend nearly one mile and a half along the banks of the river. The lower part of the town is built close to the water, and opposite to it lies the shipping. This is connected with the upper town by a long street, which runs parallel to the course of the river, about fifty yards removed from the banks. The situation of the upper town is very pleasing; it stands on an elevated spot, and commands a fine prospect of the falls of the river and of the adjacent country on the opposite side. The best houses stand here, and also the Capitol, or State house. From the opposite side of the river this building appears extremely well.

[100]“A canal is completed at the north side of the falls, which renders the navigation complete from Richmond to the Blue Mountains, and at particular times of the year boats with light burthens can proceed still higher up. In the river, opposite the town, are no more than seven feet of water, but ten miles lower down about twelve feet. Most of the vessels trading to Richmond unload the greatest part of their cargoes at this place into river craft, and then proceed up to the town. Trade is carried on here chiefly by foreigners.”

2.
Isaac Weld, who spent about two years in this country, from 1795 to 1797, returned to Ireland “without entertaining the slightest wish to revisit the American continent.” During his visit he saw a great deal, wrote a very good book after going home (an extraordinary book as the work of a very young man), and it is a matter of congratulation that he came. Weld was a little past twenty-one when he landed at Philadelphia. He was born in Dublin, of influential family connections, and had the advantage in his youth of an acquaintance with the Martineaus, those exceptionally intelligent people. Isaac Weld died in 1856. He had been for years vice-president of the Royal Dublin Society, and was famous as a topographer. Some account has already been given of his tour through the Northern Neck to Richmond. The observations continue:

“Having stayed at Richmond somewhat longer than a week, which I found absolutely necessary, if it had only been to[101] recruit the strength of my horses, I proceeded in a north-westerly direction towards the Southwest or Green Mountains.

“The first week in May had arrived; the trees had obtained a considerable part of their foliage, and the air in the woods was perfumed with the fragrant smell of numberless flowers and flowering shrubs. The music of the birds was also delightful. It is thought that in Virginia the singing birds are finer than what are to be met with on any other part of the continent, as the climate is more congenial to them. The notes of the mocking-bird, or Virginian nightingale, are in particular most melodious. It is a remark, however, made by Catesby, and which appears to be a very just one, that the birds in America are much inferior to those in Europe in the melody of their notes, but that they are superior in point of plumage. I know of no American bird that has the rich, mellow note of our blackbird, the sprightly note of the skylark, or the sweet and plaintive one of the nightingale. After having listened to the mocking-bird, there is no novelty in hearing the song of any other bird in the country; and indeed, their songs are, for the most part, but very simple in themselves, though combined they are pleasing.

“The frogs in America, it must here be observed, make a most singular noise, some of them absolutely whistling, whilst others croak so loudly that it is difficult at times to tell whether the sound proceeds from a calf or a frog; I have more than once been deceived by the noise when walking in a meadow. These last frogs are called bullfrogs; they mostly keep in pairs, and are never found but where there is good[102] water; their bodies are from four to seven inches long, and their legs are in proportion; they are extremely active, and take prodigious leaps.

“The first town I reached on going towards the mountains was Columbia, or Point of Fork, as it is called in the neighborhood. It is situated about sixty miles above Richmond, at the confluence of Rivanna and Fluvanna Rivers, which united form James River. This is a flourishing little place, containing about forty houses, and a warehouse for the inspection of tobacco. On the neck of land between the two rivers, just opposite to the town, is the magazine of the State, in which are kept 12,000 stand of arms, and about thirty tons of powder. The low lands bordering upon the river in this neighborhood are extremely valuable.

“From Columbia to the Green Springs, about twenty miles farther on, the road runs almost wholly through a pine forest, and is very lonely. Night came on before I got to the end of it, and, as very commonly happens with travelers in this part of the world, I soon lost my way. A light, seen through the trees, seemed to indicate that a house was not far off. My servant eagerly rode up to it, but the poor fellow’s consternation was great indeed when he observed it moving from him, presently coming back, and then with swiftness departing again into the woods. I was at a loss for a time myself to account for the appearance. I found it proceeded from the firefly. As the summer came on these flies appeared every night. After a light shower in the afternoon I have seen the woods sparkling with them in every quarter.

[103]“After wandering about till it was near 11 o’clock, a plantation at last appeared, and having got fresh information respecting the road from the negroes in the quarter, who generally sit up half the night, and over a fire in all seasons, I again set out for the Green Springs. With some difficulty I at last found the way, and arrived there about midnight. The hour was so unseasonable that the people at the tavern were very unwilling to open their doors. Besides the tavern and the quarters of the slaves, there is but one more building at this place. This is a large farmhouse, where people that resort to the springs are accommodated with lodgings about as good as those at the tavern. The springs are just on the margin of the wood at the bottom of a slope which begins at the houses, and are covered with a few boards merely to keep the leaves from falling in. The waters are chalybeate, and are drank chiefly by persons from the low country, whose constitutions have been relaxed by the heats of summer.

“Having breakfasted in the morning at this place, I proceeded on my journey up the Southwest Mountain. In the course of the day’s ride I observed a great number of snakes, which were now beginning to come forth from their holes. I killed a black one that I found sleeping, stretched across the road; it was five feet in length. The black snake is more commonly met with than any other in this part of America. It is wonderfully fond of milk, and is frequently found in the dairies, which in Virginia are for the most part in low situations like cellars.

“The Southwest Mountains run nearly parallel to the Blue Ridge, and are the first which you come to on going up the[104] country from the sea coast in Virginia. The soil here changes to a deep argilaceous earth, particularly well suited to the culture of small grain and clover, and produces abundant crops. As this earth, however, does not absorb the water very quickly the farmer is exposed to great losses from heavy falls of rain. On the sides of the mountain, where the ground has been worn out with the culture of tobacco, and the water has been suffered to run in the same channel for a length of time, it is surprising to see the depth of the ravines, or gullies, as they are called. However, the country in the neighborhood of these mountains is far more populous than that which lies towards Richmond; and there are many persons that even consider it to be the garden of the United States. The salubrity of the climate is equal also to that of any part of the United States; and the inhabitants have in consequence a healthy, ruddy appearance. The people appeared to me to be of a more frank and open disposition, more inclined to hospitality, and to live more contentedly on what they possessed than the people of the same class in any other part of the United States I passed through.

“Along these mountains live several gentlemen of large landed property, who farm their own estates, as in the lower parts of Virginia; among the number is Mr. Jefferson. His house is at present in an unfinished state, but if carried on according to the plan laid down, it will be one of the most elegant private habitations on the United States. Several attempts have been made in this neighborhood to bring the manufacture of wine to perfection; none of them, however, have succeeded to the wish of the parties. A set of gentlemen[105] once went to the expense even of getting six Italians over for the purpose. We must not, however, conclude that good wine can never be manufactured upon these mountains. It will require some time, and different experiments, to ascertain the particular kind of wine, and the mode of cultivating it best adapted to the soil of these mountains.

“Having crossed the Southwest Mountains I passed along to Lynchburgh, a town situated on the south side of Fluvanna River. This town contains about 100 houses, and a warehouse for the inspection of tobacco, where about 2,000 hogsheads are annually inspected. It has been built entirely within the last fifteen years, and is rapidly increasing, from its advantageous situation for carrying on trade with the adjacent country. The boats, in which the produce is conveyed down the river, are from forty-eight to fifty-four feet long, but very narrow in proportion to their length. Three men are sufficient to navigate one of these boats, and they can go to Richmond and back again in ten days. They fall down with the stream, but work their way back again with poles. The cargo carried in these boats is always proportioned to the depth of water in the river, which varies very much. Along the banks I observed great quantities of weeds hanging upon the trees considerably above my head, though on horseback. A few miles from Lynchburgh, towards the Blue Mountains, is a small town called New London, in which there is a magazine and also an armory, erected during the war. About fifteen men were here employed, as I passed through, repairing old arms and furbishing up others. At one end of the room lay the musquets, to the amount of about[106] 5,000, all together in a large heap, and at the opposite end lay a pile of leathern accoutrements, absolutely rotting for want of common attention. All the armories throughout the United States are kept much in the same style.

“Between this place and the Blue Mountains the country is rough and hilly, and but very thinly inhabited. The few inhabitants, however, met with here are uncommonly robust and tall; it is rare to see a man amongst them who is not six feet high. These people entertain a high opinion of their own superiority in point of bodily strength over the inhabitants of the low country. A similar race of men is found all along the Blue Mountains.

“Beyond the Blue Ridge, after crossing by this route near the Peaks of Otter, I met with but very few settlements till I drew near to Fincastle, in Bottetourt County. This town was only begun about the year 1790, yet it already contains sixty houses, and is most rapidly increasing. The improvement of the adjacent country has likewise been very rapid, and land now bears nearly the same price that it does in the neighborhood of York and Lancaster, in Pennsylvania. The inhabitants consist principally of Germans, who have extended their settlements from Pennsylvania along the whole of that rich tract of land which runs through the upper part of Maryland, and from thence behind the Blue Mountains to the most southern part of Virginia. They have many times, I am told, crossed the Blue Ridge to examine the land, but the red soil which they found there was different from what they had been accustomed to.

[107]“The difference indeed between the country on the eastern and on the western side of the Blue Ridge, in Bottetourt County, is astonishing, when it is considered that both are under the same latitude, and that this difference is perceptible within the short distance of thirty miles. On the eastern side of the Ridge, cotton grows extremely well; and in winter snow scarcely ever remains upon the ground more than a day or two at a time. On the other side cotton never comes to perfection, and in every farmyard you see sleighs or sledges. On the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, in Virginia, not one of these carriages is to be met with.

“Another circumstance may also be mentioned (besides the contrast in the soils) as making a material difference between the country on one side of the Blue Ridge and that on the other, namely, that behind the mountains the weevil is unknown. In the lower parts of Virginia, and the other states where the weevil is common, they always thresh out the grain as soon as the crops are brought in, and leave it in the chaff, which creates a degree of heat sufficient to destroy the insect. According to the general opinion, the weevil originated on the eastern shore of Maryland, where a person, in expectation of a great rise in the price of wheat, kept over all his crops for the space of six years, when they were found full of these insects. For a considerable time the Potowmac River formed a barrier to their progress. The Blue Mountains at present serve as a barrier, and secure the country to the westward from their depredations.

“Bottetourt County is entirely surrounded by mountains. The climate is particularly agreeable. It appears to me that[108] there is no part of America where the climate would be more congenial to the constitution of a native of Great Britain or Ireland. In the western part of the county are several medicinal springs, whereto numbers of people resort towards the latter end of summer. Those most frequented are called the Sweet Springs. A set of gentlemen from South Carolina have, I understand, since I was there, purchased the place and are going to erect several commodious dwellings in the neighborhood.

“The country immediately behind the Blue Mountains, between Bottetourt County and the Potowmack River, is agreeably diversified with hill and dale, and abounds with extensive tracts of rich land. The natural herbage is not so fine here as in Bottetourt County, but when clover is once sown it grows most luxuriously; wheat also is produced in as plentiful crops as in any part of the United States. Tobacco is not raised excepting for private use, and but little Indian corn is sown, as it is liable to be injured by the nightly frosts, which are common in the spring. The whole of this country to the west of the mountains is increasing most rapidly in population. In the neighborhood of Winchester it is so thickly settled that wood is now beginning to be thought valuable.

“As I passed along the road from Fincastle to the Potowmack, which is the high road from the Northern States to Kentucky, I met with great numbers of people from Kentucky and the new State of Tennessee going towards Philadelphia and Baltimore, and with many others going in a contrary direction ‘to explore,’ as they call it, that is to search[109] for lands conveniently situated for new settlements in the western country. These people all travel on horseback, with pistols or swords, and a large blanket folded up under their saddle. There are now houses scattered along nearly the whole way from Fincastle to Lexington, in Kentucky. It would be still dangerous for any person to venture singly; but if five or six travel together they are perfectly secure. Formerly travelers were always obliged to go forty or fifty in a party.

“The first town you come to, going northward from Bottetourt County, is Lexington, a neat little place that did contain about 100 houses, a courthouse and gaol, but the greater part of it was destroyed by fire just before I got there. Thirty miles farther on stands Staunton. This town carries on a considerable trade with the back country, and contains nearly 200 dwellings, mostly built of stone, together with a church. Winchester stands 100 miles to the northward of Staunton, and is the largest town in the United States on the western side of the Blue Mountains. The houses are estimated at 350.”

[110]

[111]
X.
THE DUKE OF LA ROCHEFOUCAULD-LIANCOURT.

1796.

The Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt—The Status of Norfolk—From Yorktown to Richmond—The Business of Richmond—Tobacco Inspection—Administration of Virginia—The Dover Mines—Goochland Court House—Monticello—Staunton—Winchester—Alexandria—Roads and Inns.

THE Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt was born January 11, 1747, and died in 1827. He was in this country, of which he made a thorough investigation, during the years 1795, 1796 and 1797, having been obliged to quit France in 1792 by reason of the insanities of the Revolution. It is stated that his education was neglected. He was early in the army, and was in England in 1769. On his return from England he made a practical application of the methods of agriculture he had studied in that country. He set up a model farm on his estate, and established a school of arts and trades for the sons of soldiers, which, in 1788, numbered 130 students. It was he who made the answer to Louis XVI, “No, sire, it is Revolution,” when the King observed, “This seems to be a revolt.” He turned over a part of his fortune to the King. From 1792 to 1795, and after[112] his return from America, he was in England, being much with Arthur Young, the famous agriculturist. Returning to France in 1799, he continued his scientific and philanthropic works, and (as much as was possible) was active in public affairs. He was the organizer of the first savings bank.

The two large volumes of travels in this country by the Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt were translated, and published at London in 1799. These volumes are a record, and a summary of statistics for that period of the history of this country such as are not to be found elsewhere, the work of a man who had an eye for both the intimate and the exterior concerns of the State. France was a volcano in those years, and the observer was glad to give an undivided attention to the facts of the new country across the seas. Below are a few statements bearing on Virginia, taken from the second volume of this remarkable book. The traveler came by ship, three days from Charleston to Norfolk, landing May 29th [1796].

“Norfolk is built on Elizabeth River, at nine miles from the spot where it discharges its waters into the bay. In the intervening space there are few houses. An almost uninterrupted succession of pines are the only object which meets the traveler’s eye. Erancy Island lies nearly in the middle of the river at a short distance above its mouth. Two points of land, which approach within a quarter of a mile of each other in front of Norfolk, are strengthened with forts which are capable of successfully defending the entrance. Portsmouth, a small assemblage of houses on the opposite side of the river, did not share in the conflagration of Norfolk. From[113] its situation it seemed entitled to expect all the commerce of Elizabeth River; at its quays the greatest depth of water is found. But at the conclusion of the peace, the inhabitants, being incensed against the English, refused to admit any merchant of that nation, or any newcomer whose political principles were liable to suspicion. The consequence has been that the inhabitants have removed to the opposite side; that Norfolk has been rebuilt, and that its trade is twenty times more considerable than that of Portsmouth.

“At the close of the year eighty-three there were not yet twelve houses rebuilt at Norfolk. At present the number is between 700 and 800. Last year the yellow fever is said to have carried off 500 persons from a population of 4,000. The inhabitants of Norfolk, even those among them who are the most opulent, fancy that the use of wine and strong liquors furnishes them with a preservative. Previous to the war the town is said to have contained 8,000 inhabitants. Norfolk carries on a considerable trade with Europe, the Antilles, and the Northern States. Her exports are wheat, flour, Indian corn, timber of every kind, particularly planks, staves and shingles; salt meat and fish, iron, lead, flaxseed, tobacco, tar, turpentine, hemp. All these articles are the produce of Virginia, or of North Carolina, which latter State, having no seaports, or none that are good, makes her exportations principally through those of Virginia. This port almost singly carries on all the commerce of that part of Virginia which lies south of the Rappahannoc, and of North Carolina far beyond the Roanoke. They are at present forming a canal which, passing through the Dismal Swamp, is to unite[114] the waters of the south branch of Elizabeth River, or rather of Deep Creek, with Albemarle Sound. What must appear very surprising is that for this canal, which already seems in such a state of forwardness, no levels have been taken. It is thus almost all the public works are carried on in America, where there is a total want of men of talents in the arts, and where so many able men, who are perhaps at this moment unemployed in Europe, might to a certainty make their fortunes at the same time that they were rendering essential service to the country.

“The European demand has within four years more than doubled the value of the exports from Norfolk. A barrel of flour, whose medium value in 1791 was $5.55, rose in 1795 to $9.35; and Indian corn was at 37 cents the bushel in 1791, at 54 in 1792, and at 66 in 1795. Exclusive of the flour exported from Norfolk, there is drawn from the State, through that and other ports, a great quantity of wheat, which is taken by the merchants of Philadelphia and New York, or the millers of Brandywine, who manufacture it into flour, which they export to Europe. Good mills are not very common in Virginia. The exportation of tobacco from Norfolk has by the diminution of the culture of that article in Virginia, been reduced above one-third within the last five years. The medium rate of house rent at Norfolk is $230. Many English commercial houses are established at Norfolk. This year England procured from Virginia a number of horses to mount the cavalry, which she proposes to send to the French islands. Of 400 horses already shipped off, only 150 lived to reach the place of their destination.

[115]“Agriculture can hardly be said to exist in Norfolk County or in that of Princess Ann. The landed property is much divided, and the inhabitants devote themselves rather to the selling of timber than to the cultivation of the soil. In all these parts land is sold at from $6 to $7 per acre; and often the value of the timber, which it offers for the axe, amounts to four or five times the price of the original purchase. From eighty to ninety vessels of different dimensions are annually built at Norfolk. The price of building is, for the hull on coming from the hands of the carpenter, $24 per ton for those above 120 tons. Ready for sea, they cost from $47 to $50 per ton. It was intended that Norfolk should build one of the six frigates of which the United States had determined to compose their marine. That which was to have been built at Norfolk was among the number countermanded: it was begun at Gosport, where there are dock yards for the construction of the largest vessels. The communication between Norfolk and Portsmouth is continual: it is carried on by six rowboats belonging to a company, and by three scows, in which horses and carriages are conveniently ferried over. The fare for each passenger is one-sixteenth of a dollar; but on paying $6 a person may become free of the passage for twelve months. To the port of Norfolk, above any other in the United States, came the greatest number of colonists escaped from Saint Domingo. Private subscriptions raised in all the towns of Virginia, together with further sums voted by the State Legislature and by Congress, afforded the unfortunate French incontestable proofs of the benevolence and generosity of the Americans. Major William Lindsey, commissioner of[116] the Custom House, is, of all the inhabitants of Norfolk, the individual with whom I have the most particular reason to be satisfied. He is a man recommended by simplicity of manners and goodness of heart, and is held in universal esteem. I am profoundly indebted to him for information on a variety of subjects.

“A wherry, employed in transporting the mail from Norfolk to Hampton, whence it is forwarded by land to Richmond, is the usual conveyance for passengers who intend to pursue that route. In good weather the passage is performed in two hours: we were ten hours in crossing for want of wind. The Richmond mail arrives at Hampton, an inconsiderable village, three times a week. Formerly there was a custom house established here. In 1795 this was united with that of Norfolk. The monument voted by Congress for erection at York Town is not even yet begun. Such negligence is inconceivable, shameful and unaccountable. On the opposite side of the river from York Town, in Gloucester County, are annually built a considerable number of vessels. The highest rents at York Town are from $80 to $100. Flour, an article which it is difficult to procure, costs at present $15. From York Town to Williamsburg land is sold at $4 or $5 the acre. The students at the college in Williamsburg pay $14 to each professor whose course of lessons they attend. Their board and lodging cost them from $100 to $120. The lands about Williamsburg yield from eight to twelve bushels of wheat per acre, or from twelve to fourteen of Indian corn. Those few spots that are manured with dung produce double that quantity. Crowded in the stage by ten passengers and their[117] baggage, we did not arrive at Richmond before 11 o’clock at night, though we had set out from Williamsburg at 8 in the morning; the rain, which has been abundant during the last two days, having rendered the roads very bad.

“The position of Richmond is truly agreeable. On the opposite side of the river the country rises in a gentle aclivity; and the little, but well-built town of Manchester, environed by cultivated fields, which are ornamented by an infinite number of trees and dotted with scattered houses, embellishes the sweet, variegated, agreeable and romantic perspective. This town has prodigiously increased, but within the last two or three years it has remained stationary. A few years back a conflagration consumed almost all the lower part of the town. At present there are few wooden houses at Richmond. The trade of this town consists in the purchase of the country productions, and in selling at second-hand the articles of domestic consumption, which are generally procured from England. The number of merchants who carry on a direct commerce with Europe is inconsiderable. They keep their ships at Norfolk, and send down the produce of the country in smaller vessels. The commission trade may be considered as the real business of the place. It is from the merchants of Richmond or Petersburg that those of Norfolk most commonly purchase the grain, flour and tobacco which the latter export. The country produce is paid for by the merchants in ready money or at short credit; they even frequently obtain it on cheaper terms by furnishing the planters with an advance of money on their crop. The Richmond merchants[118] supply all the stores through an extensive tract of back country. As they have a very long credit from England, they can allow a similar indulgence of six, nine or twelve months to the shop-keepers whom they supply. All the merchants deal in bills of exchange on Europe.

“The falls of James River, which obstructed its navigation from the distance of seven miles above Richmond, heretofore imposed the necessity of employing land carriage for that space. At present a canal, running parallel with the course of the river for those seven miles, connects the communication by water, and opens a navigation which extends without interruption 200 miles above Richmond. I have seen one of the two mills at Richmond. It stands below the falls of the river, receives a great power of water, and turns six pair of stones. It is a fine mill, and unites the advantages of all the new inventions: the cogs of the wheels are clumsily executed. It costs a yearly rent of near $6,000 to Monsieur Chevalier, a Frenchman from Rochefort, heretofore director of the French paquets to America, and now settled in Virginia. Flour mills are more numerous at Petersburg than at Richmond, and the mills there are also upon a good construction. The exportations of Petersburg are more considerable than those of Richmond, although generally speaking, the produce it receives is inferior in quality. Tobacco, for instance, which sells at Richmond for $6 or $7 the hundred weight, does not fetch quite $5 at Petersburg. City Point, or Bermuda Hundred, is the spot where the custom house is established for these two places. At half a mile from the custom house[119] stands the habitation of Mr. D. Randolph, who is fully entitled to the reputation which he enjoys of being the best farmer in the whole country.

“The inspection of tobacco in Virginia, and especially on James River, is esteemed to be conducted with a degree of exactness and severity, which contributes as much as the real superiority of the article itself to keep up its price in the market. The hogsheads are broken at the warehouse, and examined in every direction and in every part. The tobacco is then repacked in its hogshead, which is branded with a hot iron, marking the place of inspection and the quality of the contents. The planter receives a certificate of the particulars. It is by selling this ‘tobacconote’ to the merchant that the planter sells his tobacco. The civil laws of Virginia have struck me as wisely ordained. The State of Virginia has no public debt, except $100,000, in which she was found debtor to the Union on the settlement of the accounts of the States with the general government; and a claim made on the part of France for arms and military stores furnished during the war. From the condition of the finances of the State of Virginia it follows that the taxes are by no means heavy. The counties impose no taxes, unless when they have bridges, prisons or courthouses to build. The slave laws are much milder here than in any of the other countries through which I have hitherto traveled.

“On the 20th of June Mr. Guillemard and myself set out for the mountains; Monticello, the habitation of Mr. Jefferson, was the object of this part of our journey. Messrs. Graham & Havens, merchants of Richmond, and owners of a coal[120] mine at Dover, near by, were so kind as to conduct us thither. This mine is scarcely wrought. There is not one person throughout America versed in the art of working mines. The country between Dover and Goochland Courthouse, where we stopped at night, is more variegated than before; you find there more heights, and some fine prospects, especially on Mount Pleasant, which commands a wide extensive vale entirely cleared, and full of houses and clumps of trees. This day was a court day at Goochland. It was near 9 o’clock at night when I arrived. At the inn the company easily discerned that I was a Frenchman. There arrived a large bowl of grog, and we drank one after another, toasting the French, France, America, Virginia, and M. de la Fayette, whose name they mentioned with enthusiasm. In spite of my little disposition for drinking, I was obliged two or three times to drink in my turn, for it was absolutely necessary to empty the bowl. It was with great difficulty I prevented the arrival of a second. The road grows duller after you leave Goochland Courthouse. The plantations become constantly less frequent and less extensive. Inns are very scarce on this road; the next is nearly seventeen miles distant from that where we passed the night. I went a mile farther on, to stop at one which I knew was kept by a Frenchman. After having spent nearly the whole day there, we went ten miles farther on to an ordinary, where we stopped for the night, and the next day proceeded to Monticello.

“Mr. Jefferson’s house commands one of the most extensive prospects you can meet with; when finished by his new plan, it will certainly deserve to be ranked with the most pleasant[121] mansions in France or England. He has divided all his land under culture into four farms, and every farm into seven fields of forty acres. His system of rotation embraces seven years. Mr. Jefferson possesses one of those excellent threshing machines, which a few years since were invented in Scotland. He has a drilling machine, invented in his own neighborhood. Mr. Jefferson, in common with all landholders in America, imagines that his habitation is more healthy than any other; that it is as healthful as any in the finest parts of France. In private life Mr. Jefferson displays a mild, easy, and obliging manner, though somewhat cold and reserved; he possesses a stock of information not inferior to that of any other man. His daughters have been educated in France, where they became acquainted with my family. Fifteen hundred leagues from our native country, in another world, and frequently given up to melancholy, we fancy ourselves restored to existence when we hear our family and our friends mentioned by persons who have known them.

“We arrived at Staunton by the road through Rockfish Gap. The most frequented road to the Sweet, Warm and Hot Springs at Greenbriar, and from thence to Kentucky, passes through Staunton. Eight inns are established there, three of which are large. Hemp, which grows very fine, is cultivated throughout the whole of this country. Wheat in this region is mowed with the sickle, as in Europe, and is infected with the rot. On the other side of the Blue Mountains they mow with the scythe. From Staunton we passed by Keyssel Town, Newmarket, Strasburgh (formerly called Stover’s Town), and Newtown, to Winchester. Winchester[122] sends to Alexandria the whole produce of the upper country, and draws from Baltimore, but especially from Philadelphia, all sorts of dry goods. Upwards of thirty well-stocked stores, or shops, have been opened at Winchester. The town contains ten or twelve inns, large and small, which are often full. In the course of last year upwards of 4,000 persons passed through the place, going to settle in Tennessee or Kentucky. Landed property in the vicinity of Charlestown is more divided, perhaps, than in any other part of Virginia. Very few of the planters possess more than 2,000 acres of land, and few even so much. Alexandria is, beyond all comparison, the handsomest town in Virginia, and, indeed, is among the finest in the United States. Alexandria carries on a constant trade with the West India Islands, and also some with Europe. There is a bank at Alexandria, the only one in Virginia. The establishment of a bank at Richmond was authorized by the Legislature of Virginia in December, 1792, but the subscriptions not filling it does not exist.[L]

“The roads are in general good throughout this State; and although the inns are sometimes bad, yet upon the whole they are better than in the other States. Those in the back country, where I have traveled, are preferable to the inns in many of the most inhabited parts of New England.”

[123]
XI.
JOHN DAVIS OF SALISBURY.

1801-1802.

The Sailor Turned Author—Vice-President Burr—Washington in 1801—Cherokees—Gadesby’s—Colchester—Occoquan—Romantic Situation—Tavern Luxuries—Eloquence and a War-Dance—Parson Weems—Scholarship Per Se—Frying Pan—Newgate—Mr. Ball—‘To Virginia.’

IN the year 1798 John Davis came to America. He had been very much of a traveler, had lived in the East Indies, had crossed the equator several times and doubled the Cape of Good Hope more than once. Davis came from Salisbury, in England. He deserves a place in the biographical dictionaries, but is not found there. Having been a sailor before the mast for eleven years, he became a desultory man of letters, of considerable literature, who paid his way while in this country by potboiling for New York and Philadelphia booksellers and by teaching in South Carolina and Virginia.[M] He brought with him across the Atlantic a library of 300 volumes, French, Latin and English. These books he read. For statistics, commerce, land speculations, Davis cared[124] nothing whatever. He was an impressionist and not to be disregarded as a poet. His work, therefore, is distinct among these early travels which are usually records of fact as fact, and as such are extremely valuable. However a man sees, let him write.

Thomas Jefferson, who was pleased to accept the dedication to him of this volume, supposed that it would be of a statistical sort. “Should you in your journeyings have been led to remark on the same objects on which I gave crude notes some years ago, I shall be happy to see them confirmed or corrected by a more accurate observer,” wrote President Jefferson from Monticello.

Davis accepted the acceptance and published a book as little like the “Notes on Virginia” as any book could well be. The author had read Horace and believed as that poet did that his work was going to last. “That this volume will regale curiosity while man continues to be influenced by his senses and affections, I have little doubt,” was the statement of John Davis in his preface. “It will be recurred to with equal interest on the banks of the Thames and those of the Ohio. There is no man who is not pleased in being told by another what he thought of the world and what the world thought of him.” There is a good deal of truth in both the particular and the general observation. We have not yet taken the time to review our history with much care. Whenever that is done, John Davis, of Salisbury, citizen of the world, more or less, should find readers again after a hundred years.

[125]Having translated for bookseller Caritat, in New York (at Aaron Burr’s suggestion), “The Campaign in Italy of General Buonaparte,” and afterwards having spent a winter as tutor in the family of Mr. Drayton, of South Carolina, Davis came back to the North, wrote a novel called the “Wanderings of William,” for Thompson, of Philadelphia, and, nevertheless, being in want of ready money, applied to Mr. Burr, now Vice-President, for a recommendation that might lead to government employment. The Vice-President very obligingly promised the indigent author a place in the Treasury Department. Davis set out for Washington, which at that time had only begun to emerge. The village of 1801 is thus described, as if by Goldsmith: “Washington, on my second journey to it wore a very dreary aspect. The multitude had gone to their homes, and the inhabitants of the place were few. There were no objects to catch the eye but a forlorn pilgrim forcing his way through the grass that overruns the streets, or a cow ruminating on a bank, from whose neck depended a bell, that the animal might be found the more readily in the woods. I obtained accommodations at the Washington Tavern, which stands opposite the Treasury. There I found seven Cherokee chiefs. They came to be instructed in the mode of European agriculture.” Presenting himself to Secretary Gallatin immediately after the Cherokee chiefs had descended the Treasury stairs, Davis was told by the Secretary that the Vice-President had made a mistake, and that there was no consulship or any other office to be had. Another instance of the startling difference between promise and fulfilment.

[126]“Finding a schooner at Georgetown ready to sail for Alexandria, I put my trunk on board of her, and left without regret the Imperial City. The wind being contrary, we had to work down the Potomac. The river here is very beautiful. Mason’s Island forms one continued garden; but what particularly catches the eye is the Capitol, rising with sacred majesty above the woods. It was easier landing at Alexandria in America than Alexandria in Egypt; and I found elegant accommodations at Gadesby’s hotel. It is observable that Gadesby keeps the best house of entertainment in the United States. The splendour of Gadesby’s hotel not suiting my finances, I removed to a public-house kept by a Dutchman.

“To what slight causes does a man owe some of the principal events of his life. I had been a fortnight at Alexandria, when, in consequence of the short advertisement I had put in the Gazette, a gentleman was deputed to wait on me from a Quaker, on the banks of the Occoquan, who wanted a Tutor for his children. The following evening I left Alexandria on horseback to visit the abode of Mr. Ellicott. Having crossed the bridge [at Colchester], which is built over the Occoquan, I alighted at the door of the tavern.

“Having ordered supper, I gazed with rapture on the Occoquan River, which ran close to the house, and, gradually enlarging, emptied itself into the capacious bosom of the Potomac. The fishermen on the shore were hawling their seine, and the sails of a little bark, stemming the waves, were distended by the breeze of night. The seaboy was lolling over the bow, and the helmsman was warbling a song to his absent fair.

[127]“The next day I proceeded to Occoquan; but so steep and craggy was the road that I found it almost inaccessible. On descending the last hill, I was nearly stunned by the noise of two huge mills, whose roar, without any hyperbolical aggravation, is scarcely inferior to that of the great falls of the Potomac, or the cataract of Niagara. My horse would not advance; and I was myself lost in astonishment.

“Friend Ellicott and his wife received me with an unaffected simplicity of manners, whom I was happy to catch just as they were going to dinner. An exquisite Virginia ham smoked on the board, and two damsels supplied the guests with boiled Indian corn, which they had gathered with their own hands. Friend Ellicott, uncorrupted by the refinement of modern manners, had put his hat to its right use, for it covered his head.

“Our agreement was soon made. Quakers are men of few words. Friend Ellicott engaged me to educate his children for a quarter of a year. He wanted them taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. Delightful task! As to Latin or French, he considered the study of either language an abuse of time; and very calmly desired me not to say another word about it.

“No place can be more romantic than the view of Occoquan to a stranger, after crossing the rustic bridge, which has been constructed by the inhabitants across its stream. He contemplates a river urging its course along mountains that lose themselves among the clouds; he beholds vessels taking on board flour under the foam of the mills, and others deeply laden expanding their sails to the breeze; while every[128] face wears contentment, every gale wafts health, and echo from the rocks multiplies the voices of the waggoners calling to their teams.

“No walk could be more delightful than that from Occoquan to Colchester, when the moon was above the mountains. You traverse the bank of a placid stream over which impend rocks, in some cases bare, but more frequently covered with an odoriferous plant that regales the traveller with its fragrance. So serpentine is the course of the river that the mountains, which rise from its bank, may be said to form an amphitheatre; and nature seems to have designed the spot for the haunt only of fairies; for here grow flowers of purple dye, and here the snake throws her enamelled skin.

“After clambering over mountains, almost inaccessible to human toil, you come to the junction of the Occoquan with the noble river of the Potomac, and behold a bridge, whose semi-elliptical arches are scarcely inferior to those of princely London. And on the side of this bridge stands a tavern, where every luxury that money can purchase is to be obtained at a first summons; where the richest viands cover the table, and where ice cools the Madeira that has been thrice across the ocean.[N] The apartments are numerous and at the same time spacious; carpets of delicate texture cover the floors; and glasses are suspended from the walls in which a Goliah might survey himself. No man can be more complaisant than the landlord. Enter but his house with money in your pocket,[129] and his features will soften into the blandishments of delight; call and your mandate is obeyed; extend your leg and the boot-jack is brought you.

“On the north bank of the Occoquan is a pile of stones, which indicates that an Indian warrior is interred underneath. The Indians from the back settlements, in traveling to the northward, never fail to leave the main road, and visit the grave of their departed hero. If a stone be thrown down, they religiously restore it to the pile; and, sitting round the rude monument, they meditate profoundly; catching, perhaps, a local emotion from the place.

“A party of Indians, while I was at Occoquan, turned from the common road into the woods to visit this grave on the bank of the river. The party was composed of an elderly Chief, twelve young War Captains, and a couple of Squaws. Of the women, the youngest was an interesting girl of seventeen; remarkably well shaped, and possessed of a profusion of hair, which in colour was raven black. She appeared such another object as the mind images Pocahontas to have been.

“The Indians being assembled round the grave, the old Chief rose with a solemn mien, and, knocking his war-club against the ground, pronounced an oration to the memory of the departed warrior. No orator of antiquity ever exceeded this savage chief in the force of his emphasis, and the propriety of his gesture. Indeed, the whole scene was highly dignified. The fierceness of his countenance, the flowing robe, elevated tone, naked arm, and erect stature, with a circle of[130] auditors seated on the ground, and in the open air, could not but impress upon the mind a lively idea of the celebrated speakers of ancient Greece and Rome.

“Having ended his oration, the Indian struck his war-club with fury against the ground, and the whole party obeyed the signal by joining in a war-dance—leaping and brandishing their knives at the throats of each other, and accompanying their menacing attitudes with a whoop and a yell, which echoed with ten-fold horror from the banks of the river. The dance took place by moonlight, and it was scarcely finished, when the Chief produced a keg of whiskey, and having taken a draught, passed it round among his brethren. The squaws now moved the tomahawks into the woods, and a scene of riot ensued. The keg was soon emptied. The effects of the liquor began to display itself in the looks and motions of the Indians. To complete the scene, the old warrior was uttering the most mournful lamentations over the keg he had emptied; inhaling its flavour with his lips, holding it out with his hands in a supplicating attitude, and vociferating to the bye-standers, ‘Scuttawawbah! Scuttawawbah! More strong drink! More strong drink!’

“About eight miles from the Occoquan mills is a house of worship, called Powheek Church; a name it derives from a Run that flows near its walls. Hither I rode on Sundays and joined the congregation of Parson Weems. I was confounded on first entering the church-yard at Powheek to hear

‘Steed threaten steed with high and boastful neigh.’

Nor was I less stunned with the rattling of carriage-wheels, the cracking of whips, and the vociferations of the gentlemen[131] to the negroes who accompanied them. But the discourse of Parson Weems calmed every perturbation.

“After church I made my salutations to Parson Weems, and having turned the discourse to divine worship, I asked him his opinion of the piety of the blacks. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘no people in this country prize the Sabbath more seriously than the trampled-upon negroes. They are swift to hear; they seem to hear as for their lives.—How, sir, did you like my preaching?’ ‘Sir,’ cried I, ‘it was a sermon to pull down the proud and humble the haughty.’

“I had been three months at Occoquan. My condition was growing irksome. I, therefore, resigned my place to an old drunken Irishman, who was traveling the country on foot in search of an Academy. I remonstrated with Friend Ellicott on the impropriety of employing a sot to educate his children. ‘Friend,’ said he, ‘of all the schoolmasters I ever employed, none taught my children to write so good a hand, as a man who was constantly in a state that bordered on intoxication. They learned more of him in one month than of any other in a quarter. I will make trial of Burbridge.’”

Davis returned to New York, collecting a few dollars at Philadelphia, due him from sales of “The Wanderings of William.” In April, 1802, he was at Washington again, where Congress was in session. “I watched an opportunity to make the Vice-President my salutations as he came out of the Capitol. He demonstrated no little pleasure to see me; and his chariot being at the steps, he took me home with him to dine.” The House of Representatives was then sitting in[132] a detached temporary building. Davis thought John Randolph the most eloquent in debate. After a few days in Washington, the itinerant passed on to Prince William County, where he had been engaged as tutor by Mr. Ball at twenty-five pounds the quarter. At Frying Pan, in Prince William County, Davis inquired the way. “How far, my boy,” said I, “is it to Frying Pan?” “You be in the Pan now,” replied the boy.

“Frying Pan is composed of four log huts and a meeting-house. It took its name from a curious circumstance. Some Indians, having encamped on the run, missed their frying pan in the morning, and hence the name was conferred on the place. I did not stop at Frying Pan, but prosecuted my walk to Newgate, where in the piazza of the tavern I found a party of gentlemen from the neighboring plantations carousing over a bowl of toddy and smoking segars. No people could exceed these men in politeness. On my ascending the steps to the piazza every countenance seemed to say: This man has a double claim to our attention because he is a stranger. In a moment there was room made for me to sit down; a new bowl was called for, and every one who addressed me did so with a smile of conciliation. The higher Virginians seem to venerate themselves as men. Whatever may be advanced against Virginians, their good qualities will ever outweigh their defects; and when the effervescence of youth has abated, when reason asserts her empire, there is no man on earth who discovers more exalted sentiments, more contempt for baseness, more love of justice, more sensibility of feeling,[133] than a Virginian. At Newgate my pilgrimage was nearly at an end, for Mr. Ball’s plantation was only distant eight miles.”

Beyond Newgate, Bull Run was to be crossed. Having passed that famous stream, the pedagogue and peripatetic, after a mile or two, came to the Ball plantation. An old negro showed him the way, who related, among many other things, that when he was a young buck he made as much as fifteen dollars one winter as capitation money—“Master, I don’t tell you a word of a lie”—levied on the wolves of the region. At Mr. Ball’s: “In my way through the garden I passed two young ladies gathering roses, who, however immured in the woods, were clad with not less elegance than the most fashionable females of Europe. I asked them whether Mr. Ball was at home. They replied that their papa was in the parlour, and with much sweetness of manner directed me by the shortest path to the house. Mr. Ball[O] received me with undissembled accents of joy. He said he had long expected my coming and was gratified at last. I was not a little delighted with the suavity of his manners and the elegance of his conversation. I now opened what some called an Academy and others an Old Field School; and, however it may be thought that content was never felt within the walls of a seminary, I for my part experienced an exemption from care and was not such a fool as to measure the happiness of my condition by what others thought of it. Of the boys I can not speak in very encomiastic terms. Of my female students[134] there was none equal in capacity to Virginia. Geography was one of our favorite studies. I often addressed the rose of May in an appropriate ode—

TO VIRGINIA, LOOKING OVER A MAP
“Powerful as the magic wand,
Displaying far each distant land,
Is that angel hand to me,
When it points each realm and sea.
“Plac’d in geographic mood,
Smiling, shew the pictur’d flood,
Where along the Red Sea coast
Waves o’erwhelm’d the Egyptian host.
“Again the imag’d scene survey,
The rolling Hellespontic Sea,
Whence the Persian from the shore
Proudly pass’d his millions o’er.
“And behold to nearer view,
Here thy own lov’d country too—
Virginia! which produc’d to me
A pupil fair and bright like thee.”
What with a horse, the artisanry of verse, a mild philosophy, and the business of his office, John Davis spent three months very agreeably on Bull Run, within sight of the Blue Ridge. Then a New Jersey farmer of the neighborhood discovered[135] that his eldest boy wrote a better hand than the teacher. Davis resigned the academy to the carpenter of the plantation. “I now once more seized my staff and walked towards Baltimore. It was a killing circumstance to separate from Virginia (the student of geography), but who shall persume to contend against fate? Phyllida amo ante alias, nam me discedere flevit. I embarked August, 1802, in the good ship Olive, Captain Norman, lying at Baltimore, for Cowes, in the Isle of Wight.”

[136]

[137]
LIST OF TRAVELS
1. A Tour in the United States. Containing an Account of the Present Situation of that Country, the Population, Agriculture, Commerce, Customs & Manners of the Inhabitants, &c., &c. By John Ferdinand D. Smyth. Two Volumes. London, 1784.

2. Travels through the Interior Parts of America. In a Series of Letters. By an Officer. [Thomas Anburey.] Two Volumes. London, 1789.

3. New Travels through North America. In a Series of Letters, exhibiting the History of the Victorious Campaign of the Allied Armies, under his Excellency General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau in the Year 1781. Translated from the Original of the Abbé Robin. Philadelphia. Robert Bell: Third Street. 1783.

4. Travels in North America in the Years 1780-81-82 by the Marquis de Chastellux, one of the forty members of the French Academy & Major General in the French Army, serving under Count de Rochambeau. Translated from the French by an English Gentleman [George Grieve] who resided in America at that period. With Notes by the Translator. New York. 1828. [From the English edition of 1787.]

5. Reise durch einige der mittlern und südlichen vereinigten Nordamerikanischen Staaten, nach Ost-Florida und den Bahama-Inseln, unternommen in den Jahren 1783 und 1784. Von Johann David Schoepf. 2 Bde. Erlangen. 1788.

[Translated and edited by A. J. Morrison. Two Volumes. William J. Campbell. Philadelphia. 1911.]

6. Viaggio negli Stati Uniti dell’ America settentrionale, fatto negli anni 1785, 1786, e 1787, da Luigi Castiglioni, &c., &c. 2 Tome. Milano. 1790.

7. Extracts of the Journals of the Rev. Dr. Coke’s Five Visits to America. London. 1793.

[138]

8. Voyage dans l’Intéreur des États Unis, à Bath, Winchester, dans la Vallé de Shenandoha, etc., etc., etc., pendant l’été de 1791. Par Ferdinand M. Bayard. Paris. 1797.

9. Travels through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. By Isaac Weld, Junior. 3rd Edition. Illustrated and embellished with sixteen plates. Two Volumes. London. 1800.

10. Travels through the United States of North America, the Country of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada. In the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, &c., &c. By the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt. [Translated by H. Neuman.] Two Volumes. London. 1799.

11. Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America. During 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, and 1802. Dedicated by permission to Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States. By John Davis. London. 1803.

[Edited by A. J. Morrison. Henry Holt & Co. New York. 1909.]

FOOTNOTES:
[A]Or Hicksford, now Emporia.

[B]Richard Henderson, one of the Colonial Judges of North Carolina, b. Hanover County, Va., 1735.

[C]In Pittsylvania County, near the North Carolina line, and northwest of the Little Sawra Towns. cf. Map, Jefferson’s Notes, Ed. 1787.

[D]Smyth’s entire book, two volumes, is one of the most interesting of that period. It is possible he exaggerates, and he may be a compiler here and there when he professes to be giving his own adventures. He is readable always. Chapters of his book offer puzzles which are yet to be elucidated. Some one must carefully check up the adventures of John Rowzee Peyton with those of Smyth. (See John L. Peyton, Adventures of My Grandfather.)

[E]And it is not at all impossible that the work was wholly a compilation, done skilfully at London.

[F]Translated by Philip Freneau. Philadelphia, 1783: Price ‘two thirds of a dollar.’

[G]The Marquis Armand de la Rouërie, called in America Colonel Armand.

[H]Colonel Banister was the son of the botanist. cf. Campbell, p. 725.

[I]Dr. Greenway was a connection of Gen. Winfield Scott. cf. Scott’s Autobiography, I, pp. 3-5.

[J]John Wesley, d. in London, March 2, 1791. In Georgia and the Carolinas Dr. Coke had been on ground familiar to Wesley. cf. Rev. J. Wesley’s Journal, 1st American edition, New York, 1837. Vol. I, pp. 1-52 (1735-1738).

[K]From the description of the plantation, acreage, equipment, etc., and the character of the proprietor, Col. P. might have been Col. Richard Kidder Meade, father of Bishop Meade, to whom Washington’s farewell advice was, “Friend Dick, you must go to a plantation in Virginia.”

[L]New York at that time, according to this traveler, had but two banks; and there were but three at Philadelphia, the commercial centre of the country.

[M]Davis wrote in 1806 a historical novel, The First Settlers of Virginia, largely the story of Pocahontas. In the modern romantic way, Davis discovered the Princess Pocahontas.

[N]During the war in Europe the United States were a sort of temporary depot of the produce of all countries. Commodities over and above consumption were re-exported. Madeira might come back a second time. cf. La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Vol. II, p. 588.

[O]Spencer Ball, m. a daughter of Robert Carter of ‘Nomini.’ cf. Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, p. 70.