Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Fredericksburg, where we were to lodge. The stage was very much crowded; ten passengers and their baggage squeezed us rather close together. In consequence of being so heavy laden, our driver went very slow; but the tediousness was relieved by the wit and sprightliness of Gov. Barbour, who proved to be a gentleman of very agreeable manners as well as liberal sentiments; but shone in his ability to entertain. He related many amusing anecdotes of former days, which served to beguile a cold and unpleasant night. One of them I shall never forget, it was something to the following amount: "It happened while he practised law, he appeared for two members of the Methodist religion, who were charged with disrepect to the military authority, by which, they incurred a serious penalty. An officer," said Mr. B. "happening to pass through a collection of Methodists, in full uniform, inquired the way, of one of the black brethren, (as it appeared,) the negro replied to His Excellency in a very abrupt manner, and without taking off his hat; this enraged the man of war-you rascal, do you speak to me thus, and with your hat on? I'll teach you to respect your betters, giving him a crack over the head; take off your hat scoundrel: 'Don't pay obedience to sinful man, brother, said a white man, who was standing near, (a class leader in the church,) honor is alone due to God; don't despise the temple of the Holy Spirit by honoring that vile sinner:' and d-n you, I'll down upon you like forty thousand, said the officer, laying about the fellow's ears; 'Help,' said the holy man ; the negro laid hold of forty thousand, and the consequence would have been serious had the by-standers not interfered. The next business was to arrest the two brothers for insulting the U. States in the person of the plaintiff. The magistrate committed the pious brethren to jail, as they were unable to give security meantime the brethren became alarmed for the consequences, and deprecated the disgrace of the church most of all. Some of the near relations of the white offender came to me and told me a piteous tale, representing the character of the prisoner in the most favorable light, that he was a harmless in

offensive man, and upright withal, begged me to appear for him, and exert myself in his behalf, giving me a liberal fee at the same time. I undertook his defence; the trial came on in a few days. I represented the thing in its mildest colors: in doing this, I adverted to the nature of enthusiasm; I said that it was a species of madness, and that men when under its influence committed acts that were unwarranted by reason, and that no more notice ought to be taken of their actions than the acts of madmen. This was the surest, and, in fact, the only successful plea I could make, and I should have come off victorious had not the man of God, who was in court, interrupted me, with 'I am no madman, I speak forth the words of truth and soberness, in this sinful world; and I can prove it to your understanding that it is the Spirit of God, blessed be his name, that speaks within me. I am bold in the Lord; but these things are foolishness to the children of darkness.' O well, friend, if you take up the cause I shall lay it down, and accord. ingly I sat down and remained silent. Not so, said forty thousand, who was sitting upon the bench; take him to jail, said he, take him back and let him preach there; this was done. I learn no more except that the negro was dismissed by the magistrate, with thirty-nine lashes." He related another of himself, when he was elected member of congress. As he drew near Washington City, on his journey to take his seat, he was very much embarrassed in finding his way. The road became smaller and smaller, the nearer he approached, till at length it dwindled into a narrow path so entangled with others that it was impossible for him to know which was right or was wrong; strange, he thought, " and going to the eternal City, I expected to see a fine spacious road. At length he found himself in an old field, without a single trace, and the sun was near setting! he began to think of camping out, when he espied a man walking before him, he spurred up to the man and asked where he might find a house of any sort to spend the night the man informed him that a hotel was within two miles, which he might reach by dark. He next requested the man to put him in the road, which was no

[ocr errors]

thing but the trace he had wandered from. Fortunately he arrived at the hotel by dark, and found a man sitting at the door, barefooted and very shabbily dressed, and the house of the last description! It had a dirt floor, and was almost without furniture. He began to think he had mistaken the house; no, that was the hotel, that is the very name, and I assure you, said the man, you will meet with few houses where you will find better incomodation! I have plenty for your hos' to eat and my wife has some coffee, and I have good old brandy too; have you, indeed, that's my sort, said the governor. At another time he happened to be at a camp-meeting, one of the preachers took it into his head to explain heaven, and enumerate the different nations and kindreds of people, that constitute the heavenly church; he, (the preacher,) said that the heavenly church was a vast house, that it was built of all nations of people, there were Jews there, Hottentots, Spaniards, Dutch, Irish, Scotch, Danes, and even Indians, but there is not one Frenchman. It was during the French revolution, and we may suppose by this conclusion that the preacher was no friend to the measure.

By means of a few faint rays of the moon, I had a glimpse of the country through which we passed. It was entirely deserted by its inhabitants, who were unable to subsist upon it. It consisted of old fields, grown over with stunted pine and broom sedge. I was told, however, that the land about Fredericksburg was fertile, it being on the Rappahannock, a navigable river.

Fredericksburg.-Fredericksburg has been represented as a flourishing town; but, whatever it might have been heretofore, it is far from having a flourishing appearance at present. Every thing wears a gloomy aspect, very little business doing in any part of the town. It is a handsome little town, on the south bank of the Rappahannock, one hundred and ten miles from the Chesapeake. It possesses two great advantages, viz: that of a rich and fertile soil, which extends some distance on both sides of the river; and secondly, the advantages of navigation; vessels of one hundred and

thirty tons ascend to the town. The amount of exports. annually, is estimated at four millions of dollars. The surrounding country is in a high state of cultivation, and exceeded by none in fertility or beauty; I never expected to see such a country as this in the worn-out east. But the soil here, from the nature of its situation, will last forever. It produces corn, wheat, tobacco, and almost every thing necessary for man. The police of the town are very lax in their duty; the streets are not kept clean, and a want of neatness is every where visible. The houses are mostly of brick, and some of them are handsome and commodious. There are two bridges over the river. It is an incorporated town; contains four churches, one for Presbyterians, one for Methodists, one for Baptists, and one for Episcopalians; a courthouse, jail, collectors office, a post-office, an academy, and about 4000 inhabitants.

For several miles after leaving Fredericksburg, you pass through a country of unequalled beauty; the scenery is beyond description, rich and picturesque. Handsome buildings, and highly cultivated farms are in constant view. I was the more surprised at this, having never heard it mentioned by any traveller. In going to Richmond from Fredericksburg, you cross at right angles three small rivers; in the western country they would be called creeks. These rivers are called by the following names, viz :-Pamunky, Chickahominy, and Mattaponi.* These rivers resemble the waters of the western states much more than the Rappahannock. They flow in a smooth and silent stream, and have scarcely any banks, by which they overflow the adjacent lands, enriching them to a degree equal to any land

* Morse is guilty of an error in the orthography of this river, which took its name from the following circumstance :-This river was discovered by a party of Indians and white people, who were on a hunting party. According to custom they left one to watch the camp (on the bank of the stream) while the rest pursued the game. It so happened that the party absented themselves during the whole of one night. In the course of the night a deep snow had fallen; upon coming to the camp next morning, one of the white men asked the Indian whom they left at camp," how he came on with respect to the snow;" he replied "that he put matt upon I," meaning that instead of sleeping on the matt, he covered himself with it, and hence the river took its name.

in the west. The grape-vine is seen as large as it is on the great Kenhawa. I had no idea of this, having heard so much of the poverty of the soil. I am told that this rich soil continues near the mouths of those rivers, when they unite and the single stream takes the name of York river. Eleven miles from the mouth of York river, stands Yorktown, famous in American history for the capture of Cornwallis. It is said to be the best harbor in Virginia. Although the land on these rivers is equal if not superior to that on Rappahannock, the country is by no means as handsome. Between the rivers the land is thin, covered with pines and old fields, not worth one cent. The farmers, (or planters I believe they are called,) from the great scarcity of timber enclose their fields principally with ditches. The great number of hands in proportion to the quantity of land has ruined Virginia. Their slaves, in the end, instead of being a benefit, has proved a very serious injury. But for them, old Virginia at this day would have been worth perhaps, one hundred per cent. more than she is. The great and wealthy Virginia has overshot the mark; she has killed the goose that laid the golden egg; I see evident proofs of this in their deserted worn out fields. This renowned State seems to have lost sight of posterity, and to have acted upon an unnatural plan, or rather no plan at all. They have secured nothing to their children but poverty, whilst they have reared those children up, not to industry, but with high notions, which will only serve to render them more sensible of their misfortune. Influenced by a more than foolish pride, they neglect to encourage useful arts; their lordly souls, could not brook the indignity of teaching their sons to earn their bread by their own labor. They could not stoop so low as to teach them the mechanic arts, by which they might have gained a decent and comfortable support. Virginia from these causes lags behind. NewYork has gained upon her in point of numbers, since 1790, 714,936. Virginia, one of the first states in the Union in many respects, is now only the third in population, the eighth in commerce, the fifth in tonnage, the fourth in manufactures, the first only in agriculture;

« PředchozíPokračovat »