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coast line it has, what arms of the sea stretch in
land, what rivers come down to meet the sea, and OLD VIRGINIA.
what a network of water-ways spreads over the
whole country. You would say that the people IN 1732, when people spoke of Virginia, they living there must be skillful fishermen and sailors, meant commonly so much of the present State as that thriving seaport towns would be scattered lies between Chesapeake Bay and the Blue Ridge along the coast and rivers, and that there would mountains. In the valley of the Shenandoah be great shipyards for the building of all kinds River, just beyond the first range of mountains, of vessels. there were a few families, chiefly Irish and Ger- But in 1732 there were no large towns in Virman, who had made their way southward from ginia - there were scarcely any towns at all. Each Pennsylvania; the Governor of Virginia, too, was county had a county-seat, where were a courtat this time engaged in planting a colony of house and a prison, and an inn for the convenience Germans in the valley. Still farther to the of those who had business in court; usually there westward were a few bold pioneers, who built their was a church, and sometimes a small country log-cabins in the wilderness and lived by hunting store ; but there were no other houses, and often and fishing. No one knew how far Virginia the place was in the middle of the woods. The stretched; the old charters from the King had capital of Virginia -- Williamsburg — had less talked vaguely about the South Sea, meaning by than two hundred houses; and Norfolk, the that the Pacific Ocean; but the country beyond the largest town, at the head of a noble harbor, mountains had never been surveyed and scarcely had a population of five thousand or so. A few even explored. The people who called themselves fish were caught in the rivers or on the coast, but Virginians looked upon those who lived beyond there was no business of fishing; a few boats plied the Blue Ridge very much as nowadays persons from place to place, but there was no ship-building, on the Atlantic coast look upon those who settle and the ships which sailed into the harbors and up in Dakota or Montana.
the rivers were owned elsewhere, and came from Down from these mountains came the streams England or the other American colonies. There which swelled into rivers,—the Potomac, the Rap- were no manufactures and scarcely a trained mepahannock, the York, and the James, with their chanic in the whole colony. Yet Virginia was the countless branches and runs and creeks. Look at most populous and, some thought, the richest of any map of eastern Virginia and see what a long the British colonies in America. In 1732 she had
* The Dutch Santa Claus.
half a million inhabitants,— more than twice as pleasure was, and sometimes wished the weed had many as New York at that time.
never been discovered. The King of England did Where were the people, then, and what were they not like it, and he wrote a book to dissuade people doing? They were living in the country, and raising from the use of tobacco; but every one went on tobacco. More than a hundred years before, the smoking Virginia tobacco as before. first Englishmen who had come to Virginia had The company which sent colonists to Virginia found that they could raise nothing which was so promised fifty acres to any one who would clear the much wanted in England, and could bring them land and settle upon it; for a small sum of money
so much money, as tobacco. Besides, these Eng- one might buy a hundred acres; and if any one lishmen had not been mechanics or fishermen or did some special service to the colony, he might sailors in England; they had for the most part receive a gift of as much as two thousand acres. been used to living on farms. So they fell at once Now, in England, to own land was to be thought to planting tobacco, and they could not raise much of. Only noblemen or country gentlemen enough to satisfy people in England and other could boast of having two thousand or a hundred parts of the Old World. All the fine gentlemen or even fifty acres. So the Englishmen who came took to smoking; it was something new and to Virginia, where land was plenty, were all eager fashionable; and, I suppose, a great many puffed to own great estates. away at their pipes who wondered what the To carry on such estates, and especially to raise
Vol. XIII.- 13.
tobacco, required many laborers. It was not dies for spices. The plantations were growing larger, easy for the Virginia land-owners to bring these and the more slaves a man had, the more tobacco from English farms. They could not be spared he could raise ; the more tobacco he could raise, by the farmers there, and besides, such laborers the richer he was. Until long after the year 1732, were for the most part men and women who had the people in Virginia were wont to reckon the cost never been beyond the villages where they had been of things, not by pounds, shillings, and pence—the born and had hardly even heard of America. They English currency - but by pounds of tobacco-lived, father and son, on the same place, and knew the Virginia currency. The salaries of the clergy little about any other. But in London and other were paid in tobacco; so were all their fees for cities of England there were, at the time when christening, marrying, and burying. Taxes were the Virginia colony was formed, many poor people paid and accounts were kept in tobacco. At a few who had no work and nothing to live on. If points there were houses to which planters brought these people could be sent to America, not only their tobacco, and these warehouses served the purwould the cities be rid of them, but the gentlemen pose of banks. A planter stored his tobacco and in the new country would have laborers to cut received a certificate of deposit. This certificate down trees, clear the fields, and plant tobacco. he could use instead of a check on a bank.
Accordingly, many of these idle and poor people The small planters who lived high up the rivers, were sent over as servants. The Virginia planters beyond the point where vessels could go, floated paid their passage, sheltered, fed, and clothed them, their tobacco in boats down to one of the wareand in return had the use of their labor for a cer- houses, where it made part of the cargo of some tain number of years. The plan did not work very ship sailing for England. But the largest part of well, however. Often these “indentured servants," this produce was shipped directly from the great as they were called, were idle and unwilling to work plantations. Each of these had its own storehouse – that was one reason that they had been poor and its own wharf. The Virginia planter was his own in London. Even when they did work, they were shipping merchant. He had his agent in London. only “bound” for a certain length of time. After Once a year, a vessel would make its way up the river they had served their time, they were free. Then to his wharf. It brought whatever he or his family they sometimes cleared farms for themselves; but needed. He had sent to his agent to buy clothes, very often they led lazy, vicious lives, and were a furniture, table-linen, tools, medicine, spices, fortrouble and vexation to the neighborhood.
eign fruits, harnesses, carriages, cutlery, wines, It seemed to these Virginia planters that there books, pictures, there was scarcely an article was a better way. In 1619, a year before the Pil- used in his house or on his plantation for which grims landed at Plymouth, a Dutch captain brought he did not send to London. Then in return he up the James River twenty blacks whom he had helped to load the vessel, and he had just one captured on the coast of Africa. He offered to article with which to make up the cargo — tobacco. sell these to the planters, and they bought them. Now and then tar, pitch, and turpentine were sent No one saw anything out of the way in this. It from some districts, but the Virginia planter rarely was no new thing to own slaves. There were slaves sent anything but tobacco to England in return in the West India Islands, and in the countries of for what he received. Europe. Indians when captured in war were sold into slavery. For that matter, white men had been
CHAPTER II. made slaves. The difference between these blacks and the indentured servants was that the planter
A VIRGINIA PLANTATION. who paid the Dutch captain for a black man had the use of him all his life-time, but if he bought Let us visit in imagination one of these Virginia from an English captain the services of an indentured plantations, such as were to be found in 1732, and white man, he could only have those services for see what sort of life was led upon it. a few months or years. It certainly was much To reach the plantation, one is likely to ride for more convenient to have an African slave.
some distance through the woods. The country There were not many of these slaves at first. is not yet cleared of the forest, and each planter, as An occasional shipload was brought from Africa, he adds one tobacco-field to another, has to make but it was not until after fifty years that negroes inroads upon the great trees. Coming nearer, one made any considerable part of the population. rides past tracts where the underbrush is gone, but They had families, and all the children were slaves tall, gaunt trees stand, bearing no foliage and looklike their parents. More were bought of captains ing ready to fall to the ground. They have been who made a business of going to Africa to trade for girdled, that is, have had a gash cut around the : slaves, just as they might have gone to the East In- trunk, through the bark, quite into the wood;
thus the sap can not flow, and the tree rots away, fires in the cool days, and in the summer there is falling finally with a great crash. The luckless a passage of air on all sides. Sometimes the traveler sometimes finds his way stopped by one rooms are lathed and plastered, but often they are of these trees fallen across the road. By the sheathed in the cedar and other woods which grow border of these tracts are Virginia rail-fences, abundantly in the country. There is little of that eight or ten feet in height, which zig-zag in a spruce tidiness on which a New England housecurious fashion,- the rails, twelve feet or so in keeper prides herself. The house servants are length, not running into posts, but resting on one lazy and good-natured, and the people live in a another at the ends, like a succession of W's. generous fashion, careless of waste, and indifferWhen the new land is wholly cleared of trees, ent to orderly ways. these fences can be removed, stick by stick, and The planter has no market near by to which he set farther back. No post-holes have to be dug, can go for his food; accordingly he has his own nor posts driven in.
smokehouse, in which he cures his ham and smokes Now the tobacco-fields come into view. If the plant is growing, one sees long rows of hillocks kept free from weeds, and the plant well bunched at the top, for the lower leaves and suckers are pruned once a week; and as there is a worm which infests the tobacco, and has to be picked off and killed, during the growth of the plant all hands are kept busy in the field.
I have said that there were scarcely any towns or villages in Virginia, so one might fancy there was some mistake; for what means this great collection of houses ? Surely here is a village; but look closer. There are no stores or shops or churches or schoolhouses. Rising above the rest is one principal building. It is the planter's own house, which very likely is surrounded by beautiful trees and gardens. At a little distance are the cabins of the negroes, and the gaping wooden tobacco-houses, in which the tobacco is drying, hung upon poles and well sunned and aired, for the houses are built so as to allow plenty of ventilation and sunlight. The cabins of the negroes are low wooden buildings, the chinks filled in with clay. Many of them have kitchen gardens about them, for the slaves are allowed plots of ground on which to raise corn and melons and small vegetables for their own use. The planter's house is sometimes of wood, sometimes
HALL-WAY OF AN OLD VIRGINIA HOUSE. of brick, and sometimes of stone. The one feature, however, which always strikes a stranger his beef; he has outhouses and barns scattered is the great outside chimney,– usually there is one about, where he stores his provisions; and down at each end of the house, - a huge pile of brick where the brook runs, is the spring-house, built over or stone, rising above the ridge-pole. Very often, the running stream. Here the milk and butter and too, there are wide verandas and porches. In eggs are kept standing in buckets in the cool fresh this climate, where there are no freezing-cold water. The table is an abundant but coarse one. winters, it is not necessary to build chimneys in The woods supply game, and the planter has herds the middle of the house, where the warmth of of cattle. But he raises few vegetables and little the bricks may serve to temper the air of all the wheat. The English ship brings him wines and rooms. Moreover, in the warm summers it is well liquors, which are freely used, and now and then to keep the heat of the cooking away from the one of his negro women has a genius for cooking house, so the meals are prepared in kitchens and can make dainty dishes. The living, however, built separate from the main house. Inside the is rather profuse than nice. great house, one finds one's self in large, airy It fits the rude, out-of-door life of the men. The rooms and halls; wide fireplaces hold blazing master of the house spends much of his time in the
saddle. He prides himself on his horses, and the bear and the wild cat. With other planters he keeps his stables well filled. It is his chief busi- rides after the hounds; and they try their horses ness to look after his estate. He has, to be sure, on the race-course. The man who can ride the an overseer, or steward, who takes his orders and hardest, shoot the surest, lift the heaviest weight, sees that the various gangs of negroes do their re- run, leap, and wrestle beyond his fellows, is the quired work; but the master, if he would succeed, most admired. himself must visit the several parts of his planta. With so free and independent a life, the Virgintion and make sure that all goes on smoothly. He ian is a generous man, who is hospitable both to must have an eye to his stock, for very likely he his neighbors and to strangers. If he hears of
has blooded horses ; he must see that the tobacco any one traveling through the country and putting is well harvested; he must ride to the new field up at one of the uncomfortable little inns, he which is being cleared, and inspect his fences. sends for him to come to his house, without waitThere is enough in all this to keep the planter in ing for a letter of introduction. He entertains his his saddle all day long.
neighbors, and there are frequent gatherings of With horses in the stable and dogs in the ken- old and young for dancing and merry-making. nel, the Virginian is a great hunter. He lives in The tobacco crop varies, and the price of it is cona country where he can chase not only the fox, but stantly changing. Thus the planter can never