Page images
PDF
EPUB

James river, which was formerly called Powhatan, from its having been the seat of that emperor, is seven miles broad at the mouth, navigable to the falls (above 150 miles) for vessels of large burden, and thence to the mountains for small craft and canoes.

These falls are in length about six or seven miles; they consist of innumerable breaks of water, owing to the obstruction of the current by an infinite number of rocks, which are scattered over the bed of the river; and form a most picturesque and beantiful cascade.

The honorable colonel Byrd has a small place called Belvedere, upon a hill at the lower end of these falls, as romantic and elegant as any thing I have ever seen.

It is situated very high, and commands a fine prospect of the river, which is half a mile broad, forming cataracts in the manner above described; there are several little islands scattered carelessly about, very rocky and covered with trees, and two or three villages in view at a small distance. Over all these you discover a prodigious extent of wilderness, and the river winding majestically along through the midst of it.

York river, for about forty miles, to a place called West Point, is confined in one channel about two miles broad : it flows in a very direct course, making but one angle, and that an inconsiderable one, during the whole way. At West Point it forks, and divides itself into two branches ; the southward called Pamunky; the northward Mattapony: each of these branches, including the windings and meanders of the river, is navigable seventy or eighty miles, and a considerable way of this space for large ships.

The Rappahannoc is navigable to the falls, which are a mile above Fredericsburg, and about 110 from the bay. Vessels of large burden may come up to this place; and small craft and canoes may be carried up much higher.

The Potowmac is one of the finest rivers in North-America: it is ten miles broad at the mouth, navigable above 200 miles to Alexandria, for men of war; and allowing for a few carrying places, for canoes above 200 farther, to the very branches of the Ohio. Colonel Bouquet, a Swiss gentleman in the Royal Americans, came down this autumn from Fort Cumberland* to Shenando with very little difficulty; whence to the great falls, I have been told, a navigation might easily be effected : so that this river seems to promise to be of as great consequence as any in NorthAmerica.

In all these rivers the tide flows as far as the falls, and at Alexandria it rises between two and three feet. They discharge themselves into Chesapeak Bay, one of the finest in the world, which runs a great way up the country into Maryland ; is from ten to twenty miles broad; navigable near a hundred leagues for vessels of almost any burden; and receives into its bosom at least twenty great rivers.

These waters are stored with incredible quantities of fish, such as sheeps-heads, rock-fish, drums, white pearch, herrings, oysters, crabs, and several other sorts. Sturgeon and shad are in such prodigious numbers, that one day, within the space of two miles only, some gentlemen in canoes caught above 600 of the former with hooks, which they let down to the bottom, and drew up at a venture when they perceived them to rub against a fish; and of the latter above 5000 have been caught at one single haul of the seine.

In the mountains there are very rich veins of ore; some mines having been already opened which turn to great account; particularly Spotswood's iron mines upon the Rappahannoc, out of which they smelt annually above six hundred ton: and one of copper upon the Roanoke, belonging to colonel Chiswell. This last mentioned gentleman is also going to try for lead upon some hunting grounds belonging to the Indians, towards New River, and the Green Briar; where, it is said, there is fine ore, and in great plenty, lying above ground. Some coal mines have also been opened upon James River near the falls, which are likely to answer very well.

* The distance from Fort Cumberland to Shenando is above 100 miles ; from Shenando to the great falls about 60; and from the great falls to Alexandria about 17 or 18.

The forests abound with plenty of game of various kinds ; hares, turkeys, pheasants, woodcocks, and partridges, are in the greatest abundance. In the marshes are found 80ruses, a particular species of bird, more exquisitely delicious than the ortolan; snipes also, and ducks of various kinds. The American shell-drake and blue-wing exceed all of the duck kind whatsoever; and these are in prodigious numbers. In the woods there are variety of birds remarkable both for singing and for beauty; of which are the mocking-bird, the red-bird or nightingale, the blue-bird, the yellow-bird, the humming-bird", the Baltimore-bird, the summer duck, the turtle, and several other sorts.

Insects and reptiles are almost innumerable. The variety of butterflies is not greater that is that of the rich and vivid colours with which each particular species is distin

* The humming- bird is the smallest and most beautiful of all the feathered race : its colours are green, crimson and gold : it lives chiefly by suction upon the sweets and essences of flowers: and nothing can be more curious than to observe numbers of them in gardens, where there are honeysuckles or trumpetflowers, flying from flower to flower, putting their slender bills into every one, and sucking out the sweetest juices. The motion of their wings is incredibly swift, and produces a humming noise, not unlike that of a large humble bee. They are frequently kept in cages, but seldom live longer than two months. The food which is given them, is either honey or sugar, mixed with water. Repeated attempts have been made to send them alive to England, but always without success.

guished and beautified ; and such is the number and appearance of the fire-flies, that on a summer's evening the whole air seems to glow and be enlightened by them. Several snakes of this country are harmless and beautiful; such as the black-snake, the wampum-snake, the bead-snake, the garter-snake, and some others : but the rattle-snake and vipers are exceedingly venemous and deadly. There are two curious species of frogs here : one is called the bullfrog, which is prodigiously large, and makes so loud a noise, that it may be heard at a great distance; the other is a small green frog, which sits upon the boughs of trees, and is found in almost every garden.

Of quadrupeds there are various kinds, squirrels of four or five different species*, opossums, racoons, foxes, beavers, and deer: and in the deserts and uninhabited parts, wolves, bears, panthers, elks or moose deer, buffaloes, mountaincats, and various other sorts. Such are in general the natural productions of this country.

Viewed and considered as a settlement, Virginia is far from being arrived at that degree of perfection which it is capable of. Not a tenth of the land is yet cultivated : and that which is cultivated, is far from being so in the most advantageous manner. It produces, however, considerable quantities of grain and cattle, and fruit of many kinds.

[ocr errors]

* Of the several species of squirrels, the ground and flyingsquirrels are much the smallest and most beautiful. The former are of a dusky orange hue, streaked with black; the latter grey or ash-coloured, and elegantly formed. These have a spreading or fan-tail, and two membranes adhering to their sides ; which, when they spring or leap from a tree, they expand, and are thereby enabled to fly through a considerable space. The former are of a very wild nature; but these may be easily, and are frequently tamed. There is a species of polecat in this part of America, which is commonly called a skunk. This animal, when pursued, or assailed by its enemy, ejects its urine; which emits such a setid and insupportable stench, as almost to stifle and suffocate whatever is within the reach of it.

The Virginian pork is said to be superior in flavour to any in the world; but the sheep and horned cattle being small and lean, the meat of them is inferior to that of Great Britain, or indeed, of most parts of Europe. The horses are fleet and beautiful; and the gentlemen of Virginia, who are exceedingly fond of horse-racing, have spared no expence or trouble to improve the breed of them by importing great numbers from England.

The fruits introduced here from Europe succeed extremely well, particularly peaches, which have a very fine fla

grow in such plenty as to serve to feed the hogs in the autumn of the year. Their blossoms in the spring make a beautiful appearance throughout the country.

vour, and

A LOYAL PARSON.

[We are indebted to a fair correspondent for the following anecdote illustrative of the times which immediately preceded our revolutionary war, and which she had from the late John Cowper, Esq., of Norfolk. It is taken now, she writes us, from her Note Book, exactly as she jotted it down some years ago.] Nansemond Church. Time_before the Revolution. The In

cumbent--the Rev. Mr. Agnew. There were signs in the times, but they were not fully developed; Mr. Agnew was observed to visit very actively among his congregation ; he urged them to a full attendance on Whitsunday. The gentlemen observed that his eloquence was particularly directed to the ladies.

In Provincial times certain pews were reserved, and on the door was painted for whose use_thus: “Magistrates, on one side of the centre aisle; and “ Magistrates Ladies' on the opposite side. Whitsunday arrived. The body of the church was occupied by females, except the reserved

« PreviousContinue »