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The public or political character of the Virginians, corresponds with their private one: they are haughty and jealous of their liberties, impatient of restraint, and can scarcely bear the thought of being controuled by any superior power. Many of them consider the colonies as independent states, not connected with Great Britain, otherwise than by having the same common king, and being bound to her with natural affection. There are but few of them that have a turn for business, and even those are by no means adroit at it. I have known them, upon a very urgent occasion, vote the relief of a garrison, without once considering whether the thing was practicable, when it was most evidently and demonstrably otherwise. * In matters of commerce they are ignorant of the necessary principles that must prevail between a colony and the mother country; they think it a hardship not to have an unlimited trade to every part of the world. They consider the duties upon their staple as injurious only to themselves; and it is utterly impossible to persuade them that they affect the consumer also. Upon the whole, however, to do them justice, the same spirit of generosity prevails here which does in their private character; they never refuse any necessary supplies for the support of government when called upon, and are a generous and loyal people.
for the money, sat down and drew a bill upon a capital merchant in Lon. don, with whom he had never had any transaction, or carried on the least correspondence. The merchant, on the receipt of the bill, observing the name of the drawer, very readily honoured it, knowing the gentleman to be a person of great property, and concluding that he meant to enter into correspondence with him. The usurer upon this became intitled to only 5 1. per cent. He was exceedingly enraged, therefore, at being as he supposed, thus tricked : and complained very heavily to the gentleman of his having given him a good bill instead of a bad one.
* The garrison here alluded to, was that of Fort Loudoun, in the Cherokee country, consisting of a lieutenant, and about fifty men. This unfortunate party being besieged by the Cherokee Indians, and reduced to the last extremity, sent off runners to the governors of Virginia and Carolina, imploring immediate succour; adding that it was impossible for them to hold out above twenty days longer. The assembly of Virginia, commiserating their unhappy situation, very readily voted a considerable sum for their relief. With this, troops were to be levied; were to rendezvous upon the frontiers 200 miles distant from Williamsburg; were afterward to proceed to the fort 200 miles farther through a wilderness, where there was no road, no magazines, no posts, either to shelter the sick, or cover a retreat in case of any disaster; so that the unfortunate garrison might as effectually have been succoured from the moon. The author taking notice of these diffi. culties to one of the members, he frankly replied, “ Faith, it is true : but we have had an opportunity at least of showing our loyalty.” In a few days after arrived the melancholy news, that this unfortunate party was intirely cut off.
The women are, upon the whole, rather handsome, though not to be compared with our fair country-women in England. They have but few advantages, and consequently are seldom accomplished; this makes them reserved, and unequal to any interesting or refined conversation. They are immoderately fond of dancing, and indeed it is almost the only amusement they partake of: but even in this they discover great want of taste and elegance, and seldom appear with that gracefulness and ease, which these movements are so calculated to display. Towards the close of an evening, when the company are pretty well tired with country dances, it is usual to dance jiggs; a practice originally borrowed, I am informed, from the* Negroes. These dan
Ι ces are without any method or regularity: a gentleman and lady stand up, and dance about the room, one of them retiring, the other pursuing, then perhaps meeting, in an irregular fantastical manner. After some time, another lady must sit down, she being, as they term it, cut out: the second lady acts the same part which the first did, till somebody cuts her out. The gentlemen perform in the same manner. The Virginian ladies, excepting these amuse
* The author has since had an opportunity of observing something similar in Italy. The trescone of the Tuscans is very like the jiggs of the Virginians.
. ments, and now and then a party of pleasure into the woods to partake of a barbacue, chiefly spend their time in sewing and taking care of their families: they seldom read, or endeavour to improve their minds; however, they are in general good housewives; and though they have not, I think, quite so much tenderness and sensibility as the English ladies, yet they make as good wives, and as good mothers, as any in the world.
It is hard to determine, whether this colony can be called flourishing, or not: because though it produces great quantities of tobacco and grain, yet there seem to be very few improvements carrying on in it. Great part of Virginia is a wilderness, and as many of the gentlemen are in possession of immense tracts of land, it is likely to continue so.
A spirit of enterprize is by no means the turn of the colony, and therefore few attempts have been made to force a trade; which I think might easily be done, both to the West Indies and the Ohio. They have every thing necessary for such an undertaking; viz. lumber, provisions, grain, and every other commodity, which the other colonies, that subsist and grow rich by these means, make use of for exports; but, instead of this, they have only a trifling communication with the West Indies; and as to the Ohio, they have suffered themselves, notwithstanding the superior advantages they might enjoy from having a watercarriage almost to the Yoghiogheny, to neglect this valuable branch of commerce; while the industrious Pensylvanians seize every opportunity, and struggle with innumerable difficulties, to secure it to themselves. The Virginians are content if they can but live from day to day; they confine themsclves almost intirely to the cultivation of tobacco; and if they have but enough of this to pay their merchants in London, and to provide for their pleasures; they are satisfied, and desire nothing more. Some few, indeed, have been rather more enterprising, and have endeavoured to improve their estates by raising indigo, and other schemes: but whether it has been owing to the climate, to their inexperience in these matters, or their want of perseverance, I am unable to determine, but their success has not answered their expectations.
The taxes of this colony are considerable, and the public debt amounts to at least 400,000 l. currency; this they have been driven into by the war, having seldom had less than a thousand or fifteen hundred provincial troops in pay, exclusive of the expences of some forts. The ways and means employed for raising the money have been generally the same : they have first made an emission of so much paper currency as the exigency required, and then laid a tax for sinking it. This tax has been commonly upon lands and negroes, two shillings for every titheable; and a shilling or eighteen-pence upon every hundred acres of land. This mode of taxation has ocasaioned some divisions in the house; for the owners of large tracts being unable, perhaps, to cultivate a tenth part of their possessions, and every man's real income arising from the number of his Negroes, have thought it very hard to pay a tax for what they pretend is of no value to them: but much better arguments may undoubtedly be urged in support of the tax than against it.
The taxes for the present debt are laid till the year sixtynine, when the whole, if they add nothing more to it, will be discharged. The use of paper currency in this colony has intirely banished from it gold and silver. Indeed the introduction of it was certain in time to produce this effect; but lest it should not, the Virginians fell into a measure, which completed it at once: for by an act of assembly they fixed the exchange between currency and sterling debus, at five and twenty per cent. not considering that the real value of their currency could only be regulated by itself. The consequence was, that when from frequent emissions, the difference of exchange between bills upon merchants in London and currency, was 40 per cent. the difference between currency and specie* was only five and twenty. So that the monied men collected all the specie they could, sent it away to Philadelphia, where it passed for its real value, purchased bills of exchange with it there, and sold them again in Virginia with fifteen per cent. profit: and this they continued to do till there was not a pistole or a dollar remaining.
* Fixing the difference between currency and sterling debts, was, in re. ality, fixing it between currency and specie.
A GHOST STORY.
[We are again indebted to our fair correspondent for another anecdote illustrative of the times immediately preceding our revolutionary war, and relating to the same Loyal Parson," whom we introduced to our readers in our last number.]
Dear Mr. Editor,--As you were good enough to publish my first offering, I presume you may not be unwilling to receive, and perhaps register a second. It is, to be sure, a Ghost Story; but as it was originally related by a parson, and as coming within his own knowledge, I suppose we may consider it as quite true. I give it to you as it was told to me, some years ago, by the late Com. B- of N— in his pleasant manner. I made a note of it at