Page images
PDF
EPUB

them in exchange, rum, sugar, salt, molasses, and some wearing apparel, though the last at very extravagant prices.

As the land is very fruitful, so are the planters kind and hospitable to all that come to visit them; there being very few housekeepers but what live very nobly, and give away more provisions to coasters and guests who come to see them than they expend amongst their own families.

The easy way of living in that plentiful country makes a great many planters very negligent, which, were they otherwise, that colony might now have been in a far better condition than it is, as to trade and other advantages, which an universal industry would have led them into. The women are the most industrious sex in that place, and, by their good housewifery, make a great deal of cloth of their own cotton, wool and flax ; some of them keeping their families, though large, very decently appareled, both with linens and woolens, so that they have no occasion to run into the merchants' debt, or lay their money out on stores for clothing.

As for those women that do not expose themselves to the weather, they are often very fair, and generally as well featured as you shall see anywhere, and have very brisk, charming eyes which sets them off to advantage.

Both sexes are generally spare of body and not choleric, nor easily cast down at disappointments and losses, seldom immoderately grieving at misfortunes, unless for the loss of their nearest relations and friends, which seems to make a more than ordinary impression upon them. Many of the women are very handy in canoes and will manage them with great dexterity and skill, which they become accustomed to in this watery country. They are ready to help their husbands in any servile work, as planting, when the season of the weather requires expedition; pride seldom

banishing good housewifery. The girls are not bred up to the wheel and sewing only, but the dairy and the affairs of the house they are very well acquainted withal; so that you shall see them, whilst very young, manage their business with a great deal of conduct and alacrity. The children of both sexes are very docile and learn any thing with a great deal of care and method, and those that have the advantages of education write very good hands, and prove good accountants, which is most coveted, and, indeed, most necessary in these parts. The young men are commonly of a bashful, sober behaviour; few proving prodigals to consume what the industry of their parents has left them, but commonly improve it.

HARVEST HOME OF THE INDIANS.

(From History of North Carolina.) They have a third sort of feasts and dances, which are always when the harvest of corn is ended, and in the spring. The one to return thanks to the good spirit for the fruits of the earth; the other, to beg the same blessings for the succeeding year. And to encourage the young men to labour stoutly in planting their maiz and pulse, they set up a sort of idol in the field, which is dressed up exactly like an Indian, having all the Indians habit, besides abundance of Wampum and their money, made of shells, that hangs about his neck. The image none of the young men dare approach; for the old ones will not suffer them to come near him, but tell them that he is some famous Indian warrior that died a great while ago, and now is come amongst them to see if they work well, which if they do, he will go to the good spirit and speak to him to send them plenty of corn, and to make the young men all expert hunters and mighty warriors. All this while, the king and old men sit around the image and seemingly pay a profound respect to the same,

One great help to these Indians in carrying on these cheats, and inducing youth to do as they please, is, the uninterrupted silence which is ever kept and observed with all the respect and veneration imaginable.

At these feasts which are set out with all the magnificence their fare allows of, the masquerades begin at night and not before. There is commonly a fire made in the middle of the house, which is the largest in the town, and is very often the dwelling of their king or war captain ; where sit two men on the ground upon a mat; one with a rattle, made of a gourd, with some beans in it; the other with a drum made of an earthen pot, covered with a dressed deer skin, and one stick in his hand to beat thereon; and so they both begin the song appointed. At the same time one drums and the other rattles, which is all the artificial music of their own making I ever saw amongst them. To these two instruments they sing, which carries no air with it, but is a sori oệ cinsavory jargon; yet their cadences and raising of their voices are formed with that equality and exactness that, to us Europeans, it seems admirable how they should continue these songs without once missing to agree, each with the others note and tune.

WILLIAM BYRD.

1674-1744. WILLIAM BYRD, second of the name, and the first native Virginian writer, was born at Westover, his father's estate on the James below Richmond.

The following inscription on his tomb at Westover gives a sketch of his life and services well worth preserving:

“Here lies the Honourable William Byrd, Esq., being born to one of the amplest fortunes in this country, he was sent

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

early to England for his education, where under the care and direction of Sir Robert Southwell, and ever favoured with his particular instructions, he made a happy proficiency in polite and various learning. By the means of the same noble friend, he was introduced to the acquaintance of many of the first persons of that age for knowledge, wit, virtue, birth, or high station, and particularly contracted a most intimate and bosom friendship with the learned and illustrious Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery.

“He was called to the bar in the Middle Temple, studied for some time in the Low Countries, visited the Court of France, and was chosen Fellow of the Royal Society. Thus eminently fitted for the service and ornament of his country, he was made receiver-general of his Majesty's revenues here, was then appointed public agent to the Court and Ministry of England, being thirty-seven years a member, at last became president, of the Council of this Colony.

“ To all this were added a great elegancy of taste and life, the well-bred gentleman, and polite companion, the splendid economist and prudent father of a family, with the constant enemy of all exorbitant power, and hearty friend to the liberties of his country. Nat. Mar. 28, 1674. Mort. Aug. 26, 1744. An. aetat. 70.

His daughter Evelyn was famous both in England and Virginia for her beauty, wit, and accomplishments. She died at the age of thirty, 1737.-See Century Magazine, 1891, Vol. 20, p. 163.

WORKS. Westover Manuscripts :

[North Carolina, of which Charles Eden

was governor 1713-19.) (1) History of the Dividing Line [the (3) A Progress to the Mines [Iron mines survey to settle the line between Virginia in Virginia which Ex-Governor Alexander and North Carolina, 1728.j

Spotswood and others were beginning to (2) A Journey to the Land of Eden open and work.]

His writings are among the most interesting that we have, being remarkable for their wit and culture, a certain

« PreviousContinue »