Page images
PDF
EPUB

bandman living almost void of care, and free from those fatigues which are absolutely requisite in winter countries, for providing fodder and other necessaries ; these encouragements induced them to stand their ground, although but a handful of people, seated at great distances one from another, and amidst a vast number of Indians of different nations, who were then in Carolina.

Nevertheless, I say, the fame of this new discovered summer country spread through the neighboring colonies, and in a few years drew a considerable number of families thereto, who all found land enough to settle themselves in (had they been many thousands more), and that which was very good and commodiously seated both for profit and pleasure.

And, indeed, most of the plantations in Carolina naturally enjoy a noble prospect of large and spacious rivers, pleasant savannas and fine meadows, with their green liveries interwoven with beautiful flowers of most glorious colors, which the several seasons afford; hedged in with pleasant groves of the ever famous tulip tree, the stately laurels and bays, equalizing the oak in bigness and growth, myrtles, jessamines, woodbines, honeysuckles, and several other fragrant vines and evergreens, whose aspiring branches shadow and interweave themselves with the loftiest timbers, yielding a pleasant prospect, shade and smell, proper habitations for the sweet singing birds, that melodiously entertain such as travel through the woods of Carolina.

The Planters possessing all these blessings, and the produce of great quantities of wheat and indian corn, in which this country is very fruitful, as likewise in beef, pork, tallow, hides, deer skins, and furs; for these commodities the new England men and Bermudians visited Carolina in their barks and sloops, and carried out what they made, bringing

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 sort of 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]

Westover, Home of Willlam Byrd.

« PreviousContinue »