Page images

with many a gracious Smile. I was carry'd into a Room elegantly set off with Pier Glasses, the largest of which came soon after to an odd Misfortune. Amongst other favourite Animals that cheer'd this Lady's Solitude, a Brace of Tame Deer ran familiarly about the House, and one of them came to stare at me as a Stranger. But unluckily Spying his own Figure in the Glass, he made a spring over the Tea Table that stood under it, and shatter'd the Glass to pieces, and falling back upon the Tea Table, made a terrible Fracas among the China. This Exploit was so sudden, and accompany'd with such a Noise, that it surpriz'd me, and perfectly frighten'd Mrs. Spotswood. But twas worth all the Damage to shew the Moderation and good humour with which she bore this disaster.

In the Evening, the noble Colo. came home from his Mines, who saluted me very civilly, and Mrs. Spotswood's Sister, Miss Theky, who had been to meet him en Cavalier, was so kind too as to bid me welcome. We talkt over a Legend of old Storys, supp'd about 9, and then prattl'd with the Ladys, til twas time for a Travellour to retire. In the mean time I observ'd my old Friend to be very Uxorious, and exceedingly fond of his Children. This was so opposite to the Maxims he us'd to preach up before he was marryed, that I cou'd not forbear rubbing up the Memory of them. But he gave a very good-natur'd turn to his Change of Sentiments, by alleging that whoever brings a poor Gentlewoman into so solitary a place, from all her Friends and acquaintance, wou'd be ungrateful not to use her and all that belongs to her with all possible Tenderness.

We all kept Snug in our several apartments till Nine, except Miss Theky, who was the Housewife of the Family. At that hour we met over a Pot of Coffee, which was not quite strong enough to give us the Palsy. After Breakfast

the Colo. and I left the Ladys to their Domestick Affairs, and took a turn in the Garden, which has nothing beautiful but 3 Terrace Walks that fall in Slopes one below another. I let him understand, that besides the pleasure of paying him a Visit, I came to be instructed by so great a Master in the Mystery of Making of Iron, wherein he had led the way, and was the Tubal Cain of Virginia. He corrected me a little there, by assuring me he was not only the first in this Country, but the first in North America, who had erected a regular Furnace. That the 4 Furnaces now at work in Virginia circulated a great Sum of Money for Provisions and all other necessarys in the adjacent Countys. That they took off a great Number of Hands from Planting Tobacco, and employ'd them in Works that produced a large Sum of Money in England to the persons concern'd, whereby the Country is so much the Richer. That they are besides a considerable advantage to Great Britain, because it lessens the Quantity of Bar Iron imported from Spain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Muscovy, which us'd to be no less than 20,000 Tuns yearly.

Then I inquired after his own Mines, and hoped, as he was the first that engaged in this great undertaking, that he had brought them to the most perfection. He said it was true His works were of the oldest Standing; but that his long absence in England, and the wretched Management of Mr. Greame, whom he had entrusted with his Affairs, had put him back very much. That what with Neglect and Severity, above 80 of his Slaves were lost while he was in England, and most of his Cattle starved. That his Furnace stood stiil great part of the time, and all his Plantations ran to ruin. That indeed he was rightly serv'd for committing his Affairs to the care of a Mathematician, whose thoughts were always among the Stars. That never

[ocr errors]

theless, since his return, he had apply'd himself to rectify his Steward's Mistakes, and bring his Business again into Order. That now he contriv'd to do every thing with his own People, except raising the Mine and running the Iron, by which he had contracted his Expence very much. Nay, he believ'd that by his directions he cou'd bring sensible Negroes to perform those parts of the work tolerably well. Our Conversation on this Subject continued till Dinner, which was both elegant and plentifull.

The afternoon was devoted to the ladys, who shew'd me one of their most beautiful Walks. They conducted me thro' a Shady Lane to the Landing, and by the way made me drink some very fine Water that issued from a Marble Fountain, and ran incessantly. Just behind it was a cover'd Bench, where Miss Theky often sat and bewail'd her Virginity. Then we proceeded to the River, which is the South Branch of Rappahannock, about 50 Yards wide, and so rapid that the Ferry Boat is drawn over by a Chain, and therefore called the Rapidan. At night we drank prosperity to all the Colonel's Projects in a Bowl of Rack Punch, and then retired to our Devotions.


(From The Dividing Line.)

1728, March.-Tis hardly credible how little the Bordering inhabitants were acquainted with this mighty Swamp, notwithstanding they had liv'd their whole lives within Smell of it. Yet, as great Strangers as they were to it, they pretended to be very exact in their Account of its Demensions, and were positive it could not be above 7 or 8 Miles wide, but knew no more of the Matter than Star-gazers know of the Distance of the Fixt Stars. At the Same time, they were Simple enough to amuse our Men with Idle Stories of

[ocr errors]

Hunting in the Dismal Swamp. A Scene in the Early History of the Country.

the Lyons, Panthers, and Alligators, they were like to encounter in that dreadful Place.

In short, we saw plainly there was no Intelligence of this Terra Incognita to be got, but from our own Experience. For that Reason it was resolv'd to make the requisite Disposition to enter it next Morning. We alloted every one of the Surveyors for this painful Enterprise, with 12 Men to attend them.

Besides this Luggage at their Backs, they were oblig❜d to measure the distance, mark the Trees, and clear the way for the Surveyors every step they went. It was really a Pleasure to see with how much Cheerfulness they undertook, and with how much Spirit they went thro' all this Drudgery

Altho' there was no need of Example to inflame Persons already so cheerful, yet to enter the People with the better grace, the Author and two more of the Commissioners accompanied them half a Mile into the Dismal. The Skirts of it were thinly Planted with Dwarf Reeds and GallBushes, but when we got into the Dismal itself, we found the Reeds grew there much taller and closer, and, to mend the matter, was so interlac'd with bamboe-briars, that there was no scuffling thro' them without the help of Pioneers. At the same time, we found the Ground moist and trembling under our feet like a Quagmire, insomuch that it was an easy Matter to run a Ten-Foot-Pole up to the Head in it, without exerting any uncommon Strength to do it.

Two of the Men, whose Burthens were the least cumbersome, had orders to march before, with their Tomahawks, and clear the way, in order to make an Opening for the Surveyors. By their Assistance we made a Shift to push the Line half a Mile in 3 Hours, and then reacht a small piece of firm Land, about 100 Yards wide, Standing up above the

« PreviousContinue »