Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

 

 


Kimber: Voyage to Sene-Puxon

 

From:
Kimber, Edward, 1719-1769.

Itinerant observations in America / Edward Kimber ; edited by Kevin J. Hayes.

Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London : Associated University Presses, c1998. 137 p. ; 25 cm.

 

Note:

I've broken up the original text into shorter paragraphs and in a few cases I have divided a sentence into two and simplified the punctuation. The page numbers correspond to those in Hayes' edition of Kimber's tale, and I encourage anyone who is interested in Colonial-era travels to obtain the Hayes edition by interlibrary loan in order to benefit from the many footnotes and the very information introduction. -- COD

 

=====

Edward Kimber was a writer and editor who took over as editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE after his father, its founder, died. His Itinerant Observations were written during his youth as a series of letter to the magazine. In his introduction, Hayes writes:

"Kimber's American experiences left a lasting impression on him. His novels, especially his first two, reflect the trip. The Life and Adventures of Joe Thompson (1750) contains numerous references to Virginia, colonial trade, Indians, and tobacco. The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson (1754) is based on an anecdote he recorded in Itinerant Observations. Set at Sinepuxent, Maryland, it tells the story of Tom Anderson, a boy who was "trepanned" from England, brought to Maryland, and sold as a servant to a brutal master who happened to have a charming daughter the same age as Tom. Much of what Kimber learned about the inner workings of a Maryland plantation he used in Mr. Anderson. Indeed, the novel provides a good gloss for Itinerant Observations.

"Altogether, Kimber wrote seven novels and translated one from the French. After his first two novels he wrote The Life and Adventures of James Ramble (1755); The Juvenile Adventures of David Ranger (1756); The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Capt. Neville Frowde of Cork (1758); The Happy Orphans (1759) ..."


§

[to the] LONDON MAGAZINE.

SIR,

When I proposed first to transmit you some Specimens of my Friend's Performance, I told you I should not observe much Order or Connection; but, however, hitherto there has been a Kind of Order observed, from his Description of Frederica to his Arrival at Beaufort in Carolina; which I must now break in upon, as his farther Account of Carolina, is much interspers'd with the Reasons of the Disputes then existing between that Colony and the infant Settlement of Georgia, which, tho' set in an agreeable and just Light, may not be so proper for your Collection, as it may open a Dispute long since subsided; and when the Character of a certain Gentleman has been set, by the same Author, in a Point of Light that needs no additional Lustre; and at a Time when Malice itself has ceas'd her Calumnies: Therefore, I shall now transport you to another Scene, and leave what I before spoke of to his own Disposal.

Yours, &c.
ANONYMOUS

 


Some Account of a VOYAGE
from New-York to Sene-puxon in Maryland.

 

Not being able then, on account of the excessive Severity of the Season, and the Depth of the Snow, which was near 4 Feet, to pursue our Route, by Land, thro' the Province of Pensilvania, we took Passage on board a Sloop to Sene-puxon in Maryland, which is generally a Run of 3 or 4 Days, with the Land close aboard, and a fine level Shore.

A Traveller should never depend upon any Thing, but his own Sight, or the Experience of a Friend, for the Character of a Vessel and its Commander: 'Tis as absolutely necessary to have a personal Knowledge of those

 

38 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

two principal Points of marine Happiness or Misery, as to consult the Temper of your Wife or Friend, or the Situation of your Villa, before you undertake the uncertain Voyage thro' the tempestuous Ocean of Life. Indeed, these are but transient ills, you'll say, and you may see plainly the End of them: Very true; but as in an unhappy Marriage, so in a Vessel of bad Trim, and under the Government of an obstinate Steersman, you frequently but end your Anxieties in the Arms of Death. Next to the Pleasure you enjoy in having, at Sea, a good, tight, clean Vessel under you, nothing can be more agreeable than a sociable, humane Skipper, who consults the Ease and Satisfaction of his accidental Family before any selfishly sordid Inclination.

Misfortune may be lightned by good Company, and the Charms of Friendship will make Amends even for the Horrors of Famine and the most dreadful Tempests. We had no Reason to complain of our Master, indeed; but of an illness that confined him to his Cabin the whole Voyage, (which was many Days longer than we expected or desired) and which rendered the only able Seaman we found amongst us of no Service.

The Vessel was our greatest Grievance we soon found, being prodigiously foul, rotten, and leaky; and a Pack of stupid Planters, the Crew, who never had been 10 Leagues from Land since they were born, increased that Misfortune. Unknowing all this, we went on board as gaily as we would have done into a Packet-Boat, and found the Master in Bed. Which Inconvenience we readily put up with, as the Voyage was so short and safe, and as he informed us, his Mate was a very able Mariner. Our Complement then was, 6 Hands belonging to the Sloop, 3 Passengers, and 7 Negro Slaves; and after taking some necessary Refreshments from Town, we weigh'd and fell down under Nurten Island [in New York Bay], and might have taken the Advantage of an immediate North-Wester, to have put out to Sea; but here there happened a great Dispute between the Captain and his strange Associates, and in short they refus'd to run beyond Sandy-Hook that Night. It seems they had engaged to come this Trip, and to be paid in the Freight of such Goods, as they bought at New York for their Plantation Uses, and so were not Absolutely under Command; and were resolv'd to lie under the Windward Shore, to consume half an Anchor of New England Rum before they left the Sight of New York. Rewards and Menaces were of no Service, so we even made a Virtue of Necessity, and wrapping ourselves in our Bedding, slept quietly till next Morning; but found when we arose, that two of our Negroes

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 39

had lost the Use of their Hands and Feet by the Frost (which was excessively severe) notwithstanding they were warmly clad, and had the free Use of that necessary Liquor (on these Occasions) Rum, in what Quantity they pleas'd. Our Regret at the Disadvantages we had fallen upon, and which our Time and Occasions would not permit us to remedy, could be equalled by nothing but the Displeasure we felt in leaving that delightful Country, that Land of social Joys and heighten'd Pleasures, that flow'd in upon us during our Stay, notwithstanding the rugged Season. Looking behind me, methinks, the Winter Piece is inexpressibly, tho' mournfully agreeable, the River flowing in a long, long Course, till the Sight loses it in an almost imperceptible Point: On one Shore, the goodly City, all surrounded, as it were, with the Waves, reigns supreme Mistress of the brumal Region, and by its aspiring Fumes, seems to declare itself the proper Resort and Comfort of the Season; below it, as far as Eyes can view, the white Beach extends itself, and above its Borders, the now deserted Country Houses rear their unsocial Chimneys.

On the opposite Shore of Long-Island, all bleach'd with Snow, appears the sad Reverse of Spring -- the tuneful Warblers but just, weakly, hop over the unfertile Stubble, and raise themselves to complain, in mournful Chirpings, of their forlorn Condition; nor pour out those Floods of Harmony that erst awaken'd, with enliv'ning Melody, the early Swain. The whole Prospect is as of a large Desart, save that here and there the crawling Fences of the Plantations, and the aspiring Vapours of the humble Cottages, shew the Country to be inhabited; and some Remains of the rich Gifts of Ceres, unthoughtfully neglected by the Husbandmen, still betray the Footsteps of vernal Industry, and somewhat alleviate my Wintry Chagrin.

At Five in the Evening we were abreast of Barnegat, on the Coast of New Jersey, and the next Day, at Noon, we open'd De la War River, Cape Henlopen bearing SW about 12 Miles, and had an Expectancy of a prosperous Voyage; when a contrary Wind springing up, we found our Sloop made nothing of plying to Windward, nor answer'd her Helm, and that she was so leaky that the common Spelling at the Pump would not keep her above Water, so that two Hands were constantly employ'd at that Work, immediately, and without the least Distinction of Persons. It seems, that hoping to meet a speedy Passage, they had neglected telling us of their making so much Water; but now were fain to confess their Folly, and implore our Assistance. 'Twas in vain

 

40 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

to argue in such a Case, and Self-preservation excited us to use our best Endeavours.

All the next Day we lost Way prodigiously, and the cold bleak Weather almost perish'd us: Upon comparing our Reckonings, we found ourselves above 50 Leagues from the nearest Land, which we judg'd to be the most Southerly Part of New Jersey. This last twenty-four Hours we were drown'd in an Inundation of Rain, which, however, nothing abated the Wind, which blew with redoubled Fury, and the irritated Waves toss'd us aloft and alow in a most frightful Manner, considering the bad Condition of our Habitation, which had not a sound Plank in her, and the Water pour'd in upon us on all Sides. The next Morning open'd, all wild and tempestuous as the last, and our Distractions were increas'd, by three more of our People being taken violently ill of feverish Disorders, occasion'd by the perpetual Watching, the incessant Labour and the Wet and Cold they were constantly subject to; and still more so, by our Hen-Coop with our Fowls, and 2 or 3 Hogs, which were our only remaining Flesh Provisions, being wash'd overboard, and our Lee Gunnel almost all torn away.

We were oblig'd to shift our Loading and Ballast on the other Side, and from this Time could keep no Reckoning; but lay to, under our double-reef'd Main Sail, expecting the worst that could befal us. In shifting the Ballast we found one considerable Leak, which I stopp'd as well as I could with an old Salvage well paid with Tallow, and over it nail'd an old Tin Plate, which gave some little Respite to the Pump. We now began to think seriously of the Danger we were involv'd in, and the Death that seem'd inevitable. We had no Carpenter, nor one Person that understood Sea Affairs by Profession, of the whole Crew left, and in short every Thing was fallen into our Hands; we were but two, and the Negroes were all unable to move, the Frost having so affected their Limbs, as to call for present Amputation; two of them being mortified to the Knees and Shoulders. And here, I must observe, that in general, they are the most awkward, ungain Wretches, in cold Weather, that can be met with, and if not stirr'd up, will sit whole Days shivering in a Corner without moving Hand or Foot. They seem to be form'd only for the sultry Climate they were born in, and those they are principally apply'd to the Use of; tho' when inur'd to a cold one long, they bear it tolerably well.

We ourselves now began to feel the Effects before mention'd. But what will not Men undergo-how many Hardships that seem quite impossible to human Strength, to preserve that valuable Blessing,

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 41

Life!

This Day we had a Kind of melancholy Memento Mori presented to us, being the Rudder, Main Yard and Part of the Cutwater of a Ship, which floated along Side us, and soon after the Body of a Seaman, in a Jacket and Trowzers, who seem'd newly to have met his Fate, and who about two Ship's Length from us was devour'd by three or four hideous Sharks. I was glad that none but ourselves were then upon Deck, and we forbore to speak at all of such a disagreeable Sight, which every one is not Stoic enough to contemplate without abandoning himself to fruitless Despair. At Night--may never my affrighted Eyes or my amazed and terrified Ears be Witness to the same--what Horrors were we seized with; and how dreadful our Condition!

 

All black above--below all foamy white,
A horrid darkness, mix'd with dreadful light:
Here long, long hills, roll far and wide away,
There abrupt vales fright back th' intruding day.

 

The Deluges of Rain mix'd with the Waves that continually broke over us, the howling Blasts that rent our Ears, the total Darkness, were nothing to our internal Misery. Delirious Ravings on one Side--expiring Groans on another--and the Calls of Help, which we were unable to give, on another, quite distracted us. Bread, Water, and Rum, were all we had left; these were our Provisions for the Sick, these our only Sustenance; and these decreasing so fast as to promise the Addition of the greatest of all Evils to those we already endur'd.

Indeed, had our Fowls been preserv'd, we could not have dressed them, we could keep no Fire, and could find no Cooks, and therefore we contented ourselves with Bread dipp'd in Rum for our Patients, and a Draught of Water after it, and Bread and Water for ourselves. We forbore to see after the Negroes, but nail'd down the Hatches, and left them to the Mercy of Providence; we weaken'd apace, and had no Retreat from the Deck, but lash'd ourselves to some Part of the Quarter-Deck, and slept and watch'd by Turns.

Thus we weather'd three more dismal Days and Nights, in the two last of which the Wind shifted to the Eastward, tho' without abating of its wonted Fury. However, we made what Way we could, in our present Trim, every Minute expecting to meet with Destruction. We made, as far as we could guess, near 3 Knots an Hour, not daring all these last 24 Hours to direct our Eyes to our distemper'd Messmates in the

  

42 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Cabin, some of whom we were pretty sure deceas'd in the Morning. We shap'd our Course as near as possible, to run in with the next Land, and the next Morning made Shift, one of us, weak as we were, to get up to the Mast Head. None can conceive, with what Rapture we descry'd it all abroad; but we could not tell where we had fall'n in with it, as not having had an Observation for a long Time. The unexpected Sight almost depriv'd us of our Senses with very Joy, and instantaneously, as it were, the Wind dy'd away, and a gentle Breeze succeeded, that carried us smoothly to our Mark.

We open'd a large Inlet, which we stood in for, and safely came to Anchor, in 12 Fathom Water, the Bottom a fine Sand mix'd with small Shells.

§

Thus then we found ourselves, to our excessive Satisfaction, free from those dire Apprehensions that had so long disturb'd our Minds, and those Fatigues that had jaded our Bodies, in this little, uncommonly difficult Voyage. As soon as we had dropp'd Anchor, we saw several Flats full of Men, whom we perceived to be our Countrymen; but how was our Joy rais'd into Admiration, when we were inform'd, that the Place we were in, and had so miraculously lighted on, was Ascateaque Inlet to Senepuxon! We ador'd the Goodness of Providence, and return'd unfeigned Thanks for our Deliverance; and now we had Time to contemplate the Beauties of the Scene, and to indulge this new Satisfaction.

The Bay we were in, was open to the Sea on the Eastward, and on every Side else, landlock'd. We could plainly now discover the Cries of the industrious Hind, tending his improving Flock; and on every Side, the Lowing of Kine, the Bleating of the fleecy Charge, and the Neighing of the generous Steed struck our Ears; and we exchanged for this new Musick, the Jargon of bellowing Winds, the bursting Rains, and the roaring Thunder. The Beach all glittering with conchous Riches, and white as the driven Snow, attracted our Eyes on every Side; the green Marshes and Savannahs, even at this Time, appear'd in fresh Verdure; and the Woods, from the great Quantities of Ever-greens, seemed to wear a Summer Hue. Up the Country, the Creeks, whose Meanders we could discern, form'd to the Fancy regular Canals, rushing Torrents, headlong Cascades, and shining Mirrors; but to moderate our Satisfaction, and to take off from our too great and presumptuous Exultation, on the Larboard Shore lay the

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 43

melancholy Wreck of a large Bristol Man, which had stranded in this Place some Years before. 'Tis impossible to describe the Tortures this Sight gave us, which indeed forc'd Tears from our Eyes, by Comparison with what we had been like to suffer ourselves.

We now examin'd our Cabin Associates, and found only the inanimate Remains of three of them. The others had some Signs of Life, and were convey'd on Shore by the Planters who visited us, and were their Neighbours.

A thousand Times they lifted their Eyes up with Astonishment at our forlorn Condition. Our Negroes were our next Concern, and here only two were found alive, and such a Stench of Putrefaction in the Hold, as made it necessary to have Recourse to the usual Preservatives from infectious Smells. Ourselves now were to be consider'd, and as soon as the Relations of our Owner came down to the Sloop to take Charge of her, we embark'd in a Flat for Golden Quarter.

And now, as if our Ability held out only so long as our Necessity subsisted, we soon felt the bitter Effects of our late Troubles: Frost-bitten from Head to Foot, and feverishly distracted from so long a Privation of downy Repose, we now were almost unable to move any Thing but our deploring Eyes; yet,--Misfortune on Misfortune!--our Barge ran aground about a Mile from the Sloop, at low Water, Eleven o'Clock at Night, and we were forced to lie open and exposed till the ensuing Morning, she was loaden so deep; and then, with some Difficulty, we hove her off the Shelve: And this, in an extreme piercing Frost, finished our Disasters, and served almost to rob us entirely of the little Life remaining.

§

Our kind Correspondent, who has favoured us from Time to Time with an ingenious young Gentleman's Remarks in his late American Tour has been so good as to send us the following for this Month; which contains so many remarkable Incidents, and such judicious Observations, as we doubt not will be an agreeable Entertainment to our Readers, who are desired to connect it with the last Account in our Mag. for May, p.248.

 

Now we survey the land that owes its name
To Charles's bride,
And soon we change, for all that sailors dread,
The spritely musick, and the sportful dance;

Where jocund damsels, and their well pleas'd mates,
Pass the delicious moments, void of care,
And only study how to laugh and love,
Contented, happy, under Calvert's sway.

 

44 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Reliev'd from this Distress, we pursu'd our little Voyage, of about 14 Miles, thro' the several Creeks that convey you to Golden Quarter; and we were near 24 Hours before we arrived there, occasioned by our frequent Interruptions, or running upon the Marches, or Oyster-Banks, with which these Streams are prodigiously replete.

On every Side, you might discern the Settlements of the Planters, with their industrious Clearings, surrounded by the native Woods of the Country; whilst the distant Curlings of the aspiring Smoak, wantoning in the Breeze, direct your Eyes to the happy Places of their Residence. Where they, generally bless'd with Innocence and Chearfulness, a compliant Consort, and a numerous Race at their Boards, enjoy a Life much to be envy'd by Courts and Cities.

We gather'd a Fruit, on our Route, called a Parsimon, of a very delicious Taste, not unlike a Medlar tho' somewhat larger: I take it to be a very cooling Fruit, and the Settlers make use of prodigious Quantities to sweeten a Beer, which they brew of Cassena and divers Herbs, which is vastly wholesome. The Cassena is a Shrub, that has a small Leaf, somewhat sharpish, and is so admired, when hot Water is poured on it, that I imagine the importing of it to England is prohibited for fear of injuring the Tea Trade. At our Arrival at our Host's, we were put to Bed, and for several Days attended with a Tenderness and Humanity that soon restored our Healths, and our Limbs to their proper Function; when, being furnished with Horses, we addressed ourselves to our first Stage, which was about 20 Miles distant from Golden Quarter called Snow-Hill.

Golden Quarter is a kind of straggling Country Village, but the Inhabitants of that Place and Senepuxon, tho' poorer than some of their Neighbours of Maryland, occasioned by the Poverty of their Soil, are a perfectly hospitable, sociable, and honest Set of People, and abound in every Necessary of Life, and most of the Conveniencies. In short, they seem to repine only on three Accounts, as all this Side of the Colony does: The one is the Scarcity of strong Liquors; another the extravagant Dues to their Clergy, whom they pay a pretty large Quantity of Tobacco yearly to, by Way of Tithe, for every Head in their Families; and the third, is their paying a larger Quit-rent, which I think

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 45

they do in Sterling Money, than any of their Neighbours under the King's Governors. These Things the poorer Sort feel pretty smartly.

To be sure, the Clergy ought to be supported in every Country, independently and decently; and certainly they are an Order of Men that are intirely necessary, whilst they behave soberly and uprightly, to the Well-being of Society, and seem no where more so than in these Countries; but as I take it, there is little Justice in a poor Landholder's being obliged to give him as great an Offering as his opulent Neighbour. But here, as in every other Part of the World, the Complaints are very much regulated by the Pastor's Behaviour: You seldom hear any Grumbling when he is a kind, beneficient, humane, and regular Man, that feels for, and endeavours to supply, both the mental Distresses and Wants, as well as the bodily ones, of the Charge intrusted to him; who never, from a Vanity of Temper, a sour Enthusiasm, or a vain Ostentation of Learning, puzzles and distracts his Hearers, by leading them astray from the plain Paths or Meanings of Christianity, into the eternal Labyrinths and intricate Mazes of Speculation and Mystery; nor sets himself up for an infallible Judge of every Dispute, and the authoritative Decider of every Question; nor, to sum up the whole, daubs and dresses Religion (as the Poet says) which is divinely pure, and simple from all Arts, like a common Mistress, the Object of his Fancy.

The Rum they generally have from their Stores, is the New-England Sort, which has so confounded a Gout, and has so much of the Molasses Twang, that 'tis really nauseous; and this held up to a very large Price. Sometimes, indeed, an European Vessel lands, to the Gentlemen in the Neighbourhood, a Cargo of another Sort; which, however, never diffuses itself much to those beneath them: In other better settled Parts of Maryland, indeed, as about Annapolis, and elsewhere, you hear of no Complaints of this Sort, as every Thing is in the greatest Plenty imaginable: So that what I am speaking of, relates principally to Worcester County and the Parts adjacent, where the Number of Merchants or Store-keepers is but small.

You now and then meat with a Cup of good Cyder, in the Season, here, tho' of a thin fretting Kind. The Beer they brew is excellent, which they make in great Quantities, of Parsimons, &c or Molasses; for few of them are come to malting their Corn, of any Kind, at which I was much surprized; as even the Indian Grain, as I have found experimentally, will produce a wholesome and generous Liquor. The meaner Sort you find little else but Water amongst, when their Cyder is spent.

 

46 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Mush and Milk, or Molasses, Homine, Wild Fowl, and Fish, are their principal Diet, whilst the Water presented to you, by one of the bare-footed Family, in a copious Calabash, with an innocent Strain of good Breeding and Heartiness, the Cake baking upon the Hearth, and the prodigious Cleanliness of every Thing around you, must needs put you in mind of the Golden Age, the Times of antient Frugality and Purity. All over the Colony, an universal Hospitality reigns; full Tables and open Doors, the kind Salute, the generous Detention, speak somewhat like the old roast-Beef Ages of our Fore-fathers, and would almost persuade one to think their Shades were wasted into these Regions, to enjoy, with greater Extent, the Reward of their Virtues 85 Prodigious Numbers of Planters are immensely rich, and I think one of them, at this Time, numbers upon his Lands near 1000 Wretches, that tremble with submissive Awe at his Nod, besides white Servants: Their Pastures bless'd with increasing Flocks, whilst their Yards and Closes boast Hundreds of tame Poultry, of every Kind, and their Husbandry is rewarded with Crops equal to all their Ambition or Desires. The Planters in Maryland have been so used by the Merchants, and so great a Property has been made of them in their Tobacco Contracts, that a new Face seems to be overspreading the Country; and, like their more Northern Neighbours, they in great Numbers have turned themselves to the raising of Grain and live Stock, of which they now begin to send great Quantities to the West-Indies. And 'tis the Blessing of this Country and Virginia, and fits it extremely for the Trade it carries on, that the Planters can deliver their Commodities at their own Back-doors, as the whole Colony is inter-flow'd by the most navigable Rivers in the World. However, this good Property is attended with this ill Consequence, that being so well seated at home, they have no Ambition to fill a Metropolis, and associate together: They require no Bourses, or Meetings about Trade; a Letter will bargain for them, and the general Run of the Market determines the Price of the Commodity. For this Reason, the Capitals, and other Towns in these two Colonies, are very slightly peopled, and very badly situated, and remarkable for little else than the Residence of the Governors, and the Meeting of the three Estates, Governor, Council, and Assembly. The principal Meetings of the Country are at their Court-Houses, as they call them; which are their Courts of Justice, and where as much idle Wrangling is on Foot, often,

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 47

as in any Court in Westminster-Hall The Lawyers have an excellent Time here, and if a Man is a clever Fellow, that Way, 'tis a sure Step to an Estate. 'Tis Necessity that has driven the Practitioners of the Law hither, from Europe, and other Parts of America, and I remember few that had not made it very well worth their While. Thus Innocence and Truth, white-rob'd Innocence and heavenly Truth, can seldom find a Retreat to dwell in. Distracted with their Adversaries barefaced Attempts, 'tis in vain they seek the most distant Skies: Palevisag'd Guilt, and wily Fraud, still pursue their flow'ry Steps, determin'd to spare no Means to work their Unhappiness. Wherever you travel in Maryland (as also in Virginia and Carolina) your Ears are constantly astonished at the Number of Colonels, Majors, and Captains, that you hear mentioned: In short, the whole Country seems at first to you a Retreat of Heroes; but alas! to behold the Musters of their Militia, would induce a Man to nauseate a Sash, and hold a Sword, for ever, in Derision. Diversity of Weapons and Dresses, Unsizeableness of the Men, and Want of the least Grain of Discipline in their Officers or them, make the whole Scene little better than Dryden has expressed it:

And raw in fields the rude militia swarms; Mouths without hands, maintain'd at vast expence, In peace a charge, in war a weak defence: Stout, once a year, they march a blust'ring band, And ever, but in times of need, at hand; Of seeming arms, they make a short essay, Then hasten to get drunk, the bus'ness of the day.

Indeed, now, I fancy the Carthagening Regiment, by returning some of its Veterans, will give a better Face to these Matters. Holding Land by the Tenure of defending it, seems to be as antient as Time itself; and certainly nothing can endanger a Country more, than an Army of Mercenaries, who perhaps are quite unconcerned in the publick Property, and have nothing to fight for but their Pay. How necessary then is it, that the Militia in these Colonies should be well disciplined! since they have no regular Troops allow'd them, and cannot well maintain a considerable Body long themselves. Even at this Time they are alarm'd with an Indian Excursion, and Numbers are marched towards the Back of the Province to defend the Out Settlements. Their Government is much respected by them, and one may, on the Whole, say, they are an happy People. The

 

48 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Negroes live as easily as in any other Part of America, and at set Times have a pretty deal of Liberty in their Quarters,88 as they are called. The Argument, of the Reasonableness and Legality, according to Nature, of the Slave-Trade, has been so well handled on the Negative Side of the Question, that there remains little for an Author to say on that Head; and that Captives taken in War, are the Property of the Captor, as to Life and Person, as was the Custom amongst the Spartans; who, like the Americans, perpetuated a Race of Slaves, by marrying them to one another, I think, has been fully disprov'd: But allowing some Justice in, or, at least, a great deal of Necessity for, making Slaves of this sable Part of the Species; surely, I think, Christianity, Gratitude, or, at least, good Policy, is concern'd in using them well, and in abridging them, instead of giving them Encouragement, of several brutal and scandalous Customs, that are too much practis'd: Such is the giving them a Number of Wives, or, in short, setting them up for Stallions to a whole Neighbourhood; when it has been prov'd, I think, unexceptionably, that Polygamy rather destroys than multiplies the Species; of which we have also living Proofs under the Eastern Tyrants, and amongst the Natives of America; so that it can in no Manner answer the End; and were these Masters to calculate, they'd find a regular Procreation would make them greater Gainers.

A sad Consequence of this Practice is, that their Childrens Morals are debauch'd by the Frequency of such Sights, as only fit them to become the Masters of Slaves. This is one bad Custom amongst many others; but as to their general Usage of them, 'tis monstrous and shocking. To be sure, a new Negro, if he must be broke, either from Obstinacy, or, which I am more apt to suppose, from Greatness of Soul, will require more hard Discipline than a young Spaniel: You would really be surpriz'd at their Perseverance; let an hundred Men shew him how to hoe, or drive a Wheelbarrow, he'll still take the one by the Bottom, and the other by the Wheel; and they often die before they can be conquer'd. They are, no Doubt, very great Thieves, but this may flow from their unhappy, indigent Circumstances, and not from a natural Bent; and when they have robb'd, you may lash them Hours before they will confess the Fact; however, were they not to look upon every white Man as their Tormenter; were a slight Fault to be pardon'd now and then; were their Masters, and those adamantine-hearted Overseers, to exercise

 

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 49

a little more Persuasion, Complacency, Tenderness and Humanity towards them, it might, perhaps, improve their Tempers to a greater Degree of Tractability. Such Masters, and such Overseers, Maryland may with Justice boast; and Mr. Bull, a the late Lieutenant-Governor of Carolina, is an Instance, amongst many, of the same, in that Province: But, on the contrary, I remember an Instance of a late Sea Officer, then resident in a neighbouring Colony, that for a mere Peccadillo, order'd his Slave to be ty'd up, and for an whole Hour diverted himself with the Wretch's Groans; struck at the mournful Sound, with a Friend, I hasted to the Noise, where the Brute was beginning a new Scene of Barbarity, and belabour'd the Creature so long with a large Cane, his Overseer being tir'd with the Cowskin, that he remained without Sense and Motion. Happily he recover'd, but alas! remain'd a Spectacle of Horror to his Death; his Master deceas'd soon after, and perhaps, may meet him, where the Wicked cease from troubling, and the Weary be at rest: Where, as our immortal Pope sings:

No fiends torment, no christians thirst for gold.

 

Another, upon the same Spot, when a Girl had been lash',d till she confess'd a Robbery, in mere Wantonness continu'd the Persecution, repeating every now and then these christianlike, and sensible Expressions in the Ragings of his Fury, "God damn you, when you go to Hell, I wish God would damn me, that I might follow you with the Cowskin there."

Slavery, thou worst and greatest of Evils! sometimes thou appearest to my affrighted Imagination, sweating in the Mines of Potosi, and wiping the hard-bound Tears from thy exhausted Eyes; sometimes I view thy sable Livery under the Torture of the Whip, inflicted by the Hands, the remorseless Hands of an American Planter: At other Times, I view thee in the Semblance of a Wretch trod upon by ermin'd or turban'd Tyrants, and with poignant, heart-breaking Sighs, dragging after thee a toilsome Length of Chain, or bearing African Burdens. Anon I am somewhat comforted, to see thee attempt to smile under the Grand Monarque; but, on the other Side of the Alpes, thou again resum'st thy Tears, and what, and how great are thy Iberian Miseries! In Britain, and Britain only, thy Name is not heard; thou hast assum'd a new Form, and the heaviest Labours are lightsome under those mild Skies!

 

50 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Oh Liberty, do thou inspire our breasts! And make our lives, in thy possession happy; Or our deaths glorious, in thy just defence.
-- ADDISON

The Convicts that are transported here, sometimes prove very worthy Creatures, and entirely forsake their former Follies; but the Trade has for some Time run in another Channel; and so many Volunteer Servants come over, especially Irish, that the other is a Commodity pretty much blown upon. Several of the best Planters, or their Ancestors, have, in the two Colonies, been originally of the Convict-Class, and therefore, are much to be prais'd and esteem'd for forsaking their old Courses: And Heaven itself, we are told, rejoices more over one Sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine that never went astray. They tell many Stories of some of these People in these Colonies, one of which I commit to Writing, as I had it from the very Person himself, who is the chief in the Story.

Above 60 Years ago, Capt. --- , Master of the ---, walking thro' Lincoln's Inn-Fields, beheld a very pretty Child, about Six Years of Age, bewailing himself for the Loss of his Father, whom he had some how or other stray'd from: He sooth'd the Child, persuaded him to dry his Tears, and told him he had Orders from his Father, who was just set out for the Country, to bring him to him. The innocent Victim, without Thought of Harm, follow'd his Deliverer, as he thought him, who carry'd him in the Stage Coach to Bristol, and there immediately put him on board his Vessel, which sail'd a Fortnight after for this Part of the World. Still fed up with Hopes of seeing his Father, and that he was going but a small Trip by Water, where he was, and indulg'd by the Captain in all he desir'd, the Time slipt away, till the Brute made appear, by the vilest Actions, his accurs'd Design: The Lad suffer'd much, but his Innocence render'd him incapable to judge of the Propriety of such Actions, and he was acquiescent. When he arriv'd at the End of his Voyage, being very ill, he sold him to a Planter for 14 Years, for 12 Guineas. The Planter, a Man of great Humanity, taking a Fancy to the Child, heard his simple Tale, and perceiv'd the Villany, but not till the Vessel had sail'd. He enquir'd his Name, and just so much he could tell him, and sent over to advertise him in the publick Papers; but before this Design could be compleated, near two Years elaps'd, from his first being kidnapp'd, when, probably, his Father and Mother were both

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 51 

dead, and, perhaps, the Cause of their Death, this Accident. In short, his Master lik'd the Youth more and more, who was sober and diligent, and marry'd him to an only Daughter, leav'ng him at his Decease his whole Substance. Thirty Years elaps'd, and tho' under great Pain for his Ignorance of his Parents, yet happy in his Family and Affairs, he liv'd with great Content; when a Ship with Convicts coming in, he went to purchase some Servants, and the Idea of his barbarous Captain was so impress'd in his Mind, that he knew him at first Sight, and bought him eagerly; it appearing, afterwards, a notorious Crime had brought him into those Circumstances, and entirely ruin'd him. As soon as he brought him home,he carry'd him into a private Room, and lock'd himself in with him; but what Words could express the Wretch's Confusion and Astonishment, when he understood whose Hands he had fallen into! for he had no Notion before of the Gentleman's being the same, that, when a Lad, he had us'd so vilely. Struck with Remorse, and the Fear of Punishment, he fell on his Knees and begg'd Forgiveness. 'Twas in Vain, he was interrogated about his Master's Parents; he knew as little of them as himself; the Master inrag'd, order'd him to be lock'd into an upper Room, resolving to keep him to the hard Service he deserv'd the Remainder of his Life; but the next Morning he was found stabb'd to the Heart, with a Knife that had been uncautiously left in the Room; and so despairingly finish'd a wretched Life. The Gentleman is now near 70, and very hearty and well.

And now let me address me to my Journey, which lay in a very pleasant Road, thro' the Woods, that every now and then presented you with an Opening Plantation: We met an Indian Man and Woman upon this Road, who came from a Town of Whigwahms, near Snow-hill, where they inhabit, in great Peace, with their Neighbours We pass'd several Branches and Savannahs, and the Road all the Way is pretty much upon the Level, and marshy; the Soil of the upper Grounds a loose reddish Sand or Earth. At our Arrival at Snow-Hill, I took up Quarters at an Ordinary,1 and found them very good. The Parson of the Parish, who has the only Brick-House in Town, was a good conversible Man, as was also the Presbyterian Minister, a Scotch man, of which Nation great Numbers are settled hereabouts. The Church and all the Houses are built of Wood, but some of them have Brick Stacks of Chimneys: Some have their Foundations in the Ground, others are built on Puncheons or Logs, a Foot or two from the Earth, which is more

  

52 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

airy, and a Defence against the Vermin. The Women here are very pretty, and the Men, for the generality, obliging enough. The Town is very irregular, and has much the Aspect of a Country Fair, the Generality of the Houses differing very little from Booths.'01 We staid here only one Day, and the next set forward with hired Horses, not being able to buy any in the Town. The Hire was a Shilling Sterling per Day for a Guide. They are good serviceable little Creatures,102 and travel at a great Rate: The next Night we got to the Line that divides Maryland from Virginia, being about 30 Miles, thro' a Road whose delightful Scenes constantly refresh'd the Senses with new and beauteous Objects. And here I can't help quoting Mr. Lewis, when speaking of another Road in this Colony, he says:

 

But now the enclos'd plantation I forsake,
And onwards thro' the woods my journey take;
The level road the longsome way beguiles,
A blooming wilderness around me smiles;
Here hardy oak, there fragrant hick'ry grows,

Here stately pines unite their whisp'ring heads,
And with a solemn gloom embrown the shades.
See there a green savanna opens wide,
Thro' which smooth streams in wanton mazes glide; Thick branching shrubs o'erhang the silver streams, Which scarcely deign t' admit the solar beams.

 

And, indeed, I can't help, every now and then, taking him out of my Pocket in this Country; for his descriptive Part is just and fine, and such a Warmth of Sentiment, such a delicate Vein of Poetry, such an unaffected Piety runs thro' the Whole, that I esteem it one of the best Pieces extant. This, with my other dearer Treasure, and my Euclid, generally relieves me from a too great Sameness of Prospect, or Frequency of the same Objects.

Here, having brought several Bottles of Wine for the Purpose, we drank Success to Britain, His Majesty's Health, and that of the Right Honourable Proprietor, whose great and good Qualities have endear'd him much to the People of this Colony.

There certainly can't be a greater Grievance to a Traveller, from one Colony to another, than the different Values their Paper Money bears; for if he is not studious to get rid of the Money of one Place before he arrives at another, he is sure to be a considerable Loser. The New-England Money, for Instance,

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 53

which is excessively bad, and where, to pay a Six-pence or Three-pence, they tear a Shilling Bill to Pieces, is much beneath the New-York Money in Value, and will hardly be got off there without some Person is going into the first nam'd Province. New-York and Pensilvania often differ about the Dignity of their Bills, and they fall and rise in the different Circulations they take. The Maryland Money is generally pretty good, but of a low Value, and this, again, is not taken on the Western Shore of Chesapeak, where only Gold and Silver is current: North Carolina is still lower than Maryland, and South Carolina worst of all; for their Money there is so low as seven for one Sterling, so that it makes a prodigious Sound; and not only so, but even private Traders there coin Money, if I may use the Expression, and give out small printed, or written circulating Notes, from Six pence to a Pound, and upwards; in which they are, no Doubt, considerable Gainers, not only by the Currency of so much ready Money, without much Expence in making it, but also by Loss, wearing out, or other Accidents. In Georgia, again, this Money never passes, for all their Bills are of Sterling Value, and will pass all over America as well as Bank Notes. There are, I find, some considerable Gains, and Stockjobbing in America, by the issuing out, and calling in, their new and old Bills, which I shall not think proper to touch upon.

There are very considerable Numbers of Roman Catholicks in Maryland, particularly about the Borders of Pensilvania; but the Bulk of the Colony is of the Episcopal Persuasion, with a grand Mixture of divers other Sects. The Women are very handsome in general, and most notable Housewives; every Thing wears the Marks of Cleanliness and Industry in their Houses; and their Behaviour to their Husbands and Families is very edifying. You can't help observing, however, an Air of Reserve, and somewhat that looks at first, to a Stranger, like Unsociableness, which is barely the Effect of living at a great Distance from frequent Society, and their thorough Attention to the Duties of their Stations. Their Amusements are quite innocent, and within the Circle of a Plantation or two, they exercise all the Virtues that can raise one's Opinion of the too light Sex. I would premise here, that I am not writing any Thing yet of the more refin'd Part of the Colony, but what I say now is confin'd to a Tract of about 200 Miles; for in some other Parts you'll find many Coquettes and Prudes, as well as in other Places; nor, perhaps, may the Lap Dog or Monkey be forgotten. Hail delightful Sex! would you divest yourselves of

  

54 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

but some few Foibles; would you attend somewhat more to the Knowledge of yourselves, and turn your Eye inwards; had not the rolling Chariot, the shining Ring, the Indian Exoticks, the French ify'd Affectation, the gay Coxcomb, more Charms than Knowledge, Decency, Prudence, Discretion and Merit, how happy would you be! But to roll on in a continued Round of senseless Impertinence, will never, never, raise you to the Character or Situation of these American Wives. My God! what a different View has the Representation! the one a Piece where every Figure on the Canvas glows with native Ease, Grace and Proportion, no artful Heightnings, no absurd Conceit, has debas'd the great Designer, Nature: On the contrary, turn your Eyes this Way; what Figures are these? From what distant Clime were they imported? From the Region of sickly Whim, and the Designer sure, like Rabelais, was resolv'd to paint some Beings that were too odd to exist any where else: What a Load of Ornaments, and a Glare of Colours, that quite hurt the Eye in looking on the Piece! nor is there one truly smiling Stroke, one Grace, nor one Beauty in the whole Delineation.

 

What's female beauty, but an air divine,
Thro' which the soul's unfading lustres shine?
She, like a sun, irradiates all between;
The body charms, because the mind is seen.
-- INCERT. AUCT.

 

I should busy myself more in the descriptive Part of my Journal whilst in this Colony, did I not reserve myself, till my Arrival in Virginia; for there is such a Connection between the Trade and Nature of the Soil, and the Commodities they raise and export, that one general Account will serve for both: Nor do the two Countries appear much of a different Form; for in the Uplands of Maryland, they are as mountainous, and abound in Valleys as much as they do in Virginia. For this Reason, I wave those Matters till I arrive there, and insist so much on the Manners and Tempers of the Inhabitants and the Genius of this Country.

They have some considerable Seminaries of Learning in the two Colonies; but Williamsburgh College in Virginia is the Resort of all the Children, whose Parents can afford it; and there they live in an academical Manner; and really, the Masters were Men of great Knowledge and Discretion at this Time;

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 55

tho' it can't yet vie with those excellent Universities, for I must call them so, of the Massachusetts; for the Youth of these more indulgent Settlements, partake pretty much of the Petit Maitre Kind, and are pamper 'd much more in Softness and Ease than their Neighbours more Northward. Those that can't afford to send their Children to the better Schools, send them to the Country School-Masters, who are generally Servants, who, after serving their Terms out, set up for themselves, and pick up a Livelihood by that, and writing Letters, and keeping Books for their illiterate Neighbours. Often a clever Servant or Convict, that can write and read tolerably, and is of no handicraft Business, is indented to some Planter, who has a Number of Children, as a School-Master, and then, to be sure, he is a tip-top Man in his Parts, and the Servant is us'd more indulgently than the generality of them.

As I said before, the young Fellows are not much burden'd with Study, nor are their Manners vastly polite: But the old Gentlemen are generally a most agreeable Set of Companions, and possess a pretty deal of improving Knowledge; nay, I know some of the better Sort, whose Share of Learning and Reading, would really surprize you, considering their Educations; but this, to be sure, must be an after Improvement. One Thing they are very faulty in, with regard to their Children, which is, that when young, they suffer them too much to prowl amongst the young Negros, which insensibly causes them to imbibe their Manners and broken Speech. The Girls, under such good Mothers, generally have twice the Sense and Discretion of the Boys; their Dress is neat and clean, and not much bordering upon the ridiculous Humour of their Mother Country, where the Daughters seem dressed up for a Market.

'Tis an odd Sight, that except some of the very elevated Sort, few Persons wear Perukes, so that you would imagine they were all sick, or going to Bed: Common People wear Woollen and Yarn Caps; but the better ones wear white Holland, or Cotton: Thus they travel fifty Miles from Home. It may be cooler, for ought I know; but, methinks, 'tis very ridiculous.

They are all great Horsemen, and have so much Value for the Saddle, that rather than walk to Church five Miles, they'll go eight to catch their Horses, and ride there; so that you would think their Churches look'd like the Out-Skirts of a Country-Horse Fair; but then, as some Excuse, it may be said, that their Churches are often very distant from their Habitations.

  

56 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

An universal Mirth and Glee reigns in Maryland, amongst all Ranks of People, and at set Times, nothing but Jollity and Feasting goes forward: Musick and Dancing are the everlasting Delights of the Lads and Lasses, and some very odd Customs they have at these Merry-makings: You would think all Care was then thrown aside, and that every Misfortune was buried in Oblivion. In short, my Spirits have been sometimes raised so much, that I have almost forgotten I was of another Clime, and have wish'd myself for ever amongst them. Adieu! happy People! For the Favours I have reaped at your Hands, Gratitude shall ever fill my Breast: I leave you but to return again; once more to partake of your Halcyon Feasts, and hearty jovial Mirth.

For now, with glad'ned eyes, we view the bounds
Of that fam'd colony, from whence the weed,
The salutiferous plant, that sends the breast
From noxious vapours of th' inclement morn,
Provocative to solid, studious tho't,
Derives its birth and use; the land that erst
Employ'd the labours of our virgin queen,
And still is sacred to Eliza's fame.
§

In leaving these Lowlands of Maryland, and passing into Virginia, you find the Scene greatly alter'd; and Hills and Dales, with more frequent Plantations, seem, entirely, to take off the Rudeness of the Country's Aspect. The Roads, also, thro' the two Counties of Acomoco and Northampton, save here and there, are equal to most in England; tho' not near so commodious, as in the Counties on the other Side of the Bay. You pass over several considerable Rivers, and Branches, and find many lofty and commodious Bridges; whilst the same Hospitality, Simplicity and Honesty reigns amongst the Inhabitants, as in the Part of Maryland I have just traced: Indeed, you find greater, and more considerable Marks of Opulency; and we begin to regale with excellent Wines, good Brandies and Rum, and, here and there, with English Porter, which is imported generally in Bottles. Trade, also, seems to flows in a brisker Channel, and the Stores of the Merchants to be better provided; nor are the Gentlemen a little vain, of their being a Part of the King's Government, and look down with an Air of Contempt, upon the neighbouring Patentee Colonies.

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 57

The Inhabitants on the Western Shore, are supply'd with prodigious Quantities of Beef, Pork, and Grain from this Eastern Shore, as they call them, by Way of Distinction; to whom they give, also ironically, the Epithet of Buckskins, alluding to their Leather Breeches, and the Jackets of some of the common People; which is, all over Virginia, as great a Reproach, as in England, to call a Man Oaf or Clown, or Lubberkin. This Eastern Shore is a Neck of Land, resembling a Peninsula, having its Junction, in about 40° N. with the Main Land, somewhat above Annapolis, near Baltimore and Elsinburgh, upon the Frontiers of Pensilvania, where the Delaware Bay, and River, forms, to the East, and the Heads of Chesapeak Bay, to the Westward, a Kind of Isthmus; and thence, trending away South-Easterly terminates at Cape Charles, nearly in Lat. 37°, and is one of the Abuts, that confines the noblest Bay in the Universe; tho', with all Winds it is not so convenient to ride in, as having a dangerous Plenty of Sands, Sholes, and Reefs, that have prov'd very often full of Distress. In this Bay, the whole Navies of Great Britain, Holland, and France, might ride at Anchor; it being, from Magidi Bay, to the Entrance of York River, more than 20 Miles over; and into which, a Number of the noblest navigable Rivers disembogue themselves, which you may, as far as the Eyes can reach, see overspread with waving Forests of European Vessels, and a lesser Tribe, who trade from Shore to Shore, and exchange their own Products for those of their Neighbours. The common Harbour for the Men of War, in this Station, is Sarah's Creek, on the Glocester Side of York River; which a late Commander, the thrice renown'd Sir Yel, Peace be to his Ashes-render'd as shamefully famous, as ever Turtle Bay was render'd by P______ or E______s; or Hobcaw, by some others.

But to return; we made two Stages, from Acomoco Court House; lying at Pongoteag the first Night, and at the Ferry House at Magidi Bay (where a Chaloupe attends to transport Passengers and their Horses to York, Noffolk, Glocester James Town, or other Parts, at a Pistole a Horse and Man) the second Day, being two Days and an half from the Line, the Distance being more than 100 Miles from Snow Hill in Maryland. There are no considerable Towns on this Shore, only a few scatter'd Hamlets, particularly, at the Court Houses of the two Counties, which renders them far less polite, than the Inhabitants on the other Side of the Bay, where large Towns abound, and, which are the Rendezvous of the several Tobacco Fleets that sail from Europe; but to make Amends, it may, with

  

58 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

Regard to their Honesty, and Kindness to one another, and to Strangers, be justly call'd, the Elysian Fields of Virginia. I shall have again, Occasion to mention this Part of the Colony, I find, when I begin to enter into the Nature of the Tobacco Trade.

No sooner the Morning dawn'd, than we rous'd from our Beds, and address'd ourselves to our Voyage, in one of those delicious Mornings, in which Nature seems to take Pride, in displaying her whole Profusion of Charms; and when a Wretch must be quite inanimate, not to rejoice with the whole Creation, at the infinite Kindness and Benevolence of Providence. All hail! Eternal Sovereign of the Universe! Low, on this sandy Beach, surrounded with these venerable Shades, and whilst the Waves are laving at my Feet, let me adore the great, the awful Dispositions of thy Creating Wisdom! Alas! how my Importance droops, and how inconsiderable I appear; when, but now, I imagin'd myself one of the Lords of this Globe, and rashly suggested to myself, that all these mighty Stores of Blessings were intended to solace and delight Mankind alone! But if so, why are the most remote Regions so bespangled with thy Goodness; Regions but lately known, and yet, scarce one ten thousandth Part peopled? My Mind opens-; surely, thy wise Intention was to excite the Benevolence of thy more happy Creatures, and to make thy saving Health known to all Nations, by spreading the Knowledge of true Religion and Virtue, even amongst the sable Inhabitants of these lovely Desarts.

After being victualled for our Voyage, which generally employs three or four Hours, and we had gotten our Baggage and Part of our Attendants on board, we ourselves step'd into a small Punt, and put off to the Shallop; which, by Reason of the Shallowness of the Water, lay at Anchor near a Mile from Shore, and beyond a very ugly Reef, on which the Waves broke with great Fury; attended by Scores of Porpoises, who were wantoning about us. We had very nearly gained the Vessel, when two of these stupid Hogs came souse against one Side of the Punt, and overturn'd us, just upon the Back of the Shoal.

§

The Pain we are sensible of in our last Moments, must be very trivial, when no foregoing Apprehension of our Dissolution has intruded itself on our Minds, fraught with all the gloomy Terrors, so naturally representant to us, on this awful Occasion. Here, no real Danger, at first, could be imagin'd; for

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 59

being good Swimmers, a Circumstance of great Account in travelling in this Country, the escaping on Shore again, could be no great Trouble; but in the very first Stroke, bruising my Arm against the Buoy of the Anchor, I was so disabled, as to be driven with the Tide, precipitately, and with so much Violence, into the Current, running directly out to Sea, that I soon lost all Sense of my forlorn Condition. Reflection, as near as I Can guess, did not long remain, and two Seconds put me into the State of an Inanimate. Only, continual Roarings, and various unform'd Sounds, intruded upon my Ears for some Time, and then, as it were, I ceas'd to be. King of Terrors! thou perpetual and everlasting Dread of the human Race, in how many different Ways thou surprizest unhappy Mortals! No Fences can keep thee out, and thou work'st thy Purposes, often, with the most unforeseen, and most minute Instruments! Lingering, all pale and emaciated, on a Bed of lengthen'd Sickness; all but the deploring Eye, and the conscious Principle, lost to their Functions; how dreadful the Situation! But, prepar'd by a constant Endeavour to do good, and inspir'd with a Regard to the Dictates of Morality and Virtue, conducted by a humane Turn of Mind; how eligible this quick Transition from Life to Death! Here, then, is one principal Qualification of a Traveller, so to conduct his Steps as to be ready at every Stage, to enter that Eternal Mansion, or Resting-Place, where Pains shall lose their Sting, and Cares shall vex no more! Hurry'd down the Stream thus, and quite lost to myself, I had soon been lost to my Friends, had not my worthy Associate pursu'd my floating Coarse, and overtaken it, at near half a Mile from the Vessel: When, instantly, seizing me by one Arm, and getting me on his Shoulders, he recover'd a Canoa, which had been dispatch'd from Shore, after us; and, in my first Signs of recover'd Sense, I found myself in Bed, surrounded by a weeping Crew, and my dear Deliverer spent with Fatigue by me, in a little better Situation than myself.

But ah! thou'rt fled, and now exists no more,
In mortal semblance! dearest shade, attend!
Ah! hover o'er me with thy angel wings!
And chase away the grief that hurts my soul;
Grief, endless grief, for thy untimely fate!
Could rocks and sands, or warring waves, conjoin'd,
With howling winds, or all the hideous tribe
Of savages, that prowl the desart waste;

Could these and more have wing'd thy latest hour,
We jointly then had render'd up our breath,
Happy to fall united!
Now alone, I wander comfortless from place to place,
And, like the shipwreck'd mariner, aghast,
On some curs'd barren shelve, I seek in vain,
With wandering eyes for help in my despair.

  

60 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

The first Emotion I experienced, was that of the most lively and piercing Gratitude to Providence, and the Arm that saved me from the deep Abyss; that Cave of continued Destructions .

In two or three Days we embark'd, being perfectly recover'd, and address'd ourselves once more to the Passage; and here, how can I help sketching out the various Beauties and Adornments of Nature, that elucidated our pleasing Voyage? Suppose us now near ten Miles from either Shore, about the Meridian of one of the most transporting Days, that could have occurred for us, whilst every storm

Is hush'd within its cavern, and a breeze,
Soft-breathing, lightly with its wings, along
The slacken'd cordage glides; the sailors ear
Perceives no sound, thro'out the vast expanse,
None but the murmurs of the sliding prow,
Which gently parts the smooth and azure main.

-- GLOVER

 

The golden Rays of the Sun darting thro' the Gloom of the surrounding Woods, and reflected upon the translucent Face of the watry Plain, gave so lively a Perspective Draught of the circumjacent Country, that we were at a Loss whether to fix our admiring View upon the Reality, or the Representation. These Woods, every where diversify'd with interspersed Plantations, by their reverend Gloom, seemed the Retreat of some antient Druids; nor could I forbear a kind of Reverence for so awful a Scene, really much calculated for a Seat of superstitious Rites and Ceremonies; where not a Sigh of the softest Zephyr but in a mournful, melancholy Whisper, is heard thro' the whole Forest, and seems even to form articulate Sounds: Whilst now and then the long pausing Scream of the Turky, or the quick, smart Cry of the Paroquet, interrupts the responsive Lays of the Turtle, and the rest of the musical Choir, and passes

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 61

in thrilling Chorus from Grove to Grove, from Brake to Brake; whilst imitative Echo fondly retains the Sound. Who can, here, help recalling to his Mind, the Fauns and Satyrs of the Antients; their Fables of Diana and her Virgin Train, and their whole beautiful Decoration of the Sylvan Scene? When these Fables were first sung, even the now despoiled and desart regions of Achaia, and the Territories of Italy, Gaul and Britain bore just such an Aspect; so buried in the Depth of almost unpassable Woods, and the Inhabitants of some of them little more civiliz'd than the Indian Natives of these Regions. And no doubt, but in Proportion to the Increase of our Colonies, the Manners of the antient Possessors may be polish'd, and their brutal Fierceness tam'd; seeing so many potent Nations are exhausted, already, by their intestine Wars, or Broils with the Europeans, that they are in the whole America not of half so much Importance as they were 100 Years ago. Nay, many Nations live amongst the English, there being several Settlements of them in New-England, Maryland, Georgia, &c. and in the first nam'd Place, whole Tribes who have embrac'd the Christian Religion, and have Teachers of their own set apart to the Ministry. Like our Preoccupiers, the Antient Britons, the Indians perform all religious Ceremonies and Mysteries in the deepest Retreat of the Woods; and inur'd from their Infancy to heroic Idleness, and Hunting for Subsistance, they esteem the open Savannah or the Corn-Field, no farther than for Profit, whilst their choice Hours of Pleasure are generally sought in the Shade. I remember to have ask'd the famous Toanahowi, so caress'd in England some Years ago, by the Royal Family, how he liked that Country? He told me, they were good People, but that it was a poor Country, and he could not live in it, because they had no Woods nor Deer, but what were kept in some Gardens; for so he stil'd the Parks of England. But to return: The Infinity of Sloops and Barks that appeared every where around, the fine Vista's up York and James Rivers, and other navigable Streams, the prodigious Flights of Wild Fowl, that darken'd the Air, all in their native Strains hymning the Great Creator; the Albicores, Dolphins and Porpoises wantoning on every Side, and a long, long View of the Wide Ocean, with a whole Fleet of Vessels in the Offing, tumbling in the Calm, and reeling their lofty, unsteady Heads; the Lowing of the goodly Kine, the Bleating of the Sheep, the Neighing of the useful Steed, and the Cries of the laborious Husbandman, plung'd us into an admiring Extasy: Nor could we forbear to

  

62 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

exclaim, How manifold are thy Works, 0 Lord! In Wisdom hast thou made them all! The Earth is full of thy Riches: So is this great and wide Sea, wherein are Things creeping innumerable, both small and great Beasts: There go the Ships, &c. A delicious Moon-light Night succeeded this brilliant Day, and exhibited still new and more delectable Scenes of Wonder, and Millions of unknown Regions, the Work of an eternal, unbounded Creation. Lost in the Contemplation of these Blessings! Struck with such a Field of Magnificence! Exclamation and Rapture is succeeded by the lowest Adoration, and the most unfeigned Praises!

 

Where'er we stir, where'er we look or move,
All, all is him, and every where is Jove
-- LUCAN.

 

At Eight the succeeding Morning, we discover'd the red Clifts of York Town, and the Opposite Town of Gloucester; and sure, nothing could form a more romantick Sight. The Place being somewhat situated like Dover and the Town standing on a Descent, you can only perceive 3 or 4 Houses at first View, and scarce any Thing presents itself but these steep, sandy Banks, dug into an infinite Number of Holes and Caverns, and the Battery of Guns before the Town upon the Pitch of the Bluff.

York-Town, Capital of the County of that Name, is situated on a rising Ground, gently descending every Way into a Valley, and tho' but stragglingly built, yet makes no inconsiderable Figure. You perceive a great Air of Opulence amongst the Inhabitants, who have some of them built themselves Houses, equal in Magnificence to many of our superb ones at St. James's; as those of Mr. Lightfoot, Nelson, &c. Almost every considerable Man keeps an Equipage, tho' they have no Concern about the different Colours of their Coach Horses, driving frequently black, white, and chesnut, in the same Harness. The Taverns are many here, and much frequented, and an unbounded Licentiousness seems to taint the Morals of the young Gentlemen of this Place. The Court-House is the only considerable publick Building, and is no unhandsome Structure. The amiable Hospitality I have just pass'd an Eulogium upon, on the other Side the Bay, seems on this Shore to have found no great Footing: Schemes of Gain, or Parties of Gaming and Pleasure, muddy too much their Souls, and banish from amongst them the glorious Propensity to doing good. The most

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 63

considerable Houses are of Brick; some handsome ones of Wood, all built in the modern Taste; and the lesser Sort, of Plaister. There are some very pretty Garden Spots in the Town; and the Avenues leading to Williamsburgh, Norfolk, &c. are pro digiously agreeable. The Roads are, as I said before, some of the best I ever saw, and infinitely superior to most in England. The Country surrounding is thickly overspread with Plantations, and the Planters live, in a Manner, equal to Men of the best Fortune; some of them being possess'd of 500 or 1000£ a Year Sterling.

Gloucester Hampton, and Norfolk, are Towns of near the same Structure, there being little Difference, save that at the last mention'd Place, a Spirit of Trade reigns, far surpassing that of any other Part of Virginia. A great Number of Vessels are fitted out from thence, to trade to the Northward and the West Indies; and the Inhabitants are, from their great Intercourse with Strangers, abundantly more refin'd. But before I leave York entirely, I should just mention the Battery, that is the Defence of the Town, which at this Time was under the Direction of an aukward Engineer, by Trade a Barber, and is as despicably contriv'd for the Safety of the Place, as it, no doubt, would be conducted in a Time of Danger. Indeed, Virginia is quite an open Country to the Incursions of an Enemy, having little to resist an Attack by Sea, but the Men of War station'd there, which are generally two or three. In a Land Expedition from the Natives, or French and Spaniards, indeed, their Numbers, 'tis hop'd, will always protect them, seeing that they could assemble at the shortest Warning, a Militia of 18 or 20,000 Men. They have also some Forts towards the Apalaches, which bridle the Indians, and secure Trade with them.

Williamsburgh is a most wretched contriv'd Affair for the Capital of a Country,.being near three Miles from the Sea, in a bad Situation. There is nothing considerable in it, but the College, the Governor's House, and one or two more, which are no bad Piles; and the prodigious Number of Coaches that croud the deep, sandy Streets of this little City. It's very surprizing to me, that this should be preferr'd to James-Town, Hampton, or some other Situations I could mention. Here the Courts of Justice are held, and with a Dignity and Decorum, that would become them even in Europe. The present Lieut. Governor Gooch is much beloved by every one, and by his mild and agreeable Disposition, diffuses Content every where

  

64 ===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA

around. The Posts that are most stickled for here, are the Office of the Secretary, which is said to be worth 900£ per Annum; and the being Naval Officers to the several Counties, which are Places of good Profit.

-We embark'd at York, in a Sloop bound for Frederica in Georgia, immediately weigh'd, and past Cape Henry with a brisk and favourable Gale; but when we were abreast of Cape Hatteras, the Wind chop'd about, and drove us for 8 Days successively off the Coast, in the most violent Storms that ever I experienc'd; and having reckon'd it as only a Run of 3 or 4 Days, our Provisions were too small in Quantity for the Time we were likely to remain in this Situation. Add to this, a Vessel that could hardly keep above Water, she was so foul and rotten, and no Hands that could be of Service, but the Master, a Negro Fellow, and a Boy: For our Lading consisted of all the Scum of Virginia, who had been recruited for the Service of Georgia, and who were ready at every Turn to mutiny, whilst they belch'd out the most shocking Oaths, wishing Destruction to the Vessel and every Thing in her; nor would offer the least Hand to help in this Distress: Nay, they were not to be persuaded even to go upon Deck for the Discharge of Nature; but performing all those Offices below, we began to fear a Plague, as well as Drowning. The Master, on the other Side, in a superstitious Fit, was casting Lots who should be the Jonah of the Ship, being sure, he said, there was some Murderer on board; and 'twas with Difficulty we kept him to his Duty, upon not complying with his Request. I shall never lose the Idea of this Creature and his Absurdities! Thus then we pass'd so many Nights and Days in miserable Want and Distress, expecting every Minute when the Sloop would part and founder in the drear Abyss.

see forked glare The livid lightning thro' the vast expanse, And hark hoarse thunder growls with deaf'ning roar. See, born aloft, our mast pervades the skies, And now we're bury'd in the gulph below, Dreadful vicissitudes!

On the Ninth Day in the Morning the Wind happily subsided, and on the Eleventh we found ourselves a-breast of Cape Fear; and then, to our great Satisfaction, a Wind sprung up, that in four Days more brought us to the End of our Voyage, weaken'd

  

===== ITINERANT OBSERVATIONS IN AMERICA 65

with Fatigue, and almost dead with Hunger, having liv'd for some Time on Biscuit and Indian Pease in small Quantities. We cast Anchor in St. Simon's Harbour, and immediately debarking, set out for Frederica.

Ours is the useful life, tho' want and anguish,
Famine, and all the various train of Evils,
That human nature shrinks at, of conspire
To check our frailty in the glorious race.

..

 

Top
Index