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made a present of it to me. It seems to be a copy of letters written by a young Englishman of rank, during a tour through the United States, in 1803, to a member of the British parliament. They are dated from almost every part of the United States, contain a great deal of geographical description, a delineation of every character of note among us, some literary disquisitions, with a great mixture of moral and political observation. The letters are prettily written, Persons of every description will find in them a light and agreeable entertainment; and to the younger part of your readers they may not be uninstructive. For the present I select a few which were written from this place, and by way of distinction, will give them to you under the title of the British Spy.
Richmond, September 1.
You complain, my dear S......., that although I have been resident in Richmond upwards of six months, you have heard nothing from me since my arrival, The truth is, that I had suspended writing until a more intimate acquaintance with the people and their country should furnish me with the materials for a correspondence. Having now collected those materials, the apology ceases, and the correspondence begins. But first, a word of myself.
I still continue to wear the mask, and most willingly exchange the attentions, which would
be paid to my rank, for the superiour and exquisite pleasure of inspecting this country and this people, without attracting to myself a single eye of curiosity, or awakening a shade of suspicion. Under my assumed name, I gain an admission close enough to trace, at leisure, every line of the American character; while the plainness, or rather humility of my appearance, my manners and conversation, put no one on his guard, but enable me to take the portrait of nature, as it were, asleep and naked. Besides, there is something of innocent roguery in this masquerade, which I am playing, that sorts very well with the sportiveness of my temper. To sit and decoy the human heart from behind all its disguises: to watch the capricious evolutions of unrestrained nature, frisking, curveting and gambolling at her ease, with the curtain of ceremony
drawn up to the very sky-O! it is delightful!
You are perhaps surprised at my speaking of the attentions which would be paid in this country to my rank. You will suppose that I have forgotten where I am: no such thing. I remember well enough that I am in Virginia, that state, which, of all the rest, plumes herself most highly on the democratick spirit of her principles. Her political principles are indeed democratick enough in all conscience. Rights and privileges, as regulated by the constitution of the state, belong in equal degree to all the citizens; and Peter Pindar's remark is perfectly true of the people of this country, that “every blackguard scoundrel is a king "* Nevertheless, there exists in Virginia a species of social rank, from which no country can, I presume,
* The reader needs scarcely to be reminded that the writer is a Briton and true to his character,
be entirely free. I mean that kind of rank which arises from the different degrees of wealth and of intellectual refinement. These must introduce a style of living and of conversation, the former of which a poor man cannot attain, while an ignorant one would be incapable of enjoying the latter. It seems to me that from these causes, wherever they may exist, circles of society, strongly discri. minated, must inevitably result. And one of these causes exists in full force in Virginia ; for, however they may vaunt of “equal liberty in church and state," they have but little to boast on the subject of equal property. Ir.deed there is no country, I believe, where property is more unequally distributed than in Virginia. This inequality struck me with peculiar force in riding through the lower counties on the Potomack. Here and there a stately aristocratick palace, with all its appurtenances, strikes the view: while