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poor man cannot attain, while an ignorant ono would be incapable of enjoying the latter. It seems to me that from these causes, wherever they may exist, circles of society, strongly discriminated, must inevitably result. And one of these causes exists in full force in Virginia ; for, however they mav vaunt of equal liberty in church and state,' they have but little to boast on the subject of equal property. Indeed 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 Potowmack. Here and there, a stately aristocratic palace, with all its appurtenances, strikes the view : While all around, for many miles, no other buildings are tu be seen but the little smoky huts and log cabins of poor, laborious, ignorant tenants. And, what is very ridiculous, these tenants, while they approach the great house, cap in hand, with all the fearful trembling submission of the lowest feudal vassals, boast in their court yards, with obstreperous exultation, that they live in a land of freemen, a land of equal liberty and equal rights.... Whether this debasing sense of inferiority which I have mentioned, is a reinnant of their colonial character, or whether it be that it is natural for poverty and impotence to look up, with veneration, to wealth and power and rank, I cannot deci le. For my own part, however, I have ascribed it to the latter cause; and I have been in a great degree confirmed in the opinion, by observing the attentions which were paid by the most genteel people here to ............., the son of Lord .............. You know the circumstances in which his lordship left Virginia ; that so far from being popular, he carried with him the deepest execrations of these people. Even now, his name is seldom mentioned here but in connecti. on with terms of abhorrence or contempt. A. ware of this, and believing it impossible that ------------- was indebted to his father, for all the pa. rade of respect which was shewn to him, I sought in his own personal accomplishments a solution of the phenomenon. But I sought in vain.... Without one solitary ray of native genius, with: out one adventitious beam of science, without any of those traits of soft benevolence which are so universally captivating, I found his mind dark and benighted, his manners bold, forward and assuming, and his whole characterevidently inflated with the consideration that he was the son of a Lord. His deportment was so evidently dictated by this consideration, and he regarded the Virginians, so palpably in the humiliating light of inferior plebians, that I have often wondered how such a man, and the son too of so very unpopular a father, escaped from this country without per. sonal injury, or at least personal insult. I am now persuaded, that this impunity, and the great respect which was paid to him, resulted solely from his noble descent, and was nothing more than the tribute which man pays either to imaginary or real superiority. On this occasion, I stated my surprise to a young Virginian, who happened to belong to the democratic party. He, however, did not choose to admit the statement ; but as. serted, that whatever respect had been shown to ---, proceeded solely from the federalists; and that it was an unguarded evolution of their private attachment to monarchy and its appendages. I then stated the subject to a very sensible gentleman, whom I knew to belong to the federal phalanx. Not willing to degrade his party by admitting that they would prostrate themselves before the empty shadow of nobility, he alledged that nothing has been manifested towards young -------------, beyond the hospitality which was due to a genteel stranger; and that if there had been any thing of parade on his account, it was attributable only to the ladies, who had merely exercised their wonted privilege of coquietting it with a fine young fellow. But notwithstanding all this, it was easy to discern in the look, the voice and wliole manrer with which gentlemen as well as ladies of both parties saluted and accosted young --------------, a secret spirit of respectful diffidence, a species of silent reverential abasement, which, as it could not have been excited by his personal qualities, must have been homage to his rank. Judge, then, whether I have not just reason to apprehend, that on the annunciation of my real name, the curtain of ce. remony would fall, and nature would cease to play her pranks before me.
Richmond is built, as you will remember, on the north side of James river, and at the head of tide water. There is a manuscript in this state which relates a curious anecdote concerning the origin of this town. The land hereabout was owned by Col. William Byrd....this gentleman,, with the former proprietor of the land at the head.
of tide water on Appomattox river, was appoint. ed, it seems, to run the line between Virginia and North-Carolina. The operation was a most tremendous one ; for in the execution of it, they had to penetrate and pass quite through the great Dismal Swamp. It would be almost impossible to give you a just conception of the horrors of this enterprize. Imagine to yourself an immense morass, thirty or forty miles in diameter; its soil a black, deep mire, covered with a stupendous forest of Juniper and Cypress Trees, whose luxuriant branches, interwoven throughout, intercept the beams of the sun and teach day to counterfcit the night. This forest, which until that time, perhaps, the human foot had never violated, had become the secure retreat of ten thousand beasts of prey. The adventurers, therefore, be. side the almost endless labor of falling trees in a · proper direction to form a foot way throughout, moved amid perpetual terrors, and each night, had to sleep en militaire, upon their arms, surrounded with the deafening, soul-chilling yell of those hunger-smitten lords of the desert. It was, one night, as they lay in the midst of scenes like these, that Hope, that never-failing friend of man, paid them a consoling visit, and sketched in brilliant prospect, the plans of Richmond and Petersburg.*
Richmond occupies a very picturesque and
* So, at least, speaks the manuscript account which Col. Byrd has left of this expedition, and which is now in the hands of some of his de. scendants ; perhaps of the family at Westover.
most beautiful situation. I have never met with such an assemblage of striking and interesting objects. The town, dispersed over hills of vari. ous shapes....the river descending from west to east and obstructed by a multitude of small islands, clumps of trees and myriads of rocks, among which it tumbles, foams and roars, consti. tuting what are called the falls... the same river, : at the lower end of the town, bending at right angles to the south and winding reluctantly off for many miles in that direction, its polished surface caught here and there by the eye, but more generally covered from the view by trees, among which the white sails of approaching and departing vessels exhibit a curious and interesting appearance: then again, on the opposite side, the little town of Manchester, built on a hill, which, sloping gently to the river, opens the whole town to the view, interspersed as it is, with vigorous and flourishing poplars, and surrounded to a great distance by green plains and stately woods ....all these objects falling at once under the eye, constitute, by far the most finely varied and most animated landscape that I have ever seen. A' mountain, like the Blue Ridge, in the western horizon, and the rich tint with which the hand of. a Pennsylvanian farmer would paint the adjacent fields, would make this a more enchanting spot than even Damascus is described to be. I will endeavor to procure for you a perspective view of Richmond, with the embellishments of fancy which I have just mentioned, and you will do me the honor to give it a place in your pavilion.
Adieu for the present, my dear S...... ;. ...May the perpetual smile of heaven be yours.