PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Observations in Several Voyages and Travels in America” by Edward Kimber (July 1746)

SUMMARY

In this installment of “Observations in Several Voyages and Travels in America,” published in the London Magazine in July 1746, the English novelist Edward Kimber describes life in the Chesapeake Bay region, and especially in Maryland. He had traveled from New York south to Florida from September 1742 until July 1744.

FULL TEXT

OBSERVATIONS in several Voyages and Travels in AMERICA, continued from Page 248.

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*.

 

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 Marshes, 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 Confort, and a numerous Race at their Boards, enjoy a Life much to be envy’d by Courts and Cities. We gather’d a Fruit, in 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 Fuirt, and the Settlers make use of prodigious Quantities to sweeten a Beer, which they brew of Caffena and divers Herbs, which is vastly wholesome. The Caffena 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

* See Letter from a Son in a distant Part of the World, March 2, 1743, in London Magazine, July, 1744, p. 355.

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 Senapuxon, tho’ poorer than some of their Neighbours of Maryland, occasioned by the Poverty of their Soil, are perfectly hospitable, sociable, and honest Set of People, and abound in every Necessary of Life, and most of the Conveniences. 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 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 Land holder’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, beneficent, 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 instrusted 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 Decide 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 Sot, 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 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 meet 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 an wholesome and generous Liquor. The meaner Sort you find little else but Water amongst, when their Cyder is spent. 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 backing 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 §. 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 noble 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 Capital, 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 as in any Court in Westmister-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 no made it very well worth their While. Thus Innocence and Truth, white-rob’d Innocence and heavenly Truth, can seldom find a Retreat to swell in. Dis-

* Made of Indian Corn, or Rice, pounded.

† Indian Meal, pounded or ground with the Husks, an dry’d. Great Homine has Meat or Fowl in it.

The Shell of a Fruit so called. Some of them hold Two Quarts.

§ What is said here is most strictly true, for their Manner of Living is quite generous and open: Strangers are sought after with Greediness, as they pass the Country, to be invited. Their Breakfast Tables have generally the cold Remains of the former Day, hash’d or fricasseed; Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, Venison-Pasty, Punch, and Beer, or Cyder, upon one Board: Their Dinner, good Beef, Veal, Mutton, Venison, Turkies and Geese, wild and tame, Fowls boil’d and roasted; and perhaps somewhat more, as Pies, Puddings, &c. for Desert: Suppers the same, with some small Addition, and a good hearty Cup to precede a Bed of Down: And this is the constant Life they lead, and to this Fare every Comer is welcome.

tracted with their Adversaries barefaced Attempts, ’tis in vain they seek the most distant Skies: Pale-visag’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 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 assay,

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 Negroes live as easily as in any other Part of America, and at set Times have a pretty deal of Liberty in their Quarters*, as they are called. The Argument, of the Reasonableness and Legality, according to Nature, of the Slave-Trade, has been so well handles 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 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 Mailers to calculate, they’d find

* A Negro Quarter, is a Number of Huts or Hovels, built at some Distance from the Mansion-House; where the Negroes reside with their Wives and Families, and cultivate, at vacant Times, the little Spots allowed them. They are, indeed, true Pictures of Slavery, which begets Indolence and Nastiness.

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 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, 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 remain’d 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 Sot, 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, “G-d d-mn you, when you go to Hell, I wish G-d would d-mn 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

* A Negro just purchased from the Guinea man. ‘Tis really shocking to be present at a Mart of this Sort; where the Buyers handle them as the Butchers do Beasts in Smithfield, to see if they are Proof in Cod, Flank, and Shoulders. And the Women, who have Plantations, I have seen mighty busy in examining the Limbs, Size, and Abilities of their intended Purchases. I do not speak this of Maryland; for I never saw a Lady at Market there, but have elsewhere in America.

A Cowskin is so called, from being a large Thong from the Hide of that Animal, twisted into the Shape of a Swish Horse-Whip, and as hard as a Bull’s Pizzle. The common Method is to tie them up by the Hands to the Branch of a Tree, so that their Toes can hardly touch the Ground; but in the West-Indies, they are so habituated to ill Usage ,and their Spirits so sunk, that the Overseer need only bid them cast up their Arms over their Heads, which the poor Creatures readily do, and then the Torturer taking a Run to him, lashes him; and this Discipline is repeated sometimes forty Times: Hardly a Negro but bears the Marks of Punishment in large Scars on his Back and Sides.

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.

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 —, 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 completed, near two Years elaps’d, from his first being kidnapp’d, when, probably, his Father and Mother were both 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, leaving 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 Rimainder of his Life; but the next Morning he was found stabbe’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 Whigwhams, 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†, 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 Scotchman, 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 build on Puncheons or Logs, a Foot or two from the Earth, which is more 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. 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 each Horse, and a Shilling per Day for a Guide. They are good serviceable little Creatures‡, 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;

 

* A Branch is a Stream running across the Road, from some neighbouring Creek or River.

Or Tavern, Eating-house, or Inn.

And live most prodigiously hard. At Night, you need only tether them out, and they pick Subsistence enough in their Station; I have known them go six Days Journey without a Feed of Corn; having nothing but the Stalks of Indian Wheat, and such other Litter as they could pick up.

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 to 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, which is excessively bad, and where, to pay a Six-pence of 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 the 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, which 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 Be-

* Their bursting buds the tender leaves disclose;

The tender leaves in downy robes appear,

Trembling, they seem to move with cautious fear,

Yet new to life, and strangers to the air.

 

We suppose the Author suppos’d these Lines, in the same Description, because the Season of the Year was different when he was there. The whole Poem in in our Magazine for April 1733, p. 204–207. It was first publish’d in a Paper call’d the Weekly Register, since deceas’d.

Letter to a Son, sign’d Sophonius, in your Mag. For July 1744, p. 343. Anonymus.

haviour 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 but some few Foibles; would you attend somewhat more to the Knowledge of yourselves, and turn your Eyes inwards; had not the rolling Chariot, the shining Ring, the Indian Exoticks, the Frenchify’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 of 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 pain 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 foul’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; 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 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, in 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 Woolen 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’s 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.

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 in sacred to Eliza‘s fame†.

[To be continued some other Time.]

* The Author was again in Maryland for some Time, and many of the detach’d Observations were made then, though he chose to interweave them with this short Tour.

CITE THIS ENTRY
APA Citation:
Kimber, Edward. “Observations in Several Voyages and Travels in America” by Edward Kimber (July 1746). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/observations-in-several-voyages-and-travels-in-america-by-edward-kimber-july-1746.
MLA Citation:
Kimber, Edward. "“Observations in Several Voyages and Travels in America” by Edward Kimber (July 1746)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 18 Oct. 2021
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