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VIRGINIA AND ITS INHABITANTS.

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Mar.

the colonial assembly. The war between England CHAP.
and Holland necessarily interrupted the intercourse of
the Dutch with the English colonies; but if, after the
treaty

of
peace,

the trade was considered contraband, the English restrictions were entirely disregarded.” A remonstrance, addressed to Cromwell, demanded 1656. an unlimited liberty; and we may suppose, that it was not refused, for, some months before Cromwell's 1658. death, the Virginians “invited the Dutch and all foreigners” to trade with them, on payment of no higher duty, than that which was levied on such English vessels, as were bound for a foreign port.» Proposals of peace and commerce between NewNetherlands and Virginia were discussed without scruple by the respective colonial governments; and at last a special statute of Virginia extended to every 1660. Christian nation, in amity with England, a promise of liberty to trade and equal justice. At the restoration, Virginia enjoyed freedom of commerce with the whole world.

Religious liberty advanced under the influence of independent domestic legislation. Conformity to the church of England had, in the reign of Charles, been enforced by measures of disfranchisement and exile.5 Under the commonwealth, all things re- 1658. specting parishes and parishioners were referred to their own ordering. Unhappily, the extravagance of a few wild fanatics, who, under the name of

qua

Mar. 1.

1 Hening, v. i. p. 382, 383.

2 Thurloe, v. v. p. 80; Hazard, v. i. p. 599–602.

3 Hening, v. i. p. 469.

4 Smith, p. 27; Hen. v. i. p. 450. 5 Hening, v. i. p. 123. 144. 149. 155. 180. 240. 268, 269. 277.

6 Ibid, p. 433, Act 1. 1658.

CHAP. kers, were charged with avowing doctrines, than

which none are more offensive to the society of Friends, gave such umbrage, that Virginia was still excited to an act of intolerance. All quakers were banished; and they, who should obstinately persist in returning, were ordered to be prosecuted as felons.

Virginia was the first state in the world, composed of separate townships, diffused over an extensive surface, where the government was organized on the

principle of universal suffrage. All freemen without 1655. exception were entitled to vote. An attempt was

once made to limit the right to house-keepers ;' but

the public voice reproved the restriction; the very 1656. next year, it was decided to be “hard and unagreea

ble to reason, that any person shall pay equal taxes and yet have no votes in elections ;” and the electoral franchise was restored to all freemen. Servants, when the time of their bondage was completed, at once became electors; and might be chosen burgesses."

Thus Virginia established upon her soil the supremacy of the popular branch, the freedom of trade, the independence of religious societies, the security from foreign taxation, and the universal elective franchise. If, in following years, she departed from either of these principles, and yielded a reluctant consent to change, it was from the influence of foreign authority. Virginia had herself

1 Hening, v. i. p. 532, 533, Act 6. 1660.

2 Ibid, preface, p. 19, 20 and p. 412, Act 7. March, 1655.

3 Hening, v. i. p. 403, Act 16. March, 1656.

4 Virginia's Cure, printed in 1662, p. 18.

VIRGINIA AND ITS INHABITANTS.

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established a nearly independent democracy. Pros- CHAP. perity advanced with freedom; dreams of new staples and infinite wealth were indulged ;' while the population of Virginia at the epoch of the restoration, may have been about thirty thousand. Many of the recent emigrants had been royalists in England, good officers in the war, men of education, of property, and of condition. But the waters of the Atlantic divided them from the political strifes of Europe; their industry was employed in making the best advantage of their plantations; the interests and liberties of Virginia, the land, which they adopted as their country, were dearer to them than the monarchical principles, which they had espoused in England; and therefore no bitterness could exist between the partisans of the Stuarts and the friends of republican liberty. Virginia had long been the home of its inhabitants.

“ Among many other blessings,” said their statute book, "God Almighty hath vouchsafed increase of children to this colony; who are now multiplied to a considerable number ;' and the huts in the wilderness were as full as the birdsnests of the woods.

The genial climate and transparent atmosphere delighted those, who had come from the denser air of England. Every object in nature was new and wonderful. The loud and frequent thunder-storms

3

1 E. Williams' Virginia, and Vir- numerous generation of Christian ginia's Discovery of Silkworms, children born in Virginia, who 1650, quarto.

naturally are of beautiful and 2 Clarendon, b. xiii. v. iii. p. 466. comely persons, and generally of 467; Walsh's Appeal, p. 31. more ingenious spirits than those 3 Hening, v. 1. 336. “A very of England.” Virginia's Cure, p.5.

v VOL. I.

32

VI.

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CHAP. were phenomena, that had been rarely witnessed in

the colder summers of the north ; the forests, majestic in their growth and free from underwood, deserved admiration for their unrivalled magnificence; the purling streams and the frequent rivers, flowing between alluvial banks, quickened the ever pregnant soil into an unwearied fertility; the strangest and the most delicate flowers grew familiarly in the fields; the woods were replenished with sweet barks and odors; the gardens matured the fruits of Europe, of which the growth was invigorated and the flavor improved by the activity of the virgin mould. Especially the birds with their gay plumage and varied melodies inspired delight; every traveller expressed his pleasure in listening to the mockingbird, which carolled a thousand several tunes, imitating and excelling the notes of all its rivals. The humming-bird, so brilliant in its plumage and so delicate in its form, quick in motion yet not fearing the presence of man, haunting about the flowers like the bee gathering honey, rebounding from the blossoms out of which it sips the dew, and as soon returning “to renew its many addresses to its delightful objects,” was ever admired as the smallest and the most beautiful of the feathered race. The rattlesnake, with the terrors of its alarms and the power of its venom; the opossum, soon to become as celebrated for the care of its offspring as the fabled pelican; the noisy frog, booming from the shallows like the English bittern; the flying squirrel ; the myriads of pigeons, darkening the air with the im

2

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mensity of their flocks, and, as men believed, break- CHAP. ing with their weight the boughs of trees on which they alighted, were all honored with frequent commemoration and became the subjects of the strangest tales. The concurrent relation of all the Indians justified the belief, that, within ten days' journey towards the setting of the sun, there was a country, where gold might be washed from the sand; and where the natives themselves had learned the use of the crucible ;' but definite and accurate as were the accounts, inquiry was always baffled ; and the regions

l of gold remained for two centuries an undiscovered land.

Various were the employments by which the calmness of life was relieved. One idle man, who had been a great traveller, and who did not remain in America, beguiled the ennui of his seclusion by translating the whole of Ovid's Metamorphoses.” To the man of leisure, the chase furnished a perpetual resource. It was not long before the horse was multiplied in Virginia ; and to improve that noble animal was early an object of pride, soon to be favored by legislation. Speed was especially valued; and the planter's pace became a proverb.

Equally proverbial was the hospitality of the Virginians. Labor was valuable; land was cheap; competence promptly followed industry. There was no need of a scramble ; abundance gushed from the earth for all. The morasses were alive with water

1 E. Williams, Virginia, &c. p. the mines of N.C.v. xxiii. p. 8, 9. 17. Comp. Silliman's Journal, on 2 Rymer, v. xviii. p. 676, 677.

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