Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/149

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The Colonial Virginian. 143

In the Smithsonian Institution there is an invaluable collection of documents illustrating the history of prices in England from 1650 to 1750, bound in fifty-four large volumes, which were presented, in 1852, by J. Orchard Halliwell, the eminent antiquarian and Shakes- perian annotator. There is a way, young gentlemen, in which you may not only enrich the museum of your Alma Mater, but contri- bute importantly to historical investigation. Gather assiduously, in the sections of your homes, severally, all that may be gleaned of old documents, letters, diaries, account-books, newspapers, household utensils, and aboriginal implements, and deposit them here for the information of the curious and the student.

Inspection of old accounts and newspapers have afforded me much curious information as to the habits, dress, concomitants, and amusements of colonial Virginians.

The advertisements in the Williamsburg (Va.) Gazette of 1773 and 1774 indicate a degree of luxurious living in our ancestors which is vouchsafed to but few of us now. Think of Bengal silks, scarlet plushes, Irish linens, silver clasps, buckles, and buttons, bag and tie wigs, and a multitude of laces and ribbons ; of the tipples chocolate, coffee, pimento, and Bohea tea; of Canary, Lisbon, Madeira, Malaga, Malmsey, Rhenish, Teneriffe, and Tokay wines, irrespective of other cheering spirits. There was sugar brown, refined, loaf, and Muscovado. The social and inspiring musical instruments were the violin and the spinet.

Among professionals and artisans who served were physicians, surgeons, and dentists, wig-makers, hair-drapers, tailors, goldsmiths, clock and watch makers, cuttlers, carvers, and gilders, herald and coach-painters, coach and chair- makers, saddlers, makers of mat- tresses of curled English hair, and weavers of damasks, gauzes, fig- ured cottons, and counterpanes.

Governor Spotswood notes as early as 1718 an amateur dramatic performance on the occasion 'of the celebration of the anniversary of the birthday of George I on May ist, and there were frequent rep- resentations, and more than one " play-house," in Williamsburg before the Revolution.

But the exemplification of the Virginian mental, moral, martial, political and social might not be exhausted in a series of descriptive lectures.

Professor Richard H. Greene, of Columbia College, New York,