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 Shakesperian annotator.
There is a way, young gentlemen, in which you may not only enrich the museum of your Alma Mater
, but contribute 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
, 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 mattresses of curled English hair, and weavers of damasks, gauzes, figured cottons, and counterpanes.
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 1st, and there were frequent representations, 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,