previous next

[84] to know that this picture has been drawn with the pencil of truth. What has made desolate and sterile one of the loveliest regions of the whole earth? What mean the signs of wasteful neglect, of long improvidence around you: the half-finished mansion already falling into decay, the broken-down enclosures, the weed-grown garden, the slave hut open to the elements, the hillsides galled and naked, the fields below them run over with brier and fern? Is all this in the ordinary course of nature? Has man husbanded well the good gifts of God, and are they nevertheless passing from him, by a process of deterioration over which he has no control? No, gentlemen. For more than two centuries the cold and rocky soil of New England has yielded its annual tribute, and it still lies green and luxuriant beneath the sun of our brief summer. The nerved and everex-ercised arm of free labor has changed a landscape wild and savage as the night scenery of Salvator Rosa into one of pastoral beauty,—--the abode of independence and happiness. Under a similar system of economy and industry, how would Virginia, rich with Nature's prodigal blessings, have worn at this time over all her territory the smiles of plenty, the charms of rewarded industry! What a change would have been manifest in your whole character! Freemen in the place of slaves, industry, reputable1 economy, a virtue, dissipation despised, emigration unnecessary!


1 A late Virginia member of Congress described the Virginia slave-holder as follows: ‘He is an Eastern Virginian whose good fortune it has been to have been born wealthy, and to have become a profound politician at twenty-one without study or labor. This individual, from birth and habit, is above all labor and exertion. He never moves a finger for any useful purpose; he lives on the labor of his slaves, and even this labor he is too proud and indolent to direct in person. While he is at his ease, a mercenary with a whip in his hand drives his slaves in the field. Their dinner, consisting of a few scraps and lean bones, is eaten in the burning sun. They have no time to go to a shade and be refreshed; such easement is reserved for the horses’!—Speech of Hon. P. P. Doddridge in House of Delegates, 1829.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
New England (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Salvator Rosa (1)
P. Doddridge (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: