Table of Contents:
We observe that the editors of Staunton and Charlottesville are engaged in a severe skirmish about the comparative magnitude and importance of those two enterprising towns. They are both charming places, and each has its attractions. Charlottesville, we may mention for the edification of strangers, lies on the east side of the Blue Ridge, and Staunton lies on the west. Charlottesville has the advantage of being nearer to Richmond, from whiich it is distant only eighty-five miles, whilst Staunton is one hundred and sixteen miles from this great centre of art and civilization. It must be admitted that this is an advantage difficult to be overcome. When the Charlottesville travels abroad, he can say with pride that his town is only four hours ride from the Sebastopol of America, the classic ground of the New World's history, for the possession of which the mightiest armies of the world contended for four long years. On the other hand, the Stauntonian can declare that he is next door to General Jackson's county, and that the most famous brigade that made Richmond classic came from behind the stone-walls of his wild and romantic county. Charlottesville, on her side, can boast the greatest University of the South, a famous seat of learning, which has educated many of the great statesmen and scholars of the Southern States. Staunton can set this off by a lunatic asylum, the inmates of which have more sense than most people outside. It has already a much larger number of occupants than the University, and, in the present crazy times, ought to be the most popular and populous institution in the country. If its dimensions are increased in proportion to the public wants, it will soon swell to the dimensions of a considerable city. Staunton has also asylums for the deaf and dumb and for the blind. Whether this is an advantage, under all the circumstances, we cannot pretend to decide. It is somewhat important in towns not yet fully developed that there should be, on the part of all the inhabitants, a capacity of minute inspection, and tongues of sufficient vigor and flexibility to describe all and more than the eyes have seen. Charlottesville, again, has in its neighborhood, only three miles distant, Monticello, the seat of Thomas Jefferson, and his tomb, which the pilgrims of liberty will visit for ages with the devotion of Mahometans to Mecca. On the other hand, Staunton, if she choose, can recall the fact, not generally known, that Washington looked to that region as the citadel of the Independence about which Jefferson only wrote, and that he declared, "Give me but a standard, and let we plant it on the mountains of West Augusta, and I will yet rescue the cause of my country from its enemies." We are not certain that we give the exact words, for they are so rarely quoted that we cannot vouch for their accuracy. Charlottesville, too, is a place of Revolutionary renown. In May, 1781, when Cornwallis invaded Virginia, the Legislature adjourned from Richmond to Charlottesville, as a place of greater safety. In the succeeding month, the famous partisan officer, Tarleton, was detached to Charlottesville, with one hundred and eighty cavalry of his legion and seventy mounted infantry, with directions to surprise the General Assembly and seize the person of Jefferson, then the Governor of the Commonwealth. Charlottesville may exult that she did not permit the Legislature to be surprised, but that the Governor and all the members, except seven escaped. On the other hand, they might have been running to this day but for Staunton, whither they repaired with commendable alacrity, and ended their session in peace and safety. Staunton did not permit Tarleton to cross the Blue Ridge. He might take Charlottesville, but not Staunton. What does Charlottesville say to that? Staunton has several newspapers, Charlottesville only one, but that, though little, is loud. It reminds us of one of those small gunboats used in the late war, carrying a two-hundred-pounder. Charlottesville, having a University, has more beaux than belles. They are, in general, magnificent fellows (or were when we were young), who can write, fight, make war or make love with equal audacity and success. The belles, too, are glorious creatures, but there are not enough of them. In Staunton, on the contrary, there is an excess of lovely woman. There is no male educational institution of sufficient capacity to supply the resident female population with beaux, to say nothing of the large seminaries for young ladies, which are never gladdened by the sight of a man. We would recommend enterprising young gentlemen, about to emigrate to the country,--we beg pardon, --to the inland towns,--to settle in Staunton, and young ladies to make a raid on Charlottesville. We believe that each town can boast of having had the small-pox and other epidemics common to great marts of trade. A vigorous effort was made at one time to prove that there had been several cases of cholera in Staunton during the first visitation of that epidemic to this country, but the effort was reluctantly abandoned, and ended in nothing but wind. Both towns may be considered, in a measure, seaport places, Charlottesville being situated on the right bank of the Rivanna river, so called, and Staunton being situated on both banks of Lewis's creek, the modest title of a meritorious stream, which, however, when excited, has sometimes threatened to carry away the town. During the late war, both Charlottesville and Staunton had a good many more Northern visitors than they are ever likely to have again. Staunton, we believe, has the advantage in this respect, having entertained a succession of cavalry and infantry can only boast of a solitary cavalry parade. One of the chief glories of Staunton has disappeared since the introduction of railroads. The innumerable stage coaches, which would have delighted the heart of the elder Mr. Weller, and made it a perfect horse heaven, have departed to the regions of the setting sun. What the commercial prospects of the two towns are in the future, we do not care to inquire. We dare say that neither of them will become a Tyre or Babylon, but they may be content if they always remain as they are, the homes of a population which few of the great hives of commerce can equal in all the qualities which ennoble human nature.
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.