Page images
PDF
EPUB

afterwards acquire. Gaming debts are void; and any sum, exceeding forty shillings, actually paid on this account, may be recovered in a court of justice by the payer or his agent, within three months.

Duelling.—A law lately passed on this subject requires, that every person, elected to any civil office, shall take an oath in public court, that he has not been concerned in any duel since the date of that law, and that he will not be concerned in any for the future.

Interest of Money.—The rate of legal interest is six per cent.; all writings, in which a greater portion is stipulated for, are null and void; and the person who receives a greater sum than the lawful interest forfeits double the amount lent.

Treason consists in levying war against the commonwealth, or adhering to its enemies; for which the person convicted shall suffer death, without benefit of clergy. To erect and establish a separate government is also deemed treason. *

Authors.—The authors of literary works are secured in the exclusive right thereof for twenty-one years, the titles to be registered with the clerk of the council; and the penalty for printing, importing, or publishing such works, without the consent of the author, is double the value of all the copies, t

Bakers, brewers, and distillers, convicted of selling unwholesome bread or drink, are fined the first time; punished by the pillory the second; imprisoned and fined the third; and for every time beyond, ad

• Revised Code, chap. 26. t Chap. 8.

judged to hard labour six months in the public works. *

Agriculture.—Of late years, agriculture has been much improved by the adoption of the plan of a rotation of crops, and the use of gypsum and other manures; though in many places the old custom of exhausting the soil by successive crops of tobacco, maize, and wheat, still prevails. In the year 1604, the use of tobacco was represented as injurious to health and industry, and a duty of six shillings and eightpence a pound was put on it, when imported into England, t Afterwards, an opposite opinion prevailed, and the cultivation of it was encouraged. In L6£l, every person on board of nine ships, which then arrived under the protection of the Governor Wyatt, was obliged to raise a thousand plants of tobacco, the produce of which was nearly a hundred pounds, and the price varied from eighteenpep.ee to three shillings currency, t

* Revised Code, chap. 104.

+ Rymer's Fcedera, Tom. XVI. p. 601.

J Culture of Tobacco.—In the month of October, the planter begins to clear the ground by girdling or cutting the bark of the large trees near the ground, and grubbing up the small ones; and this labour is performed occasionally during the winter, when the workmen have no other important occupation. In January, the ground is rendered soft and light by repeated working, and the beds are prepared for the seed, which is sown in February and March; and, as the young plants are sometimes killed by the frost, three times more are produced when this accident does not happen. In some very extraordinary seasons, all the plants have been killed; in which cases, the beds were resown in April; but the produce on such occasions was always inferior, botn in A hogshead of tobacco, weighing 1350 pounds, * is considered as a good crop, and sufficient employment for one labourer; or four plants to the pound, though

quality and quantity. From the 10th of April to the 20th of May, after the first rains of the vernal equinox, when the ground is soft, the plants are drawn, when about the height of four or five inches, are carried to the fields, and planted in beds, or little mounds, at the distance of three feet from each other; and, if a plant die, another is put in its place. This operation is performed by making a hole with the finger, and pressing the earth close round the top root. The plants are dropped in every hole by the negro children. The earth is raised round the stalk by the hoe and shovel, three different times, in the shape of little hillocks, and the last operation is performed when the leaves are developed, and the plant has acquired a considerable growth. In about a month they are a foot high, when the top is pinched off, level with the ground or bottom leaves, leaving from eight to twelve, which, as the planter believes, will grow larger by the removal of the rest. The young sprouts, called suckers, are broken off, lest they should draw the nourishment from the leaves, and the weeds are carefully kept down. The tobacco or horse worm is picked off and destroyed, otherwise this ravenous insect would devour whole fields in a very few days. The ground worm, which cuts the plant beneath the surface of the earth, must also be looked for, and destroyed. The former is the favourite food of the turkies; flocks of which are driven into the grounds, and are more useful than a number of hands. In six weeks more, the plant has attained its full growth, being from five to seven feet high, and the ground is covered with the leaves. The change of colour of the leaves, from green to brown, after a clammy moisture or perspiration, indicates their maturity. Being liable to injury from blistering, great attention is paid to the day, and even to the hour of cutting. Notwithstanding every pre

* By an act of the assembly, a hogshead must be 960 pounds neat, exclusive of the cask.

VOL. II. O

very rich land will yield double this quantity. The diseases and injuries to which this plant is liable, are, in the language of the planter, worm holes, ripe shot,

caution, whole fields are sometimes destroyed by the frost. The plants, ripening unequally, are cut as they become ripe, and when the sun is strong, that it may kill them more speedily, and thus prevent the leaves from breaking. When cut, the plants are laid in heaps, and exposed to the sun during one day; the next, they are carried to the tobacco house, and stacked; every plant is hung up separately, and fired or dried, which requires a month or five weeks. After cutting, it is split three or four inches, and cut off below the undermost leaf. This split is placed across a small oak stick, an inch in diameter, and four feet and a half long, and so close, that the plants touch, without pressing each other. The drying is hastened by making slow fires on the floor below. After this, the plants are taken down, and laid in rows or heaps, where they sweat a week or a fortnight; and, in damp weather, are sorted and packed up in hogsheads. For this last operation, more skill and experience are required than for any other. If not performed in moist or wet weather, they crumble to dust. The ground leaves and faulty tobacco are thrown away, as they are pulled from the stack. The hands or bundles are placed in hogsheads, and pressed down with a large beam, one end of which is inserted with a mortice into a tree, and on the other a great weight is suspended. From the 1st of November to the 1st of April, the tobacco is brought to the public warehouse; and, before the sale, it is examined by sworn inspectors, whose certificate of its weight and quality is taken by the merchants in payment for goods, and passes current all over the state, * like coin or bank stock; it being common to express the value of an article by saying, "I will giye so many hogsheads of tobacco." The inspection is performed by opening the cask, and examining the tobacco, by means of long iron wedges. The weight of each is marked in the wood. If the to

• This inspection law was passed in 1730.

cr sun-burnt, moon-burnt, house-burnt, stunted by growth, torn by storms of hail or wind, injured or killed by frost. There are seven different kinds of

bacco is unsaleable, it is publicly burnt, and the certificate refused. If a portion be good, it must be separated by the owner, who receives for the quantity a transfer note. From June to September, it is shipped for Europe; if embarked at an earlier period, it too soon undergoes what is called the sea sweat, by which it is softened and weakened, and the climate • to which it is transported is too cold to restore it to its natural state. The finest flavoured tobacco is produced on a new and kindly rich soil, with an undulating surface. The second crop is inferior to the first, as the third is to the second. The best quality is raised from about twenty miles above Sidewater to the Blue ridge; a tract which, including a small portion of North Carolina, is about 150 miles in length, and from sixty to eighty in breadth. The Virginia tobacco is preferred for chewing or for snuff, for which purposes it is exclusively used in the United States, where the annual consumption is estimated at 10,000 hogsheads a year, and that of Great Britain at 15,000. The culture has of late greatly diminished, owing to its introduction into Kentucky and Louisiana, and to the small difference of increased price which it brings in Europe. Farmers have ascertained, that it is better to raise wheat atone dollar a bushel, (sixty pounds,) than tobacco at eight dollars per cwt.; for it is observed, that those who cultivate the former soon become comfortable, and gradually acquire wealth by the increase of slaves and stock, and agricultural improvements; while the lands of the tobacco planter in a few years are exhausted, his slaves become sickly, and his stock unproductive; for he has every thing to purchase, whereas all the wants of the former are supplied from his own resources. Even the high prices of tobacco in 1815 and 1 816, from sixteen to thirty-five dollars per cwt., did not tempt more than half the farmers to resume its culture: and fortunate were those who refused; for in February

"England, France, Holland, and the north of Europe?

« PreviousContinue »