Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/328

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324 Southern Historical Society Papers.

tremulous with emotion, as he recalled scene after scene in that drama which led up to the most portentous event of these modern times, the civil war in America.

"No life," said he, "can ever again be like the life of those olden days. The South had an element in its society a landed gentry which afforded ample opportunity for extraordinary culture, elevated the standard of scholarship in the South, enlarged and emancipated social intercourse, and established schools of individual refinement. We had a vast agricultural country, and the pursuit of agriculture in the South had its fixed features. No life was like the plantation life of those days, and many old negroes who survive gladly testify to its alluring charms. The kindness of an old master or mistress comes back through the vista of receding years, like a sunset glow from a distant land, and no one but the Southern child who has experienced the loving, thoughtful care of an old negro mammy, can appreciate the bond of sympathy which often united the races.

"The people of the North could not understand all this. But the colonies of Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas were from the first distinguished for their polite manners, their fine sentiment, their attachment to a sort of feudal life, their landed gentry, their love of field sports, and the prodigal aristocracy that dispensed its store in constant rounds of hospitality and gaiety. We had a rich popula- tion then, and, as I said before, dispensed a baronial hospitality. All was life and joy and affluence. The old tradition of colonial Southern manners was still followed out, for no traveler was allowed to go to a tavern after he had been the guest of one of these old families, but was handed over from family to family through entire States. The holidays were celebrated by master and slave with music and feasting, and petty litigation was at a low ebb. There was an old tradition, too, that gold was kept in chests among our early ancestors after the downfall of continental paper, and weighed in scales and loaned out to neighbors on terms of short payment, without note, interest or witness or security, so great was the pro- verbial honor of the South. It was hard, therefore, for the descend- ants of the Puritan exiles who established themselves upon the cold and rugged soil of New England to understand the manners and traditions of the descendents of the cavaliers who sought the brighter climate of the South, and told stories of their ancestors in their baro- nial halls in Virginia drinking confusion to roundheads and regicides.

"The South yielded to none in her love for the Union, but States'