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|Posté le: Mar 27 Juin - 06:19 (2017) Sujet du message: READ BOOK Journal Of A Lady Of Quality: Being The Narrative
Janet Schaw ( 1731 - 1801) traveled to the West Indies, the colony of North Carolina, and Portugal before returning home to Scotland in 1776. A copy of her epistolary account of her travels was discovered by a British Museum researcher and published for the first time in 1921.
The "Lady of Quality " whose journal is the subject-matter of this volume was Miss Janet Schaw, a cultivated Scotchwoman. She belonged to the British official class. Her father, Gideon Schaw, was in the customs service in Scotland and a brother, Robert, was a planter and man of standing in the lower Cape Fear region of North Carolina.
In the light of these facts it is natural to find that Miss Schaw's views of colonial affairs reflected those of the official class. She had no sympathy with the political aspirations or the methods of the revolutionary faction. But she was a keen observer, interested in people, appreciative of the beauties of nature, and gifted with the power of writing entertainingly. Her American experiences gave ample opportunity for the exercise of these talents.
On the voyage to the West Indies the knavery of the ship-captain, a dreadful storm, the sight of an Algerian corsair, and the hazing of emigrants while crossing the tropic gave a spice of high adventure such as is to be found usually only in works of fiction. In Antigua and St. Christopher she witnessed the brutal and also the milder phases of slavery, noted the prosperity and refinement of life among the planters, and also realized the insecure basis of economic organization.
It is, however, her impressions of North Carolina which make the book most valuable. On her arrival at Wilmington early in 1775 the controversy which was soon to result in war was reaching its crisis. Men and measures were therefore the subject of much comment by Miss Schaw. Contrary to existing local tradition, she found the lot of the plain people on the Cape Fear very similar to that of the same class in the Albemarle region as described by William Byrd a generation before. It is interesting to note, however, that the manners and character of the women were better than those of the men. Nor were her impressions of the upper class much more favorable. Men whom tradition has canonized as political saints were to this refined woman loose in morals, violent in methods, and not to be trusted. An exception was James Moore.
On the other hand, among the merchants. Englishmen and Scotsmen who had recently come to the colony, she found standards of life much higher. These, of course, became Loyalists while the natives and men of longer residence formed the basis of the revolutionary party. Unfortunately Miss Schaw seems to have known nothing of the deeper issues of British imperialism and this ignorance of course led to prejudice.
Yet the customs of the country and the acts of violence she witnessed or knew of give a certain support to her conclusions. Illustrative are her descriptions of the crude methods of agriculture, a funeral feast, the aversion to ideas or methods, the compelling men to sign the non-importation agreement, and the use of force against the royal governor.
Finally, in the autumn of 1775, Miss Schaw took refuge on a British man-of-war with Governor Martin and soon after sailed for Scotland via Lisbon. The Journal closes with an account of experiences as a tourist in Portugal.
Valuable as are these sketches of colonial life, they are matched in quality by the work of the editors. The foot-notes and the appendixes, the latter consisting of fourteen short essays, contain such wide information regarding colonial affairs and the beginning of the Revolution in North Carolina, much of it hitherto undisclosed, as to make the book a kind of vade mecum, an indispensable work of reference for all who would read deeply in West Indian and North Carolina affairs in the years 1774 and 1775.
1921 publication reformatted for Kindle
bound: 370 pages
filesize: 3071 KB