Journal of Dr GFW
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Rockingham County, North Carolina
From Shelton's we drove fifteen miles to Danville in Pittsylvania County where I first heard the word Chinquapin spoke, and indeed the man who spoke it did not speak it fully. The individual we had observed in rather close connection with a mulatto girl was earnestly talking to some Ladies who were just preparing to leave the lawn, and they soliciting him to resist their father's family, and at last said, "When will you come?" and his reply was, "About chink time." I indeed wondered what thime that could be. It was beyond my lexicon, having never before heard such an expression. From some little inquiry I found it was the time Chinquapins ripened in the latter part of August or first of September.
As this is the last meal I expect soon to eat in this State, i feel some little inclination to make a memorandum of it, though it is in fact what I must term a Virginia meal for all are must the same, let the time of the day be as it may, with the exception of the bitter coffee, instead of which you have milk, a much better beverage if the article be good. But this is not often the case. Milk here has not that pleasant flavour imparted to rich clover pastures. Dinner then consists of warm biscuit made up with cold milk or hot water and nothing added to make it light; cornbread, bacon or ham boiled, and bad butter, sometimes and not infrequently sweet potatoes, lettuce or boiled Greens. Not the first mouthful of raised or light bread have I tasted since I left Washington City and have not, i believe, seen one Bake Oven. All Biscuit! Biscuit! I loathe the sight and shudder at the name. I have used it so long that I had much rather sit down to a table where there is not a particle of the staff of life than to be molested by the sight of these whetstone biscuits. They really produce a nauseous feeling the moment I see them. Had it not been for the cornbread, or hoecake as it is termed, I must have suffered more than I have. It is much to this cause I attribute my present state of ill health. I have been so long without light bread it would hardly be advisable to have a sufficient to satisfy my appetite at once.A few mouthfuls at a time would be better until I again become accustomed to it. Water has no good taste, which with the whetstone bread in addition, produces a derangement of the bowels. Coffee is another article I do not like, yet I have it regular every meal. I must have some fluid when I eat and neither the water or coffee agrees with me. This latter is very good medicine when properly used, but to use it as a beverage every day at table, as strong as it is prepared here, cannot be congenial to health. As to tea. They do not understand how to make it or how to choose good from bad. Call for it at a public house. Ah! Yes, you can have it. Well, it is set before you. It is as pale as death and you will think it has in reality fainted. Taste it and it will require a good level of discrimination to tell whether it be anything more than hot water, cream and sugar... or tea. And as to its being prepared clean and nice, you must not think of that subject. Imagine that some neat, old Negro woman or man made it and your relish will increase in a quadruple ratio.
From Danville we drove to General Bethel's in Rockingham County, North Carolina, where we stayed all night. After leaving Danville a few miles, as we were passing a house, a Gentleman stepped to the door and says to those around him, "There goes some Yankees," knowing us to be Northern men by our carriage, etc., and immediately called to us. After making a few inquiries, he said if we wanted to wait a few moments he would accompany us some distance, as he was a resident of Lincolnton in a county by the same name, and was well acquainted in that and several others, having once been a dry goods peddler in Rockingam, Guilford, and Stokes, but was now a merchant in the place before mentioned. From his conversation we knew him to be a Northern man by birth, which when asked, he acknowledged. Now, I believe it to be generally the case that individuals far around the place of their nativity are delighted to see an individual from the same country though they may have never seen each other before. As he was in his own conveyance, a carriage with two horses, one of our company generally rode with him. From this man we learned much respecting the Southern country and the manners and peculiarities of the people. He was pleasant and agreeable and communicative in this conversation but showed none of the Pedant. As for myself, I cared little for conversation being quite sick and suffering severe pain incessantly. Few can feel as I felt while steadily and slowly moving from home to I knew not where; every sudden move of the carriage was almost insupportable to me, yet I was disposed to go on in hopes to see the gathering storm scatter before it burst its threatened violence, and the same time hoping that every day would present one of us at least with a place or a situation where we could have business and at the same time give an idea of home, because the home of one would have been the home of all, in sickness we all now felt as brothers. And at this moment my feelings indicated a place of rest and comfort. I was so weak and feeble that it was with great difficulty I could get out and in the carriage. And during the whole day suffered so much from constant severe pain that I could have lamented aloud if there had been the least prospect by so doing to have mitigated my suffering. But, having for some years considered it a mark of feminine weakness to complain audibly, I endured it with a murmur above my breath.
We arrived at Gen. Bethel's just at dark. Supper was soon in readiness and I with the rest sat down to the table but could not eat one morsel. Drank one cup of fainted tea and left the room and company in order to suffer alone and not molest the happiness of others. In this respect I am not of disposition that if I am deprived of enjoyment, I wish all others to be. No, I am fond to see my friends happy, even if I am the worse.
I think this night is the second time in my life that I felt and really sighed for sweet home and all its familiar endearments. no place, however magnificent, is half so pleasant as where we were cradled in the dawn of existence; no voice so sweet as that of Parents in the hour of distress, of pain and sickness. None can be so interested and familiar and will so readily extend the kind hand of assistance in all innumerable little offices required. I hardly can decide which is the most deplorable, to be in a situation to demand these attentions or to be unable to obtain them when required. I think the former must be the worst. But in my soliloquy I would say grieve on this occasion? I can bear pain here as well as under the paternal roof, I can be sick here as well as there and if this must be the dreaded moment I had just as lief resign my earthly cares here as in the bosom of my friends. Why, then, give way to those childish wishes? It may be it is because they are such. They are Pure and free from all hypocrisy or deceit. They are the feelings of the mind in its uncontaminated moments when it is not swayed by the allurements of the world. No, it will never do. Rouse up under pain and disappointment. It ill becomes a man to give up, sink down and die in despondency. After having indulged for some hours, as far as suffering would permit, in such ideas, we arrived at Captain Hezekiah Sanders' just at dark in Guilford County.
i now summoned up all the resolution at my command and went to bed and endeavored to hope the repose of the night would give some relief and the morning would find me better. But alas, sweet sleep came not to my relief, a feverish restlessness pervaded the mind and whole system and, surrounded as I was by perfect silence, added still to the horror of my feelings. I alone seemed negligent.