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CHAPTER VI
When it was found that a refined and intelligent society was inclined to crystallize around the court green of Albemarle County, it became imperative to choose a fitting name for a promising young village.

In 1761 there was a charming princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; intelligent, amiable, and only seventeen years of age. She had stepped forth from the conventional ranks of the young noblewomen of her day, and written a spirited letter to Frederick the Great, in which she entreated him to stop the ravages of war then desolating the German States. She had painted in vivid colors the miseries resulting from the brutality of the Prussian soldiery.

It appears that this letter reached the eyes of the Prince of Wales. He fell in love with the letter before he ever knew the writer. In the same year that he, as George III, ascended the throne of England, the lovely Charlotte, Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, became his wife. Charlottesville, then, was a name of happy omen for the pretty little town, and in three more years a county was created, it would seem, expressly that it might be called "Mecklenburg," and yet again a slice taken from another county to form the county of Charlotte. 42 The colony of Virginia was strewn thickly with the names of royal England: King and Queen, Charles City,—Charlestown,—King George, King William, William and Mary, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Caroline, Prince George, Henrico, Prince William. No less than four rivers were named in honor of the good Queen Anne: Rapidan, North Anna, South Anna, Rivanna. We might almost call the roll of the House of Lords from a list of Virginia counties.

Twenty-four years after the Princess Charlotte had become a queen, Mrs. Abigail Adams, as our minister's wife, was presented at the Court of St. James. Alas for time,—and perhaps for prejudice,—she found, in place of the charming princess, an "embarrassed woman, not well-shaped nor handsome, although bravely attired in purple and silver." The interview was cold and stilted, but all the "embarrassment" was on the part of royalty.

There had been a recent unpleasantness between John Bull and Brother Jonathan; King George, however, brave Briton as he was, broke the ice, and startled Mrs. Adams by giving her a hearty kiss! She could not venture, however, to remind the queen that we had named counties in her honor. She might, in her present state of mind, have deemed it an impertinence on our part.

Residence of Dr. S. P. Hargrave.

I am so impatient under descriptions of scenery, that I do not like to inflict them upon others. But I wish I could stand with my reader upon the elliptic plain formed by cutting down the apex of Monticello. He would, I am sure, appreciate the 43fascination of mountain, valley, and river which drew the first settlers, and later the Randolphs, Gilmers, William Wirt, and Thomas Jefferson, to the region around Charlottesville. On the east the almost level scene is bounded by the horizon, and on the west the land seems to billow onward, wave after wave, until it rises in the noble crests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A mist of green at our feet is pierced here and there by the simple belfries of the village churches, and a little farther on, glimpses appear of the classic Pantheon and long colonnades of the University of Virginia. Imagination may fill in this picture, but reality will far exceed imagination, especially if the happy moment is caught at sunset when the mountains change color, from rose through delicate shadings to amethyst, and finally paint themselves deep blue against the evening sky. Then, should that sky chance to be veiled with light, fleecy clouds all flame and gold—but I forbear!

This was the spot chosen by my aunt as the very best for my education and my social life. The town was small in the forties, indeed, is not yet a city. It is described at that time as having four churches, two book-stores, several dry-goods stores, and a female seminary. The family of Governor Gilmer lived on one of the little hills, Mr. Valentine Southall on another, and we were fortunate enough to secure a third, with a glorious view of the mountains and with grounds terraced to the foot of the hill. Large gardens, grounds, and ornamental trees surrounded all the houses. The best of these were 44of plain brick of uniform unpretentious architecture, comfortable, and ample. A small brick building at the foot of our lawn was my uncle's office, and behind it, on my tenth birthday, he made me plant a tree.

The "Female Seminary" had been really the magnet that drew my dear aunt. It was a famous school, presided over by an excellent and much-loved Presbyterian clergyman. There it was supposed I should learn everything my aunt could not teach me.

Behold me, then, on a crisp October morning wending my way to the great brick hive for girls. I was going with my aunt to be examined for admission. Her thoughts were, doubtless, anxious enough about the creditable showing I should make. Mine were anxious, too. I was conscious of a linen bretelle apron under my pelisse, and my mind was far from clear about the propriety of so juvenile a garment. Suppose no other girl wore bretelle aprons!

However, when we marched up the broad brick-paved walk and ascended the steps of the great building, whose many windows seemed to stare at us like lidless eyes, bretelle aprons sank into insignificance.

The room into which we were ushered seemed to be filled with hundreds of girls, and the Reverend Doctor's desk on a platform towered over them. He was most affable and kind. The examination lasted only a few minutes, a list of books was given me, and a desk immediately in front of the principal assigned me. Books were borrowed from some 45other girl, the lessons for the next day pointed out, and my school life began.

Remember, I had not yet planted my tenth birthday tree. These were the books deemed suitable for my age,—Abercrombie's "Intellectual Philosophy," Watts on the "Improvement of the Mind," Goldsmith's "History of Greece," and somebody's Natural Philosophy.

I worked hard on these subjects with the result that, as I could not understand them, I learned by rote a few words in answer to the questions. A bright, amiable little scrap of a girl, who always knew her lessons, volunteered to assist me. If any collector of old books should happen to find a volume of Watts on the Mind, much thumbed, and blotted here and there with tears, and should see within the early pages pencilled brackets enclosing the briefest possible answer to the questions, that book, those tears, were mine; and the brackets are the loving marks made by Margaret Wolfe, whose memory I ever cherish.

"What is Logic?" questions the teacher's guide at the bottom of the pages.

"Logic," answers Dr. Watts (in conspicuous pencilled brackets), "is the art of investigating and communicating Truth."

I had been struggling with Dr. Watts, Abercrombie, et al., for several months, when my aunt reluctantly realized that, however admirable the school might be for others, I was not improving in mind or health. As soon as she arrived at this conclusion, she decided to experiment with no more large female 46seminaries, but to educate me, as best she could, at home.

At the same time I know that my dear aunt suffered from the overthrow of all her plans for my education. She had, for my sake, made great sacrifices in leaving her inherited home. These sacrifices were all for naught. She must have felt keen disappointment, and regret at the loss, toil, expense,—and, above all, my worse than wasted time.

Yet, after all, my time at school may not have been utterly thrown away! The experience may have borne fruit that I know not of. Moreover, I had learned something! I learned that Logic is the art of investigating and communicating Truth!


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