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Virginia, he resolved to publish and rely upon subsequent editions to make up the deficiencies. But here a new difficulty occurred:-without credit and without capital, it seemed impossible to find an individual to print, or one to edit the book.
The huge mass of undigested manuscript was presented to several literary gentlemen, who shrunk from the task of arranging so voluminous a collection of ill-written manuscript, upon the contingency of being paid by the sale of the work. At length, however, a young man who had no experience in such matters was induced to undertake it, but his occasional'absence and necessary attention to other business, added to a most illegible chirography caused many errors of the press which it was out of his power to correct. The printers also were new in their business, and not prepared for conducting it with that attention to neatness and accuracy which was desirable. But although there are many glaring typographical errors, which the editor could not correct, because he did not see the proof sheets, it is believed that very few of them effect the sense, and still fewer falsify statements of fact.
The publisher has at length struggled through difficulties, which often seemed insuperable to less persevering men, and now presents the work to the public, if not as perfect as it might be, yet certainly as perfect as he could at this time make it.
The publisher feels it his duty to render the most grateful acknowledgments to the many individuals who have rendered him assistance in the collection of materials; and begs leave to mention the names of a few literary gentlemen to whose kindness he is under especial obligation, among these are Messrs. James E. Heath of Richmond, Lewis Summers of Kanawha, Lucien Minor of Louisa, J. R. W. Dunbar of Winchester, Thomas S. Pleasants of Goochland, W. G. Minor of Caroline, J. R. Fitzhugh of Stafford, R. L. Cook of Augusta, Archibald Stuart of Patrick, Linn Banks, of Madison, William Shultice of Mathews, A. Sparks of Southampton, F. Mallory of Norfolk, H. L. Hopkins of Powhatan, J. Minor of Spottsylvania, J. H. Lee of Orange, Wm. Green of Culpeper, Wm. A. Harris of Page, R. B. Semple of King & Queen, Yeardley Taylor of Loudoun, Isaac Flesher of Jackson, Wm. Burk of Monroe, S. Philips of Bedford, J. D. McGill of Middlesex, N. M. Taliaferro of Franklin, G. W. G. Browne of Wythe, J. J. Williams of Frederick Wm. J. Williams of Charlotte, Joseph Jenney of Prince William, James P. Carrell of Russell, B. F. Dabney of King William, Joseph Duff of Lee, James Garland of Nelson, Wm. Wilson of Bath, and Edgar Snowden of Alexandria. Many more have sent in contributions well worthy of special notice, who have been perhaps as liberal as these gentlemen in the extent of their communications, and the trouble they seem to have taken, but it would be difficult to know where to stop, it he was to publish the names of all to whom he is under obligations. Such portions of the Gazetteer as are not original have been compiled from the Encyclopædia Americana, the Gazetteer of the United States, Elliott's District of Columbia, or Official Documents.
Apology is due for publishing the hasty composition which is called rather from its length than its character, a History of Virginia. The publisher promised in his prospectus between six and seven hundred pages, and all who saw his manuscript volumes supposed they would, unless very extensively curtailed overrun a thousand, but when the matter came to be edited and printed, it did not hold out as well as was supposed. This unfortunately could not be ascertained until the Gazetteer was through the press, and then it was necessary to fill it up with a more extensive, instead of the concise, history which had been promised.
The time was of course too limited, being written as fast as three active compositors could print, for the author to have an opportunity to pay any attention whatever to his languge or style, or to digress upon the many topics which so invitingly offered, or turn his eyes for a moment to other colonies or countries. He was compelled to proceed with the single isolated narrative of Virginia history, and he trusts that the subject itself is so interesting that it will be read even in his hasty sketch. Were he and his work not both infinitely too humble for.criticism to hawk
at, he would expect to be torn in pieces for the audacity of dignifying the hasty composition of little more than a fortnight, with the noble name of history; but he feels perfectly secure in his insignificance, and if the insect swara of little critics should be inclined to inflict their venomous stings upon him, he can throw around himself a shield, which even their utmost fury cannot penetrate, and that is the consciousness that his hasty sketch was not written with the expectation of meeting with approbation as a philosophic treatise upon the history of Virginia, but merely with the hope of presenting a succinct and faithful narrative of the early events of the colony. This he has labored assiduously to effect, consulting every authority which it was possible to examine in so short a time; and if on any subject, all is not said which might have been said, or all which is said is not true, he at least feels sure that he has respectable authority for every word he utters, and that he believes all to be true.
All the circumstances of the case, we doubt not with a liberal public, will ensure this first attempt to describe Virginia as it exists at the present day, a favorable reception; and it will respect the disposition and the enterprize which has given them so much, rather than blame the stern poverty which would not allow the publisher to wait longer, without receiving some emolument. With the proceeds of this edition he expects to be able to subsist, until he can prepare a work more worthy of the noble state whose moral and physical attributes he delineates.
It will be perceived that a new plan has been adopted in the arrangement. Instead of giving a continuous alphabetical list of subjects and places, from the beginning to the end of the volume, by which means much repetition must occur, and frequent references have to be made in order to obtain an account of any county or section of country; the work is divided into three parts, first a general description of the moral and physical character of the whole state is given, and then of the two great portions, eastern and western Virginia separately, and under these latter heads a general description is given of each county, in alphabetical order, and under each county an alphabetical list of the most remarkable places it contains; a gene
ral alphabetical index at the end completes the system. The object of this arrangement was to present to the mind each separate portion of country at once, in a connected view, so that the reader at a distance might form as good an idea of the state of improvement in each county, as if he were on the spot, which it would be impossible to do, if each little place was scattered through the book in a generat alphabetical arrangement, whilst it was thought that the general index would make it as convenient for purposes of mere reference as it would be under the old sys
The same wish to present a connected view, and the different characteristics which distinguish Eastern and Western Virginia, produced the division of the state into these two portions.
It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the necessity which existed for such a work, it has been felt by every traveller, man of business, and literary man in the community; and the information here collected, existed for the inost part only in the minds of those who have contributed it. The desideratum is not yet however fully supplied, as no individual bas been found willing to contribute the information, which was wanting with regard to many of the counties; but this it is hoped may be obtained in time for another edition. With a hope that what is already accomplished will meet the expectations and approbation of those who have so liberally patronized him, the work is for the present dismissed.
BY THE PUBLISHER.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Remarks on arrangement pursued in description of counties,
Western Virginia - Introduction,
Virginia House of Delegates,
District of Columbia,
Establishment, situation, boundaries, and extent,
Geology and Mineralogy,