The Virginia Tradition
The Virginia Tradition
When a great tradition remains alive and flourishing, it rests upon two pillars -- one the land itself, the other what love and poetic feeling have made of the relation. One strength is of the earth, one of the human spirit; such a veneration for one's region and its way of life is honorably akin to a religious emotion. The ancient tradition of Virginia is even such heritage. It reposes on the earth of the Old Dominion, on its fields and ocean shores, its thickets of vines and its quiet waters, its rivers and familiar mountains, and on what the cherishing Virginian heart has made of the scene. Strengthened by the historic sense and by history itself, crowned with poetic feeling, such an emotion can bring incomparable strength and pride. Surely the sages are wrong who consistently deny the value of pride. Pride in one's homeland is indeed a sinew of the soul; without its presence nothing is sustained to a long life or given the full of its human meaning.
Our North America, to use a phrase attributed to the plains Red Man, is "strong medicine" and takes no halfway measures with a new possessor. Drenched with sunshine and summer by a sun whose daily arc is notably higher than the solar are of northern and central Europe, tense with seasonal extremes, and often violent with storm and the waywardness of nature on a continental scale, the American earth is in itself a deity and a power. Fortunate indeed were the first newcomers to the Virginian shore in not finding the terrible Aztec sun burning in their skies or some Norse deity of brume and rain but a pleasant sunshine gilding the rich and fecund soil! The British countryman -- whether he were squire's son, farmer, or artisan -- lost no time in becoming a Virginian. Pause but to glance at the eighteenth century portraits of Virginian gentlewomen of the manorial world and note their look of assurance. It is not the worldly assurance one might see in a contemporary British portrait, it has nothing to it of arrogance; it is an assurance of the spirit.
A scholar who is not native to the state may perhaps be forgiven a small 'caveat' in regard to the culture's faith in its British . . .