From Recollections Grave and Gay
Mrs. Burton [Constance Cary] Harrison
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911


  My father was Archibald Cary, of Carysbrooke—all old-time Virginians loved to write themselves down as part of their parental estates—son of Wilson Jefferson Cary, a nephew of Thomas Jefferson, whose marriage with Miss Virginia Randolph had taken place at Monticello; upon which occasion the bride was given away by the master of the house, who hung around her neck a little pearl necklace sent for by him to Paris, and still treasured by her descendants. There remains also a copy of "Don Quixote" in French, lovingly inscribed by Mr. Jefferson to my grandmother.


  I am making no attempt to record chronologically the events of my modest experience in childhood. I am simply writing down, as they drift to me out of the mists of memory, things about the people most familiar to me, thinking it may interest readers as a page torn from old-time chronicles of American social life before the war. The two or three years after the reign of my French governess came to an end, were spent by me in Richmond at the boarding-school of M. Hubert Pierre Lefebvre. As a rule, narratives of boarding school life


are more interesting to the teller than to the hearers, and I will only say that the experience broadened my horizon in introducing me to types of girls from the higher classes of society all over the South, and convincing me that the surrounding slave service was inspiring neither to the energy of body nor independence of ideas I had been taught to consider indispensable. Many of these pretty, languid creatures from the far Southern States had never put on a shoe or stocking for themselves; and the point of view of some about owning and chastising fellow-beings who might chance to offend them was abhorrent to me. But they all came our grandly during the war, and after it.

  In some mysterious way I had drunk in with my mother's milk—who inherited it from her stern Swedenborgian father—a detestation of the curse of slavery upon our beautiful Southern land. Then, of course, omniverous reader that I was—I had early found and devoured "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "that mischievous, incendiary book," as some of our friends called it. When the thunderbolt of John Brown's raid broke over Virginia I was inwardly terrified, because I thought it was God's vengeance for the torture of such as Uncle Tom.