Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XI >> Page 180

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Page 180

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 180 SOUTHWARD HO

" Yes, indeed ; and the proof may be found in the character
and manners of the people of the ` Eastern Shore.' These
have scarcely undergone any vital change in the last hundred
years. They will tell you that here you find the best speci-
mens of the old Virginian : one of the ' Lions' of the ` Eastern
shore' by the way, is an ancient vault, to which I was conduct-
ed with considerable interest. It lies upon an ancient farmstead,
looking out upon the ' bay,' and occupies the centre of an old
field, of which, sheltered by some old trees, it is the only prom-
inent object. It belonged to a member of the Custis family, a
branch of the same stock with which Washington intermarried.
Its curious feature is to be found in its inscription. The vault,
which is now in a state of dilapidation, is of white marble, made
in London and curiously carved. Old Custis, the incumbent,
was a queer old codger, and rather hard upon the fair sex, if we
may judge by his epitaph, which runs literally as follows :
" Under this marble torah lies the body of the
HoN. JOHN CUSTIS, Esq.,
of the City of Williamsburg and Parish of Burton ; formerly of Hungar's Parish, on the Eastern snore of Virginia, and County of Northampton : aged 71 years, and yet lived but seven years, which was the space of time he kept A BACHELOR'S HOME at Arlington, on the Eastern shore of Virginia.
This inscription, we are told by another, on the opposite side,
was put on the tomb by his own positive orders." The gist
of it, as the ladies will painfully perceive, consists in the line
we have italicised ; the force of which will be better felt and
understood from the additional fact, which does not appear, that
this bachelor, who lived only in his bachelor condition, was ac-
tually married three times. His experience, if we are to believe
his epitaph, was greatly adverse to the idea of any happiness in
the marriage state ; yet how strange that he should have ven-
tured thrice upon it ! The natural conclusion is that the Hon.
John Custis was a singularly just and conscientious man, who,
unwilling to do the sex any wrong by a premature judgment,
gave them a full and fair trial, at the expense of his own happi-
ness, and pronounced judgment only after repeated experiments.
Tradition has preserved some anecdotes of the sort of experience
which he enjoyed in the marriage state, one of which I will re-
late. It appears that he was driving in his ancient coach toward