THE CAVALIERS OF VIRGINIA, OR, THE RECLUSE OF JAMESTOWN Vol 1 and 2
He escapes by water to Accomac, and the novel ends as Virginia and Bacon, now married, watch the Chickahominy begin a long trek west, where they hope to maintain their culture without interference. The English couple asks Weyanokee to remain with them, but she declares her loyalty to her people and continues her journey.
While The Cavaliers of Virginia is set during an actual historical event and employs some characters who actually lived, very little of it survives historical scrutiny. Nathaniel Bacon was not, in fact, the ward of an aristocrat. Born in Suffolk County, England, he became involved in a fraudulent land scheme and probably as a consequence moved to Virginia in the summer of with his wife and possibly their two daughters.
Sir William Berkeley, meanwhile, did serve as the governor of Virginia from to and from until his death in During the English Civil Wars, he skillfully navigated the political waters, surrendering Jamestown to the Parliamentarians in while avowing Virginia's loyalty to the Crown. He remained on good terms with Virginia's Puritans throughout, resisting or at least ignoring attempts by the Crown to interfere with the colony.
The Cavaliers of Virginia or, The Recluse of Jamestown. Vol. II
Bacon's Rebellion began after skirmishes between frontier settlers and Doeg and Susquehannock Indians who had been pushed south by war in New England. Motivated by an antipathy toward Indians in general and, in particular, the governor, with whom he competed in the Indian trade, Bacon kidnapped some Indians, drawing a rebuke from the governor. Bacon used this, and the governor's perceived reluctance to face the Indians, as a point around which to rally resistance to the government.
The twists and turns of the rebellion that followed bear little resemblance to the plot of Cavaliers , suggesting to some that Caruthers may not have intended any more than a superficial connection between the two.
The historical Nathaniel Bacon died on dysentery in , while still waging his fight. Much of Caruthers's novel occurs somewhere between myth and history, as the title might suggest. It draws on the myth of the Cavalier, which attaches the qualities of chivalry and honor to the aristocratic class in Virginia.
The associations of the Cavalier are rooted in the history of the English Civil Wars but eventually came to be understood in the context of a defense and justification of, and nostalgia for, a Virginia of benevolent male slaveholders. Tied to the Lost Cause view of the American Civil War — , this version of Virginia is largely imagined rather than historical.
The Knickerbocker , a monthly literary magazine published in New York City, praised the work twice, in its December and March issues, noting its use of American materials as well as its patriotism. If a good historical novel requires "good discrimination, sound judgment, and a chastened imagination," the editors wrote, then The Cavaliers of Virginia provides all of these "an another quality,—not its least agreeable feature,—a tone of high and patriotic American feeling. The reviewers saw the work as revolving around the battle between Cavaliers and Puritan Roundheads, but also admired the presentation of Bacon's torture at the hands of the Chickahominy, the mysterious Recluse, and Bacon's companion, Brian O'Reilly, a comic drunken Irishman.
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The New-York Mirror , a weekly paper devoted to literature and the fine arts, also praised the work. In its March 14, , issue, the editors noted that it contained "some very good characters, and a vast abundance of incident, generally managed with skill. In all, eighteen periodicals published reviews of Cavaliers , with eleven praising it and five reflecting outright hostility to the work.
Among these was the Boston Daily Atlas , which, in its March 18, , edition, wrote, "We will not give a skeleton of the plot; for there are not wires enough to hang the bones together. Modern commentators, with the exception of Curtis Carroll Davis, have generally minimized their treatment of Cavaliers.
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Jay Hubbell, in The South in American Literature , found it lacking in historical accuracy and dismissed it with brief notice. While Caruthers's historical characters and events are not much like the models on which they were drawn—if those models were indeed the historical Bacon and Berkeley—Caruthers may have drawn on more generalized historical models. William R. Taylor, writing in , held that Caruthers made the Virginia colony an emblem of the United States and pitted Bacon, whom Taylor sees as neither Cavalier nor Roundhead, against Berkley, a Cavalier who represents the worst excesses of European aristocracy, thereby criticizing the Cavalier and Yankee mentalities of his own day.
This overlooks, however, the emphasis that Caruthers places on establishing Bacon's Cavalier pedigree. Ridgely wrote that the use of Bacon, a Cavalier, to serve as champion of individual liberty was unhistorical, and he dismissed the book as an inconsequential mixture of historical and Gothic romances. Watson Jr. He views Bacon as extending the Puritan tradition and fusing it with the Cavalier tradition to examine the conflict between the practical middle-class ethic and the aristocratic code.
While the modern commentators have made some effort to place the work in its historical context, they have concentrated on the industrialization, commercialization, and democratization occurring during the s. The novel uses its historical setting to examine the basis for authority and the relationship between leaders and those they lead, fully recognizing the complexity of these issues.
Representing government and community as a family, Caruthers makes Berkley a faithless leader little concerned with the good of his subordinates and Bacon as a faithful leader pursuing the needs of the community. Berkley is given autocratic qualities in common with President Andrew Jackson, whose policies and political style were the subject of controversy at the time Caruthers wrote. Text [Chicago, Rand McNally, ] 0 items.
Text Boston, Printed by J. Humphrey, ] 0 items. Text Lexington, Mass. Text Worcester, Mass. Paul's church-yard, Text Charlottesville, The Tracy W. McGregor library, University of Virginia, Text [Boston, ] 1 item. Text New York, C. Scribner's Sons, Eliot, Force, ] 1 item.
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Text Lanham, Md. Text London : Printed for William Harris Text Philadelphia : Macrae Smith,  1 item. Text Garden City, N. Text New York : Longmans, Green, IMEI Number.
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