Friends, Romans, Englishmen, this month we consider our Georgian heritage, our British tradition, the ascendence of Classive civilization, Vitruvius to Palladio to Williamsburg to Alexandria, Virginia, from where I deliver these notes.
Yes, Virginia, you know, named for our virgin queen, Elizabeth I, by Sir Walter Raleigh, gentleman, scholar, poet, adventurer who in 1584 founded the first British colony on these shores. From that first visit, the return of tobacco, tasty and deadly, yet not the return of the colonists who are lost to history, likely absorbed into the forests of the land’s interior. Alexandria, surveyed by the sixteen-year-old George Washington whose 1749 map gives name to our streets, King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Duke, and “Fairfax” for young George’s patron, Baron Cameron, sixth Lord Fairfax. Just now, I write to you from Columbus Street, a name that local Progressives are attempting to erase. Yes, by names we remember our family, by name we remember who we are.
You will remember our kings George, makers of fashion who by example modeled our architecture on Roman precedent, a Roman architecture suited to nobility. This month, when visiting Colonial Williamsburg, we will recall the nobility of Virginia’s colonial capital, a nobility found in each middling house, in each humble garden shed. We build ourselves by assumptions: once we assumed a humane nobility, aspirational, polite and kind, now we assume the pretense of informality and dress ourselves in agrarian drag, aspiring to the inanities of adolescent songs and guttural animal noises. Here one longs for the minuet, the cut-away tailcoat and lilied ladies lounging in lovely high-waist dress.
When visiting Williamsburg we will recall William III for whom Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary is named (Mary II, Queen of England, coruler with William), and we will recall Bruton Parish, the Wren Building, the Grand Illumination, the Duke of Gloucester, and the best of us, the students of William & Mary, who, God willing, will remember themselves when ascending into tradition.
Featured image: The Ludwell-Paradise House, Williamsburg, Virginia. credit: M. Curtis