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"As for us, we preach Christ crucified, a stumblingblock to the Gentiles, &c. &c."
In' the cathedral there is a large and beautiful painting of the Descent from the Cross, presented to the church by Louis the Eighteenth, through the Count de Menou, French Minister at Washington. This cathedral was built by a lottery, which is no doubt a very moral and convenient method of raising money, but which might induce a heretic to suppose that the builders were at the same time serving both God and mammon.
•The Exchange is a handsome structure, and is particularly well adapted to the purposes for which it was built. It contains a large hall, in which files of all the American and of most of the foreign newspapers are fastened on sloping desks. Round the walls are suspended large and handsome maps, charts, and plans. There is also a small and select library of books of reference, such as dictionaries, &c. With the liberality that characterizes all the public institutions in America, strangers are admitted to this Institution gratis.
-fa- Baltimore there are two fine public monuments. One, dedicated to the memory of Washington, stands in a kind of park immediately on the skirts of the city, and was not finished when I was there. It is an immense column of marble, to the top11 of which there is an ascent by means of a staircase in its interior. The other monument is in a small place or square, leading out of the principal street, and is a beautiful little ornamented column of white marble, surmounted with a statue. On this column are inscribed the names of those, who fell in the battle that took place in the neighbourhood of the town during the last war.
No spot in the city is more pleasant, during the hot weather, than the public fountain, which is surrounded by thick shady elms. Here a very pretty little cupola has been erected, supported on pillars. Beneath this, two flights of marble steps, which divide at the entrance, conduct you down to the brazen mouths, from which the pure and cool water gushes out in copious streams. I was uncommonly pleased with this fountain, and used often to visit it in my walks. Indeed, though it makes no pretensions to grandeur, yet I think it does more credit to the good taste of the Baltimoreans than any thing else in the city.
In the Museum, which contains a tolerably good cabinet of Natural History, I particularly remarked the beautiful mode adopted for the preservation of the insects. They are fixed in little shallow frames, made of plaster of Paris, on which, before it is hard, a watch glass is placed, excluding not only all living insects, occasionally so destructive in a Museum, but even the air itself; so that the specimens retain their colour and natural appearance for any length of time, without the slightest injury. This Museum, which is the property of a Mr. Peale, son of the gentleman who owns that at Philadelphia, is similarly disfigured by some wretched paintings. I may mention, as an instance of enthusiasm for the art, that the aforesaid Mr. Peale has inflicted upon his two sons, the names of Rembrandt and Raphael.
Baltimore is a regular and well-built city, but inferior in this respect to Philadelphia. Should the two canals that are contemplated be finished, one from the Susquehanna, and the other from the Potowmac, Baltimore will become a much larger and more important city than at present.
I proceeded in the stage to Washington, a distance of eighty-four miles, over a very good road, but through a most uninteresting country. A great deal of the land on each side had not been cleared, and where it had, it was sterile, and apparently very unproductive.
Before arriving at the Federal City, I passed through the little village of Bladensburgh, the spot where the action was fought (if action it can be called) which decided the fate of the capital in the last war. The only American troops that opposed General Ross, were a small body of marines, commanded by Major Miller, and a few seamen, under Commodore Barney. These brave fellows were all cut to pieces. The militia, although very numerous, ran away without firing a shot; and did not stop, until they had reached Montgomery, fifteen miles distant. On account of the cowardly conduct of the militia, this action is humourously called by the Americans, "the Bladensburgh Races."
I was much disappointed upon arriving at Washington. I had been told, indeed, that I should see a straggling city; but I had no idea that I should fiud the houses so very much scattered as they really are. An European, duly impressed with the idea of an ancient metropolis, might well be astonished at seeing the infant one of the United States.
It is situated in the district of Columbia, a tract of land ten miles square; which was ceded to the general government by the two States of Maryland and Virginia, and which is under the exclusive care and jurisdiction of the Congress. —This was done, to prevent any trouble, that fright arise from the acts or laws of any particular State.
The plan of the city is on a vast scale, and it will be many a long year before even one half of it will be completed. Instead of beginning from a centre or nucleus, from which it might gradually have expanded, the whole was laid out, and the lots sold, wherever individuals chose to select them. Owing to this, every one selected the spot, which he thought would be most desirable when the city should be finished; and consequently very few streets are as yet completed.
From its total want of commerce, Washington has not increased so rapidly as was expected; yet the census of 1820 makes the population of the city 13,247, and that of the whole district 33,039. Of course, if the United States continue to increase in wealth and population in the same proportion as they have hitherto done, the city must soon become considerable; and if, as seems probable, the canal which is to join the waters of the Ohio with the tide waters of the Potowmac is soon put in execution, Washington will at once become a place of great commerce.
But the city must expect nothing from the Government. Instead of fostering the infant metropolis, and taking a pride in ornamenting, embellishing, and increasing it, as one would naturally have supposed; the Congress has, on the contrary, been but a cold-hearted protector, and has acted the part of a step-father rather than of a parent. In fact, it has done little more than provide for its own convenience; for as the Capitol, the President's house, and the public offices, were necesssary buildings, the city owes the Congress no thanks for them.
But the worst feature in the conduct of the government is, that the members, arriving from different parts of the Union, have very often shown a decided hostility to the place. Each member is warm in advocating any improvement by which his own State is to be immediately benefitted; but any canal, road, &c. merely intended for the general benefit of the Union, has almost