« PreviousContinue »
Lifting his crest in triumph—for his heel
Shot o'er her countenance; and then the soul
The sun had well nigh set.
The sun set-
THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE MUSICIAN.—John Ford.
Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales
Upon his quaking instrument, than sho
" and in that sorrow,
MOUNT VERNON.-ANNA CORA RITCHIE.
At this moment they drew near the rude wharf at Mount Vernon; the boat stopped ; and the crowd of passengers landed.
By a narrow pathway they ascended a majestic hill thickly draped with trees. The sun scarcely found its way through the luxuriant foliage. They mounted slowly, but had only spent a few minutes in ascending, when they came suddenly upon a picturesque nook, where a cluster of unostentatious, white marble shafts, shot from greenly sodded earth, inclosed by iron railings. These unpretending monuments mark the localities where repose the mortal remains of Washington's kindred.
Just beyond stands a square brick building. In the center you see an iron gate. Here the crowd pauses in reverential silence. Men lift their hats and women bow their heads. You behold within two sarcophagi. In those mouldering tombs lie the ashes of the great Washington and his wife.
Not a word is uttered as the crowd stand gazing on this lowly receptacle of the dust of America's mighty dead.
Are there any in that group who can say, “ this was our country's father i” If there be, can they stand pilgrims at that grave without Washington's examples, his counsels, his words, heretofore, it may be half forgotten, stealing back into their minds, until the sense of reverence and gratitude is deepened almost to awe ? Do they not feel that Washington's spirit is abroad in the world, filling the souls of a heaven-favored people with the love of freedom and of country, though his ashes are gathered here?
Some one moves to pass on, and with that first step the spell is broken; others follow. Herman and Jessie linger last. After a period of mute and moving reflection, they turn away and slowly approach the mansion that in simple, rural stateliness, stands upon a noble promontory, belted with woods, and halfgirdled by the sparkling waters of the Potomac which flow in a semicircle around a portion of the mount.
The water and woodland view from the portico is highly imposing. But it was not the mere recognition of the picturesque and beautiful in nature that moved Herman and Jessie. They would have felt that they were on holy ground, had the landscape been devoid of natural charm. Here the feet of the first of heroes had trod-here in boyhood he had sported with his beloved brother Lawrence-in those forests, those deepwooded glens, he had hunted, when a stripling, by the side of old Lord Fairfax-here he took his first lessons in the art of war --to this home he brought his bride-by this old-fashioned, hospitable-looking fireside, he sat with that dear and faithful wife; beneath yonder alley of lofty trees he has often wandered by her side—here he indulged the agricultural tastes in which he delighted—here resigned his Cincinnatus vocation and bade adieu to his cherished home at the summons of his country. Here his wife received the letter which told her that he had been appointed commander-in-chief of the army-here, when the glorious struggle closed at the trumpet notes of victorywhen the British had retired—when, with tears coursing down his benignant, manly countenance, he had uttered a touching farewell—bestowed a paternal benediction on the American army, and resigned all public service--here he returned, thinking to resume the rural pursuits that charmed him, and to end his days in peace! Here are the trees—the shrubbery ho planted with his own hands and noted in his diary; here are the columns of the portico round which he twined the coral honeysuckle; the ivy he transplanted still clings to yonder garden wall; these vistas he opened through yon pine groves to command far-off views! Here the valiant Lafayette sojourned with him; there hangs the key of the Bastile which he presented. Here flocked the illustrious men of all climes, and were received with warm, unpretending, almost rustic hospitality. Here the French Houdon modelled his statue, and the English Pine painted his portrait, and caused that jocose remark, " I am so hackneyed to the touches of the painters' pencil, that I am altogether at their beck, and sit like · Patience on a monument !'"
Then came another summons from the land he had saved, and he was chosen by unanimous voice its chief ruler.
Thousands of men, women and children sent up acclamations, and called down blessings on his head, as he made his triumphal progress from Mount Vernon to New York, to take the presidential oath. The roar of cannon rent the air. The streets through which he passed were illuminated and decked with flags and wreaths. Bonfires blazed on the hills. From ships and boats floated festive decorations. At Gray's Ferry, he passed under triumphal arches. On the bridge across the Assumpink, (the very bridge over which he had retreated in such blank despair before the
of Cornwallis on the eve of the battle of Princeton) thirteen pillars, twined with laurel and evergreens, were reared by woman's hands. The foremost of the arches those columns supported, bore the inscription, “ The Defender of the Mothers will be the Protector of the Daughters.” Mothers, with their white-robed daughters, were assembled beneath the vernal arcade. Thirteen maidens scattered flowers beneath his feet as they sang an ode of gratulation. The people's hero ever after spoke of this tribute as the one that touched him most deeply
When his first presidential term expired, and his heart yearned for the peace of his domestic hearth, the entreaties of Jefferson, Randolph, and Hamilton, forced him to forget that home for the one he held in the hearts of patriots, and to allow his name to be used a second time. A second time he was unanimously elected to preside over his country's welfare. But, the period happily expired, he thankfully laid aside the mantle