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teenth ordained that ten days should be added to the tally of all past time since the birth of Jesus, to make up some fractional deficiencies in the calendar; and twenty years after the above record was made, the British government ordered the Gregorian calendar, or new style, as it was called, to be adopted. The deficiency was then eleven days, and these were added. So we date the birth of Washington, and celebrate its anniversary, on the twenty-second instead of the eleventh of February.
Washington's birth-place was a "four-roomed house, with a chimney at each end," perfectly plain outside and in. The
only approach to ornament was a Dutch-tiled chi aney-piece in the best room, covered with rude pictures of Scriptural scenes; but around the mansion there were thrift and abundance. George was the eldest of his mother's six children,
AND ITS ASSOCIATIONS.
and only his infant years were passed under the roof where he first saw the light; for fire destroyed the house, and his father removed to an estate in Stafford county, near Fredericksburg, and dwelt in an equally plain mansion, pleasantly seated near the north bank of the Rappahannock River.
Of the birth-place of Washington nothing now remains but a chimney and a few scattered bricks and stones; and around it, where the smiles of highest culture were once seen, there is an aspect of desolation that makes the heart feel sad. Some decayed fig-trees and tangled shrubs and vines, with here and there a pine and cedar sapling, tell, with silent eloquence, of neglect and ruin, and that decay has laid its blighting fingers
upon every work of man there. The vault of the Washington family, wherein many were buried, is so neglected that some of the remains exposed to view have been carried away by plunderers. All around it are stunted trees, shrubs, and briers; and near it may be seen fragments of slabs once set up in commemoration of some of that honored family.
On the spot where Washington was born, the late George Washington Parke Custis, a grandson of Mrs. Washington, placed a piece of freestone in 1815, with the simple inscription:
ON THE 11TH OF FEBRUARY, 1732,
GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS BORN
"We gathered together," says Mr. Custis, in a published account, "the bricks of the ancient chimney that once formed the hearth around which Washington, in his infancy, had played, and constructed a rude kind of pedestal, on which we
reverently placed the FIRST STONE, commending it to the respect and protection of the American people in general, and the citizens of Westmoreland in particular." But such respect and protection have been withheld, and that stone is now in fragments and overgrown with brambles.
In this vicinity lived some of the Lees, always a distinguished family in Virginia; and one of the most intimate of Washington's friends, in his earliest childhood, was Richard Henry Lee, afterward the eminent statesman and patriot. They were very nearly of the same age, Lee being one month the oldest. I have before me a copy of a letter written by each when they were nine years old, and which are supposed to be among the earliest, perhaps the very first, epistles penned by these illustrious men. They were sent to me a few years ago, by a son of Richard Henry Lee (who then possessed the originals), and are as follows:
RICHARD HENRY LEE TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.
"Pa brought me two pretty books full of pictures he got them in Alexandria they have pictures of dogs and cats and tigers and elefants and ever so many pretty things cousin bids me send you one of them it has a picture of an elefant and a little indian boy on his back like uncle jo's sam pa says if I learn my tasks good he will let uncle jo bring me to see you will you ask your ma to let you come to see me.
"Richard henry Lee."
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S REPLY.
"Dear Dickey I thank you very much for the pretty picture book you gave me. Sam asked me to show him the
pictures and I showed him all the pictures in it; and I read to him how the tame Elephant took care of the master's little boy, and put him on his back and would not let any body touch his master's little son. I can read three or four pages sometimes without missing a word. Ma says I may go to see you and stay all day with you next week if it be not rainy. She says I may ride my pony Hero if Uncle Ben will go with me and lead Hero. I have a little piece of poetry about the picture book you gave me, but I mustnt tell you who wrote the poetry.*
"G. W.'s compliments to R. H. L.,
And likes his book full well,
Henceforth will count him his friend,
And hopes many happy days he may spend.
"Your good friend,
"I am going to get a whip top soon, and you may see it ind whip it."
Augustine Washington died in the spring of 1743, when his son George was eleven years of age, and by his last will and testament bequeathed his estate of Hunting Creek, upon a bay and stream of that name, near Alexandria, to Lawrence Washington, a son by his first wife, Jane Butler. It was a
* In a letter to me, accompanying the two juvenile epistles, Mr. Lee writes. "The letter of Richard Henry Lee was written by himself, and, uncorrected, was sent by him to his boy-friend, George Washington. The poetical effusion was, I have heard, written by a Mr. Howard, a gentleman who used to visit at the house of Mr. Washington."