« ZurückWeiter »
“. And so you remember,' I said to old Cully, my grandmother's servant, when in his hundredth year—' and so you remember when Colonel Washington came a-courting your young mistress ?'
“Ay, master, that I do,' said Cully. "Great times, sir, great times— shall never see the like again.'
“And Washington looked something like a man— a proper man, hey, Cully?'
“Never seed the like, sir-never the like of him, though I have seen many in my day-so tall, so straight, and then he sat on a horse and rode with such an air! Ah, sir, he was like no one else! Many of the grandest gentlemen, in the gold lace, were at the wedding; but none looked like the man himself.'”
The marriage of Washington occurred on the 17th of January, (6th Old Style), 1759, at the White House,” the residence of his bride, in New Kent county, not far from Williamsburg. The officiating clergyman was the Reverend David Mossom, who, for forty years was rector of the neighboring parish of St. Peter's. Washington was then an attendant member of the House of Burgesses, and for three months, while official duties detained him at Williamsburg, he resided at the “White House.” When the session had ended, he returned to Mount Vernon, taking with him the future mistress of the mansion, and her two children, John Parke and Martha Parke Custis.
Then commenced that sweet domestic life at Mount Vernon, which always possessed a powerful charm for its illustrious owner. He early wrote to his friend, Richard Washington, in London:
“I am now, I believe, fixed in this seat with an agreeable partner for life, and I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever experienced in the wide and bustling world.” He was then seven-and-twenty years of age, and over six feet two inches in height, and admirably proportioned. His hair was a rich dark-brown; his eyes grayish-blue and expressive of deep thought; his complexion florid, and his features regular and rather heavy.
Washington's wife was three months younger than himself. She was a small, plump, elegantly formed woman. were dark and expressive of the most kindly good nature; her complexion fair; her features beautiful; and her whole face
beamed with intelligence. Her temper, though quick, was sweet and placable, and her manners were extremely winning. She was full of life, loved the society of her friends, always
dressed with a scrupulous regard to the requirements of the best fashions of the day, and was, in every respect, a brilliant member of the social circles which, before the revolution, composed the vice-regal court at the old Virginia capital.
Washington, at this time, possessed an ample fortune, independent of that of his wife. His estate of Mount Vernon he described as most pleasantly situated in “ a high, healthy country; in a latitude between the extremes of heat and cold, on one of the finest rivers in the world—a river well stocked with various kinds of fish at all seasons of the year, and in the spring with shad, herrings, bass, carp, sturgeon, etc., in abundance. The borders of the estate,” he continued, “ are washed by more than ten miles of tide-water; several valuable fisheries appertain to it; the whole shore, in fact, is one entire fishery.” Such was the delightful home to which Washington took his bride in the spring of 1759.
At that time, almost every manufactured article for domestic use, was imported from England. It is amusing and interesting to observe the difference in the items of orders sent out to London from Mount Vernon within the space of two years. First, as a bachelor, Washington orders:
“Five pieces of Irish Linnen. 1 piece finest Cambric. 2 pr. fine worked ruffles, at 208. a pr. 2 setts compleat shoe brushes. | doz. pr. thread hose, at 58. 1 compleat Saddle and Bridle, and 1 sett Holster caps, and
Housing of fine Blue Cloth with a small edging of Em
broidering round them. As much of the best superfine blue Cotton Velvet as will
make a Coat, Waistcoat, and Breeches for a Tall Man, with a fine silk button to suit it, and all other necessary trimmings and linings, together with garters for the
Breeches. 6 prs. of the very neatest shoes, viz: 2 pr. double channelled pumps; two pr. turned ditto, and two pair stitched shoes, to be made by one Didsbury over Colonel Beiler's last,
bnt to be a little wider over the instep. 6 prs. gloves, 3 pairs of which to be proper for riding, and to have slit tops; the whole larger than the middle size.”
A little later, in apparent expectation of a wife at some future day, the careful bachelor prepares the mansion for her reception. In September, 1757, he wrote to Richard Washington, saying:
“Be pleased, over and above what I have wrote for in a letter of the 13th of April, to send me 1 doz. Strong Chairs, of
about 15 shillings a piece, the bottoms to be exactly made by the enclosed dimensions, and of three different colors to suit the paper of three of the bed-chambers, also wrote for in my last. I must acquaint you, sir, with the reason of this request. 1 have one dozen chairs that were made in the country; neat,