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1 pr. little Scissors. 3 M (thousand) large pins. 3 M short whites. 3 M Minikens. 1 Fashionable dressed Doll to cost a guinea. 1 Do. at 58. A box Gingerbread, Toys & Sugar Images and Comfits. A neat Small Bible, bound in Turkey, and Martha Parke
Custis wrote on the inside in gilt letters. A Small Prayer Book, neat and in the same manner. 12 yards coarse green Callimanco. . The above things to be put into a Strong Trunk-separate
fron: J. P. Custis's, whose will likewise be put into a
Trunk, each having their names. 1 very good Spinet [a small harpsichord], to be made by
Mr. Plinius, Harpsichord Maker, in South Audley Street,
Grosvenor Square. “It is begged as a favor that Mr. Carey would bespeak this instrument as for himself or a friend, and not let it be known y is intended for exportation.
“Send a good assortment of spare strings to it.
“Books according to the enclosed List — to be charged equally to both John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custislikewise one Ream of Writing paper.”
These specimens of orders which were sent out annually to England, are given as glimpses of the domestic arrangements at Mount Vernon, and the style in which the wealthier Virginia families, of cultivated tastes, lived before the Revolution It is evident that Washington and his family indulged in all the fashionable luxuries (not extravagances) of the day, pertaining to the table and the wardrobe; and in the absence of positive proof, these invoices would afford the strongest infer
ential evidences that they spent much of their earlier years in the enjoyment of social pleasures.
Washington's Diaries bear still stronger, because positive testimony to the fact. During some months, two or three times a week he records the result of a day's sport thus: “Went a hunting with Jacky Custis, and catched a fox, after three hours chase. Found it in the creek :" or, “Mr. Bryar Fairfax, Mr. Grayson and Phil. Alexander came home by sunrise. Hunted and catched a fox with these, Lord Fairfax, his brother, and Colonel Fairfax-all of whom with Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Wilson of England, dined here.” Afterward, two days in succession: "Hunted again with the same company."
Still more frequently he noted the arrival and departure of guests. One day the Fairfaxes, or Masons, or Thurstons, or Lees would be there; and the next day he and “Mrs. Washington, Mr. and Miss Custis” would "dine at Belvoir.” And so the round of visiting went on. Mount Vernon was seldom without a guest. The hunting day, which occurred ro frequently, generally ended in a dinner there or at Belvoir, a little lower on the Potomac-more frequently at the former; and the hospitalities of the house were kept up in a style which none but a wealthy planter could afford. “Would any one believe,” Washington says in his diary of 1768, “that with a hundred and one cows, actually reported at a late enumeration of the cattle, I should still be obliged to buy butter for any family?"
For Mrs. Washington and her lady visitors he kept a chariot and four horses, with black postillions in livery; and these were frequently seen and admired upon the road between
Mount Vernon and Alexandria, or the neighboring estates. He took great delight in horses. Those of his own stable were of the best blood, and their names, as well as those of his dogs, were registered in his household books. When abroad, he always appeared on horseback; and as he was one of the most superb men and skilful horsemen in Virginia, he must have made an imposing appearance, especially when fully equipped for the road, with the following articles, which were ordered by him from London, in one of his annual invoices:
“1 Man's Riding-Saddle, hogskin seat, large plated stirrups,
and everything complete. Double-reined bridle and Pel
ham Bit, plated. A very
neat and fashionable Newmarket Saddle-Cloth. A large and best Portmanteau, Saddle, Bridle and Pillion Cloak-Bag Surcingle; checked Saddle-cloth, holsters, &c. A Riding Frock of handsome drab-colored Broadcloth, with
plain double-gilt Buttons. A Riding Waistcoat of superfine scarlet cloth and gold Lace
with Buttons like those of the Coat.
Thus attired, and accompanied by Bishop, his favorite body servant, in scarlet livery, Washington was frequently seen upon the road, except on Sunday morning, when he always rode in the chaise, with his family, to the church at Pohick or at Alexandria.
Like other gentlemen living near the Potomac. Washington was fond of aquatic sports. He kept a handsome barge, which, on special occasions, was manned by black oarsmen in livery. Pleasant sailing-boats were frequently seen sweeping along the surface of the river, freighted with ladies and gentlemen going from mansion to mansion on its banks—Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall, Belvoir, and other places on social visits.
Washington and his wife frequently visited Annapolis and Williamsburg, the respective capitals of Maryland and Virginia. For fifteen consecutive years he was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and Mrs. Washington spent much of her time with him at Williamsburg during the sessions. Both fond of amusements, they frequently attended the theatrical representations there and at Annapolis, that entertainment being then a recent importation from England, the first company of actors, under the direction of Lewis Hallam, having first performed in the Maryland capital in 1752. They also attended balls and parties given by the fashionable people of Williamsburg and Annapolis, and frequently joined in the dance. But after the Revolution Washington was never known to dance, his last performance being in a minuet, of which he was very fond, on the occasion of a ball given at Fredericksburg in honor of the French and American officers then there, on their way north, after the capture of Cornwallis, toward the close of 1781.
But it must not be supposed, that during these years of his earlier married life, Washington's time was wholly, or even chiefly, occupied in the pleasures of the chase and of social intercourse. Far from it. He was a man of great industry and method, and managed his large estates with signal industry and ability. He did not leave his farms to the entire care of his overseers. He was very active, and continually, even when absent on public business, exercised a general supervision of his affairs, requiring a carefully prepared report of all oper ations to be transmitted to him weekly, for his inspection and suggestions.
He was very abstemious, and while his table always furnished his guests with ample and varied supplies for their appetites, he never indulged in the least excess, either in eating or drinking. He was an early riser, and might be found in his library from one to two hours before daylight in winter, and at dawn in summer. His toilet, plain and simple, was soon made. A single servant prepared his clothes, and laid them in a proper place at night for use in the morning. He also combed and tied his master's hair.
Washington always dressed and shaved himself. The implements he then used have been preserved, as interesting relics, in the family of Doctor Stuart, who, as we have ohserved, married the widow of John Parke Custis, the son of Mrs. Washington. Though neat in his dress and appearance, he never wasted precious moments upon his toilet, for he always regarded time, not as a gift but as a loan, for which he must account to the great Master.
Washington kept his own accounts most carefully and methodically, in handwriting remarkable for its extreme neatness and uniformity of stroke. This was produced by the constan use of a gold pen. One of these, with a silver case, used by Washington during a part of the old war for independence, he presented to his warm personal friend, General Anthony Walton White, of New Jersey, one of the most distinguished and patriotic of the cavalry officers of that war in the southern campaigns. It is now in the possession of Mrs. Eliza M.