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by Thomas Moore, many years later, when he thus sang of a
"Even so, though thy memory should now die away,
And the hearts and the voices of Erin prolong,
Through the answering Future, thy name and thy song."
This picture was presented to Washington by Mr. Von Berckel, with the following lines, composed by the fair artist:
"In vain the sisters ply their busy care,
To reel off years from Glory's deathless heir:
After the death of Mrs. Washington, the painting became the property of the late G. W. P. Custis, who presented to the venerable General C. C. Pinckney, of South Carolina, to whose military family he had belonged. While on a visit at Arlington House, a few years ago, Mr. Custis described the picture to the writer, at the same time illustrating his description by a rude pencil sketch, of which the accompanying engraving is a fac-simile on a smaller scale. Such was the impression of the picture upon the memory of that venerable man, after a lapse of fifty years.
Soon after the departure of the French minister and his party from Mount Vernon, two other French gentlemen, with letters of introduction, visited Washington. These were M. de Warville, and M. St. Frie, who, Washington said, were "intelligent, discreet, and disposed to receive favorable impressions of America." Brissot de Warville was young, handsome, and full of enthusiasm. In his letter of introduction, Lafayette said, "He
is very clever, and wishes much to be presented to you. He intends to write a history of America, and is, of course, desirous to have a peep into your papers, which appears to me a deserved condescension, as he is fond of America, writes pretty well, and will set matters in a proper light."
Brissot de Warville did not write a history of America, but during the French revolution that soon followed this visit, he became quite a conspicuous object in the history of his own country. He was intensely democratic, and when he returned to France, he appeared in the streets of Paris in the garb of a Philadelphia Quaker, with which he was enamored. In the French revolution he became a Girondist leader. He finally made himself obnoxious to Robespierre and his party by refus ing to vote for the execution of the king, and was doomed to suffer death on the guillotine. He fell on the 30th of October, 1793, and the surviving Girondists were called Brissotins.
In his letters, Brissot de Warville spoke with enthusiasm of America, and after his visit at Mount Vernon, he wrote of Mrs. Washington, saying, "Every thing about the house has an air of simplicity; the table is good, but not ostentatious, and no deviation is seen from regularity and domestic economy. She superintends the whole, and joins to the qualities of an excellent housewife, the simple dignity which ought to characterize a woman whose husband has acted the greatest part on the theatre of human affairs, while possessing that amiability and manifesting that attention to strangers which makes hospitality so charming."
As the year 1788 drew to a close, Washington felt well assured that he would be called by the voice of the nation to the important position of Chief Magistrate of the Republic.
Early in September it had been ascertained that a sufficient number of states had ratified the National Constitution, to make it the organic law of the land, and on the 13th, Congress passed an act, appointing the first Wednesday in January, 1789, for the people to choose electors of a President, according to the provisions of that constitution; the first Wednesday in February following for the electors to meet and make a choice; and the first Wednesday in March for the new government to be organized in the city of New York.
The hearts of all were now turned toward Washington as the man to whom the helm of state should be given, and his friends, well knowing his reluctance to re-enter public life, commenced writing persuasive letters to him. To all of them he expressed sentiments such as he wrote to Lafayette, when he said of the proffered office—" It has no fascinating allurement for me. At my time of life and under my circumstances, the increasing infirmities of nature and the growing love of retirement do not permit me to entertain a wish beyond that of living and dying an honest man on my own farm. Let those follow the pursuits of ambition and fame who have a keener relish for them, or who may have more years in store for the enjoyment of them."
The election was held at the appointed time, and Washington was chosen President of the United States for four years from the 4th of March ensuing. He now again yielded his own wishes to the claims of his country, and prepared to leave his beloved home. Meanwhile, office-seekers were sending him letters by scores, and sometimes they came in person to solicit favor for themselves or friends. He had already expressed his fixed determination to enter upon the duties of his office "not
only unfettered by promises, but even unchargeable with cre ating or feeding the expectation of any man living" for his "assistance to office." By this declaration applicants soon
learned the wisdom of silence.
But there were men who sought the influence of his position, upon whom he not only looked with favor but with delight. These were they who had schemes which, though cherished by themselves for selfish purposes, would be of great advantage to the industrial interests of the country. One of these visited Mount Vernon at the close of March, 1789, to lay before the President elect some facts concerning the introduction of the manufacture of glass into America. A gentleman of Alexindria, in a letter to a friend, thus describes the event:
"I am just returned from Mount Vernon, where I was present at a scene which made every patriotic pulse vibrate with the most pleasurable sensations.
"This, sir, was a tribute of a new citizen of the United States to their illustrious President. Mr. John F. Amelung, a native of Germany, and an artist of considerable eminence, emigrated to this country with a large family and extensive fortune, and having contemplated the said commerce, etc., he selected, with great prudence, a central situation for the establishment of a manufactory of the first magnitude and importance, in which he has succeeded beyond all hope and expectation. Through his vast exertions he is now enabled to supply the United States with every species of glass, the quality of which is equal, if not superior, to that imported, while he actually undersells all foreign traders in that article in our own markets. To the testimony of the ablest connoisseurs and characters of taste and respectability, it only remain
ed for Mr. Amelung to court the patronage of the great patriot; and I had the good fortune to be present at an offering to his excellency of two capacious goblets of flint glass, exhibiting the general's coat-of-arms, etc.
"The conversation naturally embraced and discussed our manufacturing interests, and was managed with such delicate address, as to pay a compliment to the ingenuity and labors of this celebrated artist, who has supported, without intermission, three hundred hands these three years past, with the utmost order and character. New Bremen, which gives appellation to this manufactory, is situated on Monococy, contiguous to the waters of the Potomac, by which he may in time supply the seaport towns of the eastern and southern states, and thus give domestic circulation to an immense quantity of specie remitted annually for this article alone to the foreign merchants."
Washington had already been apprised of the existence of this establishment, for in a letter to Jefferson, in February preceding, he said: "A factory of glass is established upon a large scale on Monococy river, near Fredericktown, in Maryland. I am informed it will this year produce glass of various kinds, nearly to the amount of ten thousand pounds value.”
So tardily did the members of the National Congress assemble, that a quorum was not present at the capital in New York until the beginning of April, when the votes of the electoral college were counted, and Washington was declared to be elected President of the United States by the unanimous voice of the people. That delay was a source of pleasure to him. In a letter to General Knox, he compared it to a reprieve: "for," he said, "in confidence I tell you (with the