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became casier. He lay quietly; he withdrew his hand from mine and felt his own pulse. I saw his countenance change. I spoke to Dr. Craik, who sat by the fire. lle came to the bedside. The general's hand fell from his wrist. I took it in mine and pressed it to my bosom. Dr. Craik put his hands over his eyes, and he expired without a struggle or a sigh.
"While we were fixed in silent grief, Mrs. Washington, who was sitting at the foot of the bed, asked, with a firm and collected voice, 'Is he gone?' I could not speak, but held up my hand as a signal that he was no more. "Tis well,' said she, in the same voice, 'all is now over; I shall soon follow him; I have no more trials to pass through.'
"It may be asked," says Mr. Custis, "why was the ministry of religion wanting to shed its peaceful and benign lustre upon the last hours of Washington? Why was he, to whom the observances of sacred things were ever primary duties through life, without their consolations in his last moments? We answer, circumstances did not permit. It was but for a little while that the disease assumed so threatening a character as to forbid the encouragement of hope; yet, to stay that summons which none may refuse, to give still farther length of days to him whose time-honored life was so dear to mankind, prayers were not wanting to the throne of grace. Close to the couch of the sufferer, resting her head upon that ancient book, with which she had been wont to hold pious communion a portion of every day for more than half a century, was the venerable consort, absorbed in silent prayer, and from which she only arose when the mourning group prepared to lead her from the chamber of the dead."
That chamber, ever held sacred by the Washington family,
and concealed from the eyes of the curious visitor, appears now, in form and feature, precisely as when the spirit of the Father of his Country took its departure from it. Not a vestige of the furniture that was there at the time of Washington's death, remains. The bed and bedstead on which he died are at Arlington House, where they, too, are kept as not only precious but sacred mementos of the great and good Washington.
The bedstead is made of mahogany, and was manufactured in New York in 1789. It is remarkable for its size, being six feet square. It was in constant use in the bed-chamber of General and Mrs. Washington, from the time of its manufacture until his death. The bed and bedding remain in precisely
the same condition as when Washington was borne from his chamber to his tomb.
The room in which Washington died has seldom been seen by visitors at Mount Vernon. While enjoying the hospitalities of the late proprietor for two or three days, I was permitted to enter and sketch it. It was used as a private chamber by the heads of the family. Empty, it presents the same appearance it did at Washington's death, and so I delineated it. Two doors open from it into other chambers, and one to stairs that lead to the garret.
LOOM IN WHICH WASHINGTON DIED.
As I stood alone in that death-chamber of the illustrious Washington, fancy seemed to fill it with those who occupied it on Saturday night, the 14th of December, 1799, mentioned in a memorandum by Mr. Lear. On the bed lay the great man at the sublime moment of his death. Near the bed stood Mr Lear and Dr. Craik. "Mrs. Washington was sitting near the foot of the bed. Christopher was standing near the bedside Caroline, Molly, and Charlotte (house-servants) were in the room, standing near the door. Mrs. Forbes, the housekeeper,
was in the room likewise." And as I stood there, delineating the simple outlines of that chamber, the words of Wallace came vividly to my memory:
"There is an awful stillness in the sky
When, after wondrous deeds and light supreme,
A star goes out in golden prophecy.
There is an awful stillness in the world,
When, after wondrous deeds and light supreme,
A hero dies with all the future clear
Before him, and his voice made jubilant
No one, except Mrs. Washington, mourned more sincerely at the deathbed of the great patriot than Dr. Craik, a generous, warm-hearted Scotchman, and excellent physician, who settled in Virginia in early life, was with Washington in the campaigns of the French and Indian war, and of the Revolu tion, and was his friend and medical adviser for more than forty years. Twice he accompanied Washington to the Ohio country, the first time in 1770, and the second time in 1785. He continued to reside in Alexandria until old age caused him to relinquish his profession, when he retired with a competent fortune to Vaucluse, a part of the Ravensworths' estate, where he died in 1814, at the age of eighty-four years. He was exceedingly vigorous, in mind and body, until the last. His grandson, the Reverend James Craik, of Louisville, Kentucky, to whom I am indebted for the silhouette likeness of Dr. Craik, printed on page 318, says, in a recent letter to me:
"He was a stout, thickset man, perfectly erect, no stoop of the shoulders, and no appearance of debility in his carriage.
Not long before his death he ran a race with me (then about eight years old) in the front yard of the house at Vaucluse, before the assembled family.'
At midnight the body of General Washington was brought down from the chamber of death, and laid out in the large drawing-room, in front of the superb Italian chimney-piece, delineated on page 172—a work of art which the master had feared, "by the number of cases" which contained it, would be "too elegant and costly" for his "room, and republican style of living;" and on the following day (Sunday) a plain mahogany coffin was procured from Alexandria, and mourning ordered for the family, the overseers, and the domestics. On the same day several of the relatives who had been sent for arrived, among whom was Mrs. Stuart, the mother of Mrs. Washington's grandchildren.
At the head of the coffin was placed an ornament inscribed SURGE AD JUDICUM. At about the middle were the words GLORIA DEO; and upon a silver plate was the record:
DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 14TH DECEMBER,
1799, ÆT. 68.
The coffin was lined with lead, and upon a cover of the same material, to be put on after the coffin was laid in the vault, was a silver shield, nearly three inches in length, in scribed:
DIED DECEMBER 14, 1799.