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Washington's death, President Adams had appointed Bushrod to the office of Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, and he performed the duties of his exalted station with eminent ability until his death, thirty-two years afterward.
Judge Washington took possession of the Mount Vernon estate, immediately after the death of Mrs. Washington. Among the slaves that belonged to him, and who were taken to Mount Vernon at that time, only one is living. Although set free by the will of his master in 1829, he has never left the estate, but remains a resident there, where he is regarded as a patriarch. I saw him when I last visited Mount Vernon, in the autumn of 1858, and received from his lips many interesting reminiscences of the place and its surroundings.
Just at evening, when returning from a stroll to the ancient entrance to Mount Vernon, I found WestFord (the name of the patriarch) engaged at the shop, near the conservatory, making a plough. He is a mulatto, very intelligent and communicative; and I enjoyed a pleasant and profitable half-hour's conversation with him. He came to Mount Vernon in August, 1802, and when I saw him he was in the seventy-second year of his age.
WestFord well knew Billy, Washington's favorite servant during the war for independence. Billy, with all of his fellow
slaves, was made free by his master's will; and he received a liberal pension and a residence for life at Mount Vernon. Ilis means for luxurious living had a bad effect upon him, and Billy became a bon-vivant. Delirium tremens finally seized him, with its terrors. Occasionally WestFord sometimes relieved him of the paroxysms by bleeding. One morning, a little more than thirty years ago, he was sent for to bleed Billy. The blood would not flow. Billy was dead, and the last but one of Washington's favorite servants passed from earth forever. The other (a woman) died at Arlington House a few years ago, where I saw her one evening at family worship.
I left WestFord at his plough-making, with an engagement to meet him the next morning before breakfast, for the purpose of delineating a pencil sketch of his features. I found him prepared, having on a black satin vest, a silk cravat, and his curly gray hair arranged in the best manner, "For," he said, "the artists make colored folks look bad enough anyhow." When my sketch was finished, he wrote his name under it with my pencil.
While Judge Washington was living, Lafayette came to America as the guest of the nation, and after a lapse of fifty years, he again visited Mount Vernon, the home of his dear friend. For more than twenty-five years the mortal remains. of that friend had been lying in the tomb, yet the memory of his love was as fresh in the heart of the marquis, as when, in November, 1784, they parted, to see each other on earth no
On that occasion Lafayette was presented with a most touching memorial of the man whom he delighted to call "father." The adopted son of that father, the late Mr. Custis,
with many others, accompanied the marquis to the tomb of Washington, where the tears of the venerable Frenchman flowed freely. While standing there, Mr. Custis, after a few appropriate remarks, presented to Lafayette a massive gold ring, containing a lock of Washington's hair. It was a most grateful gift; and those who were present have spoken of the occurrence as one of the most interesting and touching they had ever experienced.
Again there was a gathering before the tomb of Washington on an interesting occasion. Judge Washington was then no more. He died at Philadelphia in the autumn of 1829, at the age of seventy years, bequeathing his estate of Mount Vernon to his nephew, John Augustine Washington, a son of his brother Corbin. The latter was also lying in the family vault, having died in 1832 at the age of forty-three years, and his widow, Mrs. Jane Washington, was then mistress of the mansion and estate.
The occasion referred to, was the re-entombing of General Washington and his wife. This event occurred in October 1837. Mr. John Struthers, of Philadelphia, generously offered to present two marble coffins in which the remains of the patriot and his consort might be placed for preservation forever, for already the wooden coffins, which covered the leaden ones containing their ashes, had been three times renewed. Major Lewis, the last surviving executor of Washington's will, accepted the proposed donation, and the sarcophagi were wrought from solid blocks of Pennsylvania marble. The vestibule of the new vault was enlarged so as to permit the coffins to stand in dry air, instead of being placed in the damp vault; and on Saturday the 7th of October 1837, Mr. William Strickland, of
Fhiladelphia, acccompanied by a number of the Washington family, assisted in placing the remains of the illustrious dead in the receptacles where they have ever since lain undisturbed.
The vault was first entered by Mr. Strickland, accompanied by Major Lewis, of whom he said: "Imagine a figure stately and erect, upward of six feet in height, with a keen, penetrat ing eye, a high forehead partially covered with the silvery locks of seventy winters, intelligent and bland in expression, in movement graceful and dignified, and you will have the portraiture of the companion and friend of the immortal Washington." This was the favorite nephew who married Nelly Custis on the 22d of February, 1799.
When the decayed wooden case was removed from the leaden coffin of Washington, the lid was perceived to be sunken and fractured. In the bottom of this case was found the silver shield which was placed upon that leaden lid when Washington was first entombed.
"At the request of Major Lewis," says Mr. Strickland, in his published account, "the fractured part of the lid was turned over on the lower part, exposing to view a head and breast of large dimensions, which appeared, by the dim light of the candles, to have suffered but little from the effects of time. The eye-sockets were large and deep, and the breadth across the temples, together with the forehead, appeared, of unusual size. There was no appearance of grave-clothes; the chest was broad, the color was dark, and had the appearance of dried flesh and skin adhering closely to the bones. We saw no hair, nor was there any offensive odor from the body; but we observed, when the coffin had been removed to the outside of the vault, the dripping down of a yellow liquid, which