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MRS. WASHINGTON'S CHILDREN.
"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. Her eyes 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
MRS. WASHINGTON AT THE TIME OF HER MARRIAGE,
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:
1 compleat Saddle and Bridle, and 1 sett Holster caps, and Housing of fine Blue Cloth with a small edging of Embroidering 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, but 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
CHAIRS ONCE AT MOUNT VERNON,
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. I have one dozen chairs that were made in the country; neat,
but too weak for common sitting. I therefore propose to take the bottoms out of those and put them into these now ordered, while the bottoms which you send will do for the former, and furnish the chambers. For this reason the workmen must be very exact, neither making the bottoms larger nor smaller than the dimensions, otherwise the change can't be made. Be kind enough to give directions that these chairs, equally with the others and the tables, be carefully packed and stowed. Without this caution, they are liable to infinite damage."
In 1759 (the year of Washington's marriage), we have the order of a husband instead of that of a bachelor. The items are quite different, and were evidently dictated by the sweet little wife, leaning lovingly, perhaps, upon the broad shoulder of her noble lord. He directs his friend in London to send him :
"1 Salmon-colored Tabby [velvet] of the enclosed pattern, with Sattin flowers; to be made in a sack and coat. 1 Cap, Handkerchief, and Tucker [a piece of lace or linen pinned to the top of women's stays] and Ruffles, to be made of Brussells lace or Point, proper to be worn with the above negligée; to cost £20.
1 piece Bag Holland, at 6s. a yard. 2 fine flowered Lawn Aprons.
2 double handkerchiefs.
2 prs. women's white silk hose.
6 pr. fine cotton do.
4 pr Thread do. four threaded.
1 p. black and 1 pr. white Sattin Shoes of the smallest fives. 4 pr Callimanco do.