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trymen. With respect to myself, I sometimes think the arrangement is not quite as it ought to have been ; that I, who had much rather be at home, should occupy a place with which a great many younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased. As my grand-children and domestic connections make up a great portion of the felicity which I looked for in this world, I shall hardly be able to find any substitute that will indemnify me for the loss of such endearing society. I do not say this because I feel dissatisfied with my present sta. tion, for every body and every thing conspire to make me as contented as possible in it; yet I have learned too much of the vanity of human affairs to expect felicity from the scenes of public life. I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situ. ation I may be ; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds, wherever we go.”
The second year of Washington's administration, the seat of government was removed to Philadelphia. Mrs. Washington was sick when she started on the journey, and remained in Philadelphia until she was strong enough to go on to Mount Vernon.
The late Rev. Ashbel Green, for a long time President of Princeton College, and one of the early Chaplains of Congress, in speaking of the seat of
government, said: “After a great deal of writing and talking and controversy about the permanent seat of Congress under the present Constitution, it was determined that Philadelphia should be honored with its presence for ten years, and afterward the permanent location should be in the city of Washington, where it now is. In the mean time, the Federal city was in building, and the Legislature of Pennsylvania voted a sum of money to build a house for the Presi. dent, perhaps with some hope that this might help to keep the seat of the general government in the Capital; for Philadelphia was then considered as the Capital of the State. What was lately the Univer. sity of Pennsylvania, was the structure erected for the purpose. But as soon as General Washington saw its dimensions, and a good while before it was finished, he let it be known that he would not occupy it, and should certainly not go to the expense of purchasing suitable furniture for such a dwelling; for it is to be understood, in those days of stern republicanism, nobody thought of Congress furnishing the Presi. dent's house; or if perchance such a thought did enter into some aristocratic head, it was too unpopular to be uttered. President Washington therefore rented a house of Mr. Robert Morris, in Market street, between Fifth and Sixth, on the south side, and furnished it handsomely, but not gorgeously.” From New York, by weary processes, the house. hold furniture of individuals and government property was moved. General Washington superintended the preparation and embarkation of all his personal effects, deciding the time and manner in which every
article was taken or sold, and attending to all with a scrupulous zeal which is surprising when we consider his public position. His letters to Mr. Lear are as characteristic of his private life as was his career as founder of the Republic. On Saturday afternoon, November the 28th, the President and his wife returned from Mount Vernon, and took up their resi. dence in the house of Mr. Morris, which the corporation had obtained for them. They found Congress. men and public characters already assembled, in anticipation of a gay and brilliant season. Mrs. Washington held her drawing-rooms on Friday even. ing of each week; company assembled early and retired before half-past ten. It is related on one occasion, at a levee held in New York the first year of the administration, that she remarked, as the hands on the clock approached ten, “that her husband retired punctually at ten, and she followed very soon afterward.” A degree of stiffness and formality existed at those receptions that we of this day can scarcely understand, accustomed as we are to the familiarity and freedom of the present-day gather. ings; but the imposing dignity of the Executive himself rebuked all attempts at equality, and the novelty of the position itself caused a general awkwardness. Unlike later-day levees, the lady of the mansion always sat, and the guests were arranged in a circle round which the President passed, speaking kindly to each one. It is to be regretted that no descriptions exist of the appearance of Mrs. Washington at these fête evenings. Little or no attention, outside of social life, was paid to such items as how ladies dressed and what they appeared in, and letterwriting was not so universal as we of modern times have made it; hence there remains no source from whence to gather these little trifles which form part of every newspaper edition of the present day. The President always had his hair powdered, and never offered his hand to any one at his public receptions. “On the national féte days, the commencement of the levee was announced by the firing of a salute from a pair of twelve-pounders stationed not far dis. tant from the Presidential mansion ; and the ex-Commander-in-chief paid his former companions in arms the compliments to wear the old continental uniform.” The grandchildren of Mrs. Washington were her only companions during the President's long absences in his office; and Mrs. Robert Morris was the most social visitor at the mansion. Several times mention is made of her presence at the side of Mrs. Washington dur. ing the presentations at the receptions. “And at all the dinners by the republican Chief Magistrate, the venerable Robert Morris took precedence of every other guest, invariably conducting Mrs. Washington, and sitting at her right hand.” At this, the meridian period of her life, Mrs. Washington's personal appear. ance was, although somewhat portly in person, fresh and of an agreeable countenance. She had been a handsome woman thirty years before, when, on the 6th of January, 1759, she was married to Colonel Washington; and in an admirable picture of her by Woolaston, painted about the same time, we see some. thing of that pleasing grace which is said to have been her distinction. During these years of her married life, she had enjoyed ample opportunity to cultivate that elegance of manner for which she was conspicuous, and to develop those conversational powers which rendered her so attractive. Washington, ever quiet and taciturn, depended on her; and her tact and “gentler womanly politeness” relieved him from the irksome duties of hospitality when business called him elsewhere. His first levee, the Marchioness D’Yuro wrote to a friend in New York, “was brilliant beyond any thing that could be imagined.” She adds: “You never could have had such a drawing: room; and though there was a great deal of extrava. gance, there was so much of Philadelphia tact in every thing, that it must have been confessed the most delightful occasion of the kind ever known in this country.”
Mrs. Washington at this time was fifty-eight years old; but her healthful, rational habits, and the ceaseless influence of the principles by which her life was habitually regulated, enabled her still to exhibit undiminished her characteristic activity, usefulness, and cheerfulness. From the “Recollections” of a daugh. ter of Mrs. Binney, who resided opposite the Presi. dent's house, we have some interesting accounts. She says: “It was the General's custom frequently, when the day was fine, to come out to walk attended by his secretaries, Mr. Lear and Major Jackson. He always crossed directly over from his own door to the sunny side of the street, and walked down.” She never