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THE MOTHER OF WASHINGTON.
Here Woman Reigns ; the mother, daughter, wife,TM
The artist who would embody the sublime Ideal which has long engrossed his spiritual contemplation —the idol of his ceaseless adoration, the imaginary impersonation of his most exalted conceptions of the Beautiful—again and again shrinks dismayed, despairing, from the impossible achievement he would fain essay. Thus does the biographer, whose best qualification for the task too partial friendship has assigned her, is profound reverence for the theme,—approach the awe-inspiring subject of the following Memoir.
The life of woman, almost in proportion as it is true to the loftiest impulses and purest principles by which she can be actuated, presents comparatively few incidents claiming circumstantial record or remembrance.
Though the wife, or the mother of one who fills a large space in the world's eye, it is still, usually, hers to dwell only within the quiet precincts of domestic retirement.
The Hero, like a majestic river, that bears the wealth of cities on its ample waters, and diffuses benefits to thousands, speeds onward in his high career, his steps resounding in the ears of listening nations; while the mother, from whom, perchance, he derived the intellectual power that impels and sustains this lofty course, still, like a life-giving fountain whose sweet, bright waters diffuse beauty, and health, and happiness, lingers ever in the shade, revered in the protecting sanctity of Home.
The world may never know, may never seek, the gushing waters of the secluded fountain. But beside its peace-breathing murmurs, the worn and weary wanderer,—fame-pilgrim though he be, seeks repose; returning once more, and yet once more, to imbibe its benign and soothing influences. In the quiet haunt it loves, dwell gentle spirits who minister to the wayfarer, and watch, with ceaseless care, over the sequestered purity and loveliness, which it is their precious charge forever to preserve, in inexhaustible and unsullied perfection.
As flow the crystal waters of a hallowed well-spring, glided on the life of Mary Washington; thus serene, and pure, and secluded, thus genial and beneficent, and blessed!
The name of Mary—how the heart
Thrills at the sound of that sweet name!
Or wake the soul to deeds of fame! J. W M.
Well-ordered home, man's best delight to make,
And with submissive wisdom, modest skill,
To raise the virtues Thompson.
Mrs. Mary Washington was born in the Colony of Virginia, towards the conclusion of the year 1706. Little is known of her ancestors, except that she inherited an unimpeachable name. We are informed that she was descended from a highly respectable family of English colonists, named Ball, who originally established themselves on the banks of the Potomac.
It is to be lamented that no records of the youth, or early womanhood of this illustrious lady have been preserved.
We are, therefore, in ignorance of the education and domestic influences by which her remarkable character was developed and matured.
But judging from the rare combination of mental and moral qualities which we find exhibited in the brief history of her later life, we may suppose her home education to have been particularly practical and judicious; such, indeed, was almost the only instruction received by women in this country, even at a much later period than that to which we refer.
To the abiding effect of early maternal training, Mrs. Washington must have been, at least in some degree, indebted for her habits of unusual industry, economy, and regularity, as well as for the excellent constitution, that gave vigor and practical usefulness to the operations of a naturally powerful intellect. To the ineffaceable impressions of infant years, we may also ascribe the moral elevation and the exalted piety associated with her noble mind.
Augustine Washington, the husband of the celebrated subject of our Memoir, was a gentleman of considerable wealth, and of distinguished lineage and position. Several of his ancestors early emigrated to the Colony of Virginia, and honorable mention is made of more than one of them in the annals of the primitive days of the Old Dominion.* * Everything relating, even remotely, to the history of "Wash