« AnteriorContinuar »
tier influences, to inspire the chivalrous gallantry that well became the hour,—the gleesome jest, the merry laugh,
"Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles!"
But despite the soul-soothing charm of music, the fascinations of female loveliness, and the flattering devotion of the gallant brave, all was eager suspense and expectation, until there entered, unannounced and unattended, the Mother Of Washington, leaning on the arm of her Son.
Hushed was each noisy tone, subdued each whispered word, as with quiet dignity and unaffected grace they slowly advanced.
Nature had stamped upon the brow of both, the unmistakable signet of nobility, and
"The vision and the faculty divine"
spoke in the imposing countenance of each, and directed every movement of the majestic pair.
All hastened to approach this august presence; the European officers to be presented to the parent of their beloved Commander, and old friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, to tender the compliments and congratulations appropriate to the occasion.
Mrs. Washington received these peculiar demonstrations of respect and friendship, with perfect self-possession and unassuming courtesy. She wore the simple, but becoming and appropriate costume of the Virginia ladies of the olden time, and even
"Tlie cynosure of beauty's sheen"
was for a time forgotten, while all eyes and all hearts were irresistibly attracted by the winning address and unpretending appearance of the venerable lady.
The European strangers gazed long in wondering amazement, upon this sublime and touching spectacle. Accustomed to the meretricious display of European courts, they regarded with astonishment her unadorned attire, and the mingled simplicity and majesty for which the language and manners of the Mother Of Washington were so remarkable.
They spoke of women renowned in classic lore:—the names of the celebrated Voluminia, and of the noble mother of the Gracchi, broke involuntarily from their lips; and they spontaneously rendered the tribute of admiration and reverence at the-shrine of native Dignity and real Worth. Having, for some time, regarded with serene benignity, the brilliant and festive scene, which she had so amiably consented to honor by her presence, Mrs. Washington expressed the cordial hope that the happiness of all might continue undiminished until the hour of general separation should arrive, and quietly adding, that "it was time for old people to be at home," retired as she had entered, leaning on the arm of the Commander-in-Chief.
Perhaps it will interest some of our lady-readers to know that the immortal Washington danced on this occasion for the last time;—in the stately minuet, so well adapted to the advantageous display of his graceful air, and elegant and imposing form. He is also described as having been inspired with great cheerfulness and animation, while momentarily courting the aerial graces. The French gentlemen who participated in the pleasures of the evening, protested that Paris itself could boast nothing more perfect than the dancing of the fair and the gallant Americans as sembled at this celebrated Ball.
In virtue fair,
Who sat 'mongst men like a descended god,
* * * rfr*
Who liv'd in court, which it is rare to do,
Most praised, most loved:
A sample to the youngest; to the most mature
A glass that feated them. Shakspea!^
Re-establtshed at Mount Vernon, it was the earnest desire of Washington that his Mother should thenceforth reside under his roof.
He had frequently before, urged the same request, and his sister, Mrs. Lewis,* who was always most assiduous in fulfilling the duties im* Mrs. Fletcher Lewis, of Fredericksburg, the only sister of Washington, "whom she so closely resembled, that when she was arrayed in his usual head-dress, her features were undistinguisliable from his.
posed by nature and affection, had repeatedly endeavored to persuade her aged parent to live apart from her no longer.
But the venerable matron, notwithstanding the affectionate entreaties of her children, continued to conduct a separate establishment, with the same indefatigable industry and judicious management which she had earlier exhibited. She still obeyed—
"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn"
with as much alacrity as of yore, and still gave
"None knew her but to love,
she long continued to receive the frequent and fondly-respected visits of her many old and attached friends as well as of her children* and her
* We find many proofs in the published Correspondence of "washington, of the affectionate devotion with which he paid this tribute of respect to his mother. Thus, he assigns his absence on a visit to her, as a reason for not previously replying to a letter from the Secretary of Congress; and afterwards again, in a letter to Major-General Knox, he offers the same explanation of a