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is humourously called by the Americans, “the Bladensburgh Races.”
I was much disappointed upon arriving at Washington. I had been told, indeed, that I should see a straggling city; but I had no idea that I should find the houses so very much scattered as they really are. An European, duly impressed with the idea of an ancient metropolis, might well be astonished at seeing the infant one of the United States.
It is situated in the district of Columbia, a tract of land ten miles square ; which was ceded to the general government by the two States of Ma- . ryland and Virginia, and which is under the exclusive care and jurisdiction of the Congress.
-This was done, to prevent any trouble, that night arise from the acts or laws of any particular State.
The plan of the city is on a vast scale, and it will be many a long year before even one half of it will be completed. Instead of beginning from a centre or nucleus, from which it might gradually have expanded, the whole was laid out, and the lots sold, wherever individuals chose to select them. Owing to this, every one selected the spot, which he thought would be most desirable when the city should be finished ; and consequently very few streets are as yet completed.
From its total want of commerce, Washington has not increased so rapidly as was expected; yet the census of 1820 makes the population of the city 13,247, and that of the whole district 33,039. Of course, if the United States continue to increase in wealth and population in the same proportion as they have hitherto done, the city must soon become considerable; and if, as seems probable, the canal which is to join the waters of the Ohio with the tide waters of the Potowmac is soon put in execution, Washington will at once become a place of great commerce.
But the city must expect nothing from the Government. Instead of fostering the infant metropolis, and taking a pride in ornamenting, embellishing, and increasing it, as one would naturally have supposed ; the Congress has, on the contrary, been but a cold-hearted protector, and has acted the part of a step-father rather than of a parent. In fact, it has done little more than provide for its own convenience; for as the Capitol, the President's house, and the public offices, were necesssary buildings, the city owes the Congress no thanks for them.
But the worst feature in the conduct of the government is, that the members, arriving from different parts of the Union, have very often shown a decided hostility to the place. Each member is warm in advocating any improvement by which his own State is to be immediately benefitted ; but any canal, road, &c. - merely intended for the general benefit of the Union, has almost always been treated with the most appalling indifference, and sometimes even with the most decided opposition. This was most strongly exemplified in the case of the great national road over the ALleghany Mountains.
Moreover,' when in the first years of the Republic any establishment was in contemplation, each State endeavoured to have it in its own territory. Thus the different States struggled for the Mint, and the mother branch of the United States Bank, which were at last fixed in Philadelphia; and for the Military College, which was obtained by New York. Now had all these establishments been fixed at Washington, they would have been under the immediate eye of Government, and would have added to the importance and ornament of the metropolis. But one member says,
What is the city of Washington to Pennsylvania ?” and another, “ How does the improve ment of Washington benefit New York ?” Of á truth we may assimilate this conduct to that of a parcel of importunate fellows pulling and tugging at the coat of a good-natured passive old gentleman; who, by the time one has torn off a skirt, and another a sleeve, remains very ill-provided with clothing.
The Capitol is a large and splendid mass of buildings, but though handsomely ornamented and embellished, has, at present, rather a heavy appearance, probably occasioned by its being per. fectly isolated. It has cost a large sum, but is worthy of the nation, and does credit to their liberality
The eminence on which it stands, rises gradually from the Potowmac, which it completely overlooks. Indeed the view from the western portico is one of the finest I ever saw. Immediately beneath is the most populous and best built part of the city, Pennsylvania Avenue, the principal street, commences at the Capitol, and terminates at another eminence, on which stands the large and handsome mansion of the President. This edifice and the Capital appear, when viewed from a distance, to watch over the city below them; while in the left is seen the majestic Potowmae; and in the distance the small town of Alexandria, and the wooded hills of Virginia. In clear weather, the Blue Ridge, part of the Alleghanies, can be distinctly perceived, though distant forty miles,
The interior of the Capitol is ill arranged. There are, indeed, a few very splendid halls, but the passages are numerous, and, in general, very badly lighted. The lofty ceiling of the Hall of the Representatives is supported by very large polished columns, of a kind of American brescia, of the most beautiful and variegated colours. Each member sits in a large massive and handsomely ornamented arm chair, partly resembling that of the Roman consuls. In front of these chairs there is a mahogany desk, on which are pens and paper, with a drawer below, in which the member locks up any papers he may want. These seats and desks are placed in rows, at small intervals, on the gradually sloping floor of the semicircle; while in front of them, and near the columns at the back part of the amphitheatre, is the elevated seat of the President of the Representatives. The tout ensemble of the Hall is very imposing. Indeed I never saw a finer room of the kind : for the Chamber of the Deputies at Paris is not to be compared to it, and our House of Commons does not pretend to any other merit than antiquity.
The Chamber of the Senate is built very much upon the same plan as the Hall of the Representatives, but in point of size, embellishment, and architectural beauty, is decidedly inferior.
The centre of the Capitol is occupied by a large and lofty rotunda, ninety-six feet in diameter, over which there is a dome. It is here, as I was informed, that the inauguration of the President will be solemnized.
In the centre should have been deposited, under a suitable monument, the bones of Washington; but they are still at Mount Vernon, in a miserable sepulchre, which Lieutenant Hall compares to an old ice-house. A Dutch gardener almost succeeded in stealing the precious relicks for the purpose of exhibiting them in some foreign country. The Congress did indeed once solicit Judge Washington, the proprietor, to permit their re