« AnteriorContinuar »
brick, ornamented with stone. Two fine malls, intended to be embellished by a variety of elegant buildings, run from the Capitol to the president's house, till they meet on the banks of the river, where they terminate. Places are marked out for many more noble, useful public buildings, but few of them are begun. There is to be a marine hospital, a general exchange, a city hall, churches, colleges, market-houses, theatres, public walks and gardens. Two streams, Reedy Branch and the Tiber, run through the city, and will supply the inhabitants amply with water. ,
It is impossible to survey the incomplete be. ginnings of this great city, possessing so many advantages, without a warm wish, that at some future period it may arise to that eminence that is adapted to the head of an extensive empire; and that it may become the seat of arts, learning, and virtue. About a mile from Washington stands George Town, a place of considerable trade, having a small college for catholics.
We went by water to Alexandria, another town, seven miles lower down the river, and had a charm. ing row through a pleasing succession of small hills and beautiful valleys, intersected with streams, the banks of which are adorned with clumps of trees and pleasure grounds.
Alexandria is one of the most elegant towns in the United States. It stands on a small plain; the streets cross each other; and spacious squares add
to its beauty, convenience, and healthiness. The houses are chiefly built of brick, and the large, commodious quays are lined with houses and stores : for this town rivals Washington in trade; exporting the produce of the back settlements to the West Indies, and even to Europe.
Having written a longer letter than I intended, I hasten to conclude, and assure you that I am sin. cerely your's,
Arthur Middleton to his Brother Edwin.
Washington. DEAR BROTHER,
THE Falls of the Patowmac, a few miles from this city, were too attractive to be neglected. The smaller falls do not deserve the name of a cataract; but they cause such an obstruction to navigation, that a canal, a mile and a half long, has been cut to remedy the inconvenience. Above these falls, at a place where the river is confined between mountains, a passage over it is formed by a grand bridge of one arch, an hundred and iwenty feet wide. The navigation at the Great Falls is made easy by a canal with ten locks, where the
water rushes down with tremendous impetuosity, over a ledge of rocks, in several different cata. racts, winding afterwards with great velocity along the bottom of the precipices, whose rocky crags are so intermixed with trees as to produce a beau. riful effect. From want of other materials, or be. cause they are at hand, the people in the neigh. bourhood build their cottages with fragments of these rocks.
A gentleman at Alexandria furnished us with horses, and accompanied us to Mount Vernon, the seat of the late General Washington; an object of curiosity to those who revere his memory. It stands nine miles below Alexandria, on the banks of the river ; but we were obliged to make a larger circuit by land, on account of the numerous creeks that fall into the Patowmac. We got into the midst of a thick wood, where several roads cross each other: unfortunately, we took a wrong one; it began to grow dark ; and the weather, which had been sultry hot in the day, became very cold, a sudden alteration that is frequent in this climate. Thus uncomfortably, situated, we knew not what to do, as we dreaded passing the night in this soli. tary forest. After wandering about two or three hours, I espied a glimmering light through the · trees. This raised our hopes. We made up to it, and found it proceeded from a small farm-house, where one of the family was sick : we gained an entrance, and related our forlorn circumstances.
The good woman took pity on us, and regaled us with some salted pork out of her pantry; she then crowded her family two or three in a bed, in order to leave one empty for us, and in the morning sent a negro with us to conduct us to Mount Vernon, which is an eminence commanding delighte ful views both of land and water.
The house is only of wood, painted to resemble hewn stone; it has a long portico, supported by eight pillars. The dwelling-house is in the centre, and the offices are contained in the wings, which communicate by a cuvered way with the main build. ing. In one of the parlours hung a portrait of the general, said to be a striking likeness. A certain austerity of countenance struck me with awe as I looked at it: he was rather tall, had a command. ing aspect, a full, broad chest, and strong limbs: his eyes were large and grey, and his nose long in proportion to his face. “ You do well,” said Mr. Franklin, observing my attention fixed on the picture, “ to contemplate the features of that true hero, as every thing is interesting that tends to elucidate the character of such a distinguished person; but above all," continued he, “ study and imitate his virtues: he was eminent for disinetrestedness, moderation, love of liberty, and real patriotism, in not only rescuing his country from a yoke, that he considered oppressive, but when he had attained the height of power, disdaining to assume a rank, that a man of less principle and more ambition might have claimed, as the reward of his services; and contenting himself, like Cin. cinnatus of old, with a private station, till called again by his fellow.citizens to take the helm of government. His death was honoured with the Jansentations of his countrymen, who regarded him as the father of their common-wealth.
The farmers and common people live in what are called log-houses, because they are made of the bodies of trees, which are roughly squared, and placed crosswise one above another; the cre. vices between them are stopped with clay, and the roofs are covered with small pieces of wood, called shingles, cut in the shape of tiles. Two doors, which frequently supply the place of windows, are made by sawing away a part of the trunks that form the body of the house: the chimney, which is always placed at one end of the roof, is also made of the trunks of trees; but the back is made of clay, to prevent fire from communicating to the wooden wall. The doors are hung on wooden hinges, and most of them have no locks, a log of wood being the usual fastening.
These simple habitations make an odd appearance, and require neither carpenter, bricklayer, nor smith; for there is no iron or nails about them. Two men are sufficient to complete one of them in four or five days, so that a new settler need not be long without a house. The floor is raised a little above the ground, and covered with planks.: