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"Didst thou not know I loved thee well? Thou didst not, and art gone In bitterness of soul to dwell
Where man must dwell alone. Come back, young fiery spirit,
If but for one hour, to learn The secrets of the folded heart That seemed to thee so stern.
"Thou wert the first, the first fair child, That in mine arms I pressed;
Thou wert the bright one, that hast smiled
Like summer on my breast.
I reared thee as an eagle;
To the chase thy steps I led; I bore thee on my battle horse; I look upon thee — dead!
"Lay down my warlike banners here,
And bury my red sword and spear,
I have slain; my work is done.
And thus his wild lament was poured
Through the dark, resounding night; And the battle knew no more his sword, Nor the foaming steed his might.
He heard strange voices moaning
From the searching stars of heaven he shrank;
XXVIII. — INAUGURATION OF WASHINGTON.
[This interesting reminiscence of Washington appeared in the National Intelligencer, a newspaper printed in Washington. The inauguration described was on the 4th of March, 1793, and in the city of Philadelphia.]
I ONCE had an opportunity of seeing Washington under circumstances the best possible for exhibiting him to the greatest advantage. It was a privilege which could be granted but once to any one; and I esteem the hour when I enjoyed it, as one of the brightest of my life. The remembrance of it is yet fresh in my mind; years have not dimmed it; and I need not say with what force repeated public occasions of a like kind have since recalled it to my thoughts. Yes, it was my favored lot to see and hear President Washington address the Congress of the United States, when elected for the last time. Of men now living, how few can say the same!
I was but a school boy at the time, and had followed one of the many groups of people, who, from all quarters, were making their way to the hall where the two Houses of Congress then held their sittings, and where they were to be addressed by the president, on the opening of his second term of office. Boys can often manage to work their way through a crowd better than men; at all events, it so happened that I succeeded in reaching the steps of the hall, from which elevation, looking in every direction, I could see nothing but human heads; a vast, fluctuating sea, swaying to and fro, and filling every accessible place which commanded even a distant view of the building.
They had come, not with the hope of getting into the hall, for that was physically impossible, but that they might see
Washington. Many an anxious look was cast in the direction from which he was expected to come, till at length, true to the appointed hour, (he was the most punctual of men,) an agitation was observable on the outskirts of the crowd, which gradually opened and gave space for the approach of an elegant white coach, drawn by six superb white horses, having on its four sides beautiful designs of the four seasons. It slowly made its way, till it drew up immediately in front of the
The rush was now tremendous. But as the coach door opened, there issued from it two gentlemen with long, white wands, who, with some difficulty, parted the people so as to clear a passage from the carriage to the steps on which the fortunate school boy had gained a footing, and whence the whole proceedings could be distinctly seen. As the president got out of the carriage, a universal shout rent the air, and continued, as he very deliberately ascended the steps. On reaching the platform, he paused, looking back on the carriage; thus giving the people the opportunity they desired of feasting their eyes upon his person. Never did a more majestic personage present himself to the public gaze. He was within two feet of me; I could have touched his clothes; but I should as soon have thought of touching an electric battery. Boy as I was, I felt as in the presence of a divinity.
As he turned to enter the hall, the gentlemen with the white wands preceded him, and, with still greater difficulty than before, repressed the people, and cleared a way to the great staircase. As he ascended, I ascended with him, step by step, creeping close to the wall, and almost hidden by the skirts of his coat. Nobody looked at me; every body was looking at him; and thus I was permitted, unnoticed, to glide along, and happily to make my way into the lobby of the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Once in, I was safe; for had I even been seen by the officers in attendance, it would have been impossible to get me out again. I saw near me a large pyramidal stove, which, fortunately, had but little fire in it, and on which I forthwith
clambered, until I had attained a secure perch, from which every part of the hall could be deliberately and distinctly surveyed. Depend upon it, I made use of my eyes.
On either side of the broad aisle that was left vacant in the centre were assembled the two Houses of Congress. As President entered, all rose, and remained standing till he had ascended the steps at the upper end of the chamber, and taken his seat in the speaker's chair. It was an impressive moment. Notwithstanding the immense crowd that filled the spacious apartment, not a sound was heard; the silence of expectation was unbroken and profound; every breath seemed suspended.
Washington was dressed in a full suit of the richest black velvet, with small-clothes, diamond knee-buckles, and black silk stockings. His shoes were surmounted with large square silver buckles. His hair was powdered, and gathered behind into a black silk bag, on which was a bow of black ribbon. In his hand he carried a plain cocked hat, decorated with the American cockade. He wore by his side a light, slender dress sword, in a dark shagreen* scabbard, with a richly ornamented hilt. His gait was deliberate, his manner solemn but selfpossessed; and he presented altogether the most august human figure I had then or have since beheld.
Having retained his seat for a few moments, while the members resumed their seats, the president rose, and taking from his breast a roll of manuscript, proceeded to read his address. His voice was full and sonorous, deep and rich in its tones, free from that trumpet ring which it could assume amid the tumult of battle, but sufficiently loud and clear to fill the chamber, and be heard with perfect ease in every part. The address was of considerable length; its topics, of course, I forget, for I was too young to understand them. He read, as he did every thing else, with a singular sincerity and composure, but without the smallest attempt at display.
Having concluded, he laid the manuscript upon the table
* Shagreen, a kind of leather, with a rough or granulated surface.
before him, and resumed his seat; when, after a slight pause, he rose and withdrew, the members rising and remaining on their feet until he left the chamber.
XXIX. THE OLD REVOLUTIONARY MUSKET.
[In this lesson, an old musket, kept in a farm house garret, is supposed to tell the story of its life. The battle of Trenton was fought December 26, 1776. The passage of the Delaware was on the night before.]
I MUST tell you that I had the honor of fighting under General Washington; for I had been marched down to Trenton with a stout-hearted teamster named Judah Loring, from Braintree, Massachusetts, who, after our battle at Bunker Hill, had picked me up from the bottom of the works, and made himself my better half and commander-in-chief. Excuse a stately phrase; but after the battle of Bunker Hill I never could screw up my muzzle to call any man master or owner again. We found only a few thousand men and muskets there, principally from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Jerseys, with a few companies of New Englanders; and a sturdier, steadier set of men than these last never breathed. They had enlisted for six months only, and their time was out; but they never spoke of quitting the field.
It was now December, in the midst of snow and ice; and not a foot among them that did not come bleeding to the frozen path as it trod. But night after night they relieved each other in mounting guard, though the provision chest was well nigh empty, and day after day they scoured the country for the chance of supplies, appearing to the enemy on half a dozen points in the course of the day; making him think the provincials, as we were scornfully called, ten times as numerous as they really were. But alas! I am old, I find, and lose the thread of my story. It was of Washington that I meant to speak.