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Mt. Vernon, And The Tomb Of Washington
by [?]

THE heat of noon had passed, and the trees began to cast their evening shadows, when, in company with a friend, I seated myself in a carriage, and drove off in the direction of Mount Vernon. We crossed the long bridge, and found ourselves in the old State of Virginia.

It was a delightful afternoon; one just suited to the purpose to which we had devoted it. The trees were clad in fresh, green foliage, and the farms and gardens were blooming into early life. To myself, no season appears so beautiful as that of spring. All seasons to me are bright and glorious, but there is a charm about spring that captivates the soul. Then Nature weaves her drapery, and bends over the placid lake to jewel herself, as the maiden bends before her mirror to deck her pure white brow with diamonds and rubies. All is life, all animation, all clothed with hope; all tending upward, onward to the bright future. “The trees are full of crimson buds, the woods are full of birds, And the waters flow to music, like a tune with pleasant words.”

In about one hour we reached the city of Alexandria. Between this place and Washington a steamboat plies, going and returning four times a day. The road from Washington to Alexandria is about decent; but the road from thence to Mount Vernon is in the worst possible condition,–so bad, in fact, that we dismounted and walked a considerable distance, it being far less tiresome to walk than to ride. The road winds in a very circuitous route through a dense forest, the lofty trees of which, rising upon either hand, cast their deep shadows upon us. The place, that would otherwise have been gloomy, was enlivened by the variable songs of the mocking-birds, and the notes of their more beautiful-plumed though less melodious companions.

Occasionally we passed the hut of a negro, and met a loaded team from some Virginian farm, drawn by three or four ill-looking, yet strong and serviceable horses. These teams were managed by negroes,–never less than two, and in some cases by three or four, or, as in one instance, by an entire family, man, wife and children, seated on their loads, whistling and singing, where also sat a large black-and-white mastiff. Long after we passed and they had receded from our view, we could distinctly hear their melodious voices singing their simple yet expressive songs, occasionally interrupted by a “gee, yawh, shau,” as they urged on their dilatory steeds.

The homes of the negroes were in some cases built of stone; mostly, however, of boards, put loosely together, and in some instances of large logs, the crevices being filled with mud, which, the sun and wind having hardened, were white-washed, presenting a very strong though not very beautiful appearance, the architecture of which was neither Grecian nor Roman, but evidently from “original designs” by a not very fastidious or accomplished artist.

Groups of women and children were about these houses; some seated on the grass, in the shade of the tall trees; others standing in the doors, all unemployed and apparently having nothing to do but to talk, and this they appeared to engage in with a hearty good will.

We continued our way over stones, up steep, deep-rutted hills, covered partly with branches and brambles, and down as steep declivities, through ponds and brooks, now and then cheered by the pleasing prospect of a long road, evidently designed to illustrate the “ups and downs of life.”

After a tiresome journey, partly walked, partly ridden, which was somewhat relieved of its tediousness by the romantic and beautiful scenery through which we passed, we came in view of Mount Vernon.

An old, infirm, yet good, sociable negro met us at the gate, and told us that there was another road to the Mount, but that it was not as good as the one we came over, and also that there was a private road, which was not as good as either of the others! We smiled, threw out a hint about a�rial navigation. He smiled also, and, thinking we doubted his word, said, “Indeed, it is not as good; I would n’t tell you a lie about it.” Mercy on pilgrims to Mount Vernon! If you ever go there, reader, do provide yourself with a conscience that can’t be shaken out of you.