A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 23 February, 1911, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Henry Lefavour, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters had been received from Mr. Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe and Dr. Charles Pickering Putnam, accepting Resident Membership.
Mr. George L. Kittredge exhibited a photograph of a fine portrait of Washington in the possession of Professor F. Wulff of Lund, Sweden, thought to have been painted in the eighteenth century by a French artist. It is clearly a copy of the Lansdowne portrait by Stuart.’ Professor Wulff had the kindness to send a photograph of this portrait for exhibition to the Society.489
Mr. Kittredge also exhibited a photograph of a page of an Irish manuscript belonging to the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; and spoke as follows:
Dr. Tom Peete Cross of Harvard University recently informed me of the existence of a manuscript in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy containing a short eighteenth-century poem about Washington. At my request, Dr. Cross procured for me a photograph of the page that bears the poem.490 This page is presented in full-size facsimile. For the following transliteration and translation I am indebted to Dr. Cross and Professor F. N. Robinson.
The poem is a song by Thomas O’Miodhachain (O’Meehan), lamenting the woes of the Pretender Charles Edward, but foretelling his final triumph and the restoration of Ireland to the Stuart rule. Incidentally, in a highly picturesque stanza, O’Meehan speaks of the news that has just reached him that Washington has discomfited Howe. The reference must be to the Evacuation of Boston on March 17, 1776. This fixes the date of the song. The manuscript is somewhat later, but was written in the eighteenth century.
Professor Robinson has furnished me with the subjoined note on Thomas O’Meehan, the author of this song:
Very little of O’Meehan’s verse seems to have been published. A lamentation, apparently by him, on the death of Mary Baun MacDonnell is printed in Brian O’Looney’s edition of the Clare Bards (Dublin, 1863), p. 178, and the editor states that O’Meehan was a schoolmaster of high repute at Ennis, and that he continued to write until 1798. According to the Catalogue of the British Museum, another poem of his is printed as a preliminary address to John Lloyd’s Short Tour; or an Impartial Description of the County of Clare, 1780.
The facsimile shows the heading and the first two stanzas of another of O’Meehan’s songs, but this has nothing to do with America.
Transliteration of the Irish Text491
Tómás ó Miodhachain cecini. Air Washington’s Frolick. Ar an sean fhonn Sir (?) Súd an Fear B[ ]492 gan Bríste.
A chraobha comainn na nGaoidhel ccomais do shaoircheap mhuireannach Mhíledh
Tá tréathlag tuirseach a plæ le bruscar gan réim fé urchall cíosa
Sin scéala493 sonais do théarnaigh chugainn a ccéin tar dhromaibh na díleann
Go bh-fuil méirligh mustair go déghenach gonta na bhéile fiolar is faoileann.
Sa crobhaire Washington cabharthach calma a cceann s’a cceannas a righeacht
Sin amhais ag screadadh gan chúil gan chathair gan trúip gan barcaibh ar taoide
Is fé samhain go dearbhthe búir na Breataine a b-punc fá thearmain Laoisigh.
D’éis an chluithche-si Éire léigfear da céile dlightheach ceart díleas
An féinedh fuinneamach faobhrach fulangach Séarlas soineannta Stíobhard
Biaidh réim ag filedh s’go saoghal an fhiolair cead féir is uisge ag Gaoidhelaibh
Gach géag ag filledh le h-éigean duilledh s’na h-éisg ag lingedh asa lintibh.
Go saor am fhochair le méin dom fhocalaibh ag dhéanadh an ghortha ó Mhaoidheachan
An té gan dochma nach n-gléasfaigh494 portaibh go séidtear gothaibh a pípe
Taosgam srutha don daor-phunch torainn is reabam cornaibh crín-bhreach
A Thoirdhealbhaigh brostaigh lead Mhéidhbh inghin Chrotaigh is claon do chosa chum rincedh.
Thomas O’Meehan cecinit. Air, Washington’s Frolick, to the old tune of “Seek Yonder the Fine Fellow without Breeches” (?).
1. O branches of the league of the mighty Gaels, of the noble, long-haired stem of Milesius,495 who are exhausted, tired, in their struggle with the rabble, without power, under shackle of tribute!
Those are stories of good fortune that have come to us from afar over the ridges of the sea, — that the arrogant robbers are wounded at last, the food of eagles and sea-gulls.
2. It is a source of joy and triumph in my eyes that Howe and the Saxons are taken and overthrown forever, and that the sturdy Washington, helpful and brave, is at the head and command of his realm.
The hirelings are screeching, without shelter, without city, without army, without ships on the tide. Verily the boors of Britain before November Day suddenly will be under the bondage of Louis.496
3. After this exploit, Ireland will be given to her lawful spouse, just, beloved, the vigorous champion, sharp, patient, the innocent Charles Stuart.
Courage shall be with the poet, and, for the lifetime of the eagle, permission to use grass and water shall belong to the Gael, every branch returning with the power of the leaves [i. e. bursting out into fresh leafage], and the fish jumping out of their waters.
4. Freely beside me, with good will to my words, kindling the heat, [sits] O’Meehan, the man without weakness, who will not make ready with tunes till it is blown with the sounds of his pipe. Let us drain rivers of good flowing punch and flourish the ancient drinking-horns.
O Turlough, make haste with thy Meave daughter of Crotach,497 and bend thy legs to the dance!
The last stanza is not intelligible in all its details. It is in general a summons to festivity. Turlough and Meave (Medb) are either friends of the poet or types of village lovers.
The “air” of the song is mentioned, in the heading, as “Washington’s Frolick” (in English). Mr. James E. Whitney, Jr., obligingly writes that he knows no tune by that name. “I suspect,” he adds, “that the song was set to an existent tune to which a new title was given, expressive of the subject — a very common practice.”498 This conjecture of Mr. Whitney’s is substantiated by the form of the heading, in which an Irish tune is mentioned.
Professor Robinson has had the kindness to give me a stanza of another eighteenth-century Irish poem which also celebrates some victory of Washington over the British. It is as follows, both text and translation being from Professor Douglas Hyde’s MacTernan Prize Essay on Gaelic Poetry (Filidheacht Ghaedhealach), Dublin, 1903, pages 136–137.
Do labhair ’na dhéigh sin go beusach i nGaoidheilge,
A’s d’aithris dam sgéala do mhéadaigh mo chroidhe-se,
Go rabhadur Béaraibh an Bhéarla go claoidhte,
Gan armaibh, gan éadach, gan tréadaibh, gan tíorthaibh.
Faoi fhad-tuirse i nglasaibh ag Washington beó,
I mairg, gan gradam, gan caraid, gan lón,
A’s iad ag sgreadaigh le h-easbuidh na feóla,
Do chleachtadh na bathlaigh do chaitheamh gan teóra.
She spoke thereafter, notably, in Irish and she told me tidings that swelled my heart how the bears of the English-language were overthrown without arms, without clothing, without flocks, without lands; they were thrown into prison in bands, without patience, beneath weariness, in locks (i. e. locked in) by lively Washington, in woe, without fame, without friend, without provisions, and they screeching with the want of meat which the clowns used to be in the habit of eating without limits (i. e. beyond measure).
Professor Robinson has also been good enough to write to Professor Douglas Hyde, the eminent Irish scholar, with reference to Thomas O’Meehan, and Dr. Hyde, with his usual courtesy, has sent a number of important notes on the subject.
Dr. Hyde writes that, although the song now printed is new to him, he has seen a number of Thomas O’Meehan’s poems in manuscript. He adds a reference to another published poem by this author. This was addressed to the Munster poet Tadhg Gaolach O Suilebháin on the occasion of the latter’s retirement to religious life. It is printed in Father Dinneen’s edition of the poems of Tadhg Gaolach (Gaelic League, Dublin, 1903, pp. 29 ff).
In the same letter, Dr. Hyde suggests the identification of Laoiseach (genitive Laoisigh), in the second stanza of the Washington song, with Louis XVI of France, which Professor Robinson regards as certainly correct, and which has been adopted in the translation. Míledh, in the first line of the song, may be the word for “soldiers,” but the proper name Milesius (also proposed by Dr. Hyde) seems more likely to be the proper interpretation.
Concerning the persons named in the last stanza, Dr. Hyde says he can give no information. O’Mhaoidheachain, he writes, seems to be a piper, and a different man from the poet (O’Miodhachain). Turlough and Meave Dr. Hyde takes to be father and daughter, but he does not find the text completely readable as it stands. He suggests, therefore, the emendation Meidhbh-ingin, which would be a compound signifying “Meave-like daughter,” or “daughter beautiful as Meave” (the famous legendary Queen of Connaught, perhaps the original of Queen Mab). He would also change Chrotaigh to chruthaigh, “shapely,” an emendation already suggested as a possibility by Professor Robinson,499 but not adopted in the translation. Thus, according to Dr. Hyde’s view, the passage would run: “O Turlough, make haste with thy Meave-like, shapely daughter, and bend thy legs to the dance!”
Dr. Hyde offers the emendation cruinn-bhreac (“round-speckled”) for the epithet crinbhreach applied to the drinking-horns in this stanza. The latter is a dubious word, but, since it may mean “ancient” (literally, “withered-speckled”), that translation has been adopted.500
Mr. Albert Matthews remarked that at the close of the Revolution Washington received a congratulatory address from the Yankee Club of Stewartstown, County Tyrone, Ireland. This address has apparently not been preserved, but Washington’s reply, dated Mount Vernon, 20 January, 1784, was printed by Sparks. Washington wrote in part:
It is with unfeigned satisfaction, that I accept your congratulation on the late happy and glorious revolution.… If, in the course of our successful contest, any good consequences have resulted to the oppressed kingdom of Ireland, it will afford a new source of felicitation to all who respect the interests of humanity.501
Mr. Henry H. Edes made the following communication:
A few weeks ago an interesting paper was put into my hands502 with permission to print it in case it proved to be of sufficient value and unpublished. It is a contemporary copy of Washington’s reply to the address of the visiting chiefs of the Delaware Nation, dated at Head Quarters, Middle Brook, 12 May, 1779.503 From, the Library of Congress I have drawn three letters pertaining to this visit of the Delaware chiefs to Washington and to the Congress. As these papers have apparently never been printed and as they will be read with interest in connection with the unpublished reply of Washington, I offer them for publication in our Transactions. Unfortunately the address or speech of the Indians appears not to have been preserved, since our associate Mr. Putnam writes me that the Library of Congress has no copy of it.
The text of these documents follows:
GEORGE MORGAN TO GEORGE WASHINGTON504
Princeton May 9th 1779
The Delaware chiefs appointed by their nation to transact all business with the united States are now at my house — They are desirous to make known to your Excellency their situation — and the situation of Indian affairs in general to the Westward, before they do it to Congress — This they wish to do in person, if you please to appoint a time for them to wait on you either at your own quarters, or in the neighbourhood of camp. — There are three chiefs — they have eleven attendants — a part or the whole will wait upon you as your Excellency may direct — I can manage matters so as they shall arrive at any appointed hour — And as to what they have to say, will be committed to writing it will take up the less of your time. As they have thrown asside the use of wampum they will wish to be indulged with your Excellency’s written answer. As the disposition of this nation has been and is of infinite consequence to the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania I have thought I could not render my country a more important service than to attend with these chiefs on your Excellency. They have brought three of their sons to place at school under my care, as a testimony of their disposition towards us, and they would very willingly increase the number. — I shall wait your Excellency’s answer &c
P. S. I have thought it proper to enclose to your Excellency the original address of the Delaware Indians
GEORGE WASHINGTON TO JOHN JAY505
Head Quarters Middle Brook May 14th 1779.
I have received the honor of your Excellency’s favor of the 10th with its several inclosures.
When the order was given to General Glovers Brigade to be held in readiness to march, the comparitive state of the Enemy’s force and ours, allowing for the troops to be detached on the Western expedition made it indispensible, without risking more important misfortunes in this quarter than could possibly have been hazarded by drawing that Brigade away. But the late detachment sent from New York materially alters the case and has enabled me to suspend the measure, which I have accordingly done — It is however uncertain in the progress of our operations how long it may be in my power to continue those Troops where they now are. This I have signified to the State and have taken occasion to urge the necessity of endeavouring to provide other means of defence. The necessity I am under of being guarded at some essential points often obliges me to weaken others where we are less vulnerable; and have only to apprehend partial evils. Till the general state of our force can be made more adequate to our necessities this will be unavoidable.
The deputies from the Delaware Nation arrived at Head Quarters two days ago. They presented me with a long memorial on various points, which they intend to present also to Congress. I was a little at a loss what answer to give and could have wished they had made their first application there. But as an answer could not be avoided — I thought it safest to couch it in general but friendly terms and to refer them to Congress for a more particular one. Though there is reason to believe, they have not adhered very scrupulously to their pretended friendship — it appeared to me to be our present policy at last to conciliate; and in this spirit my answer was conceived. I hope I may not have deviated from the views of Congress. — I send a copy of my answer.
I have the honor to be
With perfect respect & esteem
Your most obet servant
John Jay Esqr
His Excellency General Washingtons Answer To the Chief Men, Deputies from the Delaware Nation
I am happy to see you here. I am glad the long Journey you have made, has done you no harm; & that you are in good health. I am glad also that you left all our friends of the Delaware Nation well.
I have read your Paper. The things you have said are weighty things, & I have consider’d them well. The Delaware Nation have shewn their good Will to the United States. They have done wisely & I hope they will never repent. I rejoice in the new assurances you give of their friendship. The things you now offer to do to brighten the Chain, prove your Sincerity. I am sure Congress will run to meet you, & will do everything in their Power to make the Friendship between the people of these States, & their Brethren of the Delaware Nation, last forever.
I am a Warrior. My Words are few & plain but I will make good what I say. — ’Tis my business to destroy all the Enemies of these States & to protect their Friends. You have seen how we have withstood the English for four Years; & how their great Armies have dwindled away & come to very little; & how what remains of them in this part of our great Country, are glad to stay upon two or three little Islands — where the Waters & their Ships hinder Us from going to destroy them. — The English, Brothers, are a boasting People. — They talk of doing a great deal; but they do very little. They fly away on their Ships from one part of our Country to another; but as soon as our Warriors get together they leave it & go to some other part. — They took Boston & Philadelphia — two of our greatest Towns; but when they saw our Warriors in a great Body ready to fall upon them — they were forced to leave them. Brothers.
We have till lately fought the English all alone. Now the Great King of France is become our Good Brother & Ally. He has taken up the Hatchet with Us, & we have sworn never to bury it, ‘till we have punish’d the English & made them sorry for all the wicked things they had in their Hearts to do against these States. And there are other great Kings & Nations on the other side of the big Waters, who love Us & wish Us well — and will not suffer the English to hurt Us.
Listen well to what I tell you, & let it sink deep into your Hearts. We love our Friends & will be faithfull to them — as long as they will be faithfull to Us. — We are sure our good Brothers the Delawares will always be so But we have sworn to take Vengeance on our Enemies & on false Friends. — The other day a handfull of our young Men destroy’d the Settlement of the Onondagas they burnt down all their Houses — destroy’d their Grain & Horses & Cattle — took their Arms away — kill’d several of their Warriors & brought off many Prisoners & obliged the rest to fly into the Woods. — This is but the beginning of the troubles which those Nations, who have taken up the Hatchet against Us will feel
I am sorry to hear you have suffer’d for want of necessaries — or that any of our people have not dealt justly by you. But as you are going to Congress, which is the great Council of the Nation & hold all things in their hands, I shall say nothing about the Supplies you ask. I hope you will receive Satisfaction from them. I assure you — I will do everything in my Power to prevent your receiving any further Injuries & will give the strictest Orders for this purpose. I will severely punish any that shall break them.
I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with Us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of Love to them, & will look upon them as their own Children. And will have them educated accordingly. This is a great Mark of your Confidence & of your desire to preserve the Friendship between the two Nations to the End of Time — and to become one people with your Bretheren of the United States. My Ears hear with pleasure the other Matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them to. — You do well to wish to learn our Arts & Ways of Life, & above all the Religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater & happier People than you are. — Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise Intention; & to tie the Knot of Friendship & Union so fast — that nothing shall ever be able to loose it.
There are some Matters about which I do not open my Lips; because they belong to Congress & not to Us Warriors. You are going to them. They will tell you all you wish to know.
When you have seen all you want to see, I will then wish you a good Journey to Philadelphia. I hope you will find there every thing your Hearts can wish, that when you return home you may be able to tell your Nation good things of us. And I pray God that he may make your Nation wise & strong, that they may always see their true Interest & have Courage to walk in the right Path; and that they may never be deceived by Lies to do any thing against the People of these States who are their Brothers & ought always to be one People with them.
Commander in Chief of all the Amies in the United State of America
Head Quarters —
Middle Brook. May 12th
GEORGE MORGAN TO JOHN JAY506
Princeton May 16th
I have the honour to transmit to Congress, a written representation of the Business, on which the Delaware Indian Deputies now wait on them. I also inclose his Excellency General Washington’s Answer to such parts of their Business as lay immediately with him.
So soon as I recover my Family from the derangement these Visiters have put them to, I shall have the honour to present their Chiefs to your Excellency; & be ready to afford every Assistance which may be required of me. Untill then I have directed Captain Dodge to take Care of them at their Lodgings, unless he receives the Orders of Congress or the Board of War to attend on them.
I am satisfied that the Delaware Nation are disposed to give Congress, such a tract of Land, as, in my Opinion, would satisfie all the Troops of the United States; — or, if set up to Sale, would pay a great Proportion of our National Debt.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest Respect,
Your Excellencys very obedient hum Servant
Agent for the United States of America507
John Jay Esqr
President in Congress
Mr. Matthews remarked that at an earlier period — about 1754 — the Indians had conferred upon Washington the name of Connotaucarius, though the meaning of this designation has apparently never been discovered;508 and continued as follows:
It will interest members of this Society to know that our late associate Mr. Morris H. Morgan was a descendant of Colonel George Morgan. About a year and a half ago I had a correspondence with Mr. Morgan in regard to the nickname of Tammany conferred upon Colonel Morgan by the Delaware Indians. The story has often been told and is first found in print in the Rev. John Heckewelder’s Historical Account of the Indian Nations, published in 1819:
When Colonel George Morgan, of Princeton in New Jersey, was, about the year 1776, sent by Congress as an agent to the western Indians, the Delawares conferred on him the name of Tamanend in honour and remembrance of their ancient chief, and as the greatest mark of respect which they could shew to that gentleman, who, they said, had the same address, affability and meekness as their honoured chief, and therefore ought to be named after him (p. 298).
George Morgan was appointed Indian agent by Congress on April 10, 1776, and his instructions from Congress were dated April 19 of that year.509 Mr. Morgan had long sought for confirmation of the above story, but in vain; hence it was with a feeling of distinct pleasure that I was able to send him the required proof. On June 9, 1778, White Eyes began a letter to Morgan with the words “Brother Taiminend,” and another on July 19, 1778, with the words “Brother Tamiened.”510 Since my correspondence with Mr. Morgan, I have found letters written by George Morgan to the Delaware chiefs in which he signed himself “Taimenend” as early as August 30, 1777.511 It would be interesting to ascertain exactly when, and the circumstances under which, the sobriquet was conferred.
Mr. Morgan also wrote me that George Morgan “did not much care for Washington after 1789. I will some day tell you the legend.” Mr. Morgan’s untimely death prevented my ever hearing the story, but I imagine that it related to Colonel Morgan’s settlement in Missouri, whither he went in the spring of 1788, laid out New Madrid, and became involved in the intrigues of the Spaniards.512
Mr. E. P. Merritt exhibited a horn-book513 which he had obtained in England a few years ago, and spoke as follows:
I am unable to give any history of this particular example of a horn-book further than the fact that it was obtained several years ago from a reputable firm of antiquarian book dealers in London, who estimated its probable date as about 1750. Except that the page is written and not printed, it has all the customary features of these books. Beginning with the criss-cross or Christ-cross row — that is, the cross, capital A, and the alphabet in lower case letters — it is followed by the alphabet in capitals, the vowels, syllabaries, invocation, and the Lord’s Prayer ending with the petition “deliver us from evil.” The written page is covered with a transparent sheet of horn fastened down by the brass “latten” with sixteen round-headed tacks instead of the customary eight.
Doubtless the estimate of the probable date is arrived at from the rather modern form of the letters and from the use of round tacks instead of the rose-head tacks found in early specimens. The rose-head tack was hammered roughly into four facets, leaving a point or boss in the centre which was sufficiently raised to protect the horn when the book was laid face down.
Even late specimens of horn-books are comparatively rare, although, as is the case with other bibliographical rarities, the interest and consequent demand has brought about an increase in the visible supply. At the Caxton Exhibition in London in 1877 four specimens of the horn-book were exhibited. Five years later at an exhibition in the Mansion House, London, by the Worshipful Company of Homers, after an attempt to make the display as large as possible, eight specimens were shown. When the late Andrew W. Tuer published his History of the Horn-Book, London, 1896, he was able after a very considerable investigation and correspondence to note about one hundred and fifty examples.
The earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary of the term horn-book appears under date of 1588 from Love’s Labor’s Lost. Sir James Murray states that references become plentiful towards the end of the sixteenth century and infers from this fact that the books themselves were commonly in use at that time.514 While Mr. Tuer recorded the earliest example known to him as of about 1450, his view as to the period when they were in common use coincided with that of Sir James Murray.
Their general use came to an end about 1800, although sporadic cases are found of their employment early in the nineteenth century. The antiquary William Hone recorded that a wholesale dealer in school supplies in London executed his last order for horn-books in 1799, while in the sixty years preceding he and his predecessor in business had handled several millions.515
The horn-book proper — that is, a written or printed page covered with a sheet of horn — seems to have been peculiar to English speaking peoples. It was widely used in England and America, but practically nowhere else.
With their prevalent use in this country it seems strange that so few specimens from American sources have come to light. Mr. Tuer’s investigations, with the assistance of Mrs. Alice Morse Earle, revealed only one copy of American origin, and only three copies in this country from any source, yet it is well known that they were in common use here. In the inventory made in 1700 of the stock of Michael Perry (1666–1700), the Boston book-seller, are these items:516
16 doz. gilt
38 doz. plain
But here again, in our country as in England, the interest in this by-gone form of school-book has brought to light new specimens. Mr. George A. Plimpton of New York, a Corresponding Member of this Society, who has a very large collection of school-books, has kindly furnished the following information:
To the best of my knowledge the only horn-books which have been found in this country are the following:
One, described in Tuer’s book, came from Vermont. Another was found in Connecticut, now in the possession of the Guilford Historical Society, Guilford, Connecticut. The Van Rensselaer family of New York have an ivory one which they claim came down in their family. I have one which was found in Mexico, also described in Tuer’s book. I found one in Princeton, N. J., which shows the ingenuity of the Yankee, for it is so arranged that by moving a small piece of wood other reading matter can be substituted. I recently secured at auction in Boston an ivory horn-book, but have not yet been able to learn its history.
I have eleven or twelve altogether, I think, and also a picture of the earliest known horn-book, about the year 1400.
Mr. Andrew McF. Davis read extracts from a letter written by his mother, the wife of John Davis — then United States Senator from Massachusetts517 — to a kinswoman, the wife of Colonel Joseph Davis of Northborough, Massachusetts. The letter is dated Washington, 24 January, 1838, and is in part as follows:
My dear Mrs. Davis, —
I have often since I have been here thought I would ask you how you do, and whether you are rejoicing that we are so far off that we cannot drop in on our Northborough expeditions and either hurry or retard your meals, just as it suits our own convenience. Be that as it may, if we live to get into old Massachusetts again you will find us pursuing our old habits, and without leave or license coming down to see you whenever we can get a chance. I dare say you will like to know what such a busy body as I can find to do five hundred miles from home — your question is easily answered, — I do nothing, but I will begin by telling you where I live. I am aspiring you know, so I requested Mr. Davis to go upon Capitol Hill. Here I am within five minutes walk of the Capitol, which is built on one of the highest spots in the City. It is a delightfully pleasant spot, but the house is dirty enough for a pig pen. Our landlady is new in the business, and you would laugh to see how some of the crusty old Bachelors here, scold at the want of order. Our mess, as we elegantly call ourselves, consists of three bachelors, Mr. Bell518 and Lady and ourselves, — and we are all very pleasant people. We rise when we please, breakfast at nine, read newspapers till ten, fix up at eleven, and at twelve sally out to make calls; for that is the chief end of woman in Washington. When the wiseacres in the Capitol hold out any temptations, we go into, either the Senate or House of Representatives, to kill an hour, and come home to dine at four or five as it may chance to happen; sometimes a very long winded man keeps us hungry longer than that, and we take our revenge in scolding. Then we generally after dinner walk a little, and at seven take our tea. In the evening we frequently have some social visitor till nine or ten, when we assemble our Bachelors round what we call a snack (how you stare! don’t you know what a tray with a slice of cold meat and a bit of bread is?) and there we marry them in imagination to the prettiest girls we can find — Drink either some cold water, or some wine or some apple toddy or some hot whiskey punch, or some hot plotty519 — and there again I guess I puzzle you — but I shall not tell you what it is for fear of the temperance society— The cold water is the common beverage, as our gentlemen are all temperate. The other affairs are only brought in now and then by way of frolic —
I have visited very little since I came. We were invited to dine with the President; and, of course, went. Everything was splendid. I sat at a table adorned with a plateau, made for Bonaparte, and sat under a chandelier which lighted The Tuilleries at the time of his coronation.520 The White House has been put in order by its present occupant, and is vastly improved — He says he had a hard task to get rid of the smell of cheese;521 and in the room where it was cut, he had to air the carpet for many days; to take away the curtains and to paint and white-wash before he could get the victory over it. He has another cheese like that which General Jackson had cut, and says he knows not what to do with it. What a foolish thing for a man to have made such a present to him or anyone else.
As to the common evening parties, I have attended very few at any time, and shall, therefore, be but a poor judge of their merits. I went to one on Monday night, thinking it was only a social tea party, but I found the house brilliantly lighted and every preparation for a Ball. The room was appropriated to the dancers and the floor was chalked, which for the benefit of my nieces I will describe. As you entered the wide folding doors, you read almost at your feet the words, “the fair,” in large ornamental letters — On one side “The Navy,” on the other “The Army” — designed, we were told to show that the fair should ever be protected by their gallantry. In the centre was the Coat-of-Arms of the United States. Above “The Constitution,” and beneath “The Union,” in letters that reached half way across the floor — A rising sun was seen glimmering in the midst — For the amusement of the young folks, hearts enveloped in flames and pierced with the darts of love were seen in various directions, doves cooing, birds chasing butterflies and a tall pine with a vine twining round it, and birds in its branches, were displayed in spots where they seemed appropriate — the whole was encircled with a wreath composed of flowers and grape vines — I ought to have begun by saying that it was a party given by the wife of a military officer residing at the Navy Yard; the designs were therefore emblematic. A fine Band belonging to the Corps stationed there played, while the Ladies soon effaced every vestige of taste upon the floor, and the Constitution and Union were alike trampled under foot; without regard to the Army or Navy which stood by to protect them, but with no power to do it.
How is your good Minister?522 Well I hope, and his household too. He is a saint if there can be one in mortal mould — good night.