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visit Mt. Vernon, the seat of Washington. No pilgrim ever approached Mecca with a deeper enthusiasm. I arrived there in the afternoon of January 23, 1785. I was the bearer of a letter from Gen. Green, with another from Col. Fitzgerald, one of the former aids of Washington, and also books from Granville Sharp. Although assured that these credentials would secure me a respectful' reception, I trembled with awe as I came into the presence of this great man. I found him at the table with Mrs. Washington and his private family, and was received in the native dignity and with that urbanity so peculiarly combined in the character of a soldier and eminent private gentleman. He soon put me at ease, by unbending in a free and affable conversation.
The cautious reserve, which wisdom and policy dictated, while engaged in rearing the glorious fabric of our independence, was evidently the result of consummate prudence, and not characteristic of his nature. Although I had frequently seen him in the progress of the Revolution, and had corresponded with him from France in 1781-82, this was the first occasion on which I had contemplated him in his private relations. I observed a peculiarity in his smile, which seemed to illuminate his eye; his whole countenance beamed with intelligence, while it commanded confidence and respect. The gentleman who had accompanied me from Alexandria, left in the evening, and I remained alone in the enjoyment of the society of Washington, for two of the richest days of my life. I saw him reaping the reward of his beloved retirement. He was at the matured age of fifty-three. Alexander and Cæsar both died before they reached that period of life, and both had immortalized their names. How much stronger and nobler the claims of Washington to immortality! In the impulses of mad and selfish ambition, they acquired fame by wading to the conquest of the world through seas of blood. Washington, on the contrary, was parsimonious of the blood of his countrymen, and stood forth, the pure and virtuous champion of their rights, and formed for them (not himself) a mighty empire.
To have communed with such a man in the bosom of his family, I shall always regard as one of the highest privileges, and one of the most cherished incidents of my life. I found him kind and benignant in the domestic circle, revered and beloved by all around him; agreeably social, without ostentation ; delighting in anecdote and adventure, without assumption; his domestic arrangements harmonious and systematic. His servants seemed to watch his eye, and to anticipate his every wish; hence a look was equivalent to a command. His servant, Billy, the faithful companion of his military career, was always at his side. Smiling content beamed on every countenance in his presence.
He modestly waived all allusions to the events in which he had acted so glorious and conspicuous a part. Much of his conversation had reference to the opening of the navigation of the Potomac, by canals and locks, at the Seneca, the Great and Little Falls. His mind appeared to be deeply absorbed by that object, then in earnest contemplation.
The first evening I spent under the wing of his hospitality, we set a full hour at table by ourselves, without the least interruption, after the family had retired. I was extremely oppressed by a severe cold and excessive coughing, contracted by the exposure of a harsh winter journey. He
pressed me to use some remedies, but I declined doing so. As usual, after retiring, my coughing increased. When some time had elapsed, the door of my room was gently opened, and, on drawing my bed-curtains, I beheld Washington himself standing at my bedside, with a bowl of hot tea in his hand. I was mortified and distressed beyond expression. This little incident, occurring in common life with an ordinary man, would not have been noticed ; but as a trait of the benevolence and private virtue of Washington, deserves to be recorded."
AMERICANS IN RUSSIA.
Americans are rather favorites in Russia, and our people sympathise with the progressive spirit that marks the present history of the Russians, for nothing gives Jonathan greater pleasure than to see folks “go ahead.” The Emperor Nicholas once said, to an American minister at his court, "America and Russia are the only two genuine governments among civilized nations---yours is a genuine republic, and mine a genuine monarchy , the rest are mongrels.” Both governments appear to be progressing in the right direction. We have got out of leading strings and manage for ourselves ; while, in Russia, the emperor holding all power, with a true paternal care, seems to be trying to bring the people up to a point where they can likewise in time go alone.
Some twelve years since, when the Emperor Nicholas was at the height of his power, Mr. J. S. Maxwell, of New York, visited Russia, and in his published travels gives an amusing account of our enterprising countrymen in that distant land. He had been out to visit the Imperial Farming Institution, which is in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, and, after having visited it, thus continues :
“One of the most amusing incidents attending our visit to this institution, was to find there an American, who had but lately arrived in the country. He spoke nothing but English, and could hold no communication whatever with those around him, except through the medium of signs and gestures. He was a tall thin man, with a thoughtful countenance. He had brought with him a number of improved instruments of agriculture, such as never were seen before in Russia. He displayed in a practical light the advantages of these Yankee contrivances. He found the pupils of the farming institution reaping wheat with the old-fashioned sickle, mowing with a short scythe attached to a ten-foot pole, and plowing in every way but the right one. He perfectly astonished the natives with his long straight furrows, his clean-cut sward, and his gigantic strides with the mysterious cradle. One blustering day, he saw the scholars cleaning grain, by throwing it up in the wind, which carried off the dust and chaff, while the grain fell to the ground. Our countryman did not like this antiquated process, and constructed a winnowing mill, out of such materials, and with such tools as happened to be at hand. It worked beautifully, and the maker was regarded by the young barbarians with the most profound respect. This very useful and estimable person afterward had an interview with the minister of the interior, who presides over this institution, and it was rumored that he was about to be elevated to a professorship in the college of husbandry. He did not, however, long remain in the country, and was rewarded for his services by being elected an honorary member of the Imperial Society for the Improvement of Agriculture.
The foundry of Alexandroffsky, near the gates of St. Petersburg, is now in the possession and under the control of American mechanics, in the employ of the government. Some account of the settlement and success of the Americans at Alexandroffsky may be interesting. Some time in 1840, the Emperor Nicholas assembled his councilors, and requested their opin. ions as to the feasibility of a railway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It was opposed by all, except Count Kleinmichel, the minister of ways and communications. The emperor, however, had determined to make the road before he asked advice. He surmised that the council merely opposed his views, that he might be gratified with the apparent illiberality of his ministers, and thus be pleased with the idea of his own merit and his own power, as the sole benefactor of his country.
After due consideration, it was concluded that railroads, as they are constructed in the United States, were the best adapted for the empire, and George W. Whistler, an American gentleman of distinguished ability in his profession, was invited to visit Russia, and superintend the making of the proposed road. A better selection could not have been made. The difficulties, which would have discouraged most men in such a country and among such a people at the outset of such an undertaking, vanished before his unequaled industry, knowledge and tact. Intrigue and envy fell before his consistency and firmness, and the imperial favor and the public appro: bation have rewarded the merits and worth of a citizen whose conduct and character are worthy the republic. After certain preliminaries had been arranged, the contracts for the making of the locomotives, cars, wagons and carts, were offered, and parties from England, France, Belgium, Holland Germany, and the United States, sent in their proposals to the department of ways and communications. Among these was one from a party of young mechanics, Messrs. Harrison and Eastwick, of Philadelphia, and Mr. Winants, of Baltimore. They had been informed by some of the Russian agents in the United States, that it would be for their interest to visit St. Petersburg and endeavor to get the contract. They had no capital to invest in any undertaking of this kind, nor could they boast of any influence at court. They nevertheless repaired to the capital, and with little prospect of success in the race with those of superior credit or pretension, they sent in their proposals. When it is known that these proposals were accepted, and that too, when other parties had offered to contract at a much lower rate--the confidence of the government in the skill and ability of the American mechanics, is sufficiently apparent. It also shows that the government had a perfect knowledge, through their foreign agents, of the capability and character of the men they wished to employ. Money was a matter of no consequence, influence at court was of no importance, and all those who had built their hopes on these considerations, were thrown aside for others, who were known at home to be late and early in the workshop, and to possess the necessary intelligence, energy, and perseverance.
As soon as it was reported that the Americans had the contract, a prolonged growl was heard in the English quarter. That the Kamtschatka steam frigate should have been built in the United States ; that she should beat anything for speed or beauty in the north--that she should be the favorite sea-boat of the emperor, in spite of the rumors that told of her blowing up, or going down with all on board, was bad enough; but that these infernal Yankees should be insinuating themselves into the imperial favor, in defiance of all precautions to the contrary, was almost beyond endurance.
The Americans had the contract, and from the moment this was known, their credit was unlimited both in England and in Russia. Those who had possession of the works at Alexandroffsky, were notified to leave forth with, and the Americans immediately moved in and occupied the vast buildings and grounds, covering about one hundred and sixty acres, and belonging to the factory. The dwellings occupied by the late superintendents and now opened for the use of the new proprietors were all that could be desired. Saloons, bath-rooms, ceilings in fresco, gardens, summer-houses and duck ponds, witnessed the taste and the comfort of the original possessors. The foundry itself contained three hundred Russian workmen, and a quantity of old machinery out of date and out of order. All these wanted renovating and repairing. Orders were immediately dispatched to England and the United States, for all the new and approved inventions. Fifteen or twenty assistant workmen were brought from the latter country. But many of these would not remain, for although they were better paid than they would be elsewhere, they could not support the ennui attending a residence where there were no public meetings, nor discussions, nor newspapers, nor elections, nor lectures, not even a temperance excitenzent to alleviate the pains of exile.
American newspapers are seldom seen in Russia. The 'Sun' published in New York, and sold for one cent the number, was delivered to a subscriber in St. Petersburg at one dollar and a half per copy. The rates of postage are very high. Before the subscriber could stop the aforesaid journal, a large amount of money had been expended.
As the Russians were incapable of doing many kinds of work, it became necessary to resort to Sweden for assistance, and sixty intelligent mechanics were brought from that country. The foundry was enlarged, all was soon in movement, and three thousand artisans employed in the manufacture of two hundred locomotives and seven thousand cars, in one of the best and most complete establishments in the world. It was visited by the minister and princes, and all were delighted with the experiment and the improvement. Other contracts for the making of engines and steamboats, amounting to many millions of money, were offered to the Americans. When they commenced operations, they were desirious of introducing a system of police, altogether different from that one prevailing at Alexandroffsky. Their humane exertions were frustrated by the utter ignorance of the Russian laborers of all notions of common honesty and morality. Some of them were serfs of the crown, some of them serfs of the nobles, and some free peasants. They would steal' whatever they could conveniently conceal, and carried off in their clothing, tools, bits of brass, copper, or whatever else would purchase a dram. It became absolutely necessary, therefore, to adopt the old practice of having soldiers stationed at the entrances, and every Russian who passed out was regularly searched. Every morning some were so intoxicated as to be unable to work; they were given in
charge to a police officer, by whom they were stripped and flogged. The emperor visited the works at Alexandroffsky, not long since, and expressed his satisfaction to Messrs. Eastwick, Harrison and Winants, by presenting each of them with a diamond ring. He also passed over the railway as far as Colperno to which point it is finished, and returned to confer upon the distinguished engineer the order of St. Anne, and to express his gratification in a ukase. In 1842, the most valuable import into Russia from the United States, next after the articles of cotton, was machinery. This was mostly intended for the foundry of Alexandroffsky, and the furtherance of the work upon the railroad. The steam earth-excavators and steam piledrivers were considered extraordinary productions, and so useful did they appear that directions were given for their further importation and their general use upon the various public works. It was about this time that an American dentist arrived from Paris to inspect the imperial masticators, and so successful were his operations that he was decorated with the ribbon of St. Andrew. Soon after Nicholas sent to America for bridge builders and millwrights, as Peter sent to Holland for blacksmiths and carpenters. The report of this exceeding partiality for the citizens of the republic soon attracted attention in the United States, and during the ensuing summer, almost every steamer brought in some enterprising son of New England. Patent fire-arms, contrivances for making pins, and specimens of almost every new invention, were presented to the patronage of the autocrat. Letters were addressed to his imperial majesty from individuals residing in the far west, requesting service in the army and navy, while his excellency the American minister received parcels marked this side up with care,' and containing various articles which he was directed to deliver immediately to the Emperor of all the Russias. There were daguerreotype views, and there were models of bridges and floating docks, and plans and specifications for building ships and steamboats. One person was ready to supply any demand for excellent clocks; another sent a set of mineral teeth as a sample of his workmanship; another sent his majesty a work on the treatment of diseases of the spine; another sent to each of the imperial family a barrel of Newtown pippins, and some member of the temperance scoiety, an awful looking picture of the human stomach diseased by the use of brandy. Never was there such a prospect of the tide of emigration run. ning eastward, and if free trade had been the order of the day, if passport and police system had not presented such barriers to circumfora neous strangers, if the emperor had not published a ukase, stating that no presents whatever, coming from unknown individuals, would be received in future by the imperial family, the regeneration of the empire might have been completed through the agency of speculating Yankees."
AMERICAN NATIONAL COURTESY.
One of the most pleasing acts of national courtesy on record was the restoration by our government to England of one of the vessels which had been sent out to the Arctic Ocean, in search of Sir John Franklin, and where she became so hopelessly shut up in the ice as to compel her crew to abandon her to save their own lives. She was found by one of our