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Vice-President, I departed without regret from Baltimore, on foot and alone.
It was the latter part of March when I left the once-flourishing town of Baltimore, and again directed my steps towards the imperial city. But my mind was somewhat altered. Experience had cured me of my illusions. I was no longer elated with the hope of being lifted above the crowd ; but my ambition was contented with the harmless drudgery of teaching children their rudiments.
After walking a few miles, I turned into a wood to call at the house of a brother-pedagogue, who had invited me the preceding evening at a publichouse, to visit him in his literary retirement. Boys and girls rent the air with their acclamations as I approached the dwelling; but the Schoolmaster's daughter, a lusty lass of nineteen, escaped into the woods, and I could only catch a glimpse of her flying across the green. I was not Apollo, or I should have followed this Daphne.
The board placed over Mr. Macdonald's sylvan Academy, diverted me not a little. “ Macdonald teaches boys and girls their gram
mar tongue; also Geography terrestial and “ celestial. Old hats made as good as “ .
But Mr. Macdonald was not at home; his daughter had fled; and I trod back the path to the main-road, where I sought an asylum under
the roof of the Widow Smith, who regales the woe-begone Traveller with whiskey; and
" Where the gaunt mastiff growling at the gate,
Old age is garrulous, and the Widow did not want for talk. She admired that Miss Macdonald instead of staying in the house to receive a stranger, should run into the woods. For her part she was never scared at folks, however well-dressed ; and yet all her life she had lived in the country.
Pursuing my journey, I arrived at Elk-Ridge Landing, where I supped at a genteel tavern with the hostess and her sister, who are remarkable for the elegance of their conversation, and the amenity of their manners. I found the old Manorhouse of Charlotte Smith lying on the table, of which the concluding part seemed to have been moistened with tears of sensibility.
The next day I resumed my walk; refreshing myself at Spurrier's, carousing at Dent's, and sleeping at Drummond's; three public-houses on the road, which the Traveller passes in succession. The weather was somewhat warm in the middle of the day; but this only made the springs more grateful, at whose waters I stopped to allay the thirst produced by walking.
Rousseau in enumerating the pleasures of pedestrian travelling, makes no mention of the joy with which the solitary walker beholds a spring on the road, from which omission I am inclined to believe that the foot-travels of the eloquent Swiss were performed round his chamber.
The next morning proceeding forward, I reached Bladensburgh before the going down of the sun; and at night-fall to my great satisfaction 'I entered the imperial city. The moon was rising from the woods, and I surveyed the Capitol by its light, meditating on the future state of the Western Empire ; the clash of interests, the commotions of Demagogues, and the disunion of the States ! But dumb be the Oracle of Prediction !
Congress was assembled at Washington, and I was constant in my attendance on the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate Chamber is by far the most superb room in the Capitol, but the House of Representatives is a detached and temporary building. Yet, I loved best to visit the House of Representatives ; there seemed to be so much energy and freedom of debate. It is unknown I presume to few of my readers that the Vice-President of the United States is President of the Senate. Mr. Burr was presiding in the Chair, and no man knew better the routine of the House, or how to acquit himself with more dignity than he.
I watched an opportunity to make the VicePresident my salutations as he came out of the Capitol. I remembered the advice which old Polonius gave his son when he was about to travel, and I was then travelling myself.
" The friends thou hast, and their adoption try'd,
Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel."
The Vice-President demonstrated no little pleasure to see me, and his chariot being at the steps of the Capitol, he took me home with him to dine. I forget how many Members of Congress were present at the dinner ; but, though Republicans, I did not think they had all an equal voice, for-some spoke much louder than others.
A reduction had already taken place of the judiciary system of the United States ; that is, the superfluous Judges were dismissed, who under the preceding Administration had unneccessarily augmented the expences of civil Government; and the object of the Republican party in the House of Representatives was to obtain a repeal of the Internal Taxes; comprehending excises, stamps, auctions, licenses, carriages and refined sugars.
The most eloquent in debate was Mr. Randolph. He was Demosthenes, but Demosthenes who had sacrificed to the Graces. He spoke full an hour for the repeal of the tax on domestic distilled liquors; that is, whiskey, and peach, and apple brandy. At the conclusion of the debate the Speaker very solemnly exclaimed, “ They who are for the re“ peal are to say aye! and they who are against “ it are to say no.”
The affirmative monosyllable immediately resounded from every quarter of the building. Aye! Aye! Aye! followed in rapid succession ; upon which the Speaker with
much gravity proclaimed, “ The ayes have it! “ The Bill has passed !”
I took great interest in this debate, for I consider whiskey very eheering; but I thought it curious that a Member from Virginia should stand up for the repeal of the tax upon that liquor, which, now it is become cheaper, will throw many of his countrymen off their feet !
Having amused myself a few days at the imperial city, I rose with the sun, and pursued my journey along the banks of the Potomac. About nine in the morning I reached the bridge at the Little Falls; a bridge that raises the admiration of an American, but provokes only the contempt of an European. In fact, art in America would not detain an intelligent Traveller one hour; but nature would perhaps enchain his attention for years.
Near the bridge at the Little Falls my journey was suspended by the rain, and I found a reception in the tavern of Mr. Slimner, a German, who at the age of threescore was smitten by a young English woman, whom he had taken for his wife, and who had brought him a child ; a child the darling of his dotage, which he ludicrously termed “his little young woman cut shorter.”
The rain not remitting its violence, I was obliged to pass the night under the roof of this fond couple, whom, I, however, left at an early hour the next morning to prosecute my jouir.