George Washington Custis, being like his father “Jacky” an enthusiastic hunter, long teased the General to permit him to hunt the deer and at last won consent to shoot one buck. The lad accordingly loaded an old British musket with two ounce-balls, sallied forth and wounded one of the patriarchs of the herd, which was then chased into the Potomac and there slain. Next day the buck was served up to several guests, and Custis long afterward treasured the antlers at Arlington House, the residence he later built across the Potomac from the Federal City.
Upon the whole we must conclude that Washington was one of the best sportsmen of all our Presidents. He was not so much of an Izaak Walton as was one of his successors, nor did he pursue the lion and festive bongo to their African lairs as did another, but he had a keen love of nature and the open country and would have found both the Mighty Hunter and the Mighty Angler kindred spirits.
A CRITICAL VISITOR AT MOUNT VERNON
About thirty miles down the river Potomac, a gentleman, of the name of Grimes, came up to us in his own boat. He had some little time before shot a man who was going across his plantation; and had been tried for so doing, but not punished. He came aboard, and behaved very politely to me: and it being near dinner time, he would have me go ashore and dine with him: which I did. He gave me some grape-juice to drink, which he called Port wine, and entertained me with saying he made it himself: it was not to my taste equal to our Port in England, nor even strong beer; but a hearty welcome makes everything pleasant, and this he most cheerfully gave me. He showed me his garden; the produce of which, he told me, he sold at Alexandria, a distance of thirty miles. His garden was in disorder: and so was everything else I saw about the place; except a favourite stallion, which was in very good condition—a pretty figure of a horse, and of proper size for the road, about fifteen hands high. He likewise showed me some other horses, brood-mares and foals, young colts, &c. of rather an useful kind. His cattle were small, but all much better than the land.