The second coach he had made in Philadelphia in 1780 at a cost of two hundred and ten pounds in specie. It was decidedly better built.
The last was a coach, called “the White Chariot,” bought second hand soon after he became President. It was built by Clarke, of Philadelphia, and was a fine vehicle, with a cream-colored body and wheels, green Venetian blinds and the Washington arms painted upon the doors. In this coach, drawn by six horses, he drove out in state at Philadelphia and rode to and from Mount Vernon, occasionally suffering an upset on the wretched roads. It was strong and of good workmanship and its maker heard with pride that it had made the long southern tour of 1791 without starting a nail or a screw. This coach was purchased at the sale of the General’s effects by George Washington Parke Custis and later in a curious manner fell into the possession of Bishop Meade, who ultimately made it up into walking sticks, picture frames, snuff boxes and such mementoes.
At Mount Vernon to-day the visitor is shown a coach which the official Handbook states is vouched for as the original “White Chariot.” In reality it seems to be the coach once owned by the Powell family of Philadelphia. It is said to have been built by the same maker and on the same lines, and Washington may have ridden in it, but it never belonged to him.
Most people think of Washington as a marble statue on a pedestal rather than as a being of flesh and blood with human feelings, faults and virtues. He was self-contained, he was not voluble, he had a sense of personal dignity, but underneath he was not cold. He was really hot-tempered and on a few well-authenticated occasions fell into passions in which he used language that would have blistered the steel sides of a dreadnaught. Yet he was kind-hearted, he pitied the weak and sorrowful, and the list of his quiet benefactions would fill many pages and cost him thousands of pounds. He was even full of sentiment in some matters; on more than one occasion he provided positions that enabled young friends or relatives to marry, and I shrewdly suspect that he engineered matters so that the beloved Nelly Custis obtained a good husband in the person of his nephew, Lawrence Lewis. I might say much more tending to show his human qualities, but I shall add only this: Having for many years studied his career from every imaginable point of view, I give it as my deliberate opinion that perhaps no man ever lived who was more considerate of the rights and feelings of others. Not even Lincoln had a bigger heart.
THE VALE OF SUNSET
Washington looked forward to the end of his presidency as does “the weariest traveler, who sees a resting-place, and is bending his body to lay thereon.” “Methought I heard him say, ‘Ay.’ I am fairly out, and you are fairly in; see which of us is the happiest,” wrote John Adams to his wife Abigail. And from Mount Vernon Nelly Custis informed a friend that “grandpapa is very well and much pleased with being once more Farmer Washington.”