SYDENHAM, near Philadelphia, February, 1857.
When first I opened and cursorily read the original letters from General Washington, mentioned in the foregoing introductory explanation, and noticed the domestic topics which ran so largely through them, they struck me as possessing peculiar interest. They were of value as coming from that venerated source, and doubly so, considering how little is known, through his own correspondence, of his domestic life; scarcely, in fact, any of its details. Reading the letters again, I found the matter to be somewhat more varied than my first eager inspection of them, as hastily unfolded, had led me to suppose; but they were desultory, and much broken as to dates. The occasional mixture of other matter, especially public matter, with the domestic topics, did not diminish the interest of the letters, but the contrary. In this publication I follow the order of the dates. Where wide chasms occur, I have merely supplied a link in the chain by an explanatory remark here and there, in aid of the reader, not hazarding other remarks until all the letters are mentioned. Thus much as to the plan. I proceed to speak of the letters themselves.
The first in date is of the fifth of September, 1790. It is written in Philadelphia, where Washington had just then arrived from New York, Mr. Lear, as may be inferred from it, being in New York. He states that he would proceed onward to Mount Vernon on the day following if Mrs. Washington’s health would permit, as she had been indisposed since their arrival in Philadelphia; that before he arrived, the city corporation had taken the house of Mr. Robert Morris for his residence, but that it would not be sufficiently commodious without additions.
[This house was in Market Street on the south side near Sixth Street. The market house buildings then stopped at Fourth Street; the town in this street extended westward scarcely as far as Ninth Street; good private dwellings were seen above Fifth Street; Mr. Morris’s was perhaps the best; the garden was well inclosed by a wall.]
He describes the house, remarking that even with the proposed additions the gentlemen of his family would have to go into the third story, where also Mr. Lear and Mrs. Lear would have to go; and that there would be no place for his own study and dressing-room but in the back building; there are good stables, and the coach-house would hold his carriages; but his coachmen and postilions would have to sleep over the stable where there was no fireplace, though the room might be warmed by a stove. The other servants could sleep in the house, he adds, if, in addition to the present accommodations, a servants’ hall were built with one or two lodging-rooms over it. These are samples of the particularity with which