Page images

dles, to have suffered but little from the effects of time. The eyesockets were large and deep, and the breadth across the temples, together with the forehead, appeared of unusual size. There was no appearance of grave-clothes; the chest was broad, the color was dark, and had the appearance of dried flesh, and skin adhering closely to the bones. We saw no hair, nor was there any offensive odor from the body, but we observed, when the coffin had been removed to the outside of the vault, the dripping down of a yellow liquid, which stained the marble of the sarcophagus. A hand was laid upon the head, and instantly removed; the leaden lid was restored to its place; the body, raised by six men, was carried and laid in the marble coffin, and the ponderous cover being put on and set in cement, it was sealed from our sight.”

“The remains of Mrs. Washington being placed in the other marble sarcophagus, they were both boxed so as to prevent their being injured during the finishing of the vestibule of the new vault in its present form.”

“The relatives who were present, consisting of Major Lewis, Lorenzo Lewis, John Augustine Washington, George Washington, the Rev. Mr. Johnson and lady, and Mrs. Jane Washington, then retired to the mansion.”

“O, death, what art thou ?-nurse of dreamless slumbers freshening the fevered flesh to a wakefulness eternal-strange and solemn alchemist, elaborating life's elixir from these clayey crucibles ?”

Let us next pause to inquire of "Father Jack," the old fisherman. The spring of 1800 numbers bim with the dead of the great past.

“Poor Father Jack! No more at early dawn will he be seen as, with withered arms, he paddled his light canoe on the broad surface of the Potomac, to return with the finny spoils, and boast of famous fish taken on his own hook. His canoe has long since rotted on the shore; his paddle hangs idle in his cabin ; his occupation's gone, and Father Jack, the old fisherman of Mount Vernon, sleeps the sleep that knows no waking.”

"I approached the spot where the cold moon looked down from a pure blue heaven, forming dark shadows from innumerable gravestones. The solemn stillness of death reigned there, and I almost became petrified by sympathy as I gazed upon this dilapidated city of the dead. The chisel of time was swiftly touching down to dust


every memorial of the venerable dead; but I soon discovered the spot where rests the ashes of poor old John Tasker, the aged fisherman of Mount Vernon, who, for many long years, had supplied the tables at the mansion of Washington with the choicest fish of the

Aster looking intently for the last time on his humble resting-place, I rode briskly, facing the cold breeze, until I reached the mansion of the Chief."

Little Jack, the leader of the choir, Aunt Dolly, Aunt Phillis, Cully, Jr., poor old Bristol, and Mose, the cow-boy, found a home among the Lees; but Scomberry, the philosopher of Dogue Run, remained at his little home in Green Willow Hollow, and was provided for as stated in Washington's will.

From the death of Mrs. Washington in 1802, there was now and then a death, a marriage, and a departure from the Mount, thinning the ranks of servants there, both old and young, until Scomberry was left alone in Green Willow Hollow--the patriarch of the Mount.

Nothing occurred to rouse the old hermit from his solitude, or move him to speak in prophecy, until Aaron Burr went down the Ohio river in 1805. In the spring of 1806, Burr's treason began to be whispered in the ear, but before the close of autumn it was proclaimed from the house tops. The sound of treason at that early day in the history of the government, startled the patriarch of Mount Vernon, and prompted him to speak once more in the voice of prophecy; warning his countrymen of the danger that threatened the land of Washington, and describing the characters that would sympathize with Burr and his disciples in treason.

With Billy Lee, and the remnant of old servants of '98, still lingering around the Mount in 1806, as an audience, Scomberry proceeded to speak in prophecy as follows:

“De traitor gwine to seek, sar, to sell dis country dear,
And trade it back to red-coats jes for a keg o' beer;

But soon we's gwine to neck him, or send him to adorn
De cock-loft ob de parlyment, uid tarkeys all donc gone.
Now all de future traitors like Cataline will fight,
And, like de 'famous Arnold am gwine to swear dar right,

Den up will spring de army all out in battle drawn,
And down will go de traitor, wid tarkeys all done gone.
He's gwine to smell de powder, dat villainous compound,
What blowed up Tommy Davis, likewise blowed up de groun
And hit his nasal 'boscis a hard and 'founded blow,
Dat sumpin jes did happen, he had the signs to know.
Now way down in de futur Ise bored a 'normous hole,
And plowed de ground o’ science jes like de no-eyed mole;
I sees right froo de hist’ry jes like I sees dat lawn,
And spies de futur Arnold, wid tarkeys all done gone.
I secs de polly-tician wid trick, and cheat, and lie,
Too proud to live by labor, and yet not fit to die;
He's gwine to be too lazy to follow


his trade,
Or work his weedy 'taters by usin' ob de spade ;
Wid not a speck o'larnin', but bred at de cross roads,
He'll 'tempt to 'struct de people, and write de nation's codes,
He'll say Ise jes discubbered dis country's in de dark,
And when he comes to writin' he'll sign his name by mark ;
And 'spound de constitution, and babble to confound
De wise and ’gacious statesmen what may be standin' round,
And wisely say, 0 people, I knows what Ise about,
For Washington was dreamin', I'll let de secret out-
His government's a failure, I knows it, so I does,
I see its not so lastin' our fathers gniessed it was;
We's picked it, and we's robbed it, and stolen all de gold,
And find de constitution am growin' weak and old,
Our fathers jes intended dat we should tar it up,
And made it for dat reason jes like a cracky cup;
He whistles for de robbers, and rabble ob de town,
Now charge, says he, brave rabble! we'll pull dis country down,
It wont require much fightin', Ise wise, and jes can tell,
But, for you, my brave rabble, its jes a breakfus spell ;
But soon dat 'bloated 'ramus will wake up late some morn,

all round and hollow, my tarkeys all done gone.
Den round he'll spy for satellites, for catspaws and for tools,
He'll nebber want for rascals but may be scarce o' fools;
De turnspit and de scullion, and he what dribe de dray;
And he what burn de coal-pit, and he what scrape de tray:

And he what dribe de oxen, and he what dribe de mule;
And ebry ignoramus jes neber sont to school,
And he what make de mortar, and he what toat de hod,
And he what act de cobbler, and he what hop de clod:
And he what shuck de oyster, and he what fish de crab;
And he what sweep de chimney, and he what live by gab :
And she what wash de dishes, and she what milk de cow;
And she what walk de city, and live I can't say how;
And she what lives in Main street, wid parlor jes complete:
Wid one ole greasy nigger, and nuffin ’tall to eat;
And she what keeps de lap-dog, and one, two, free, four curs :
And sells de back-room furniture to buy a set o’ furs ;
And all de half-inch rustycrats what's 'normous hard to beat,
Dat spy all round de hotel to see who's gwine to treat-
Am gwine all ob a sudden to 'come so mighty ise,
And always keep wide open de trap what catch de flies;
To 'spound de constitution and babble 'bout dar rights,
And strut 'bout ’mong de upper crust and all de lesser lights,
And nebber blush at treason, but always blushed before,
When readin' 'bout de little fly what left de back door.
De persins numerated will babble 'bout dar rights,
And drink de wine o' treason, and 'dulge in dreamy flights.
Yes, sar, says a bold dreamer, I'll jump right off dis cart,
And ʼlectioneer for Congress-right in Ise gwine to dart!
Ise jes now seed a thing sar, I nebber seed before,
O Ise a man o' talents! I'll dribe dis cart no more.
Up jumps his wife a smilin', and frows her patchin' down,
And darts up stairs like lightnin', to get her Sunday gown;
And dodges froo de alley, and comes to Market street,
And promenades de city to see who she can meet.
She soon meets Mrs. Uppercrust, wid traitor colors on,
Who tells 'bout a new government we'll hab as sure's you

Dear madam, whar's your husband ? says she, I hopes he's right,
And for dis new, great government is willing now to fight ?
He's gone, says Mrs. Stitchlouse, wid all his soul and heart,
Jes look right in dat coal-yard-dar stands his idle cart !
Ise glad, says Mrs. Uppercrust—my husband's gone to court,
But 'bout de hour o' midnight, he's gwine to seize dat Fort !

And den he's gwine to Congress to live in mighty style,
Den I'll be Mrs. Congressman, and scorn dis Union vile.
But soon she spies a risin', a 'normous cloud o' dust,
For gracious sake what am dat ? says she, my heart will bust,
O dat’s dis country's army, my glory's at an end,
I'll go in dat dark garret, for I has got no friend.
Den shouts de ignoramus, what made you fool me so !
Dat mighty Union army am gwine to Mexico;
It has jes 'bout a million ! jes hear dat bugle horn!
You's kotch me in a gull trap! my tarkeys all done gone !

In the spring of 1807, Scomberry found a peaceful grave beside his old friend, the venerable fisherman of the Mount. His prophecy was not fulfilled in the life and times of Aaron Burr; but all his types and shadows found an interpretation after the lapse of half a century, as the following notice of Mount Vernon will show

“It has been the prayer of every patriot,” writes the Lieutenant General of the United States, a half century after Scomberry's prophecy was uttered, “that the tramp and din of civil war might at least spare the precincts within which repose the sacred remains of the Father of his country; but this pious hope is disappointed. Mount Vernon, so recently consecrated anew to the Immortal Washington by the Ladies of America, has already been overrun by bands of rebels, who, having trampled under foot, the Constitution of the United States—the ark of our freedom and prosperity-are prepared to trample on the ashes of him to whom we are all mainly indebted for those mighty blessings.

"Should the operations of war take the United States troops in that direction, the General-in-chief does not doubt that each and every man will approach with due reverence, and leave uninjured, not only the tomb, but also the house, the groves and walks, which were so loved by the best and greatest of men.”

« PreviousContinue »