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flash and gleam dazzles and wearies the eye. I remember a lady saying that her little daughter's eyes were blue from being born at Rome, and living under an Italian sky:-if so, the good folks at Washington should have blue eyes, but we look in vain for this characteristic of Saxon race in America. We have not only Italian skies but also tropical heat, heat so excessive and overpowering, that a son of foggy England is glad to seek refuge under the Capitol dome. Here is a circular picture-gallery. Some of the “dramatis personæ" on the walls are countrymen of mine, not seen in moments of victory, but generally in the plight of the “bruised reed.” I was quite prepared for this, for more than one American friend bad foretold the sight of my own folks on the frescoes ;—a goodly show in the eyes of Republicans. Some of them are neutral scenes, as for instance, “The landing of Columbus," "The Pilgrims embarking at Delft-haven," and the “Baptism of Poccahontas.” I have previously mentioned the pictures representing the “Surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga,” and the “Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia." There are two others, both of a military type, “General Washington resigning his commission to Congress," and the “Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.”
The finest picture, as a work of art, is one portraying the 66
Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto, May 1541." The discoverer himself, clad as a cavalier of olden time, is mounted on a grey horse ;-behind him are borne two curious banners of pink, purple and blue. His followers include a motley group of horsemen, Moorish and Portugese ; and a small company of infantry who have managed to drag through forest and swamp a single brass cannon. In the back-ground rests an ironbound chest for powder or treasure; perhaps the discoverers hope to expend the powder, and to fill their camp-chest with treasure from the new-found regions. Soldiers are planting in the ground a rude cross of pine trees, on the top of which is a figure or image of the Virgin ; and two monks are busy at work consecrating it, one brother kneeling down and reading from a book, the other swinging near it a censer of incence. In the foreground appears the river, with canoes upon its waters and wigwams fringing its banks. Gazing upon the white men stand Indians—chiefs, women, and “medicine men,”—but upon their inscrutable faces you read no sign. Their acts, however, are friendly, for at De Soto's feet lies a peace-offering of the best gifts the red men have, Indian corn and purple grapes, water-lilies and wild swans, bundles of arrows and a peace-pipe. The tableau has been the conception of a splendid genius, and even beyond its grandeur, there lies in it a deep field of suggestion for further thought. Far above, the Rotunda-dome is painted with allegorical figures, and round them runs & ribbon of strength and union, “E pluribus unum,”_"out of many, one."
Along corridors, where the foot steps over arabesques in Minton tiles, and diamond shapes in marble, we gain the Supreme Court. Over the chair of the Chief Justice rests a gilt eagle with outspread wings, and fronting him are marble statues of Jay, Ellesworth, Rutledge and Marshall, lights of the legal world who have passed away. They no longer expound the statutes of the realm, but are themselves monuments, statues to that law. The Senate-chamber is a noble room, everything about it massive and richly fashioned. The walls are painted in panels, relieved with buff and gold, and veined sienna marble. Bouquets of flowers and clusters of fruit pictured on an ornamental roof of glass, enrich a scene upon
which the softened light gleams down, not taking its cast from figures of evangelist and angel, but from blendings of fruit and flower. With the prompting of human nature which constrains us to sit for a moment upon a royal throne in England, we snatch, in passing, a similar tribute from the Chair of the Vice-president of the United States. In the House of Representatives, Mr. Speaker's chair is canopied by two Union flags. In both Houses one is surprised to detect a close, sickly smell of tobacco, the rich pile carpets being more or less impregnated with the juice of the favourite weed. An antidote is provided by the public treasury, as I hear a Senator of our party explaining to a lady-friend, that the floor of the House puts on new broadcloth every year.
I was often asked by Americans what I thought of their Parliamert Halls at Washington ? I thought them to be noble in conception and workmanship; perhaps a connoisseur would say that the roofs are so massive and gorgeous as to dwarf the interior, and produce an effect not intended, of heaviness and gloom. In the Rotunda is placed a full-sized statue, in white marble, of Lincoln, which perpetuates with great truthfulness, the mild yet firm countenance of the murdered President. Turning into the library of Congress, and looking from an open window, I saw as from an elevated balcony, below, like a map unrolled, “the city of magnificent distances." Beyond it, a widening plain, with a gleam of the Potomac, and far away the forest-lands of Maryland and Virginia. As a gentle breeze camesweeping inland from the Atlantic, I could not but think how emblematic it was of that wider breeze of power, which, from this Republican Metropolis, sweeps to the ends of American Empire.
Washington, as a city, pales before its commercial rivals, but as the centre of public buildings it is unequalled and unique. I wandered for hours about its Patent-office, looking at models of everything which it has entered man's brain to conceive. Skates, ships, sewing-machines, looms, bridges, harness, huts, railway carriages, steam-engines, and Mississippi steamboats of fifty years ago, are all represented here by models. The Blue Corridor is especially interesting and handsome; here in glass cases are shown all presents from Europe and the East, which the Chief Magistrates of the United States have in turn received. The Post Office is a fine building, and the Treasury still finer. It is large and spacious already, but portico and corridor are still rising in interminable rank to add to its size and beauty. It is one of America's “peculiar institutions" to provide employment for numbers of female clerks in the public offices at the Capitol. Entering the Treasury I was somewhat hurt by the incivility and surliness of the doorkeepers, but penetrating beyond them I found an old gentleman who by his kindness to me, more than redeemed the national character for courtesy. Business hours were over, but he gratified my wbim by sending to the treasury-keepers for some new greenbacks for me to keep as curiosities. For one who cannot study American national history as depicted in the frescoes of the Rotunda, American Bank-notes will supply a faithful and fac-simile gallery of illustration. “The Pilgrim's Landing,” “De Soto's Discovery," and many other scenes are engraved upon their National Bank scrip; as the note varies in amount, so the picture stamped upon it varies also. An Englishman, George Houseman Thomas, rendered able service to America by the drawings which he supplied for these highly-finished vignettes. I sat for
awhile in La Fayette Square, under the shade of leafy trees. It is really an enclosed garden in front of the White House, open to the public. Times have changed wonderfully since the French Marquis helped the Americans to gain their Independence. The Government offices close early in the afternoon and at half-past three, throngs of male and female employés pass through La Fayette Square on their way home.
Of course I looked in at the White House, obtaining a peep at its rooms of State, and best of all, an interview with the man who was its guest for the time. I paid my visit in the evening. No pomp or ceremony was there to delay an entrance. A single “boy in blue” stood leaning on his rifle at the outer door, and inside a comrade mounted guard before the President's room. Mr. Johnson was alone in his bureau when I was admitted, and remained standing by his desk during the interview. After a few minutes chat on America and England, and mutual expressions of good-will, the great man shook hands and bid me good bye. The simplicity of manners between the American people and their Chief Magistrate, and the readiness of access which they find to his presence, stand out in strong relief, as contrasted with the cumbersome etiquette to be observed at royal receptions in England. Mr. Johnson was known in Europe as a man of indomitable courage, courage almost verging on obstinacy. I found him grave and thoughtful, evidently possessed of immense physical power, and endowed with great calibre of mind. I left his presence with this couplet running in my head,
“It is excellent to have a giant's strength,
But it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." History will record that Mr. Lincoln's successor used his powers in thwarting the wishes of the people,—that the