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habitants of other places, of going to the capital to see what it is like; many of them have been so fascinated that they have staid ; and now Washington may fairly be called the winter end of New York, as Newport is the summer extension of the metropolis. Add to the exotic population the enlarged ranks of public officials and clerks, the growing circle of scientific and literary people, who from choice or government connection have: been led to make their homes there, together with the needful contingent of small traders who supply the daily wants of these elements, and you have a general classification of the hundred and sixty thousand heads counted by the new census. A city without a commerce and without suburbs—drive a mile or two in any direction and you find yourself in the midst of woods set but sparsely with
houses or cabins, and with only the great
THE WAN NESS MANsion, old AND NEw.
itself largely to social pleasures. To the outsider the difference is that between friendship and flirtation. You like, you may love, the particular big local capital where you live and do business, but you approach Washington with a sense of its being a something piquant and novel, with which you may trifle and entangle yourself in a make-believe attachment having all the stimulus and none of the drawbacks of steady devotion. Besides, it is a city provided with “sights.” There are Congress and the Capitol; there are Mount Vernon and Kalorama, where dwelt
the author of the “Columbiad,” in profound conviction of his errand as the American epic poet ; and Cabin-John Bridge, the longest single arch in the world; Arlington, with its earlier historic and later war memories ; Georgetown,
ing these thoroughfares, you know that the trail of the Boss is over them all, but it is a picturesque trail, excellent in its results, whatever it may have been morally. Many of the houses in the new northwest end are well set off by trees
THE CORCORAN ART GALLERY.
with its observatory, its college, and its convent; besides all these, the Corcoran Art Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the curiosities of the Patent Office, the Treasury with its hundreds of rooms and thousands of employés, where you peer into the busy brain-cells of the government while they are in full activity. You arrive by an early morning train, and are greeted by a gong beating for breakfast at the station, which makes you feel like an impossible Chinese embassy. But, armed with a pocket copy of the Constitution, you re-assert your birthright, and after going to the hotel, where you wait some hours for a room, you step forth into the broad airy streets. They have a continental width and extent, making it impossible to crowd them except on rare occasions, and in the more retired ones children glide peacefully along the asphalt on roller-skates. Walk
and lawns; some stand on terraces decked with vines and shrubbery; and the avenues are lined with more than a hundred thousand trees judiciously planted —elm and tulip, buttonwood and cottonwood, the ash, the negundo, the maple. The quality of the houses is still unequal. Here and there you see a relic of the village era—some little whitewashed hut sticking pertinaciously to the side of a fine modern brick structure of comfortable and tasteful style, like a wasps' nest attached to a real human habitation; and it is amusing to come upon a building—in what is known, according to the barbarous nomenclature of the place, as E Street—which bears on one side the legend, “Law College of the University of Georgetown,” and on the other, “Capitol Laundry.” Such a conjunction is only to be explained by the tendency of people nowadays to wash their dirty linen in
court. Black men and women are numerous, and laugh very loud on the streets with refreshing freedom. There is everywhere about the city a slight but racy touch of Southern characteristics, interfused with the vigor of other portions of the Union; and for the sake of this you are willing to forgive the copious tobacco stains—those blots on the national escutcheon—which disfigure the sidewalks, and around which you see an English tourist and his wife making their way with a pardonably imperial disdain. One local improvement in particular deserves our praise. From the park east of the Capitol to the President's House and Lafayette Square there is a long stretch of government land, within which stand the Capitol itself and the Congressional Greenhouse (which is not intended for forcing green members), the Smithsonian Institution and new National Museum, the Department of Agriculture, the Washington Monument, the Departments of State, War, and the Navy, the Treasury and White House, and the superb building dedicated to official printing and engraving, together with a large but still unfinished paradeground by the Potomac. This territory, several miles long, and from a half-mile to a mile wide, has been hitherto short-sightedly broken up by fences and walls, and a railroad even yet scars it with a cindery track; but it has nevertheless almost taken shape as the continuous public park it is intended to be. One President gets this fence taken down, and another President demolishes that wall; and so the process goes on of making the tract a noble pleasure-ground, containing the central of— fices of a great nation's popular government. A carriage and pair can thus be driven through our political system from one end to the other without disturbing it in the least. In this domain ought to be included the romantic old Van Ness mansion, near the Potomac, and close to the parade-ground. This spot, which is owned by a millionaire, and is threatened by him with ruin to make room for a NEGRO Sha NTIES. railroad station, is closely united with the history of the capital and its illustrious founder. It was owned by David Burns, who sold to the government most of the ground on which the city stands, and here are the trees under which Washington sat negotiating with him; here, too, the poor old tottering house in which the famous beauty, Marcia Burns, received the most distinguished company. She married Governor Van Ness, of New York, who built a prouder abode, in style a diminutive White House, within
a few rods of the old home. During the civil war it was owned by Southern sympathizers, and it was in the cellar that the
plotting kidnappers at one time intended to imprison President Lincoln. So curious a link of history ought to be preserved by government. But it is dismantled and disregarded, and looks melancholy enough among its rich old hedges of box, its thick-blossomed magnolias and double-flowering peaches. The grounds are used for a negro beer garden, and only the glorious violets in the grass recall the long-dead beauty's eyes. The colored inhabitants of the neighborhood do what they can for it by investing it with the fame of being haunted, and aver that at midnight the grand Van Ness chariot re-appears in the street drawn by ghostly steeds, which are so obliging and economical as to dispense with their heads. After you have glanced at some of these localities, and have begun to make acquaintance with the leafy parks or open circles and triangles where the statues of national heroes stand mutely eloquent, or sit their sculptured horses colossally, Vol. LXII.-No. 370,-35
like bronze videttes, in sunlight and starlight, you are ready to pronounce Washington not only delightful but impress
ive. Delightful is hardly the word for life at the huge and expensive but wellconducted hotels, unless one's taste inclines that way ; but it is curious, and has its stimulus. One dines at the Riggs (where political people chiefly resort) in a big room like a legislative hall, with a gallery full of music, and tables adorned by Congressmen and diamonds. A member of the cabinet, I observed, had his regular seat near one of the windows; and the soup betrayed a positively diplomatic flavor. Nothing could be more democratic than the manner in which the officers of the executive and the members of the legislative branch dispose of themselves at the Federal city, and arrange their mode of life to suit their circumstances or their convenience. One will own a house, simply or richly decorated, as the case may be, with pictures, books, and bric-à-brac, and the sundry belongings of a home; another hires his house for the season ; others, again, board in small, economical quarters, or establish