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WASHINGTON'S BOYS AND GIRLS.
COMEHOW or other, we are always interested in hearing w about the home-life of famous folks — where they live and how they live, how many children they have, and even what they have for breakfast and how they spend their time.
This is perfectly natural; for, when we know people, we like to know them well; and when we have become interested in a great man's story we are glad to become acquainted with the surroundings amid which that story told itself. So we like to know how Longfellow lived at Craigie House and where Dickens loved to walk about Gads Hill. We are interested in reading about Lincoln's love for his boy Tad, and how Shakspere used to play with his little granddaughter, Lizzie, and how anxious Columbus was that his son Diego should be rich and powerful.
It is not always safe to gratify this desire, for sometimes the men of whom we have made heroes, do not bear close inspection, and the men who are great in the world often prove to be very small at home. But when we come close to George Washington, we need have no fear of being ashamed of our hero.
When we hear that he had no children of his own we feel, at first, that it was a pity that he had no one to follow him and bear his name in direct descent to the future. But we can console ourselves with two thoughts : sometimes, great men's children do not always turn out a credit to their fathers — indeed, one writer has recorded, with satisfaction, that George Washington had no son to disgrace the name
he had made so great and glorious; the second thought is the one that a great American long ago put into beautiful words: “Heaven left him childless that his country might call him father;” and the “ Father of his Country” George Washington has been called to this day.
But that home-life of Washington which we all like to
know about, and of which I have now and then given you a glimpse, was really one of the best and most beautiful things about this great man. We know how dearly he loved his fine home at Mount Vernon, and how, when he was most successful, as well as when he was most bothered and perplexed, his thoughts would turn to his big and fertile farm on the banks of the broad Potomac, and how the desire" to live and die a private citizen on my own farm,” was expressed both in his talk and in his letters.
To that “farm,” after the wedding festivities were over, he took his wife, the fair young widow Custis, and here, with their mother, came Washington's step-children, John — the six-year-old boy whom they called “ Jacky” — and the little four-year-old girl Martha, known to the homestead as “Patty.”
It was a fine home for Jacky and Patty Custis. Mount Vernon, as many of you know, is a beautiful place to-day; in Washington's time it was a splendid Virginia plantation, with broad acres of rolling farm-land, and a lawn sloping down to the sparkling Potomac, with fruit and flowers in abundance and a house that afforded plenty of play room for children.
Colonel Washington, the children's step-father, was then a tall and noble-looking gentleman of twenty-seven ; their mother, whom all the world now reveres as “ Martha Washington,” was a “small and stately lady,” who looked after her son and daughter very closely, as was the way with