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The annexed engraving is from an impression of General Washington's seal, bearing his family arms, attached to the death-warrant of a soldier executed at Morristown, in 1780. Below it is an engraving of the face of his seal-ring, which also bears his arms and motto; and also of two watch-seals which he wore together in early life. Upon each of the last two is engraved his monogram, one of them being a fac-simile of his written initials. One of these was lost by Washington himself on the bloody field of Monongahela, where Braddock was defeated in 1755; and the other by his nephew, in Virginia, more than twenty-five years ago. Both were found in the year 1854, and restored to the Washington family.*
Of all the volumes in the Mount Vernon library which contain Washington's bookplate none appears more interesting than Sir Matthew Hale’s Contemplations, Moral and Divine, printed at the beginning of the last century. It is well worn by frequent use; for it was from that volume that Washington's mother drew many of those great maxims which she instilled into the mind of her son, and which had a powerful influence in
* This statement is made on the authority of Charles J. Bushnell, Esq., of New York, whose investigations in numismatic science and kindred subjects have been careful and extensive. The engravings of the seals are copied, by his permission, from a work of his now in preparation for the press.
inoulding his moral character. Upon a fly-leaf of the volume are written, in bold characters, the names of the two wives of Augustine Washington, the father of our beloved Friend. These were JANE BUTLER and MARY BALL. Their names were written by themselves, the first with ink that retains its original blackness, and the second with a color that has faded to the tint of warm sepia.
FAC-SIMILE OF SIGNATURES.
These signatures send the thoughts on busy retrospective crrands to the pleasant mansions and broad and fertile plantations of Virginia, when the Old Dominion was as loyal to the second King George of England as to the second King Charles in the days of Berkeley, almost a hundred years before; or when royal governors held vice-regal courts at Williamsburg, the capital of the Commonwealth twenty years after republican Bacon's torch had laid old Jamestown in ashes. Especially do they send the thoughts to the beautiful spot near the Potomac, half way between Pope's and Bridge's Creek, in Westmoreland, where stood a modest mansion, surrounded by the holly and more stately trees of the forest, in which lived Mary, the mother of the great Washington.
In the possession of an old Virginian family may be seen a picture, in which is represented a rampant lion holding a globe in his paw, a helmet and shield, a vizor strong, and coat of mail and other emblems of strength and courage; and for a motto the words, from Ovid, Columque tueri. On the back of the picture is written :
“The coat of arms of Colonel William Ball, who came from England with his family about the year 1650, and settled at the mouth of Corotoman River, in Lancaster county, Virginia, and died in 1669, leaving two sons, William and Joseph, and one daughter, Hannah, who married Daniel Fox. William left eight sons (and one daughter), five of whom have now (Anno Domini 1779) male issue. Joseph's male issue is extinct. General George Washington is his grandson, by his youngest daughter, Mary.” Here we have the American pedigree of the mother of Washington.
In that modest mansion near the Potomac, of which we have just spoken, a great patriot was born of a mother eightand-twenty years of age, when the popular William Gooch was royal governor of Virginia; and in an old family Bible, in Hanover county, of quarto form, dilapidated by use and age, and covered with striped Virginia cloth, might have been seen, a few years ago, the following record, in the handwriting of the father of that Patriot:
George Washington, son to Augustine and Mary his wife, was born y® 11th day of February, 1731–2, about ten in the morning, and was baptized the 3d of April following; Mr. Beverly Whiting and Captain Christopher Brooks, godfathers, and Mrs. Mildred Gregory godmother.
Almost three hundred years ago Pope Gregory the Thir
teenth ordained that ten days should be added to the tally of all past time since the birth of Jesus, to make up some fractional deficiencies in the calendar; and twenty years after the above record was made, the British government ordered the Gregorian calendar, or new style, as it was called, to be adopted. The deficiency was then eleven days, and these were added. So we date the birth of Washington, and celebrate its anniversary, on the twenty-second instead of the eleventh of February.
Washington's birth-place was a “four-roomed house, with a chimney at each end,” perfectly plain outside and in. The
only approach to ornament was a Dutch-tiled chi nney-piece in the best room, covered with rude pictures of Scriptural scenes; but around the mansion there were thrift and abundance. George was the eldest of his mother's six children, and only his infant years were passed under the roof where he first saw the light; for fire destroyed the house, and his father removed to an estate in Stafford county, near Fredericksburg, and dwelt in an equally plain mansion, pleasantly seated near the north bank of the Rappahannock River.
RESIDENCE OF THE WASHINGTON FAMILY.
Of the birth-place of Washington nothing now remains but a chimney and a few scattered bricks and stones; and around it, where the smiles of highest culture were once seen, there is an aspect of desolation that makes the heart feel sad. Some decayed fig-trees and tangled shrubs and vines, with here and there a pine and cedar sapling, tell, with silent eloquence, of neglect and ruin, and that decay has laid its blighting fingers