Washington  May 4th 1838

 

My dear Sister,

 

I am happy to acknowledge the arrival of your

letter No. 2, let the third follow soon.  I hope Miss Margaret

& Iesy will enjoy themselves, while at Cornwall and would be

delighted could I be there, to add to their pleasure or amuse-

ment, in any way, perhaps, we may all be together again some

time this summer.

 

If I should go exploring, I must bid farewell to womankind

until my return, I will meet with none while away, which will be most

awful, I shall doubtless become a perfect Bear, rough & uncouth

but then the polishing up & refining will be charming, if I can

only find some dear one, to undertake the task, ah! mention it

not – my present friends and acquaintances will then, all be gone,

lost, and I must find new ones, well, if we love we shall see,

all discussion or anticipation now, is useless, needless.

 

I think I am already performing quarantine, and carrying the

yellow flag in preparative.  I shall become “broken in” to the

deprivation of Ladies society, even before I depart for the South

Seas; with the exception of a few words to Georgy Patterson, a

few civil expressions to Miss Henry, I have not opened my mouth

to any of the sex, since I have been here, how long this state of

things will last I cannot say.  I receive daily offers and invitat-

ions to visit, but have as yet declined them all.  If I accept one,

I must go every where, now my time is my own.  Should I decide

for the Exploring Ex I will continue to be “the Exclusive” for I

will not have Time to throw away, but if I am to remain here,

why then in all liklihood, for my own gratification and interests,

I shall branch oout, and endeavour to make myself agreeable.  Miss

Henry & I continue to be silent acquaintances; she is pretty

but I think that is all I can say for her.  I do not value beauty,

when there is wanting mind, intellect, and I am always sad &

disappointed, when I see a lovely face, but with a dull head.  I

can look at Miss H as I would a handsome picture, but I opine that

the charm would be broken, were the picture to speak, were I to

venture to utter any flights of sentiment or fancy, I humbly

believe she would not understand me.  Therefore as it is now, let

be hence forever, were she of another stamp,we she like, I will

not tell you who!  had she the magic gem of knowledge, the graceful

flow of wit, the talent of conversation, long ere this we should

have been on intimate terms, and I would have had a companion to

delight in, but then my poor heart, would have been taken by

storm & surrendered at discretion.  I should have been the slave

of her lamp, while as it is, I might be her tutelar Genii.  And

perhaps I would have endeavoured to illuminate her mind, to

encourage in her a thirst for information, to direct her attentions

from trifles to more solid accomplishments, and as we neither of us

have much to do, & could easily have access to Books I would

have found pleasure in the task, but all interest in her is now

dampened.  I shall scarcely be able to look at her again, she

has committed a heinous sin and I am shocked, that I should have

witnessed it, it would have ruined an angel, and has certainly

horrified my taste, and extreme delicacy to such a degree, that

were she otherwise really fascinating, this "the head and front

of her offending" would rise up in judgement, and condemn her

forever,  in this instance I am almost as fastidious in my

feelings & would be almost as severe in my punishment, as was the

Lady in Arabian nights, who cut off the thumbs and great toes

of her husband, when he came into her presence after “eating garlic”

without having performed any ablutions. The confounded butter

brought to this market, is very often rank, with odour &- taste of

that odious weed.  I eat my bread dry, today curiosity led me to

observe, and I made the terrible discovery, that my fair friend,

was heaping the butter thick upon her bread, and apparently

masticating it, garlic & all, with the utmost relish! I was

sickened and left the table in disgust.  Now as this not enough to

destroy my illusion, to dispel any charms?  I have never even dreamed

that one, the emblem of beauty, one of that sex, whom I so reverence

& admire, one from whose lips, should come forth nothing but

words of poetry and love, one whose sustenance should be food,

pure & sweet as the dew on the rose, that such an one, should

put garlic between the pearly portals of her mouth, is it not

awful?  I am sorry for her.  I pity her (but “pity” will not in

this case be akin to love)  I can do nothing for her.  I never

wish ever to see her again.

 

And as for my male house mates, I am receiving new lessons

in Epicureanism, which I shall remember, and class among those,

which I have already picked up, in various quarters of the world,

so that my code will be perfect, and the cuisine of my household

(when I get one I will be a sort of amalgamation of the tastes

of many people & many nations, making one grand and exquisite

whole, which shall be the admiration of the favoured few, who

will be received in the sanctuary, who will be the guests of

Mr & Mrs Reynolds.  A few of the new & novel ideas, I will tell

you.  Desert, boiled potatoes & salt, with cheese & weak tea;

ditto, dry toast bro’t on the table buttered and milk warm water

poured over; ditto, boiled rice & grated loaf sugar.  Now I very

seldom look, what or how other persons eat, but hearing those

by me call for things, I raise my eyes in astonishment to see

the mixtures, live and learn.  I shall profit by what I observe

certainly as I said before, it is a source of much amusement for

me to listen to & sometimes to cast my eyes upon my hon, friends,

the law makes for these U. States in Congress assembled

“requiescat in pace” is this Latin correct?

 

I have heard Mad. Caradin Allen and though as the papers

say “her voice has great contrast, and that over it, she has

extraordinary power, that it is sweet & most musical, that she

drops from one note to another, like the warbling of a bird”

her singing is not equal to that of “the divine Tanganardi”, her

notes were like the music of the spheres, soft & heavenly, ah!

How exquisite and thrilling!  One scarcely breathed, while he

listened, for his soul was wrapt in melody, and he doubted that what

he heard was the voice of a mortal being.  Poets of all ages,

have essayed to describe the effects of music, but all description

is in vain, “tongue cannot tell, nor mind conceive” of the

intense and delirious rapture, that one is filled with, those

who doubt, & those who would love to experience the feeling, let

them go and harken for themselves.

 

I have been to see Catlin’s Gallery, and it really is a rich

treat, his portraits are most numerous, & remarkable well painted,

the landscapes give you a correct idea of the great prairies, the

dwellings, the cartoons of the Red Men, their fierce combats, their

horrible ceremonies, he has a larger collection of articles made

& used by them, we are all curious to know about distant people

& distant countries, but we forget that we have among us, a

people, who are not found elsewhere, & whose character is a

strange aquiature, surely we have cause to remember them, but

scarcely one takes an interest in studying their history, or

present condition, those who visit Mr. Catlin’s gallery will be

well repaid, and will feel as if he had been roaming oer the

Prairies & among the Indians himself.

 

One of the Jet d’eau is put up in the Capitol grounds, and

adds greatly to their appearance, it is very tasty, and differs

in construction from any I ever saw before these grounds are of

as much benefit to me as if I am the owner of them.  I can walk

there at all hours, and use my eyesight as extensively as I wish.

And so is the Library, I have no trouble and all the advantages,

and there is is a charm in reading in that noble room, which a

common apartment does not afford.  I have been looking over a

superb collection of views in various countires, and have a

stronger desire than ever, to set off, and see the originals,

I shall certainly travel all my life, in the best part of it.

 

I have seen Mr. Buchanan, I was at his house a few evenings

ago, and further, I said that young couples, were in the habit

of promenading of the terrace, during the hours of twilight,

there are some elderly ones, and I observed the Hon. James

with a lady on his arm there one fine evening last week.

 

Did you see the Aurora Borealis from 8 to 9 on Sunday

evening last?  it was beautiful, those streaks of shining white,

& the sky of rosy hue.

 

Well, I suppose I must stop, write soon & often, do not

let Elly forget me, send the newspaper.

 

I send love to all & remembrance to Miss Margaret & Jesy

 

I am the Commonwealth

 

Wm. Reynolds

 

Notwithstanding you are inclined to be sceptical, I still preserve

my early hours, and what is more wonderful perhaps, I go about

here, with the old, old coat, and the grey pants.

 

I did not go again to the races, & can tell you nothing of them.