Washington May 13th 1838

My dear Sister,

 

At last I have the pleasure to announce the

arrival  your letter No 2 it was a wonderful time coming here

I shall endeavour to answer your various questions. I have been

to Georgetown, & strolled over the heights, the situations there

are beautiful. Captain Boyce does not live in Mrs. Davidson's

house, a Mr. Mason occupies it, Mrs D. is in the country.

Mrs. Gordon’s family are well. I enquired of a young girl in the

omnibus: When a sufficient length of time has elapsed, so that

my visit shall not seem an anxious or hurried one, I shall call

upon Mrs. G, and afterwards, shall act, according to circumstances.

I have been at Commodore Patterson's, and shall go there frequently

I am going to call on the Miss Bache'a with Georgy this week

I cannot give up the Exploring Expedition, I shall offer myself

to Captain Wilkes  today or tomorrow, therefore be ye all prepared.

I shall go to Balt’e the first weeks in June, and will go to

Ellicott’s Mills to inspect & pronounce upon the school.  I shall

be home in July, for a short time.  I thank Mother for the papers

and will write to John.  The Seal is Mr. Wilkes coat of arms, a

Norman cross bow, I wonder how you would twist it into a candle

stick.  Your inquiries were dogmatical, my responses are

categorical.  If my picture of Pennsylvania has not reached

Cornwall, I hope it is safe, & shall be glad to hear so, preserve

carefully the representation of the “Giant of the Deep”.  I have

not gone on, with my autobiography, but have perpetrated a few

sketches of “Old Napes” I think I shall finish the 1st cruise

however & leave the Mediteranean until some future time.  And

so it is the united & unanimous opinion of you all, that, besides

the risk we shall run, in being killed by the savages, the climate

will be fatal, and very few will live to return.  this kind of

feeling will doubtless make you quite comfortable, I do not think

the danger is to be apprehended, we do not fear it, we will go,

and see.  Should our bones be left to whiten on the beach of

some of the Islands, will there not be weeping & wailing, will

not the nation mourn for us, with tears & lamentations?  verily

they will, and the widowed & the fatherless, will refuse to be

comforted.  If men who have all the ties of life to bind them

to their homes, can go, I who am alone, a solitary, isolated

being, can go likewise.

 

A member of Congress died, a few days ago, & I heard the

funeral service delivered in the House. I thought that the scene

was one that would impress all who were there, particularly the

fellow members of the departed one, with feelings solemn & dread.

A few days before, and him, now in the silent, lasting, mysterious

sleep of death, had been moving in their midst, in the pride of

health & intellect; his voice had there been uplifted among the

loudest & the mightiest, now it was stilled forever, there was

the inaminate body soon to be placed in its dark & dampsome

grave, the soul was gone to the God, who gave it: in those

moments we remember that we also are to die, that beyond the

grave is uncertainity.

 

I want to tell you, that the woods are all green, that the

orchards have long since been in blossom, and are now rich with

leaves, that the strawberries & flowers in our garden are in

bloom, that the birds are singing gaily, that I am wearing summer

clothes, and that everything is fresh & charging, is this the

case in Pennsylvania, or is your spring, much in the rear of ours

here.

 

"You must Know" for I have told you, that the Obsy is seated

on an eminence, just below us, the rail road winds along, and then

a large tract of country having a gentle ascent, spreads out to

the north west & east. There are many farms, & the view is sweet,

terminating in ranges of low wooded hills, upon which, sheltered

and almost hidden by the trees, there are so many country seats,

to one of which I shall take the liberty to introduce you.

“Brentwood” then is one of these secluded places, nothing but its

cupola appears above the trees, it is the very home of rural

retirement, the House is built with taste, has some pretensions

to elegance, there is a flower garden which is handsomely laid

out, there is the lawn which is always cool and shaded, there are

the long vistas, cut thru’ the woods & affording you a delightful

prospect of the country beyond; as you stand on the porch, they

develop like rays, tho’ you see the rim, at the Navy Yard;

another opens directly upon the Capitol, a third shows a different

portion of the river, & so on, the effect of these are fine;

and there are walks lined with the lilack, the jassimin &

honeysuckle creeps & climb over the house, the roses everywhere

& in plenty are just budding forth. The place is beautiful, so

much that savours of undisturbed repose, the very birds, have their

nests, over the door at the porch, and fly in & out as if there

were no human beings near them.

 

Mr. Walsh & his wife, both young & talented, both abounding

in poetry & love, are the inhabitants of "Brentwood", the after-

noon I passed there was a delightful one, for I rejoiced to look

upon so much happiness. I shall not attempt to enlarge here,

for I should write for a week. My taste would be to live as they

live, were it so, I doubt whether I should go Exploring. Mrs

Walsh's sister will be married on Thursday evening, I am invited

to the weeding, if my clothes come from Philad'a in time I shall

go. I shall enjoy it exceedingly.      My 2nd trip to Norfolk

was rendered needless by Captain Wilkes' going there unexpectedly,

he done that, which I was to perform. It is probable I shall be

sent to New York, in about 10 days, but this is not certain.

 

On Wednesday I shall go down the River in the steam Frigate

President & other distinguished men will be on board, write in

answer to this, to

 

Your brother   William