The "special correspondent" of the London Times thinks that the favorable impression which the Prince
received in his three days visit to the National Capital
would have been diminished in a direct ratio to his longer stay.
The "marble palaces of the government" among the "shabby, little, dilapidated houses, seem like jewels badly set." Nothing is finished except these shabby, little, old houses, which ought to be immediately pulled down.
"When you have visited the Capitol
and Mount Vernon
, admired the Treasury
, Patent and Post Offices, called at the White House
, suffered under a bad hotel, and continually taken the Washington Monument
for a light-house, all of which — especially the two latter — you do easily in three days, you may quit the administrative capital of America
with perfect ease of mind as to your having seen as much of the place as if you had lived there all your life. "
receives honorable and admiring mention:
"Its site is unusually fine, its proportions are massive and noble, and its severe, grand simplicity of architecture well becomes the administrative halls of a great republic so young and primitive as this."
Of course, like everything else, it is unfinished, and the writer adds his private opinion that it, and everything else, never will be. The works of art, however, failed to attract great admiration — especially the "poor, clumsy, and badly executed figure of Columbus
;" though the Indian
group at the the top of the main steps is pronounced very fine.
The spittoons commanded an appreciative notice:
"Nothing more forcibly repudiates the vulgar notion as to the expectorating accuracy of Americans
than the appearance of the marble around these noisome receptacles.
These spittoons are the first things you see on entering, and from this moment you never lose sight of them as long as you remain in the building.--No matter where you wander — into the Senate chamber
, the House of Representatives, the Speaker
's room, the gorgeous' room of the President
— the yawning, dirty nuisance haunts you every where.
You tumble over them in quiet corners of rich frescoed halls; they flank the tribune and the Speaker
's chair, like quaint supporters, and stand in hideous rows and semi-circles round the halls — recognized institutions of the place; the little altars on which every one asserts his nauseous liberty of spitting, no matter who is present or what the occasion.
A long and, for the proportions of the building, a very low and narrow corridor leads to the Hall
of Representatives, a large and very low square chamber, with the Speaker
's seat and tribune facing the entrance, and a large semi-circle of seats and desks (each with the never absent spittoon, of course,) ranged around the floor."
of Representatives is described as "a chamber like a disused show-room, which has all windows in its ceiling, and yet has no light; which is large without being spacious, low in height without looking comfortable, covered with gilt and scarlet without being decorated, gaudy without effect, costly yet mean and even dirty in its appearance, with a tawdry vulgarity of splendor that disgusts every man of taste, and with its enormities of gilt and paint sufficiently darkling and obscure to-fail to impress the masses.
There is a kind of mixture of a grand California
barroom and a second-rate Paris
cafe — an air of a rather well worn half-business place of entertainment, &c."
, in all its gloomy forlornity, receives an ample description. "The most bigoted stranger," says the writer, with honorable feeling, "that ever trod within these sacred precincts, cannot look around without emotion, cannot free his mind from a feeling of sorrow that this touching relic of one of earth's noblest dead should be now in such a state and left to such decay."
Down a rough, broken and encumbered footpath, "like an abandoned cattle track," they took their way to the tomb, with its red brick wall and rusty railings, scrawled on every available inch with names of vulgar travelers. "There is no pomp of woe about the spot," well remarks the observer:
"Over the bricks creep wild and tangled shrubs — weeds, rubbish and mortar are littered in front, while all around it is a dirty, thriftless waste, like the remains of a shrubbery in which a building once stood.
No pious care seems to have ever tended this neglected grave, none by to shield it from the desecrations of idle profanity.
It is here alone in its glory, uncared for, unvisited, unwatched, with the night wind for its only mourner, sighing through the waste of trees, and strewing the dead brown leaves like ashes before the tomb.
Such is the grave of Washington
"Before this bumble tomb the Prince
, the President
, and all the party stood uncovered.
It is easy moralizing on this visit, for there is something grandly suggestive of historical retribution in the reverential awe of the Prince
, the great-grandson of George III., standing bareheaded at the foot of the coffin of Washington
What may not history bring forth?
The descendants of a regenerated like of Hapsburg may yet do honor at the tomb of Garibaldi
For a few moments the party stood mute and motionless, and the Prince
then proceeded to plant a Chesnut by the side of the tomb.
It seemed when the royal youth closed in the earth around the little germ, that he was burying the last faint trace of discord between us and our great brethren in the west.
May it be so, and may no American in times hereafter think of the tomb of Washington
without remembering the friendly visitor who planted the tree in whose grateful shadow it reposes.
May the act live in the memories of both nations green as the tree that records it, and Britons recollect that in this graceful rite of homage to the memory of one whom we must now strive to claim as our descendant, the Prince
did honor to himself and his nation."