Sunday, July 14, 2013

Judith's Meeting with George and Martha Washington

In 1790, while in New York (capitol of the new Republic) with her second husband, John Murray, Judith Sargent Murray met George and Martha Washington for the first time. She describes her encounter for her parents, Winthrop and Judith Saunders Sargent, in a letter.

“… [My husband] Mr Murray was engaged with Colonel Humphrys, who occasionally regarded me with flattering attention — Thus were we disposed of when General Washington entered the drawing room — My eyes had never before beheld him — but it was not necessary he should be announced — that dignified benignity, by which he is distinguished, could not belong to another — Mrs Washington introduced me[,] … his figure is elegant beyond what I have ever seen, that his countenance is benignly good, and that there is a kind of venerable gravity inscribed upon every feature — … The vestments of the President were of purple satin, but his figure and not the aid of this regal dye, to inspire those sentiments, which are deemed the tribute of royalty majestically commanding, his appearance will ever, insure the love, and reverence of every unprejudiced beholder — To speak truth of the President is impossible — No Painter will ever be able to do him justice — for that which he possessed beyond every other man, the Art of the Linner or language of the panegyrist, however glowing, can never reach — It is a grace in every movement, a manner, an address, an inimitable expression, especially when the sedate dignity of his countenance, is irradicated by a serene smile — in short a nameless something, in the tout ensemble, which no skill can delineate, no art can catch and which of course no portrait will ever transmit.”

 ~ Letter 783 To the Same New Rochelle, August 14th 1790 Saturday ~

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate