Page:Letters of Life.djvu/97

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85
FIRST GRIEF AND FIRST JOURNEY.

the family, and the nurture of the children, devolved wholly on herself; and in her perfect housekeeping, as well as her maternal duties, she exhibited a serenity and wisdom competent both to control and to execute. The position of Colonel Wadsworth made his house the centre of hospitality for both the French and American officers of high rank when in this part of the country. Whether La Fayette or De Grasse, Rochambeau or the godlike Washington, was the guest, she was always equally self-possessed and in elegant preparation. So I have been told by contemporaries, for of her own efforts or honors she never spoke. Yet I listened with delighted attention, as in precise and well-chosen language, she sometimes gratified my request for descriptions of the illustrious personages who varied the drama of earlier days. Then would seem to stand before me the Father of his Country, the chivalrous Greene, the fearless Putnam, the ardent Arnold, not then a traitor, the youthful La Fayette, the elegant Marquis de Chastellux, and the cautious Talleyrand, who from under his half-shut eyelids regarding what passed around, seemed ever to have some concealed or sinister purpose. A great privilege was it to hear the conversation of this lady, who, to her fund of recollections, added a fondness for elegant literature, which she could so happily combine with the gravest or minutest duties of her sex, that neither should be overlooked, and nothing neglected. Her portrait, by Sully, which with those