Letter to Harriet Johnson, April 7, 1844

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Washington City April 7, 1844Harriet,

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I have received no letter from home this week, the last was from Edward (28th March) but I have one dated 3d April from Mr. Barrett on business, saying no news, so all well.

I have dipped my pen in ink to write you a letter but have no notion of what the letter is to contain. Mr. Foot returned last Thursday evening from NY with his wife and has taken lodging in Pennsylvania Avenue nearly opposite to my boarding house. He yesterday gave us our invitation to call & see his lady of which invitation I shall early avail myself.

The ladies of the members of whom there are many here, have very little association except those at the same boarding house. They spend their time in their own chambers a very large part of the times. They go occasionally to the parties of the public officers. It is now spring and the public grounds around the Capitol are highly decorated and the grass is very green & the early flowers are out but, the leaves have not appeared on the trees. These ornamented grounds include within the on the east & west front about thirty acres. It has a very great variety of trees, shrubbery & flowers & it has extensive walls, fountains & jets of water. In these grounds the ladies walk in pleasant & many have children with them. The ladies every week & sometimes every day visit the galleries of the Capitol & listen to the debates. They also occupy

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much of their time in folding &\ for their husbands their documents & papers to their constituents but, they have much time to read.

Now do you think your mother would be content to spend the next winter with me here? I should be very glad to have her with me, if I thought she could be content to submit to it & be happy.

Parties have pretty much ceased now since the melancholy affair of the Princeton. Mr. Adams has had a party & I attended about two hours. It was much like all parties except that it was entirely whigs & their ladies, except foreign ministers & they attended without their court dresses. The rooms were two parlors, not larger than ours, below, well filled & one rather larger up stairs nearly as full. In that upper parlor were two card tables in operation. Lemonade, wine, cakes & ice cream handed round.

Ice cream is in very great use here.

You are sensible that I notice but little the fashion of formal affairs but, as a general thing I say that cushioning seems in no way diminishing & that the bonnets are the pretty form they have lately had & are cut away at the sides of the face so as to bring the lower corners back too far. Bonnets are almost all silk that is, very few straw.

The American Institute, an association of gentlemen for scientific objects is in session here and many gentlemen of scientific pursuits are congregated & lectures are delivered or papers read. Among them is Dr. Nott, who I heard the last Friday evening read a paper on the Earth, its structures, \ age & end, geologically, chronologically & scientifically. It was really an interesting performance. I wrote you this latter information that you may commu

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nicate it with my respects to Mr. Wright & tell him I shall write on the subject to Edwin.

At the Baltimore Convention it will be a perfect crowd & Mary Joshua must not think of stopping at Baltimore but must calculate to come directly here where I will see she has a room until she can go to Virginia.

I wish Mr. Johnson to inform me whether the Journal and Washington Intelligencer & duly recd. by the Clay Club & tell him I shall occasionally send them papers &c. With love to your mother & my children & yours.

Mrs. Harriet A. Johnson

I remain affectionately Your FatherJ. Collamer