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Alexandria

( Originally Published 1932 )



MOTORING through Washington with a famous English etcher we were pleased to note the admiration our Capital inspired in one to whom were known the natural and architectural beauties of the Old World, and the passing and permanent forms of art by which these have been recorded. Strongly the Potomac in its loveliest mood registered with the stranger; so majestic that the storied rivers of the world in their centuries of tragedy and traffic seemed little streams in comparison. Arlington, on its green slopes, was as significant for legend and romance as any ruined castle on the Rhine. The harbor, as the sunshine played upon the painted hulls of its many craft, was as fine a subject for the brush as Turner found The Pool of the Thames, with its forest of masts, its jumble of commerce, its babel of tongues.

We spoke of the historic wooden Long Bridge, now gathered to memory, as we rolled over its modern successor, and how the Union troops had scampered across it on their memorable return from Manassas. We spoke of the Alexander family, owners of the tract we traversed toward the town which bears their name. We spoke of the once famous harbor of Belle Haven and the sailing vessels of the world in its port; how the Scotch skippers threw out the sand they had brought for ballast, when taking on their cargoes of tobacco, and how many fine harbors were spoiled.

Entering Washington Street we naturally expatiated upon the ambitious young engineer, George Washington, who planned the city, and on his later life and powerful personality. Between pointing out a chaste doorway here, a giant box-bush there, we mentioned the names of other great ones gone: General Braddock, the Lees, the Lloyds, the Ramsays and other notables, and the lovely women who had walked in those walled gardens.

This is the Gateway of the South, through which flows an unending stream of life. This is a point of incalculable strategic value in time of war, of equal commercial value in time of peace. This is the entrance to warmth and gracious hospitality, to a generous soil, and to many fragrant memories and dear traditions-Alexandria.

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