Monday, August 19, 2013

Poem for Monday and Montpelier

A Poem Against the Tories (1772)
By James Madison

Of late our muse keen satire drew
And humourous thoughts in vollies flew
Because we took our foes for men
Who might deserve a decent pen
A gross mistake with brutes we fight
And [goblins?] from the realms of night
Where Spring & Craig lay down their heads
Sometimes a goat steps on the pump
Which animates old Warford's trunk
Sometimes a poisonous toad appears
Which Eckley's yellows carcuss bears
And then to grace us with a bull
Forsooth they show McOrkles skull
And that the Ass may not escape
He take the poet Laureat's shape
The screech owl too comes in the train
Which leap'd from Alexander's brain
Just as he scratch'd his grisly head
Which people say is made of lead.
Come noble whigs, disdain these sons
Of screech owls, monkeys, & baboons
Keep up you[r] minds to humourous themes
And verdant meads & flowing streams
Untill this tribe of dunces find
The baseness of their grovelling mind
And skulk within their dens together
Where each one's stench will kill his brother.

--------

We got up early on Sunday to drive to Montpelier, the home of James Madison, which isn't far from Monticello, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia. It was a very rainy drive down and drizzly most of the time we were there, but we had a lovely day anyway -- we met Cheryl and Lin at the visitor center, watched the film, then took the house tour, which starts in Madison's mother's austere front room with the great view and goes through Dolley's fancy drawing room (lacking a Facebook wall to show off their famous friends, they hung paintings of Washington, Jefferson, et al on their actual walls), the upstairs bedroom that the Madisons shared and the downstairs one where James Madison died in his late 80s.


My family, Delta and Lin in the Temple at Montpelier.


Though it was overcast while we were there, the property (bought after Madison's lifetime by a duPont to breed and race thoroughbreds) has gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


This is the front of the house as it looked in Madison's time, restored after the duPonts changed it.


And this is the back of the house. The wooden structures at left are the outlines of slave quarters that once stood there.


No photos were allowed inside upstairs, where the decorations are partially restored and other rooms contain exhibits on the War of 1812 and the archaeology and restoration of Montpelier; this is obviously the cellar.


The graves of James and Dolley Madison are also on the property in the family plot. There is still family in the area (we learned that Zachary Taylor's descendants are also Madison's distant cousins, though he had no direct descendants).


This family of deer was munching the grass, as was a bunny we saw on the path.


Cheryl, me, James and Dolley.

As with every early Virginian president, there were attempts to rationalize the treatment of slaves, but also work restoring the buildings where they lived and worked. We ate lunch after the house tour in the visitor center, then walked around the grounds while it wasn't raining much, seeing some wildlife and having the cemetery to ourselves because of the weather. We had decided to go to Fredericksburg afterward to have dinner at Carlos O'Kelly's, but we got slightly lost on the way and ended up getting to see lots of horse and cattle farms in the hills around Orange, Virginia. After dinner Delta and Lin went one way, my family went the other, and we came home and watched The White Queen plus part of the Colts-Giants game.

2 comments:

Gin G said...

I really enjoyed the history lessons in this post! A beautiful location! Gin

Michelle Erica Green said...

Thank you! Madison, Monroe and Jefferson all lived near enough each other for frequent visits and their houses are all restored.