Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 638
The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)
Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.
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and she was invariably pressed into service as interpreter when the diplomats were present. But whether a foreign ambassador, in the bravery of court medals and gold lace, called or a congressman from the backwoods, Priscilla always smiled and bade them enter, telling them they could have a bowl of fresh milk or a glass of punch, just which they liked. The hallway at Grasslands was twelve foot square. Its floor was of polished Georgia pine, and the furniture was old-fashioned mahogany seats. A tall Dutch clock, with a solemn brass face and a massive pair of antlers formed a hat and cloak rack. Grasslands was furnished entirely with antique furniture. Mrs. WHITNEY said it was chosen because it was in keeping with the old farm house. The fireplace in the dining-room was wide enough to burn great logs of wood. The old mahogany table looked as if it might have come over with the Pilgrims, and the dining-room chairs were wide enough to make the fattest man in congress perfectly comfortable. Mr. WHITNEY's city home in Washington was more admired than any other house in the capital. The receptions given by Mrs. WHITNEY were more elab- orate than those of anybody else, and the house was always filled with guests. The ball-room in the Washington house is almost historic. Many notable courtships began there. It was in this room that Mrs. James BROWN-POTTER made herself famous by reciting "Ostler Joe." A society writer who was in Washington during Mr. WHITNEY's residence there, described the size of this room by saying that a two-horse wagon load of hay could be turned around in it without touching the walls. These walls were covered with brocaded satin, and its furnishings were beautiful and unique. It had little couches of brocaded Venetian velvet, several dainty sedan chairs, and the fireplace was large enough to roast a whole ox. Mrs. WHITNEY always distinguished herself as a hostess. She inherited much of the political ability of her father, Senator Henry B. PAYNE. She was bright and witty, handsome and sensible. She was one of the very few women who knew how to be a society woman without being snobbish, and who could condescend to entertain people on a lower social level without making them feel that she was patronizing them. The New York home of the WHITNEYs at Fifty-seventh street and Fifth avenue was presented to Mrs. WHITNEY by her brother, Oliver PAYNE, of the Standard Oil Company. It cost $700,000. It is one of the most splendid houses in New York. In 1892, when presidential candidates were being discussed in the newspapers, a prominent paper had this to say: "There seems to be no lack of candidates for the presidency from which to make a choice, but what that choice will be never was a more problematic question than at this time. Mr. WHITNEY has many stanch admir- ers, and were his name to be brought prominently forward in the convention he would be strongly supported. And there is no question but that he, as is the case with every other ambitious and patriotic citizen, would like to be chief magistrate. But it is doubtful if he would care to make any personal attempt to secure the nomination. He is stanch and strong in his loyalty to Mr. Cleveland. In fact he is quoted as having said that if he were perfectly certain of securing the nomination, he would not allow his name to be used if thereby the nomination of Mr. Cleveland was jeopard- ized." Mr. WHITNEY is a most genial, likeable and approachable man. It would almost be safe to say that every one who knows him, no matter of what political belief, admires him. He is a handsome man. His fifty years rest lightly upon him. He looks at least ten years younger that he really is. He is tall, straight and agile, ruddy-cheeked and keen-eyed. He enters as keenly into the enjoyment of horse- back riding and outdoor games as any boy. One of his enthusiastic friends once remarked that he would always be a boy, even if he should become chief justice of the United States. But with this light-heartedness and faculty for enjoying himself he combines the attributes of dignity, sterling judgment and executive efficiency of a high order. He is a witty conversationalist and a clever and ready platform speaker. In 1894 Mr. WHITNEY, on his return from Europe, was met by a delegation from the Democratic state convention, then in session at Saratoga, and unanimously ten- dered the nomination for governor of New York. He most respectfully declined the honor, though strongly urged by the representative men and journals of the party throughout the state. In company with his daughter he soon left for the continent, and at this time, June, 1895, has just returned from Europe. Mrs. Flora Payne WHITNEY was the daughter of Henry B. PAYNE, of Cleveland, recently United States senator from Ohio. She was the youngest of the family. While a very young girl she showed a great fondness for books. She had tutors at home
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