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ANECDOTES OF EMINENT PERSONS.
BIOGRAPAICAL SKETCH OF GEORGE subject, Major Washington was employed
WASHINGTON, LATE PRESIDENT OF by the governor of Virginia, in a negotiaTHE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. tion with the French governor of Fort du
those few men who have been great the English frontiers with a body of French without being criminal, was born on the and their Indian allies. He fucceeded in uth of February, 1732, in the Parish of averting the invasion ; but hostilities beWajbington, Virginia. He was descended coming inevitable, he was in the next year from an ancient family in Cheshire, of appointed lieutenant colonel of a regiment which a branch had been established in raised by the colony for its own defence; Virginia about the middle of the last to the command of which he soon after succentury. We are not acquainted with ceerded. The expedition of Braddock folany remarkable circumstances of his edu- lowed in the year 1755; of which the cation or his early youth; and we should fatal issue is too well known to require Dot indeed expect any marks of that dif- being described by us. Colonel Wash orderly prematureness of talent, which is ington served in that expedition only as a fo often fallacious, in a character whose volunteer ; but such was the general condiftinguishing praise was to be perfectly fidence in his talents, that he may be said regular and natura). His classical instruc- to have conducted the retreat. Several tion was probably small, such as the pri- British officers are still alive who remember vate tutor of a Virginian country gentleman the calmness and intrepidity which he could at that period have imparted ; and thewed in that difficult fituation, and the if bis opportunities of information had voluntary obedience which was so cheerbeen more favourable, the time was too fully paid by the whole army to his superior fort to profit by them.* Before he was mind. After having acted a distinguished twenty he was appointed a major in the part in a subsequent and more successful colonial militia, and he had very early oc- expedition to the Ohio, he was obliged by ill cafion to display those political and mili- health, in the year 1758, to resign his military talents, of which the exertions on a tary fituation. The fixteen years which greater theatre have since made his name so followed of the life of Washington, supply famous throughout the world.
few materials for the biographer. Having The plenipotentiaries who framed the married Mrs. Cultis, a Virginian lady of treaty of Aix la Chapelle, by leaving the amiable character and espectable connecboundaries of the British and French ter- tions, he settled at his beautiful seat of ritories in North America unfixed t, had Mount Vernon *, of which we have had lown the seeds of a new war, at the mo so many descriptions; where, with the ment when they concluded a peace.-The exception of such attendance as was relimits of Canada and Louisiana, negli- quired by his duties as a magistrate and geody described in vague language by the a member of the assembly, his time was octreaties of Utrecht and Aix la Chapelle, cupied by his domettic enjoyments, and because the greater part of these vast coun- the cultivation of his estate, in a manner tries was then an impenetrable wilderness, well suited to the tranquillity of his pure furnithed a motive, or a pretext, for one and unambitious mind. Ac the end of of the moft successful but one of the most this period he was called by the voice of bloody and wasteful wars in which Great his country from this state of calm and Britain had ever been engaged. secure though unoftentatious happiness.
In the disputes which arose between The events of that deplorable contest the French and English officers on this which rent asunder the British empire, are
Several accounts of the life of Walh: yet perhaps too recent for free and imington bave itated, that he served as a mid- Great Britain and America had long been
partial discussion. The connexion between fhipman on board a British frigate. This is a mittake. His elder brother, who died young, which is not inconsistent with mutual har
suffered to remain in that uncertain ftare • served in that capacity in Vernon's expedi
tion against Carthagena; whence the family mony as long as each party reposes conseat was called Mount Vernon. Washington fidence in each other. The supreme au. himself never left the United States, except thority of the mother country was respected in one fhort voyage to a West India island, without being definitely acknowledged in when he was very young. † Guvres pofthumes de Frederic II. tom,
* See the duc de Liancourt's Travels, and ä. p. 47.-Mémoires de Ducios, vol. ii, &c. those of Weld, Briflot, Chastellux, &c. MOXTHLY MAG, NO. 56.
its utmost extent. It was not fystema- our ancient American policy, the effets tically declared, nor rigorously enforced soon became manifeft. The old affectionate hy England-It was not zealoully watched confidence of the colonists was changed nor legally limited by the colonies. Eng- into hostile distrust; instead of relying in land derived increased wealth and prospe- the benevolence of a paternal government, rity from the growing greatness of Amé- they began to think of guarding themrica. America was protected by the felves against an enemy. The intercourse strength of England, and felt .pride in the of jealous chicane succeeded to that of geparticipation of her liberty. In this happy nerous triendship; metaphyfcal discussions state of mutual affection, neither party with respect to limits and foundation harboured such distrust as to prompt them of supreme power, which seldom disturb to take security for the authority of one the quiet of a happy and well governed or the privileges of the other. All those people, were for the first time forced on the doubtful and dangerous questions which attention of the Americans by the indirrelate to the boundaries of power and cretion of their governors. It is the profreedom were forgotten, during this for- vince of history to describe the policy of tunate connexion between obedient liberty the English government, its violence and and protecting authority. The parlia. its Alučtuations, its impolitic encroachment of Great Britain, content with that ments and tardy concessions; to fate the îtream of wealth which indirectly flowed principles of those parties into which the into the Exchequer through the channels English public was divided on this subject, of American commerce, had hitherto ei- the ministerial party who asserted the right ther doubled their right to tax America, and prudence of taxing America ; the or wisely forborn to exercise that unpro- great body of the Opposition, who, withe fitable and perilous right. The scheme out dilputing the right, denied the pru. of an American revenue had been sug- dence of exercising it; and a few men of kefted to Sir Robert Walpole, but that speculation, who questioned even the right cautious and pacific minifter declared, jifelf. The general historian will also rest that he would leave it to bolder men. Jate the various circumstances which gra-Men bolder, but not wiser, than Sir dually made America almost unanimous Robert were at length found to adopt it. in her resistance to the claims of Great The counsels which predominated at the Britain. These are topics too extensive beginning of the present reign. were fa. and important for such a sketch as the vourable to fuclı plans. We do not affirm, present. Nothing, however, is more cerbecav se we do not believe, that any scheme tain, than that the first views of the was then deliberately formed for the de. American leaders were merely defensive ; ftruction of public liberty. But we must and that they were far advanced in the relitt. leave it to history to determine whether ance before the idea of independence premeasures were not pursued which might lented itself to their minds. They did not lead to that result. A system on caxing seek leparation ; it was obtruded on them America by the British parliament was by the irrefiftible force of circumstances. avowed and acted upon.-A stamp duty After they had appealed to arms, it wa was imposed on all the colonies. Whe- extremely obvious, that their power must ther this system arose from the high prin. be totiering as long as they acknowledged ciples of authority, for the first time the lawfulness of the power against whom dopted under a prince of the house of they were armed; that the zeal of their Brunswick, or from a conviction of the partizans never could be vigorous till justice of equally apportioning the burthens iney had cut off all possibility of retreat ; of the empire on all its members, or from and that no foreign ftate would be cona defire to tame the mutinous and repub. nected with them, as long as they tbemlican spirit of the American colonists, selves confessed, that they had neither the or from one of those paltry intrigues right nor the power to enter into a legiti. and hasty caprices which so often decide mate and permanent alliance. All the the fate of empires ;-are questions which paflions, which in violent times are almost we have no certain, and scarce any pro. sure to banish moderate countels, were at bable, means of deciding.– Those who work in America. These consequences have most experience in political affairs always follow in the necessary course of are the most incredulous with respect to things, from the first impulse that throw a the generally received accounts of the causes people into confusion; a most awful conof great measures. But whatever may fideration for governments who provoke a have been the causes of this unfortunate nation to refiitance, and for demagogues deviation from the found principles of who leduce them into l'ebellion. Most
certainly these consequences did not enter Activity was the policy of invaders. In into the original plan of the American the field of battle the superiority of a difci. leaders. There are those who remember plined army is displayed. But delay was the horror expressed by Dr. Franklin, be- the wisdom of a country defended by un. fore he left England, at the bare mention disciplined soldiers against an enemy who of separation : yet Franklin was, perhaps, must be more exhaofted by time than he of all the Americans, the man most likely could be weakened by defeat. It require to entertain such a project. Their lea ed'the consummate prudence, the calm ders were in general men of great fobriety, wisdom, the inflexible firmness, the mo. caution, and practical good lense; zealous derate and well balanced temper of Wilh. indeed for the maintenance of their ancient ington to embrace such a plan of policy, legal rights and privileges; but utterly and to persevere in it; to refilt the tempuntainted by that daring and speculative tations of enterprize; to fix the confidence character which leads men to seek untried, of his foldiers without the attraction of and perilous paths in politics, for their victory; to support the spirit of the army own greatness or for supposed public and the people amidst those flow and caubenefit.
tious plans of defenfive warfare which are The disorders in America had reached more difpiriting than defeat itself; to contheir height, and it became perfeélly ob- tain his own ambition and the impetuolity vious, that the dispute between the two of his troops; to endure temporary obscucountries could only be decided by arms, rity for the salvation of his country, and when the representatives of the ihirteen for the attainment of solid and immortal* provinces assembled at Philadelphia, on glory; and to suffer even temporary 18the 26th day of O&tober, 1774. 'Of this proach and obloquy, supported by the apfamous assembly Mr. Walhington was probation of his own conscience and the ote; no American united in so high a de- applause of that finall number of wise men gree as he did military experience, with whose praise is an earnest of the admiration respectable character and great natural and gratitude of pofterity. Vielorious geinfluence. He was therefore appointed to perals casily acquire the confidence of their the command of the * army which al army. Theirs, however, is a confidence in sembled in the New England Provinces, the fortune of their general. That of to hold in check the British army under Wallington's army was a confidence in General Gage, then encamped at Bolton, his wisdom. Victory gives spirit to cowIf thefe circumstances had not called ards, and even the agitations of defeat Washington forth, he would have lived fometimes impart a courage of despair. happy, and died obscure, as a respectable Courage is inspired by success, and it may country gentleman in Virginia: now the be stimulated to desperate exertion even by scene opened which made his name im. calamity, but it is generally palfied by itmortal: 'fo dependent upon accident is activity- A system of cautious defence is human fame, and so great is the power of the severelt trial of human fortitude. By çrcumttances in calling forth, and per- this test the firmness of Washington was haps even in forming, the genius of men. tried. His intrepidity never could have In the month of July, 1775, General maintained itself under such circunftances, Washington took the command of the con- if it had arisen from ambition or vain glory, tinental army before Bofton. To detail from robott nerves or disorderly en:huliatin. bis cordiet in the years which tollowed, It stood the test, because it grewout of the would be to relate the history of the Ame- deep root of principle and dury. His mind rican war: a most memorable and intruc. was to perfectly framed, that he dich noc ure part of Britifla anuals, which has not need the'vulgar incentives of faine and gioyet been treated in a manner suited to its ry to route his genius. In lin public virimportance and dignity. Within a very tue was a principle of fufficient force to exshort period after the declaration of inde cite the fame great exertions to which the pendence, the affairs of America were in a rabble of heroes mmst be stimulated by the condition fo' defperate, that perhaps no love of power or of praile. thing but the peculiar character of Washi- It is hardly neceffrry to say, that the inglon's genius could have retrieved them. courage which Aowed from hunettv, was
tempered in its exercile by humanity. On this occafion as well as throughout The character of Wathington was not de fuled any compensation for his fervices. He which drive men to ferocity. His miline kete received any salary in any office civil or tary life was unttained by military cruelty; and if we lamented the severity of some of
bis-acts, we never were at liberty to ques- that as much judgment and int repidity tion their justice. It would be unjust to may be Mewn among irregular and imper ascribe the mildness of the American war fečtly disciplined arınies as under the moft exclusively to the personal character of highly improved fyftem of mechanical tacWashington.-It must be imputed in a tics. This is sufficient for our purpose ; great measure to the fobriety and modera- for we are now contemplating the character tion of the national temper. Never was a of him whose leaft praise is that of being civil war so spotless as that which unhap- a great commander, whose valour was the pily broke out between the two nations of minister of virtue, and whole military ge. the English race. Not a fingle massacre, nius is chiefly ennobled by being employed not a single affassination, no slaughter in in the defence of justice. cold blood tarnished the glory of conqueft It is extremely remarkable, that though or aggravated the shame of defeat. Gal- there never was a civil contest disgraced lantry and humanity characterized this by so few violent or even ambiguous acts contest between two nations who amidst as the American war, yet so pure were all the fierceness of hoftility shewed them- the moral sentiments of Washington, that felves worthy of each other's friendship. he could not look back on the period of
We are well aware that the military cri. hoftilities with unmixed pleasure. An tics of Europe, accustomed to the vast and Italian nobleman, who visited hiin after scientific plans, to the complicated yet ex. the peace, had often attempted, in vain, act movements, to the daring and splen- to turn the conversation to the events of the did exploits of great European generals, war. At length he thought he had found may consider the most decilive success in a a favourable opportunity of effe&ting his war like the American as a very inade- purpose; they were riding together over quate title to the name and glory of an ile the scene of an action where Washington's lustrious commander. We feel all the de. conduct had been the subject of no small ference which upon every subject is due animadversion. Count = faid to from the ignorant to the masters of the art. him, “ Your conduct, Sir, in this action But we doubt the soundness of the judg- has been criticized.” Washington made ment of military critics on this subject. no answer, but clapped spurs to his horse; To us it seems probable that more genius after they had passed the field, he turned to and judgment are generally exerted by un- the Italian and said, “Count I obeducated generals and among irregular serve that you with me to speak of the was, armies, than in the contesis of role com- It is a conversation which I always avoid. manders who are more perfectly instructed I rejoice at the establishment of the liber. in military science. It is with the arts of war ties of America. But the time of the as with every other art. Wherever any struggle was a horrible period, in which art is most perfected, there is leait room the best men were compelled to do many for the exertions of individual genius. things repugnant to their nature." Where most can be done by rule, least is So fatal are even the mildelt civil com. left for talents. We accordingly find that motions to men's morals, and so admirable those surprizes and fratagems which are was the temperament of the man who had so brilliant and interesting a part of the too much magnanimity not to take up hiftory of war in past times, are now infi- arms at the call of his country, and yet nitely more rare, because vigilance is now too delicate a purity to dwell with commore uniform and the means of defence placency on the recollection of scenes more perfect. It is now much more easy which, though they were the source of than it was formerly to calculate the his glory, aliowed more scope for the dif. event of a campaign from the numbers of play of his talents than for the exercise of the contending armies, the fortresses which his humanity! they possess and the nature of the country The conclusion of the American was which they occupy. It is impoflible that permitted Washington to return to thola the art of war should ever be lo improved, domestic scenes, from which nothing but as to obliterate all differences between the a lente of duty seems to have had the talents of generals : but it is certain that power to draw him. But he was not al. its improvement has a tendency to make lowed long to enjoy this privacy. The the inequality of their talents less felt. fupreme government of the United States, It cannot be denied that they who best haitily thrown up, in a moment of turboknow the power of the art are the most fo- lence and danger, as a temperary fortifiber admirers of the talents of generals. cation against anarchy, proved utterly use But whatever be the justness of these ob- adequate to the preservation of general dervations, it must be universally allowed, tranquillity and permanent fecurity, The
pafufions of civil war had given a taint to fame, are not so much to be praised for 2e morality of the people *which rendered their exemption from ambition as to be De restraints of a jult and vigorous govern: despised for baser vices. But though it be nent more indispensably necessary. Con-, mean to be below ambition, it is a proof fication and paper money, the two great. of unspeakable greatness of mind to be & schools of rapacity and dishonesty in the above it. This elevation the mind of murid, had widely spread their poilon a. Washington had reached ; and unlefs we song the Americans. One of their own are greatly deceived, he will be found to writers tells us, that the whole fystem of be a solitary example of such exalted magpaper money was a system of public and nanimity. "To despise what all other men private frauds. In this state of things, pursue; to thew himself equal to the which threatened the dissolution of mora. highest places without ever seeking any i Ity and government, good men saw the and to be as active and intrepid from pubreceffity of concentrating and invigorating lic virtue alone, as others are under the the supreme authority. Under the influ- influence of the most restless ambition; exce of this convi&tion, a convention of these are the noble peculiarities of the chan delegates was assembled at Philadelphia, racter of Washington. which strengthened the bands of the Fe. Events occurred during his chief magifderal Union, and bestowed on Congress tracy, which convulsed the whole polithok powers which were necessary for the tical world, and which tried most feverely purposes of good government. Washing. his moderation and prudence. The French ton was the president of this convention, revolution took place. as he, in three years after, was elected Both friends and enemies have agreed in prendent of the United States of America, stating that Washington, from the beginander what was called “ The New Con- ning of that revolution, had no great contitution," though it ought to have been fidence in its beneficial operation. He called a reform of the republican govern- muit indeed have desired the abolition of mkat, as that republican government it- delpotilin, but he is not to be called the felf was only a reform of the ancient colo. enemy of liberty if he dreaded the substi. sial constitution under the Britih crown. tution of a more oppreffive despotifın. It None of these changes extended fo far as is extremely probable that his wary and an attempt to new-model the whole social practical understanding, intructed by the and political system.
experience of popular commotions, auThere is nothing more striking in the gured little good from the daring fpeculawhole character of General Washington, tions of inexperienced visionaries. The and which diftinguilles him more from progress of the revolution was not adapted other extraordinary men, than the circum. to cure his diftruft, and when, in the ftances which attended his promotion and year 1793, France, then groaning under retreat from office. Unfought elevation the most intolerable and hideous tyranny, and cheerful retreat are almoft peculiar became engaged in war with almost all the to him. He eagerly courted privacy, and governments of the civilized world, it is only fübmitted to exercise authority as a faid to have been a matter of deliberation public duty. The promotions of many with the President of the United States, inen are the triumph of ambition over vir. whether the republican envoy, or the agent tee. The promotions, even of good men, of the French princes fhould be received in bare generally been eagerly fought by America as the diplomatic representative them from motives which were very much of France. But whatever might be his mixed. The promotions of Walhington private feelings of repugnance and horror, alone,seem to have been victories gained by his public conduct was influenced only by bis conscience over his taste. His public his public duties. As a virtuous man he virtne did not need the ambiguous aid of must have abhorred the system of crimes ambition to urge its activity. We do not which was established in France. But as affirm that all ambition is to be condemned; the first magistrate of the American Comit is perhaps necessary to ftiinulate the monwealth, he was bound only to consider Auggiihness of human virtue. Those who how far the interest and safety of the people avoid the public service from an epicurean whom he governed, were affected by the bore of pleasure and of ease, from the fear conduct of France. He saw that it was of danger, from insensbility to honest wise and necessary for America to preserve
a good understanding and a beneficial
intercourse with that great country, in • See Ramsay's American Revolution, whatever manner Nie was governed, as tel. 26
long as the abitained from committing