A HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND DEATH, VIRTUES AND EXPLOITS, OF General George Washington, FAITHFULLY TAKEN FROM AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS, AND, NOW, IN A SECOND EDITION IMPROVED, RESPECTFULLY OFFERED TO THE PERUSAL OF HIS COUN|TRYMEN; AS ALSO, ALL OTHERS WHO WISH TO SEE HUMAN NATURE IN ITS MOST FINISHED FORM.
Price, 25 Cents.
BY THE REV. M. L. WEEMS, OF LODGE NO. 50—DUMFRIES.
Philadelphia: RE-PRINTED BY JOHN BIOREN, NO. 83 CHESNUT STREET, FOR THE AUTHOR.
[Entered according to Law.]
DEDICATION. TO MRS. MARTHA WASHINGTON, THE ILLUSTRIOUS RELICT OF GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Very Honored Madam,
THE author hopes he shall escape the charge of presumption for dedicating this little book to you, as it treats of one, to whom, you, of all on earth, were, and still are, the most tenderly related. One of my reasons for writing this sketch of your husband's life, and virtues, is derived from those virtues them|selves, which are such true brilliants as to assure me, that even in my simple stile, like diamonds on the earth, they will so play their part at sparkling, that many an honest youth shall long to place them in the casket of his own bosom.
Should it contribute, in any wise, to diffuse the spirit of WASH|INGTON—in any degree to promote those virtues, which render|ed him the greatest, because the most serviceable of mankind—Should it serve to sooth the sorrows of Washington's dear Relict, during her short separation from that best of husbands, now brightest of •aints—And O! should it be so favoured as to suggest to the children, now that their father is dead, the great duty of burying their quarrels, and of heartily uniting to love, and to pro|mote each other's good—It will be matter of great joy to one, who can sincerely subscri••• himself the lover of all, who, fear God, honor the President (Adams or Jefferson,) revere the laws, and are not given to change.
May God's everlasting consolations attend the bosom friend of WASHINGTON! is the prayer of orphand America; and the prayer of
Your Sincere, though Unknown Friend, M. L. WEEMS.
February 22d, 1800.
THE LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq.
THIS truly great man, the third son of a Mr. Augustin Washington, was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 22d day of February, 1732. He was the first son of a second marriage; a circumstance which ought, in all conscience, to quiet the minds of those who have their doubts with respect to the law|fulness of second marriages. His education was of the private and proper sort. Dead languages, pride, and pedantry, had no charms for him who always preferred sense to •ound, the kernel to the shell. A grammatical knowledge of his mother-tongue—the mathe|matics—geography—history—natural and moral philosophy, were the valuable objects of his youthful studies: And in these he made the proficiency of one who always loved to go deep. At school he was remarkable for good nature and c•ndour; qualities which gave him so entirely the hearts of his young companions, that a reference to him was the usual mode of deciding all differences. After leaving his tutor he acted, for a few years, as a county surveyor, in which profession, his industry, as also the neatness and regularity with which he did every thing, were universally admired.
In 1753, the French and Indians began to make inroads on our western frontiers along the Ohio. Governor Dinwiddie was in a peck of troubles, to get a letter of remonstrance to their comman|der in chief. He had applied to several young gentlemen of his acquaintance; but they were all so exceedingly tender of their night-caps, they could not be prevailed on, for love or money, to venture out among the savages. WASHINGTON happening to hear of it, instantly waited on his excellency, and offered his services, but not without being afraid l••t his want of a beard should go against him. However, the governor was so charmed with his modesty and manly air, that he never asked 〈◊〉 a syllable about his age, but, after thanking him for "a noble youth," and insisting on his taking a glass of wine with him, slipped a commission into his hand. The next day, accompanied by an interpreter and a couple Page 2 of servants, he set out on his expedition, which was, from start to pole, as disagreeable and dangerous as any thing Hercules himself could have wished. Soaking rains, chilling blasts, roaring floods, pathless woods, and mountains clad in snows opposed his course; but opposed in vain—The glorious ambition to serve his country imparted an animation to his nerves, which rendered him superior to all difficulties, and happier far than the little souls he left behind him in Williamsburg, fidling and feasting in the Rawleigh.*
Returning homewards, he was waylaid and shot at by a French Indian, and though the copper-coloured ruffian was not 15 steps distant when he fired at him, yet not even so much as the smell of lead passed on the clothes of our young hero; so true still is the promise on record in the good old book, viz.
On his return to Williamsburg it was found that he had executed his negociations, both with the French and Indians, with so much fidelity and judgment, that he received the heartiest thanks of the governor and council for the very important services he had done his country.
HE was now (in the 20th year of his age) appointed major and adjutant general of the Virginia forces. Soon after this, the French continuing their encroachments, orders were given by the English government, for the colonies to arm and unite in one con|federacy. Virginia took the lead, and raised a regiment of four hundred men, at the head of which she placed her darling WASH|INGTON▪
WITH this handful of 〈◊〉 fellows, col. WASHINGTON, not yet 23, boldly pushed out into the Indian country, and there for a considerable time, Hannibal-like, maintained the war against three times the number of French and Indians. At the Red-Stones he came up with a strong party of the enemy, whom he engaged and effectually defeated, after having killed and taken thirty-one men. From his prisoners, he obtained undoubted intelligence, that the French forces on the 〈◊◊〉 of upwards of a thousand re|gulars and many hundreds of Indians. But, notwithstanding this disheartening advice, he still presse• on undauntedly against the ene|my, and at a place called the Little-Meadows, built a fort, which he called Fort-Necessity. Here he waited, hourly and anxiously looking for succours from New-York and Pennsylvania; but he Page 3 looked in vain—nobody came to his assistance. Not long after this, his small force, now reduced to three hundred men, was attacked by an army of 1100 French and Indians. Never did the true Vir|ginian valour make a more glorious shine than on this trying occa|sion.
To see three hundred young fellows—commanded by a smooth-faced boy—all unaccustomed to the terrors of war—far from home and from all hopes of help—shut up in a dreary wilderness, and surrounded by four times their number of savage foes, and yet, without sign of fear, without thought of surrender, preparing for mortal combat. Oh! it was a glorious sight! never since the days of Leonidas and his three hundred deathless Spartans had the sun be|held its equal. With hideous whoops and yells the enemy came on like a host of furious tygers. The woods and rocks and tall tree tops were in one continued blaze and crash of fire arms. Nor were our young warriors idle, but, animated by their gallant chief, plied their rifles with such spirit, that their little fort resembled a volcano in full blast roaring and discharging thick sheets of liquid fire and of leaden deat•s among their foes. For three glorious hours, Salaman|der-like, inveloped in smoke and flame, they sustained the attack of the enemy's whole force, and laid two hundred of them dead on the spot! Discouraged by such desperate resistance, the French general, the count de Villiers, sent in a flag to WASHINGTON, extolling his gallantry to the skies, an offering him the most ho|norable terms. It was stipulated that COL. WASHINGTON and his little band of heroes, should march away with all the honors of war, and carry with them their military stores and baggage.
IN the spring of 1755, WASHINGTON, while busied in the high|est military operations, was summoned to attend general Braddock, who, in the month of February, arrived at Alexandria with 2,000 British troops. The assembly of Virginia appointed 800 provin|cials to join him. The object of this army was to march through the country by the way of Will's-Creek to fort du Quesne (now Pittsburgh or Fort-Pitt). As no person was so well acquainted with the frontier country as WASHINGTON, and none stood so high in military fame, it was thought he would be infinitely serviceable to general Braddock. At the request of the governor and council he cheerfully quitted his own command, to act as volunteer aid-de-camp to that very imprudent and unfortunate general. The army, near 3,000 strong, marched from Alexandria to the mournful ditty of "over the hills and far away," and proceeded unmolested within a few miles of Fort-Pitt. On the morning of the day (9th of July) on which they expected to arrive, the provincial scouts discovered a large party of French and Indians lying in ambush. WASH|INGTON, with his usual modesty, observed to general Braddock Page 4 what fort of enemy he had now to deal with. An enemy who would not, like the Europeans, come forward to a fair ••uffle in the field, but, concealed behind rocks and trees, carry on a deadly warfare with their rifles. He concluded with begging that general Braddock would grant him the honor to place himself at the head of the Virginia riflemen, and fight them in their own way. And it was generally thought that our young hero and his 800 hearts of hickory, would easily have cleared them out too, for they were not superior to the force, which, (with only three hundred) he had thrown into such a sweat a twelve month before. But gen▪ Brad|dock, who had all along treated the American officers and soldiers with infinite contempt, instead of following this truly salutary ad|vice, swelled and reddened with most unmanly rage: "High times, by God," he exclaimed, strutting to and fro, with arms a|kimbo, "High times! when a young Buckskin can teach a British general how to fight!" Washington withdrew, biting his lip with grief and indignation, to think what numbers of brave fellows would draw short breath that day, through the pride and obstinacy of one epauletted fool. The troops were ordered to form and ad|vance in columns through the woods!!!! In a little time the ruin, which WASHINGTON had predicted, ensued. This poor devoted army, pushed on by their mad-cap general, fell into the fatal snare which was laid for them. All at once a thousand rifles began the work of death. The ground was instantly covered with the dying and the dead. The British troops, thus slaughtered by hundreds, and by an enemy whom they could not see, were thrown irrevo|cably into panic and confusion, and in a few minutes their haughty general, with 1200 of his brave, but unfortunate countrymen, bit the ground. Amidst all this fearful consternation and carnage, amidst all the uproar and horrors of a rout, rendered still more dreadful by the groans of the dying, the screams of the wounded, the piercing shrieks of the women, and the yells of the furious as|saulting savages, WASHINGTON, calm and self-collected, rallied his faithful riflemen, led them on to the charge, killed numbers of the enemy who were rushing on with tomahawks, checked their pur|suit, and brought off the shattered remains of the British army.
THIS glorious action confirmed his admiring countrymen in the very high opinion which they had conceived of their WASHING|TON. His valour and military talents were extolled to the skies. The bravery of the Virginia troops on this trying occasion, rejoiced the good old mother-country, and was surely enough to have taught her to despise that execrable fire-brand, general Amherst, who, a few years afterwards, most impudently asserted, that the •ight of a grenadier's cap would put an American army to flight, and Page 5 even boasted in parliament, that he could march through all North-America with 5000 men!!!!!!!
WITH respect to our WASHINGTON, I cannot but mention here two very extraordinary speeches that were uttered about him at this time, and which, as things have turned out, look a good deal like prophecies. A famous Indian warrior who assisted in the de|feat of Braddock, was often heard to swear that WASHINGTON was not born to be killed by a bullet, "for," continued he, "I had SE|VENTEEN fair fires at him with my rifle, and, after all, I could not bring him to the ground." And, indeed, whoever considers that a good rifle, levelled by a proper marksman, hardly ever misses its aim, will readily enough conclude, with this unlettered savage, that some invisible hand must have turned aside his bullets.
THE Rev. Mr. Davies, in a sermon occasioned by Braddock's defeat, has these remarkable words—"I beg leave to point the atten|tion of the public to that heroic youth, colonel WASHINGTON, whom I cannot but hope Providence has preserved for some great service to this country." Yes reverend Sir, for some great service indeed.—He was preserved of God to be the political saviour of his country. He who inspired the flaming fancies of a BARLOW and a DWIGHT; He who imparted the ken of angels to FRANKLIN and to RITTEN-HOUSE, even he, the same all-gracious power, raised up WASH|INGTON, to be his minister of mercies to America. Oh! that there were an heart in us to adore the giver, and to emulate the bright virtues of his precious gift.
After the defeat and death of general Braddock, WASHINGTON continued to press forward, the foremost man to fail upon every difficulty or danger that threatened his beloved country. And the Lord was with him whithersoever he went, and whatsoever he did the Lord made it to prosper. On every occasion he displayed so much of wisdom, industry, and valour, as gained him his country's heartiest approbation, a reward which, next to the smi•es of his own con|science, he valued more than all things else.
IN 1759, he resigned his command, and entered into the married state▪ in the 27th year of his age, with the young and amiable widow of Mr. Custis, with whom he received one of the hand|somest estates in Virginia. From this period he became as assiduous to serve the s•ate as a SENATOR, as he had hitherto been active to defend it as a soldier; thus teaching us, by his own great example, that a real patriot thinks nothing done for his country, while 〈◊〉 remains any thing to be done for it.
In the year 1773, when the damp of God was burning with pe|culiar brightness in our land, and both Britain and her colonies en|joyed a measure of blessings seldom indulged to the most •avored nations—When, at the very mention of Old-England, our hearts Page 6 leaped for joy, as at the name of a great and venerable mother, and that mother felt an equal transport at thoughts of us, her flou|rishing colonies—When all the produce of these vast and fertile regions was poured into her beloved lap, and she, in return, not al|lowing us the trouble to make even a hob-nail, heaped our families with all the necessaries and elegancies of her ingenious artists.—When, tho' far separated by an ocean's roar, we were yet so unite• by love and mutual helpfulness, that the souls of Rawleigh and Co|lumbus, looking from heaven on the enchanting scene, enjoyed the consummation of their wishes, and felt an accession to their bliss: At this happy period, lord North brought in a bill to tax the colonies without allowing us a voice in their councils!!! The colo|nies were thunderstruck, and Britain herself, "sighing through all her island, gave signs of woe that all was lost."
Millions of that magnanimous and freedom-loving people execra|ted the measure as unconstitutional and wicked.
London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol, &c. poured in petitions on petitions, praying the minister, in compassion to their half-ruined trade and families, to repeal the act. Petitions and remonstrances, without number, were sent also from America to the king, to the parliament, and to the people of Great-Britain; but these, like the unfortunate petitions just mentioned, were all consigned to the "com|mittee of oblivion," as the opposition humorously styled it. The ministry would not honor them even with a reading! They had attempted in 1765, eight years ago, to impose on the colonies an unconstitutional tax, under cover of the stamp-act. This had blown up such a flame of opposition throughout the continent, especially at Boston, that the ministry prudently suffered the matter to die away. But the gall of disappointment was still bitter on their minds, and they now thought to have satisfaction by laying a tax of three pence in the pound on all teas consumed in the colonies.* This set the old flame agoing again. The colonists at first employ|ed, as we have seen, moderate measures, but finding that these were treated with contempt, and that the face of North, black as the cloud of winter, was hard set against them for evil, they rose up as one man, from Dan to Beersheba, resolved, like true sons of Britons, to live free, or not to live at all. Soon, therefore, as the ships, laden with the ill-fated tea, arrived at Boston, in the fall of 1773, immense quantities of it (£.18,000 sterling's worth) were trundled into the sea; large parcels were destroyed in other colonies, and still larger parcels were returned unsold.
On the arrival of this news in England, the countenance of the minister was dark with fury, and he proceeded, without delay, to mix up for the colonies a cup of fiery indignation, of which Bos|ton, it seems, was to have •ue largest dose. As that most unduti|ful Page 7 child had always led off the dance in outrage and rebellion against the parent state, it was determined that she should pay the piper for old and new—that her purse should answer for all the •ea that had been destroyed—that her luxuriant trade, which had made her so wanton, should be taken away from her—and that, ma•gre her high looks and proud stomach, she should sit on the stool of re|pentance until his gracious majesty, George III. should be pleased to pronounce her pardon.
On the receipt of this intelligence at Boston, the passions of the people flew up, five hundred degrees above blood-heat! through|out the continent the fever raged with equal fury. The colonies all extolled Boston for the firmness with which she had stood up for her chartered rights—liberal contributions were made for her relief—and this ministerial attack on her liberties, was considered as an at|tack on the liberties of the whole, which were now thought to be in such danger, as loudly to call for a general Congress from all the colonies, to deliberate on their common interests. This most un|kingly body sat down, for the first time, in Philadelphia, Sept. 5th, 1774. They began with publishing a bill of rights, wherein they re|peated their loyalty and love to the mother country, together with an earnest wish for a constitutional dependance on her; but, at the same time, they begged leave to assure, that though she, in her ex|cess of parental fondness, might suffer herself to be bound and in|sulted by North and Bute, and other Philistine lords, yet they, for their parts, were resolved, like true sons of British Sampsons, to rise and fight to the last hair of their heads. They asserted, and, begged leave to do it pretty roundly too, as it was getting now high time to speak plain, that, by the immutable laws of nature—by the principles of the British constitution—and by their several charters, they had a right to liberty, the liberty of British colonies; and, moreover, that their ever-honored fathers, at the time of their emigration to this country, were entitled to all the rights of free|men; and since, by such emigration, they had neither forfeited nor surrendered these rights—that they, their children, were de|termined, at the risk of every thing short of their eternal salvation, to defend and to transmit them entire to their posterity.
Millions of choice spirits in England, Scotland, and Ireland, cried out "that's well said, and may God's arm strike with our Ame|rican brother's;" this was coming to the point, and produced the effect that might be expected. For, instantly, all exportation of arms and ammunition to America was prohibited—large reinforce|ments were sent to the king's troops at Boston—and every step was taken to compel the colonies to submission. This filled up the mea|sure of American hatred to the ministry, and called forth the most vigorous preparations for war. Every ounce of gun-powder was Page 8 husbanded like so much gold-dust; powder-mills and musquet-manufactories were erected in most of the colonies, while others, as not liking this slow way of doing things, laid violent hands at once upon all the king's arms and ammunition that came in their way. The hell fraughted cloud of civil war was now ready to burst, and April the 19th, 1775, was the fatal day marked out by mysterious Heaven, for tearing away the infant colonies from the old mother country. Early that morning, General Gage, whose force in Boston was augmented to 10,00 men, sent a detachment of 1,000▪ to destroy some military stores which the Americans had collected in the town of Concord, near Lexington. On com|ing to the place, they found the town militia assembled on the green near the road. "Throw down your arms, and disperse, you rebels," was the cry of the British officer which was immediately followed by a general discharge of the soldiers; whereby eight of the Americans were killed and several wounded. The Provin|cials returned the fire with good interest, and strewed the green with the dead and wounded. Such fierce discharges of musquetry, produced the effect that might have been expected in a land of freemen, who saw their brave countrymen engaged in the strife of death. Never, before, had the bosoms of the swains experienced such a tumult of heroic passions. They flew to their houses, snatch|ed up their arms, and in spite of their wild screaming wives and children, darted to the glorious field where liberty, heaven-born goddess, was to be bought for blood. Pouring in now from every quarter, were seen crowds of sturdy peasants with flushed cheeks, and flaming eyes, eager for battle! Fast as they came up, their long black musquets began to pour the red streams of fiery vengeance. The enemy fell back appalled▪ Every step of their retreat was stained with trickling crimson; every hedge or fence by which they passed took large toll of hostile carcases. They would, in all probability, have been cut off to a man, had not General Gage, luckily recollecting, that born of Britons, these Yankees might still perhaps retain some of the old lion's fire, sent on 2,000 men to support, if necessary, his troops. This reinforcement met the poor fellows, •aint with f••r and fatigue, and brought them sa••ly off to Boston. In this their first field, the young Ame|rican f•rmers gleaned of the British about sixty-three in stain, and two hundred and eight in wounded and prisoners. The flame of civil discord now broke out, a roaring blaze, and with equal ardor, both parties hastened to c•ap on the horrid kettle of war.
On this day, June 12, 1775, General Gage issued his Procla|mation of rebellion, with threats of hea•iest vengeance against the 〈◊〉; extending however in the king's name, the golden 〈◊〉 of mercy to all true penitents, Samuel Adams, and John Page 9 Hancock, excepted. The British 10,000 strong were still in Boston where, ever since the affair of Concord, they had been surrounded by an army of 20,000 Provincials,* all so eager to try the city by storm, that it was with the greatest difficulty their officers could restrain them.
On the night of June 16, with a view of driving the British from Boston, the Provincial Generals sent a body of fifteen hun|dred men, to throw up some works on Bunker's hill. Next morning General Gage pushed off a detachment three thousand strong, with a suitable train of artillery, to dislodge them. The attack was made with great fury on the part of the British, while the Americans did not return a shot, until the enemy had come up within ten steps of the works. A well directed and most horrid fire then took place. The British •ell back. Their gallant offi|cers led them a second time to the charge; a second fire equally close and deadly, drove them back again. But, led on a third time, by dint of bayonet they at length carried the works; and the Americans destitute of that weapon▪ were obliged, after an obstinate restance, to quit their little dirt fort, the ever green grave of the immortal Warren, and many more of weeping Liberty's martyred sons. On the other hand, the British drew back to town with solemn step and slow, having nearly one half of their whole detachment killed and wounded.
The bloody Rubicon was now passed, and Congress, having closed with the British in an awful appeal to the sword, saw the necessity of appointing a Commander in chief. In a moment the great name of Washington was buzzed from Georgia to New Hampshire. Congress hastened to meet the wish of the nation; and Washington was unanimously elected Commander in chief of the armies of his country. On the third day of July▪ 1775, he arrived at the continental camp near Boston, where he was received with great joy, after having been treated on his way through the states, with all the attention due to that great and virtuous man, to whom, under God, the whole continent looked for safety and freedom. During this autumn and winter of 1775. Washington could do no more with the British than to hold them close con|fined in Boston, where the scurvy 〈◊〉 in among them and proved very fatal. To remedy this evil, 〈◊〉 quantities of livestock and vegetables were shipped from Bri••••—5,000 〈◊〉—14,000 Page 10 sheep—12,000 hogs—22,000 pounds sterling worth of sour crout—and nearly the same amount in •ay, oats, and beans, for a single regiment of cavalry!! A proof that nations, as well as individu|als, had better sometimes to pocket an injury, and save the ex|pence.
In the spring of 1776, Washington gave orders to erect on the heights near Boston, three large batteries, whose heavy fire both of balls and bombs soon rendered the town so intolerably hot, that General Gage was glad to evacuate it on the 17th of March, when Washington marched in with the honours of a triumph, and was welcomed by the people and by the state assembly, as Heaven's agent of their deliverance. In consequence of some disturbances, this year in Carolina in favour of the ministry, Sir Peter Parker was dispatched with nine ships of war, from fifty to twenty guns each, with a large land force commanded by Clinton and Corn|wallis, to make an attempt on Charleston the capital of South Ca|rolina. Before the ships could be brought to pay their respects to the town, they must, it seems, pass a little fort on Sullivan's island. This, however, being defended only by the raw militia, was hardly looked on as any obstacle. Happily for America, Wash|ington h•d committed the command of it to General Moultrie. About ten o'clock, June 28th, Sir Peter Parker having brought his ships of war close along side the fort, began a tremendous can|nonade upon it, not without expecting to see the militia fly, like frightened rats from an old barn on fire. But, very contrary to his hopes, the Provincials stood their ground as though they grew to the soil, and levelling their eighteen pounders with good aim, they bored the ministerial ships through and through at every fire. Their third broad•ide cut the springs of the Commodore's cables, so that swinging around, stern on, towards the fort, she was raked fore and aft, most dreadfully. The slaughter on board the ships was very great. The quarter-deck of the Bristol (the Com|modore's ship) was at one time cleared of every soul, except the Commodore himself, whose small clothes were rudely torn off by a cannon ball. So that Sir Peter was the first Sans Culotte ever heard of in America. Would to God he had been the last.
The heroes in the •ort won immortal honour. One brave fel|low, a Serjeant, observing the flag staff shot away, jumped down from the fort on the beach, in the ho••st fury of the battle, snatched up the flag, and having returned it to its place, stream|ing defiance, waved his hat with a—Hurra, my boys, God save Washington and America forever." Congress rewarded him with a sword. Another, while roaring away with his 18 pounder, was terribly shattered by a Cannon ball. When about to expire, he lifted up his dying eyes and said—"My brave Countrymen. I Page 11 die, but don't let the cause of liberty die with me." Now louder and louder, still peal on peal, the American thunder burst forth with earth trembling crashes; and the British ships, after a long and gallant struggle, hauled off with a good fortnights worth of work for Surgeons, Carpenters and Splicers.
About this time the great question of independence, was proposed in Congress. The honourable Samuel Chase, Esq. the Demosthe|nes of Maryland, was the first who had the honour to say on the floor of Congress, that, "he owed no allegiance to the King of Great Britain." On the ever memorable 4th of July, 1776, the United States were declared a FREE AND INDEPENDENT NATION. God Admighty grant us virtue enough, for ever to live so!!
A few days after this, Lord Howe came upon the coast with a huge forest of men of war and transports, shading far and wide the frightened ocean, and bearing nearly forty thousand men, British Hessians, and Waldeckers. Supposing that this had intimidated the American commander, Lord Howe wrote a letter to him, di|rected "to George Washington,Esq." This Washington refused to receive, looking on it as an insult to Congress, under whom he had the honour to bear the commission of Commander in Chief, and should have been addressed as such. General Howe then sent an officer to converse with him on the subject of reconciliation. Hav|ing heard what he had to say, Washington replied, "by what has yet appeared, sir, you have no power but to grant pardons; but we, who have committed no fault, want no pardons, for we are fighting only for our rights, as the descendants of English|men."
The unfortunate defeat, of Long Island, now took place, on August 28th, which though the hottest day in the year, had like to have been the freezing point in the American affairs. For, on this day, the British, with an infinite superiority of force, after having defeated the Americans with great loss, were investing the slender remains of their army, and had actually broke ground within six hundred yards of the little redoubt• that feebly covered their front. Soon as it was dark Washington ordered the troops to convey their baggage and artillery to the water fide, whence it was transported over a broad ferry all night long, with amazing silence and order. Providentially a thick fog continued next morning till ten o'clock; When that passed away, and the sun broke out, the British were equally surprised and enraged to see the rear guard with the last of the baggage, in their boats and out of all danger.
Lord Howe, supposing that such a run of misfortunes must have put Congress into a good humour to think about peace, signified a willingness to have a grand talk on the subject. Congress sent Page 12 Doctor Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Rutledge, each with his belt of wampum. But finding that his lordship was still harping on the old string, pardons, pardons; not liking such music, they took up their hats, and very erectly stalked off. Towards the close of this trying campaign, it is a fact that Washington had not 3000 men, and even these were so destitute of necessaries, that nothing but their love and veneration of him kept them together. And with this handful he had to opppose a victorious army of nearly fifty thousand veterans!! But Jehovah the God of Hosts was with him, and o•t-times in the ear of the slumbering hero, his voice was heard, "fear not, for I am with thee, •e not dismayed for I am thy god." Hence under all the disheartening circumstances of this campaign, Washington not only kept up his own spirits, but cheer'd those of his drooping comrades. "Never despond, my friends, said he, let matters come to the worst, we can but retire •ver the mountains, whence we shall never lack opportunities to har|•ass, and finally to expel the enemies of our country." Hearing his officers talking one day about the gloominess of the American affairs he humourously clasped his neck with his hands, and said with a smile, "I really cannot believe yet that my neck was ever 〈◊〉 for a halter."
For four months during the summer and 〈◊〉 of 79, the Ameri|cans had been obliged to retreat before the enemy, who had now completely over-run the Jerseys, filling every town and hamlet with their victorious Red Coats. Washington hovered around them waiting for an opportunity to strike. An opportunity soon offered. Learning that the enemy at Trenton, (in number about 2000, chiefly Hessians) were lulled into that state of security which frequent victories and a contempt of an enemy, too naturally in|spire; he formed the design to surprise them. Christmas night (76) was pitched on for the purpose. Having divided his little force into three bodies, he gave the command of two of these▪ to generals Ewing and Cadwaliader, with orders to cross the river just below Trenton. Assisted by general Green, Washington him|self led the principal body over M'Konky's ferry, 9 miles above. It was his plan to reach town about day break, but by reason of the immense quantities of ice in the river, and a violent storm of hail and snow, he did not arrive till 8 o'Clock. The troops under Cadwallader and Ewing, could not cross at all. The instant be|fore the attack, he animated his men by the following speech.
"My brave Countrymen, now is the the important moment to strike a blow, which, however inconsiderable in appearance, may draw after it consequences the most desirable and glorious. When therefore you come to the charge, give me, which is all I ask on earth, to see you behave like men who are fighting for Country, for Page 13liberty, and for life. For my own part, I solemnly vow to God, that I will never survive a defeat, if that defeat be owing to any inattention to your welfare." He would have proceeded, but was interrupted by the •ager cries of his men—Lead us on; lead us on to the enemy." In an instant, like lightning, they came up with the out guards, and pouring in their fire, drove them back into to•n, seized their artillery, and were on the eve of discharging on their main body, a storm of cannon and musquet balls, when they prudently threw down their arms and cried out for quarter. The brave col. Rhal, with 40 of his men were killed, and 1000 taken prisoners. The rest, at the beginning of the rumpus, took down the road to Bordentown, and so cleared themselves. If Ewing and Cadwallader could but have crossed the river, and seized the Trenton bridge according to Washington's orders, the whole of the British forces at Trenton, Bordentown and Bur|lington, would have been as completely taken as ever was a gang of partridges in a fowler's net. However, this bold stroke threw gen. Howe into such a tremor, that he instantly called off all his cantonments from the Delaware to Brunswick and Amboy, within the welcome sight and smell of their men of war.
Tho' this victory was gained on the 26th of December, and Washington, in order to animate his country men, had marched his prisoners to Philadelphia, yet we find him again, on the 1st of Ja|nuary, across the angry Delaware, and raising aloft his Country's flag, bold-〈◊〉 over the heights of Trenton. Lord Corn|wallis advanced to ••tack him. Finding that the enemy, greatly superior in numbers, were endeavoring to surround him, and seeing no possibility, on account of the ice, to re-cross the Delaware; Washington was obliged again to recur to stratagem, of which no general perhaps ever had a larger stock. He kept up a heavy can|nonade on the enemy till night, then lighting a vast number of fires, and leaving guards at the bridges, he pushed off about mid-night for Princeton, and at sun-rise, came down upon another heavy bo|dy of the British, who had just struck their tents, and were coming on in high spirits to attack him at Trenton. To it, in a moment, both parties •ell like heroes. Flash and clash went the musquets and bayonets. Here the servants of George and there the sons of liberty, rushed on to mutual wounds and death.
The great name of Washington imparted its usual animation to his troops. The enemy gave way in all quarters, and were pur|sued 4 miles. The victors returned with 400 prisoners; the bay|onet had stopp'd 120 on the field. But they fell not alone. The Gallant Mercer and 63 of his brave countrymen sleep with them. But the stri•e of the heroes was but for a moment; and they have Page 14 forgotten their wo•nds. Together now they feast in paradise, and when meet their eyes of love, their joys are not dash'd by re|collection of the past.
The British officers gave our Washington full credit for such fine strokes of generalship, and began to look thoughtful whenever his name was mentioned.
The enemy now (January 15th.) drew in all their forces to win|ter quarters at Brunswick, where Washington continued to thin their number by cutting off their foraging parties; so that every load of hay or dish of sprouts they got, was at the price of blood.
Thus gloriously, in ten days, was turn'd the tide of victory in favor of America, by him whom heaven, in mercy, not to America alone, but to Britain and to the world, had raised up to found here a wide empire of liberty and virtue. The character of Wash|ington was exalted to the highest pitch even throughout Europe, where he was generally stiled the American Fabius, from the fa|mous Roman general of that name who opposed Hannibal with success. A distinction to which he was justly entitled, from the invincible firmness with which he rejected every bait and finesse of the British generals; as also, from that admirable judgment with which he suited the defence of his country to the genius and abilities of the people, and to the natural advantages of the coun|try itself; thereby not allowing the enemy to profit by their great superiority of numbers, discipline, and artillery, and constantly cutting them off by skirmishes and surprise.
The ministerial plan for this year (1777) was to reduce the Americans, by cutting off all communication between the northern and southern states!! To effect this, general Howe, with 20,000 men, was to go round from New-York to the head of Elk, and thence march on, due north, thro' Philadelphia, while general Bur|goyne, with 10,000 men, setting out from Canada, was to pass along down the lakes, and thence due south to meet his brother Howe; the strait line, formed by the junction of these two gentle|men, was to possess such virtue, that, it was supposed, no American could ever be found hardy enough to set foot over it!!
Accordingly, July 23, general Howe left Sandy Hook, •ailed up the Cheseapeake, and landing at the, mouth of Elk River marched on with but little interruption, except at Brandy wine, to Philadelphia. Into this elegant city, on the 26th of September 77, he entered in triumph; fondly supposing, that, in America as in Europe, the capture of the city, was the same thing as the re|duction of the country. But instead of finding himself master of this great continent, whose Rattle Snakes alone, in the hand of heaven, could scourge his presumption; it was with no small diffi|culty he could keep possession even of the little village of German|town. For on the morning of the 4th of October, Washington made an attack on him with such judgment and fury, that his Page 15 troops gave way in every quarter. "The tumult, disorder and dispair in the British Army, says Washington, were unparelled. But in the very moment of the most decisive and glorious victory, when some of the Provincial regiments had more prisoners than men, the Americans began to retreat!! Washington's grief and mortification, were inexpressible.
But while he was annoying the enemy by land, he did not lose sight of their fleet, which was now forcing its way up the Dela|ware, to keep open to the army a channel of supplies. They ar|rived without molestation, within 8 miles of Philadelphia, at a marsh called Mud-Island. On this poor harmless spot, the fittest however that nature in this peaceful land of Friends could furnish, Washington had ordered a fort to be thrown up, the command of which with 230 men, he assigned to lieutenant col. Sam. Smith. On the eastern or Jersey side of the river, at a place called Red Bank, he ordered a strong redoubt; the command of which with 205 men, was given to Col. Greene. These, with some chevaux de frize sunk in the river, and a few gallies, formed all the bar|rier that Washington could present against the British navy. The strength of this barrier, was soon put to a fiery trial. Great pre|parations were made to attack the Americans, at the same instant, both by land and water. Count Donop; with a host of Hessians, was sent over to be in readiness to attack Red Bank, while the tide of flood, groaning under their enormous weight, brought up the men of war. The morning was still, and the heavens overeast with sad clouds, as of nature sympathising with her children, and ready to drop showers of celestial pity on their strifes. No sooner had the ships floated up within three cables length of the •ort, than they began a most tremendous cannonade: while cannon ba•s and fire tailed bombs, like Comets, fell upon it thick as hail. The gallant Smith and his myrmidons stood the shock to a miracle, and like men fighting under the eye of their Washington, drove the two and thirty pounders thro' them with such spirit and success, that, in a little time the Augusta, a heavy 64 gun ship, took fire and blew up, the horrid balloon of the greatest part of the crew. Another ship, called the Merlin or Black Bird, soon got on the wing and followed the Augusta.
At the same moment, col. Donop, with his Hessians, made a gal|lant attack on the fort at Red Bank. After a few and well direct|ed fires, Greene and his men artfully retired from the out-works. The enemy now supposing the day their own, rushed on in vast numbers along a large opening in the fort, and within twenty steps of a masked battery of 18 pounders loaded with grape shot and spike nails. All at once, Hell itself seemed to open before their affrighted view. But their pains and their terrors were but for a moment. Together down they sunk by hundreds, into the sweet slumbers of death, scarcely sensible of the fatal blow that struck them.
Poor Donop was mortally wounded and taken prisoner. The attentions of the American officers, and particularly the kind con|dolance of the Godlike Washington, quite overcame him*; and his last moments were s•eeped in tears of regret, for having left his native land, to fight a distant people who had never injured him.
After six weeks of infinite fatigue, with great loss of men and money, the British forced a passage large enough for their provision ships, to Philadelphia, where general Howe and his officers held their balls this winter; while 16 miles distant, the great Washing|ton, well pleased with his campaign, retired and hutted it at Val|ley Forge.
While such ill success attended this part of the ministerial plan, viz. to choak the Colonies by a military noose, so lightly drawn from Chesepeake to Champlain, as to stop all circulation between the northern and southern States; a worse fate frowned on their at|tempt in the north. General Burgoyne with 10,000 veterans, be|sides a host of Canadians and Indians, left Canada in June, and came pouring down from the lakes with an impet•osity that swept every thing before it. The hatchets of the Indians were drunk with American blood. No age, no sex could soften them. The widow's wail, the virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry, was music in their ears. In cold blood they struck their cruel tomo|hawks into the defenceless head of a Miss M'Rae, a beautiful girl who was that very day to have been married. Such acts, of inhumanity called forth the fiercest indignation of the Ame|ricans, and inspired that desperate resolution of which the human heart is capable, but which no human force can conquer. The New Englanders, who were the nearest to these infernal scenes, turned out in mass. Washington sent on Gates and Arnold with strong reinforcements; and to these he joined the immortal Mor|gan with his dreadful phalanx, a 1000 riflemen, whose triggers were never touched in vain, but could throw a ball a hundred yards, at a squirrels head and never miss.
Page 17 The first check given to Burgoyne's career, was at Bennington. Hearing that the Americans had laid up large provisions in that town, he detached a colonel Baum with 600 Germans to surprise it; and at the same time, posted colonel Breyman in the neighbour|hood, with an equal number, to support him if necessary. Find|ing the place too well guarded either for surprise or storm, Baum fortified himself at a little distance, and sent back for Breyman. The American commander, the brave general Starke, thinking these enemies fully enough, at least, not wishing for any more, sallied out and with great fury attacked Baum's intrenchments. At the first onset, the Canadians and British marksmen took to their heels, and left the poor Germans in the lurch. After a gal|lant resistance, Baum was mortally wounded, and his brave coun|trymen killed or taken to a man. In the mean time, Breymen, who had not heard a syllable of all this, arrived at the place of action, where, instead of the cheering huzzas of joyful friends, he was saluted, on all hands, with the deadly whizzing of rifle-bullets. After receiving a few close and scorching fires, the Ger|mans were •ain to try their shanks. The enemy lost in these two engagements not less than 800 men, in killed, wounded, and pri|soners.
About the same time, all their forts on the lakes were surprised—Colonel St. Leger was defeated at fort Stanwix—The Indians began to desert—Arnold and Morgan were coming up like moun|tain-storms—and the militia from all quarters, were pouring in. Burgoyne began to be alarmed, and wrote to New-York for help; but, finding that Clinton could give him none, and that the salva|tion of his army depended on themselves, he gallantly determin|ed, on the 7th of October, (77) to stake his all on the cast of a general battle.
His army, in high spirits, was formed within a mile of the Ame|rican camp. Burgoyne himself, with the flower of the British troops composed the centre; Brigadier Gneneral Frazer com|manded the left; the Germans headed by Major Generals Phillips and Reidsdel, and Colonel Breyman, formed the right; with a fine train of artillery, flying colours, and a full roll of martial music, from wing to wing the towering heroes moved. On the other hand, fired with the love of liberty and their country, the Americans poured out by thousands, eager for the glorious con|test. The action began by a most furious attack on the centre of the British army, and extending along the left wing. The Grena|diers behaved with their usual gallanty, but were obliged to give way. Perceiving that they were sinking under the weight of the American fire, Gates ordered a strong body to march 〈◊〉 and their ••ank, while Morgan, with a heavy reinforcement, hasten|ed to the left to decide the action there. These charges was made with such impetuosity, that the enemy was thrown into the Page 18 utmost confusion. To save them from total destruction, the brave General Frazer flew to their assistance. In this attempt he lost his life and great numbers of his men were slain. The situation of this part of the Royal army becoming now exceedingly critical, and the danger encreasing every moment, a retreat was ordered. But scarcely had they entered their camp, when the Americans stormed it with all the fury of Lions: with trailed arms rushing to the charge through a severe fire of grape shot and musquetry. The British fought with equal desperation, for their all was at stake, and the Americans, like a whelming flood, were bursting over their en|trenchments, and hand to hand with arguments of bloody steel, were pleading the cause of ages yet unborn. For some time, the mortal strife was maintained on both sides, with a bravery that was never exceeded. But in that moment of danger and of glory, the impetuous Arnold who led them on, was dangerously wound|ed and forced to retire, and several regiments of British Infantry pouring in to the assistance of their gallant comrades, the Ameri|cans, after many hard struggles, were finally repulsed. In ano|ther quarter, where the strength of the Germans fought, the Ame|ricans led on by Morgan, carried the entrenchments sword in hand. Colonel Breymen, with the greatest part of his country|men, was killed, and their baggage, tents and artillery, all fell in|to the hands of the Conquerors. This was a bloody day to both armies; but so peculiarly disheartening to the British, that they were obliged to retreat that night to Saratoga, where, in a few days (on the 13th of October 1777.) they surrendered to Gates and the Americans, by whom they were treated with a generosity that perfectly astonished them. For when the British were marched out to lay down their arms, there was not an American to be seen! They had all nobly retired, for a moment, as if unwilling to give the pain, even to their enemies, of being spectators of so humilia|ting a scene! Worthy countrymen of Washington! this deed of yours shall out live the stars; and the blest Sun himself, smiling, shall proclaim, that in the wide travel of his beams, he never looked upon its like before.
Thus gloriously for America, ended the campaign of 77. 78 began as auspiciously. In May, Silas Deane arrived from France with the welcome news of a treaty with that powerful People; and a letter from Louis XVI▪ to Congress, whom he styled—Very Dear Great Friends and Allies. On the 6th of June commissioners arrived from Britain with Lord North's conciliatory plan, wherein was offered every thing that America once contended for, or co••ted. But things were now gone too far to admit of the idea of reconcilia|tion on any basis short of Independence. Negociation was, of course, at an end on the part of Britain, who took instantly to the sword again.
Page 19 On the 18th of June, the British army, now under the command of Clinton, evacuated Philadelphia for New-York. The figure they made on the road had something the air of the sublime; for their baggage, loaded horses, and carriages, formed a line not less than twelve miles in length. General Washington, whose eye, like that of the sacred Dragon, was always open and fixed upon the enemies of America, immediately crossed the Delaware after them—pushed on detached corps to obstruct their advance—gall their flanks—and fall on their rear, while he himself moved on with the body of the army. By the 27th, Clinton had got on as far as Monmouth, and Washington's troops were close on his flank and rear. Next morning he ordered general Lee with 5000 men, to begin the attack; himself moving on briskly to support him. But to his astonishment, as he advanced, he met Lee re|treating, and the enemy impetuously pursuing. Here Washington was seen in all his splendor; for the moment of danger and confu|sion was always the orb in which he shown the brightest. At •ight of him his troops recovered their wonted spirits and wheeled around furiously to the charge. The enemy finding themselves now warmly opposed in front, made an attempt to turn his left flank, but were gallantly attacked and driven back. They then made a rapid push to the right, but the brave Green with a choice body of troops and artillery, repulsed them with considerable slaughter. At the same instant Wayne advanced with his Game Chickens,* and poured in so severe and well directed a fire, that the enemy were glad to get back to their defiles. Morgan's rifles were full hot that day. Washington and his heroe's lay upon their arms all night, resolved to fall on the enemy the moment they should attempt their retreat next morning. But during the night they moved off in silence, and got such a start that Wash|ington thought it dangerous in such hot weather, to make a push after them. Washington lost fifty-eight killed—140 wounded. The British had 249 killed, and the wounded in proportion. Numbers, on both sides, died of the extreme heat, and cold water,
In September 1780, an attempt was made to take off our Wash|ington, and by means which I can hardly believe the old British Lion was ever well pleased with. The brave General Arnold, having been appointed to the government of Philadelphia, was alas! over-persuaded by the devil to make a shaving business of it. But, unskilled in the use of the swindling razor, he unfortunately cut many of his customers, so near the quick, that they never gave over bawling untill they got him into the Star chamber. Congress, unwilling to expose the man who had fought so bravely in the cause of liberty, thought they would make what the musicians call, a piano slur of it, and be done with it; for it was a piece of vile discord to generous American ears. For the same reason, the god-like Wash|ington Page 20 hurried it over, and after a gentle reprimand of Arnold, gave him the command of West-point with a large body of Ame|rican troops. The history of Arnold's embarrassments and his quarrel with his countrymen, soon got down to New-York to the British commander, who, well knowing the ticklish situation of a proud man caught on the horns of poverty, sends him up a Major Andre with money in his pocket. The Major, by means yet un|known to the public, got near enough to Arnold to probe him, and, alas! found him, both in principle and purse, hollow as an exhausted receiver, and very willing to be filled up with English guineas. English guineas are offered him; and Arnold agrees, Oh shocking to humanity! Arnold agrees to sacrifice Washington to the British! To be certified of this delightful truth, Andre, during Washington's absence from West-point, comes ashore from a sloop of war, with a surtout over his regimentals, spends a day and night with Arnold, sees, with his own eyes, the dear train laid, the matches lighted, and every thing in readiness, a few nights hence, to send the old Virginia farmer and his republic a|pa•ki•g. Every thing being settled to satisfaction, Andre wishes to set off to carry the glad news to General Clinton, But, be|hold, by a fine stroke of Providential interference, he cannot get on board the ship!! Arnold gives him a horse and a pass to go to New-York by land. Under the name of Anderson he passes, in safety, all the guards. Now, like an uncaged bird and light as the air he breathes, he sweeps along the •oad. His fame brightens before him—stars and garters, coaches and castles, dance before his delighted fancy—even his long loved reluctant Delia (Miss Seward) is all his own—she joins in the nation's gratitude—softly she rolls her eye of love, and, brightening in all her beauty, sinks on his en|raptured breast! In the midst of these too happy thoughts, he is met by three young militia-men; though, not on duty they chal|lenge him. He answers by the name of Anderson, shews his pass and bounds away. Here the guardian genius of Columbia, burst into tears—she saw the fall of her hero, and her country's liberties crushed for ever. Dry thine eyes blest faint! thy Washington is not fall•• yet—the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler are before the chief, and the shafts of his enemies shall yet fall to the earth, accurst. For scarce has Andre passed the young militia men, be|fore one of them tells his comrades, that, he does not like his lo•ks," and insists that he shall be called back and questioned again. His answers prove him a spy. He would have fled, but they level their musquets. Trembling and pale, he offers them an elega••• gold watch to let him go; no! he presses on them a purse bloated with guineas; no! he promises each of them a handsome pension for life—but all in vain. The power that guarded Washington was wroth with Andre. On searching him they find in his boot, and in Arnold's own hand writing, a plan of the whole conspi|racy!! Page 21 But why should I tell how Major Andre died? The place where his gallows stood is overgrown, with weeds—but smiling an|gels often visit the spot, for it was bathed with the tears of his foes.
His candour, on his examination, in some sort expiated his crime, it melted the angel soul of Washington, and the tears of the hero were mingled with the ink that signed the death warrant of the hapless youth. The wretched Arnold fled. British histo|rians have wondered that he left his wife in the dangerous power of Washington. But Arnold knew in whom he trusted; and the god-like man behaved exactly as Arnold had foreseen; for he im|mediately sent him his clothes and baggage, and wrote a polite letter of condolence to his lady, offering her a conveyance to her husband, or, to her friends in Pennsylvania. Washington now waged the war with various success. On the one hand, his hero of Sa|ratoga (Gates), was defeated with considerable loss at Camb|den; On the other, the British lost, on the King's mountain, the brave Colonel Ferguson with all his army, 1,400 Men. Af|ter the defeat of Gates, Washington sent on his favourite Greene to head the Southern Army against the victorious Cornwallis and Tarleton. With Greene he joined the famous Morgan, whose riflemen had done such signal service during the War.
In order to draw Cornwallis's attention from a blow meditated against the British post at Ninety-six, Greene detached Morgan with 300 regulars, 500 Militia and 100 Horse, to Paulet's river, near the neighbourhood of Cornwallis and Tartelon. Immediate|ly the pride of Tarleton rose. He begged of his friend Lord Rawdon to obtain for him the permission of the Commander in chief, to go and attack Morgan. "By heaven, my Lord," said he, "I would not desire a finer feather in my cap, than Colonel Mor|gan. Such a prisoner, would make my fortune." "Ah Ben, replied Rawdon, very cooly, you had better let the Old Waggoner alone." As no refusal could satisfy, permission at length was granted him; and he instantly set out with a 1000 choice Infantry, 300 Horse and two pieces of cannon. His force was to Morgans, at least as 5 to 4. At parting, he said to Lord Rawdon with a smile; My Lord if you will be so obliging as to wait dinner, the day after to|morrow, till 4'o clock, Colonel Morgan shall be one of your Lordships' guests." "Very well, Ben," said the other, "we shall wait."
Morgan bravely stood his ground, and, at a place called the Cowpens, drew up his men with most admirable judgement.—He paraded his Militia in a large field, but near a piece of thick woods: this was made to appear as his whole force; but close behind them and in the edge of the woods, he concealed his Regulars. Scarce was this arrangement made, before the thundering rattle of Tarleton's drums was heard, and the Enemy, Horse and Foot, poured in on the other side of the field in all their glittering steel. Page 22 The Militia suffered them to advance within a hundred yards, and, then gave them a well directed fire, and, according to orders, broke, to gain the woods, and form behind the Regulars. The British sus|posing Morgan's whole force now put to the rout, advanced with such impetuosity that Tarleton's horse had like to have cut down some of the fugitives before they reached the woods. Suspecting no danger nigh, and rushing on as to certain victory, the enemy were now within ten steps of Morgan's riflemen, with every man his finger on the fatal trigger, and his unerring sight drawn upon his brothers heart. Sons of Columbia! let the curtain drop: for who, without weeping eyes, can behold the horrid tragedy that en|sued, or the pale cloud of shrieking ghosts that suddenly ascended from the bloody field! Oh! that they may have wing'd their way to that blest world, where strife and groans, and death, are un|known! The survivors, Tarleton and a few horse excepted, were taken.
Washingtons heroes, continued the war, against the British, till July 81; when Cornwallis resolved to push into Virginia and to fortify himself at York-town. But the eye of Washington was up|on him, and, with an address hardly ever equalled, concerted a plan that ended in his total destruction—He artfully wrote letters to Green, informing, that "in order to relieve Virginia, he was deter|mined immediately to attack New-York. These letters were so dispo|sed of as to fall into the right hands. Clinton took the alarm. But while Clinton was in daily expectation of a visit from him, Wash|ington and his army, now across the Delaware, were in full stretch to the South, darkening the day with their clouds of rolling dust. Cornwallis saw now that the day of his fall was at hand. He had done all that man could do, but all in vain. On the last of Septem|ber, Washington sat down before York with about 100 pieces of heavy artillery. On the 7th, of October, this dreadful train began to thunder; and the British works sunk before them. Lord Corn|wallis, unwilling to expose his gallant army to the destruction of a general assault, agreed on the 17th, to surrender. This was justly considered as the close of War; which having been begun with sup|plication, Washington piously ordered to be finished with thanksgiv|ing. In the Seige of Cornwallis, the behaviour of the Americans*Page 23 was, as usual, generous and noble. The conduct of the French also, was such as to entitle them to equal immortailty.
For when the British marched out, to lay down their arms, the French troops, were seen to shed tears—they condoled with the British, and tendered them their purses!—Glorious proof, that God never intended M•• to be, as some wickedly term it, Natural Enemies.
At the conclusion of the war this truly illustrious man, with a soul far superior to the low ambition of governing, surrendered up to Congress all the authority with which he had been invested. Never was there a more glorious display of the power which vir|tue possesses over the human heart, than on that memorable oc|casion. Congress was then sitting at Annapolis. Washington had informed them of his intention to resign on the following day. The house was crouded with the most respectoble charac|ters in the universe. Washington arose, and with a dignified modesty peculiar to himself, presented into the hands of the Presi|dent of Congress, the commission which he had received from them seven years before. They now saw before them the man whom they had long considered as sent of God to save them and their children from slavery—the man who for this greatest of all purposes had cheerfully relinquished every pleasure of life, and bravely exposed himself to all its evils—the man who for seven long years of difficulty and danger, had manifested the most unflinching zeal for his country, and had been made the honoured instrument of securing to them liberty, property and every thing most dear and valuable—the man, who, in consequence of all this possessed so entirely the hearts of his army and of the nation, that he could easily have made himself their master—They now saw this man, scorning to abuse his power to the dishonour of the mother-coun|try; but, on the contrary, treating her with the most profound re|spect—dutifully bowing before her delegated presence, the Con|gress—returning the commission she had entrusted him with—pi|ously laying down his unbounded power at her feet—and cheerfully falling back into the humble condition of the rest of her children. The sight of this great man acting in so generous, so godlike a manner, produced an effect beyond the power of words to express. Virtue appeared to stand before them arrayed in more than mortal charms. Their feelings of admiration and delight were too de|licious—too big for utterance. A flood of tears gushed from every eye, which though a silent was perhaps the richest offering of veneration and esteem ever paid to a human being.
On the 4th of February 1789, when the Federal Constitution was adopted, he was by the unanimous voice of his country elected President of the United States, and before the expiration of four years, for which he had received his appointment, he was with equal unanimity re-elected to the same honourable station. During the first part of his administration he gave the most entire satis|faction; Page 24 but afterwards when Mr. Pitt was pleased to turn loose his cruisers upon our defenceless commerce, and when the French Directory and their agents, abusing the friendly sentiments which we entertained towards them on account of their former services, endeavoured to draw us into their war—when our citizens, impious|ly forgetting their own country, were divided and distracted by foreign politics, then it was that WASHINGTON failed to please some. But indeed it was not for an angel of God to please such opposite parties, one of whom was furiously clamorous for a war with Britain, the other as keen set on a game of logger heads with France. In the midst of these violent commotions, WASHING|TON turned not to the right hand nor to the left to humour any party. Placed by his country at the sacred helm of her govern|ment, with no pole star but her good, no compass but duty, like a brave and heaven-assisted pilot, he steered our great national bark safely thro' the Scylla and Charybdis, the dangerous rocks and whirlpools of French and English politics.
Little minds are dazzled with pomp and show, to such, WASH|INGTON must have appeared little less than a God, when at York amidst the thunder and lightning of the war, the British Lion crouched before him, and Cornwallis and Tarleton with seven thousand veteran troops, grounded their arms and acknowledged his superiority. But however great, however glorious he might have appeared as a triumphant conqueror, he must appear far greater, far more glorious as the noiseless statesman, whose wis|dom and firmness preserved his country from the ruin and horrors of war, and secured to it all the blessings of peace and flourishing commerce. And however this wise, this beneficent conduct of his may have been reprobated by some, yet the day is at hand, when he, whom all the clamours of a too passionate party, could not per|suade to let slip the hell hounds of war to feast on the cries and blood of mankind, will be revered and beloved as one of the Guar|dian Angels of the human race: Yes, when those unfeeling Ru|lers, who, to monopolize the sale of sugars and of spices, could without remorse, deluge the earth and dye the ocean with human gore, shall be remembered only to be accursed, then shall the name of WASHINGTON sound in the delighted ears of posterity, as the name of some gentle angel of God sent on errands of love to his country: when bloody Kings and Conquerors, with all their eclat, shall have passed away like the black storms of night which deso|lated nations in their course, then shall our WASHINGTON, like Page 25 the sun, blest instrument of light, and joy to our world, roll on in his eternal r••e, gilding distant lands, and ages yet unborn with the sweet beams of his beneficent life.
When our children and our childrens children, hearing the great name of WASHINGTON re-echoed from every lip, shall ask their fathers "what was it that raised WASHINGTON to this godlike height of glory?" Let them be told, that, "it was his GREAT VIRTUES, those precious plants of life, the native shoots of a soul, like his, early watered with the dews of heaven-born religion." Yes, let them be told; and O! may they never forget! that the same of WASHINGTON which hath gone forth throughout the earth, and ascended the highest heavens, arose from his early sense of religion, that only source of human virtue and of human greatness. For how shall frail man, prone to in|glorious case and pleasure, ever ascend the arduous steeps of virtue and of glory, unless animated by the mighty hopes of religion? Or what shall arrest him in his swift descent to infamy and vice if •nawed by that dread power which proclaims to the guilty that their secret crimes are seen and shall not go unpunished? Hence the wise, in all ages, have pronounced, that, there never was a truly great man without religion. There have indeed been great generals, great statesmen, &c. without religion; but let it be re|membered that more courage or cunning, however paramount, never yet made a great man.
Were it not so, the prince of devils would out-top the topmost hero of them all, for he had wit to out-wit Solomon, and cou|rage enough to throw down his black gauntlet to the Almighty. No, no, to be truly great, a man must have not only great talents but great virtues, and these must have nerves of steel too, to bear him strongly up till death, for if he should ever turn aside to vice, farewell for ever his reputation as a hero. Hence when Epami|nondas was asked, which was the greatest man himself, or Pelop|•••s, (another illustrious character of the 〈◊〉) he replied, "wait till we are dead," thus implying, that 〈◊〉 all of heroism, depends on a perseverance till death, in virtue and in great ac|tions. But what motive on earth, can give such perseverance to our virtue, as true religion? For wa•t of this most animating, this only tone giving principle, how many who once dazzled the world with the glare of their abilities, are now eclipsed and set to rise no more? There was Arnold who, in courage and mili|tary talents glittered in the same firmament with WASHINGTON, and, for a while, his face shone like the star of the morning, but, Page 26 alas! for lack of WASHINGTON's religious principles, he soon •ell, like Lucifer, from a heaven of glory into an abyss of never ending infamy. But why should I summon the Arnolds, the Cromwells, the Bacons, the Caesars and Alexanders of the earth, to give sad evidence that no valour, no genius alone can make men great? Do we not daily meet with melancholy instances of youth, lovely as innocence, sparkling as wit, and promising to the full of their fond parents wishes, who, yet, merely for lack of religion, soon make shipwreck of all this precious cargo; sacrificing their gold to gamblers, their health to harlots, and their glory to grog; making conscience their curse, this life a purgatory, and the next a hell!! In fact a man though of the greatest talents, without religion, is but like a gorgeous ship without ballast: highly paint|ed and with flowing canvas, she launches out upon the deep, and during a smooth sea and gentle breezes, she moves along stately as the pride of ocean; but soon as the stormy winds descend, and the blackning billows begin to roll, suddenly she is overset and disap|pears for ever. But who is this coming thus gloriously along, with masts towering to heaven, and his sails white looming like the mountain of s•ows, the strength of ocean roars beneath his prow, while his course through the waves is as the course of the mighty Leviathan? who is it but the servant of God, the friend of man, and guardian angel of his country! who is it but the pride of Columbia, WASHINGTON the great and good, whose talents like the sails of a mighty ship, spread far and wide catching the gales of heaven, while his capacious soul, stored with the rich ballast of religion, remains firm and unshaken as the ponderous rock? The warm zephyrs of prosperity breathe meltingly upon him, the chill storms of adversity descend in all their fury; the big billows of affliction dash violently against him, but nothing can move him; his eye is fixed on God, his thoughts on the same that remaineth after death: The present joys of an approving con|science, and the glory that sadeth not away, these comfort and support him.
Never perhaps, had human being a more vivid sense than WASHINGTON, of that great truth which lies at the bottom of all our religion and of all our joys; I mean, the belief of a particular providence. His strong, vigorous mind clearly discerned that migh|ty God, whom nature through all her wondrous works proclaims aloud: that mighty God who fills the heaven of heavens with his glory, yet every where present with his works, paints the humble •illy of the vale, and feeds with parent care the crying tenants of the sparrow's nest; that mighty God who is thus regardful of his meanest creatures, must, surely, be more regardful of man than of millions of sparrows. This through life, was WASHINGTON's Page 27 firm belief. And this through life animated his hopes, sweeten|ed his resignation, taught him humility, and inflamed his grati|tude. To this ever present parent and preserver of men. WASH|INGTON ascribed all those rich mercies which crowned his life—His favored birth at so singularly important a time and place—his extraordinary rise from obscu•ity to a throne! a throne in the hearts of five millions of freemen—his miraculous escape from the deadly rifle's aim, and from all the casualties of war—his preservation from the dark designs of Arnold and of Andre—his capture of veteran armies, and defeat of a mighty nation—his subversion, in part, of a great monarchy, and establishment of a pure and happy republic—These wonderful events for which admiring millions extolled him, his enlightened mind deemed it equal insanity and sacrilege to take to himself.
Page 28 And when after, having conducted his countrymen through the great revolutionary war with such singular success, he again re|ceived an unanimous call to the PRESIDENT's CHAIR, accompa|nied with the heartiest thanks of the Union for his great services past, and an assured anticipation of equally great to come, read his answers "When I contemplate the interposition of Providence, as it was visibly manifested in guiding us through the revolution, in preparing us for the reception of a general government, and in con|ciliating the good will of the people of America towards one another after its adoption; I feel myself oppressed and almost overwhelmed, with a sen•e of the divine munificence. I feel that nothing is due to my personal agency in all those complicated and wonderful events, except, what can simply be attributed to the exertions of an honest zeal for the good of my country."
And when he presented himself, for the first time, before that august body, the Congress of the United States, April 30, 1789—when he saw before him in full conclave the pride of Columbia in her chosen sons, her Adamses, her Jeffersons, her Jays, her Frank|lins, her Lees, &c. &c.—Immortal heroes! whose wisdom and va|lor had stood around her a wall of fire, during her long and ardu|ous struggle for liberty and independence—when he saw those illus|trious faces, which his knowledge of their GREAT VIRTUES ren|dered still more illustrious; and whose eager eyes all fixed and shining on HIM, darted the sweetest beams of admiration and of filial affection, then it was, that our WASHINGTON felt sensations unutterable; sensations that were left to more expressive silence—that sacred pause of exquisite bliss which belongs alone to virtue to impart! and one moment of which far outweighs a whole eterni|ty of prosperous vice. And his address to congress on that im|portant occasion infinitely deserved the solemn silence with which it was heard; infinitely deserves to be remembered by every coun|cil, parliament, or congress, that may be held to the end of the world!
The delegated Fathers of his country were before him to con|sult on measures, of all others, the nearest to his heart, on mea|sures the best calculated to strengthen the chain of love between the states—to preserve friendship and harmony with foreign pow|ers—to secure the blessings of civil and religious liberty, of peace and prosperity to the union, and to build up our young republic, a great and happy people, among the nations of the earth. Never patriot entered on such important business with fairer hopes, whe|ther we consider the unanimity and confidence of the citizens, or his own and the abilities and virtues of his fellow-counsellors; but all this would not do, nothing, short of the divine friendship, could satisfy WASHINGTON. Feeling the magnitude, difficulty, and danger of managing such an assemblage of communities and inte|rests; Page 29 dreading the machinations of bad men, and well knowing the insufficiency of all second causes, even the best; he piously re|minds Congress of the wisdom of imploring the benediction of the great first cause, without which he knew that his beloved country could never prosper.
And after having come near the close of this the most sensible and virtuous speech ever made to a sensible and virtuous representation of a free people, he adds—
But if the conduct of our WASHINGTON was so lovely in the eyes of angels and good men, because so respectful to the great pa|rent, in public it was not less so in private life. The learned and fa••tious MR. LEE MASSEY, long rector of the parish in which WASHINGTON lived, has often told me, that he never knew so constant a churchman as WASHINGTON. "And his behaviour in the house of his God was so exceedingly decent, added the Page 30 same Rev. gentleman, that it produced the happiest effect on my whole congregation, and greatly assisted and comforted me in my moralizing labours; and he always made it a point to bring with him to church whatever friends happened to be at his house!! The amiable Judge Harrison, secretary to Washington, used often to say, that, whenever the General could be spared from camp on the Sabbath, he never sailed riding out to some neighbouring church, to make one of those who were publicly worshipping the great Creator.
And while he resided in Philadelphia, as President of the Uni|ted States, his chearful and constant attendance on divine service, was such as to convince all who were destitute of religion and true •aste, that he deemed no pleasures equal to those of devotion, and no business a sufficient excuse for neglecting his supreme benefactor. Greatest of sentimentalists! Patron of propriety! Noble devotee of duty! No wonder that he, whom thou so signally honoredst through life, should through life, so signally have honored thee!
The pillars of heaven are not more immoveable than is this great truth; which in WASHINGTON's own language, runs beau|tifully thus—
Did the sense of shame, restrain Alcibiades from base actions in the presence of Socrates? Behold, says religion, a greater than Socrates is here. Does the love of created beauty and worth, re|•••e and improve the soul? Religion leads to the eternal beauty! •he love of whom exalts human •ature to divine.
Did the ambition of a civic crown animate Scipio to heroic deeds? Religion holds up a crown, at sight of which the laurels of a Caesar fade to weeds. Does the hope of gain call forth no|blest industry and worth? Religion points to treasures in heaven, compared with which, whole beds of diamonds, and rocks of massy gold are trash. Did Titus and Aurelius study the happiness of their subjects, for the sake of this world's fame? Religion dis|plays that world of glory, where good kings, who have made their subjects happy, shall shine like the stars for ever and ever.
Are subjects withheld from crimes ruinous to society, through fear of death? Religion adds infinite horrors to that dread, it warns them of a death both of soul and body, in hell, in torments exquisite and eternal.
Page 31 In short, what motives under heaven can restrain men from vice and misery, or urge them on in full stretch after individual and national happiness, comparable with those of Religion? Hence, those great Legislators of nations, Moses, Lycurgus, and Numa, desired nothing for their dear countrymen, in com|parison of Religious Principles. "I ask not gold for the Spar|tans, said Lycurgus, virtue is better than gold." The event shewed his wisdom. The Spartans were invincible all the days of their virtue, even 500 years! "I ask not wealth for Israel, cried Moses, but, O! that they were wise, that they did 〈◊〉 fear God and keep his commandments! The Lord himself shall be their sun and shield." The event proved Moses a true prophet. For while they were virtuous they were independent and happy. In short, look throughout the world, and you will see this eternal truth written on the fates and fortunes of all nations, that ac|cording as they were virtuous or vicious, they were strong or weak, united or divided, prosperous or unfortunate.
Hence, WASHINGTON, in his consultations for our good, •aid more stress on religious principles, than on all other means what|ever.
Human laws!—Human nonsense!—How often, even where the cries and screams of the wretched call aloud for lightning-speeded vengeance, have we not seen the sword of human law loiter in its coward scabbard, afraid of angry royalty? Did not that vile Queen Jezebel, having a mind to compliment her hus|band with a vineyard belonging to one of her poor subjects, sub|born a couple of villains to take a false oath against innocent Na|both, and then cause him to be dragged out with his little mo|therless, crying babes, and most barbarously stoned to death?
Great God! what bloody tragedies have been acted on the poor ones of the earth, by kings and great men who were above Page 32 the laws, and had no sense of religion to keep them in awe!—And if men be not above the laws, yet what horrid crimes! what ruinous robberies! what wide-wasting flames! what cruel mur|ders may they not commit in secret—if they be not withheld by the sacred arm of religion!
But some have said, and with a serious face too, that a sense of honor is sufficient to preserve men from base actions! O blas|phemy to sense! Do not we daily hear of men of honor, by dice and cards, draining their fellow citizens to the last guinea, re|ducing them to a dunghill, or driving them to a pistol? Do not we daily hear of men of honor corrupting their neighours wives and daughters, and then murdering their husbands and brothers in duels? Bind such selfish, such inhuman beings, by a sense of honor!! Why not bind roaring Lions with a cobweb? "No." exclaims WASHINGTON,
Indeed he seems never to have lost •ight of the importance of religion to national safety. When he was told that the British troops at Lexington, on the ever memorable 19th April, 1775, had fired on the Americans and killed several of them, he re|plied,
The life of WASHINGTON adds one more to the already innu|merable proofs of the incalculable importance of good character to all men, but especially to great men. "Very gladly, said George Villars, would I give ten thousand pounds for a good character, because I could easily make thirty thousand pounds by it." But WASHINGTON's good character was worth to himself and to his country, more thirty thousand pounds than all the Golden Sands of Ganbia, and precious ore of Potosi could furnish! It obtained for him the supreme command of the American armies! a com|mand which his great abilities conducted with such skill and suc|cess, that he fully established the liberties of his country; and e|rected for himself a monument whose base covers the United States and its summit reaches the sky: a monument that shall shine in the Cabinets of the Almighty, when the moon has shrouded for e|ver her silver face, and the great sun himself has ceased to gladden the earth with his golden beams.
But before I quit this article, permit me to add, (for which I hope his brethren in arms will thank me) that WASHINGTON's piety rendered him one of the brightest ornaments of his profession as a soldier. It inspired him with that HEROIC kind of courage, so honorable to reason and to man, and so necessary to a General; that calm deliberate valor, which, even in the maddest rage of bat|tle, enabled him to look coolly on, and improve every advantage which the errors of the enemy offered. Braddock's bloody field Page 34 bears glorious testimony to this. For there in the midst of hor|rors unparalleled, while profane dram-drinking veterans were flying in every direction, like gun-shot deer, this virtuous youth, unconcerned as Mars, was riding along the line of his Virginia Riflemen, incessantly calling out
An officer said one day at head quarters, that in his opinion a field of battle called for valor not virtue. "There is no call, sir," replied WASHINGTON,
This is near a-kin to a noble sentiment of a great captain in former ages "I fear my God, O Abner, and know no other fear."
The great Gustavus Adolphus used constantly to say, that "a soldier always fights the better for being a good man."
WASHINGTON proved to a demonstration that virtue is the soul of courage. No beau ever went with more composure to a ball than he did to a battle. Hannibal-like, he was the first on the field, and the last off. Providence, in love to America, made his body bullet-proof, and his great virtues rendered his mind fearless of fear
His conduct in camp was correspondent with his principles.—He was never absent from public prayers. And as to his private devotions, we have every evidence save that of the eye, that they were duly discharged. He whose feelings through life, were so exquisitely alive to duty and propriety, that he could not lie down under the weight of a hundred pence due to his neighbour; surely could never have slept under the enormous burden of ten thousand talents due to his God.
The next duty to piety is PATRIOTISM, or the LOVE of our COUNTRY.
In this first of all Republican virtues, the whole life of WASH|INGTON may justly challenge a comparison with that of the grea|test Heroes, whether we consider the majesty of its stream or the Page 35 purity of its source. His was not the Patriotism of a Caesar, or an Alexander, Human Devils! who could rob and murder mil|lions of mankind to enrich their own States. No, his was the pa|triotism of an enlightened and virtuous mind, which, looking on the whole human family as his brethren, 〈◊〉, for all, the tender|ness of a brother; rendered unto all, the same great duties of hu|manity and justice. But knowing that the proper sphere of activi|ty to the individual lay in his own country, he nobly exerted on that beloved spot, all the influence of his PRAYERS, his EXAM|PLE, and his ADVICE.
As to his prayers—
As to his advice, hear how earnestly he intreats us—
O! let us consider that our country is the common mother of us all—the cradle of our existence—the nursery of our youth—the guardian of our manhood—the sacred circle that embraces our wives, our parents, our children, our liberties, our laws and eve|ry thing on earth dear and valuable to us. She is also the precious bank in which we all have, in common, our shares, and must therefore bear our part in whatever good or ill befalls her. If her liberty be destroyed none of us can escape the chains. If her cre|dit sink, each man's fortune sinks with it. If foreigners press our seamen, beggar our merchants and ruin our trade, every man suffers.
If national vice abound, if luxury, sloth, duelling, and sedition prevail, increasing the debt and hastening the downfall of the country; every individual must bear his part of the heart-ache and wretchedness that ensue. On the contrary, if public virtues flourish, if unanimity in council, valour in the field, industry and oeconomy every where prevail; the blessing extends to all: Every man is crowned with the glory, feasted with the plenty, and par|takes in the joy that gladdens the dear common mother!
O for WASHINGTON's flaming patriotism! That divine cement of nations! Without which a people, tho' numerous as the sands of the desart, are but as the sands of the desart, loose and scat|tered before every blast. While a nation, though few in number, but welded together, by patriotism, and edged with public vir|tue, become, like an ax of steel, sufficient to cut its resistless way through whole forests of •oes. For proof, see the little republics, of Greece! Mere mole-hills on the map of nations; but nurseries of immortal patriots, educated in the school of virtue, and led on by Leonidas and Liberty. See, I say, these little republics, these virtuous few, this noble band of brothers, invaded by the great King of Persia at the head of an army of at least fifteen hundred thousand men! Expectation stands in horror, looking to see the Greeks suddenly swept away by the b•som of destruction. But, accustomed from earliest infancy to love their country—invigora|ted by rig•d temperance—enured to manly to•l—and c•••ely united in the same great interests, this handful of brave republicans met Xerxes and his ••st of slaves, and gave them the most signal over|throw ever recorded in history.
But no nation under the sun, ever exhibited a more brilliant display of the power of patriotism than the ancient Romans. Page 37 When Carthage, proud Mistress of the Sea, made war, with all her wealth against the Roman poverty, she found the result ve|ry different from her expectations. The reason is plain. Gold and silver may easily be exhausted, but public virtue and forti|tude never can. Even after loosing two hundred and fifty thou|sand of their best troops, the Romans would 〈◊〉 hearken to a|ny terms.
Such was the patriotism which raised the republics of an|cient Greece and Rome to be the Mistresses of the world. And such, thro' life, was the patriotism of WASHINGTON. While yet a youth, the tender down hardly formed on his ruddy cheek, he hears that the French and Indians have lifted the tomahawk and are butchering the frontier inhabitants. He •ees the grim ruffians bursting into the unguarded Cabin.—The father and the husband, shot down, lies weltering in his own heart's blood—while the wretched mother and her helpless little ones, with heart-piercing shrieks, and eyes wild-starting from their sockets, fly, but fly in vain, from their bloody pur|suers!—He starts up burning for vengeance. The Allegh•nies are not seen before him; rivers shrink to rills, and immense •orests to scanty groves. Full-nerved with patriot rage, he rushes upon the murderers of his countrymen, as the bounding Lyon upon the wretch who has invaded his brindled cubs. Bloody were the balls of his rifles in the battle of the roaring Kan•away, when the painted children of the foe fled to their distant lands.
And in 1774, when Lord North had resolved, Uzzah-like, to lay his unhallowed hand upon the sacred ark of our liberties, then it was that the patriotism of WASHINGTON broke forth in a blaze of glory to himself, and of honor to human nature.
He saw, with aching heart, the black cloud that was gather|ing over his country, the fearful odds marshalled in dread ar|ray against us; thirteen millions, against three! Veteran ar|mies, against raw militia! Powerful navies, bridging the At|lantic, against sloops and schooners! Britain, in fine, wealthy, warlike Britain coming on, in step-mother wrath, resolved that her children should down on marrow bones and take her Page 38 yoke. Possessing a princely fortune WASHINGTON might easi|ly have slipped away from a storm which, indeed, he had very little of this world's reason to persuade him to encounter. For he knew very well what sort of promotion the Scotch Lairds met with in 1745, and had abundant cause to expect, that, in case of equal success, he should be equally promoted. And be|sides, he had no children for whose dear sakes nature might rouse him up to meet such risks. No daughters, meanly studi|ous of ornaments to please the enslavers of their country; no sons to wear the galling chain, and tread lightly in presence of her haughty Lordlings. Hence one of his European friends advised him to quit a scene of danger to which he had such slender ties, and fly with him to the safe and pleasant shores of Europe.
Greece and Rome have boasted, and justly too, of their great patriots, who after rendering immortal services to their country, would accept no pecuniary rewards. Of the same disinterested and noble quality was the patriotism of WASH|INGTON. For after having steered the trembling bark of his country through all the storms and tempests of a perilous war; Page 39 after having by the help of the Almighty, conducted her in safety into the port of honorable peace and glorious indepen|dance, he would receive no Gold. No: Gold is the counter|poise of services done, but say Americans! what Gold could counterpoise services like his, when, after the dread explosion at York town, he saw the black storm of war passing away, and the sweet beams of liberty gilding again our happy plains.
The patriotism of the Roman Emperor, Alexander, has been celebrated through all ages, because he was never known to give any place through favour or friendship, but to employ those only whom both himself and the Senate looked on as the best qualified to serve the country. In our WASHINGTON we meet this great and honest Emperor over again. For in choos|ing men to serve his country, WASHINGTON knew no recom|mendation but merit; had no favourite but wor•h. No rela|tions however near, no friends however dear, stood any chance for places under him provided he knew men better qualified to fill them. His great soul was so truly republican, so perfectly abhorrent of every thing like selfishness, that during the whole of his administration he was never known to advance even as individual of his own name and family.
The British with good reason admire and extol Admiral Blake as one of the bravest and best of Patriots, because, tho' he had no love for Oliver Cromwel, yet he •ought like a hero for him, and with his dying breath exhorted his men "to love their country as a common mother, and, no matter what hands the government might chance to fall into, to fight for her like good children."
The same truly filial spirit was in WASHINGTON. Equally anxious was he that we should all so dearly love our country and 〈…〉 at the idea of party spirit, that leaven of hell, whose fatal fermentation dissolves the sacred cement of union and introduces all the horrors of civil war.
The Roman historians have extolled their Cincinnatus to the heavens, because that after having, in a day of great public danger, taken command of his country's forces, and entirely defeated the enemy, he hastened, laden with honors, to the Senate, piously resigning the powers with which they had en|trusted him, and then cheerfully returned to cultivate his little farm, (of four acres) from which he had been called to lead the armies of his country. O wonderous man! O prodigy and pride of purest republican virtue! May each exalted Ameri|can imitate thy glorious example. WASHINGTON imitated! WASHINGTON equalled it! For after having beg•n, continued, and ended for his country, the most glorious revolution that this or any other age ever beheld, after having through his unparalled worth obtained a confidence and power supreme Page 40 and absolute,* he hastened, at the call of duty, to resign that power into the revered hands of Congress, and returned to the dignified station of a virtuous private citizen; yes, he return|ed with heaven in his soul and glory eternal on his name, to enjoy the welcome shade, and delicious fruits, of that blessed tree of liberty, which, with divine help, his own right hand had planted.
But of all the virtues that adorned the life of this great man, there is none more worthy of our imitation than his ad|mirable industry. It is to this virtue in her WASHINGTON, that America stands indebted for services past calculation; and it is from this virtue, that WASHINGTON himself, has snatched a wreathe of glory that shall never fade away. O that the good genius of America may prevail! That the example of this her favorite son may but be universally adopted! Soon shall our land be freed from all those sloth-begotten Demons which now haunt and torment us! For, whence do all our mi|series proceed, but from our lack of industry? In a land like this, which heaven has blessed above all lands: A land aboun|ding with the fish and flesh-pots of Egypt, and •lowing with the choicest milk and honey of Canaan; a land, where the poorest Lazarus may get his fifty pence a day for commonest labour; and buy daintiest bread of Corn flour for less than a penny a pound! Why is any man hungry, or thirsty, or naked, or in prison? Why, but for his own most unpardonable sloth! But alas! What would it avail, though the blest shade of WASH|INGTON, were to descend from his native skies, and, with an Angel's voice recommend industry as the handmaid of health, wealth, innocence, and happiness to man! A notion from the land of lies, has taken too deep root among some that "labour is a low-lived thing, fit for none but Negro-〈…〉 dress and pleasure are the only accomplishments for a gentle|man!" But does it become a gentleman to saunter about living on the charity of his Relations—to suffer himself to be dun|ned by his creditors—and like a hunted wolf to fly from the face of Sheriffs and Constables? Is it like a gentleman to take a generous woman from her parents, and reduce her to begga|ry—to see even her bed sold from under her, and herself and weeping infants turned out of doors?—Is it like a gentleman to reduce one's children to rags, and to drive them, like the birds of heaven, to hedges and highways to pick berries, fill|ing Page 41 their pale bloated bodies with diseases? Or is it like a gentleman to bring up one's sons in sloth, pleasure, and dress, as young Noblemen, and then leave them without estates, pro|fession, or trade, to turn gamblers, sharpers or horse-thieves? "From such gentlemen, O save my country Heaven!" was WASHINGTON's perpetual prayer, the emphatical prayer of his life and great example! In the ear of wisdom, that was heard incessantly calling aloud "He is the real gentleman, who cheerfully contributes his every exertion to accomplish heaven's favorite designs, the beauty, order and happiness of hu|man life—whose industry appears in a plentiful house, and smil|ing wife, in the decent apparel of his children, and in their good education and virtuous manners—who is not afraid to see any man on earth, but meets his creditor with a smiling countenance, and with the welcome music of gold and silver in his hand—Who exerts an honest industry for wealth that he may become as a water-course in a thirsty land, a source of re|freshment to a thousand poor."
Yes, my dear countrymen, this is to be the real gentleman, whose life is filled up with honorable toils, crowned with plenty, enjoyed with health, dignified by usefulness and sweet|ened by the blessings of the poor! How charming the thought
This was the life, this the example set by WASHINGTON. His whole inheritance was but a small tract of poor broken ••nd in Stafford County, opposite to Fredericksburg, (where he once lived) and a few Negroes. This appearing utterly insufficient to those purposes of honor and usefulness, with the charms of which his mind seems to have been early smitten, he resolved to make up the deficiency by dint of great industry and oeconomy. For these virtues how excellent! how rare in youth! WASHINGTON was admirably distinguished when but a boy. At a time when many young men have no higher am|bition than a fine coat and a trolic, "often have I seen him, says the Reverend Mr. Lee Massey, riding about the country with his surveying instruments at his saddle," enjoying the dou|ble satisfaction, of obliging his fellow citizens by surveying their lands, and of making money, not meanly to hoard, but generously to lend to any worthy object that asked it. This early industry was one of the first steps to WASHINGTON's pre|ferment. It attracted on him the notice and admiration of all his very numerous acquaintance, and, which was still much more in his favor, it gave such strength to his constitution, such vigor to his mind, such an ardor and spirit for adventure, that he was ready, like a young Lion, to leap on any glori|ous enterprize, no matter how difficult or dangerous. Witness Page 42 the expedition from Williamsburgh, through the Indian coun|try to the Ohio, which he undertook for Governor Dinwiddie, in 1773, and when he was but 21. Indeed his uncommon at|tachment to industry and useful life, made such an impression on the public mind in his favor, that by the time he was one and twenty he was appointed Major and adjutant General of the Virginia forces.* For these services he recieved a hand|some salary from the crown. By the death of an elder brother he acquired the Mount-Vernon estate, and a much larger, by the affections of the young and Amiable Mrs. Martha Cu•tis, who, in the year 1759 and 27th of his age, with her hand and heart gave him possession of one of the finest estates in Vriginia. Here was a proper rise for you! a rise which to lit|tle minds would have appeared a sufficient apology for sloth, high living, and the gout. But on WASHINGTON, whose indus|try was founded on principle, it produced no other effect than gratitude to heaven, and, if possible, and increase of exertion to gratify more amply his favorite wish, the wish to be useful.
Never was the great Alfred more anxious to improve his time than our WASHINGTON; and it appears that, like Alfred, he divided his time into the four grand departments of sleep, devotion, recreation, and business. On the hours of business, whether in his own or in his country's service, he would allow nothing to infringe. While in camp no company however illustrious, no pleasures however elegant, no conversation how|ever agreeable, could prevail on him to neglect his business—The moment that his hour of duty was come, he would fill his glass and with a smile call out to his friends around the so|cial Page 43 board, "well gentlemen, here is bon repos,"* and imme|diately withdraw to business.
While he was employed in choosing a place on the Potomak for the Federal City, his industry was not less remarkable. Knowing how little is generally done before breakfast, he made it a rule to rise so early as to have breakfast over, and be on horse-back by the time the sun was up. Let the rising generation remember that he was then sixty years of age!
On his farm, his husbandry of time was equally exemplary. He contemplated a great object; an object worthy of WASH|INGTON. He aimed at teaching his countrymen the art of enriching their lands, and, consequently, of rendering the con|dition of man and beast more plentiful and happy. He had seen thousands of acres, which, by constant cultivations, had lost the power of covering their nakedness even with a suit of humble sedge; he had seen thousands of wretched cattle, which, driven out houseless and hayless into the cold wintry rains, presented such trembling spectacles of starvation and misery as were more than enough to start the tear into pity's eye. To remedy these cruel evils, (which certainly they are, for he who lent us these animals, never, surely, meant that we should make their lives a curse to them, much less to our children, hardened by such daily sights of misery,) WASHING|TON generously set himself to make artificial meadows, to cul|tivate fields of clover, and to raise the most nutritious vege|tables, Page 44 such as Cabbage, Turnips, Scarcity and Potatoes; of which last article he planted in one year 700 bushels! To ren|der these vast supplies of food the more beneficial to his cattle, he built houses of shelter for them all. "He shewed me a barn, says Brissot, upwards of a hundred feet square, and of brick, de|signed as a store-house for his Corn Potatoes, Turnips, &c, a|round which he had constructed ••ables of an amazing length, for his Cattle," every one of which had a stall well littered with leaves or straw; and a rack and manger well furnished with hay and provender.
The pleasures and profits arising from such an arrangement, are incalculable. How delicious must it have been to a man of WASHINGTON's feelings, to reflect that, even in the worst of weather, every creature, on his extensive farms, was warm and comfortably provided! To have seen his numerous flocks and herds, gamboling around him thro' excess of joy and fullness of fat! To have beheld his steps washed with butter, and his dairy floated with rivers of milk! To have seen his once na|ked fields and frog-croaking pocosins, now by clearance or manure converted into Meadows, standing thick with heavy Timothy and Clover! While his farm-yards were piled with such quantities of litter and manure as afforded a constant|ly increasing fertility to his lands!
Here was an employment worthy of WASHINGTON; an em|ployment which we might indeed have expected from him, who, through life, had studied the b•st interests of his countrymen; who, first, as a soldier, had defended them from slavery and crowned them with liberty; then as a statesman, had preserved them from war and secured to them all the blessings of peace, and now, as the last but not least service of his li•e, was teaching them the great arts of improving their farms, multiplying their cattle, enriching their lands, and thus pouring a flood of plenty and of comfort thro' the joyful habitations of man and beast.
Full of this greatly-benevolent idea, no wonder that he was so frugal of his time, and that, tho' the most hospitable of all the hospitable Virginians, he would not suffer the society of his dearest friends to take him entirely from his business. Long accustomed to find his happiness in doing his duty, he had at|tained to that Royal-Arch degree of virtue, as to be restless and uneasy while duty was neglected. Hence of all men that ever lived, WASHINGTON was the most rigidly observant of those hours of business which were necessary to the successful manage|ment of his vast concerns. "Gentlemen," he would often say to his friends who visited him, "I must beg leave of absence a few hours in the forenoon: here is plenty of amusements, books, music, &c. and consider yourselves at home, and be happy." He came in about 12 o'clock, and then, as if animated by the con|sciousness Page 45 of having done his duty, and that all was going on right, he would give himself up to his friends and to decent mirth the rest of the evening. But his mornings were always his own. Long before the sun had peeped into the chambers of the sluggard, WASHINGTON was on horseback and out a|mong his overseers and servants, and neither himself, nor any about him, were allowed to eat the bread of idleness. The happy effects of such industry were obvious. Well manured and tilled, his lands yielded a grateful return, and it was at once pleasing and astonishing to behold the immense quantities of •ine hay, of fat meats and choice grain that were raised on his farms. His servants fared sumptuously, his cattle rarely had the hollow-horn, and the surplus of his produce, sold to the mer|chants, furnished bread to the needy▪ and a revenue to him|self more than sufficient to defray his vast expenditures, and to spread a table of true Virginia hospitality for those crowds of friends and foreigners whom affection or curiosity led to visit him.
O! Divine Industry? Queen-Mother of all our virtues and of all our blessings! What is there of GREAT or of GOOD in this wide world that springs not from thy royal bounty? And O! thou infernal sloth! Fruitful fountain of all our crimes and curses! What is there of mean or of miserable in the lot of man that flows not from thy hellish malice?
What was it that betrayed David, otherwise the best of kings, into the worst of crimes? IDLENESS. Sauntering a|bout idly on the terrace of his palace, he saw the naked beau|ties of the distant, bathing 〈◊〉. Lust, adultery and murder were the consequences.
What was it that brought on a ten years war between the Greeks and Trojans? IDLENESS. Young Paris, the Coxcomb of Troy, having nothing to do strolls over to the Court of Men|elaus, (a Greek Prince) whose beauteous wife, Hellen, the black-eyed Queen of love, he corrupts and runs off with to Troy. A bloody was ensues; Paris is slain; his Father, bro|thers, and myriads of wretched subjects are slaughtered; and Troy, the finest City of all Asia, is red••ed to ashes!
What was it that hurried poor Mr. A—d to that horrid act of suicide which froze the blood of all who heard it? Idle|ness. His young wife was all that we could conceive of sweet|ness, tenderness and truth in an Angel's form; and his three beauteous babes were the three graces, in smiling infancy. But! On wretched man! Having nothing to do, he strolled to a tavern and to a card-table, where he lost his all! Five thous|and pounds, lately •ettled on him by a fond father! He awakes to horrors unutterable! What will become of his ruined wife! his beggared babes! Believing the torments of the damned Page 46 far more tolerable, he drives the scorching bullets thro' his brain, and flies a shrieking ghost to join the mournful throng!
What is the cause of all that horrid uproar which often throws our towns into such fear and trembling, on the even|ings of our great hollidays? Idleness. Merciful heavens! what wild tumultuous throng is that, on yonder restless, •eav|ing field? What clouds of dust! What stunning din of ten thousand discordant voices, whooping and hallooing, cursing and swearing! Why surely the Devil's millennium is begun, and all hell has turned out to celebrate the joyous occasion! No, it is no more than the tag-rag-and-bob-tail of a town, just escaped from the sobering hand of industry, and got out there together with sharpshin in pocket, drinking and roaring, racing and cock-fighting, betting, boxing, and playing the D—〈◊〉 in a thousand shocking shapes.
O sad sight! See you tall genteel young man, in powder and ruffles, standing before his judges, trembling like an Aspen, and pale and blank as the picture of guilt; while in the crowd|ed court-house, every countenance, filled with pity or con|tempt, is fixed upon him. Alas! what could have brought him to this? Idleness. His father, happening to possess 500 acres of poor Land, and a few Negroes, thought it would be an e|ternal disgrace to his family to bring up this son (though he had many) to be a mechanic. No, he must, like the rest of his brothers, live the fine gentleman, grown to man's estate, and having no profession, trade or habit of industry to support this pleasant life, he took to Horse-stealing! If we had leisure to wait, we should presently see this unhappy youth, on recei|ving sentence of death, bursting out into sobs and cries suffi|cient almost to make us wish we had never been born. But let us make haste and leave these accursed scenes of shame, mis|ery and death, into which idleness never •ails to bring poor deluded youth. Yes, let us hurry away from these haunts of horror, and joyfully return to our beloved WASHINGTON and to his health—wealth—and glory-giving Goddess, industry.
What is it that braces the nerves, purifies the blood, and hands down the flame of life, bright and sparkling, to old age! What but rosy-cheeked Industry. See WASHINGTON so invigo|rated by constant exercise, that, though close on the heel of three score and ten when he fell asleep, he was still fresh as at forty, straight as a young Grenadier, and girding on his pa|triot sword, ready, once more at his country's call, to lead his eager warriors to the field. What is it that preserves the morals of young men, and secures to them all the blessings of unblemished character and unbroken health? What but snow-•obed industry. See WASHINGTON, under the guardianship of industry, walked the slippery paths of youth Page 47 safe and uncorrupt, though born in a country whose fertility and climate furnished both the means and the invitation to vice. Early smitten with the love of glory; early engaged in the noble pursuit of knowledge, of independence and of use|fulness, he had no eyes to see bad examples nor ensnaring ob|jects, no ears to hear horrid oaths nor obscene language, no leisure for impure passion nor criminal amours; hence he en|joyed, O! blessed gift of industry! that innocence, that purity of soul, which is rightly called its 'sunshine;' and which im|pressed a dignity on his character, and gave him a beauty and loveliness in the eyes of men, that contributed more to his rise in the world than young people are aware. And what is it that raises a young man from poverty to wealth, from ob|scurity to never dying fame? What but Industry? See Wash|ington, born of humble parents and in humble circumstances—born in a narrow nook and obscure corner of the British plantations! yet, lo! what great things wonder-working In|dustry can bring out of this unpromising Nazareth? While but a youth, Washington manifested such a noble contempt of sloth, such a manly spirit to be always learning or doing some|thing useful or clever, that he was the praise of all who knew him. And, though several years yet on the forenoon side of twenty, so high were the hopes entertained of him, he was appointed a county surveyor! Arduous task! But WASHINGTON's industry was a full match for it. Such was the alertness with which he carried on his surveys; such the neatness and accuracy of his plats and drafts, that he met with universal applause. Full-•ed and flushed with so much fare of praise, a fare of all others the most toothsome and wholesome to generous minds, our young Eagle began now to flap his wings of honest ambition and to pant for nobler darings. A fair occasion was soon offered; a dangerous expedition through the Indian wilds, as before mentioned, to the French Mamelukes, on the Ohio. No-bo|dy else having a stomach to such an adventure, WASHING|TON's offer was gladly accepted, and he executed that hazard|ous and important trust with such diligence and propriety, that he received the thanks of the governor and council. Honors came down on him now in showers: He was appointed Major and Adjutant General of the Virginia forces—then a colonel—after that a member in the house of Burgesses—next gene|ralissimo of the armies of the United States; and finally chief magistrate of the Union.
All these great and arduous appointments served but the more to display the wonderful effects of his industry. For such was his oeconomy of time, and so admirable his method and regularity in doing business that he always kept ahead Page 48 of it. No letters of consequence were unanswered—no rea|sonable expectations were disappointed—no necessary infor|mation was ever neglected. Neither the congress nor the governors of the several states, nor the officers of his army, nor the British generals nor even the Overseers and Stewards on his farms, were uninformed of what he expected from them. Nobody concerned with him, was idle or fretted for want of knowing what to do.
O admirable man! O Great Preceptor to his Country! no wonder every body honoured him who honoured every body; for the poorest beggar that wrote to him on business, was sure to receive a speedy and decisive answer. No wonder every body loved him, who, by his unwearied attention to the public good, manifested the tend•rest love for every body. No wonder that his country 〈◊〉 to honor him, who shewed such a high sense of their honors, that he would not allow even a leaf of them to wither, but so watered them all with the refreshing streams of his industry, that the continu••〈◊〉 with ever-increasing glory on his head.
Since the day that God created man on the earth, none ever displayed the power of industry more signally than did GEORGE WASHIGNTON▪ Had he, as Prince of Wales, or, as Daup•in of France, rendered such great services, or attained such immortal honours, it would not have seemed so marvell|ous in our eyes.—But, that a poor young man, with no King, Lords, nor Commons to back him; with no Princes, nor Whores of Princes, to curry favor for him—with no gold but his virtue, no silver but his industry, should with this old-fashioned, King David's coin, have stolen away the hearts of all the American Israel, and from a sheep cot, have ascended the throne of his country's affections, and gotton himself a name among the mighty ones of the earth! This is marvellous indeed! It is surely the noblest panegyric ever yet paid to that great virtue, industry, which has "length of days in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honors."
Reader! Go thy way, think of WASHINGTON and HOPE. Though humble thy birth, low thy fortune, and few thy friends, still think of WASHINGTON and—HOPE. Like him honour thy God and delight in glorious toil, then like him "thou shalt stand before kings; thou shalt not stand before com|mon m•n."
The motives to industry are as numerous as HEALTH, INNO|CENCE, LONGEVITY INDEPENDENCE, and in short, all the Ho|nors and 〈◊〉 that man can enjoy between the cradle and the grave. But among these there is none so animating to a generous mind as the godlike pleasure it affords of doing GOOD.
If ever man rejoiced in the divine administration, and cordial|ly endeavoured to imitate it, by diffusing blessings around him, it was WASHINGTON. Taught by religion, that "God is love," and that he must, by the laws of his own nature, delight most in those of his rational creatures who most resemble him in love, and in doing good to their brethren.—Taught by experience, that, betwixt souls, love is the only principle of union and of bliss, which, by uniting our hearts gives us the fullest and sweetest participation of each other's joys, and at the same time enables us to bear one another's infirmities and injuries, with a brotherly generosity.—Taught by observation that love is the only cosme|tic, or beautifier: that however youth, beauty, and wit may dazzle for a moment, it is goodness alone that can captivate our hearts forever: convinced, I say, of these three precious perqui|sites of love, WASHINGTON seems early to have been smitten with her heavenly charms, and early to have studied that goodness which made him so singularly the delight of all mankind. It was this amiable quality which compleated the character of our WASHINGTON, and by spreading over his great virtues and ta|lents the sweetly-beaming veil of goodness, rendered him at once the most endearing and venerable of human beings.
The Marquis De Chastel•ux▪ who visited him in camp, tells us that he was astonished and delighted beyond measure, to see this great American living among his officers and men, as a fa|ther among his children, who at once revered and loved him with a filial tenderness.
Brissot, another famous French traveller, assures us, that, throughout the continent, every body spoke of WASHINGTON as of a father.
This dearest and best of all appellations, "The father of his country," was the precious fruit of that noble spirit of benevolence, which he so carefully cultivated through every age and stage of his life. A singular instance of which we meet with in 1754, and the 22d year of his age.
He was stationed at Alexandria with his regiment, the only one in the colony, an• of which he was Colonel. There hap|pened at this time to be an election in Alexandria for members of the Assembly, and the contest 〈◊〉 high between colonel George Fairfax and Mr. William 〈◊〉▪ WASHINGTON was the warm friend of Fairf•x, 〈◊〉 a Mr. William Payne headed the friends of Elzey. A 〈◊〉 happening to take place in the Court-house yard, WASHINGTON, a thing very uncommon with 〈◊〉 got warm, and, which was still more uncommon, said something Page 50 that offended Payne, whereupon the little gentleman, who, though but a cub in size, was the old Lyon in heart, raised his sturdy hickory, and, at a single blow, brought our hero to the ground. Several of WASHINGTON'S officers being present, whipped out their cold Irons in an instant, and it was looked that there would have been murder off-hand. To make bad worse; his regiment hearing how he had been served, bolted out from their barracks, with every man his weapon in his hand, threat|ening dreadful vengeance on those who had dared to knock down their Colonel after that sort. Happily for Mr. Payne and his party, WASHINGTON recovered time enough to go out and meet his enraged soldiers, and after thanking them for this expression of their concern for him, assured them that he was not hurt in the least, and begged them, as they loved him or their duty, to return peaceably to their barracks. As for himself, he went to his room, generously chastising his imprudence which had thus struck out a spark, that had like to have thrown the whole town into a flame. Finding, on mature reflection, that he had been the aggressor, he resolved to make Mr. Payne honorable repara|tion by asking his pardon on the morrow! No sooner had he made this noble resolution, than, recovering that delicious gaiety, which ever accompanies good purposes in a virtuous mind, he went to a ball in town that night and behaved as pleasantly as though nothing had happened: Glorious proof that great souls, like great ships, are not affected by those little puffs which would overset feeble minds with passion, or sink them with spleen!
The next day he went to a tavern, and wrote a polite note to Mr. Payne, whom he requested to meet him. Mr. Payne took it for a challenge, and repaired to the tavern, not without ex|pecting to see a pair of pistols produced. But what was his sur|prise on entering the chamber to see a decanter of wine and glas|ses on the table! WASHINGTON arose, and, in a very friendly manner met him, and gave him his hand.
Admirable youth! Noble speech! No wonder since it charms us so that it had such an effect on Mr. Payne, who from that moment became the most enthusiastic admirer and friend of WASHINGTON, and ready at any time, for his sake, to charge up to a battery of two and forty poun•ers.
What a lesson for our young countrymen! Had WASHINGTON been one of the race of little men how sadly different would have been his conduct on this occasion! Instead of going that night Page 51 to the ball, and acting the lively agreeable friend, as if nothing had happened, he would, like an angry viper that had been trod on, have retired to his chamber. There he would have found no such entertainments as WASHINGTON had at the ball; no sprightly music—no delicious wines—no sweetly-smiling friends: on the contrary, all the tortures of a soul brooding over its indignities, until reflection had whipped it up into pangs of rage unutterable, while all the demons of hell with blood-stained torches pointing at his bleeding honor, cried out revenge! re|venge! revenge! There in his chamber he would have passed the gloomy night, in preparing his pistols, moulding his balls, or with furious looks, and hard-gritted teeth, driving his bullets through the body of his enemy chalked out on the wall. The next morning would have seen him on the field, and, in language, lately heard in this state, calling out to his hated antagonist, you have injured me, sir, beyond reconciliation, and by G—d I will put you to death, if I can. While his antagonist in a style equally musical and christian, rejoins, kill and be damned! Pop go the pistols, down tumbles one of the combatants; while the mur|derer with knocking knees and looks of Cain flies from the a|venger of blood. The murdered man is carried to his house a ghastly, bloody corpse. Merciful God! what a scene ensues! some are stupified with horror, others sink as lifeless to the floor. His tender sisters, wild-screaming with despair, throw them|selves on their dead brother and kiss his ice-cold lip•; while his aged parents, crushed under unutterable woe, go down broken-hearted to the grave.
Thus bloody and miserable might have been the end of WASH|INGTON or of Mr. Payne, had WASHINGTON been one of those poor deluded young men, who are determined to be great, and to be talked of in news papers, in spite of God or devil. But, WASHINGTON was not born to exemplify those horrid trage|dies, which cowards create in society by pusillanimously giving way to their bad passions. No! he was born to teach his coun|trymen, what sweet peace and harmony might for ever smile in the habitations of men, if all had but the courage, like him|self, to obey the sacred voice of JUSTICE and of HUMANITY. By firmly obeying these, he preserved his hands unstained by the blood of a fellow man; and his soul unharrowed by the cruel tooth of never-dying remorse. By firmly obeying these, he won those smiles of God which convey to the souls of the virtuous, that joy which the stranger meddleth not with. By firmly obeying these, he preserved a life, which crowned with deeds of Justice and benevolence, has brought more glory to Page 52 God, more good to man, and more honor to himself, than any life ever lived since the race of man began.
Sons of Columbia! would you know what is true courage? see it defined, see it exemplified in this act of your great, young countryman. Never man possessed a more undaunted courage than WASHINGTON: but in him, this noble quality was the life-guard of his reason, not the assassin; a ready servant to obey her high commands, not a bully to insult them; a champion to defend his neighbour's rights, not a tyrant to trample them un|der foot. Transported by a sudden passion, to which all are lia|ble, he offended Mr. Payne who resented it much too roughly, by knocking him down on the spot. WASHINGTON had it in his power to have taken ample revenge; and cowards, who have no command over their passions, would have done it; but duty for|bade him, and he had the courage to obey▪ Reason whispered the folly of harbouring black passions in his soul, poisoning his peace; he instantly banished them and went to a ball, to drink sweet streams of friendship from the eyes of happy friends. A|gain, reason whispered him that having been the aggressor, he ought to ask Mr. Payne's pardon, and make friends with him. In this also he had the courage to obey her sacred voice.
In what history ancient or modern, sacred or profane, can you find in so young a man, only 22, such an instance of that TRUE HEROIC VAL•R which combats malignant passions, conquers un|reasonable self, rejects the hell of hatred, and invites the heaven of love into our own bosoms, and into those of our brethren with whom we may have had a falling out; Joseph forgiving his breth|ren in the land of Egypt; David sparing that inveterate seeker of his life, Saul; Sir Walter Rawleigh pardoning the young man who spat in his face; afford, it is true, charming specimens of the sublime and beautiful in action, and certainly such men are the worthies of the world and brightest ornaments of human nature. But yet none of them have gone beyond WASHING|TON in the affair of Payne.
A few years after this, Payne had a cause tried in Fairfax Court, and WASHINGTON happened on that day to be in the house. The lawyer on the other side, finding he was going fast to leeward, thought he would luff up with a whole broadside at Payne's character; and after raking him fore and aft with abuse, he artfully bore away under the lee of the jury's prejudices which he endeavored to inflame against him. "Yes, please your wor|ships, continued be, as a proof that this Mr. Payne is a most tur|bulent fellow, and capable of all I tell you, be pleased to remem|ber, Gentlemen of the Jury, that this is the very man, who some time ago served our beloved Col. WASHINGTON so barbarously. Page 53 Yes, this is the wretch who dared in this very Court-House-yard, to lift up his impious hand against that greatest and best of men, and knocked him down as though he had been but a bullock of the Stalls."
This roared out in a thundering tone, and with a tremendous stamp on the floor, made Payne look very wild, for he saw the countenances of the court beginning to blacken on him. But WASHINGTON arose immediately and addressed the Bench—
Mr. Payne used often to relate another anecdote of WASH|INGTON, which reflects equal honor on the goodness of his heart.
"Immediately after the war, said he, when the conquering hero was returned in peace to his home, with the laurels of victo|ry green and flourishing on his head; I felt a great desire to see him, and so set out for Mount Vernon. As I drew near the house, I began to experience a rising fear lest he should call to mind the blow I had given him in former days. However, ani|mating myself, I pushed on. WASHINGTON met me at the door with a smiling welcome, and presently led me into an adjoining room where Mrs. WASHINGTON sat.
"A good 〈◊〉▪•aith the divine teacher, bringeth forth good fruit." No wonder then that we meet with so many and such delicious fruits of CHARITY in WASHINGTON, whose soul was so rich in benevolence.
In consequence of his wealth and large landed possessions, he had visits innumerable from the poor. Knowing the great va|lue of time and of good tempers to them, he could not bear that Page 54 they should lose these by long waiting, and shuffling, and blow|ing their fingers at his door. He had a room set apart for the reception of such poor persons as had business with him, and the porter had orders to conduct them into it, and to let him know it immediately; and so affectionately attentive was he to them, that, if he was in company with the greatest characters on the continent when his servant informed him that a poor man wished to speak to him, he would instantly beg them to excuse him for a moment, and go and wait on him.
WASHINGTON'S conduct shewed that he disliked another prac|tice too common among some great men, who, not having the pow|er to say yes, nor the heart to say no, to a poor man, are fain to put him off with a "come again, come again," and thus trot him backwards and forwards, wasting his time, wearing out his patience and his shoes, and after all give him the mortification of a disappointment.
WASHINGTON could not away with such CRUEL KINDNESS. If he could not oblige a poor applicant he would candidly tell him so at once; but then the goodness of his heart painted his regret so sensibly on his countenance, that even his refusals made him friends.
A poor Irishman wanting a little farm, and hearing that WASH|INGTON had such an one to rent, waited on him. WASHING|TON told him that he was sincerely sorry that he could not assist him for he had just disposed of it. The poor man took his leave, but not without returning him a thousand thanks! Ah! do you thank me so heartily for a refusal? "Yes▪ upon my shoul, now please your Excellency's honor, and I do thank you a thousand times. For many a great man would have kept me waiting like a black Negro; but your Excellency's honor has told me strait off hand that you are sorry, and God bless you for it, that you can't help me▪ and so your honor has done my business for me in no time and less.
The Potomac abounds with the finest Herrings in the world, which, when salted, furnish not only to the wealthy a charming relish for their tea and coffee, but also to the poor a delicious sub|stitute for 〈◊〉. But fond as they are of this small boned Bacon, as they 〈◊〉 call it, many of them have not the means to pro|cure it. WASHINGTON'S heart felt for these poor people and provided a remedy. He ordered a seine and a batteau to be kept on one of his best fishing shores on purpose for the poor. If the batteau was lost or the seine spoilt, which was often the case, he would have them replaced with new ones immediately. And if the poor who came for fish, were at any time too weak-handed to haul the seine themselves, they needed but to apply to the overseer, who had orders from WASHINGTON, to send hands to help them. Page 55 Thus, all the poor of his large neighbourhood had it in their power to come down in the season, and catch an abundance of the finest fish for themselves and their families. In what silver floods were ever yet caught the herrings, which could have given to WASH|INGTON what he tasted, on seeing the poor, driving away from his shores with carts laden with delicious fish, and carrying home, whooping and singing, to their smiling wives and children, the rich prize, a whole year's joy and plenty!
In all his charities, he discovered great judgment and care in selecting proper objects. Character was the main chance. Mount Vernon had no charms for lazy, drunken, worthless beggars. Such knew very well that they must carry their pigs (their vices) to another market. He never failed to remind them of the great crime of robbing the public of their services, and also the exceed|ing cruelty and injustice of snapping up from the really indigent, what little charity bread there was stirring. But if the character was good; if the poor petitioner was a sober, honest and industri|ous person whom Providence had by sickness or losses, reduced to want, he found a brother in WASHINGTON. It is incredible what quantities of wool, corn, bacon, flour, clothes, &c. &c. were annually distributed to the poor from that almost exhaustless heap, which the blessings of heaven had heaped on this its so industrious and faithful steward.
"I had orders, said Mr. Peake, a sensible, honest manager of one of WASHINGTON'S plantations, to fill a corn house every year for the sole use of the poor in my neighbourhood, to whom it was a most seasonable and precious relief; saving numbers of poor women and children from miserable famine, and blessing them with a chearful plenteousness of bread."
Mr. Lund Washington, long a manager of his mount Vernon estate, had similar orders. In one year when corn was so dear (a dollar per bushel) that numbers of the poor were on the point of starving, Mr. L. Washington, by order of the General, not on|ly gave away all that could be spared from the granaries, but bought at that dear rate several hundred bushels▪ for them!
But it were an endless task to enumerate all the thousand, thou|sand sweet and seasonable charities of this good angel of the poor. The wondering stranger beheld them in the shining eyes and de|vouring looks of ALL, wherever he went.
When the young men saw him they flocked to the door, and the aged arose and stood up.
The great men refrained from talking in his presence, and the hearts of the LITTLE ONES leaped for joy.
Because he fed the poor that cried unto him, and his garment covered the naked.
Page 56 He was a father of the fatherless, and stood up mightily for him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him, and he caused the heart of the widow to sing for joy.
Blessed be thy soul, O WASHINGTON, child of generous love! Thou wast as the black storm of winter to the foes of thy country; but to the children of the poor, like the soft cloud of summer that droppeth down marrow and fatness! Thou hast ceased among men, and the tears of millions have flowed; but thou art with HIM who is MIGHTY to REWARD. For the bread which thou gavest to thy poor brethren, thou art now fed with purest manna, and ho|ney from the rocks of heaven, even Angels food. And for the cloth with which thou didst cover their nakedness, thy covering now is from the looms of Paradise, even robes of floating gold. Bright sun beam of glory, thou hast ceased among men, but thy shining is with him who is mighty to reward!
But though so kind to the bodies, WASHINGTON was still more kind and costly in his charities to the minds of the poor. Sensible that a republican government, that is, a government of the people, can never long subsist where the minds of the people are not en|lightened; he earnestly recommended it to the citizens of the United States, to promote, as an object of primary importance, in|stitutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In this, as in|deed in all other cases▪ where any thing great or good was to be done, WASHINGTON led the way.
He established a Charity-School in Alexandria, and endowed it with a donation of four thousand dollars! The interest was regu|larly paid and expended on the education of fifteen boys. In 1785, the Assembly of his native state, Virginia, desirous—"to embrace, as they said, every suitable occasion of testifying their sense of the unexampled merits of GEORGE WASHINGTON, ESQ. towards his country, presented him with fifty shares in the Potomak, and one hundred shares in the James River Navigation Company; making in the whole, not less than the enormous sum of fifteen thousand pounds sterling!
Of this public act, they requested the Governor to transmit WASHINGTON a copy. In answer to which he addressed a very elegant letter to the Governor, "in which I take the liberty" says he,
He goes on to beg that they would be so good as to excuse his determined resolution not to accept a farthing of it for his own use. "But," continued he,
They were very chearfully submitted to his disposal; and, ac|cording to promise, he appropriated them to works of the greatest public utility; viz. His shares in the James River Canal, to a College in Rock-bridge County, near the waters of James River, and his Potomak Shares to a National University to be erected in the Federal district, on the Great Potomak.
How immortal were his wishes for the good of his country! As if incapable of being satisfied with all that he had done for her while living, he endeavoured be founding these noble institutions for the diffusion of knowledge and virtue, to make himself her be|nefactor when he could live no more. Charming evidence, that, like Cato, he tasted no happiness equal to that of making others happy.
Since the idea is perfectly correct, that the great Governor of the world must look, with peculiar benignty and benediction, on those of his childre•, who have most distinguished themselves by their dutifulness; may we not indulge the pleasing hope that these Colleges, founded by such a hand, shall prove the nurseries of brightest genius and virtue, and that from their sacred halls, will walk forth in endless succession, the mighty WASHINGTONS, and ADAMSES, the FRANKLINS and LEES, the JEFFERSONS and MADISONS, &c. &c. of future times! O that Columbia may live before God! and that the bright days of her peace and prosperity may never have an end!!
But of all the virtues that shed such dignity and grace on the character of WASHINGTON, there was none so venerable and ma|jestic as his Justice, or Honesty. This from his youth, he seems to have revered, as the precious pillar that supports the fair fabric of all social order and happiness.
The Marquis de Chastell•ux observes, that WASHINGTON'S reputation for incorruptible justice, stood so high, even while a young man, that all the neighbouring gentlemen, if they could but get him as an executor to their wills, closed their eyes in peace; from a sweetly satisfying sense, that justice would be done to the fa|milies they left behind them, to his care.
Being asked which he thought the greatest man, Aristides the just, or, Caesar the generous; Oh! Aristides, a thousand times!Page 58 replied he, with eyes sparkling with admiration and love of that great man,
The great Turenne is deservedly celebrated by his countrymen the French, for his delicate sense of justice. The magistrates of a large district, dreading the march of his numerous army through their fields, vineyards, &c. waited on him and offered a bag of one hundred thousand crowns, if he would take another route. He refused their money. Seeing them greatly distressed he has|tened to relieve them. "Gentlemen, said he, I did not intend to march through your country; justice therefore will not allow me to pocket your money for not doing what I really did not in|tend to do." Glorious Turenne! Equally Glorious WASHINGTON! For when offered by his native state the enormous sum of seventy thousand Dollars! he refused it all, because he had formerly made something like a promise that he would never take pay for any services done to his mother country. "To this promise, says he, I have invariably adhered—and from his promise if I had the inclination, I do not consider myself at liberty to depart*."
It was partly on account of his veneration for justice, that he always held slanderers and slander in such utter abhorrence.—"Vile practice" said he,
It was this delicate sense of honor that set WASHINGTON so point blank against making purchases, when he had not a dead certainly of paying at the time due. He said, that, he would ra|ther take a turn on the rack, than be sitting momently expecting to see the face of a creditor, when he had no money to give him. A gentleman assured me, that he once heard him say, that,
That great philosopher, Socrates, slipped one day into a large store something, I suppose, like what the New Englanders call a a Variety Store; after looking, for sometime, over the vast va|riety of curiosities which pride and folly had struck out, such as gold laced jackets, diamond necklaces, full bottomed perriwigs and I know not what, he lifted up his eyes and exclaimed. O! Jupiter! what a world of trumpery is here that I have no use for!! Socrates was a heathen, But what numbers of us Christians must Page 60 have every gim crack article that Socrates despised, aye and a great many more, or we can't be happy. We must have gold watches, and Turkey Carpets, and gilt chariots, and so on, and so on: and, (worse than the Indian who gives a fat bullock for a two penny string of beads) we are ready, for this trumpery to give not only our fat••locks, but even our wives and children to abuse and curses, and to coop ourselves up in prison bounds to lead the lives of criminals, fearing every body, pitied by none, damned by many, and despised by all.
It was a frequent saying with WASHINGTON, that, "to dive deep into a merchant's Ledger, was a sure sign of a failing fortune, or a callous conscience." For this reason his life was a Practical comment on that wholesome old proverb, Cut your Coat according to your cloth." Hence, like the famous Pilot boats of his native state, he always sailed nearer the wind, than did his income, be that as scanty as it would. I have been told by his old friend and pastor, the Rev. Mr. Lee Massey, who, (if wit and worth could have given bishoprics, would have had a mitre long ago,) that while WASHINGTON received no more than the salary of a Coun|ty surveyor, he always had a dollar at the service of a friend: and never suffered a creditor to tip him the wink and take him •|side to shove an account into his fist. And when by the generosity of his brother, he inherited the Mount Vernon estate, and by the far greater generosity of the young Mrs. Martha Custis, he was made one of the wealthiest men in America, he continued the same, independent and good. He walked with justice, and justice is one of the mighty pillars that support the throne of him who is the same yesterday, to day and for ever.
WASHINGTON used often to say, that,
It was on this account that WASHINGTON could never bear a character so hypocritical as his who makes rich presents keeps open house, and makes his Guests drunk with old Mad••a; and yet can shake hands familiarly with a creditor of ten years standing. But
Page 61 From the same divine principle (the love of justice) Washington, though the most benevolent of men, was the most rigid of econo|mists. "We should all, says he, calculate on great and continual expence. We are liable to sickness—we may be involved in law suits—new taxes may be laid—the price of provisions may rise—Servants may sicken—and houses may burn Our debtors, though honest, may be in Straits—Our Tenants may be unfortunate—our friends may come to want, and our neighbours may ask our help. There is a luxury in doing good, for which a wise man would chearfully dispense with a little superfluous eating and show. And besides, by living frugally, we shall seldom know the heart ache of borrowing, or the insolence of Creditors.
From the same profound veneration for justice, Washington was always eminent for the punctality of his promises and payments. Never man more clearly discerned its close connection with digni|fied character, or its imporrtance to those with whom we deal, espe|cially if they be poor. 'Tis pity, said he, that the rich do not more generally reflect on the disadvantages which the poor labour under in getting their money. Tho' much wrong•d, they are afraid to go to law with one mightier than themselves. Law is slow, and tho' not always sure, is always costly. A poor tradesman may have his credit and his bread at stake, and yet 〈◊〉 afraid to offend his wealthy customer. And thus between the dread of losing that customer, on the one hand; and the ra••••der ill treatment from him, on the other, he may be much more miserable than any good man can wish to see his Brother.
His admiration of that golden precept, "Owe no man any thing," early led Washington to combat false sham•, that weakness which under the specious mask of Good Nature, and Delicacy, keeps many a young man from asking for his own • Paying others with great punctuality, he expected that they should be equally punctual; And looked on him as but ill entitled to the character of a good man, who puts you to the pain of asking for your money, and less, of an 〈◊〉 man, who suffers you to want it, when he could easily pro|cure 〈◊〉 for you. Unless the Debtor was a poor man, Washington never l••t a debt for want of demanding it, and that pretty early and earnestly too.
It was a remark of Washington, that, he who would enjoy, un|disturbed, the pleasures of honesty, must learn, sometimes at least, to say No, even to his dearest friends. Few are the pleasures equal to those of meeting the requests of a beloved wife, or, child. But if they ask for diets, or, for amusements, above your income, it is duty, it is kindness, even to them, to refuse. If it cost a struggle; let it be remembered, that it is the struggle of virtue; and they themselves, sooner or later will revere and commend you for it. But if you indulge, you contract the pangs of guilt, and your weak in Page 62 dulgence will be requited with reproach. Perhaps an evil, still worse, ensues; the virtue of the family is shaken. When the husband and the father yields to guilt, it is difficult for the Wife and children to retain their integrity. Plans of fraud are, too often, unanimously adopted, whereby they live in sloth on money with which debt should be paid.
Of all men, Washington was the most correct and regular in his business and dealings:—The richest fruits of industry," said he,
And yet this may be a great scholar, and can tell you in latin, greek, or French, the name of every four-footed beast, and creeping thing, that boarded with Noah in the ark! Thus preposterously, in the edu|cation of his son, does a father sacrifice more to sound than to sense, to pride than to prudence; and had rather hear him chal|lenge his company with a smart Parlez vons Francois, than teach him Page 63 like Washington, to do his business with regularity and exactness, with writings and receipts; though the neglect of these gives rise to more than half the quarrels, law, suits, and duels, that distract the world! Washington passed through life without any of these curses; for in all his dealings, every thing was so clearly under|stood, so fairly expressed, that there was no room for heart-burn|ings. His exactness in business extended to all, not excepting even those whom he most dearly loved. He said,
The inconsiderate may say, that such attention manifests a littleness of mind, unworthy of Washington. But in reply, Washington himself assures, that, every thing great, good, or happy in the lot of man, is connected with his industry and attention to business. Thro' neglect of these, his estate melts away, and debts are contracted. Debt haunts the mind—Creditors dun and barrass—a wife mourns for comforts which she enjoyed under her father's roof—his children cry for 〈◊〉,—and his daughters turn away their tearful eyes from prospects on which they must no longer look—These things are distressing, they four the temper; and mar his happiness. The morning of his days, which rose so bright, is overcast—weaned is his attachment to life, and the fight of the horrid pistol is welcome.
Such are the sorrows of the debtor, while he continues honest. But alass! such trials are found too heavy for most men. By degrees they undermine the moral principle, and reconcile a man to practices which he once abhorred. His first failure of payment, or breach of promise is painful to him; when he considers at how low a rate his word must hereafter pass, he sinks in his own eyes; but by degrees his difficulties bring him to study deceiving as an art, and at last he lies to his creditors without a blush!! With the loss of truth the silken cord of friendship is dissolved. He seizes the moment of unsuspecting affection to ens•are the generous friends of his youth; borrowing money which he will never pay, and binding them for debts which they must hereafter answer.
Thus he sells the dear bliss of loving and of being beloved!! His calls still are pressing; and now, an ingenuity, which, in a better cause might have immortalized his name, is exerted to evade the law, to deceive the world—to pervert the relation of father and son, transferring goods from the one to the other to defraud his credi|tors. Fictitious bills, false securities! dark conveyances! mysteries of iniquity! O my soul, come not thou into his secrets, unto his assembly Page 64 mine honor be not thou united! Bankruptcy now at hand, he makes a last grasp with his expiring credit, takes what he can, once more, from friends and neighbours, from the ignorant and unsuspecting—purchases goods, at any rate, from all who will trust him, and sells, them for ready money, at half their value! Inhuman wretch! One would suppose that when the bustle is over, painful reflections must arise, on friends, whom he has brought to ruin; on neighbours, whose genero|sity he has abused; on the savings of the poor labourer, which he has seized, disappointing his hopes of honest comfort; on the staff of the aged, which he has snatched away, dashing him, infirm and helpless on the cold ground of charity; on the dignity of human nature, which he has disgraced; and on the credit and character of his Country which he has contributed to blast; But his heart is a stranger to the relentings of humanity.
This cruel sacrifice, of other's comforts, is often made that the suc|cessful Speculator may accumulate wealth to figure in the Great World, and to excite admiration like what we felt for Washington. Mistaken Man! Washington won our hearts, not by his wealth, but his worth. Twas his great virtues and services, that poured around him such an atmsophere of the lovely and venerable▪ that no human eye could look on him without feeling unutterable things." The most illustrious characters from Europe, have declared that they could never approach him without awe▪ While, on the nerves of his Countrymen, the sight of their Washington impressed those sentiments, which a bad man, with the riches of ten thousand worlds could never command. When the roar of Washington's wheels was heard in our Streets, men, women, and children, flock'd to the doors and windows, like Doves to the beams of the morn|ing. All eyes were fixed upon him; and the eager look, the heaving bosom, and the tear-bathed cheek, evinced the power of virtue, Dear delicious feelings of veneration and love! Sweet, heaven flavoured offerings of the soul to goodness! When, alass! shall we ever taste your luxuries again!
Oh! That the great example of Washington may teach us—
I. The infinite importance of virtue, to true glory. Some, seek a fame like Washington, and would set the world a-stare on them, by the glitter of their wealth though gained by means which, vir|tue would blush at.
Let such Gentlemen read the following letter, written, during the last war, from an English gentleman, to an English duke.
Yes, you are a duke! and we see your Ducal Coronet on your Strumpet's coach! Your builder and baker, your butcher and Taylor gnaw their nails, unpaid; while the Jocky and Brother Gambler, receive ready cash with ostentatious profusion. Sharp|ers Page 65 and Prostitutes with all the qualities of thievery, riot in those riches which ought to be paid to honest men, who, with their fa|milies are starving in consequence of feeding and cloathing you. When such a Wretch as you, can be the Companion of a Prince, and Privy Counsellor to the King of Great-Britain and Defender of the Faith: who can be surprised, or who can la|ment that the subjects rebel, and that the Empire is dismembered! Under a Ruler like you, who would not glory in the illustrious character and conduct of a—WASHINGTON???
O! What a compliment to virtue. Here is a Nobleman—a fa|vourite of his Prince, and in the highest seat of honor; laden with wealth and glitlering with titles; and yet, all this availeth him no|thing. He is vicious! A Companion of sharpers and prostitutes, and will not pay his debts! Hence, in spite of his gold, he is held up, an object of scorn and execration to the world. And when his Chariot rolls into the Streets, instead of being followed, as was that of Washington, by the affectionate looks and benedictions of all beholders, it serves, worse than the Crier's bell, to call angry Merchants and disappointed Tradesmen to their doors, to point at and curse the passing Scoundrel, who b•ys of every body and pays nobody.
While on the other hand, there is Washington! a Stranger to the bean monde, simply and American Farmer, and wearing no Stars, nor titles, save those of brightest virtues, and yet in these he appears so lovely, so venerable, that honest Britons can't look on him without pleasure, they forget that he is fighting against them—they heap him with commendations, and soon as the war is over, they ship off to him innumerable presents. British Farmers send him their cheeses; British Authors, the incense of their praises; British Bishops, elegant bibles, and British Lords, e. g. The Earl of Bu|chan and his friends, a precious box lin'd with gold, and made of the oak that sheltered the great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk. This was sent to Washington as to, "the greatest and best man in the world."
Dear Countrymen! If honest Britons so loved Washington, how ought honest Americans to love one another; Tho from diffe|rence of education they may happen to differ a litttle in their Poli|tical opinions!!
II. Let us admire and imitate WASHINGTON'S sacred regard for Order; and for due submission to lawfully-ruling power.
All human society requires government. Even the smallest families must be unprosperous and miserable without it. What then is to be expected in large societies of thousands and millions of selfish and ambitious mortals, unawed by divine or human laws! What, Oh! Americans! but the most horrid-tragedies, spring|ing Page 66 from pride, fraud, lust, hate, revenge, &c. and wrought up at length to such bloody battles, and inhuman massacres, with such death-screams, and dying groans, as to give horror-struck huma|nity, a perfect picture of the habitations of the damned? But no sooner has just and effective government raised aloft her aw|ful form; than all these •ell-begotten monsters disappear. The sons of violence are bound in chains, or cut off by the sword of justice; the cries of the weak and oppressed, distress our ears no more; sweet peace smiles over all; and secure now, of enjoying her own delicious fruits, Industry springs up, with eye sparkling with honest ambition; millions fall to work; the rich store-hou|ses of nature are broken up; earth, water, air, and fire, lend their mighty aids; and arts, sciences, manufactures, and commerce, pour a flowing tide of blessings round the world.
These are thy peaceful precious fruits, O blessed Govern|ment! Thus it is that thou enablest man, created in his Maker's image, and touched with Heaven's own fire, to imitate his God; and, like him, to call beauty out of deformity, and order out of Chaos!
Washington's life exhibits immortal monuments of his sense of the blessings of government, and the great duty of cheerful sub|mission to it. Frequent were the opportunities which he had to wear the brightest gold and purple that sceptre-seeking ambition could covet: But he despised them all. Charmed with that hea|ven which results from good government, and a prompt obedience to it, he readily returned the glittering sword of the victorious Generalissimo,—stepped down from the exalted chair of supreme magistracy—mixed as a commoner among the citizens—obeyed those whom he had been accustomed to command—honored the president—revered the laws—paid his taxes, and, in every re|spect, behaved as became the man, who was fully possessed of this great idea, that, in exact proportion to our union, will be our strength, our peace and prosperity at home, and our respectability and success abroad.
Let us my fellow-citizens, as we revere the memory of GEORGE WASHINGTON—As we honour the mighty God of order, whom WASHINGTON honored—As we would live the life and die the death of that righteous man O let us imitate this greatest because best example in his most exemplary life.
If ever there was a people under the canopy of Heaven, who had reason to be cheerfully obedient to their government, we are that people. The form of our government, is of all others, the most conducive to our best interests; and therefore the most perfect, Widely different from the liberty and safety of our re|publican Page 67 form, most of the nations of the world, groan under the caprice and cruelty of the kingly governments. That a people may be happy under the administration of a wise and good king, we all agree, because, thank God, there have been charming instances of it; but then alas! wise and good kings are very rare, almost as rare as Washingtons. The pride and ambition common to man, nursed in the hot-bed of a court, and high fed on luxury and flattery, too generally run up into the vilest monsters, at once the disgrace and curse of human kind.
"When I look around me (says the Rev. Dr. Chandler, one of the ornaments both of English learning and piety) on the pre|sent kings of Europe, I am apt to ask myself, what is there in most of them that should make their subjects wish their lives, or regret their deaths? Actuated by ambition or revenge, or sunk in indolence and pleasure, they waste the riches of their people by the most abominable extravagance and dissipation; or rush their subjects into war, to the certain murder and ruin of thou|sands of them. And as to our own kings, some of them invol|ved us in all the calamities of civil wars; others impoverished and oppressed us by illegal exactions; and the generality of them, either by their own choice, or led by wicked ministers, sacrificed the national interest to their own accursed ambition, revenge, and debauchery."
And when the ancient Jews, in evil hour, applied to God for a king, he told them they did not know what they were asking for. "This," said he, by his prophet Samuel, "will be the character, (meaning the general character) of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them for him|self for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint them captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to make his pastry, and to be cooks and bakers, And he will take your fields, and your vine-yards, and your olive-yards; even the best of them and give them to his servants and his officers. And he will take your men servants and your maid servants; and your goodliest young men, and your asses and put them all to his work: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen unto you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day."
What thanks do we not owe to God that we and our dear children are not under such curses; the too frequent fruits of a kingly government! Curses, from which, as we have just read, it is so exceedingly difficult to be delivered. For when once a Page 68 King (though not worse in grain than other men) gets seated in a throne, his spirits are put into such a delicious tumult by the pomp• and pleasures of royalty, that he cannot think of ever letting them go out of his hands. To secure these for ever in his family, he raises all the money that he possibly can by taxes, and creates innumerable offices, places of honour and profit, which he artfully gives to his own friends and creatures. Thus he fleeces the people to pay for their own fetters. For every officer under government, from the Prime Minister to the tax gatherer, receiving his place from the king, "eating his Majesty's bread," is ready for throat-cutting if he hears but a dog bark against him. So that the poor slaves may groan, and cry, and starve, they and their children from generation to generation.
But blessed be God, the friend of America, who has given us a government under which we are not liable to such sufferings.—At the end of the war in 84, having thrown off the British monar|chy, we wanted a government for ourselves. And never, sure, was a nation favoured with a fairer chance to get a good one. We were innocent and perfectly free: We had WASHINGTON, FRANK|LIN, ADAMS, JEF. ERSON, HENRY, MADISON, and a great many others the most enlightened and virtuous patriots in the world. We were wise enough to ask their assistance, and they gave us a pure Republican government; that is, a government which preserves the supreme power sacred in our own hands, where God intended it should be—a government which contains whole|some laws aiming equally at the happiness of every honest man (of the poorest peasant as well as John Adams) with a regular course of law and justice for the redress of grievances—A govern|ment which make wise provision for amending itself whenever necessary, which appoints an uninterrupted succession of officers, in the way of a free election—a government which commits not the administration of such inestimable blessings to any one man, (which were madness indeed) but to a number of men? and not to these as forming one body, (which were as mad as entrusting it to one man) but three bodies, President, Senate and House of Representatives, and these so nicely balanced as to check each other in their smallest attempts on our liberties—and a govern|ment which orders these her servants, President, Senate, and Re|presentatives, to make quick returns to us of the power with which we entrusted them; the President, at the end of every four years; and the Representatives, of every two years; and therefore does not allow them time to hatch their infernal eggs of ambition even if they were such demons as to be impregnated with them; but strongly binds them to their best behaviour, that they may be be|loved as Washington, and be elected again; and obliges them to make the best laws, as they themselves are so soon to obey.
Page 69 Other wretched nations, even in passing from the slavery of one tyrant to another, have been obliged to wade through seas of their own countrymen's blood; but we obtained ours without any struggles among ourselves; without the loss of a single drop of American blood.
Who can reflect on that gracious guardian power of America, which brought us safely through out alarming war against Great Britain, which not only enabled us to repel Lord North's attempts on our liberties, but, far beyond our first and most sanguine ex|pectations, to establish ourselves FREE and INDEPENDENT SATES; and then, without the least struggle or blood-shed among ourselves, kindly spread over our favoured heads, the heavenly canopy of an excellent government, pouring down on us all the blessings of just and equitable society; securing to every honest man and his family, all the sweet and precious safeties of his liberty, his life, his health, his character, his property, his religion, and in fine of every blessing connected with his highest happiness in this world, and with his preparation for eternal happiness in the next—who, I say, can think of this profusion of riches mercies conferred on our country, above all other countries in the world, without feeling his soul oppressed and almost overwhelmed with a sense of the Divine munificence, as Washington expresses it? or without joining him in, "unceasing prayers to God, that he may continue to us the choicest tokens of his beneficence—That our uni|on and brotherly love may be perpetual. But, if the blessed effects resulting from order and good government cannot prevail on us to join in this divine prayer let us at least take a vi• of the hor|rors which may result from writing and talking so as to create par|ties and factions among us.
Cast your eyes over ancient Rome, while virtuous and united, the mighty Mistress of the world! but no sooner had the evil spi|rit of party and faction crept in among them, than the old Roman steel became as a rope of sand falling into pieces of itself. One of these devoted parties snatched up Sylla, swearing by Pluto and the Styx that he was the honestest fellow in all Rome; the others damned themselves by Jupiter, and all the Gods, Celestial Terrestrial, and Infernal, that Sylla was a villain and not fit to hold a candle to Marius. Of course Marius was pitted. Fluent ora|tors mounted the tub. Parchments (for they had no paper in those days) were stained as black as ink with 〈◊〉 and Fr•, and all Page 70 the Latin words that stood for scape-gallows, and damned scoun|drel, and so on. Such fuel as this soon blew up the flame to a pitch beyond restraint. Merius first opened the horrid scene and glutted, his followers with the blood and wealth of the friends of Sylla; Sylla repaid the Marian faction in the same coin, and with interest. In these unnatural contests thousands of Roman citizens were but|chered; their wives and children barbarously turned out of doors, and their estates confiscated and sold to cram the purses and to fatten the vices of their diabolical destroyers. Bloody battles were often fought in the very streets: and wretched Rome more than once experienced from her own citizens all the horrors of a city taken by storm.
And in the histories of the civil wars of Great-Britain, and, here lately of France, we may behold the same horrid features of faction. Here are the two parties, Whigs and Tories, or Aris|tocrats and Democrats. A little time ago, while they had a government, though a very imperfect one, they loved each other as children of the same country and constitution, and would in a moment have fought for one another with all the heroism of mag|nanimous brothers: But now, split into parties and driving at different interests, they regard each other as enemies. Jealousy and hatred, true miscroscopes of hell, are before their eyes and conceal from each all the good qualities and intentions of the other; and at the same time, so distort, magnify and blacken all their designs and actions, that they appear to each other as little better than Devils. Their News-Papers too, as if warm and smoaking from the presses of the damned, lend all their fire and brimstone to feed the infernal flame. "The Aristocrats! (cries the passion-choaked Printer on the other side). The Aris|tocrats! A set of unfeeling Kingly Villains! Monsters of Pride, who would as lieve drive their guilt Chariots over a poor Man, as over a dog: and would devour widows houses for a stake at an E. O. Table! Vile miscreants, who only want a Kingly Government that they may fleece and lord it over the poor!"
On the other hand, the Aristocrat Gazettes give chapter and verse for it, that "The Democrats are a lazy vicious race, whose poverty and lice make them envy and hate the rich; and who will never be at rest, until, having trampled down Religion, ▪Laws, and Government, they are at full liberty, like wild Arabs, to rob and plunder their wealthier neighbours."
Grounded now on something like love of public good, the bad passions of the two parties rage with redoubled fury. They sel|dom meet in company without fierce contentions and bloody frays. Duels and murders are frequent. The devoted wretches, as they pass each other in the streets, can read death in one another• dark Page 71 faces and glaring eyes. The horrid tragedy ripens fast, and the dreadful storm is on the very eve of bursting. Numerous Ravens, with ill brooding croaks and terrifying screams, are seen flapping their wings flow and sad, over the fated city. All night long fearful noises are head in the air, as of groans from dying per|sons; while frightful meteors, in shape of fiery balls, shoot through the gloom leaving long hideous tracks behind them like streams of blood. In the morning, the awful roar of guns is heard in the midst of the city. Trembling seizes on the aged, while the feeble sex sicken with terrors unfelt before. The men snatch up arms, and rush, in tumultuous crowds, to the place whence the noise proceeds. Immense is the concourse. The orators on both sides get up to address the eager throngs, and with bitterest abuse inflame their passions against each other to madness. The fierce uproaring crowds can withhold no longer. With horrid impreca|tions, with faces black with rage, and eye balls flashing fire, they fly at each other like tygers. They plunge their knives, swords and daggers into each others hearts. Pale and staggering, with mutual curses in death, they sink to the ground. The streets are floated with blood. The dead bodies lie heaps on heaps, while women and children, with wringing hands, and heart-piercing cries, demand their husbands, their fathers, and their brothers.
These O accursed Faction and Party! These are your bloody fruits! Thus it is. that by filling our souls with the passions of the damned, you turn man into a devil to man, you turn the fairest cities into slaughter-houses, you turn earth itself, the goodly creation of God, into the hell from whence you came!
These unutterable curses of Faction and Party, rose often on the mind of WASHINGTON, and shook his parent soul with trem|bling for America. Hence it was, that, during the uncertainty whether these states would adopt a Federal Government, WASH|INGTON was never seen to smile; a dark gloom hung constantly on his face, and his eyes often looked as if he had been weeping; and hence it was that he poured out his soul, "in unceasing vow• to God, that our union and brotherly love might be everlasting."
O my countrymen! If we would partake with our WASHING|TON, of those eternal delights which are prepared for the chil|dren of peace; let us, with him, make a covenant with our souls to fly from party spirit, as from the bane and damnation of all Republics; and the only demon that can prevent favoured Ame|rica from rising to the greatest and happiest among the nations. Let us all (whether Peasant or President, whether •or Adams or Jefferson) as dear children of God, and brothers of WASHING|TON, shun, as we would hell-fire, every word and act that may needlessly provoke each other to wrath and strife, These are Page 72 not the weapons of conversion, but, of obduracy; they have been potent to cut the throats of millions of our race; but have never yet reclaimed one soul from error and prejudice.
In the foregoing pages we have seen a sketch of the life of Washington; of him, who was the pride of America, and boast of humankind; who united in himself such a Constellation of vir|tues as sweetly assure us of Immortality,—of our relation to ANGELS—and of our capacities for glories and felicities, that shall know no bounds.
It is hardly exaggeration to say that WASHINGTON was pious as Numa; just as Aristides; temperate as Epictetus; patriotic as Regulus; in giving public trusts, impartial as Severus; in vic|tory, modest as Scipio; prudent as Fabius; rapid as Marcellus; undaunted as Hannibal; as Cincinnatus disinterested; to liberty firm as Cato; and respectful of the laws as Socrates. Or, to speak in plainer terms; he was religious without superstition; just without rigour; charitable without profusion; hospitable without making others pay for it; generous but with his own money; rich without covetousness; frugal without meanness; humane without weakness; brave without rashness; successful without vanity; victorious without pride; a lover of his country, but no hater of French or English; a staunch friend of govern|ment but respectful of those who pointed out its defects with de|cency; true to his word without evasion of perfidy; firm in adver|sity; moderate in prosperity; glorious and honoured in life; peaceful and happy in death.
Thus singularly virtuous was the man, whom Heaven was pleased to select as his honored instrument to establish this great WESTERN REPUBLIC. And if every thing be duly considered, I trust it will appear WASHINGTON was raised up of God as a forerunner to some mighty event. In 1774, when a dark gloom hung over the spirits of our Fathers; a gloom o•casioned by the alarm of a mighty nation coming forward with her armies and sleets, (shading the Ocean) to strike at our dearest liberties; then it was, that, the spirit of God came mightily on WASHINGTON, and raised him up as an Ensign of Hope to our trembling country|men. And when we consider how wonderfully this man was ena|bled to inspire confidence; insomuch that thirteen little Colonies, which, a few years before, had been thrown into a panic by a hand|ful of French Indians, now headed by WASHINGTON, were re|solved, to oppose one of the most formidable powers in Europe.—When we consider, how wonderfully he inspired Union; insomuch that all the souls of thirteen Colonies, so widely distant in their situation, Religion, Customs and Interests, clave to him even as one man, beyond all conjecture of reason, and all suspicion of Page 73 Lord North-when we consider how miraculously, this man was preserved to us, during our long and critical struggle, notwithstand|ing the attempts (one or two of which have come to light) that were made to take him from us—when we consider, how wonder|fully he kept up the spirit, and the Union, of these states, during the long contest of eight years, notwithstanding the many horrors and distresses of war, the great want of luxuries for the rich, and of necessaries and pay for the Soldiers—And, after the establish|ment of Heaven-born freedom in our land; how wonderfully, his parental influence •ed the people of these states to adopt one grand system of pure Republicans policy, happily uniting civil liberty with effective government—when, I say, all this is considered, who but must feel a sweet flutter of hope that great events are connect|ed with us, and that God has sent on his servant WASHINGTON, as a Day-Star to some mighty Revolution, big with blessings to man|kind, which will ere long dawn on the land where WASHINGTON, was born? Perhaps, God may be about to establish here a mighty empire, for the reception of a happiness unknown on earth, since the days of blissful Eden. An Empire, where Religion shall continue, through immemorial time, to unfold aloft her sacred banner celestial white, untorn by state violation, and unstained by the impious touch of wordling priests. An empire, that shall afford a welcome retreat to all the uncorrupted sons of freedom, when Liber|ty is forcibly driven from every other realm—An Empire, that shall open a vast Theatre for the display of the grand transac|tions of providential wisdom—Transactions marked with more than human manners and characters, that shall not relate to this or to any other nation alone—That shall bear, in-stamped upon them, the broad seal of God himself; either evidently pointing to, or accomplishing the grand designs of his providence, Ful|filling ancient prophecies—Leading our posterity, happy in future days, to see the glorious kingdom of Messiah, rising by de|grees out of the Revolutions and destruction of the kingdoms of this world. When nation shall no more lift up the sword against nation, nor torrents of human blood flow down from shameful variance betwixt man and man.—When the creature traveling in pain, shall no more lift the piteous eye, with groans unutterable, to God—But, when the uninjuring, the unsuffering kingdom of Christ being come, men shall no longer hurt nor destroy in the earth, but the Leopard and the Kid shall lie down together; and the young Lion and the Calf; and a little Child shall lead them—When glad songs of peace shall warble through every land, and the fruits of love shall overspread the earth as waters cover the sea.
Who without tears of joy can think of such a glorious day of happiness about to dawn, 〈◊〉 long perhaps, on the land of Page 74 WASHINGTON? Or without feeling himself under new and sa|cred obligations to do every thing that may invite it? And it is in our power to invite it—Yes, if our country were filled with such men as Washington, that glorious day would this moment shine upon us. For whence are the sweet beams of peace and happiness but from the sun of Virtue? And if the sun of virtue did but gild our plains, how soon would our desert rejoice and blossom like the rose? How soon would Earth resemble Heaven? Temperance would pour her ruddy blessings around our land. Industry would fill our barns with plenty, and cause our presses to burst out with new wine. Righteous dealing would make us to be respected and beloved of one another, while mutual affection would render our society sweet and harmonious as that of dearest friends and brothers, Foreign nations, hearing that the vine of Paradise was planted in our land, would hasten to feed on its delicious clusters. God even our own God would give us his blessings, the little hills would clap their hands with joy, and consenting clouds shower down their marrow and fatness upon us. Since then it is "righteousness that exalteth a nation; since the eternal decree is passed, that the glory of nations shall forever rise and fall with their virtues, let us then if we do indeed love our country, and would have her and her children to be free and hap|py, for all generations; let us now, while it is called to-day, vow a vow to God, that we will endeavour through life to become what Washington was, in his virtues. O! let us consider that crown of glory which he now wears, the bright reward of his virtues; and that the same crown is prepared, the same virtues expected of us—Let us consider that these form the great errand on which we were sent into this world—That Heaven and earth are waiting on us for this purpose—That the eyes of God and angels are fixed on us with eager expectation—And that the venerable shades, of Washington, and our fathers, are anxiously looking on us for these virtues, to make happy this great Republic which their toil, and sweat, and blood so dearly bought. Since then, we are moral soldiers, fighting for an immortal prize, for ourselves and for our children; "Let us be of good courage, and play the men for our people and for the cities of our God, and let the Lord do for our country that which seemeth him good."
THE DEATH OF WASHINGTON.
If the prayers of millions could have prevailed, WASHINGTON •••ld have been immortal on the earth. And if fullness of 〈◊〉, riches and honors, could have rendered that immortality Page 75 happy, WASHINGTON had been blessed indeed. But this world is not the place of true happiness. Though, innumerable are the sweet comforts, which a prudence and virtue like WASHINGTON'S, may enjoy in this world, yet they fall short, infinite degrees, of that pure unimbittered felicity, which God, the Almighty Parent, has prepared in heaven for the children of his love.
To prepare for this immensity of bliss, this eternity of joy, is the mighty errand on which God sent us into this world. Our preparation consists in acquiring those great virtues, Justice, Humility, and Love, which, and which alone can make us wel|come companions of Angels, and worthy members of their Illus|trious society. WASHINGTON had wisely spent his life in acquir|ing these immortal virtues. "He had fought the good fight—against his own unreasonable affections—he had glorified God; by exemplifying the charms of virtue, to men—he had finished the great work which God had given him to do; for himself and for his country. He had borne the heat and burden of the day—his great day of duty; And the evening (of old age) being come, the servant of God must now go to receive his wages. Happy, happy WASH|INGTON! If Crowns and Kingdoms could purchase such sweet peace like thine, such smiling joy, such hopes big with immorta|lity; with what begging earnestness, would Crowns and Kingdoms have been offered by the mighty conquerors of the earth, in their dying moments of terror and despair!
On the 14th day of December, 1799. (when he wanted but 9 weeks, and 2 days of bing 63 years old) he rode out on his planta|tion. The day was very raw and snowy. The same night he was attacked with a violent pain and inflamation of the throat. The lancet of one of his Domestics was employed, but with Page 76 no advantage. By times in the morning, Dr. Craik, his com|panion in peace and war, the friend and physician of his youth and age, was sent for. Alarmed at the least appearance of dan|ger threatening a life so dear to him, Dr. Craik advised to call in, immediately, the consulting assistance of his friends, the ingeni|ous and learned Dr. Dick of Alexandria, and Brown of Port-Tobacco. They came on the wings of speed. They felt the awfulness of their situation. They knew that never again should they be called to fight the king of terrors in defence of such a prize.—They saw the MOURNFUL GENIUS of AMERICA, with the red eyes of her grief bathed in tears, fixed on her son; sometimes cast on them anxiously asking their assistance. The greatest of all human beings was now lying low; a life of all others the most revered, the most beloved was at stake. Craik, Dick and Brown, the ablest GUARDS of life, were stationed around him bending o|ver the prostrate hero. If human skill and solicitude could have availed; if the sword of genius and the buckler of experience could have repelled the blows of death, WASHINGTON had still lived. Defeated a thousand times by their superior skill, when lives less valuable were contended for, Death began to fear left this great prize so long coveted should be snatched from him.—But he soon felt his arm invigorated by a strength not his own.—The great hour was come and WASHINGTON must die. Yes his Mansion is prepared above. The crown of his rejoicing is bright. The harps of the blessed are strung. "Let the angel of Death conduct the Soul of WASHINGTON to the feasts of Heaven."
It appears, that, from the commencement of the attack, he was favoured with a presentiment, that, he was now laid down to rise no more. He took however the medicines that were of|fered him, but it was principally to oblige the long-loved partner of his heart and bed.
It has been said that a man's death is a true copy of his life. This is generally the case with those who die in their senses. It was WASHINGTON'S case exactly. In his last illness he behaved with the undaunted firmness of a soldier, and the calm resigna|tion of a christian.
The inflammation in his throat was attended with great pain, which he bore with the fortitude that became him. He was once or twice heard to say that had it pleased God he should have been glad to die a little easier; but that he doubted not that it was for his good.
Every hour now spread a fader gloom over the scene. De|spair sat on the faces of the physicians; for they saw that their art had failed. The strength of the mighty was departing from him; and Death, with his sad harbingers, chills, and paleness, was coming on apace.
Page 77 Mount Vernon, which had long shone above all families, the Queen of elegant joys, was now about to suffer a sad Eclipse! an Eclipse which would soon be mournfully visible, not only through the United States but throughout the world.
An awful silence prevails throughout the spacious Dwelling.—The big grief has sealed every lip and darkened every countenance. His servants are now about to lose their long loved master and protector; and his friends to bid a last adieu to the endearing so|ciety of the greatest and best of human kind. Their faces are swollen with weeping, and torrents of bitter tears roll down their cheeks. But though bitter, yet shallow are their streams of sor|row, when compared with that flood of unutterable woe, which o|verwhelms the soul of his life's dear companion. Bless'd with a soul, capable of loving an angle spirit inhabiting the noblest form, she had given her heart and hand to her WASHINGTON in early life. Forty happy years had they lived together like two lovers joined in wedlock. Every year, sweet as it rolled along, marked their ever growing loves—Loves, which, fed by mutual tender|ness and virtue, were continually ascending with a brighter flame, nearer and nearer to their native skies—Loves, which by a forty years inter-growth, were become so incorporated, as to render each a part of the others self. O! how heart breaking!—How soul rending the separation! But the hour of separation is come! She can keep her WASHINGTON no longer! He, whose compa|ny was the perpetual feast of her soul, must now be taken from her! That voice which was sweeter to her ear than the music of songs, shall charm her ear no more. She shall speak to him but he will not answer. The echo of her voice will frighten her own soul. That face which was welcomer to her eyes than the streaks of the morning, shall rejoice her eyes no more. She shall awake in the morning; but shall not see him—She shall seek him early; but shall not find him. The place where her beloved lay, will be empty. The heaviness of her heart returns; her tears of grief roll down.
Great, honoured Lady! what but the arm of the mighty God of Washington, could have supported thee in that dismal hour of darkness and distress! And he did support thee. The conso|lations of religion were thine; and her consolations are mighty. Oft had thy WASHINGTON reminded thee, when the tear swelled in thine eye, and the sigh of thy bosom arose at the thought of par|ting; oft had he reminded thee of those blissful shores, where the souls of the virtuous, escaped from the sorrows of mortality, shall soon meet again, infinitely improved; and there in the presence of HIM WHO MADE THEM, shall pluck and eat together, in communion sweet, the rich 〈◊〉 of eternal life.
Page 78 Sons and Daughters of Columbia! gather yourselves together, around the bed of your fallen hero; around the bed of him to whom (under God) you and your children are indebted for the richest blessings of life. When Joseph, the great prime minister of Egypt, heard that his Shepherd-Father was sick, he hastened up to see him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him and wept. Joseph had never received such services from Jacob, as you have received from WASHINGTON. But we call you not to weep for WASHINGTON. We ask you not to view those eyes, now sunk and hollow, which formerly darted their lightening-flashes against your enemies; nor to feel that heart, now faintly-labouring, which formerly throbbed with more than mortal joys, when he saw the young heroes of Columbia, rushing on in rattling steel to charge the foe; nor to mark that arm now feeble, which so of|ten waved the fiery-circled sword of war, pointing where the roar of battle should begin. No, we call you not to weep but to revere.
The Great Star, lighted up of God, to lead America to freedom, is now setting, but he sets in glory. He looks back on past life, as on a goodly field, which his own industry, under the divine bles|sing, has strewed thick with richest fruits and flowers. He looks forward with joy to those brighter scenes, which God has prepared for the spirits of the just. None ever acted better up to his great character, in life; and none ever sustained its last closing scenes with more dignity and grace. The summer evening sky was not more serene and placid than his countenance; while his reason was elevated and clear as the pure arch of heaven.
With what composure did he endure the violence of his pains! With what expressive composure did he utter—thy will be done! Even when the •old sweats hung on his brow, his eye spoke com|placency, and a noble philosophic joy, sat smiling on his face.
Feeling that the hour of his departure out of this world was at hand; he desired that every body should quit the room. They all went out; and according to his wish, left him—with his God.
There, by himself, like Moses alone on the top of Pisgah, he seeks the face of God. There by himself, standing as on the awful boundary that divides time from eternity—that separates this world from the next, he cannot quit the long frequented haunts of the one, nor launch away into the untried regions of the other, un|til (in humble imitation of the world's great redeemer) he has poured forth into the bosom of his God, those strong sensations, which the solemnity of his situation naturally suggested.
With what angel fervour did he adore that Almighty Love, which though inhabiting the heaven of heavens, yet deigned to wake his slee•ing dust—f••med him so fearfully in the womb—nursed him on a tender mother's breast—watched his helpless in|fancy Page 79 —guarded his heedless youth—preserved him from the do|minion of his passions—inspired him with the love of virtue—led him safely up to man—and, from such low beginnings, advanced him to such unparallelled usefulness and glory among men! These, and ten thousand other precious gifts heaped on him, unasked, many of them long before he had the knowledge to ask for them; overwhelmed his soul with gratitude unutterable, exalted to infi|nite heights, his ideas of eternal love, and bade him without fear, to resign his departing spirit into the arms of his redeemer God, whose mercies are over all his works.
He is now about to leave the great family of man, in which he has so long sojourned as a brother! His cheeks are bathed with tears, the yearnings of his soul are over his brethren! How fer|vently does he adore that goodness, which enabled him to be so ser|viceable to them! That grace, which preserved him from hurting them by violence or by fraud! How fervently does he pray that the uninjuring, unsuffering kingdom of God may come, and that the Earth may be filled with the richest fruits of righteousness and of peace.
He is now about to leave his country! that dear spot which gave him birth—that dear spot for which he has so long watched and prayed, so long toiled and sought; and whose beloved children he has so often sought to gather, even as a Hen gathereth her Chickens under her wings. He sees them now spread abroad like flocks in goodly pastures; like favored Israel in the land of promise. He remembers how God, by a mighty hand, and by an out-stretched arm, brought them and their fathers into this good land, a land flowing with Milk and Honey; and blessed them with the blessings of Heaven above, and of the Earth beneath; with the blessings of LIBERTY and of PEACE, of RELIGION and of LAWS, above all other people—He sees, that, through the rich mercies of God, they have now the precious opportunity to make their Country, the GLORY of the Earth, the blessed among nations, and a refuge for the poor and for the outcasts of all lands! The transporting sight of such a cloud of blessings, trembling close over the heads of his Countrymen, together with the distress|ing uncertainty whether they will put forth their hands and enjoy them, shakes the parent soul of WASHINGTON with feelings too strong for his dying frame. The last tear that he is ever to shed, now steals into his eye, while a deep groan issues from his bursting heart.
Feeling now, that, the silver cord of life is loosing, and that his spirit is ready to quit her old companion the body, he extends him|self on his bed, closes his eyes, for the last time, with his own hands, folds his arms decently on his breast, then breathing out with his last parting breath. "Faller of Mercies! Save my Country— Page 80 Comfort the broken-hearted Partner of my Soul! and take me to thy|self" he fell asleep.
May that God whom thou servedst, O WASHINGTON! hear the voice of thy prayer! May thy blessings in death prevail for thy Country, still above the blessings of thy life; even unto the ut|most bounds of the everlasting hills may they descend on Columbia, and on the lands where Washington was born!"
Loud were the bursts of grief, and many the tears that were shed, when the fall of Washington was known; but in the ear of wisdom a voice was heard from his awful shade—"Children of Columbia, "weep not for me!" My streaming eyes are closed in death; my throbbing heart shall beat no more. With me, the storms of life are past, and I am at rest.—But, weep for your|selves."
"The men of love and of moderation fail in your land. Wrath stirring gazettes are in full circulation. Jealousies and hatreds prevail. Discontents abound. The red sword of war hangs fearfully over your country; and the demons of pride and am|bition will soon draw it down. Then shall your enemies rejoice to see you perish by mutual wounds, and fall an easy prey into their selfish and cruel snares! Children of Columbia! Weep not for me, weep for yourselves. O that you were wise; that you did but see, even in this your day, the things that belong to your peace, before they be forever hid from your eyes"!!
Here on angel wings, the brightening saint ascended. Far and wide the air was filled with fragrance; while voices more than human were heard warbling through the happy regions, hymning the great procession towards the gates of Heaven. His glorious coming was seen far off; and myriads of mighty angels hastened forth, with golden harps, to welcome the honoured stranger. High in front of the shouting hosts were seen the beauteous forms of FRANKLIN, WARREN, MERCER, SCAMMEL, and him who fell at Quebec, with all the virtuous patriots who on the side of Columbia, toiled or bled for liberty and truth. But O! how changed from what they were when in their days of flesh, bathed in sweat and blood, they fell at the parent-feet of their weeping country! Not the homeliest infant suddenly springing into a soul-enchanting Hebe—Not dreary winter, deformed with ice and snows, suddenly brightening into spring with all her bloom and fragrance, ravishing the sense•, could equal such glorious change. O where are now their wrinkles and grey hairs? Where their ghastly wounds and clotted blood? Their forms are of the stature of angels.—Their robes are like the morning clouds streaked with waving gold.—The stars of Heaven, like crowns glitter on their heads.—Immortal youth, ce•est••l, rosy red, fits blooming on their cheeks; while infinite benignity and love beam from their Page 81 eyes. Such were the forms of th•••sons, O Columbia! such the brother band of thy martyred saints, that now poured forth from Heaven's wide opening gates, to meet thy WASHINGTON; to meet their beloved chief, who, in the days of his mortality, had led their embattled squadrons to the war. At sight of him, even these blessed spirits seem to feel new raptures; and to look more daz|zlingly bright. In joyous throngs they pour around him; they devour him with their eyes of love; they embrace him in trans|ports of tenderness unutterable; while, from their roseate cheeks, tears of joy, such as Angels weep, roll down.
Oppressed with exquisite bliss of such honours paid for a mo|ments virtue on earth, he turned hastily around; he •ought once more to exhort his countrymen to virtue; to union; and to love. But it could not be—this dark planet, this bedlam of the universe is seen no more. Millions of mighty worlds roll between. In silent extacy he adores. "Happy soul," the shining host ex|claims, "happy soul, this is but the beginning of thy joys."—Then on they led him with shouts, and with rapture-swelling strains of ten thousand thousand harps, to the throne of God; whence, from a cloud of gold, sweeter than music, the almighty voice was heard, "Servant of God, well done! faithful has been thy warfare on earth! for the sorrows of a moment receive now the joys of eternity."
All that followed, was too much for the over-dazzled eye of Imagination. She was seen to return, her snowy bosom quick panting, and with the disordered looks of a fond mother, near swooning, at sudden sight of a long absent son, now raised to kingly honours. She was heard passionately to utter, with palms and eyes listed to Heaven.—"O who can count the stars of Jacob, or number the fourth part of the blessings of Israel? O let me die the death of WASHINGTON, and let my latter end be like his."
Thou great and honored lady! who fittest alone and darkling in thy house of mourning. Suffer me, who, in common with all America, look up to thee with filial affection, as to the dear last remaining part of all that lives of our WASHINGTON on the earth; suffer me to entreat thee to be comforted. What couldst thou have desired for thy Washington, of riches, honours and usefulness in life, of peace and hope in death; of glory, honor, and immortality in Heaven, which God has not heaped on him? what could Heaven and earth, what could God, angels and men have done more for him than has been done? since God has given thee much, for thy beloved—he requires much, even the acceptable sacrifice of thy gratitude and resignation.
But that infinite wisdom forbids, soon would thy Washing|ton, at the solemn midnight hour, glide into thy chamber like Page 82 one of those flaming spirits which watch, unseen, the slumbers of the just. Soon would he draw aside thy curtain, and looking on thee as pitying angels look on weeping saints, would say—"O Martha! O my beloved friend! why dost thou mourn for me? In the days of my trial I was faithful to Heaven, to love, and to thee; And I am happy; happy beyond all that thou canst think or ask. God has taken me away for ever from the evils of life, from the evils of fast declining age, and the still greater evils, of seeing thine or my country's woes. God has wiped all tears from mine eyes; wouldst thou, with cruel kindness, bring me back to this valley of tears? I breathe in regions of eternal light and life, wouldst thou recall me to this land of darkness and of death? Oh! my beloved friend! my Martha! my wife! Exalt thy thoughts to eternity, and finish with joy, that short task of duty, that now remains to thee. Yet a little while, and we shall meet again; we shall meet to renew that love that shall never know an end, and to celebrate those nuptials which shall last forever."
Blessed above women! Thou wast, for forty years, the loving and beloved companion of our Washington. Even in the largest company, thy converse, often fondly snatched, was still the most endearing to him, and a •eat by thy side the most delight|ful. His children will not suffer their father's side to be widowed. Soon as thy days are numbered, with pious hands, they will place thee by his side. Then will the tears of millions flow. Yes, Dear honoured pair! The tears of your countless children shall water your tomb. The gorgeous monument, with time-defying grandeur, shall arise, speaking Columbia's gratitude; and the eyes of generations, yet unborn, shall read of your deeds, your VIRTUES, and your LOVE—They shall read, while the tender sor|row rolls down their pensive cheeks,
Here lie, interred, all that could die of GEORGE WASHINGTON, and MARTHA, his Wife.