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application of the fable, in which the fox is represented as undervaluing the grapes he could not reach. You will perceive, my dear sir, by what is here observed (and which you will be pleased to consider in the light of a confidential communication) that my inclinations will dispose and decide me to remain as I am; unless a clear and insurmountable conviction should be impressed on my mind, that some very disagreeable consequences must in all human probability result from the indulgence of my wishes.”
To similar suggestions from Colonel Hamilton, General WASHINGTON replied. “On the delicate subject with which you conclude your letter I can say nothing; because the event alluded to may never happen, and because in case it should occur, it would be a point of prudence to defer forming one's ultimate and irrevocable decision, so long as new data might be afforded for one to act with the greater wisdom and propriety. I would not wish to conceal my prevailing sentiment from you. For you know me well enough, my good sir, to be persuaded that I am not guilty of affectation, when I tell you it is my great and sole desire to live and die in peace and retirement on my own farm. Were it even indispensable a different line of conduct should be adopted, while you and some others who are acquainted with my heart would acquit, the world and posterity might probably accuse me of inconsistency and ambition. Still I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an honest man.
• Although I could not help observing from several publications and letters that my name had been sometimes spoken of, and that it was possible that contingency which is the subject of your letter might happen, yet I thought it best to maintain a guarded silence, and to lack the counsel of my best friends (which I certainly hold in the highest estimation) ra
ther than to hazard an imputation unfriendly to the delicacy of my feelings. For, situated as I am, I could hardly bring the question into the slightest discussion, or ask an opinion even in the most confidential manner,
without betraying in my judgment, some impropriety of conduct, or without feeling aus apprehensive that a premature display of anxiety might be construed into a vain glorious desire of pushing myself inco notice as a candidate. Now, if I am not grossly deceived in myself, I should unfeignedly rejoice, in case the electors, by giving their votes in favour of some other person, would save me from the dreadful dilemma of being forced to accept or refuse. If that may not be, in the next place, earnestly desirous of searching out the truth, and of knowing whether there does not ex. ist a probability that the government would be just as happily and effectually carried into execution without my aid, as with it. I am truly solicitous to obtain all the previous information which the circumstances will afford, and to determine (when the determination can with propriety be no longer postponed) according to the principles of right reason, and the dictates of a clear conscience; without too great a reference to the unforeseen consequences which may affect my person or reputation. Until that period, I may fairly hold myself open to conviction, though I allow your sentiinents to have weight in them; and I shall not pass by your arguments without giving them as dispassionate a consideration as I can possibly bestow upon them.
“ In taking a survey of the subject, in whatever point of light I have been able to place it, I will not suppress the acknowledgment, my dear sir, that I have always felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as I have been taught to expect I might, and peu aps must ere long be called to make a decision. You will, I am well assured, believe the assertion (though I have little expectation it would gain credit from those
who are less acquainted with me) that if I should receive the appointment, and should be prevailed upon to accept it; the acceptance would be attended with more diffidence and reluctance, than ever I experi. enced before in my life. It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote the publick weal, in hopes that at a convenient and early period, muy services might be dispensed with ; and that I might be permitted once more to retire--to pass an unclouded evening after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestick tranquillity.”
We have already made copious extracts from the letters of the General on the subject of the Presidency; but as they clearly describe his feelings and views on the near prospect of being again summoned by his country into publick life, they must be interesting to all. We will close them with the following commu nications made to General Lincoln, who had also communicated to him the expectation of his friends, “I would willingly pass over in silence that part of your letter, in which you mention the persons who are candidates for the two first offices in the executive, if I did not fear the omission might seem to betray a want of confidence. Motives of delicacy have prevented me hitherto from conversing or writing on this subject, whenever I could avoid it with decency. I may, however, with great sincerity, and I believe without of fending against modesty or propriety, say to you, that I most heartily wish the choice to which you allude might not fall upon me; and that if it should, I must reserve to myself the right of making up my final de cision, at the last inoment, when it can be brought into one view, and when the expediency or inexpedi. enc, of a refusal can be more judiciously determined than at present. But be assured, my dear sir, if from any inducement I shall be persuaded ultimately to ac. copt, it will not be (so far as I know my own heart)
from any of a private or personal nature. Every personal consideratiun conspires to rivet me (if I may use the expression) to retirement. At my time of life, and under my circumstances, nothing in this world can ever draw me from it, unless it be a conviction that the partiality of my countrymen had made my services absolutely necessary, joined to a fear that my refusal might induce a belief that I preferred the conservation of my own reputation and private ease, to the good of iny country. After all, if I should conceive myself in a manner constrained to accept, I call heaven to witness, that this very act would be the greatest sacrifice of my personal feelings and wishes that ever I have been called upon to make. It would be to forego repose and domestick enjoyment for trouble, perhaps publick obloquy ; for I should consider myself as entering upon an unexplored field, enveloped on every side with clouds and darkness.
“From this embarrassing situation I had naturally supposed that my declarations at the close of the war would have saved me; and that my sincere intentions, then publickly made known, would have effectually procluded me for ever afterwards from being looked upon as a candidate for any office. This hopo, as a last anchor of worldly happiness in old ago, I had still carefully preserved ; until the publick papers, and private letters from my correspondents in almost every quarter, taught me to apprehend that I might soon be obliged to answer the question, whether I would go again into publick life or not.”
In event it appeared, that amidst the discordance of opinion, respecting the merits of the Federal Consti. tution, there was but one sentiment, through the United States, respecting the man who should admi. nister the government. On counting the votes of the electors of President and Vice President, it was found that General GEORGE WASHINGTON had their anani.
mous suffrage, and was chosen President of the United States for four years from the 4th of March 1789.
On the 14th of April, official information reached him of his election. Having already made up his mind to obey the summons of a whole country, on the second day after this notification, he quitted the quiet walks of Mount Vernon for the arduous duties of the supreme magistracy of his nation. Although grateful for this renewed declaration of the favourable opinion of the community, yet his determination to accept the office was accompanied with diffidence and apprehension. “I wish,” he observed, “ that there may not be reason for regretting the choice, for indeed all I can promise is, to accomplish that which can be done by an honest zeal.” The feelings, with which ha entered upon publick life, he left upon his private journal.
" About ten o'clock, I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestick felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensa tions than I have words to express, set out for New York, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations."
He was met on the road by the gentlemen of Alex andria, and conducted to a publick dinner. From the numerous addresses presented to the General on this occasion, we select that of the citizens of Alexandria, because it is a testimonial of the affection and veneration in which his neighbours and friends hold his pri. vate as well as puolick character, and because, in itself it has peculiar interest. The following is the address.
Again your country commands your care. Obedient to its wishes, unmindful of your ease, wo see you again relinquishing the bliss of retirement, and this too at a period of life, when nature itself seems to au. thorize a preference of repose !
“ Not to extol your glory as a soldier ; not to pour furth our gratitude for past services ; not to acknow