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and friends now address you. Themes less splendid, but more endearing, impress our minds. The first and best of citizens must leave us. Our aged must lose their ornament; our youth their model; our agriculture its improver; our commerce its friend ; our infant academy its protector; our poor their benefactor, and the interior navigation of the Potomack (an event replete with the most extensive utility already, by your unremitted exertions, brought into partial use its institutor and promoter.
“ Farewel !-go! and make a grateful people happy, a people, who will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice for their interest.
« 'To that Being who maketh and unmaketh at his will, we commend you; and after the accomplishment of the arduous business to which you are called, may he restore to us again, the best of men, and the most beloved fellow citizen !” :
To which General Washington replied as follows :
“ GENTLEMEN, “ Although I ought not to conceal, yet I cannot describe the painful emotions which I felt in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the Presidency of the United States. The unanimity in the choice, the opinion of my friends communicated from different parts of Europe as well as from America, the apparent wish of those who were not entirely satisfied with the constitution in its present form; and an ardent desire on my own part to be instrumental in connecting the good will of my countrymen towards each other, have induced an acceptance. Those who know me best (and you, my fellow citizens, are, from your situation, in that number) know better than any others my love of retirement is so great, that no earthly consideration, short of a conviction of duty, could have prevailed upon me to depart from my resolution never more to take any share in transactions of a public nature. For, at my age, and in my circumstances, what prospects or "advantages could I propose to myself, from embarking again on the tempestuous and uncertain ocean of public life? I do not feel myself under the necessity of making public declarations, in order to convince you, gentlemen, of my attachment to yourselves, and regard for your interests. The whole tenor of my life has been open to your inspection; and my past actions, rather than my present declarations, must be the pledge of my future conduct.
“ In the mean time, I thank you most sincerely for the expressions of kindness contained in your valedictory address. It is true, just after having. bade adieu to my domestic connections, this tender proof of your friendship is but too well calculated still further to awaken my sensibility, and increase my regret at parting from the enjoyments of private life.
“ All that now remains for me is to commit myself and you to the protection of that beneficent Being who, on a former occasion, hath happily brought us together, after a long and distressing separation, Perhaps the same gracious Providence will again indulge me. Unutterable sensations must then be left to more expressive silence—while from an aching heart, I bid you all, my affectionate friends, and kind neighbours, farewel!”
It was the wish of General Washington to avoid parade on his journey to the seat of government, but he found it impossible. Numerous bodies of respectable citizens, and detachments from the militia escorted him the whole distance, and at every place through which he passed, he received the most flattering evidence of the high estimation in which his countrymen held bis talents and his virtues.
Gray's bridge over the Schuylkill was, with much taste and expression, embellished on the occasion. At each end arches were erected composed of laurel, in imitation of a Roman triumphal arch; and on each side was a laurel shrubbery. As the General passed, unperceived by bim, a youth by the aid of machinery let down upon his head a civic crown. Through avenues and streets thronged with people, he passed from the Schuylkill into Philadelphia, and at night the
city was illuminated. • At Trenton, the ladies presented him with a tribute of gratitude for the protection which, twelve years before, he gave them, worthy of the taste and refinement of the sex. On the bridge over the creek which runs through this place, a triumphal arch was erected on thirteen pillars, those were entwined with laurel and decorated
with flowers. On the front of each arch was the following inscription, in large gilt letters, THE DEFENDER OF THE MOTHERS
WILL BE THE PROTECTOR OF THE DAUGHTERS. On the centre of the arch above the inscription was a dome of flowers and evergreens incircling the dates of two events particularly interesting to the inhabitants of New Jersey, viz. the successful assault on the Hessian post in Trenton, and the gallant stand made by General Washington at the same creek on the evening preceding the battle of Princeton. A numerous party of matrons, holding their daughters in their hands, who were dressed in white, and held on their arms baskets of flowers, assembled at this place, and on his approach the young ladies inchantingly sang the following ode:
Welcome mighty Chief, once more
Virgins fair and matrons grave
At the last line the flowers were strewed before him.
On the eastern shore of New Jersey, he was met by a committee of Congress, and accompanied
over the river in an elegant barge, of thirteen oars, and manned by thirteen branch pilots. ..“ The display of boats,” observes the General in his diary, “which attended and joined on this occasion, some with vocal and others with instrumental music on board, the decorations of the ships, the roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the people which rent the sky as I passed along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful (contemplating the reverse of this scene, which may be the case after all my endeavours to do good) as they were pleasing.” · He landed on the 23d of April at the stairs on Murray's wharf, which were highly ornamented for the purpose. At this place the governor of New York received him, and with military honours, and amidst an immense concourse of people, conducted him to his apartments in the city. At the close of the day, foreign ministers and other characters of distinction, made him congratulatory visits, and the public exhibition was at night closed by a brilliant illumination.