Imagens das páginas

'';> .>'..>. :•' > v ]

dangers, and, above all, such successes! What

schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built upon the affections of the people and of the army! The gratitude of America was so lively, that any filing asked by her resigning chief would have been readily granted. He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations, but indirectly' solicited favours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of aidesde-camp. To omit the opportunity which was offered, 6'f recommending them to the notice of congres's, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The'only, privilege, distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring

Washington^ Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending" and receiving letters free of postage.


weTedenoimceo^y their sovereign, as in a state oFrebellion. Washington, by accepting the coin in a nil of their armies, not only subjected one of the largest estates in America to confiscation, but his life to execution. The diffidence he avowed on the occasion,'wa's'not'the common cant of successful candidates for promotion, nor did it arise' from apprehensions of personal danger, but vvps the offspring of excessive modesty; though willing to risk every thing on the contest, he really distrusted his ability to contend in regular warfare with the experienced generals of Britain.' 'The doubts and'f'ears' which for Some time kept him in suspense,'at length


The American chief, having by his own voluntary act become one of the people, hastened with ineffable delight to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potowmac. There, in a short time, the most successful general in the world became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.

To pass suddenly from the toils of the first public commission in the United States, to the care of a farm; to exchange the instruments of war for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious and profitable agriculture; would to most men have been a difficult task; but to the elevated mind of the late commander in chief of the armies of

the the United States, it was natural and delightful: and should these pages descend to posterity, and war continue ages hence to be the means of establishing national justice, let the commanders of armies learn, from the example of general Washington, that the fame which is acquired bv the sword, without guilt or ambition, may be preserved without power or splendor in private life.

yielded to a conviction of duty, and the urgent intreaties of friends who appreciated his talents more correctly than he did himself. On the event of his declining the high commission, as was for some time expected, ic was privately resolved to confer it on general Ward of Massachusetts. What would have been the issue of the military opposition of America, conducted bv that much esteemed officer, no one can tell; but, without invidious comparison, it may be safely affirmed that it eou'd not have been more successful than under the auspices of Washington.





[ocr errors]


General Washington, on retiring from public life, d«TOtes himserf-to agricultural pursuits.-*-Favours inland navigation; declines offered emoluments from it.—. Urges an alteration of the fundamental rules of the society of the Cincinnati.—Regrets the defects ot the federal system, and recommends a revisal of it.—Is appointed a, member of the continental convention for that purpose, which, after hesitation, he accepts.—Is afterwards chosen president.—Is solicited to accept the presidency of the United States.—Writes letters, expressive of the conflict of his mind between duty and inclination,—Answers applicants for offices.

The sensations of Washington on retiring' .from public business are thus expressed in his private letters: « I feel as a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former were di*rected, and from his house top is looking back, and tracing with an eager eye the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands. and mires which lay in his way, aud into which none but the all-powerful guide and dispenser of human events could- have prevented his fulling." "I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Polowmac,

and, and, under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig tree, free from the bustle of a camp and the busy scenes S)f public life, I am solacing myselFwi'th those tranquil enjoyments, . of which the. soldier, who is ever in piirsuit of fa me-— the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote .the welfare of his own, perhapMhe ruin of other countries, as i£ this globe was insufficient for us all—-and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in. the hope of catching a gracious smile—can have very little conception. :I have not only retired from all puhlic employments, but am retiring.withiq' myself, and shall be able to view the solitary,, walk, and tread the paths of private life, with; heartfehV satisfaction. * Envious, of none, I. am determined to be pleased with alb; .and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I "will" move gently down i the strjeaniu of life until I sleep wii'hmv fathers.'* . , „ Agriculture, which bad always been ther favourite emplpynient of Washington, was noMr, resumed with increasing delight. The energies of his active mind were devoted to, this nrs't and most useful art. No improvement* in the construction of farming utensils, no valuable experiments in husbandry, escaped 17' his

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »