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A BOOK OF BENEFACTORS.

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

was

This great man,

-“the first in war, the first in peace, the first in the hearts of his countrymen," the third son of Augustine Washington,* and was born near the Potomac, in Westmoreland county, Virginia, February 22nd, 1732. He was sent to a common country school, where little was taught beyond the mysteries of reading, writing and arithmetic. But he profited largely by the slender advantages he possessed. He was inquisitive, diligent and docile, and readily appropriated to himself all the knowledge possessed by his teacher.

It would appear that he had other instruction at a later period ; for, at the age of thirteen, he commenced the study of mathematics. When he finally left school, he had become a proficient in geometry, trigonometry and surveying, for which last he had a decided partiality. During the last summer he was at school,

* The Washington family appears to have been of some antiquity, and of high respectability in England. John and Lawrence Washington emigrated to Virginia, about the year 1657, and settled at Bridge's Creek, near the Potomac, and became successful planters. John married Anne Pope, by whom he had two sons, Lawrence and John, and a daughter.

he surveyed the lands adjoining the school-house, of which the plans, measurements and calculations were found among his papers after his death.

Among the interesting remains of this remarkable man, there are manuscript school-books, which afford us the means of ascertaining his early habits and pursuits. When he was about thirteen years of age, he copied, with much care and in a neat hand, the forms of business papers, such as notes of hand, bills of exchange, receipts, bonds, indentures, bills of sale, land warrants, leases, deeds and wills—all evincing great patience and care. In the same book are selections in rhyme, distinguished for their religious and moral tone, rather than for their poetical merit.

A very interesting portion of one of these manuscript books is a Code of Politeness or Rules of Behavior, which appear to have been compiled by himself when he was about thirteen years of age. They are, on the whole, drawn up with much good sense and propriety of feeling, and we are doubtless to ascribe something of that consistency, decorum, dignity, condescension and mildness, which distinguished Washington through life, to the principles thus early adopted and established.

In the year 1746, when he was fourteen years old, he was offered a midshipman's berth in the British navy. This was obtained by his brother Lawrence, who had been an officer in the British army and served at the siege of Carthegena. Young George was pleased with the appointment, and prepared with a buoyant spirit to enter upon its duties; but as the time approached for his departure, the solicitude of his mother interposed, and the scheme was abandoned. He was her eldest son, and she was now a widow. We may therefore easily conceive the feelings which led her to such a decision.

Washington's school education was finished in the autumn preceding his sixteenth birth-day. His acquirements were confined to reading, writing, arithmetic and the simpler portions of mathematics. It does not appear that he had

any

instruction in grammar, and therefore, the excellent style of writing, of which he was afterwards the master, must have been the result of subsequent practice and study. Nor did he ever enter upon the study of the ancient classics. After the French officers had joined the army, during the revolution, he paid some little attention to their language, yet never was able to read, write or translate it. From these statements, it appears that the actual amount of knowledge acquired by George Washington at school, was greatly inferior to that which is taught at the present high schools throughout the country. Indeed, most of the children in our New England seminaries, at the age of twelve years, have compassed a wider field of learning than the hero of our story when he had reached the beginning of his manhood.

But if his acquisitions were not great, he had established habits which were of even higher utility. He had subjected himself to a judicious code of manners; he had acquired habits of patience and order, even in the dry and irksome details of business; he had obtained the mastery of his quick and vehement passions; he had accustomed himself to be guided by

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duty rather than inclination. He had, indeed, habituated himself to so complete a system of discipline, that he seems to have taken pleasure in what would have been revolting to others. He could find amusement, even at thirteen, in forming and writing out, with the utmost nicety of arrangement and in a fair hand, elaborate mathematical calculations, diagrams, &c.!

“ These particulars,” says his biographer, Mr. Sparks, will not be thought too trivial to be mentioned, when it is known that he retained similar habits through life. His business papers, day-books, legers and letter-books, in which, before the revolution, no one wrote but himself, exhibit specimens of the same studious care and exactness. Every fact occupies a clear and distinct place; the hand-writing is round and regular, without interlineations, blots or blemishes; and if mistakes occurred, the faulty words were so skilfully erased and corrected, as to render the defect invisible except to a scrutinizing eye.

“ The constructing of tables, diagrams and other figures relating to numbers or classifications was an exercise in which he seems at all times to have taken much delight. If any of his farms were to be divided into new lots, a plan was first drawn on paper; if he meditáted a rotation of crops, or a change in the mode of culture, the various items of expense, labor, products and profits were reduced to tabular forms; and, in his written instructions to his managers, which were annually repeated, the same method was pursued.

“While at the head of the army, this habit was of especial service to him. The names and rank of the

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