« PoprzedniaDalej »
But the elder brother's health suddenly the militia, and, consequently, the persons failed, and symptoms of consumption so kept cannot but be very poor. They alarmed him and his friends. He tried a are well disciplined and appointed to their voyage to England without benefit, and several stations, so that in any alarm every in September, 1751, a trip to Barbadoes, man may be at his post in less than two accompanied in the latter by his brother hours." George, who seems to have felt such in These few extracts serve to show the terest and solicitude as only a tender and unaffected and simple style in which loving heart can suggest.
Washington was thus early in the habit Ilis journal of this time, when he was of recording his impressions-an example in his nineteenth year, is very character which, if well followed by all the young istic. All the voyage over he copied the gentlemen of our day who travel the log each day into his note-book, with his world over, would be better even than a own comments on the weather, &c., and Smithsonian Institute “ for the advanceduring his short stay on the island he ment of knowledge among men.” The seems to have occupied himself in observ conscientious (not constitutional) moderaing the manners of the inhabitants, and tion of Washington's expressions has especially in criticising the modes of cul often been remarked; only once in the tivation, economy and government.* course of this record of a visit to the
“The Governor of Barbadoes seems tropics, by one who so loved the face of to keep a proper state, lives very retired nature that he never remained in a city and at little expense, and is a gentleman but at the call of duty, does a gleam of of good sense. By declining much enthusiasm betray itself, where he saysfamiliarity, he is not orer-zealously " In the cool of the evening we rode out, belored."
and were perfectly enraptureil This is a Washingtonian touch; it
with the beautiful prospects which every breathes the very spirit of the whole prae side presented to our view,--the fields of tice of the writer's after life, so often cane, corn, fruit-trees, &c., in a delightful complained of by those who would fain have been allowed familiarity with him.
But the most characteristic parts of the Ile felt no disapprobation of the trait he journal are the following entries :thus noted, but rather concluded, we may
“ Norember tth, 1751.—This morning presume, that by living retired and not received a card from Major Clarke, with courting mere popularity or private ad an invitation to breakfast and dine with herency, the governor gained in dignity him. We wenty-myself with some reand safety what he lost in momentary luctance, as the small-pox was in his service and following.
family." The journal goes on to say—“There
“17th.—Was strongly attacked are several singular risings in the island, with the small-pox. Sent for Dr. Lanaone above the other, so that scarcely any han, whose attendance was very constant part is deprived of a beautiful prospect, till my recovery and going out, which both of sea and land, and, what is con were not till Thursday the 12th of Detrary to observation in other countries, cember.” cach elevation is better than the next be “ December 12th.—Went to town and low. . ... The earth in most parts is called on Major Clarke's family, who had extremely rich, and as black as our richest kindly visited me in my illness, and conmarsh meadows, How wonderful tributed all they could, in sending me the that such people should be in debt, and necessaries the disorder required." not be able to indulge themselves in all And this is all. The small-pox - 8 the luxuries as well as necessaries of life. “strong" attack—is passed over as a Yet so it happens. Estates are often small interludo, not worthy of being alienated for debts. How persons com noticed in particulars, or calling for the ing to estates of two, three and four hun- slightest expression of self-pity. Yet, dred acres, (which are the largest,) can throughout Washington's whole life he is want, is to me most wonderful.
rather remarkable for the interest he takes There are few who can be called middling in the health of his friends and servants. people. They are very rich or very poor; We have before us, as we write, a letter for, by a law of the island, every gentle written by him to General Greene, Jan. man is obliged to keep a whito person 222, 1780, from Head Quarters at Morrisfor every ten acres, capable of acting in town, remonstrating very warmly on the
* It may be proper to mention that the extracts in these pages are taken, not from the originais, but from Sparks' " Writings of Washington," vol. i. p. 4.
subject of the discomfort suffered by his servants for want of additional quarters. “Nor is there at this moment,” he writes, in that fine, bold, measured hand that he learned at Mr. Williams's school, “ a place in which a servant can lodge with any degree of comfort. . . . . Hardly one of them able to speak for the colds they have caught.”
After Mr. Laurence Washington was established in lodgings, under the care of a physician, his brother left him to return home, to await the result of the experiment; but no benefit resulting to the invalid from his West Indian sojourn, it was arranged that his wife, under George's escort, should meet him at Bermuda, where a new attempt was to be made. But all these efforts gained not even a reprieve. The progress of the disease was so rapid, that nothing remained but a hurried return home, where death put a speedy termination to hopes and fears, and the elder brother, who had, since the father's death, been a second parent and worthy guide for George, was removed, on the 26th of July, 1752, at the early age of thirty-four. This occurred at Mount Vernon, and Washington, who was evidently the main dependence and assistant in his brother's affairs throughout his illness, now took charge of his business and also of his family, consisting of his widow and one daughter, sickly from her birth. The widow married again, the daughter died, and the estate at Mount Vernon became, by Laurence's will, the property of George Washington, and an inseparable appendage to that illustrious name for ever.
Washington had even earlier than this commenced his military carcer, by accepting an appointment in the militia—that of one of four adjutants-general, carrying the rank of major. This brought him back to his old school-day business of drilling and inspecting troops, and we find him as active and zealous in it as in every thing else that he undertook. No perfunctory service was his, in this or any other case. He fitted himself for his duties by practice in military exercises and the study of writers on tactics, as if he had foreseen that he must one day command armies. He travelled through the counties included in his district, receiving his recruits, inspecting their accoutrements, and acquainting himself diligently with the whole state of things as it regarded his official duties. Wherever he went, the first place was accorded to him, and he took then, as ever, the position of command, without the least assumption or offence.
From the very
beginning, men seem to have been as willing to come under his influence as he could possibly be to have them there. If we can gather any thing distinct from the accounts of those times in Virginia, duties and instruments seem to have tended towards him as towards a centre of attraction, making good the observation of Fourier, that some people are natural foci—à fact which is very evident, and by no means unaccountable.
All this drilling was by no means fruitless or premature. Warlike doings on the part of the French upon the frontiers soon began to call for some attention from the authorities, and it was.necessary at least to ask the aggressors what they meant. The Virginia Governor, Dinwiddie, not quite so well skilled in his business as was at least one of his adjutants in the preparation of soldiers, had already sent a messenger with presents to the Indians, and the ulterior design of discovering the intentions of the French, but the returns were unsatisfactory, and the information manifestly fallacious. The French were represented as hopelessly formidable and rapacious, allowing no Englishman to trade beyond the mountains, on the ground that all west of the Alleghanies belonged to the domains of their master. The truth was, that the French had begun the formation of the famous cordon of military posts from Canada to the southern part of the Mississippi, and that they had in this operation managed to get very much the start of the not very warlike colonists, who at a somewhat late hour began to feel that both honor and interest required an immediate check upon such encroachments.
Both French and English had, before it came to this, made treaties with the Indians, sometimes with tribes rival or inimical to each other, sometimes with those whose only object was to obtain the largest possible amount of presents from both parties, whether for aid on the one hand or betrayal on the other. What the Indians in general thought of this contest between two great nations for their hunting-grounds, may be guessed from the shrewd question put by one of them to
gentleman on a tour of observation among them—“Whereabouts do the Indian lands lie, since the French claim all the land on one side the Ohio River, and the English all on the other ?"
Indian alliances complicated the coming war a good deal, for messengers and reconnoitring parties were sure to fall in with plenty of red men, and it was often very difficult to distinguish friend from foe,
especially when both were found under the same ochre and feathers at an interval of a few hours. The business of traversing the woods was almost as hazardous as in the time of Tancred, when the trees could hear and talk. But Governor Dinwiddie hasl sagacity enough to know w to apply after hi rst messenger failed, and Major George Washington required no second bidding to become his honor's commissioner, to ascertain the intentions of the Indians in certain quarters, and, a still more delicate errand—to demand of the French commandant by what authority and with what design he presumed to invadle British dominions,
Here is the commission of the youthful major, only just major in the legal sense:
“ I, reposing especial trust and confi
dence in the ability, conduct, and fidelity of you, the said George Washington, have appointed you niy express messenger, and you are hereby authorized and empowered to proceed hence, with all convenient and possible dispatch, to that part or place on the river Ohio where the French have lately erected a fort or forts, or where the commandant of the French forces resides, in order to deliver my letter and message to hiin, and after waiting not exceeding one week, for an answer, you are to take leare and return immediately back.
" To this commission, I have set,” &c., &c.
· All his Majesty's subjects, and all in amity or alliance with the crown of Great Britain,” were also charged to further - George Washington, Esquire, commis
ideal red man,
sioner under the great seal,” and “to be level road was now impassable, by reason aiding and assisting to the said George of great marshes, so that it would take five Washington and his attendants, in his or six " nights' sleep” to reach the nearest present passage to and from the river fort, where visitors must not count upon Ohio, as aforesaid."
a very civil welcome. The party consisted of cight persons He, the Half-king, had been received Mr. Gist, the same who received from very sternly by the commander, and in rethe Indians the posing question as to the ply to the abrupt question, what his busiownership of the lands on cither side the ness was, had replied by a specch which, Ohio; an experienced woodsman, and valu as recorded from his own lips by the able aid; John Davidson, an interpreter severely veracious pen of Washington, prefor the Indians, and Jacob Van Braam, sents as remarkable dignity and good sense (from whom Washington learned the art as ever novelist put into the mouth of the of fencing), a Dutchman, who could speak
style of eloquence which French, which Washington himself could we are in the habit of classing as the milnot. These, with four attendants, com lionth dilution of the Ossianic poetry. pleted the chief's party, which set out from Fathers,"
,” he said, “I have come to Williamsburg, Virginia, October 31st, tell you your own speeches, what your 1753. It must have required some courage own mouths have declared. Fathers, you, and no little confidence in onc's resources in former days, set a silver basin before of health, strength, and perseverance, to us, wherein was the leg of a beaver, and begin a journey of five hundred and sixty desired all the nations to come and eat of miles, through woods and over moun it, to eat in peace and plenty, and not to tains, on horseback, in the vinter season, be churlish to one another; and that if with the prospect of camping out nearly any such person should be found to be a every night. We have seen a charming disturber, I here lay down by the edge picture of the party making their slow of the dish a rod which you must scourge way through the woods in a heavy snow them with; and if your father should storm, one of the most lifelike, expressive, get foolish in my old days, I desire you and rememberable of pictures, yet we have may use it upon me as well as others. ungratefully forgotten to what American "Now, fathers, it is you who are the artist the pleasure was due. Let this disturbers in this land, by coming and mention be our atonement for the fault.
building your towns, and taking it away It was a fortnight before the cavalcade unknown to us, and by force. reached Will's Creek, the confines of civi Fathers, we kindled a fire a long time lization, and plunged into the pathless ago, at a place called Montreal, where we forests of the Alleghanics, to encounter all desired you to stay, and not to come and the horrors of cold, fatigue, and danger. intrude upon our land. I now desire you " The inclemency of the season,” says Afr. may dispatch to that place, for, be it Sparks, “the Alleghanies covered with known to you, fathers, that this is our snow, and the valleys flooded by the swell
land and not yours. ing waters, the rough passages over the “Fathers, I desire you may hear me in mountains, and the difficulties in crossing civilness, if not, we must handle that rod the streams by frail rafts, fording or swim which was laid down for the use of the ing, were obstacles that could be overcome obstreperous. If you had come in a but slowly and with patience.” And by peaceable manner, like our brothers, the energy and patience they were overcome, English, we would not have been against and the young soldier found himself, on the your trading with us as they do; but to twenty-fifth day after leaving Williams come, fathers, and build houses on our burg, at Logstown, an Indian settlement, land, and take it by force, is what we can where his order's required him to hold not submit to. a conference with Tanackarison,-known "Fathers, both you and the English are as the Half-king, -and other sachems of white; we live in a country between ; the Six Nations, and obtain from them therefore, the land belongs neither to the guides and guards for the remainder of one nor the other. But the Great Being the journey, as well as all possible infor above allowed it to be a place of residence matiori a's to the intentions of the French. for us; so, fathers, I desire you to withThe Half-king's intelligence was that the draw, as I have done our brothers, the French had already built several forts on English; for I will keep you at arm's the Mississippi and one on the Ohio ; and length. I lay this down as a trial for when required to pilot the messenger's both, to see which will have the greatest party to the quarters of the French com- regard to it, and that side we will stand mandant, he said that the nearest and most by, and make equal sharers with us. Our