Obrazy na stronie

“Now, my

brothers the English, have heard this, and I come now to tell it to you ; for I am not afraid to discharge you off this land.”

The French commandant seems to have replied in a very truculent spirit, as reported by the Indian chief:

ild, I have heard your speech; you spoke first, but it is my time to speak now. Where is my wampum, that you took away with the marks of towns upon it? This wampum I do not know, which you have discharged me off the land with ; but you need not put yourself to the trouble of speaking, for I will not hear you. I am not afraid of flies or musquitoes, for Indians are such as those; I tell you, down that river I will go, and build upon it, according to my command. If the river was blocked up, I have forces sufficient to burst it open, and tread under iny feet all that stand in opposition, together with their alliances; for my force is as the sand upon the sea-shore; therefore here is your wanpum; I sling it at you. Child, you talk foolish; you say this land belongs to you, but there is not the black of my nail yours. I saw that land sooner than you did, before the Shannoahs and you were at war ; Lead was the man who went down and took possession of that river. It is my land, and I will have it, let who will stand up for or say against it. I will buy and sell with the English. If people will be ruled by me they may expect kindness, but not cise.”

Mr. Sparks, remarking upon these speeches, says well, “ The high-minded savage was not aware that, as far as he and his race were concerned, there was no difference between his professed friends and open enemies. Ile had never studied in the school of politics, which finds an excuse for rapacity and injustice in the law of nations, nor learned that it was the prerogative of civilization to prey upon the ignorant and defenceless."

On the 26th a council was held, and Washington in his turn made a speech, with the usual sprinkling of " Brothers," but stating succinctly and candidly the objects of his journey. The Ilalf-king desired him not to be in a hurry, and suggested some reasons for delay, to which Washington, after much argument and remonstrance, was obliged to yield, for fear of defeating the object of his journey.

"As I found it was impossible," he says, “to get off without affronting them in the most egregious manner, I consented to stay.”

Three chiefs and one of the best hunters were at length appointed to compose the convoy, and on the 4th of December they

arrived at Venango, an old Indian town at the mouth of French Creek, on the Ohio, “ without any thing remarkable happening," says Washington, “ but a continued series of bad weather."

Ilere they fell in with Captain Joncaire, an interpreter, and one who had great influence over the Indians. He assumed to be the commander of the Ohio, but recommended to the young commissioner to carry his business to the general, who had his quarters at the near fort. At first the French were extremely civil, but when the wine began to go round, they verified the proverb hy telling much that they had intended to conceal: that it was their absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and that they would do it too; for although they knew the English could raise two men for their one, yet their motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking of the French. Captain Joncaire plied the Indians with liquor, and used every possible artifice to entice them to go no further, but after much difficulty the party was once more on the road, and, travelling four days more through “excessive rains, snows, and bad travelling through many mires and swamps,” they at length reached the fort, and found the French commandant, a knight of St. Louis, Legardeur de St. Pierre, a gentlemanly old soldier. The fort was a considerable one, garrisoned at that time by about one hundred men, and a large number of officers. While the officers were debating upon the Governor's missive, Washington was reconnoitering in every direction, taking the dimensions of the fort, counting the canoes, &c. The latter amounted to about fifty, laid up in readiness to convey the forces down the river in the Spring On Washington's inquiring of the commandant by what authority he had made prisoners of several English subjects, he said that the country belonged to the French, and that he had orders to make prisoners of every Englishman who attempled to trade on the waters of the Ohio.

The Sieur St. Pierre was profuse in civilities, but did every thing in his power to separate the Indian convoy from the party. Washington says, in the journal,

“ cannot say that ever in my life I suffered so much anxiety as I did in this affair.” Ilis life had not been very long, but his expressions were always very moderate, so that we may imagine his perplexity. To leave the IIalf-king bohind, was to give him and his following over to the French interest, which was not to be thought of. Washington went

to the general and remonstrated, was met “There was no way for getting over but with fair words and professions as usual, on a raft, which we set about with one but still could not get his Indians off, poor hatchet, and finished just after sunliquor being again put in requisition to setting. This was one whole day's work. incapacitate them for every thing but We next got it launched, then went on quarrelling or sleeping.

board of it and set off; but before we At length the Half-king, for shame's were half way over, we were jammed in sake, put an end to the delay, and the the ice in such a manner that we expected party set out on their return, to travel one every moment our raft to sink and ourhundred and thirty miles in canoes, the selves to perish. I put out my settinghorses having been exhausted and sent on pole to try to stop the raft, that the ice before. They were destined to encounter might pass by, when the rapidity of the new hardships in the new way of travel. stream threw it with so much violence “Several times,” writes the chief, in his against the pole, that it jerked me out into Report, "we had like to have been staved ten feet water, but I fortunately saved against rocks; and many times we were myself by catching hold of one of the raftobliged, all hands, to get out and remain logs. Notwithstanding all our efforts, we in the water half an hour or more, getting could not get to either shore, but were over the shoals. At one place the ice had obliged, as we were near an island, to lodged and made it impassable by water; quit our raft and make to it. The cold we were therefore obliged to carry our was so extremely severe that Mr. Gist canoe across the neck of land, a quarter of had all his fingers and some of his toes a mile over. We did not reach Venango till frozen, and the water shut up so hard the 22d, where we met with our horses." that we found no difficulty in getting off

The horses being nearly useless from the island on the ice in the morning." fatigue and poor feeding, the cold increas We have seen several picturings of the ing every day, and the roads blocked up scene on the raft, and one of Washington by a heavy snow, Washington, anxious to struggling in the icy water, but we should get back and make his report to the like to see one that would express the Governor, resolved upon attempting the condition of the two half-frozen travellers remainder of the journey on foot, accom on the island through that night, without panied only by Mr. Gist, the most experi tent or fire, and wrapt in the stiff, frozen enced of the party, and leaving the baggage clothes with which one of them, at least, and effects in charge of Mr. Van Braam. must have come on shore. Nota word is said With gun in hand, and the necessary of this in the journal; of the horrors of cold, papers and provisions in a pack strapped fatigue and hunger all at once; the long on his back, he set out, with a single com hours till morning, the reasonable dread panion, to thread the trackless forest, on of such savage dangers as had already the twenty-sixth of December, not with been encountered. Well may Washington out some misgivings, as we may well be say this travel of clevon weeks had been lieve. On the second day the two travel as fatiguing a journey as it is possible to lers encountered a party of Indians in conceive;" and he adds, “From the first league with the French, who were lying day of December to the 15th, there was in wait for them. One of the savages

but one day on which it did not rain or fired at them, not fifteen paces off, and snow incessantly; and throughout the missed; but instead of returning the fire, whole journey we met with nothing but which might have brought the whole pack one continued series of cold, wet weather, upon them, they simply took the fellow which occasioned very uncomfortable into custody and kept him till nine o'clock lodgings, especially after we had quitted in the evening; then let him go, and our tent, which was some screen from the walked all night to get the start of who- inclemency of it." ever might attempt to follow. The next Uncomfortable lodgings ! day they walked on until cark, and On his return to Williamsburg, Mr. reached the river, about two miles above Robertson, speaker of the House of Burthe Fork of the Ohio, the ice driving gesses, took the opportunity of Washingdown in great quantities.

ton's being in the gallery of the house to Here it was that the incident of the pay him a high compliment, by proposing whirling raft occurred, which had so that the thanks of the House should be nearly changed the fortunes of our first presented to the youthsul major. This struggle for independence, if not the whole was instantly acceded to, and besides the destiny of our country for an age or two usual form of words, we are told "the at least. The journalist states the occur House rose, as one man, and turning to rence thus:

wards Washington, saluted him with a

general bow.” It is hardly necessary to colonel, second in command under Colonel observe that this must have been far more Fry, an excellent officer. Cannon and embarrassing than gratifying to a modest other military equipments, recently arrived man of one and twenty, and it is not to be from England, were sent to Alexandria wondered at that the recipient of so un for the use of the growing army. French usual a testimonial of approbation was aggressions on the Ohio precipitated hosoverwhelmed with confusion, as he rose

tilities somewhat. Some men who were to attempt the impromptu reply, which building a fort were attacked by a thouhe knew would be expected by these sand French under Captain Contrecceur, food-hearted gentlemen. He blushed, and forced to yield the ground, the French stammered, stopped; and had succeeded in staying to finish the works, which they uttering no more than, “Mr. Speaker! nained Fort Duquesne, in compliment to Mr. Speaker !” when Mr. Robertson the Governor of Canada. Colonel Washkindly called out --"Sit down, Major ington occupied an outpost, much exposed, Washington, sit down! your modesty is and luis force was quite insufficient for any equal to your merit.”

serious resistance; but he lost not a moThey reached Williamsburg on the 16th ment in pushing forward into the wilderof January, 1754, and Major Washington ness to clear and prepare a road-an effort made his report to Governor Dinwiddie, which would at least give active business delivering also the letter of the French to his inen, and keep off discontent and comunandant. The Council ordered the timidity. To all other hardships was raising of two companies of men, by way superadded that of scanty fare, that least of preparation to resist the encroachments tolerable ill to the laborer. But the young of the French, now perceived to be assum chief thought there was “no such word as ing a hostile attitude toward the colonists. fail," for brim, at least, and he tried to find Major Washington was at once appointed an expeditions passage by the Youghiogany to the command of these troops, and by River, in the course of which he encounway of informing the people of the prol tered rocks and shoals, and at length came able designs of the French, and exciting to a fall, which rendered farther exploratheir indignation to the pitch of war, the tion impracticable. When he returned Governor ordered the journal from which to the camp, he received a warning meswe have quoted a few passages, to be sage from the Ilalf-king importing that published entire, much against the in the French were marching towards him, clination of the writer, who thought determined upon an attack. On further very pooriy of it. It was reprinted in information of the near approach of the England. and attracted much attention enemy, Washington set off to join the there. The Governor's orders to the young Ilalf-king: a task of no small difficulty, commander and his subordinates were, as the march was to be performed in the “ to drive away, kill, and destroy or seize night, in a violent storm of rain, and as prisoners, all persons not the subjects through an almost trackless wilderness. of the king of Great Britain, who should That the state of affairs at this time was atteinpt to settle or take possession of the not wholly satisfactory may be judged lands on the Ohio River, or any of its from the following passage in a letter adtributaries."

dressed by Colonel Washington to the But the country in general was not Governor: “Giving up my commission is particularly well disposed towards the quite contrary to my intention. Nay, I warlike manifestations planned by Gover ask it as a greater favor than any amongst uor Dinwiddie, who writes somewhat pite the many I have received from your Ilonor, ously to the Lords at home; "I am sorry to confirm it to me. But let me serve to find them very much in a republican voluntarily; then I will, with the greatest way of thinking." lIo persevered, how pleasure in life, devote my services to the ever, and enlistments went on; the forces expedition, without any other reward than were increased, and demands for aid made the satisfaction of serving my country; on the neighboring States. Washington's but to be slaving dangerously for the experience in raising and equipping troops shadow of pay, through woods, rocks, without money commenced here ; he mountains - I would rather prefer the writes from his head-quarters at Alexan great toil of a daily laborer, and dig for a dria, to the Governor, that his men are maintenance, provided I were reduced to much discouraged for want of pay, and the necessity, than serve upon such ignoble that “many of them are without shoes or terms.

. . I hope what I have said stockings, some without shirts, and not will not be taken amiss, for I really bea few without coats or waistcoats." Wash lieve, were it as much in your power as ington was raised to the rank of lieutenant

it is in your inclination, we should be

treated as gentlemen and officers, and not M. Drouillon and M. La Force, of whom have annexed to the most trifling pay your Honor has often heard me speak, as that ever was given to English officers, bold enterprising man, and a person of the glorious allowance of soldiers' diet, - great subtlety and cunning. These officers a pound of pork, with bread in proportion, pretend they were coming

on an embassy; per day. Be the consequence what it will, but the absurdity of this pretext is too I am determined not to leave the regiment, glaring, as you will see by the Instructions but to be among the last men that shall and Summons inclosed. Their instructions quit the Ohio."

were to reconnoitre the country, roads, A painful occurrence at this stage of the creeks, and the like, as far as the Potoborder war was the death of M. Jumon

mac, which they were about to do. These ville, a French captain, who fell in an at enterprising men were purposely chosen tackled by Washington himself, the out to procure intelligence, which they whole circumstances of which have been were to send back by some brisk destrangely misrepresented by the French spatches, with the mention of the day historians. They assert that Jumonville that they were to serve the summons, advanced in the pacific character of a mes which could be with no other view than senger; Washington observes—Thirty to get a sufficient reinforcement to fall six men would almost have been a retinue

upon us immediately after.” for a princely ambassador instead of a IIistory is really disgraced by the atpelit. .. An ambassador has no need tempt to represent the death of the comof spies; his character is always sacred. mander of such a party under such cirSince they had so good an intention, why cumstances an “assassination;" yet Mr. should they remain two days within five Sparks mentions MM. Flassan, Lacretelle, miles of us, without giving me notice of Montgaillard, and a recent writer in the the summons, or any thing that related Biographie Universelle, as only a few of to their embassy ? They pretend the French historians that have fallen into that they called to us as soon as we were this gross error, the sole authority for discovered, which is absolutely false; for I which is a letter written by M. Contrewas at the head of the party approaching coeur to the Marquis Duquesne, which them, and I can affirm that as soon as letter gives the Governor the report of a they saw us, they ran to their arms with Canadian who ran away at the beginning out calling, which I should have heard of the skirmish, and the rumors gathered had they done so."

among the Indians. The short and simple account given by Not content with this prosaic slander, Washington to Governor Dinwiddie is M. Thomas wrote an epic (!) entitled this: "I set out with forty men before ten, Jumonville," the subject of which he and it was from that time until near sun states as, L’Assussinat de M. Jumonrise before we reached the Indians' camp, ville en Amerique, et la Vengeance de ce having marched in small paths, through a Mcurlre," a poem which Zimmermann heavy rain, and a night as dark as it is cites as a remarkable instance of the effect possible to conceive. We were frequently of national antipathy. “ The preface," tumbling one over another, and often so observes Mr. Sparks,"contains an exlost that fifteen or twenty minutes' search aggerated paraphrase of M. Contrecoeur's would not find the path again.

letter, as the groundwork of the author's “When we came to the IIalf-king, I poetical fabric. With the materials thus counselled with him, and got his assent to furnished, and the machinery of the deep go hand-in-hand and strike the French. and wild forests, the savages, the demon Accordingly he, Monacawacha, and a few of battles and the ghost of Jumonville, other Indians, set out with us, and when his epic speedily assumes a tragic garb, we came to the place where the troops and the scenes of horror and the cries of were, the Half-king sent two Indians to vengeance cease not till the poem closes." follow the tracks and discover their lodg Washington, with his usual self-abnement, which they did, at a very obscure gation in cases merely personal, never place, surrounded with rocks. I thereupon, took the least pains to justify himself by in conjunction with the Half-king and declaring publicly the falsity of the stain Monacawacha, formed a disposition to at thus sought to be fixed upon his character. tack them on all sides, which we accord He had the unqualified approbation of the ingly did, and after an engagement of authorities under whose orders he acted, fifteen minutes, we killed ten, wounded one, and of the government at home, and he and took twenty-one prisoners. Amongst was content. Governor Dinwiddie wrote those killed was M. Jumonville, the com thus to Lord Albemarle: “ The prisoners mander. The principal officers taken are said they were come as an embassy from



the fort; but your Lordship knows that sessions, derived from the accounts of his ambassadors do not come with such an later life. armed force, without a trumpet or any Horace Walpole, that inveterate pointer other sign of friendship ; nor can it be of anecdotes, says—" In the express which thought they were on an embassy, by Major Washington despatched on the prestaying so long reconnoitering our small ceding little victory, he concluded with camp, but more probably that they ex these words: 'I heard the bullets whistle, pected a reinforcement to cut them all and, believe me, there is something off.”

charming in the sound. On hearing of Washington's private journal of the this, the king said, sensibly, 'He would affairs of the time, which was lost at the not say so if he had been used to hear fatal defeat of General Braddock, was


Mr. Sparks remarks that the many years afterwards discovered in Paris, despatch communicated by Major Washand found to confirm the statement given ington to Governor Dinwiddie, giving an in his letter to the Governor. So it is to be account of the encounter with Jumonhoped future French historians will be con ville, contains nothing about the whisttent at least to reduce the depth of color ling of bullets, nor is such a sentiment which their predecessors have thought contained in any of his letters that have suitable to this event, and allow the death been preserved

" As the writer refers to of M. Jumonville to assume its true aspect no authority, it may be presumed that he and position, as one among the legitimate had none but rumor, either for the saying horrors which follow in the train of war of Washington or for the more sensible horrors which Washington was reply of the king. Yet this anecdote is known wilfully or carelessly to deepen. not wholly without foundation, if we may

It is most interesting to observe, in rely on a statement of Gordon, who saysstu lying the career of Washingon from A gentleman who had heard the Reverthe very beginning, how entirely he was end Mr. Davies relate that Col. Washinga man of peace, though so much of his ton had mentioned he knew of no music life was passed in making war, and that so pleasing as the whistling of bullets, with an iron will and unflinching thorough- being alone in conversation with him in

lle seems to have done his duty in Cambridge, asked him whether it was as the character of a soldier just as coolly and he had related. The General answered, regularly as he did it in that of a surveyor. "If I said so, it was when I was young." Ile knew his work, and he set about it In his maturer years, the report of a with all his powers of mind and body, fowling-piece was the only warlike sound but we never feel for a moment that it that had any music for his ears, and he was work that he loved. IIe loved rural lored the lowing of kine, and the crackling life, the occupations of the farm, the sports of a bright wood fire better still. Not a of the field, the enjoyments of the fireside. letter of his that contains any allusion to Much has been said of his reserve, as if it his private and personal tastes but breathes were exclusiveness; but his letters and the very spirit of a love of retirement and his constant home practice show, conclu domestic repose. In 1790 somebody cavilsively, that no man depended more upon led at the etiquette observed at his levees friendship, or found society more necessary in New-York, to which he replies: “That to his enjoyment. Ile kept only his cares I have not been able to make bows to the to himself, and those only when to impart taste of poor Colonel B. (who, by the by, them would have been injurious or un I believe, never saw one of them), is to profitable. As he grew older, weighty be regretted, especially, too, as upon those business made him more grave and silent; occasions they were indiscriminately bebut we should always carry with us, in stowed, and the best I was master of. attempting to appreciate his character as Would it not have been better to throw a man, the idea of him that we gather the veil of charity over them, ascribing from the record of his carlier days; the

their stiffness to the effect of age, or to kindliness, the sociability, the generous the unskilfulness of my teacher, rather confidence, the courageous candor that than to pride and dignity of office, which, marked him then, and evidently formed God knows, has no charms for me? For part of the very structure of his being. I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Whoever can read his journals and early Vernon, with a friend or two about me, letters without imbibing an affection as than to be attended at the seat of governwell as reverence for him, must have sat ment by the officers of state and the rep down to the task with enormous prepos resentatives of every power in Europe."


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