Abbildungen der Seite

dow of my own vine and own fig tree, free from the pustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of publick life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier who is ever in pursuit of fame, the statesman whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries (as if the 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 rotired from all publick employments, but am retiring within my. self, and shall be able to view the solitary walk and tread the paths of private life with heart-felt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.”

But delighted as he was with his domestick enjoy. ments, he found it to be the work of time to divest himself of the feelings and habits formed in his publick station. “I am just beginning,” said he in a letter to a friend,“ to experience the easo and freedom from publick cares, which, however desirable, takes some time to realize ; for strange as ‘it may seem, it is ne. vertheless true, that it was not until lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating as soon as I awoke in the morning, on the business of the er. suing day; and of my surprise at finding, after revolv. ing many things in my mind, that I was no longer a publick man, or had any thing to do with publick trans. actions. I feel, now however, as I conceive 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 directed, 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, and into which none but the all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have prevented his falling."

Soon after the proclamation of peace, Congress unanimously resolved to erect at the place which should be established as the permanent seat of government, an equestrian statue of General WASHINGTON. This resolution, however, has not yet been carried into effect.

Virginia also bore an honourable testimony of the sense entertained of the services of her distinguished citizen. In a spacious area in the centre of the capi. tal of that state, she erected a marble statue of him, with the following inscription on its pedestal.

“ The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia have caused this statue to be erected as a monument of affection and gratitude to GEORGE WASHINGTON; who, uniting in the endowments of the HERO the virtues of the PATRIOT, and exerting both in the establishment of the liberties of his country, has rendered his name dear to his fellow citizens, and given the world an immortal example of true glory.".

In addition to these expressions of publick veneration, innumerable addresses from literary and other incorporations were presented to him, which, in ardent language, expressed the veneration universally felt for his character, and the admiration entertained for his services. His well-balanced mind bore, these publick and private honours without a symptom of vanity or pride.

The pursuits of General WASHINGTON at this period were a renewal of habits, formed at an earlier part of life, and a recurrence to employments in which he ever took delight; and he experienced nothing of that dissatisfaction and listlessness of which gentlemen often complain, who leave the cares of a publick station for the tranquil scenes of retirement. The im. provement of American husbandry engaged his close

attention, and in the prosecution of plans adapted to this purpose, he entered into a correspondence with Mr. Arthur Young, and other distinguished European agriculturists. The result of their information, and of his own experience, he applied, to amend his farming implements, to improve his breed of cattle, and in various experiments, suited to the soil he cultivated. The plans which succeeded with him, he recommended to the farmers around him.

But even in the shade of Mount Vernon, the time of General WASHINGTON was not wholly at his own disposal. Every foreigner of distinction who visited the United States was urgent for an introduction to the late Commander in Chief; and every American of any consequence, who was about to cross the Atlantick, was ambitious to obtain letters from him to celebrated characters in Europe. With numbers of the officers of the late army, with many of the political characters of his own country, and with several emi. nent individuals of Europe, he held a correspondence. Ceremonious visitors and officious correspondents became oppressive to him, and in a letter to a friend, he thus complained of the burden of them. “It is not, my dear Sir, the letters of my friends which give me trou ble, or add ought to my perplexity. I receive them with pleasure, and pay as much attention to them as my avocations will permit. It is references to old matters with which I have nothing to do ; applications which often times cannot be complied with ; inquiries to satisfy which would employ the pen of an historian ; letters of compliment, as unmeaning, perhaps, as they are troublesome, but which must be attended to; and the common place business, which employ my pen and my time, often disagreeably. Indeed these, with compa'ny, deprive me of exercise ; and uniess I can obtain relief, must be productive of disagreeable consequences. Already, I begin to feel their effects. Heavy and painful oppressions of the head, and other disa

[ocr errors]

greeable sensations often trouble me. I am therefore determined to employ some person who shall ease me of the drudgery of this business. To correspond with those I love is among my highest gratifications. Letters of friendship require no study; the communications they contain flow with ease; and allowances are expected and are made. But this is not the case with those which require research, consideration, and recollection.". At length he engaged a young gentleman of talents and education, who relieved him from a great part of these irksome attentions.

The patriotick mind of General WASHINGTON could not however be engrossed by his own concerns. In his retirement, he with solicitude watched over the interests of his country. The improvement of its inland navigation early engaged his reflections. Plans which the war had interrupted, were now resumed upon an enlarged scale. This year he visited the western country as far as Pittsburg, and having collected the necessary information, he opened his scheme to : Mr. Harrison, then Governour of Virginia. This was to render the rivers Potomack and James navigab!, as high as practicable ; to take accurate surveys of the country between these rivers and the streams which empty into the Ohio, and find the most advantageous portages between them; to survey the waters west of the Ohio, which empty into the lakes; and to open such inland navigation between these waters, as would secure the trade of the western country to Vir. ginia and Maryland. “ Nature," he observed,“ had made such an ample display of her bounties in those regions, that the more the country was explored the more it would rise in estimation.” He was persuaded that Pennsylvania and New-York would adopt measures, to direct the trade of that country to their seaports, and he was anxious that his native state should seasonably avail herself of the advantages she possess. od to secure her share in it. " I am not," he declarodo

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

" for discouraging the exertions of any state to draw the commerce of the western country to its sewe ports. The more communications we open to it, the closer we bind that rising world, (for it indeed may be 80 called) to our interests, and the greater strength shall we acquire by it. Those to whom nature affords the best communication, will, if they are wise, enjoy the greatest share of the trade. All I would be un. derstood to mean therefore, is, that the gifts of Propi. dence may not be neglected.” But political motives had higher influence in this transaction than commercial. " I need not remark to you, Sir," said he in his communication to the Governour of Virginia," that the flanks and rear of the United States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones too ; nor need I press the necessity of applying the cement of interest to bind all parts of the union together by indissoluble bonds ; especially of binding that part of it which lies immediately west of us, to the middle states. For what ties, let me ask, should we have apon those people, how entirely unconnected with them shall wo be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing impediments in their way as they now do, should hold ou, lures for their trade and alliance ? When they get strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be the consequence of their having formed close commercial connexions with both, or either of those powers, it needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell.

The western settlers (I speak now from my own observations) stand as it were upon a pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any way. Until the Spaniards (very unwisely as I think) threw difficulties in their way, they looked down the Mississippi; and they looked that way for no other reason than because they could gently glide down the stream; without considering perhaps the fatigues of the voyage back VOL. II.


« ZurückWeiter »