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to bring these conferences to a close, and pursue his voyage.
At the mouth of the Great Kanawha the voyagers encamped for a day or two to examine the lands in the neighbourhood, and Washington set up his mark upon such as he intended to claim on behalf of the soldiers' grant. It was a fine sporting country, having small lakes or grassy ponds abounding with water-fowl, such as ducks, geese, and swans. Flocks of turkeys, as usual; and for larger game, deer and buffalo; so that their camp abounded with provisions.
Here Washington was visited by an old sachem who approached him with great reverence, at the head of several of his tribe, and addressed him through Nicholson, the interpreter. He had heard, he said, of his being in that part of the country, and had come from a great distance to see him. On further discourse, the sachem made known that he was one of the warriors in the service of the French, who lay in ambush on the banks of the Monongahela and wrought such havoc in Braddock's army. He declared that he and his young men had singled out Washington, as he made himself conspicuous riding about the field of battle with the general's orders, and had fired at him repeatedly, but without success; whence they had concluded that he was under the protection of the Great Spirit, had a charmed life, and. could not be slain in battle.
At the Great Kanawha Washington's expedition down the Ohio terminated; having visited all the points he wished to examine. His return to Fort Pitt, and thence homeward, affords no incident worthy of note. The whole expedition, however, was one of that hardy and adventurous kind, mingled with practical purposes, in which he delighted. This winter voyage down the Ohio in a canoe, with the doctor for a companion and two Indians for crew, through regions yet insecure from the capricious hostility of prowling savages, is not one of the least striking of his frontier " experiences." The hazardous nature of it was made apparent shortly afterwards by another outbreak of the Ohio tribes; one of its bloodiest actions took place on the very banks of the Great Kanawha, in which Colonel Lewis and a number of brave Virginians lost their lives.
In the final adjustment of claims under Governor Dinwiddle's proclamation, Washington, acting on behalf of the officers and soldiers, obtained grants for the lands he had marked out in the course of his visit to the Ohio. Fifteen thousand acres were awarded to a fieldofficer, nine thousand to a captain, six thousand to a subaltern, and so on. Among the claims which he entered were those of Stobo and Tan Braam, the hostages in the capitulation at the Great Meadows. After many vicissitudes they were now in London, and nine thousand acres were awarded to each of them. Their domains were ultimately purchased by Washington through his London agent.
Another claimant was Colonel George Muse, Washington's early instructor in military science. His claim was admitted with difficulty, for he stood accused of having acted the part of a poltroon in the campaign, and Washington seems to have considered the charge well founded. Still he appears to have been dissatisfied with the share of land assigned to him, and to have written to Washington somewhat rudely on the subject. His letter is not extant, but we subjoin Washington's reply almost entire, as a specimen of the caustic pen he could wield under a mingled emotion of scorn and indignation.
"Sir,—Tour impertinent letter was delivered to me yesterday. Ai I am not accustomed to receive such from any man, nor would have taken the same language from you personally, without letting you feel some marks of my resentment, I advise you to be cautious in writing me a second of the same tenor; for though I understand you were drunk when you did it, yet give me leave to tell you that drunkenness is no excuse for rudeness. But for your stupidity and sottishness you might have known, by attending to the public gazette, that you had your full quantity of ten thousand acres of land allowed you; that is, nine thousand and seventy-three acres in the great tract, and the remainder in the small tract.
"But suppose you had really fallen short, do you think your superlative merit entitles you to greater indulgence than others? Or, if it did, that I was to make it good to you, when it was at the option of the governor and council to allow but five hundred acres in the whole, if they had been so inclined? If either of these should happen to be your opinion, I am very well convinced that you will be singular in it; and all my concern is that I ever engaged myself in behalf of so ungrateful and dirty a fellow as you are."
N.B.—The above is from the letter as it exists in the archives of the Department of State at Washington. It differs in two or three particulars from that published among Washington's writings.
THE EARL OF DUNMORE.
Lord Dunmore Governor of Virginia—Piques the Pride of the Vir—Opposition of "the Assembly—Corresponding Committees— of Mass Custis—Washington's Guardianship of John Parke Custis—His Opinions as to premature Travel and premature Marriage.
The discontents of Virginia, which had been partially soothed by the amiable administration of Lord Botetourt, were irritated anew under his successor, the Earl of Dunmore. This nobleman had for a short time held the government of New York. When appointed to that of Virginia, he lingered for several months at his former post. In the mean time he sent his military secretary, Captain Foy, to attend to the despatch of business until his arrival, awarding to him a salary and fees to be paid by the colony.
The pride of the Virginians was piqued at his lingering at New York, as if he preferred its gaiety and luxury to the comparative quiet and simplicity of Williamsburg. Their pride was still more piqued on his arrival, by what they considered haughtiness on his part. The spirit of the "Ancient Dominion" was roused, and his lordship experienced opposition at his very outset.
The first measure of the Assembly, at its opening, was to demand by what right he had awarded a salary and fees to his secretary without consulting it, and to question whether it was authorised by the crown.
His lordship had the good policy to rescind the unauthorised act, and in so doing mitigated the ire of the Assembly; but he lost no time in proroguing a body which, from various symptoms, appeared to be too independent, and disposed to be untractable.
He continued to prorogue it from time to time, seeking in the interim to conciliate the Virginians, and soothe their irritated pride. At length, after repeated prorogations, he was compelled by circumstances to convene it on the 1st of March, 1773.
Washington was prompt in his attendance on the occasion, and foremost among the patriotic members who eagerly availed themselves of this long-wished-for opportunity to legislate upon the general affairs of the colonies. One of their most important measures was the appointment of a committee of eleven persons, "whose business it should be to obtain the most clear and authentic intelligence of all such acts and resolutions' of the British Parliament, or proceedings of administration, as may relate to or affect the British colonies, and to maintain with their sister colonies a correspondence and communication."
The plan thus proposed by their "noble patriotic sister colony of Virginia," 1 was promptly adopted by the people of Massachusetts, and soon met with general concurrence. These corresponding committees, in effect, became the executive power of the patriot party, producing the happiest concert of design and action throughout the colonies.
Notwithstanding the decided part taken by Washington in the popular movement, very friendly relations existed between him and Lord Dunmore. The latter appreciated his character, and sought to avail himself of his experience in the affairs of the province. It was even concerted that Washington should accompany his lordship on an extensive tour, which the latter intended to make in the conrse of the summer along the western frontier. A melancholy circumstance occurred to defeat this arrangement.
We have spoken of Washington's paternal conduct towards the two children of Mrs. Washington. The daughter, Miss Custis, had long been an object of extreme solicitude. She was of a fragile constitution, and for some time past had been in very declining health. Early in the present summer symptoms indicated a rapid change for the worse. Washington was absent from home at the time. On his return to Mount Vernon he found her in the last stage of consumption.
Though not a man given to bursts of sensibility, he is said on the present occasion to have evinced the deepest •affliction; kneeling by her bedsido, and pouring out earnest prayers for her recovery. She expired on the 19th of June, in the seventeenth year of her age. This, of course, put an end to Washington's intention of accompanying Lord Dunmore to the frontier; he remained at homo to console Mrs. Washington in her affliction, furnishing his lordship,
1 Boston Town Records.
1773.] GUARDIANSHIP OF YOUNG CUSTIS. 263
however, with travelling hints and directions, and recommending proper guides. And here we will take occasion to give a few brief particulars of domestic affairs at Mount Vernon.
For a long time previous to the death of Miss Custis, her mother, despairing of her recovery, had centred her hopes in her son, John Parke Custis. This rendered Washington's guardianship of him a delicate and difficult task. He was lively, susceptible, and impulsive; had an independent fortune in his own right, and an indulgent mother ever ready to plead in his behalf against wholesome discipline. He had been placed under the care and instruction of an Episcopal clergyman at Annapolis, but was occasionally at home, mounting his horse and taking a part, while yet a boy, in the fox-hunts at Mount Vernon. His education had consequently been irregular and imperfect, and not such as Washington would have enforced had he possessed over him the absolute authority of a father. Shortly after the return of the latter from his tour to the Ohio, he was concerned to find that there was an idea entertained of sending the lad abroad, though but little more than sixteen years of age, to travel under the care of his clerical tutor. Through his judicious interference the travelling scheme was postponed, and it was resolved to give the young gentleman's mind the benefit of a little preparatory home culture.
Little more than a year elapsed before the sallying impulses of the youth had taken a new direction. He was in love, what was more he was engaged to the object of his passion, and on the high road to matrimony.
Washington now exerted himself to prevent premature marriage as he had premature travel. A correspondence ensued between him and the young lady's father, Benedict Calvert, Esq. The match was a satisfactory one to all parties, but it was agreed that it was expedient for the youth to pass a year or two previously in college. Washington accordingly accompanied him to New York, and placed him under the care of the Eev. Dr. Cooper, president of King's (now Columbia) College, to pursue his studies in that institution. All this occurred before the death of his sister. Within a year after that melancholy event, he