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became impatient for a union with the object of his choice. His mother, now more indulgent than ever to this, her only child, yielded her consent, and Washington no longer made opposition.
"It has been against my wishes," writes the latter to President Cooper, "that he should quit college in order that he may soon enter into a new scene of life, which I think he would be much fitter for some years hence than now. But having his own inclination, the desires of his mother, and the acquiescence of almost all his relatives to encounter, I did not care, as he is the last of the family, to push my opposition too far; I have, therefore, submitted to a kind of necessity."
The marriage was celebrated on the 3rd of February, 1774, before the bridegroom was twenty-one years of age.
We are induced to subjoin extracts of two letters from Washington relative to young Custis. The first gives his objections to premature travel; the second to premature matrimony. Both are worthy of consideration in this country, where our young people have such a general disposition to "go ahead."
To the Reverend Jonathan Boucher (the tutor of young Custis). * * * * "I cannot help giving it as my opinion, that bis education, however advanced it may be for a youth of his age, is by no means ripe enough for a travelling tour; not that I think his becoming a mere scholar is a desirable education for a gentleman, but I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which all other knowledge is to be built, and in travelling he is to become acquainted with men and things, rather than books. At present, however well versed he may be in the principles of the Latin language (which is not to be wondered at, as he began the study of it as soon as he could speak), he is unacquainted with several of the classic authors that might be useful to him. He is ignorant of Greek, the advantages of learning which I do not pretend to judge of; and he knows nothing of French, which is absolutely necessary to him as a traveller. He has little or no acquaintance with arithmetic, and is totally ignorant of the mathematics—than which, at least, so much of them as relates to surveying, nothing can be more essentially necessary to any man possessed of a large landed estate, the bounds of some part or other of which are always in controversy. Now whether he has time between this and next spring to acquire a sufficient knowledge of these studies, I leave you to judge; as, also, whether a boy of seventeen years old (which will be his age next November), can have any just notions of the end and design of travelling. I have already given it as my opinion that it
would oe precipitating this event, unless he were to go immediately to the university for a couple of years; in which case he could see nothing of America; which might be a disadvantage to him, as it is to be expected that every man, who travels with a view of observing the laws and customs of other countries, should be able to give some description of the situation and government of his own."
The following are extracts from the letter to Benedict Calvert, Esq., the young lady's father:—
"I write to you on a subject of importance, and of no small embarrassment to me. My son-in-law and ward, Mr. Custis, has, as I have been informed, paid his addresses to your second daughter; and having made some progress in her affections, has solicited her in marriage. How far a union of this sort may be agreeable to you, you best can tell; but I should think myself wanting in candour, were I not to confess that Miss Nelly's amiable qualities are acknowledged on all hands, and that an alliance with your family will be pleasing to his.
"This acknowledgment being made, you must permit me to add, sir, that at this, or in any short time, his youth, inexperience, and unripened education are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in my opinion, to the completion of the marriage. As his guardian, I conceive it my indispensable duty to endeavour to carry him through a regular course of education (many branches of which, I am sorry to say, he is totally deficient in), and to guide his youth to a more advanced age, before an event, on which his own peace and the happiness of another are to depend, takes place. * * * * If the affection which they have avowed for each other is fixed upon a solid basis, it will receive no diminution in the course of two or three years; in which time he may prosecute his studies, and thereby render himself more deserving of the lady, and useful to society. If, unfortunately, as they are both young, there should be an abatement of affection on either side, or both, it had better precede than follow marriage.
"Delivering my sentiments thus freely, will not, I hope, lead you into a belief that I am desirous of breaking off the match. To postpone it is all I have in view; for I shall recommend to the young gentleman, with the warmth that becomes a man of honour, to consider himself as much engaged to your daughter, as if the indissoluble knot were tied; and as the surest means of effecting this, to apply himself closely to his studies, by which he will, in a great measure, avoid those little flirtations with other young ladies, that may, by dividing the attention, contribute not a little to divide the affection."
Lord North's Bill favouring the Exportation of Teas—Ships freighted with Tea to the Colonies—Sent back from some of the Ports—Tea destroyed at Boston—Passage of the Boston Port Bill—Session of the House of Burgesses—Splendid Opening—Burst of Indignation at the Port Bill—House dissolved—Resolutions at the Raleigh Tavern —Project of a General Congress—Washington and Lord Dunmore— The Port Bill goes into effect—General Gage at Boston—League and Covenant.
The general covenant throughout the colonies against the use of taxed tea, had operated disastrously against the interests of the East India Company, and produced an immense accumulation of the proscribed article in their warehouses. To remedy this, Lord North brought in a bill (1773), by which the company were allowed to export their teas from England to any part whatever without paying export duty. This, by enabling them to offer their $eas at a low price in the colonies would, he supposed, tempt the Americans to purchase large quantities, thus relieving the company, and at the same time benefiting the revenue by the impost duty. Confiding in the wisdom of this policy, the company disgorged their warehouses, freighted several ships with tea, and sent them to various parts of the colonies. This brought matters to a crisis. One sentiment, one determination, pervaded the whole continent. Taxation was to receive its definitive blow. Whoever submitted to it was an enemy to his country. From New York to Philadelphia the ships were sent back, unladen, to London. In Charleston the tea was unloaded, and stored away in cellars and other places, where it perished. At Boston the action was still more decisive. The ships anchored in the harbour. Some small parcels of tea were brought on shore, but the sale of them was prohibited. The captains of the ships, seeing the desperate state of the case, would have made sail back for England, but they could not obtain the consent of the consignees, a clearance at the custom-house, or a. passport from the governor to clear the fort. It was evident, the tea was to be forced upon the people, of Boston, and the principle of taxation established.
To settle the matter completely, and prove that, on a point of principle, they were not to be trifled with, a number of the inhabitants, disguised as Indians, boarded the ships in the night (18th December), broke open all the chests of tea, and emptied the contents into the sea. This was no rash and intemperate proceeding of a mob, but the well-considered, though resolute act of sober, respectable citizens, men of reflection, but determination. The whole was done calmly, and in perfect order; after which the actors in the scene dispersed without tumult, and returned quietly to their homes.
The general opposition of the colonies to the principle of taxation had given great annoyance to government, but this individual act concentrated all its wrath upon Boston. A bill was forthwith passed in Parliament (commonly called the Boston Port Bill), by which all lading and unlading of goods, wares, and merchandise, were to cease in that town and harbour, on and after the 4th of June, and the officers of the customs to be transferred to Salem.
Another law, passed soon after, altered the charter of the province, decreeing that all counsellors, judges, and magistrates should be appointed by the crown, and hold office during the royal pleasure.
This was followed by a third, intended for the suppression of riots; and providing that any person indicted for murder, or other capital offence, committed in aiding the magistracy, might be sent by the governor to some other colony, or to Great Britain for trial.
Such was the bolt of Parliamentary wrath fulminated against the devoted town of Boston. Before it fell there was a session in May, of the Virginia House of Burgesses. The social position of Lord Dunmore had been strengthened in the province by the arrival of his lady, and a numerous family of sons and daughter. The whole Virginia aristocracy had vied with each other in hospitable attentions to the family. A court circle had sprung up. Eegulations had been drawn up by a herald, and published officially, determining the rank and precedence of civil and military officers, and their wives. The aristocracy of the ancient
riages and four rolled into the streets of Williamsburg, with horses handsomely caparisoned, bringing the wealthy planters and their families to the seat of government.
Washington arrived in Williamsburg on the 16th, and dined with the governor on the day of his arrival, having a distinguished position in the court circle, and being still on terms of intimacy with his lordship. The House of Burgesses was opened in form, and one of its first measures was an address of congratulation to the governor, on the arrival of his lady. It was followed up by an agreement among the members to give her ladyship a splendid ball, on the 27th of the month.
All things were going on smoothly and smilingly, when a letter, received through the corresponding committee, brought intelligence of the vindictive measure of Parliament, by which the port of Boston was to be closed un the approaching 1st of June.
The letter was read in the House of Burgesses, and produced a general burst of indignation. All other business was thrown aside, and this became the sole subject of discussion. A protest against this and other recent acts of Parliament was entered upon the journal of the House, and a resolution was adopted, on the 24th of May, setting apart the first of June as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation; in which the divine interposition was to be implored, to avert the heavy calamity threatening destruction to their rights, and all the evils of civil war; and to give the people one heart and one mind in firmly opposing every injury to American liberties.
On the following morning, while the Burgesses were engaged in animated debate, they were summoned to attend Lord Dunmore in the council chamber, where he made them the following laconic speech; "Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses: I have in my hand a paper, published by order of your House, conceived in such terms, as reflect highly upon his majesty, and the Parliament of Great Britain, which makes it necessary for me to dissolve you, and you are dissolved accordingly."
As on a former occasion, the Assembly, though dissolved, was not dispersed. The members adjourned to the long room of the old Ealeigh tavern, and passed resolutions, denouncing the Boston Port Bill as a most dangerous