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England, to whom she had written about her son George and his desire to ship as a sailor on one of the tobacco-carrying vessels that sailed between the Potomac wharves and English ports. “Do not let him go to sea,” the letter said. “Make a tinker or a tailor of him, or anything that will keep him on shore, rather than see him sail away from you as a
sailor before the mast. A sailor on one of these trading vessels is worse off than one of your negro slaves. He has not a moment he can call his own; he is kicked and cuffed and robbed
and beaten; not a dog but has LONGING FOR HOME.
an easier life. If he hopes to get into the king's navy, the chances are small for he knows no one who could get him a berth, and there are hundreds of boys waiting to get in who have a better chance than he. And suppose he should stick to his trading life and get to be captain of a tobacco ship — why, any small planter in Virginia is better off than one of these shipmasters. Tell the boy not to be in too great a hurry to get rich. Tell him to take things easily, to be patient and careful, and he will be much better off in the end than if he should go to sea."
This letter settled the question. Mrs. Washington de cided against the sea-fever, and though she knew her son was a manly and adventurous boy, she felt that there were
just as good chances for him to get a footing and make his way on shore as on sea.
So the lad gave up his dream of the free life on blue water that had so long filled his thoughts. It was enough for him that his mother said no, even though he wished so much for her yes. He never thought of acting contrary to her decision or counsel; and when he grew to be a man and
was making a name for himself, Mary Washington's opin
ion of her son was · more to him than
all the big words of
the world. “George has been a good boy,” she said, " and I am sure he will do his duty.”
Back to school went the boy who had longed to be a sailor. Near his birthplace at Bridge's Creek, where his half-brother Augustine had built himself a house, there was a fairly good school kept by a Mr. Williams; and to him the boy was sent.
George Washington was always good at figures. He was correct and careful over them , and promised to became what is called a good mathematician. Mr. Williams taught him surveying That, you know, is the science of measuring land so that the owner can know just how much he owns, just how it lies, and just where its boundary lines run.
For when he knows that, he can cut it up into tracts or lots of given sizes, and set all the measurements down on paper in lines and figures.
This is a very important work, especially in a new country, where people own large tracts of land, and other people, coming there to live, wish to buy new tracts or purchase parts of old ones. It requires a clear head, a good eye, and quickness and correctness at figures. All these, George Washington had. He was fourteen years old when he gave up going to sea and went to study mathematics and surveying Forumilia
under Mr. Williams. When he was nearly
sixteen, in the autumn Long
of 1747, he left school and went to visit his half-brother, Lawrence
Washington, at his new home on the Potomac, which he called Mount Vernon.
Lawrence Washington was nearly twelve years older than his half-brother George, but he loved the boy and was always trying to help him along. Lawrence, as I told you, was sent to school in England; he had gone to the wars with the squadron of the gallant admiral Vernon, and had fought under that brave leader at Porto Bello and Carthagena, where the Spaniards were whipped, but where so many brave American soldiers and sailors died of fever and pestilence. After the wars were over, Lawrence Washington came back
THE BOY GEORGE'S HANDWRITING AT 13.