« ZurückWeiter »
should have been so is not surprising, for he wrote to the governor, who now held him in much disfavor, to the speaker, and indeed to every one, -with a most galling plainness. He was only twenty-five be it remembered, and his high temper was by no means under perfect control. He was anything but diplomatic at that period of his life, and was far from patient, using language with much sincerity and force, and indulging in a blunt irony of rather a ferocious kind. When he was accused finally of getting up reports of imaginary dangers, his temper gave way entirely. He wrote wrathfully to the governor for justice, and added in a letter to his friend, Captain Peachey: "As to Colonel C.'s gross and infamous reflections on my conduct last spring, it will be needless, I dare say, to observe further at this time than that the liberty which he has been pleased to allow himself in sporting with my character is little else than a comic entertainment, discovering at one view his passionate fondness for your friend, his inviolable love of truth, his unfathomable knowledge, and the masterly strokes of his wisdom in displaying it. You are heartily welcome to make use of any letter or letters which I may at any time have written to you; for although I keep no copies of epistles to my friends, nor can remember the contents of all of them, yet I am sensible that the narrations are just, and that truth and honesty will appear in my writings; of which, therefore, I shall not be ashamed, though criticism may censure my style."
Perhaps a little more patience would have produced better results, but it is pleasant to find one man, in that period of stupidity and incompetency, who was ready to free his mind in this refreshing way. The only wonder is that he was not driven from his command. That they insisted on keeping him there shows beyond everything that he had already impressed himself so strongly on Virginia that the authorities, although they smarted under his attacks, did not dare to meddle with him. Dinwiddie and the rest could foil him in obtaining a commission in the king's army, but they could not shake his hold upon the people.
In the winter of 1758 his health broke down completely. He was so ill that he thought that his constitution was seriously injured; and therefore withdrew to Mount Vernon, where he slowly recovered. Meantime a great man came at last to the head of affairs in England, and, inspired by William Pitt, fleets and armies went forth to conquer. Reviving at the prospect, Washing-ton offered his services to General Forbes, who had come to undertake the task which Braddock had failed to accomplish. Once more English troops appeared, and a large army was gathered. Then the old story began again, and Washington, whose proffered aid had been gladly received, chafed and worried all summer at the fresh spectacle of delay and stupidity which was presented to him. His advice was disregarded, and all the weary business of building' new roads through the wilderness was once more undertaken. A detachment, sent forward contrary to his views, met with the fate of Braddock, and as the summer passed, and autumn changed to winter, it looked as if nothing would be gained in return for so much toil and preparation. But Pitt had conquered the Ohio in Canada, news arrived of the withdrawal of the French, the army pressed on, and, with Washington in the van, marched into the smoking ruins of Fort Duquesne, henceforth to be known to the world as Fort Pitt.
So closed the first period in Washington's public career. We have seen him pass through it in all its phases. It shows him as an 'adventurous pioneer, as a reckless frontier fighter, and as a soldier of great promise. He learned many things in this time, and was taught much in the hard school of adversity. In the effort to conquer Frenchmen and Indians he studied the art of war, and at the same time he learned to bear wTith and to overcome the dulness and inefficiency of the government he served. Thus he was forced to practise self-control in order to attain his ends, and to acquire skill in the management of men. There could have been no better training for the work he was to do in the after years, and the future showed how deeply he profited by it. Let us turn now, for a moment, to the softer and pleasanter side of life, and having seen what Washington was, and what he did as a fighting man, let us try to know him in the equally important and far more attractive domain of private and domestic life.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE.
Lewis Willis, of Fredericksburg, who was at school with Washington, used to speak of him as an unusually studious and industrious boy, but recalled one occasion when he distinguished himself and surprised his schoolmates by "romping with one of the largest girls." 1 Half a century later, when the days of romping were long over and gone, a gentleman writing of a Mrs. Hartley, whom Washington much admired, said that the general always liked a fine woman.2 It is certain that from romping he passed rapidly to more serious forms of expressing regard, for by the time he was fourteen he had fallen deeply in love with Mary Bland of Westmoreland, whom he calls his "Lowland Beauty," and to whom he wrote various copies of verses, preserved amid the notes of surveys, in his diary for 1747-48. The old tradition identified the "Lowland Beauty" with Miss Lucy Grymes, perhaps correctly, and there are drafts of letters addressed to li Dear Sally," which suggest that the mistake in identification might have arisen from the fact that there were several ladies who answered to that description. In the following sentence from the draft of a letter to a masculine sympathizer, also preserved in the tell-tale diary of 1748, there is certainly an indication that the constancy of the lover was not perfect. "Dear Friend Robin," he wrote: "My place of residence at present is at his Lordship's, where I might, were my heart disengaged, pass my time very pleasantly, as there is a very agreeable young lady in the same house, Colonel George Fairfax's wife's sister. But that only adds fuel to the fire, as being often and unavoidably in company with her revives my former passion for your Lowland Beauty; whereas were I to live more retired from young women, I might in some measure alleviate my sorrow by burying that chaste and troublesome passion in oblivion; I am very well assured that this will be the only antidote or remedy." Our gloomy young gentleman, however, did not take to solitude to cure the pangs of despised love, but proceeded to calm his spirits by the society of this same sister-in-law of George Fairfax, Miss Mary Gary. One "Lowland Beauty," Lucy Grymes, married Henry Lee, and became the mother of "Legion Harry," a favorite officer and friend of Washington, and the grandmother of Robert E. Lee, the great soldier of the Southern Confederacy. The affair with Miss Cary went on apparently for some years, fitfully pursued in the intervals of war and
1 Quoted from the Willis MS. hy Mr. Conway, in Magazine of American History, March, 1887, p. 190.
2 Magazine of American History, i. .'124.