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Indian fighting, and interrupted also by matters of a more tender nature. The first diversion occurred about 1752, when we find Washington writing to William Fauntleroy, at Richmond, that he proposed to come to his house to see his sister, Miss Betsy, and that he hoped for a revocation of her former cruel sentence.1 Miss Betsy, however, seems to have been obdurate, and we hear no more of love affairs until much later, and then in connection with matters of a graver sort.
When Captain Dagworthy, commanding thirty men in the Maryland service, undertook in virtue of a king's commission to outrank the commanderin-chief of the Virginian forces, Washington made up his mind that he would have this question at least finally and properly settled. So, as has been said, he went to Boston, saw Governor Shirley, and had the dispute determined in his own favor. He made the journey on horseback, and had with him two of his aides and two servants. An old letter, luckily preserved, tells us how he looked, for it contains orders to his London agents for various articles, sent for perhaps in anticipation of this very expedition. In Braddock's campaign the young surveyor and frontier soldier had been thrown among a party of dashing, handsomely equipped officers fresh from London, and their appearance had engaged his careful attention. Washington was a thoroughly simple man in all ways, but he
1 Historical Magazine, 3d series, 1873. Letter communicated by Fitzhugh Lee.
was also a man of taste and a lover of military discipline. He had a keen sense of appropriateness, a valuable faculty which stood him in good stead in grave as well as trivial matters all through his career, and which in his youth came out most strongly in the matter of manners and personal appearance. He was a handsome man, and liked to be well dressed and to have everything about himself or his servants of the best. Yet he was not a mere imitator of fashions or devoted to fine clothes. The American leggings and fringed hunting-shirt had a strong hold on his affections, and he introduced them into Forbes's army, and again into the army of the Revolution, as the best uniform for the backwoods fighters. But he learned with Braddock that the dress of parade has as real military value as that of service, and when he travelled northward to settle about Captain Dagworthy, he felt justly that he now was going on parade for the first time as the representative of his troops and his colony. Therefore with excellent sense he dressed as befitted the occasion, and at the same time gratified his own taste.
Thanks to these precautions, the little cavalcade that left Virginia on February 4, 1756, must have looked brilliant enough as they rode away through the dark woods. First came the colonel, mounted of course on the finest of animals, for he loved and understood horses from the time when he rode bareback in the pasture to those later days when he acted as judge at a horse-race and saw his own pet colt “ Magnolia ” beaten. In this expedition he wore, of course, his uniform of buff and blue, with a white and scarlet cloak over his shoulders, and a sword-knot of red and gold. His “horse furniture" was of the best London make, trimmed with “livery lace,” and the Washington arms were engraved upon the housings. Close by his side rode his two aides, likewise in buff and blue, and behind came his servants, dressed in the Washington colors of white and scarlet and wearing hats laced with silver. Thus accoutred, they all rode on together to the North.
The colonel's fame had gone before him, for the hero of Braddock's stricken field and the commander of the Virginian forces was known by reputation throughout the colonies. Every door flew open to him as he passed, and every one was delighted to welcome the young soldier. He was dined and wined and fêted in Philadelphia, and again in New York, where he fell in love at apparently short notice with the heiress Mary Philipse, the sister-in-law of his friend Beverly Robinson. Tearing himself away from these attractions he pushed on to Boston, then the most important city on the continent, and the headquarters of Shirley, the commander-in-chief. The little New England capital had at that time a society which, rich for those days, was relieved from its Puritan sombreness by the gayety and life brought in by the royal officers. Here Washington lingered ten days, talking war and politics with the governor, visiting in
state the “great and general court,” dancing every night at some ball, dining with and being fêted by the magnates of the town. His business done, he returned to New York, tarried there awhile for the sake of the fair dame, but came to no conclusions, and then, like the soldier in the song, he gave his bridle-rein a shake and rode away again to the South, and to the harassed and ravaged frontier of Virginia. How much this little interlude, pushed into a corner as it has been by the dignity of history, how much it tells of the real man How the statuesque myth and the priggish myth and the dull and solemn myth melt away before it ! Wise and strong, a bearer of heavy responsibility beyond his years, daring in fight and sober in judgment, we have here the other and the more human side of Washington. One loves to picture that gallant, generous, youthful figure, brilliant in color and manly in form, riding gayly on from one little colonial town to another, feasting, dancing, courting, and making merry. For him the myrtle and ivy were entwined with the laurel, and fame was sweetened by youth. He was righteously ready to draw from life all the good things which fate and fortune then smiling upon him could offer, and he took his pleasure frankly, with an honest heart. We know that he succeeded in his mission and put the captain of thirty men in his proper place, but no one now can tell how deeply he was affected by the charms of Miss Philipse. The only certain fact is that he was able not long after to console himself very effectually. Riding away from Mount Vernon once more, in the spring of 1758, this time to Williamsburg with despatches, he stopped at William's Ferry to dine with his friend Major Chamberlayne, and there he met Martha Dandridge, the widow of Daniel Parke Custis. She was young, pretty, intelligent, and an heiress, and her society seemed to attract the young soldier. The afternoon wore away, the horses came to the door at the appointed time, and after being walked back and forth for some hours were returned to the stable. The sun went down, and still the colonel lingered. The next morning he rode away with his despatches, but on his return he paused at the White House, the home of Mrs. Custis, and then and there plighted his troth with the charming widow. The wooing was brief and decisive, and the successful lover departed for the camp, to feel more keenly than ever the delays of the British officers and the shortcomings of the colonial government. As soon as Fort Duquesne had fallen he hurried home, resigned his commission in the last week of December, and was married on January 6, 1759. It was a brilliant wedding party which assembled on that winter day in the little church near the White House. There were gathered Francis Fauquier, the gay, free-thinking, high-living governor, gorgeous in scarlet and gold; British officers, redcoated and gold-laced, and all the neighboring gentry in the handsomest clothes that London