« ZurückWeiter »
fore it had formed alliances, and whilst it was without friends or a government to support you.
“ You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes. You have by the love and confi. dence of your fellowcitizens, enabled them to dis. play their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity ; you have persevered till these Unit. ed States, aided by a magnanimous king and na. tion, have been enabled under a just Providence, to close the war in safety, freedom, and indepen. dence; on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.
“ Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world ; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action with the blessings of your fellowcitizens ; but the glo. ry of your virtues will not terminate with your military cominand, it will continue to animate remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interest of those confidential of. ficers who have attended your person to this affecting moment.
“ We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respecta. ble nation ; and for you we address to Him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all his care ; that your days may be hap
py as they have been illustrious, and that he will finally give you that reward which this world can. not give.”
The military services of Gen. Washington, which ended with this interesting day, were as great as ever were rendered by any man to any nation. They were at the same time disinterested. How dear would not a mercenary man have sold such toils, such dangers, and above all, such suc. cesses ? What schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built upon the affections of the people and of the army? The gratitude of Ainerica was so lively, that any thing asked by her resigning chief, would have been readily granted. He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations ; but indirectly solicited fa. vours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capac. ity of Aids de Camp. To have omitted the op. portunity which then offered, of recommending them to their countr: 's notice, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.
The American chief, having by his own voluntary act, become one of the people, hastened with ineffable delight to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potowmac. There, in a short time, the most successful General in the world, became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.
To pass suddenly from the toils of the first com. mission in the United States to the care of a farm; to exchange the instruinents of war, for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious agriculture, would to must men have been a difficult task. But to the elevated mind of Washington, it was natural and delightful. From his example, let the commanders of armies learn, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt or ambition, may be preserved without power or splendour in private life.
General Washington, on retiring from public life, devotes himself to
agricultural pursuits.... Favours inland navigation..... Declines offered emoluments from it..... Urges an alteration of the fundamentul rules of the society of the Cincinnati... Regrets the defects of the Federal system, and recommends a revisal of it ... Is appointed a member of the continental convention for that purpose, which, after hesitation, he accepts.... Is chosen President thereof..... Is solicited to accept the Presidency of the United States..... Writes sundry letters expressive of P. the conflict in bis mind, between duty and inclination..... Answers applicants for offices.... His reluctance to enter on public life.
The sensations of Washington on retiring from public business are thus expressed. “I feel as a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading ma. ny a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoul. ders, is cased of the latter, having reached the hayen to which all the former were directed, and from his house top is looking back and tracing with an eager eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the All Powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events, could have prevented his falling. I
* I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potowmac, and, under the shadow of my own vine and my own figtree, free from the bus. tle of a camp, and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame ; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us all ; and the courtier, who is always watch. ing the countenance of his prince, in the hope of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. I have not only retired from all public employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all ; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.”
· Agriculture, which had always been the favourite enployment of Washington, was now resumed with increasing delight. The energies of his active mind were devoted to this first and most useful art. No improvements in the construction of farmmg utensils, no valuable experiments in husbandry, escaped his attention. He saw with re. gret, the miserable system of cultivation which prevailed too generally in his native country, and wished to introduce a better. With this view, he engiged in a correspondence with some of the distinguished agriculturists in Great Britain, particularly the celebrated Arthur Young. He trac