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however, she finally decided against his going, de termined probably by a very sensible letter from her brother, Joseph Ball, an English lawyer. In all the ornamented versions we are informed that the boy was to enter the royal navy, and that a midshipman's warrant was procured for him. There does not appear to be any valid authority for the royal navy, the warrant, or the midshipman. The contemporary Virginian letters speak simply of “ going to sea,” while Mr. Ball says distinctly that the plan was to enter the boy on a tobacco ship, with an excellent chance of being pressed on a manof-war, and a very faint prospect of either getting into the navy, or even rising to be the captain of one of the petty trading-vessels familiar to Virginian planters. Some recent writers have put Mr. Ball aside as not knowing what was intended in regard to his nephew, but in view of the difficulty at that time of obtaining commissions in the navy without great political influence, it seems probable that Mrs. Washington's brother knew very well what he was talking about, and he certainly wrote a very sensible letter. A bold, adventurous boy, eager to earn his living and make his way in the world, would, like many others before him, look longingly to the sea as the highway to fortune and
To Washington the romance of the sea was represented by the tobacco ship creeping up the river and bringing all the luxuries and many of the necessaries of life from vaguely distant countries. No doubt he wished to go on one of these vessels and try his luck, and very possibly the royal
navy was hoped for as the ultimate result. The effort was certainly made to send him to sea, but it failed, and he went back to school to study more mathematics.
Apart from the fact that the exact sciences in moderate degree were about all that Mr. Williams could teach, this branch of learning had an immediate practical value, inasmuch as surveying was almost the only immediately gainful pursuit open to a young Virginia gentleman, who sorely needed a little ready money that he might buy slaves and work a plantation. So Washington studied on for two years more, and fitted himself to be a surveyor. There are still extant some early papers belonging to this period, chiefly fragments of school exercises, which show that he already wrote the bold, handsome hand with which the world was to become familiar, and that he made geometrical figures and notes of surveys with the neatness and accuracy which clung to him in all the work of his life, whether great or small. Among those papers too were found many copies of legal forms, and a set of rules, over a hundred in number, as to etiquette and behavior, carefully written out. It has always been supposed that these rules were copied, but it was reserved apparently for the storms of a mighty civil war to lay bare what may have been, if not the source of the rules themselves, the origin and suggestion of their compilation. At that time a little volume was found in Virginia bearing the name of George Washington in a boyish hand on the fly.
leaf, and the date 1742. The book was entitled, “ The Young Man's Companion.” It was an English work, and had passed through thirteen editions, which was little enough in view of its varied and extensive information. It was written by W. Mather, in a plain and easy style, and treated of arithmetic, surveying, forms for legal documents, the measuring of land and lumber, gardening, and many other useful topics, and it contained general precepts which, with the aid of Hale's “Contemplations,” may readily have furnished the hints for the rules found in manuscript among Washington's papers. These rules were in the main wise and sensible, and it is evident they had occupied deeply the boy's mind. They are for the most part concerned with the commonplaces of etiquette and good manners, but there is something not only apt but quite prophetic in the last one; " Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." To suppose that Washington's character was formed by these sententious bits of not very profound wisdom would be absurd ; but that a series of rules which most lads would have regarded as simply dull should have been written out and pondered by this boy indicates a soberness and thoughtfulness of mind which cer
1 An account of this volume was given in the New York Trib une in 1866, and also in the Historical Magazine (x. 47).
3 The most important are given in Sparks' Writings of Washington, ii. 412, and they may be found complete in the little pam. phlet concerning them, excellently edited by Dr. J. M. Toner, of Washington.
tainly are not usual at that age. The chief thought that runs through all the sayings is to practice self-control, and no man ever displayed that most difficult of virtues to such a degree as George Washington. It was no ordinary boy who took such a lesson as this to heart before he was fifteen, and carried it into his daily life, never to be forgotten. It may also be said that very few boys ever needed it more; but those persons who know what they chiefly need, and pursue it, are by no
ON THE FRONTIER.
WHILE Washington was working his way through the learning purveyed by Mr. Williams, he was also receiving another education, of a much broader and better sort, from the men and women among whom he found himself, and with whom he made friends. Chief among them was his eldest brother, Lawrence, fourteen years his senior, who had been educated in England, had fought with Vernon at Carthagena, and had then returned to Virginia, to be to him a generous father and a loving friend. As the head of the family, Lawrence Washington had received the lion's share of the property, including the estate at Hunting Creek, on the Potomac, which he christened Mount Vernon, after his admiral, and where he settled down and built him a goodly house. To this pleasant spot George Washington journeyed often in vacation time, and there he came to live and further pursue his studies, after leaving school in the autumn of 1747.
Lawrence Washington had married the daughter of William Fairfax, the proprietor of Belvoir, a neighboring plantation, and the agent for the vast