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regular work. Thus started, Washington toiled at his profession for three years, living and working as he did on his first expedition. It was a rough life, but a manly and robust one, and the men who live it, although often rude and coarse, are never weak or effeminate. To Washington it was an admirable school. It strengthened his muscles and hardened him to exposure and fatigue. It accustomed him to risks and perils of various kinds, and made him fertile in expedients and confident of himself, while the nature of his work rendered him careful and industrious. That his work was well done is shown by the fact that his surveys were considered of the first authority, and stand unquestioned to this day, like certain other work which he was subsequently called to do. It was part of his character, when he did anything, to do it in a lasting fashion, and it is worth while to remember that the surveys he made as a boy were the best that could be made.
He wrote to a friend at this time: “Since you received my letter of October last, I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed, but, after walking a good deal all the day, I have lain down before the fire upon a little hay, straw, fodder, or a bearskin, whichever was to be had, with man, wife, and children, like dogs and cats; and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire. Nothing would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon is my constant gain every day that the weather will permit of my going out, and sometimes six pistoles.” He was evidently a thrifty lad, and
honestly pleased with honest earnings. He was no mere adventurous wanderer, but a man working for results in money, reputation, or some solid value, and while he worked and earned he kept an observant eye upon the wilderness, and bought up when he could the best land for himself and his family, laying the foundations of the great landed estate of which he died possessed.
There was also a lighter and pleasanter side to this hard-working existence, which was quite as useful, and more attractive, than toiling in the woods and mountains. The young surveyor passed much of his time at Greenway Court, hunting the fox and rejoicing in all field sports which held high place in that kingdom, while at the same time he profited much in graver fashion by his friendship with such a man as Lord Fairfax. There, too, he had a chance at a library, and his diaries show that he read carefully the history of England and the essays of the “Spectator.” Neither in early days nor at any other time was he a student, for he had few opportunities, and his life from the beginning was out of doors and among men. But the idea sometimes put forward that Washington cared nothing for reading or for books is an idle one. He read at Greenway Court and everywhere else when he had a chance, and he read well and to some purpose, studying men and events in books as he did in the world, and though he never talked of his reading, preserving silence on that as on other things concerning himself, no one ever was able
to record an instance in which he showed himself ignorant of history or of literature. He was never a learned man, but so far as his own language could carry
him he was an educated one. Thus while he developed the sterner qualities by hard work and a rough life, he did not bring back the coarse habits of the backwoods and the camp-fire, but was able to refine his manners and improve his mind in the excellent society and under the hospitable roof of Lord Fairfax.
Three years slipped by, and then a domestic change came which much affected Washington's whole life. The Carthagena campaign had undermined the strength of Lawrence Washington and sown the seeds of consumption, which showed itself in 1749, and became steadily more alarming. A voyage to England and a summer at the warm springs were tried without success, and finally, as a last resort, the invalid sailed for the West Indies, in September, 1751. Thither his brother George accompanied him, and we have the fragments of a diary kept during this first and last wandering outside his native country. He copied the log, noted the weather, and evidently strove to get some idea of nautical matters while he was at sea and leading a life strangely unfamiliar to a woodsman and pioneer. When they arrived they were immediately asked to breakfast and dine with Major Clarke, the military magnate of the place, and our young Virginian remarked, with characteristic prudence and a certain touch of grim humor, “We
went, — myself with some reluctance, as the smallpox was in the family.” He fell a victim to his good manners, for two weeks later he was “strongly attacked with the smallpox," and was then housed for a month, getting safely and successfully through this dangerous and then almost universal ordeal. Before the disease declared itself, however, he went about everywhere, innocently scattering infection, and greatly enjoying the pleasures of the island. It is to be regretted that any part of this diary should have been lost, for it is pleasant reading, and exhibits the writer in an agreeable and characteristic fashion. He commented on the country and the scenery, inveighed against the extravagance of the charges for board and lodging, told of his dinner-parties and his friends, and noted the marvelous abundance and variety of the tropical fruits, which contrasted strangely with the British dishes of beefsteak and tripe. He also mentioned being treated to a ticket to see the play of “George Barnwell," on which he offered this cautious criticism : “ The character of Barnwell and several others were said to be well performed. There was music adapted and regularly conducted.”
Soon after his recovery Washington returned to Virginia, arriving there in February, 1752. The diary concluded with a brief but perfectly effective description of Barbadoes, touching on its resources and scenery, its government and condition, and the manners and customs of its inhabitants. All through these notes we find the keenly observant
spirit, and the evidence of a mind constantly alert to learn. We see also a pleasant, happy temperament, enjoying with hearty zest all the pleasures that youth and life could furnish. He who wrote these lines was evidently a vigorous, good-humored young fellow, with a quick eye for the world opening before him, and for the delights as well as the instruction which it offered.
From the sunshine and ease of this tropical winter Washington passed to a long season of trial and responsibility at home and abroad. In July, 1752, his much-loved brother Lawrence died, leaving George guardian of his daughter, and heir to his estates in the event of that daughter's death. Thus the current of his home life changed, and responsibility came into it, while outside the mighty stream of public events changed too, and swept him along in the swelling torrent of a world-wide
In all the vast wilderness beyond the mountains there was not room for both French and English. The rival nations had been for years slowly approaching each other, until in 1749 each people proceeded at last to take possession of the Ohio country after its own fashion. The French sent a military expedition which sank and nailed up leaden plates; the English formed a great land company to speculate and make money, and both set diligently to work to form Indian alliances. A man of far less perception than Lawrence Washington, who had become the chief manager of the