Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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

athizer, 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 Cary. 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

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

« ZurückWeiter »