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maker of phrases and proclamations, and the quality of the charlatan, so often found in men of the highest genius, was utterly lacking in him. He never talked or acted with an eye to dramatic effect, and this is one reason for the notion that he was dull and dry; for the world dearly loves a little charlatanism, and is never happier than in being brilliantly duped. But was he therefore really dull and juiceless, unlovable and unloving 2 Responsibility came upon him when a boy, and he was hardly of age when he was carrying in his hands the defence of his colony and the heavy burden of other human lives. Experience like this makes a man who is good for anything sober; but sobriety is not dulness, and if we look a little below the surface we find the ready refutation of such an idea. In his letters and even in the silent diaries we detect the keenest observation. He looked at the country, as he travelled, with the eye of the soldier and the farmer, and mastered its features and read its meaning with rapid and certain glance. It was not to him a mere panorama of fields and woods, of rivers and mountains. He saw the beauties of nature and the opportunities of the farmer, the trader, or the manufacturer wherever his gaze rested. He gathered in the same way the statistics of the people and of their various industries. In the West Indies, on the Virginian frontier, in his journeys when he was President, he read the story of all he saw as he would have read a book, and brought it home with him for use.
In the same way he read and understood men, and had that power of choosing among them which is essential in its highest form to the great soldier or statesman. His selection never erred unless in a rare instance like that of Monroe, forced on him by political exigencies, or when the man of his choice would not serve. Congress chose Gates for the southern campaign, but Washington selected Greene, in whom he saw great military ability before any one else realized it. He took Hamilton, young and unknown, from the captaincy of an artillery company, and placed him on his personal staff. He bore with Hamilton's outbreak of temper, kept him ever in his confidence, and finally gave him the opportunity to prove himself the most brilliant of American statesmen. In the crowd of foreign volunteers, the men whom he especially selected and trusted were Lafayette and Steuben, each in his way of real value to the service. Even more remarkable than the ability to recognize great talent was his capacity to weigh and value with a nice exactness the worth of men who did not rise to the level of greatness. There is a recently published letter, too long for quotation here, in which he gives his opinions of all the leading officers of the Revolution," and each one shows the most remarkable insight, as well as a sharp definiteness of outline that indicates complete mastery. These compact judgments were so sound that even the lapse of a century and all the study of historians and biographers find nothing in their keen analysis to alter and little to add. He did not expect to discover genius everywhere, or to find a marshal's baton in every knapsack, but he used men according to their value and possibilities, which is quite as essential as the preliminary work of selection. His military staff illustrated this faculty admirably. Every man, after a few trials and changes, fitted his place and did his particular task better than any one else could have done it. Colonel Meade, loyal and gallant, a good soldier and planter, said that Hamilton did the headwork of Washington's staff and he the riding. When the war was drawing to a close, Washington said one day to Hamilton, “You must go to the Bar, which you can reach in six months.” Then turning to Meade, “Friend Dick, you must go to your plantation; you will make a good farmer, and an honest foreman of the grand jury.”" The prediction was exactly fulfilled, with all that it implied, in both cases. But let it not be supposed that there was any touch of contempt in the advice to Meade. On the contrary, there was a little warmer affection, if anything, for he honored success in any honest pursuit, especially in farming, which he himself loved. But he distinguished the two men perfectly, and he knew what each was and what each meant. It seems little to say, but if we stop to think of it, this power to read men aright and see the truth in them and about them is a power more precious than any other bestowed by the kindest of fairy godmothers. The lame devil of Le Sage looked into the secrets of life through the roofs of houses, and much did he find of the secret story of humanity. But the great man looking with truth and kindliness into men's natures, and reading their characters and abilities in their words and acts, has a higher and better power than that attributed to the wandering sprite, for such a man holds in his hand the surest key to success. Washington, quiet and always on the watch, after the fashion of silent greatness, studied untiringly the ever recurring human problems, and his just conclusions were powerful factors in the great result. He was slow, when he had plenty of time, in adopting a policy or plan, or in settling a public question, but he read men very quickly. He was never under any delusion as to Lee, Gates, Conway, or any of the rest who engaged against him because they were restless from the first under the suspicion that he knew them thoroughly. Arnold deceived him because his treason was utterly inconceivable to Washington, and because his remarkable gallantry excused his many faults. But with this exception it may be safely said that Washington was never misled as to men, either as General or President. His instruments were not invariably the best and sometimes failed him, but they were always the best he could get, and he knew their defects and ran the inevitable risks with his eyes open. Such sure and rapid judgments of men and their capabilities were possible only to a man of keen perception and accurate observation, neither of which is characteristic of a slow or commonplace mind. These qualities were, of course, gifts of nature, improved and developed by the training of a life of action on a great scale. He had received, indeed, little teaching except that of experience, and the world of war and politics had been to him both school and college. His education had been limited in the extreme, scarcely going beyond the most rudimentary branches except in mathematics, and this is very apparent in his early letters. He seems always to have written a handsome hand and to have been good at figures, but his spelling at the outset was far from perfect, and his style, although vigorous, was abrupt and rough. He felt this himself, took great pains to correct his faults in this respect, and succeeded, as he did in most things. Mr. Sparks has produced a false impression in this matter by smoothing and amending in very extensive fashion all the earlier letters, so as to give an appearance of uniformity throughout the correspondence; but this process not only destroyed much of the vigor and force of the early writings, but made them somewhat unnatural. The surveyor and frontier soldier wrote very differently from the General of the army and the President of the
* Magazine of American History, vol. iii., 1879, p. 81.