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greeable sensations often trouble me. I am therefore determined to employ some person who shall ease me of the drudgery of this business.—To correspond with those I love is among my highest gratifications. Letters of friendship require no study; the communications they contain flow with ease ; and allowances are expected and are made. But this is not the case with those which require research, consideration, and recollection.” At length he engaged a young gentle. man of talents and education, who relieved him from a great part of these irksome attentions.
The patriotick mind of General WASHINGTON could not however be engrossed by his own concerns. In his retirement, he with solicitude watched over the interests of his country. The improvement of its inland navigation early engaged his reflections. Plans which the war had interrupted, were now resumed upon an enlarged scale. This year he visited the western country as far as Pittsburg, and having collected the necessary information, he opened his scheme to Mr. Harrison, then Governour of Virginia. This was to render the rivers Potomack and James navigable as high as practicable; to take accurate surveys of the country between these rivers and the streams which empty into the Ohio, and find the most advantageous portages between them; to survey the waters west of the Ohio, which empty into the lakes; and to open such inland navigation between these waters, as would secure the trade of the western country to Virginia and Maryland. “ Nature,” he observed,“ had made such an ample display of her bounties in those regions, that the more the country was explored the more it would rise in estimation.” He was persuaded that Pennsylvania and New-York would adopt measures, to direct the trade of that country to their seaports, and he was anxious that his native state should seasonably avail herself of the advantages she possessed to secure her share in it. “I am not,” he declared,
“for discouraging the exertions of any state to draw the commerce of the western country to its seaports. The more communications we open to it, the closer we bind that rising world, (for it indeed may be so called) to our interests, and the greater strength shall we acquire by it. Those to whom nature affords the best communication, will, if they are wise, enjoy the greatest share of the trade. All I would be understood to mean therefore, is, that the gifts of Provi. dence may not be neglected.” But political motives had higher influence in this transaction than commercial. “I need not remark to you, Sir,” said he in his communication to the Governour of Virginia, " that the flanks and rear of the United States are possessed by other powers, and formidable ones too; nor need I press the necessity of applying the cement of interest to bind all parts of the union together by indissoluble bonds ; especially of binding that part of it which lies immediately west of us, to the middle states. For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those people, how entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing impediments in their way as they now do, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance ? When they get strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be the consequence of their having formed close commercial connexions with both, or either of those powers, it needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell.
+ The western settlers (I speak now from my own observations) stand as it were upon a pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any way. Until the Spaniards (very unwisely as I think) threw difficulties in their way, they looked down the Mississippi ; and they looked that way for no other reason than because they could gently glide down the stream; without considering perhaps the fatigues of the voyage back
again, and the time necessary for its performance; and because they have no other means of coming to us, but by a long land transportation through unim. proved roads."
These recommendations were not lost. Under the patronage of the governments of Virginia and Mary. land, two companies were formed for opening the navigation of the Potomack and the James. Of both which General WASHINGTON consented to be the president. The Legislature of Virginia by a resolution which passed unanimously, directed the treasurer of the state to subscribe for one hundred and fifty shares in each company for the benefit of General WASHINGTON. The appropriation was made in a manner the most affecting to a noble mind. The assembly expressed a wish, that while the improvements of their inland navigation were monuments of his glory, they might also be monuments of his country's gratitude. The donation placed him in a very delicate and embarrassed situation. The feelings excited by this generous and honourable act of his state, he fully expressed to the friend, who informed him of the passage of the bill. “ It is not easy for me to decide by which my mind was most affected upon the receipt of your letter of the sixth instant-surprise or gratitude. Both were greater than I had words to express. The attention and good wishes which the assembly has evidenced by their act for vesting in me one hundred and fifty shares in the navigation of the rivers Potomack and James, is more than mere compliment—there is an un. equivocal and substantial meaning annexed. But, believe me, Sir, no circumstance has happened since I left the walks of publick life which has so much embarrassed me. On the one hand, I consider this act, as I have already observed, as a noble and unequivocal proof of the good opinion, the affection, and disposition of my country to serve me ; and I should be hurt, if by declining the acceptance of it, my refusal should be
construed into disrespect, or the smallest slight upon the general intention of the Legislature; or that an ostentatious display of disinterestedness, or publick virtue, was the source of refusal.
« On the other hand, it is really my wish to have my mind and my actions, which are the result of re. flection, as free and independent as the air, that I may be more at liberty (in things which my opportunities and experience have brought me to the knowledge of) to express my sentiments, and if necessary, to suggest what may occur to me, under the fullest conviction that although my judgment may be arraigned, there will be no suspicion that sinister motives had the smallest influence in the suggestion. Not content then with the bare consciousness of my having in all this navigation business, acted upon the clearest conviction of the political importance of the measure. I would wish that every individual who may hear that it was a favourite plan of mine, may know also, that I had no other motive for promoting it, than the advantage of which I conceived it would be productive to the union at large, and to this state in particular, by cementing the eastern and western territory together, at the same time that it will give vigour and increase to our commerce, and be a convenience to our citi
“ How would this matter be viewed then by the eye of the world, and what opinion would be formed when it comes to be related that G***** W********n exerted himself to effect this work, and that G***** W********n has received twenty thousand dollars and fide thousand pounds sterling of the publick money as an interest therein? Would not this (if I am entitled to any merit for the part I have performed, and without it there is no foundation for the act) deprive me of the principal thing which is laudable in my conduct ? Would it not in some respects be considered in the same light as a pension? And would not the
apprehension of this induce me to offer my sentiments in future with the more reluctance ? In a word under whatever pretence, and however customary these gra-, tuities may be in other countries, should I not thenceforward be considered as a dependant ? One moment's thought of which would give me more pain than I should receive pleasure from the product of all the tolls, was every farthing of them vested in me.”
After great deliberation, he determined to appropriate the shares to such publick uses as the Legislature should approve. In communicating this determination through the Governour, to the General Assembly, he begged him to assure them that he was "filled on the occasion with every sentiment which can flow from a heart, warm with love to his country, sensible to every token of its approbation and affection, and solicitous to testify in every instance a respectful attention to its wishes." According to his desire, the shares were appropriated to the support of a college in the vicinity of each of those rivers.
The Cincinnati had in their original constitution secured perpetuity of existence to their society. The eldest male posterity of the officers were to succeed to the places of their fathers, and in the failure of them, a collateral branch might be introduced. Individuals also of the respective states, distinguished for their talents and patriotism, might be admitted as honorary members for life. In this part of the institution, some American patriots thought they perceived the seeds of an order of nobility, and publick jealousy was excited against the society. General WASHINGTON, their President, conceived that if popular prejudices could not be removed, the society ought“ to yield to them in a degree, and not suffer that which was intended for the best of purposes to produce a bad one." On full inquiry, he found that objections to the insti. tution were general throughout the United States, under the apprehension that it would prove dangerous