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Perhaps a little more patience would have produced better results, but it is pleasant to find one man, in that period of stupidity and incompetency, who was ready to free his mind in this refreshing way. The only wonder is that he was not driven from his command. That they insisted on keeping him there shows beyond everything that he had already impressed himself so strongly on Virginia that the authorities, although they smarted under his attacks, did not dare to meddle with him. Dinwiddie and the rest could foil him in obtaining a commission in the king's army, but they could not shake his hold upon the people.
In the winter of 1758 his health broke down completely. He was so ill that he thought that his constitution was seriously injured; and therefore withdrew to Mount Vernon, where he slowly recovered. Meantime a great man came at last to the head of affairs in England, and, inspired by William Pitt, fleets and armies went forth to conquer. Reviving at the prospect, Washington offered his services to General Forbes, who had come to undertake the task which Braddock had failed to accomplish. Once more English troops appeared, and a large army was gathered. Then the old story began again, and Washington, whose proffered aid had been gladly received, chafed and worried all summer at the fresh spectacle of delay and stupidity which was presented to him. His advice was disregarded, and all the weary business of building new roads through the wilderness was once more undertaken. A detachment, sent forward contrary to his views, met with the fate of Braddock, and as the summer passed, and autumn changed to winter, it looked as if nothing would be gained in return for so much toil and preparation. But Pitt had conquered the Ohio in Canada, news arrived of the withdrawal of the French, the army pressed on, and, with Washington in the van, marched into the smoking ruins of Fort Duquesne, henceforth to be known to the world as Fort Pitt. So closed the first period in Washington's public career. We have seen him pass through it in all its phases. It shows him as an adventurous pioneer, as a reckless frontier fighter, and as a soldier of great promise. He learned many things in this time, and was taught much in the hard school of adversity. In the effort to conquer Frenchmen and Indians he studied the art of war, and at the same time he learned to bear with and to overcome the dulness and inefficiency of the government he served. Thus he was forced to practise self-control in order to attain his ends, and to acquire skill in the management of men. There could have been no better training for the work he was to do in the after years, and the future showed how deeply he profited by it. Let us turn now, for a moment, to the softer and pleasanter side of life, and having seen what Washington was, and what he did as a fighting man, let us try to know him in the equally important and far more attractive domain of private and domestic life.
LEwis WILLIS, of Fredericksburg, who was at school with Washington, used to speak of him as an unusually studious and industrious boy, but recalled one occasion when he distinguished himself and surprised his schoolmates by “romping with one of the largest girls.” Half a century later, when the days of romping were long over and gone, a gentleman writing of a Mrs. Hartley, whom Washington much admired, said that the general always liked a fine woman.” It is certain that from romping he passed rapidly to more serious forms of expressing regard, for by the time he was fourteen he had fallen deeply in love with Mary Bland of Westmoreland, whom he calls his “Lowland Beauty,” and to whom he wrote various copies of verses, preserved amid the notes of surveys, in his diary for 1747–48. The old tradition identified the “Lowland Beauty” with Miss Lucy Grymes, perhaps correctly, and there are drafts of letters addressed to “Dear Sally,” which suggest 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 sympathizer, 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
1. Quoted from the Willis MS. by Mr. Conway, in Magazine of American History, March, 1887, p. 196. * Magazine of American History, i. 324.
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." 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
* Historical Magazine, 3d series, 1873. Letter communicated by Fitzhugh Lee.