Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

last act of war,affixing the seal of fate to our nation's birth.

To the horrid din of battle sweet peace succeeded; and our virtuous chief, mindful only of the common good, in a moment tempting personal aggrandizement, hushed the discontents of growing sedition; and, surrendering his power into the hands from which he had received it, converted his sword into a ploughshare, teaching an admiring world that to be truly great, you must be truly good.

Was I to stop here, the picture would be incomplete, and the task imposed unfinished. Great as was our WASHINGTON in war, and as much as did that greatness contribute to produce the American republic, it is not in war alone his pre-eminence stands conspicuous his various talents combining all the capacities of a statesman with those of a soldier, fitted him alike to guide the councils and the armies of our nation. Scarcely had he rested from his martial toils, while his invaluable parental advice was still sounding in our ears, when he who had been our shield and our sword, was called forth to

1

act a less splendid but more important part.

POSSESSING a clear and penetrating mind, a strong and sound judgment, calmness and temper for deliberation, with invincible firmness and perseverance in resolutions maturely formed, drawing information from all, acting from himself, with incorruptible integrity and unvarying patriotism: his own superiority and the public confidence alike marked him as the man designed by heaven to lead in the great political, as well as military events, which have distinguished the era of his life.

THE finger of an over-ruling providence, pointing at WASHINGTON, was neither mistaken nor unobserved; when, to realize the vast hopes to which our revolution had given birth, a change of political system be. came indispensable.

How novel, how grand the spectacle! independent states stretched over an immense territory, and known only by common difficulty, clinging to their union as the rock of their safety, deciding by frank comparison of their relative condition, to rear on that

rock, under the guidance of reason, a common government through whose commanding protection, liberty aud order, with their long train of blessings,should be safe to themselves, and the sure inheritance of their posterity.

THIS arduous task devolved on citizens selected by the people, from knowledge of their wisdom, and confidence in their virtue. In this august assembly of sages and of patriots, WASHINGTON of course was found; and, as if acknowledged to be most wise, where all were wise, with one voice he was declared their chief. How well he merited this rare distinction, how faithful were the labours of himself and his compatriots, the work of their hands, and our union,strength and prosperity, the fruits of that work, best

attest.

BUT to have essentially aided in presenting to his country this consummation of her hopes, neither satisfied the claims of his fellow-citizens on his talents, nor those duties which the possession of those talents imposed. Heaven had not infused into his mind such an uncommon share of its ethe

rial spirit to remain unemployed, nor bestowed on him his genius unaccompanied with the corresponding duty of devoting it to the common good. To have framed a constitution, was shewing only, without realizing, the general happiness. This great work remained to be done; and America, stedfast in her preference, with one voice summoned her beloved WASHINGTON, unpractised as he was in the duties of civil administration, to execute this last act in the completion of the national felicity. Obedient to her call, he assumed the high office with that self-distrust peculiar to his innate modesty, the constant attendant of pre-eminent virtue. What was the burst of joy through our anxious land on this exhilerating event is known to us all. The aged, the young, the brave, the fair, rivalled each other in demonstrations of their gratitude; and this high wrought, delightful scene, was heightened in its effect, by the singular contest between the zeal of the bestowers and the avoidance of the receiver of the honors bestowed. Commencing his administration, what heart is not charmed with the recollection of the pure and wise principles announced by himself, as the basis of his political life. He best un

derstood the indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and individual felicity; watching with an equal and comprehensive eye over this great assemblage of communities and interests, he laid the foundations of our national policy in theunerring, immutable principles of morality, based on religion, exemplifying the pre-eminence of a free government, by all the attributes which win the affections of its citizens, or command the respect of the world.

"O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint!"

LEADING through the complicated difficulties produced by previous obligations and conflicting interests, seconded by succeeding houses of congress, enlightened and patriotic, he surmounted all original obstruction, and brightened the path of our national felicity.

THE presidential term expiring, his solicitude to exchange exaltation for humility, returned with a force, increased with increase of age; and he had prepared his farewell address to his countrymen, proclaiming his intention, when the united interposi

« ForrigeFortsett »