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opened himself only to his confidential friends; and no art or address could draw from him an opinion, which he thought prudent to conceal.
He was not so much distinguished for brilliancy of genius as for solidity of judgment, and consummate prudence of conduct. He was not so eminent for any one quality of greatness and worth, as for the union of those great, amiable, and good qualities, which are very rarely combined in the same character.
His maxims were formed upon the result of mature reflection, or extensive experience; they were the invariable rules of his practice; and on all important instances, he seemed to have an intuitive view of what the occasion rendered fit and proper. He pursued his purposes with a resolution, which, one solitary moment excepted, never failed him.*
Alive to social pleasures, hè delighted to enter into familiar conversation with his acquaintance, and was sometimes sportive in his letters to his friends ; but he never lost sight of the dignity of his character, nor deviated from the decorous and appropriate behaviour becoming his station in society.
He commanded from all the most respectful atten. tion, and no man in his company ever fell into light or lewd conversation. His style of living corresponded with his wealth ; but his extensive establishment was managed with the strictest economy, and he ever reserved ample funds liberally to promote schemes of private benevolence, and works of publick utility. Punctual himself to every engagement, he exacted from others a strict fulfilment of contracts, but to the necessitous he was diffusive in his charities, and he greatly assisted the poorer classes of people in his vicinity, by furnishing them with means successfully to prosecute plans of industry. In domestick and private life, he blended the autho
* On York Island, in 1776.-See Vol. I. page 87.
rity of the master with the care and kindness of the guardian and friend. Solicitous for the welfare of his slaves, while at mount Vernon, he every morning rode round his estates to examine their condition; for the sick, physicians were provided, and to the weak and infirm every necessary comfort was administered. The servitude of the negroes lay with weight upon his mind; he often made it the subject of conversation, and resolved several plans for their general emancipation; but could devise none, which promised success, in consistency with humanity to them, and safety to the state.
The address presented to him at Alexandria, on the commencement of his presidency, fully shows how much he was endeared to his neighbours, and the affection and esteem, in which his friends held his private character.
His industry was unremitted, and his method so exact, that all the complicated business of his military command, and civil administration, was managed without confusion, and without hurry.
Not feeling the lust of power, and ambitious only for honourable fame, he devoted himself to his country upon the most disinterested principles; and his actions wore not the semblance but the reality of virtue: the purity of his motives was accredited, and absolute confidence placed in his patriotism.
While filling a publick station, the performance of his duty took the place of pleasure, emolument, and every private consideration. During the more critical years of the war, a smile was scarcely seen upon his countenance, gave himself no moments of relaxation; but his whole mind was engrossed to execute successfully his trust.
As a military commander, he struggled with innu. merable embarrassments, arising from the short enlistment of his men, and from the want of provisions,
clothing, arms, and ammunition ; and an opinion of his achievements should be formed in view of these in. adequate means.
The first years of his civil administration were attended with the extraordinary fact, that while a great proportion of his countrymen did not approve his measures, they universally venerated his character, and relied implicitly on his integrity. Although his opponents eventually deemed it expedient to vilify his character, that they might diminish his political influence; yet the moment that he retired from publick life, they returned to their expressions of veneration and esteem; and after his death, used every endeavour to secure to their party the influence of his name.
He was as eminent for piety as for patriotism. His publick and private conduct evince, that he impressively felt a sense of the superintendence of God and of the dependence of man. In his addresses, while at the head of the army, and of the national government, he gratefully noticed the signal blessings of Providence, and fervently commended his country to divine benediction. In private, he was known to have been habitually devout.
In principle and practice he was a Christian. The support of an Episcopal church, in the vicinity of Mount Vernon, rested principally upon him, and here, when on his estate, he with constancy attended publick worship. In his address to the American people, at the close of the war, mentioning the favourable pe. riod of the world at which the independence of his country was established, and enumerating the causes which unitedly had ameliorated the condition of human society, he, above science, philosophy, commerce, and all other considerations, ranked “the pure and benign light of Revelation.” Supplicating Heaven that his fellow citizens might cultivate the disposition, and practise the virtues, which exalt a community, he presented the following petition to his God, “ That he Vol. II.
would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacifick temper of mind, which were the characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed religion; without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation."
During the war, he not unfrequently rode ten of twelve miles from camp to attend publick worship; and he never omitted this attendance, when opportunity presented.
In the establishment of his presidential household, he reserved to himself the Sabbath, free from the interruptions of private visits, or publick business ; and throughout the eight years of his civil administration, he gave to the institutions of christianity the influence of his example.
He was as fortunate as great and good.
Under his auspices, a civil war was conducted with mildness, and a revolution with order. Raised himself above the influence of popular passions, he bappily directed these passions to the most useful purposes. Uniting the talents of the soldier with the qualifications of the statesman, and pursuing, unmoved by difficulties, the noblest end by the purest means, he had the supreme satisfaction of beholding the complete success of his great military and civil services, in the independence and happiness of his country.
END OF VOLUME II.