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were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of aids-de-camp. To have omitted the opportunity which then offered, of recommending them to their country's notice, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.
The American chief, having, by his own voluntary act, become one of the people, hastened, with ineffable delight, to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac. There, in a short time, the most successful general in the world, became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.
To pass suddenly from the toils of the first commission in the United States to the care of a farm; to exchange the instruments of war, for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious agriculture; would, to most men, have been a difficult task. But to the elevated mind of Washington, it was natural and delightful. From this example, let the commanders of armies learn, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt or ambition, may be preserved without power or splendour in private life.
General Washington, on retiring from public life, devotes
himself to agricultural pursuits. Favours inland navigation. Declines offered emoluments from it. Urges an alteration of the fundamental rules of the society of the Cincinnati. Regrets the defects of the federal system, and recommends a revisal of it. Is appointed a member of the continental convention for that purpose, which, appointment, after hesitation, he accepts. is chosen
president thereof. Is solicited to accept the presidency of the United States. Writes sundry letters, expressive of the conflict in his mind, between duty and inclination. Answers applications for offices. His reluctance to enter on public life.
The sensations of Washington, on retiring from public business, are thus expressed : “ I feel as a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which all the former were directed, and from his house-top is looking back, and tracing with an eagle eye, the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the All Powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have prevented his falling:
“I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, and, under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig-tree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us all; and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in the hope of catching a gracious smile; can have very
concepe tion.--I have not only retired from all public employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the
solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life, with heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers.”
Agriculture, which had always been the favourite employment of Washington, was now resumed with increasing de. light. The energies of his active mind were devoted to this first and most useful art. No improvements in the construction of farming utensils, no valuable experiments in husbandry, escaped his attention. He saw with regret the miserable system of cultivation which prevailed too generally in his native country, and wished to introduce a better. With this view, he engaged in a correspondence with some of the distinguished agriculturists in Great Britain, particularly the celebrated Arthur Young.--He traced the different states of agriculture in the two countries, in a great degree to the following obvious principles. In Great Britain, land was dear, and labour cheap. In America, the reverse existed, to such a degree, that the manuring of land was comparatively neglected, on the mistaken, short-sighted idea, that it was cheaper to clear and cultivate new fields, than to improve and repair such as were old. To this radical error, which led to idleness and a vagabond dispersed population, he opposed the whole weight of his influence. His example and recommendations tended to revolutionize the agriculture of his country, as his valour had revolutionized its government.
The extension of inland navigation occupied much of Washington's attention, at this period of exemption from public cares.
Soon after peace was proclaimed, he made a tout as far west as Pittsburg, and also traversed the western parts of New England and New York, and examined for himself the difficulties of bringing the trade of the west to different points of the Atlantic. Possessed of an accurate knowledge of the subject, he corresponded with the governors of different states, and other influential characters. To them, he suggested the propriety of making, by public authority, an appointment of commissioners of integrity and ability, whose duty it should be, after accurate examination, to ascertain the nearest and best portages between such of the eastern