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Copyright, 1889,

All rights reserved.

I The Riverside Press, Cmnbridge, Mass., TJ. S. A.
Electrotyped and Priated by H. 0. Houghton & Company.





The Old Dominion ^^

The Washingtons 29

On the Frontier 52

Love and Marriage 92

^ Taking Command 125

Saving the Revolution 1^4


"Malice Domestic, and Foreign Levy" .... 180

The Allies 234

Arnold's Treason, and the War in the South . 264

Yorktown 293

Peack 313


February 9th in the year 1800 was a gala day
in Paris. Napoleon had decreed a triumphal pro-
cession, and on that day a splendid military cere-
mony was performed in the Champ de Mars, and
the trophies of the Egyptian expedition were ex-
ultingly displayed. There were, however, two fea-
tiu-es in all this pomp and show which seemed
strangely out of keeping with the glittering pa-
geant and the sounds of victorious rejoicing. The
standards and flags of the army were hung with
crape, and after the grand parade the dignitaries
of the land proceeded solemnly to the Temple of
Mars, and heard the eloquent M. de Fontanes
deliver an " Eloge Funebre." ^

^ A report recently discovered shows that more even was in-
tended than was actually done.

The following is a translation of the paper, the original of
which is Nos. 172 and 173 of volume 51 of the manuscript series
known as Etats-Unis, 1799, 1800 (years 7 and 8 of the French
republic) : —

'^Report of Talleyrand, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the occasion
of the death of George Washington.
" A nation which some day will be a great nation, and which to-
day is the wisest and liappiest on the face of the earth, weeps at


About the same time, if tradition may be trusted,
the flags upon the conquering Channel fleet of Eng-
land were lowered to half-mast in token of grief

the bier of a man whose courage and genius contributed the most to
free it from bondage, and elevate it to the rank of an independent
and sovereign power. The regrets caused by the death of this great
man, the memories aroused by these regrets, and a proper venera-
tion for all that is held dear and sacred by mankind, impel us to
give expression to our sentiments by taking part in an event
which deprives the world of one of its brightest ornaments, and
removes to the realm of history one of the noblest lives that ever
honored the human race.

* ' The name of Washington is inseparably linked with a memo-
rable epoch. He adorned this epoch by his talents and the nobil-
ity of his character, and with virtues that even envy dared not as-
sail. History offers few examples of such renown. Great from
the outset of his career, patriotic before his country had become a
nation, brilliant and universal despite the passions and political
resentments that would gladly have checked his career, his fame
is to-day imperishable, — fortune having consecrated his claim
to greatness, while the prosperity of a people destined for grand
achievements is the best evidence of a fame ever to increase.

' ' His own country now honors his memory with funeral cere-
monies, having lost a citizen whose public actions and unassuming
grandeur in private life were a living example of courage, wisdom,
and unselfishness ; and France, which from the dawn of the Amer-
ican Revolution hailed with hope a nation, hitherto unknown, that
was discarding the vices of Europe, which foresaw all the glory
that this nation would bestow on humanity, and the enlightenment
of governments that would ensue from the novel character of the
social institutions and the new type of heroism of which Washing-
ton and America were models for the world at large, — France, I
repeat, should depart from established usages and do honor to one
whose fame is beyond comparison with that of others.

" The man who, amid the decadence of modern ages, first dared
believe that he could inspire degenerate nations with courage to
rise to the level of republican virtues, lived for all nations and for
all centuries ; and this nation, which first saw in the life and success


for the same event wliicli had caused the armies of
France to wear the customary badges of mourning.

If some " traveller from an antique land " had
observed these manifestations, he would have won-
dered much whose memory it was that had called
them forth from these two great nations, then
struggling fiercely with each other for supremacy
on land and sea. His wonder would not have
abated had he been told that the man for whom
they mourned had wrested an empire from one, and
at the time of his death was arming his countrymen
against the other.

These signal honors were paid by England and
France to a simple Virginian gentleman who had
never left his own country, and who when he died
held no other office than the titular command of
a provisional army. Yet although these marks of
respect from foreign nations were notable and
striking, they were slight and formal in comparison
with the silence and grief which fell upon the
people of the United States when they heard that
Washington was dead. He had died in the fullness
of time, quietly, quickly, and in his own house, and

of that illustrious man a foreboding of his destiny, and therein
recognized a future to be realized and duties to be performed, has
every right to class him as a fellow-citizen. I therefore submit to
the First Cousid the following decree : —

" Bonaparte, First Consul of the republic, decrees as follows : —
" Article 1. A statue is to be erected to General Washington.
' ' Article 2. This statue is to be placed in one of the squares of
Paris, to be chosen by the minister of the interior, and it shall be
his duty to execute the present decree."


yet his death called out a display of grief which
has rarely been equalled in history. The trappings
and suits of woe were there of course, but what
made this mourning memorable was that the land
seemed hushed with sadness, and that the sorrow
dwelt among the people and was neither forced nor
fleeting. Men carried it home with them to their
firesides and to their churches, to their offices and
their workshops. Every preacher took the life
which had closed as the noblest of texts, and every
orator made it the theme of his loftiest eloquence.
For more than a year the newspapers teemed with
eulogy and elegy, and both prose and poetry were
severely taxed to pay tribute to the memory of the
great one who had gone. The prose was often
stilted and the verse was generally bad, but yet
through it all, from the polished sentences of the
funeral oration to the humble effusions of the ob-
scurest poet's corner, there ran a strong and gen-
uine feeling, which the highest art could not refine
nor the clumsiest fine-writing degrade.

From that time to this, the stream of praise has
flowed on, ever deepening and strengthening, both
at home and abroad. Washington alone in history
seems to have risen so high in the estimation of men
that criticism has shrunk away abashed, and has
only been heard whispering in corners or growling
hoarsely in the now famous house in Cheyne Kow.

There is a world of meaning in all this, could
we but rightly interpret it. It cannot be brushed
aside as mere popular superstition, formed of fan-


cies and prejudices, to which intelligent opposition
would be useless. Nothing is in fact more false
than the way in which popular opinions are often
belittled and made light of. The opinion of the
world, however reached, becomes in the course of
years or centuries the nearest approach we can
make to final judgment on things human. Don
Quixote may be dumb to one man, and the sonnets
of Shakespeare may leave another cold and weary.
But the fault is in the reader. There is no doubt of
the greatness of Cervantes or Shakespeare, for they
have stood the test of time, and the voices of gener-
ations of men, from which there is no appeal, have
declared them to be great. The lyrics that all the
world loves and repeats, the poetry which is often
called hackneyed, is on the whole the best poetry.
The pictures and statues that have drawn crowds of
admiring gazers for centuries are the best. The
things that are "caviare to the general" often un-
doubtedly have much merit, but they lack quite as
often the warm, generous, and immortal vitality
which appeals alike to rich and poor, to the igno-
rant and to the learned.

So it is with men. When years after his death
the world agrees to call a man great, the verdict
must be accepted. The historian may whiten or
blacken, the critic may weigh and dissect, the form
of the judgment may be altered, but the central fact
remains, and with the man, whom the world in its
vague way has pronounced great, history must reckon
one way or the other, whether for good or ill.


When we come to such a man as Washington,
the case is still stronger. Men seem to have agreed
that here was greatness which no one could ques-
tion, and character which no one could fail to re-
spect. Around other leaders of men, even around
the greatest of them, sharp controversies have
arisen, and they have their partisans dead as they
had them living. Washington had enemies who as-
sailed him, and friends whom he loved, but in death
as in life he seems to stand alone, above conflict and
superior to malice. In his own country there is no
dispute as to his greatness or his worth. English-
men, the most unsparing censors of everything
American, have paid homage to Washington, from
the days of Fox and Byron to those of Tenny-
son and Gladstone. In France his name has al-
ways been revered, and in distant lands those who
have scarcely heard of the existence of the United
States know the country of Washington. To the
mighty cairn which the nation and the states have
raised to his memory, stones have come from
Greece, sending a fragment of the Parthenon ; from
Brazil and Switzerland, Turkey and Japan, Siam
and India beyond the Ganges. On that sent by
China we read : "In devising plans, Washing-
ton was more decided than Ching Shing or Woo
Kwang ; in winning a country he was braver than
Tsau Tsau or Ling Pi. Wielding his four-footed
falchion, he extended the frontiers and refused to
accept the Royal Dignity. The sentiments of the
Three Dynasties have reappeared in him. Can any


man of ancient or modern times fail to pronounce
Washington peerless ? " These comparisons so
stranofe to our ears tell of a fame which has reached
farther than we can readily conceive.

Washington stands as a type, and has stamped
himself deep upon the imagination of mankind.
Whether the image be true or false is of no conse-
quence : the fact endures. He rises up from the
dust of history as a Greek statue comes pure and
serene from the earth in which it has lain for cen-
turies. We know his deeds ; but what was it in the
man which has given him such a place in the affec-
tion, the respect, and the imagination of his fellow-
men throughout the world ?

Perhaps this question has been fully answered
already. Possibly every one who has thought upon
the subject has solved the problem, so that even to
state it is superfluous. Yet a brilliant writer, the
latest historian of the American people, has said :
" General Washington is known to us, and Presi-
dent Washington. But George Washington is an
unknown man." These are pregnant words, and
that they should be true seems to make any attempt
to fill the great gap an act of sheer and hopeless
audacity. Yet there can be certainly no reason
for adding another to the almost countless lives
of Washington unless it be done with the object
in view which Mr. McMaster indicates. Any such
attempt may fail in execution, but if the purpose
be right it has at least an excuse for its existence.

To try to add to the existing knowledge of the


facts in Washington's career would have but little
result beyond the multiplication of printed pages.
The antiquarian, the historian, and the critic have
exhausted every source, and the most minute de-
tails have been and still are the subject of endless
writing and constant discussion. Every house he
ever lived in has been drawn and painted ; every
portrait, and statue, and medal has been catalogued
and engraved. His private affairs, his servants,
his horses, his arms, even his clothes, have all
passed beneath the merciless microscope of history.
His biography has been written and rewritten.
His letters have been drawn out from every lurk-
ing place, and have been given to the world in
masses and in detachments. His battles have been
fought over and over again, and his state papers
have undergone an almost verbal examination. Yet,
despite his vast fame and all the labors of the an-
tiquarian and biographer, Washington is still not
understood, — as a man he is unfamiliar to the pos-
terity that reverences his memory. He has been mis-
represented more or less covertly by hostile critics
and by candid friends, and has been disguised and
hidden away by the mistaken eulogy and erroneous
theories of devout admirers. All that any one now
can do, therefore, is to endeavor from this mass of
material to depict the very man himself in the vari-
ous conjunctures of his life, and strive to see what
he really was and what he meant then, and what
he is and what he means to us and to the world


In the progress of time Washington has become
in the popular imagination largely mythical ; for
mythical ideas grow up in this nineteenth century,
notwithstanding its boasted intelligence, much as
they did in the infancy of the race. The old senti-
ment of humanity, more ancient and more lasting
than any records or monuments, which led men in
the dawn of history to worship their ancestors and
the founders of states, still endures. As the centuries
have gone by, this sentiment has lost its religious
flavor, and has become more and more restricted
in its application, but it has never been wholly ex-
tinguished. Let some man arise great above the
ordinary bounds of greatness, and the feeling which
caused our progenitors to bow down at the shrines
of their forefathers and chiefs leads us to invest
our modern hero with a mythical character, and
picture him in our imagination as a being to whom,
a few thousand years ago, altars would have been
builded and libations poured out.

Thus we have to-day in our minds a Washington
grand, solemn, and impressive. In this guise he
appears as a man of lofty intellect, vast moral force,
supremely successful and fortunate, and wholly
apart from and above all his fellow-men. This
lonely figure rises up to our imagination with all
the imperial splendor of the Livian Augustus, and
with about as much warmth and life as that un-
rivalled statue. In this vague but quite serious idea
there is a great deal of truth, but not the whole truth.
It is the myth of genuine love and veneration


springing from the inborn gratitude of man to the
founders and chiefs of his race, but it is not by any
means the only one of its family. There is another,
equally diffused, of wholly different parentage. In
its inception this second myth is due to the itin-
erant parson, bookmaker, and bookseller. Mason
Weems. He wrote a brief biography of Washing-
ton, of trifling historical value, yet with sufficient
literary skill to make it widely popular. It neither
appealed to nor was read by the cultivated and in-
structed few, but it reached the homes of the masses
of the people. It found its way to the bench of the
mechanic, to the house of the farmer, to the log
cabins of the frontiersman and pioneer. It was
carried across the continent on the first waves of
advancing settlement. Its anecdotes and its sim-
plicity of thought commended it to children both
at home and at school, and, passing through edition
after edition, its statements were widely spread,
and it colored insensibly the ideas of hundreds of
persons who never had heard even the name of the
author. To Weems we owe the anecdote of the
cherry-tree, and other tales of a similar nature.
He wrote with Dr. Beattie's life of his son before
him as a model, and the result is that Washington
comes out in his pages a faultless prig. Whether
Weems intended it or not, that is the result which
he produced, and that is the Washington who was
developed from the wide sale of his book. When
this idea took definite and permanent shape it
caused a reaction. There was a revolt against it,


for the hero thus engendered liad qualities which
the national sense of humor could not endure in
silence. The consequence is, that the Washington
of Weems has afforded an endless theme for joke
and burlesque. Every professional American hu-
morist almost has tried his hand at it ; and with
each recurring 2 2d of February the hard-worked
jesters of the daily newspapers take it up and
make a little fun out of it, sufficient for the day
that is passing over them. The opportunity is
tempting, because of the ease with which fun can
be made when that fundamental source of humor, a
violent contrast, can be employed. But there is no
irreverence in it all, for the jest is not aimed at
the real Washington, but at the Washington por-
trayed in the Weems biography. The worthy " rec-
tor of Mount Vernon," as he called himself, meant
no harm, and there is a good deal of truth, no doubt,
in his book. But the blameless and priggish boy,
and the equally faultless and uninteresting man,
whom he originated, have become in the process of
development a myth. So in its further develop-
ment is the Washington of the humorist a myth.
Both alike are utterly and crudely false. They re-
semble their great original as much as Greenough's
classically nude statue, exposed to the incongruities
of the North American climate, resembles in dress
and appearance the general of our armies and the
first President of the United States.

Such are the myth-makers. They are widely dif-
ferent from the critics who have assailed Washing-


ton in a sidelong way, and who can be better dealt
with in a later chapter. These last bring charges
which can be met : the myth-maker presents a vague
conception, extremely difficult to handle because it
is so elusive.

One of our well-known historical scholars and
most learned antiquarians, not long ago, in an essay
vindicating the " traditional Washington," treated
with scorn the idea of a " new Washington " being
discovered. In one sense this is quite right, in
another totally wrong. There can be no new Wash-
ington discovered, because there never was but one.
But the real man has been so overlaid with myths
and traditions, and so distorted by misleading criti-
cisms, that, as has already been suggested, he has
been wellnigh lost. We have the religious or
statuesque myth, we have the Weems myth, and
the ludicrous myth of the writer of paragraphs.
We have the stately hero of Sparks, and Everett,
and Marshall, and Irving, with all his great deeds
as general and president duly recorded and set
down in polished and eloquent sentences ; and we
know him to be very great and wise and pure, and,
be it said with bated breath, very dry and cold.
We are also familiar with the commonplace man
who so wonderfully illustrated the power of char-
acter as set forth by various persons, either from
love of novelty or because the great chief seemed
to get in the way of their own heroes.

If this is all, then the career of Washington and
his towering fame present a problem of which the


world has never seen the like. But this cannot be
all: there must be more behind. Every one knows
the famous Stuart portrait of Washington. The
last effort of the artist's cunning is there employed
to paint his great subject for posterity. How serene
and beautiful it is ! It is a noble picture for future
ages to look upon. Still it is not all. There is in
the dining-room of Memorial Hall at Cambridge
another portrait, painted by Savage. It is cold and
dry, hard enough to serve for the signboard of an
inn, and able, one would think, to withstand all
weathers. Yet this picture has something which
Stuart left out. There is a rugged strength in the
face which gives us pause, there is a massiveness in
the jaw, telling of an iron grip and a relentless
will, which has infinite meaning.

" Here 's John the Smith's rough -hammered head. Great eye,
Gross jaw, and griped lips do what granite can
To give you the crown-grasper. Wliat a man ! ' '

In death as in life, there is something about
Washington, call it greatness, dignity, majesty,
what you will, which seems to hold men aloof and
keep them from knowing him. In truth he was
a most difiBcult man to know. Carlyle, crying out
through hundreds of pages and myriads of words
for the " silent man," passed by with a sneer the
most absolutely silent great man that history can
show. Washington's letters and speeches and mes-
sages fill many volumes, but they are all on busi-
ness. They are profoundly silent as to the writer
himself. From this Carlyle concluded apparently


that there was nothing to tell, — a very shallow con-
clusion if it was the one he really reached. Such
an idea was certainly far, very far, from the truth.
Behind the popular myths, behind the statuesque
figure of the orator and the preacher, behind the
general and the president of the historian, there
was a strong, vigorous man, in whose veins ran
warm, red blood, in whose heart were stormy pas-
sions and deep sympathy for humanity, in whose
brain were far-reaching thoughts, and who was in-
formed throughout his being with a resistless will.
The veil of his silence is not often lifted, and never
intentionally, but now and then there is a glimpse
behind it ; and in stray sentences and in little inci-
dents strenuously gathered together ; above all, in
the right interpretation of the words, and the deeds,
and the true history known to all men, — we can
surely find George Washington " the noblest figure
that ever stood in the forefront of a nation's life."




To know George Washington, we must first of
all know the society in which he was born and
brought up. As certain lilies draw their colors
from the subtle qualities of the soil hidden beneath
the water upon which they float, so are men pro-
foundly affected by the obscure and insensible in-
fluences which surround their childhood and youth.
The art of the chemist may discover perhaps the
secret agent which tints the white flower with blue
or pink, but very often the elements, which analysis
detects, nature alone can combine. The analogy
is not strained or fanciful when we apply it to a
past society. We can separate, and classify, and
label the various elements, but to combine them in
such a way as to form a vivid picture is a work of
surpassing difficulty. This is especially true of
such a land as Virginia in the middle of the last
century. Virginian society, as it existed at that
period, is utterly extinct. John Randolph said it
had departed before the year 1800. Since then


another century, with all its manifold changes, has
wellnigh come and gone. Most important of all,
the last surviving institution of colonial Virginia
has been swept away in the crash of civil war,
which has opened a gulf between past and present
wider and deeper than any that time alone could

Life and society as they existed in the Virginia
of the eighteenth century seem, moreover, to have
been sharply broken and ended. We cannot trace

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