Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ces he had filled, gave a kind of austerity to his countenance, and a reserve to his manners : yet he was the kindest husband, the niost humane master, the steadiest friend.

The whole range of history does not present to our view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmix, ed admiration. The long life of general Washington is not stained by a single blot. He was indeed a man of such rare endowments, and such fortunate temperament, that every action he performed was equally exempted from the charge of vice or weakness.—Whatever he said or did, or wrote, was stamped with a striking and peculiar propriety. His qualities were so happily blended, and so nicely harmonised, that the result was a great and perfect whole. The powers of his mind, and the dispositions, of his heart, were admirably suited to each other, It was the union of the most consummate prudence with the most perfect moderation. His views, though large and liberal, were never extravagant : his virtues, though comprehensive and beneficent, were discriminating, judicious and practical,

Yet his character, though regular and uniform, possessed none of the littleness which may sometimes belong to these des scriptions of men. It formed a majestic pile, the effect of which was not impaired, but improved by order and symmetry. There was nothing in it to dazzle by wildness, and surprise by eccen. tricity. It was of a higher species of moral beauty. It contained every thing great and elevated, but it had no false and tinsel ornament. It was not the model cried up by the fashion and circumstance : its excellence was adapted to the true and just moral taste, incapable of charge from the varying accidents of manners, of opinions and times.-General Washington is not the idol of a day, but the hero of ages!

Places in circumstances of the most trying difficulty at the commencement of the American contest, he accepted that situation which was pre-eminent in danger and responsibility. His perseverence overcame every obstacle ; his moderation conciliated every opposition; his genius supplied every rea source ; his enlarged view could plan, revise, and improve every branch of civil and military operation. 'He had the superior courage which can act or forbear to act, as true policy dictates, careless of the reproaches of ignorance, either in power or out of power. He knew how to conquer by waiting, in spite of obloquy, for the moment of victory; and he merited true praise by despising undeserved censure. In the most ar. duous moinents of the contest, his prudent firmness proved the salvation of the cause which he supported.

As his elevation to the chief power was the unbiassed choice of his countrymen, his exercise of it was agreeable to the purity of its origin. As he had neither solicited nor usurped dominion, he had neither to contend with the opposition of rivals, nor the revenge of enemies. As his authority was undisputed, so it required no jealous precautions, no rigorous severity. His government was mild and gentle; it was beneficient and liberal ; it was wise and just. His prudent administration consolidated and enlarged the dominion of an infant republic. In voluntarily resigning the magistracy which he had filled with such distinguished honor, he enjoyed the unequalled satisfaction of leaving to the state he had contributed to establish, the fruits of his wisdom and the example of his virtues,

It is some consolation, amidst the violence of ambition and the criminal thirst of power, of which so many instances occur around us, to find a character whom it is honorable to admire, and virtuous to imitate. A conqueror, for the freedom of his country! A legislator, for its security! A magistrate, for its happiness! His glories were never sullied by those exces. ses into which the highest qualities are apt to degenerate. With the greatest virtues he was exempt from the corresponde ing vices. He was a man in whom the elements were so mixed, that “nature might have stood up to all the world” and owned him as her work. His fame, bounded by no country, will be confined to no age. The character of general Washington, which his cotemporaries regret and admire, will be transmitted to posterity; and the memory of his virtues, while patriotism and virtue are held sacred among men, will remain undiminished,

Portrait of general GEORGE WASHINGTON. by Marquis

ChasTELLEAUX.

THE marquis having arrived at general Washington's headid quarters, was introduced to the American Cincinnatus, of whom he speaks in the following elegant and animated lan. guage :

Brave without temerity-laborious without ambition--generous without prodigality-noble without pride-virtuous without severity-he seems always to have confined himself within those limits, where the virtues, by clothing themseleves in more lively, but more changeable and doubtful colors, may be mistaken for faults. This is the seventh year that he has commanded the army, and that he has obeyed the congress. More need not be said, especially in America, where they know how to appreciate all the merit contained in this simple act. Let it be repeated that Conde was intrepid, Turenne prudent, Eugene adroit, and Catinat disinterested. It is not thus that Washing: ton will be characterised. It will be said of him, at the end of

a long civil war, he had nothing with which he could reproach himself. If any thing can be more marvellous than such a character, it is the unanimity of the public suffrages in his favor, Soldier, magistrate, people, all love and admire him; all speak of him in terms of tenderness and veneration. Does there then exist a virtue capable of restraining the injustice of mankind;

or, are glory, and happiness too recently established in America, · for envy to have deigned to pass the seas?

In speaking of this perfect whole, of which general Wash ington furnishes the idea, I have not excluded exterior form, His stature is noble and lofty; he is well made and exactly proportioned ; his physiognomy mild and agreeable, but such as renders it impossible to speak particularly of any of his features, so that in quitting him, you have only the recollection of a fine face. He has neither a grave nor a familiar air ; his brow is sometimes marked with thought, but never with inquietude. Inspiring respect, he inspires confidence, and his sinile is always the smile of benevolence.

Sketcb of general GEORGE WASHINGTON, from Bris sogs Tram

veis in North America.

HE general's goodness beams in his eyes. They have no 1 longer that fire which his officers found in them when at the head of his army; but they brighten in conversation. In his countenance there are no striking features; hence it is difficult to catch a likeness of him, for few of his portraits resemble him. All his answers discover good sense, consummate pru- . dence, and great diffidence of himself; but at the same time, an unalterable firmness in the part he has once embraced. His modesty cannot but be particularly astonishing to a Frenchman. He speaks of the American war, as if he had not been the conductor of it ; and of his victories with an indifference with which no stranger could mention them. I never saw him grow, warm, or depart from that coolness which characterises him, except when talking on the present state of America.The divisions of his country rend his soul. He feels the necessity of rallying all the friends of liberty around a central point, and of giving energy to the government. To his country he is still ready to sacrifice that quiet which constitutes his happiness. Happiness, said he to me, is not in grandeur, is not in the bustle of life. This philosopher was so thoroughly colle' vinced of the truth of this, that from the moment of his retreat, he broke off every political connexion, and renounced every place in the government; yet in spite of such a renunci. ation, of such disinterestedness, of such modesty, this astonishing man has enemies ! He has been vilified in the newspapers ; he has been accused of ambition, of intrigue, when all his life, when all America, can witness his disinterestedness, and the rectitude of his conduct: Virginia is perhaps the sole country where he has enemies; for no where else have I heard his name pronounced but with respect, mixed with affection and gratitude. You would think the Americans were speak. ing of their father. It would be wrong, perhaps, to compare Washington with the most celebrated warriors : but he is the model of a republican ; displaying all the qualities, all the virtues of one.

Extract from an elegiac poèm, on tbe death of general GBORC#

WASHINGTON. By CHARLES CALDWELL, A. M. M. D.

AND is it so ? Is Washington no more?
11 Fame, blow a blast to startle every shore !
Let every shore the solemn note rebound,
Till universal nature catch the sound
The awful sound ! to announce that stroke of fate,
The death of all that's glorious, good and great !
Of all that kindred angels stoop'd to scan,
The brightest wonder of that wonder man !
And could not goodness, could not greatness save?
Nor human glory rescue from the grave ?
Could not a nation's sighs a nation's prayers,
Procure for ONE a ceaseless round of years ?

Hail, matchless mortal, heaven's distinguished care ! Epitome of virtues great and rare ! Resplendent model of majestic mind! Where talents high their confluent lustre join'd! Sure nature form'd thee of superior dust, As Cæsar generous, and as Cato just ! A soul, in war's energence form'd to rule, As Cyrus provident, as Fabius cool! When honor summon'd, as Achilles warm, As Scipio promp, as Cincinnatus firm ! When danger frown'd, and battle shook the skies, As Hector daring, as Ulysses wise !

Calm and serene amid the vollied storm,
Our hero smil'd at death in every form,
And still from heaviest clouds of hopeless fate,
Emerg'd and rose as Alexander great!
To rear the towering fabric of his fame,
He rifled all of Greek and Roman name ;
And even, in war, imperial Albion's lord,
Bow'd to the splendors of his conquering sword!

« AnteriorContinuar »