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DEATH OF GENERAL GREENE. 513
He had Washington's habits of early rising, and close and methodical dispatch of business, never suffering the day to crowd upon the morrow." In private intercourse he was frank, noble, candid, and intelligent; in the hurry of business he was free from petulance, and had, we are told, "a winning blandness of manner that won the affections of his officers."
His campaigns in the Carolinas showed him to be a worthy disciple of Washington, keeping the war alive by his own persevering hope and inexhaustible energy, and, as it were, fighting almost without weapons. His great contest of generalship with the veteran Cornwallis, has insured for him a lasting renown.
"He was a great and good man!" was Washington's comprehensive eulogy on him; and in a letter to Lafayette he writes: "Greene's death is an event which has given such general concern, and is so much regretted by his numerous friends, that I can scarce persuade myself to touch upon it, even so far as to say that in him you lost a man who affectionately regarded, and was a sincere admirer of you.” 1
Other deaths pressed upon Washington's sensibility about the same time. That of General McDougall, who had served his country faithfully through the war, and since with equal fidelity in
1 We are happy to learn that a complete collection of the correspondence of General Greene is about to be published by his worthy and highly cultivated grandson, George Washington Greene. It is a work that, like Sparks' Writings of Washington, should form a part of every American library.
Congress. That, too, of Colonel Tench Tilghman, for a long time one of Washington's aidesde-camp, and "who left," writes he, "as fair a reputation as ever belonged to a human character." Thus," adds he, "some of the pillars of the Revolution fall. Others are mouldering by insensible degrees. May our country never want props to support the glorious fabric!"
In his correspondence about this time with several of the French noblemen who had been his associates in arms, his letters breathe the spirit of peace which was natural to him; for war with him had only been a matter of patriotism and public duty.
To the Marquis de la Rouerie, who had so bravely but modestly fought under the title of Colonel Armand, he writes: "I never expect to draw my sword again. I can scarcely conceive the cause that would induce me to do it. My time is now occupied by rural amusements, in which I have great satisfaction; and my first wish is (although it is against the profession of arms, and would clip the wings of some of our young soldiers who are soaring after glory) to see the whole world in peace, and the inhabitants of it as one band of brothers, striving who should contribute most to the happiness of mankind."
So, also, in a letter to Count Rochambeau, dated July 31st, 1786: "It must give pleasure," writes he, "to the friends of humanity, even in this distant section of the globe, to find that the clouds which threatened to burst in a storm of war on Europe, have dissipated, and left a still
REVERIES OF PEACE.
As the rage of conquest, which in times of barbarity stimulated nations to blood, has in a great measure ceased; as the objects which formerly gave birth to wars are daily diminishing; and as mankind are becoming more enlightened and humanized, I cannot but flatter myself with the pleasing prospect, that a more liberal policy and more pacific systems will take place amongst them. To indulge this idea affords a soothing consolation to a philanthropic mind; insomuch that, although it should be found an illusion, one would hardly wish to be divested of an error so grateful in itself and so innocent in its consequences."
And in another letter, "It is thus, you see, my dear Count, in retirement upon my farm I speculate upon the fate of nations, amusing myself with innocent reveries that mankind will one day grow happier and better."
How easily may the wisest of men be deceived in their speculations as to the future, especially when founded on the idea of the perfectibility of human nature. These halcyon dreams of universal peace were indulged on the very eve, as it were, of the French Revolution, which was to deluge the world in blood, and when the rage for conquest was to have unbounded scope under the belligerent sway of Napoleon.
Washington doubts the Solidity of the Confederation.
Correspondence with John Jay on the Subject. - Plan of a Convention of all the States to revise the Federal System. - Washington heads the Virginia Delegation. — Insurrection in Massachusetts. - The Convention. A Federal Constitution organized. -- Ratified.
ROM his quiet retreat of Mount Vernon, Washington, though ostensibly withdrawn from public affairs, was watching with intense solicitude the working together of the several parts in the great political confederacy; anxious to know whether the thirteen distinct States, under the present organization, could form a sufficiently efficient general government. He was daily becoming more and more doubtful of the solidity of the fabric he had assisted to raise. The form of confederation which had bound the States together and met the public exigencies during the Revolution, when there was a pressure of external danger, was daily proving more and more incompetent to the purposes of a national government. Congress had devised a system of credit to provide for the national expenditure and the extinction of the national debts, which amounted to something more than forty millions of dollars. The system experienced neg
lect from some States and opposition from others;
In a letter to James Warren, who had formerly
Not long previous to the writing of this letter,