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THE EARL OF LOUDOUN.
for New York; the besieging of Fort Duquesne, and the menacing of Quebec by a body of troops which were to advance by the Kennebec River.
The official career of General Shirley was drawing to a close. Though a man of good parts, he had always, until recently, acted in a civil capacity, and proved incompetent to conduct military operations. He was recalled to England, and was to be superseded by General Abercrombie, who was coming out with two regiments.
The general command in America, however, was to be held by the Earl of Loudoun, who was invested with powers almost equal to those of a viceroy, being placed above all the colonial governors. These might claim to be civil and military representatives of their sovereign within their respective colonies; but, even there, were bound to defer and yield precedence to this their official superior. This was part of a plan devised long since, but now first brought into operation, by which the ministry hoped to unite the colonies under military rule, and oblige the Assemblies, magistrates, and people to furnish quarters and provide a general fund subject to the control of this military dictator.
Beside his general command, the Earl of Loudoun was to be governor of Virginia and colonel of a royal American regiment of four battalions, to be raised in the colonies, but furnished with officers who, like himself, had seen foreign service. The campaign would open on his arrival, which, it was expected, would be early in the spring; and brilliant results were anticipated.
Washington remained ten days in Boston, attend
ing, with great interest, the meetings of the Massachusetts Legislature, in which the plan of military operations was ably discussed; and receiving the most hospitable attentions from the polite and intelligent society of the place, after which he returned to New York.
Tradition gives very different motives from those of business for his two sojourns in the latter city. He found there an early friend and school-mate, Beverly Robinson, son of John Robinson, speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was living happily and prosperously with a young and wealthy bride, having married one of the nieces and heiresses of Mr. Adolphus Philipse, a rich landholder, whose manor-house is still to be seen on the banks of the Hudson. At the house of Mr. Beverly Robinson, where Washington was an honored guest, he met Miss Mary Philipse, sister and co-heiress of Mrs. Robinson, a young lady whose personal attractions are said to have rivalled her reputed wealth.
We have already given an instance of Washington's early sensibility to female charms. A life, however, of constant activity and care, passed for the most part in the wilderness and on the frontier, far from female society, had left little mood or leisure for the indulgence of the tender sentiment; but made him more sensible, in the present brief interval of gay and social life, to the attractions of an elegant woman, brought up in the polite circle of New York.
That he was an open admirer of Miss Philipse is an historical fact; that he sought her hand, but was refused, is traditional, and not very probable. His military rank, his early laurels and distinguished pres
MISS MARY PHILIPSE.
ence, were all calculated to win favor in female eyes; but his sojourn in New York was brief; he may have been diffident in urging his suit with a lady accustomed to the homage of society, and surrounded by admirers. The most probable version of the story is, that he was called away by his public duties before he had made sufficient approaches in his siege of the lady's heart to warrant a summons to surrender. In the latter part of March we find him at Williamsburg, attending the opening of the Legislature of Virginia, eager to promote measures for the protection of the frontier and the capture of Fort Duquesne, the leading object of his ambition. Maryland and Pennsylvania were erecting forts for the defence of their own borders, but showed no disposition to co-operate with Virginia in the field; and artillery, artillerymen, and engineers were wanting for an attack on fortified places. Washington urged, therefore, an augmentation of the provincial forces, and various improvements in the militia laws.
While thus engaged, he received a letter from a friend and confidant in New York, warning him to hasten back to that city before it was too late, as Captain Morris, who had been his fellow aide-de-camp under Braddock, was laying close siege to Miss Philipse. Sterner alarms, however, summoned him in another direction. Expresses from Winchester brought word that the French had made another sortie from Fort Duquesne, accompanied by a band of savages, and were spreading terror and desolation through the country. In this moment of exigency all softer claims were forgotten; Washington repaired in all haste to his post at Winchester, and Captain Morris was left to urge his suit unrivalled and carry off the prize.
TROUBLES IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY-GREENWAY COURT AND LORD FAIRFAX IN DANGER-ALARMS AT WINCHESTER-WASHINGTON APPEALED TO FOR PROTECTION-ATTACKED BY THE VIRGINIA PRESSHONORED BY THE PUBLIC-PROJECTS FOR DEFENCE-SUGGESTIONS OF WASHINGTON-THE GENTLEMEN ASSOCIATORS-RETREAT OF THE SAVAGES-EXPEDITION AGAINST KITTANNING-CAPTAIN HUGH MERCER -SECOND STRUGGLE THROUGH THE WILDERNESS.
REPORT had not exaggerated the troubles of the frontier. It was marauded by merciless bands of savages, led, in some instances, by Frenchmen. Travellers were murdered, farm-houses burnt down, families butchered, and even stockaded forts, or houses of refuge, attacked in open day. The marauders had crossed the mountains and penetrated the valley of the Shenandoah; and several persons had fallen beneath the tomahawk in the neighborhood of Winchester.
Washington's old friend, Lord Fairfax, found himself no longer safe in his rural abode. Court was in the midst of a woodland region, affording a covert approach for the stealthy savage. His lordship was considered a great chief, whose scalp would be an inestimable trophy for an Indian warrior.
LORD FAIRFAX IN DANGER.
Fears were entertained, therefore, by his friends, that an attempt would be made to surprise him in his greenwood castle. His nephew, Colonel Martin, of the militia, who resided with him, suggested the expediency of a removal to the lower settlements, beyond the Blue Ridge. The high-spirited old nobleman demurred ; his heart cleaved to the home which he had formed for himself in the wilderness. "I am an old man,' said he, "and it is of little importance whether I fall by the tomahawk, or die of disease and old age; but you are young, and, it is to be hoped, have many years before you, therefore decide for us both; my only fear is, that if we retire, the whole district will break up and take to flight; and this fine country, which I have been at such cost and trouble to improve, will again become a wilderness."
Colonel Martin took but a short time to deliberate. He knew the fearless character of his uncle, and perceived what was his inclination. He considered that his lordship had numerous retainers, white and black, with hardy huntsmen and foresters to rally round him, and that Greenway Court was at no great distance from Winchester; he decided, therefore, that they should remain and abide the course of events.
Washington, on his arrival at Winchester, found the inhabitants in great dismay. He resolved immediately to organize a force, composed partly of troops from Fort Cumberland, partly of militia from Winchester and its vicinity; to put himself at its head, and scour the woods and suspected places in all the mountains and valleys of this part of the frontier, in quest of the Indians and their more cruel associates."