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He never attempted the learned languages, nor manifested any inclination for rhetoric or belleslettres. His object, or the object of his friends, seems to have been confined to fitting him for ordinary business. His manuscript school-books still exist, and are models of neatness and accuracy. One of them, it is true, a ciphering-book, preserved in the library at Mount Vernon, has some school-boy attempts at calligraphy: nondescript birds, executed with a flourish of the pen, or profiles of faces, probably intended for those of his schoolmates; the rest are all grave and business-like. Before he was thirteen years of age he had copied into a volume forms for all kinds of mercantile and legal papers; bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, bonds, and the like. This early self-tuition gave him throughout life a lawyer's skill in drafting documents, and a merchant's exactness in keeping accounts; so that all the concerns of his various estates, his dealings with his domestic stewards and foreign agents, his accounts with government, and all his financial transactions are to this day to be seen posted up in books, in his own handwriting, monuments of his method and unwearied accuracy.
He was a self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental matters, and practiced himself in all kinds of athletic exercises, such as running, leaping, wrestling, pitching quoits, and tossing bars. His frame even in infancy had been large and powerful, and he now excelled most of his playmates in contests of agility and strength. As a proof of his muscular power, a place is still
* and intrinsie worth; he had seen much of he world, and his mind had been enriched and repened by varied and adventurous experience. O: an ancient Eig ish farly in Yorkshire, he had entered the sowy si de age of twenty-one; had served wil hana ba? in the East and West Index analist * Crear of New Previdonot, stran la 1 FERA, i. resting it fivom nistes, 2 same ees must be mi resided #. Arama, de manage the immense naded Dank Tuina, and itai at
tleman, sumannder, bi
inteligent ani cuti
vateù family of sons ane danghters. An mimacy with a tamils like is ʼn vie the frankness and simplicity of rural and life were united with European refinement, would not but have a beneficial effect in mouling the character and manners of a somewhat bone-bred school-boy. It was probably his intercourse with them, and his ambition to acquit himself well im their society, that set him upon compiling a code monals and manners which still exists in a wir in his own handwriting, entitled
5 Behavior in Company and ConversaIt is extremely minute and circumstanSome of the rules for personal deportment
* snch trivial matters, and are so quaint fime, qs almost to provoke a smile; but in the mein, a better manual of conduct could not pur into the hands of a youth. The whole gode evinces that rigid propriety and self-control to which he subjected himself, and by which he
brought all the impulses of a somewhat ardent temper under conscientious government.
Other influences were brought to bear on George during his visit at Mount Vernon. His brother Lawrence still retained some of his mili- . tary inclinations, fostered, no doubt, by his post of Adjutant-general. William Fairfax, as we have shown, had been a soldier, and in many trying scenes. Some of Lawrence's comrades, of the provincial regiment, who had served with him in the West Indies, were occasional visitors at Mount Vernon; or a ship of war, possibly one of Vernon's old fleet, would anchor in the Potomac, and its officers be welcome guests at the tables of Lawrence and his father-in-law. Thus military scenes on sea and shore would become the topics of conversation. The capture of Porto Bello; the bombardment of Carthagena; old stories of cruisings in the East and West Indies, and campaigns against the pirates. We can picture to ourselves George, a grave and earnest boy, with an expanding intellect, and a deep-seated passion for enterprise, listening to such conversations with a kindling spirit and a growing desire for military life. In this way most probably was produced that desire to enter the navy which he evinced when about fourteen years of age. The opportunity for gratifying it appeared at hand. Ships of war frequented the colonies, and at times, as we have hinted, were anchored in the Potomac. The inclination was encouraged by Lawrence Washington and Mr. Fairfax. Lawrence retained pleasant recollections of his cruisings in the fleet
of Admiral Vernon, and considered the naval service a popular path to fame and fortune. George was at a suitable age to enter the navy. The great difficulty was to procure the assent of his mother. She was brought, however, to acquiesce ; a midshipman's warrant was obtained, and it is even said that the luggage of the youth was actually on board of a man of war, anchored in the river just below Mount Vernon.
At the eleventh hour the mother's heart faltered. This was her eldest born. A son, whose strong and steadfast character promised to be a support to herself and a protection to her other children. The thought of his being completely severed from her and exposed to the hardships and perils of a boisterous profession, overcame even her resolute mind, and at her urgent remonstrances the nautical scheme was given up.
To school, therefore, George returned, and continued his studies for nearly two years longer, devoting himself especially to mathematics, and accomplishing himself in those branches calculated to fit him either for civil or military service. Among these, one of the most important in the actual state of the country was land surveying. In this he schooled himself thoroughly, using the highest processes of the art; making surveys about the neighborhood, and keeping regular field books, some of which we have examined, in which the boundaries and measurements of the fields surveyed were carefully entered, and diagrams made, with a neatness and exactness as if the whole related to important land transactions in
A SCHOOL-BOY PASSION.
stead of being mere school exercises. Thus, in his earliest days, there was perseverance and completeness in all his undertakings. Nothing was left half done, or done in a hurried and slovenly manner. habit of mind thus cultivated continued throughout life; so that however complicated his tasks and overwhelming his cares, in the arduous and hazardous situations in which he was often placed, he found time to do everything, and to do it well. He had acquired the magic of method, which of itself works wonders.
In one of these manuscript memorials of his practical studies and exercises, we have come upon some documents singularly in contrast with all that we have just cited, and with his apparently unromantic character. In a word, there are evidences in his own handwriting, that, before he was fifteen years of age, he had conceived a passion for some unknown beauty, so serious as to disturb his otherwise well-regulated mind, and to make him really unhappy. Why this juvenile attachment was a source of unhappiness we have no positive means of ascertaining. Perhaps the object of it may have considered him a mere school-boy, and treated him as such; or his own shyness may have been in his way, and his "rules for behavior and conversation" may as yet have sat awkwardly on him, and rendered him formal and ungainly when he most sought to please. Even in later years he was apt to be silent and embarrassed in female society. "He was a very bashful young man,” said an old
lady, whom ne