« PrejšnjaNaprej »
himself at an inn, and keep open house and open table to every person of good character and respectable appearance who chose to join him in following the hounds.
It was probably in quest of sport of the kind that he now and then, in the hunting season, revisited his old haunts and former companions on the banks of the Potomac, and then the beautiful woodland region about Belvoir and Mount Vernon was sure to ring at early morn with the inspiring music of the hound.
The waters of the Potomac also afforded occasional amusement in fishing and shooting. The fishing was sometimes on A grand scale, when the herrings came up the river in shoals, and the negroes of Mount Vernon were marshalled forth to draw the seine, which was generally done with great success. Canvasback ducks abounded at the proper season, and the shooting of them was one of Washington's favorite recreations. The river border of his domain, however, was somewhat subject to invasion. An oysterman once anchored his craft at the landingplace, and disturbed the quiet of the neighborhood by the insolent and disorderly conduct of himself and crew. It took a campaign of three days to expel these invaders from the premises.
A more summary course was pursued with another interloper. This was a vagabond who infested the creeks and inlets which bordered the estate, lurking in a canoe among the reeds and bushes, and making great havoc among the canvas-back ducks. He had been warned off repeatedly, but without effect. As Washington was one day riding about the estate he heard the report of a gun from the margin of the river. Spurring in that direction, he dashed through the bushes and came upon the culprit just as he was pushing his canoe from shore. The latter raised his gun with a menacing lock; but Washington rode into the stream, seized the painter of the canoe, drew it to shore, sprang from his horse, wrested the gun from the hands of the astonished delinquent, and inflicted on him a lesson in "Lynch law" that effectually cured him of all inclination to trespass again on these forbidden shores.
The Potomac, in the palmy days of Virginia, was occasionally the scene of a little aquatic state and ostentation among the rich planters who resided on its banks. They had beautiful barges, which, like their land equipages, were imported from England; and mention is made of a Mr. Digges who always received Washington in his barge, rowed by six negroes, arrayed in a kind of uniform of check shirts and black velvet caps.
one time, according to notes in Washington's diary, the whole neighborhood is thrown into a paroxysm of festivity, by the anchoring of a British frigate (the Boston) in the river, just in front of the hospitable mansion of the Fairfaxes. A succession of dinners and breakfasts takes place at Mount Vernon and Belvoir, with occasional tea parties on board of the frigate. The commander, Sir Thomas Adams, his officers, and his midshipmen, are cherished guests, and have the freedom of both establishments.
Occasionally he and Mrs. Washington would pay a visit to Annapolis, at that time the seat of government of Maryland, and partake of the gayeties which prevailed during the session of the Legislature. The society of these seats of provincial governments was always polite and fashionable, and more exclusive than in these republican days, being, in a manner, the outposts of the English aristocracy, where all places of dignity or profit were secured for younger sons, and poor, but proud relatives. During the session of the Legislature, dinners and balls abounded, and there were occasional attempts at theatricals. The latter was an amusement for which Washington always had a relish, though he never had an opportunity of gratifying it effectually. Neither was he disinclined to mingle in the dance, and we remember to have heard venerable ladies, who had been belles in his day, pride themselves on having had him for a partner, though, they added, he was apt to be a ceremonious and grave one.1
In this round of rural occupation, rural amusements, and social intercourse, Washington passed several tranquil years, the halcyon season of his life. His already established reputation drew many visitors to Mount Vernon; some of his early companions in arms were his occasional guests, and his friendships and connections linked him with some of the most prominent and worthy people of the country, who were sure to be received with cordial, but simple and unpretending hospitality. His marriage was unblessed with children; but those of Mrs. Washington experienced from him parental care and affection, and the formation of their minds and manners was one
1 We have had an amusing picture of Annapolis, as it was at this period, furnished to us, some years since by an octogenarian who had resided there in his boyhood. "In those parts of the country," said he, " where the roads were too rough for carriages, the ladies used to ride on ponies, followed by black servants on horseback; in this way his mother, then advanced in life, used to travel, in a scarlet cioth riding habit, which she had procured from England. Nay, in this way, on emergencies," he added, "the young ladies from the country used to come to the balls at Annapolis, riding with their hoops arranged fore and aft' like lateen sails; and after dancing all night, would ride home again in the morning."
of the dearest objects of his attention. His domestic concerns and social enjoyments, however, were not permitted to interfere with his public duties. He was active by nature, and eminently a man of business by habit. As judge of the county court, and member of the House of Burgesses, he had numerous calls upon his time and thoughts, and was often drawn from home; for whatever trust he undertook, he was sure to fulfil with scrupulous exactness.
About this time we find him engaged, with other men of enterprise, in a project to drain the great Dismal Swamp, and render it capable of cultivation. This vast morass was about thirty miles long, and ten miles wide, and its interior but little known. With his usual zeal and hardihood he explored it on horseback and on foot. In many parts it was covered with dark and gloomy woods of cedar, cypress, and hemlock, or deciduous trees, the branches of which were hung with long drooping moss. Other parts were almost inaccessible, from the density of brakes and thickets, entangled with vines, briers, and creeping plants, and intersected by creeks and standing pools. Occasionally the soil, composed of dead vegetable fibre, was over his horse's fetlocks, and sometimes he had to dismount and make his way on foot over a quaking bog that shook beneath his tread.
In the centre of the morass he came to a great piece of water, six miles long, and three broad, called Drummond's Pond, but more poetically celebrated as the Lake of the Dismal Swamp. It was more elevated than any other part of the swamp, and capable of feeding canals, by which the whole might be traversed. Having made the circuit of it, and noted all its characteristics, he encamped for the night upon the firm land which bordered it, and finished his explorations on the following day.
In the ensuing session of the Virginia Legislature, the association in behalf of which he had acted, was chartered under the name of the Dismal Swamp Company; and to his observations and forecast may be traced the subsequent improvement and prosperity of that once desolate region.
TREATY OF PEACE PONTIAC'S WAR
COURSE OF PUBLIC EVENTS BOARD OF TRADE AGAINST PAPER CURRENCY RESTRICTIVE POLICY OF ENGLAND NAVIGATION LAWS DISCONTENTS IN NEW ENGLAND -OF THE OTHER COLONIES - PROJECTS TO RAISE REVENUE BY TAXATION - - BLOW AT THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY-NAVAL COMMANDERS EMPLOYED AS CUSTOM HOUSE OFFICERS RETALIATION OF THE COLONISTS -TAXATION RESISTED IN BOSTON PASSING OF THE STAMP ACT -BURST OF
OPPOSITION, IN VIRGINIA SPEECH OF PATRICK HENRY.
TIDINGS of peace gladdened the colonies in the spring of 1763. The definitive treaty between England and France had been signed at Fontainbleau. Now, it was trusted, there would be an end to those horrid ravages that had desolated the interior of the country. "The desert and the silent place would rejoice, and the wilderness would blossom like the rose."
The month of May proved the fallacy of such hopes. In that month the famous insurrection of the Indian tribes broke out, which, from the name of the chief who was its prime mover and master spirit, is commonly called Pontiac's war. The Delawares and Shawnees, and other of those emigrant tribes of the Ohio, among whom Washington had mingled, were foremost in this conspiracy. Some of the chiefs who had been his allies, had now taken up the hatchet against the English. The plot was deep laid, and conducted with Indian craft and secrecy. At a concerted time an attack was made upon all the posts from Detroit to Fort Pitt (late Fort Duquesne). Several of the small stockaded forts, the places of refuge of woodland neighborhoods, were surprised and sacked with remorseless butchery. The frontiers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, were laid waste; traders in the wilderness were plundered and slain; hamlets and farmhouses were wrapped in flames, and their inhabitants massacred. Shingiss, with his Delaware warriors, blockaded Fort Pitt, which, for some time, was in imminent danger. Detroit, also, came near falling into the hands of the savages. It needed all the influence of Sir William Johnson, that potentate in savage life, to keep the Six Nations from joining this formidable conspiracy; had they done so, the triumph of the tomahawk and scalping knife would have been complete; as it was, a considerable
time elapsed before the frontier was restored to tolerable tranquillity.
Fortunately, Washington's retirement from the army prevented his being entangled in this savage war, which raged throughout the regions he had repeatedly visited, or rather his active spirit had been diverted into a more peaceful channel, for he was at this time occupied in the enterprise just noticed, for draining the great Dismal Swamp.
Public events were now taking a tendency which, without any political aspiration or forethought of his own, was destined gradually to bear him away from his quiet home and individual pursuits, and launch him upon a grander and wider sphere of action than any in which he had hitherto been engaged.
The prediction of the Count de Vergennes was in the process of fulfilment. The recent war of Great Britain for dominion in America, though crowned with success, had engendered a progeny of discontents in her colonies. Washington was among the first to perceive its bitter fruits. British merchants had complained loudly of losses sustained by the depreciation of the colonial paper, issued during the late war, in times of emergency, and had addressed a memorial on the subject to the Board of Trade. Scarce was peace concluded, when an order from the board declared that no paper, issued by colonial Assemblies, should thenceforward be a legal tender in the payment of debts. Washington deprecated this "stir of the merchants," as peculiarly ill-timed; and expressed an apprehension that the orders in question "would set the whole country in flames.”
We do not profess, in this personal memoir, to enter into a wide scope of general history, but shall content ourselves with a glance at the circumstances and events which gradually kindled the conflagration thus apprehended by the anxious mind of Washington.
Whatever might be the natural affection of the colonies for the mother country- and there are abundant evidences to prove that it was deep-rooted and strong it had never been properly reciprocated. They yearned to be considered as children; they were treated by her as changelings. Burke testifies that her policy toward them from the beginning had been purely commercial, and her commercial policy wholly restrictive. It was the system of a monopoly."
Her navigation laws had shut their ports against foreign vessels; obliged them to export their productions only to countries belonging to the British crown; to import European goods