About three o'clock the procession began to move, ZC funeral service at the vault, and pronounced a short address, after which the Masons performed their ceremoguns.

Alexandria, with the militia and Freemasons of the place,
and eleven pieces of cannon, arrived at a later hour. A
schooner was stationed off Mount Vernon to fire minute-

passing out through the gate at the left wing of the
house, proceeding round in front of the lawn and down
to the vault, on the right wing of the house, minute-
guns being fired at the time. The troops, horse and

formed the escort; then came four of the clergy. Then
the General's horse, with his saddle, holsters, and pistols,
led by two

grooms in black. The body was borne by the Freemasons and officers; several members of the family and old

friends, among the number Dr. Craik, and some of the Fairfaxes, followed as chief mourners. The corporation of Alexandria and numerous private persons closed the procession. The Rev. Mr. Davis read the


nies, and the body was deposited in the vault.

were the obsequies of Washington, simple and modest, according to his own wishes ; all confined to the grounds of Mount Vernon, which, after forming the poetical dream of his life, had now become his final resting-place.

On opening the will which he had handed to Mrs. 2 Washington shortly before his death, it was found to have been carefully drawn up by himself in the preceding July; and, by an act in conformity with his whole career, one of its first provisions directed the emancipation of his slaves on the decease of his wife. It had long been his earnest wish that the slaves held by him in hi

right should receive their freedom during his life but he had found that it would be attended with insupe able difficulties on account of their intermixture by m

[ocr errors]

riage with the “dower negroes,” whom it was not in his power to manumit under the tenure by which they were

held. 22 With provident benignity he also made provision in

his will for such as were to receive their freedom under this devise, but who, from age, bodily infirmities, or infancy, might be unable to support themselves; and he expressly forbade, under any pretense whatsoever, the sale or transportation out of Virginia of any slave of whom he might die possessed. Though born and educated a slave-holder, this was all in consonance with feelings, sentiments, and principles which he had long enter

tained. .. 23 A deep sorrow spread over the nation on hearing that

Washington was no more. Congress, which was in session, immediately adjourned for the day. The next morning it was resolved that the Speaker's chair be shrouded with black, that the members and officers of the House wear black during the session, and that a joint committee of both Houses be appointed to consider on the most suitable manner of doing honor to the memory of the man “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts

of his fellow-citizens." 24 Public testimonials of grief and reverence were dis

played in every part of the Union. Nor were these sentiments confined to the United States. When the news of Washington's death reached England, Lord Bridport, who had command of a British fleet of nearly sixty sail of the line, lying at Torbay, lowered his flag half-mast, every ship following the example; and Bonaparte, First Consul of France, on announcing his death to the army, ordered that black crape should be suspended from all the standards and flags throughout the public service for ten days.



(See preceding note.)

In the preceding volumes of our work we have traced 1 the career of Washington from early boyhood to his elevation to the Presidential chair. It was an elevation he had neither sought nor wished; for, when the independence of his country was achieved, the modest and cherished desire of his heart had been “to live and die a private citizen on his own farm; and he had shaped out for himself an ideal elysium in his beloved shades of Mount Vernon. But power sought him in his retirement. The weight and influence of his name and character were deemed all essential to complete his work; to set the new government in motion, and conduct it through its first perils and trials. With unfeigned reluctance he complied 2 with the imperative claims of his country, and accepted the power thus urged upon him, advancing to its exercise with diffidence, and aiming to surround himself with men of the highest talent and information, whom he might consult in emergency, but firm and strong in the resolve in all things to act as his conscience told him was “right as it respected his God, his country, and himself.” For he knew no divided fidelity, no separate obligation; his most sacred duty to himself was his highest duty to his country and his God.

In treating of his civil administration in this closing 3 volume, we have endeavored to show how truly he adhered to this resolve, and with what inflexible integrity and scrupulous regard to the public weal he discharged his functions. In executing our task, we have not in

dulged in discussions of temporary questions of controverted policy which agitated the incipient establishment of our Government, but have given his words and actions as connected with those questions, and as illustrative of his character. In this volume, as in those which treat of his military career, we have avoided rhetorical amplification and embellishments, and all gratuitous assumptions, and have sought, by simple and truthful details, to give his character an opportunity of developing itself, and of manifesting those fixed principles and that noble consistency which reigned alike throughout his civil and his

military career. 4 The character of Washington may want some of those

poetical elements which dazzle and delight the multitude, but it possessed fewer inequalities and a rarer union of virtues than, perhaps, ever fell to the lot of one man. Prudence, firmness, sagacity, moderation, an overruling judgment, an immovable justice, courage that never faltered, patience that never wearied, truth that disdained all artifice, magnanimity without alloy. It seems as if Providence had endowed him in a preëminent degree with the qualities requisite to fit him for the high destiny he was called upon to fulfill—to conduct a momentous revolution which was to form an era in the history of the world, and to inaugurate a new and untried government, which, to use his own words, was to lay the foundation "for the enjoyment of much purer civil liberty and greater public happiness than have hitherto been the portion of mankind.”

The fame of Washington stands apart from every other in history, shining with a truer luster and a more benignant glory. With us his memory remains a national property, where all sympathies throughout our widelyextended and diversified empire meet in unison. Under


all dissensions and amid all the storms of party, his precepts and example speak to us from the grave with a paternal appeal; and his name—by all revered_forms a universal tie of brotherhood—a watchword of our Union.

“It will be the duty of the historian and the sage of 6 all nations," writes an eminent British statesman (Lord Brougham), “to let no occasion pass of commemorating this illustrious man, and until time shall be no more will a test of the progress which our race has made in wisdom and virtue be derived from the veneration paid to the immortal name of Washington.”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

This account of the early life of Columbus should be read as carefully as the description of Washington's early years. A great impulse was given to navigation and exploration during the age of Columbus. Some of the most important explorations were made by Italian navigators. Several of the Italian States were unsurpassed in this era for their maritime skill and enterprise.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, or Colombo, as the name is 1 written in Italian, was born in the city of Genoa, about the year 1435. He was the son of Dominico Colombo, a wool-comber, and Susannah Fonatanarossa, his wife, and it would seem that his ancestors had followed the same handicraft for several generations in Genoa. At-2 tempts have been made to prove him of illustrious descent, and several noble houses have laid claim to him

« ElőzőTovább »