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XLV. - CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON. [The following sketch of the character of Washington appeared in the“ Lon don Courier" of January 24, 1800. It will be read with interest, not merely as a discriminating and well-written production, but as a tribute to the excellence of that illustrious man, from a contemporary, a foreigner, and one of a people against whom he had conducted a successful revolution — a tribute as honorable to the candor of the writer as it is gratifying to our national pride. It is not often that contemporary opinions so perfectly anticipate the judgment of posterity.)
The melancholy account of the death of General Washington was brought by a vessel from Baltimore, which arrived off Dover. General Washington was, we believe, in
his sixty-eighth year. The height of his person was about 5 six feet two: his chest full, and his limbs, though rather
slender, well shaped and muscular. His eye was of a light gray color; and, in proportion to the length of his face, his nose was long. Mr. Stuart, the eminent portrait painter,
used to say that there were features in his face totally 10 different from what he had observed in that of any other
person ; the sockets of the eyes, for instance, were larger
he had ever met with before, and the upper part of his nose broader.
All his features, he observed, were indicative of the strong15 est passions; yet, like Socrates, his judgment and great self
command have always made him appear a man of a different cast in the eyes of the world. He always spoke with great diffidence, and sometimes hesitated for a word, but
always to find one particularly well adapted to his meaning. 20 His language was manly and expressive. At levees, his
discourse with strangers turned principally upon the subject of America; and if they had been through remarkable places, his conversation was free and peculiarly interesting,
for he was intimately acquainted with every part of the 25 country. He was much more open and unreserved in his
behavior at levees than in private, and in the company of
in the presence of General Washington without being impressed with a certain degree of veneration and awe; nor did these emotions subside on a closer acquaintance; on
the contrary, his person and deportment were such as tended 6 to augment them.
The hard service he had seen, and the important and laborious offices he had filled, gave a kind of austerity to his countenance, and reserve to his manners; yet he was the kindest husband, the most humane master,
and the steadiest friend. The whole range of history does 10 not present to our view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmixed admiration.
The long life of General Washington is unstained by a single blot.
He was a man of rare endowments, and such fortunate temperament that every action he performed was 15 equally exempted from the charge of vice or weakness.
Whatever he said, or did, or wrote, was stamped with a striking and peculiar propriety. His qualities were so happily blended and so nicely harmonized, that the result
was a great and perfect whole. The powers of his mind 20 and the dispositions of his heart were admirably suited to
each other. It was the union of the most consummate prudence with the most perfect moderation.
His views, though large and liberal, were never extravagant. His virtues, though comprehensive and beneficent, 25 were discriminating, judicious, and practical. Yet his
character, though regular and uniform, possessed none of the littleness which sometimes belongs to men of that description. It formed a majestic pile, the effect of which
was not impaired, but improved, by order and symmetry. 30 There was nothing in it to dazzle by wildness and surprise
by eccentricity. It was of a higher species of moral beauty. It contained everything great or elevated, but it had no false and tinsel ornament. It was not the model cried up
by fashion and circumstance; its excellence was adapted 35 to a true and just moral taste, incapable of change from
the varying accidents of manuers, opinions, and times.
hero of ages.
General Washington is not the idol of a day, but the
Placed in circumstances of the most trying difficulty at the commencement of the American contest, he
accepted that situation which was pre-eminent in danger 5 and responsibility. His perseverance overcame every ob
stacle; his moderation conciliated every opposition; his genius supplied every resource; his enlarged view could plan, devise, and improve every branch of civil and mili
tary operation. He had the superior courage which can 10 act or forbear to act as true policy dictates, careless of the
reproaches of ignorance either in power or out of power. He knew how to conquer by waiting, in spite of obloquy, for the moment of victory; and he merited true praise
by despising undeserved censure. In the most arduous 15 moments of the contest, his prudent firmness proved the salvation of the cause which he supported.
His conduct was, on all occasions, guided by the most pure disinterestedness. Far superior to low and grovelling
motives, he seemed ever to be influenced by that ambition 20 which has justly been called the instinct of great souls.
He acted ever as if his country's welfare, and that alone, was the moving spirit. His excellent mind needed not even the stimulus of ambition, or the prospect of fame.
Glory was a secondary consideration. He performed great 25 actions; he persevered in a course of laborious utility,
with an equanimity that neither sought distinction nor was flattered by it. His reward was in the consciousness of his own rectitude, and the success of his patriotic efforts.
As his elevation to the chief power was the unbiassed 30 choice of his countrymen, his exercise of it was agreeable
to the purity of its origin. As he had neither solicite nor usurped dominion, he had neither to contend with the opposition of rivals nor the revenge of enemies. As his
authority was undisputed, so it required no jealous pre35 cautions, no rigorous severity. His government was mild
and gentle; it was beneficent and liberal; it was wise and
just. His prudent administration consolidated and enlarged the dominion of an infant republic.
In voluntarily resigning the magistracy which he had filled with such distinguished honor, he enjoyed the un5 equalled satisfaction of leaving to the state he had con
tributed to establish the fruits of his wisdom and the example of his virtues. It is some consolation amidst the violeuce of ambition and criminal thirst of power, of which
so many instances occur around us, to find a character whom 10 it is honorable to admire and virtuous to imitate.
queror for the freedom of his country! a legislator for its security! a magistrate for its happiness! His glories were never sullied by those excesses into which the highest qual
ities are apt to degenerate. With the greatest virtues, he 15 was exempt from the corresponding vices. He was a man
in whom the elements were so mixed, that “Nature might have stood up to all the world and owned him as her work.” His fame, bounded by no country, will be confined to no
age. The character of General Washington, which his con20 temporaries reverence and admire, will be transmitted to
posterity; and the memory of his virtues, while patriotism and virtue are held sacred among men, will remain undi. minished.
XLVI. — BREATHINGS OF SPRING.
(FELICIA DC ROTHEA BROWNE was born in Liverpool, England, September 25, 1794, was married to Captain Iemans, an officer in the British army, in 1312, and died May 16, 1835. She wrote two tragedies, “ The Siege of Valencia.” and " The Vespers of Palermo ;” a narrative poem called “ The Forest Sanctuary;” anl a great number of lyrical poems; in which last her genius appears to the best advantage. Her poetry is remarkable for its elevated tone, its exquisite imagery, its deep sense of the beauty of nature, and the truth and tenderness with which it expresses the domestic affections. Her poems, as they appeared from time to time in the periodical publications of the day during her li etime, were universally read and admired, both in England ind America ; but they are less popular now that they have been collected and are read continuously. Her life was not happy; and this has contributed to throw
a shadow of melancholy over her writings, which, while it deepens the charm of a singde effusion of feeliny, becomes somewhat monotonous when prolonged from page to page. Her diction sometimes becomes dazzling to the eye of the mind from its too uniform brilliancy.
Mrs. Hemans's knowledge and range of reading were quite extensive. She was acquainted with the principal languages of modern Europe, and drew the subjects of her poems from a great variety of sources. She has much skill in catching and preserving the spirit of a remote age or a foreign people. She was pleasing in her personal appearance ; her manners were graceful and animated ; and she was beloved as well as admired by her friends. She bore with gentle sweetness the burdens of life, and shrank from none of its duties. Her later poems are deeply and beautifully penetrated with religious feeling.]
1 What wak’st thou, Spring ? Sweet voices in the woods,
And reed-like echoes, that have long been mute ;
The lark's clear pipe, the cuckoo's viewless flute,
2 And the leaves greet thee, Spring! — the joyous leaves,
Whose tremblings gladden many a copse and glade, Where each young spray a rosy flush receives,
When thy south wind hath pierced the whispery shade, And happy murmurs, running through the grass,
Tell that thy footsteps pass.
3 And the bright waters — they, too, hear thy call,
Spring, the awakener! thou hast burst their sleep!
Makes melody, and in the forests deep,
Their windings to the day.
4 And flowers — the fairy-peopled world of flowers !
Thou from the dust hast set that glory free,
And pencilling the wood-anemone:
Glows with mute poesy.