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those latent military aspirations which lurked in his blood. Braddock scorned his advice; Governor Dinwiddie failed to recognize his superior judgment; and he reached Fort Duquesne only to find it abandoned by the enemy. To clear a swamp, lay out a road through the wilderness, guide to safety a band of fugitives, survey faithfully the Shenandoah valley, treat effectively with Indians, and cheer a famished garrison, were indeed services of eminent utility; but it was only indirectly that they were favorable to bis renown, and prophetic of his superiority. His apparently miraculous escapes from bullets, drowning, and the ravages of illness, called forth, indeed, the recognition of a providential care suggestive of future usefulness ; but the perplexities growing out of ill-defined relations between crown and provincial officers, the want of discipline in troops, the lack of adequate provision for the exigencies of public service, reverses, defeats, physical and moral emergencies, thus early so tried the patience of Washington, by the long endurance of care, disappointment, and mortification, unredeemed by the glory which is wont to attend even such martyrdom, that he cheerfully sought retirement, and was lured again to the field only by the serious danger which threatened his neiglıbors, and the prompting of absolute duty. The retrospect of this era of his life derives significance and interest from subsequent events. We cannot look back, as he must often have done from the honorable retreat of his age, without recognizing the preparatory ordeal of his career in this youth and early manhood, wherein he experienced, alternately, the solace of domestic comfort and the deprivations of a border campaign, the tranquil respectability of private station and the responsibility of anxious office, the practice of the camp and the meditations of the council, the hunt with gentlemen and the fight with savages, the safe and happy hospitality of a refined circle and forest life in momentary expectation of an ambush. Through all these scenes, and in each situation, we see him preserving perfect self-control, loyal to every duty, as firm and cheerful during the bitter ordeal at Fort Necessity as when riding over his domain on a summer morning, or shooting game on the banks of the Potomac, ready to risk health, to abandon ease, to forego private interests, with a public spirit worthy of the greatest statesman, yet scru
pulous, methodical, and considerate in every detail of affairs and position, whether as a host, a master, a guardian, a son, or a husband, as a member of a household er a legislator, as leader of a regiment or agent of a survey; and, so highly appreciated was lie for this signal fidelity within his then limited sphere, that his opinion in a social discussion, his brand on tobacco, his signmanual to a chart, his report to a superior, and his word of advice or of censure to a dependent, bore at once and forever the sterling currency and absolute meaning which character alone bestows. In this routine of duty and vicissitude under these varied circumstances, in the traits they elicited and the confidence they established, it is impossible not to behold a school often severe, yet adequately instructive, and a gradual influence upon the will, the babits, and the disposition of Washington, which laid the foundations, deep, broad, and firm, of his character, and confirmed the principles as well as the aptitudes of his nature.
So intimately associated in our minds is the career of Washington with lofty and unsullied renown, that it is difficult to recall him as divested of the confidence which his fame insured. We are apt to forget that when he took command of the army his person was unfamiliar, and his character inadequately tested to the public sense. Officers who shared his counsels, comrades in the French war, neighbors at Mount Vernon, the leading men of his native State, and a few statesmen who had carefully informed themselves of his antecedent life and private reputation, did, indeed, well appreciate his integrity, valor, and self-respect; but to the majority who had enlisted in the imminent struggle, and the large number who cautiously watched its prospects before committing either their fortunes or their honor, the elected chief was a stranger. Nor had he that natural facility of adaptation, or those conciliating manners, which have made the fresh leader of troops an idol in a month, nor the diplomatic courtesy that wins political allies. If we may borrow a metaphor from natural philosophy, it was not by magnetism, so much as by gravitation, that his moral authority was established. There was nothing in him to dazzle, as in Napoleon, nothing to allure, as in Louis XIV., when they sought to inspire their armies with enthusiasm.
The power of Washington as a guide, a chieftain, and a representative of his country, was based on a less dramatic and more permanent law; he gained the influence so essential to success, – the ability to control others,— by virtue of a sublime self-government. It was, in the last analysis, because personal interest, selfish ambition, safety, comfort, — all that human instincts endear, -were cheerfully sacrificed, because passions naturally strong were kept in abeyance by an energetic will, because disinterestedness was demonstrated as a normal fact of character, that gradually, but surely, and by a law as inevitable as that which holds a planet to its orbit, public faith was irrevocably attached to him. But the process was slow, the delay hardly tolerable to a noble heart, the ordeal wearisome to a brave spirit. In our view, no period of his life is more affecting than the early months of his command, when bis prudence was sneered at by the ambitious, his military capacity distrusted even by his most intimate friends, and his " masterly inactivity” misinterpreted by those who awaited his signal for action. The calm remonstrance, the inward grief, the exalted magnanimity, which his letters breathe at this crisis, reveal a heroism of soul not surpassed in any subsequent achievement. No man ever illustrated more nobly the profound truth of Milton's sentiment, “ They also serve who only stand and wait.” His was not simply the reticence of a soul eager for enterprise, the endurance of a forced passivity, with vast peril and glorious possibilities, the spur of necessity, the thirst for glory, and the readiness for sacrifice stirring every pulse and bracing every nerve; but it was his part to stand and wait" in the midst of the gravest perplexities, in the face of an expectant multitude, with a knowledge of circumstances that justified the " hope delayed,” and without the sympathy which alleviates the restless pain of "hope deferred,”— to “stand and wait” before the half-averted eye of the loyal, the gibes of a powerful enemy, the insinuations of factious comrades, — with only conscious rectitude and trust in Heaven for support. How, in his official correspondence, did Washington hush the cry of a wounded spirit; how plaintively it half escapes in the letter of friendship; and how singly does he keep his gaze on the great cause, and dash aside the promptings of self-love, in the large cares and imper
sonal interests of a country, not yet sensible of its infinite need of him, and of its own injustice !
The difficulties which military leadership involves are, to a certain extent, similar in all cases, and inevitable. All great commanders have found the risks of battle often the least of their trials. Disaffection among the soldiers, inadequate food and equipment, lack of experience in the officers and of discipline in the troops, jealousy, treason, cowardice, opposing counsels, and other nameless dangers and perplexities, more or less complicate the solicitude of every brave and loyal general. But in the case of Washington, at the opening of the American war, these obstacles to success were increased by his own conscientiousness; and circumstances without a parallel in previous history added to the vicissitudes incident to all warfare the hazards of a new and vast political experiment. That his practical knowledge of military affairs was too limited for him to cope auspiciously with veteran officers, – that his camp was destitute of engineers, his men of sufficient clothing and ammunition, — that the majority of them were honest but inexpert yeomen,—that tory spies and lukewarm adherents were thickly interspersed among them, - that zeal for liberty was, for the most part, a spasmodic motive, not yet firmly coëxistent with national sentiment, — that he was obliged, month after month, to keep these incongruous and discontented materials together, inactive, mistrustful, and vaguely apprehensive, -- all this constitutes a crisis like that through which many have passed; but the immense extent of the country in behalf of which this intrepid leader drew his sword, the diversity of occupations and character which it was indispensable to reconcile with the order and discipline of an army, the habits of absolute independence which marked the American colonists of every rank, the freedom of opinion, the local jealousies, the brief period of enlistment, the obligation, ridiculed by foreign officers but profoundly respected by Washington, to refer and defer to Congress in every emergency, - this loose and undefined power
over others in the field, this dependence for authority on a distant assembly, for aid on a local legislature, and for coöperation on patriotic feeling alone, so thwarted the aims, perplexed the action, and neutralized the personal efficiency of Washington, that a man less impressed with the greatness of the object in view, less sustained by solemn earnestness of purpose and trust in God, would have abandoned in despair the post of duty, so isolated, ungracious, desperate, and forlorn.
Imagine how, in his pauses from active oversight, his few and casual hours of repose and solitude, the full consciousness of his position — of the facts of the moment, so clear to his practical eye — must have weighed upon his soul. The man on whose professional skill he could best rely during the first months of the war, he knew to be inspired by the reckless ambition of the adventurer, rather than the wise ardor of the patriot. Among the Eastern citizens the spirit of trade, with its conservative policy and evasive action, quenched the glow of public spirit. Where one merchant, like Hancock, risked his all for the good cause, and committed himself with a bold and emphatic signature to the bond, and one trader, like Knox, closed his shop and journeyed in the depth of winter to a far distant fort, to bring, through incredible obstacles, ammunition and cannon to the American camp, hundreds passively guarded their hoards, and awaited cautiously the tide of affairs. While Washington anxiously watched the enemy's ships in the harbor of Boston, his ear no less anxiously listened for tidings from Canada and the South. To-day, the cowardice of the militia ; to-morrow, the death of the gallant Montgomery; now, the capture of Lee, and again, a foul calumny; at one moment a threat of resignation from Schuyler, and at another an Indian alliance of Sir Guy Johnson; the cruelty of his adversaries to a prisoner; the delay of Congress to pass an order for supplies or relief; desertions, insubordination, famine; a trading Yankees stratagem or a New York tory's intrigue; the insulting bugle-note which proclaimed his fugitives a hunted pack, and the more bitter whisper of distrust in his capacity or impatience at his quiescence: these, and such as these, were the
, discouragements which thickened around his gloomy path, and shrouded the dawn of the Revolution in dismay. He was thus, by the force of circumstances, a pioneer; he was obliged to create precedents, and has been justly commended as the master of “ higher art than making war, the art to control and direct it," and as a proficient in those victories of "peace no less renowned than