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solitude is busy with the occupations and enjoyments of instinct."
We must, however, forbear; for our subject-unlike most themes—has no natural and necessary close ; it admits of indefinite expansion and also of arbitrary conclusion. Possibly we may, in a future number of the Quarterly, resume the topic. If so, let this paper be regarded not as our article complete, but as a first instalment. Meantime we shall be happy if, amid the din and anxieties of war, we have turned the attention of our readers to a less exciting and a more genial theme.
We are told, somewhere in the fragment of Quintus Curtius' Life of Alexander, that the province of Bactria, at certain seasons of the year, was exposed to whirlwinds of dust, that covered the roads, and blotted out the familiar landmarks. Travellers, who were overtaken by one of those tempests, bewildered and imperilled, had no resource but to wait the rising of the stars to guide them on their course. The American nation is now overclouded by the whirlwind of rebellion ; and over one third of our empire, the baleful progress of treason has blottod out the landmarks of patriotism. The emergency of the hour brings to mind the resource of the Bactrians; and an intelligent glance at the luminous firmanent of our history, may serve to indicate the path of duty, to guide bewildered and timid minds, and to extricate the sacred ark of freedom.
The century that produced Washington, while it gave us many conspicuous and brilliant men, was deficient in what we call morally great characters. It gave the world ambitious and able rulers, acute and masterly diplomatists, facile and graceful scholars—bold philosophers and dazzling sophists, and gentlemen, whose courtly accomplishments did not always disguise the vices they had inherited with their titles. In Russia, the eighteenth century produced Catherine II., a women, whose artful and sagacious mind gave her vast influence in European politics, and whose coarse impiety was equalled only only by her scandalous vices. In Prússia, it produced Frederick the Great, a person without faith in God or sympathy with man-cold and cunning, subtle and sinuous as a serpent-a man great in the small qualities ; small in the great qualities. In France, it produced two monarchs—one of whom passed under the bloody guillotine, and left in his tragical fate a claim on human charity ; while the other, a cancer of revolting brutishness, afflicted his kingdom for half a century.
In that age arose the celebrated atheistic philosophers, who thought that a few wicked priests proved the perniciousness of religion, and who expected to abolish God by overturning a depraved Church, —a band of irritated lunatics, whose
madness” had some “ method,” and some provocation, but whose writings a man of ordinary cleanliness would only handle with tongs at arms length. On the throne of England, in that age, sat the Georges—the heaviest and stupidist of kings, with dulness enough to choose the wrong, and wilfulness enough to make them adhere to it. Around their throne, gyrated a nobility whose rank was oftener borrowed from heraldry than supported by personal merit. The morals of the age were reflected in its manners. The finest gentlemen of Europe ruined each other at the gambling table; and their wives and sisters exchanged everything but affectionate epithets, in the excitement of the cards. High-bred lords, whose honor was so tender that they were ready to run their swords through any man who should venture to impeach it, were not above the baseness of leading inexperienced young men into the dreadful vortex of gaming, or of blotching the fame of unprotected women with scandal. From the court of the sovereign down to the hall of the country squire, the habits of good society were often outrages upon decorum, and its language such as decency has now banished from every drawing room.
Such was the remarkable moral destitution of the eighteenth century. It is that great company of tyrants, atheists, and libertines, with their murky purposes and drivelling
passions, that stand in the background of the scene, as a foil to a jewel, setting off the sterling moral splendor of Washington. Indeed, before the eighteenth century came in, the salient moral power of Christendom retreated to Amer. ica, and built its altars anew on the virgin purity of the continent espoused to a regenerated future. Here, religious faith, fidelity to social rights, the love of liberty, of chastity, and of honor, came for refuge and support; and here they grew, sturdy as the oak and glorious as the magnolia. Not Christian integrity alone, but genuine manliness, found its fairest representative in the Puritan exile and the Huguenot refugee.
Those sterling virtues, forming the basis of future States, and the germs of a growing nationality, were embodied in Washington. He became the representative of those great qualities, which the lavish hand of providence had sown upon these shores, to grow into the harvest of freedom, and to fruit in the glory of mankind. Nature-grown parsimonious in her gifts to other climes, where they were so often perverted or ignored-brought a prodigal treasury to the new world, and shed her highest inspiration upon our youthful empire. For a new race of Christian and heroic men started into being, filling every sun-lit glade that was cleft from the wilderness with homely energy and resolute daring; and arming, under the eye of God, for the stirring muster-roll of the revolution. În advance of this hardy band, in stature and in character above them all, Washington stood, in the completeness of his ample nature, largely endowed with the better genius of his native land, and inheriting from his English ancestry the fiery valor and hightoned honor, that flamed along the ranks of the cavaliers, and adorned the sunset of European chivalry. The choice crystalization of his age, he became its greatest benefactor, and most enduring and illustrious monument.
There is some danger of mistaking the qualities that constitute Washington's greatness. He was not a brilliant man —not one of those electric personages who dazzle an epoch by extemporaneous actions. His attributes were rather solid and majestic, than brilliant or fascinating. There was more granite in his nature, than painted glass. Yet he was minutely accomplished in all that graces social intercourse, and pleases the fastidious eyes of high-bred women. He was
not a genius, acting from sudden impulses or instinctive foresight; but a man of elaborate reflectiveness, who held his passions bound by an iron will, which he took deliberate counsel with conscience and common sense. It appears to us that the grandeur of Washington's character may be described by a single great word— fidelity. He was faithful to his own powers-faithful to the principle of freedom, and faithful to God, whose providence he acknowledged and revered.
It is a rare experience to find a man absolutely faithful to his own powers, so many things occur to mislead his judgment or force him from his legitimate position. By fidelity to one's own powers, we mean that practical use of them, in any given circumstances, that redounds most to his own honor, and to the service of mankind. Washington carefully trained himself for the greatest practical efficiency in the sphere in which destiny cast him." America, a hundred years ago, was no place for elaborate theories to cobweb an earnest man's life. It was no place for arcadian dreaming. There was hardly room in the eager march of events and in the sudden transitions of the national drama, for a ruffle-shirt to bloom at an evening festival. The ladies and gentlemen of Europe were monopolizing the frolic and speculations of life; but here, the dusky Indian darkened the frontiers, and pale famine crept to the cottage door. There was no chance for literary distinction as yet; and literature, in any general sense, had no business on the scene. Not but that learning, as well as religion, had priest and shrine from the beginning; but what the country needed, in the existing emergency, was men of action, rather than men of erudition, men of practical sagacity and personal power, fitted to cope with rising dangers, rather than speculative scholastics or epic bards.
The mental culture of Washington seems to have been every way respectable for the scene in which he was placed and the career he was to run; and the acquisitions of his youth were enhanced in after years. His mind showed a decided leaning toward those studies that could be made immediately available—as, for instance, mathematics and surveying. His filial rectitude, his high sense of honor, his unaffected piety, are attested by many familiar anecdotes. He was elaborately accomplished in that high-bred courtesy
which distinguished gentlemen of " the old school,”—a type of manners which has been pulverized by the friction of democracy, and swept away with the buckles and lace that decorated our stately ancestors. He was also disciplined in the peculiar hardships and perils incident to his country and career. He excelled in all athletic exercises; rode the fiercest horse with consummate skill and grace; and bore a spirit as intrepid as that of the lion-hearted Richard. His tall, commanding frame, which we see in the painting of Stewart and the marble of Canova, was banded over with tenacious muscles, vital with the pulsations of perfect health, and fitted in its iron solidity of endurance, to defy the inclement elements and to face the thunders of war. At the
age of twenty-one, through the pathless wilderness beyond the frontier, where every thicket is liable to shield the lurking assassin, Washington travels on his first great errand of patriotic duty. It thrills the heart to reflect whose life it is that explores those forest wilds, charged with a paltry letter, and at the mercy of a single ambushed rifle! But God mysteriously protects those who are elected for great deeds. No harm befalls the valiant youth, even in that ghastly tragedy where Braddock dies, though the whistling bullets slaughter every horse he can mount, and embroider his military dress with mementoes of a drea:dful day.
In this school, characterized by more than Spartan vigor, he learns a vigilance beyond the martial tactics of Europe, and a fortitude beyond the endurance of any court-bred general. He learns to cope with the subtle savage in the sinuous windings of the war-path-to weigh his own homebred militia in the balance with English armies,—to endure the stupidity of military conceit, and to repair the blunders of legislative incompetency; Under the pressure of emergencies, suddenly developed, and charged to the muzzle with responsibility, he trains his mind to rapid generalization, to acute decision, and prompt action. In this practical school, too, he acquires that inflexible self-control, ---that subjection of every passion to the voice of reason and the
grasp of will—which forms one of the most prominent features in his traditional fame, and must have furnished a large element in his subsequent influence.
A simple statement of the public confidence inspired by Washington, at the age of twenty-three, and of the grave