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and morals are concerned, had we not been desirous to com mend them to the notice of the reader as suitable for general use and observance. These principles of conduct are as worthy the attention of those occupying the humbler stations in life as of those who are called to direct the movements of armies and preside over the destinies of nations.
While Washington was at school, he studied surveying, and reduced it to practice in the neighbourhood of his residence. His masterly style of composition was not the result of any instruction in the Greek and Latin classics, for he never studied them. It was acquired as he advanced in life, by self-instruction, reflection, practice, and intercourse and correspondence with men of superior classical attainments. Nor was it in composition alone that Washington was his own instructor. Never did any one better deserve to be called a self-taught man. All that may with most propriety be denominated education, all that forms the character for great enterprises, and exalted stations, appears in his case to have been the result of self-directed study, reflection, and practice. And such is the education of all truly great men. If we run over the list of those who have distin guished themselves signally on the great theatre of human affairs, those who have advanced science by inventions and discoveries, who have conducted armies to conquest, or who have successfully guided the masses of their fellow-men in political affairs, we shall find that they have been, almost without exception, self-taught men. An art, a trade, or a science, may be taught by instructors-learnt by imitation; but the ability to invent, to originate new views and laws of action, to combine parts into a system, to meet new and unexpected emergencies, to grasp and manage the helm of power, is derived only from self-instruction. A man may be taught any thing but to be great.
By this view of the matter, it is not intended to detract in any degree from the value of instruction derived from others, and least of all in the case of Washington, to whose early moral and religious instruction we have already referred as forming his principles of conduct. But this training served merely as the basis upon which he himself, by study, reflection, and earnest activity, built up that exalted and masculine character which has no parallel among men.
Washington left school for the last time in the autumn preceding his sixteenth birthday; and from that time, leaving his brother Augustine, he resided partly with his mother opposite to
Fredericksburg, and partly with his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. He still spent much of his time in the study of mathematics, and in the exercise of practical surveying for the purpose of becoming familiar with the use of the instruments and the application of the principles. His leisure hours were spent in athletic exercises; and he excelled, in an especial manner, in running, wrestling, jumping, and riding. This habit of vigorous exercise continued with him through life, and gave such strength and activity to his body as enabled him afterwards to sustain all those hardships which it was his duty to encounter in his country's cause.
Washington a Surbegor.
N 1739, war had been declared by Great Britain against Spain, and Admiral Vernon was sent to take the command of a small fleet in the West Indies, with orders to operate against the Spanish possessions in that quarter. In November, he sailed with six men-of-war from Jamaica and attacked the fortress of Porto Bello. The Spanish governor was compelled to capitulate; and Vernon, blowing up the fortifications, returned to Jamaica. During the next year, with thirty sail of the line and 15,000 sailors, he undertook an expedition against Carthagena. The land forces accompanying this expedition amounted to 12,000, and were under the command of General Wentworth. Carthagena was besieged by this force, the greatest that had ever been seen in America, but such was the bravery and determination of the Spaniards that the English officers were compelled to abandon the siege. Lawrence Wash
for him a midshipman's warrant in the British navy, which was then considered the best road to preferment. George, though he was then only in his fifteenth year, prepared with pleasure for his departure; for the vessel in which he was to embark was lying almost ready to sail, in the Potomac, within sight of Mount Vernon-so called by Lawrence in compliment to his friend, the Admiral.
In the mean time the mother of Washington had felt and expressed much concern at the prospect of parting with her son, and his entering on a career which would effectually separate him from the soil of his native country. This was not the effect of mere maternal fondness. George was her eldest son, and in her widowed state he was her natural stay and support. His connections and prospects were such as to render his permanent residence on shore an object of great importance; and although the proposed scheme apparently afforded the best prospect of promotion, the result proved that it would really have marred for ever his brilliant fortunes. What arguments she used in order to convince, or what solicitations to persuade her son to relinquish his favourite project, of course cannot be known; but it will always be considered one of the wisest actions of his life that he yielded to her wishes and abandoned his hopes of fame and fortune as a naval officer. Such self-denial in a boy of sixteen is equally creditable as a proof of good sense, and of filial affection.
Though Washington thus relinquished his station on the deck of a man-of-war, he did not the less cultivate that military talent which had been given him for higher uses. Adjutant Muse, of the county of Westmoreland, who had accompanied his brother Lawrence in the expedition against Carthagena, taught him the manual exercise. The same gentleman also lent him certain treatises on the art of war, by the aid of which he obtained some knowledge of the theory of tactics, and of the movements and evolutions of troops. The art of fencing he learnt from Monsieur Van Braam, who subsequently acted as his interpreter in his intercourse with the French on the Ohio.
Soon after leaving school, George went to reside with his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon, where he became acquainted with Lord Fairfax, and other members of the Fairfax family then established in Virginia. Lawrence Washington had married a sister of William Fairfax, a distant relation of Lord Fairfax, and at that time a member of the Virginia council. This gentleman was at Mount Vernon on a visit to his sister while George was there, and being very much pleased with his young acquaintance, he invited him to his residence at Belvoir, a short distance from