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In this unhappy contest it appears, from the most authentic estimates, that the Americans lost eighty thousand men, and Great Britain upwards of forty thousand. Such was the termination of a war which exalted the United States of America to an independent rank among the nations of the earth.
As military operations were now entirely suspended, it was no longer necessary to keep the American army embodied. The states; however, were unable to pay them the arrears due for their inestimable services, and those men who had spent the prime of their days in defence of their country, were now to be dismissed without a reward.
An attempt was made by an anonymous paper to incite the officers and soldiers to revolt. Washington, who was then in the camp, saw the danger, and exerted his influence to prevent it. At a meeting of the general and field officers, with one officer from each company, the commander in chief addressed them in a pathetic speech, in which he conjured them, “as they valued their honour, as they respected the rights of humanity, and as they regarded the military and national character of America, to expresstheir utmost detestation of the man who was attempting to open the floodgates of civil discord, and delude their rising empire with blood.” Washington then retired. The officers, softened by the eloquence of their beloved commander, entered into a resolution, by which they declared, “ that no circumstance of distress or danger should induce a conduct that might tend to sully the reputation and glory they had acquired; that the army continued to have an unshaken confi'dence in the justice of Congress and their country, and that they viewed with abhorrence, and rejected with disdain, the infamous propositions in the late anonymous address to the officers of the army."
The fortitude and patriotism of Washington, were in no instance, of more essential service to America, than on this momentous occasion. Instead of making the discontent of the army instrumental to his own ambition, and usurping the government, this magnanimous patriot soothed the passions of his soldiers, and preserved inviolate the liberties of the country.
The following character of Washington, is given by M. de la Fayette, in his statement of his own conduct and principles-“The Americans petitioned and remonstrated ; but their petitions and remonstrances were con* temptuously thrown underthe table. At length they reluctantly appealed to the sword, as their last resource.
Hostilities were commenced ; a national army was raised; and Col. Washington was appointed commander in chief, a situation which the genius of his country seems designed for him at his birth; the people rejoiced at this choice. and placed a most hearty and unreserved confidence in his integrity; and notwithstanding the many difficulties, and embarrassments, and jealousies, that naturally attended his situation during the war, yet in the end he anply proved himself worthy of that confidence reposed in him. There was a mild serenity in his deportment and manner, that would give dignity even to a rebel; and so slow and moderate were his resentments, that he appeared to have wrested the passion from his nature, as a blemish which degraded the dignity of that degree of excellence which links the divine nature to the human in the universal chain.-He had an irresistible propensity to justice, and so inflexible was his attachment to that divine attribute, that in all his actions, whether public or private, the leading feature readily discovered the source from which they sprung. If he had faults, he must have been sensible of them, and was very successful in concealing them from the world.
“ No character among the ancients was so much admired by him as that of Aristides, and no man ever adopted his political and private principles more correctly, except that he had observed the dictates of justice a degree farther, in not wronging himself; he was not philosopher enough to lose sight of the difference between wealth and poverty. I would not have my meaning perverted into a charge of parsimony. His generosity, as commander in chief, and as President, will obviate any such idea. When merit of any sort presented itself, his purse, patronage, and friendship, were as prompt as his approbation. As an officer, he assumed a pride not natural to him. It was necessary in a loose army to supply the want of that'rigid authority, which gives a settled perfection to discipline. In his retirement, he chose rather to assume the active and independent citizen, than what people of common notions may rashly call an ambitious ostentation of poverty, which may be looked upon as a perpetual momento to the gratitude of his country.
“ To judge the merits of this difference in the characters of those illustrious personages, would be presumptuous in any man who did not possess the divine greatness of soul, and elevated genius of Aristides. Washington
might consider wealth as a great blessing in the hands of a good man, because it enabled him to indulge a kind and generous propensity in relieving the cravings of corporeal necessities. Aristides, perhaps, forming a more just idea of the ends we are designed to answer in this short life, might think it brutish in man to devote the noble faculties of the mind entirely to the gratification of those appetites and passions which brutes possess in common with him, and strove, by example and precept, to exalt the human mind to a sense of its own inherent dignity, in temporising with the condition of our fate in this life, and ascertaining the degree of its fortitude, by the degree of poverty allotted to us for the benefit of the experiment.
“ Aristides, born poor, might have imagined, that an accumulation of wealth must unavoidable derive some tincture from injustice; and Washington, born wealthy, might deem it injustice to die poor,
Washington could not see any material difference between the despotism of absolute monarchy and that of licentiousness. In both species, reason and justice are trampled under foot, and the life and property of the subject unprotected by any law, lie open to become the prey of the robber and the assassin.