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ed out, and filled up; foreign relations to be regulated; the physical and moral strength of the nation to be organized; and that, at a time when scepticism in politics, no less than in religion and morals, was preparing, throughout Europe, to spring the mine of revolution and ruin. In discharging his first duties, that same intelligent, cautious, resolute procedure, which had rendered him the bulwark of war, now exhibited him as the guardian of peace. Appropriation of talent to employment, is one of the deep results of political sagacity. And in his selection of men for office. WASHINGTON displayed a knowledge of character and of business, a contempt of favoritism, and a devotion to the public welfare, which permitted the General to be rivalled only by the President.
Under such auspices, the fruit and the pledge of divine blessing, America rears her head, and recovers her vigor. Agriculture laughs on the land : commerce ploughs the wave: peace rejoices her at home; and she grows into respect abroad. Ah! too happy, to progress without interruption. The explosions of Europe bring new vexations to her, and new trials and new glories to her WASHINGTON. Vigilant and faithful, he hears the tempest roar from afar, warns her of its approach, and prepares for averting its dangers. Black are the heavens, and angry the billows, and narrow and perilous the passage. But his composure, dignity and firmness, are equal to the peril. Unseduced by fraud, unterrified by threat, unawed by clamor, he holds on his steady way, and again he saves his country. With less decision on the part of WASHINGTON, a generous, but mistaken ardor, would have plunged her into the whirlpool, and left her till this hour the sport of the contending elements. Americans ! bow to that magnanimous policy, which protected your dearest interests at the hazard of incurring your displeasure. It was thus that WASHINGTON proved him. self, not in the cant of the day, but in the procurement of substantial good, in stepping between them and perdition, the servant of the people.
The historian of this period will have to record a revolt, raised by infatuation, against the law of the land.* He will have to record the necessity which compelled even WASHINGTON to suppress it by the sword. But he will have to record also his gentleness and his lenity. 'Deeds of severity were his sad tribute to justice: deeds of humanity the native suggestions of his heart.
Eight years of glorious administration created a claim on the indulgence of his country, which none could think of disputing, but which all lamented should be urged. The ends, which rendered his services indispensable, being mostly attained, he demands his restoration to private life. Resigning, to an able successor, the reins which he had guided with characteristic felicity, he once more bids adieu to public honors. Let not his motives be mistaken or forgotten. It was for him to set as great examples in the relinquishment, as in the acceptance of power. No mortified ambition, no haughty disgusts, no expectation of higher office, prompted his retreat. He knew, that foreign nations considered his life as the bond, and his influence as the vital spirit of our union. He knew, that his own lustre threw a shade over others, not more injurious to them than to his country. He wished to dispel the enchantment of his own name: he wished to relieve the apprehensions of America, by making her sensible of her riches in other patriots; to be a spectator of her prosperity under their management; and to convince herself, and to convince the world, that she depended less on him, than either her enemies or her friends believed. And, therefore, he withdrew.
Having lavished all her honors, his country had nothing more to bestow upon him except her blessing. But he had more to bestow upon his country. His views and his advice, the condensed wisdom of all his reflection, observation and experience, he delivers to his compatriots in a manual worthy of them to study,
* The Insurrection in Pennsylvania in 1794.
and of him to compose. And now, when they could hope to enjoy only the satisfaction of still possessing him, the pleasure of recounting his acts, and the benefit of practising his lessons, they accompany his retirement with their aspirations, that his evening may be as serene, as his morning had been fair, and his noon resplendent.
That he should ever again endure the solicitudes of office, was rather to be deprecated than desired. Because it must be a crisis singularly portentous, which could justify another invasion of his repose. From such a necessity we fondly promised ourselves exemption. Flattering, fallacious security! The sudden whirlwind springs out of a calm. The revolutions of a day proclaim that an empire was. However remote the position of America; however peaceful her character; however cautious and equitable her policy; she was not to go unmolested by the gigantic fiend of Gallic domination. That she was free and happy, was crime and provocation enough. He fastened on her his murderous eye: he was preparing for her that deadly embrace, in which nations, supine and credulous, had already perished. Reduced to the alternative of swelling the catalogue of his victims, or arguing her cause with the bayonet and the ball, she bursts the illfated bonds which had linked her to his destinies, and assumes the tone and attitude of defiance. The gauntlet is thrown. To advance is perilous: to retreat, destruction. She looks wistfully round, and calls for WASHINGTON. The well known voice, that voice, which he had ever accounted a law, pierces the retreats of Vernon, and thrills his bosom. Domestic enjoyments lose their charm; repose becomes to him inglorious; every sacrifice is cheap, and every exertion easy, when his beloved country requires his aid. With all the alacrity of youth, he flies to her succor. The helmet of war presses his silver locks. His sword, which dishonor had never tarnished, nor corruption poisoned, he once more unsheaths, and prepares to re
ceive on its point the insolence of that foe whose intrigue he had foiled by his wisdom.
It must ever be difficult to compare the merits of Washington's characters, because he always appeared greatest in that which he last sustained. Yet if there is a preference, it must be assigned to the lieutenantgeneral of the armies of America. Not because the duties of that station were more arduous than those which he had often performed, but because it more fully displayed his magnanimity. While others become great by elevation, WASHINGTON becomes greater by condescension. Matchless patriot! to stoop, on public motives, to an inferior appointment, after possessing and dignifying the highest offices! Thrice favored country, which boasts of such a citizen! We gaze with astonishment: we exult that we are Americans. We augur every thing great, and good, and happy. But whence this sudden horror? What means that cry of agony ? Oh! 'tis the shriek of America! The fairy vision is fled: WASHINGTON isno more!“ How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished !"
Daughters of America, who erst prepared the festal bower and the laurel wreath, plant now the cypress grove, and water it with tears. " How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished !"
The death of WASHINGTON, Americans, has revealed the extent of our loss. It has given us the final proof that we never mistook him. Take his affecting testament, and read the secrets of his soul. Read all the power of domestic virtue. Read his strong love of letters and of liberty. Read his fidelity to republican principle, and his jealousy of national character. Read his devotedness to you in his military bequests to near relations. These swords,” they are the words of WASHINGTON, “ these swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding of blood, except it be for self-defence, or in defence of their country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof."
In his acts, Americans, you have seen the man. In the complicated excellence of character, he stands alone. Let no future Plutarch attempt the iniquity of parallel. Let no soldier of fortune, let no usurping conqueror, let not Alexander or Cæsar, let not Cromwell or Buonaparte, let none among the dead or the living, appear in the same picture with WASHINGTON: or let them appear as the shade to his light.
On this subject, my countrymen, it is for others to speculate, but it is for us to feel. Yet, in proportion to the severity of the stroke, ought to be our thankfulness, that it was not inflicted sooner. Through a long series of years has God preserved our WASHINGTON a public blessing: and now that he has removed him forever, shall we presume to say, What doest thou? Never did the tomb preach more powerfully the dependence of all things on the will of the Most High. The greatest of mortals crumble into dust, the moment He commands, Return, ye children of men Washington was but the instrument of a benignant God. He sickens, he dies, that we may learn not to trust in men, nor to make flesh our arm. But though WASHINGTON is dead, Jehovah lives. God of our fathers! be our God, and the God of our children! Thou art our refuge and our hope; the pillar of our strength; the wall of our defence, and our unfading glory!
Americans! this God, who raised up WASHINGTON, and gave you liberty, exacts from you the duty of cherishing it with a zeal according to knowledge. Never sully, by apathy or by outrage, your fair inheritance. Risk not, for one moment, on visionary theories, the solid blessings of your lot. To you, particu