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path. For, born as he was in a rank of life where every influence was on the side of the constituted government and the king, it was a perversion of old family tradition, as well as a severance of many close friendships, for Washington to throw in his lot with the discontented colonies.
In the quaint house by the Rappahannock, George peacefully spent his boyhood. His school education was simple. In the words of one of his biographers, he received what was denominated an English education,-a term which excludes the acquisition of other languages than our own.' Probably, indeed, it excluded much more, for, till he was ten years old, he received it in what was called an old field school-house, taught by one Hobby, who united the parochial offices of sexton and schoolmaster in his own person. In 1743, when George had just entered upon his eleventh year, his father died. He left considerable property, divided among his children. To George there fell the estate on the Rappahannock, which he was to receive on attaining his majority. Meanwhile, his mother was to act as guardian of her children. Piously and well she fulfilled the trust. She ruled her household with firmness and affection, permitting no partiality to appear. One of her favourite books, we are told, was Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations; and doubtless many a pious maxim was impressed on the growing minds of her children. George received and carefully treasured the volume after his mother's death, perhaps not alone for her sake, but for its own as well. But he soon got beyond the simple abilities of Hobby, and accordingly was sent to live with his half-brother Augustine, who had succeeded to the paternal estate at Bridge's Creek, near which there was a tolerable school, kept by a Mr. Williams. But even here Washington did not much enlarge
the scope of his studies. Foreign languages he never studied, nor did he even attack Latin or Greek. His patrimony was too small to maintain him in idleness; and the aim of his education seemed to be restricted to fitting him, as a good ordinary business man, for undertaking some unambitious position in the colony. It was not his scholastic education that made George Washington President. Some of Washington's school exercise-books are still extant; and nowhere could a better proof be found that the child is father of the
The same neat, methodical arrangement; the same careful handwriting ; the same diligent accuracy that distinguished his papers in after life, — whether Government accounts, transactions with foreign merchants, or reckonings with the stewards of his different estates,-are seen in their beginnings in these school-books. While his mental development was thus attended to, he did not neglect his physical frame. He was a strong, tall boy, practised in all athletic exercises, and excelling in many of them. At his first school, one of his chief amusements was drilling and parading his . comrades as soldiers ; and it is significant of his character that he always took the position of commander. Even in his childhood he was a leader of men,-primus inter pares. He was an excellent horseman, with an ease and firmness of seat that can only be obtained by custom beginning in early youth. Various anecdotes are told to illustrate his skill in riding and his boldness in bestriding restive steeds. On one occasion, while living with his mother, he had heard that one of the young horses was so wild and powerful that it had defeated all attempts to break it, and had thrown several of the strongest and most skilful riders in the neighbourhood. He determined to try his skill. Cautiously approaching the spirited animal,
he managed to get near enough to spring on its back. Instantly the horse, frantic and enraged, dashed round the field, leaping and kicking, plunging and foaming. All in vain. Washington sat as firm as a rock. At last the indomitable animal, gathering all its strength, sprang high into the air, and fell dead to the earth, unconquered but unconquering. While commander-in-chief at Cambridge, General Washington once took a fancy to a horse, whose owner, however, was unwilling to part with it. Washington was disappointed, but mounted the animal to have the pleasure of trying its paces for once, although he could not become its possessor. He rode up and down the street several times, making the noble animal display its beauties, arching its neck, and prancing from side to side. So well suited to each other did the magnificent animal and the accomplished rider seem, that, when at last General Washington rode up to resign the horse to its owner, the latter exclaimed, “Sir, you shall have the horse on your own terms. He is the very horse for you, and no other man is fit to ride him.'
When he was fourteen, George's education received a momentary interruption. His eldest half-brother, Lawrence, had been educated in England, and had afterwards served as a captain in the expedition under General Wentworth and Admiral Vernon against the Spanish West Indies in 1740. Though he had soon afterwards left the army and settled down with his wife on the property on the Potomac left him by his father, Lawrence always retained a warm heart towards his old service and messmates, and had christened his house Mount Vernon, in honour of the gallant admiral. Between him and his brother George there sprang up a true affection; the latter looked up with admiration to the accomplished and brave soldier-brother, and the former, like the rest of the family, early recognised that in George there were no common abilities. Lawrence desired nothing more than to see George in his old service; George was easily persuaded to desire the same. The only person who held back was George's mother, and long and resolutely she refused her consent. But at last a good opportunity presented itself; his mother's reluctant consent was granted; a commission as midshipman was obtained for George, and his baggage was sent on board the frigate that lay in the Potomac. But at the last moment Mrs. Washington's heart failed her; she could not bring herself to let him go. Her poor son had to resign all his bright hopes of naval glory, and his baggage was sent home again; he had to forego being a midshipman in order to become President of the United States. He returned to school for two years more, devoting himself now to geometry and mathematics, with the view of becoming a land-surveyor. His habits of accurate and painstaking diligence were continued. His exercises, his pseudo-reports, and imaginary surveys, were as carefully prepared as if they had been actual business documents. He had resolved to obtain a thorough knowledge of and proficiency in his calling, and these methodical habits enabled him afterwards to accomplish an immense amount of business of all kinds when he rose to positions of responsibility, while his training in thoroughness made him master of
George Washington's school education ended in the autumn of 1747, when he was between fifteen and sixteen years old ; but in the formation of his character his home-training had been more influential than his school-training. We have already seen how his pious mother brought up her family firmly and religiously, and in this she was assisted by the memory of her husband.
While his moral and intellectual training was thus carried on, Washington had advantages in social education. From his fourteenth year onwards he spent much of his time at Mount Vernon, and the refined circle there early accustomed him to all the forms and manners of courtesy and good society. Lawrence Washington had married a daughter of the Honourable William Fairfax, a wealthy and distinguished Virginian, and George soon became a favourite with his brother's father-in-law. In his frequent visits to Belvoir, Mr. Fairfax's house, he came into intimate contact with Lord Fairfax, an old English nobleman, who had een tempted by the beauty and delights of the colony to settle on his Virginian estates. Lord Fairfax taught George Washington to ride to hounds, and showed him the hearty and hospitable manners of an English landed gentleman; and when the young man came from school to win his own way in the world, he gave him a kindly and encouraging helping hand. Throughout his whole career Washington was marked by a self-possessed, if at times somewhat cold, courtesy, whose foundation was laid during his residence with the Fairfaxes. * It was probably his intercourse with them,' says Washington Irving, and his ambition to acquit himself well in their society, that set him upon compiling a code of morals and manners which still exists in a manuscript in his own handwriting, entitled “Rules for Behaviour in Company and Conversation.” It is extremely minute and circumstantial. Some of the rules for personal deportment extend to such trivial matters, and are so quaint and formal, as almost to