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On the breaking out of hostilities with the mother-country, every body wished a chief who joined a profound sagacity to the advantage of having had military experience. All eyes turned toward Washington, and he was unanimously called to the command of the army. The course of events justified the choice. Never was there a man better fitted to command the Americans, and his conduct throughout developed the greatest foresight, steadiness and wisdom.
Mr. Washington received no pay as General; refused it as not needing it. The expenses of his table only are paid by the State. Every day he has about thirty persons to dinner. He gives good military fare, and is very civil towards all the officers admitted to his table. It is ordinarily the inoment of the day when he is most cheer
At desert he eats an enormous quantity of nuts, and when the .conversation is entertaining he keeps eating through a couple of hours, from time to time giving sundry healths, according to the English and American custom. It is what they call “toasting." They always begin by drinking to the United States of America; after that to the king of France, then to the Queen of France, then to the success of the allied armies, after which, what they call a sentiment is sometimes given; for example, to our success over our enemies and with the beauties—to our triumphs in war and in love. . I toasted very often with the General, and amongst others on one occasion I proposed to drink to the Marquis de Lafayette, whom he regards as his own child. He accepted with a benevolent smile, and had the politeness to respond by proposing the health of my father and my wife.
General Washington appeared to me to maintain a perfect demeanor towards the officers of his army. He treats them with great politeness, but they are far from attempting any familiarity with him. All of them, on the contrary, exhibit towards their General an air of respect, of confidence and of admiration.
CLAUDE VICTOR, PRINCE DE BROGLIE, was born at Paris in 1757, and entered the army at the age of fourteen. At the age of twenty-five he became a colonel, and was ordered to America to take command of the regiment Saintonge, which had distinguished itself in the siege of Yorktown. He sailed July 15, 1782, with Count de Ségur, on board the frigate La Gloire, and after an eventful voyage, landed on the 13th of September, near Dover, Delaware, having been intercepted in the Bay by an English squadron. After spending a few days in Philadelphia, the Prince hastened to join his regiment then in camp at Crampond, nine miles from Peekskill on the Hudson, and two days after his arrival was presented to Washington and dined with him at his Headquarters at Verplanck's Point. He returned to France with his regiment, sailing from Boston, December 24th, of the same year. The Prince espoused the popular cause in the revolution and accepted a command in the army of the Rhine, but resigned after Aug. 10, 1792. He was arrested Dec. 28, 1793, and after a trial before the revolutionary tribunal, condemned and guillotined June 27, 1794. The Prince kept a journal of his visit to the United States, from a translation of which, published in Vol. I, pp. 180, etc. of the Magazine of American History (1877), our extract is made. The translation was made from the original MS. in possession of his grandson, the present Duc de Broglie, by Elise W. Balch, daughter of Thomas Balch, deceased (1877), author of “Les Francais en Amérique pendant La Guerre De L'Indépendance Des Etats-Unis, 1777-1783." Paris, 1872. JOSEPH MANDRILLON.
Why did I not receive from nature the genius and eloquence of the celebrated orators of Greece and Rome! Why can I not for a moment snatch their pencils to trace rapidly the portrait of the greatest man that America has ever produced, and one of the most celebrated that ever existed! With what energy, with what enthusiasm would I not speak of his brilliant virtues! Who is the man that would be jealous of the homage I pay him? Who is the man that would tax me with flattery?
We are no longer in those barbarous ages in which men offered incense to tyrants, in which they dared to give the name of hero to men addicted to every vice, and whom they dreaded too much to offend. We are no longer in those ages when cruel sovereigns had writers in their pay to palliate their crimes, and to magnify their supposed virtues. Our more enlightened age presents to us in history sovereigns and men, such as they have been; truth is its character. The public veneration for General Washington is the precious fruit of the most severe examination of his conduct. Jealous of his glory and the good opinion of his contemporaries, he enjoys them without arrogance and without presumption; and if he does himself the justice to believe that he merits his celebrity, he knows also that posterity, which raises and demolishes statues, will never sully the trophies erected to him. Nothing but the hand of an illiterate barbarian, or of a savage ignorant of history, with the stroke of a hatchet would break his statue, supposing it to be that of a despot. But when from among the debris of the inscription, one could put together nothing but the name of Washington, the chief of this barbarian or of this savage, whose knowledge of the American revolution comes from tradition, would take vengeance on him for this attempt, causing the monument to be again put in place, on its base will be read: ignorance had overthrown it, and justice again raised it up: mortals revere his memory!
Having been the soul and support of one of the greatest events of the century, it is just that Washington should pass his days without a cloud, in the bosom of repose, of honor and public veneration. Nature sometimes places the soul of a hero in a feeble body; but when we speak of the brilliant actions of a man whose features and stature we are ignorant of, we are inclined to paint him as endowed with every valuable gift of nature, and please ourselves with believing that his features bear the image of that genius which distinguishes him above his fellow men. No person is better calculated to sustain this opinion than Washington. Imposing in size, noble and well proportioned, a countenance open, calm and sedate, but without any one striking feature, and when you depart from him, the remembrance only of a fine man will remain, a fine figure, an exterior plain and modest, a pleasing address, firm without severity, a manly courage, an uncommon capacity for grasping the whole scope of a subject, and a complete experience in war and politics; equally useful in the cabinet and in the field of Mars, the idol of his country, the admiration of the enemy he has fought and vanquished; modest in victory, great in the reverse; why do I say reverse! very far from being subdued he has made every misfortune contribute to his success. He knows to obey as well as to command, he never made use of his power or the submission of his army to derogate from the authority of his country or to disobey its commands. With a perfect knowledge of man, he knew how to govern freemen in peace, and by his example, his activity, his energy, he taught them to love glory and danger, notwithstanding the inclemency of the climate and the rigors of winter. The soldier jealous of his praises, feared even his silence; never was general better served and obeyed. More careful of his country's glory than his own, he risked nothing to chance; his operations, marked by prudence, had always the welfare of his country for their sole object; he appeared unwilling to possess glory but from her alone: his maxim was always to gain time, to act on the defence; without attacking his enemies in front, he knew how to harass them, to exhaust their forces by excursions, by surprises, of which only a great man can value the utility. Like Camillus he forsook the charms of rural life and flew to the assistance of his country; like Fabius he saved it by procrastinating; like Peter the Great he triumphed over his enemies by the experience acquired through defeat. There is not a man, not even a monarch in Europe who would not envy the glory of having acted such a part as Washington. It is said the king of Prussia sent him a sword with only this direction. The greatest general of the old world to the greatest general of the new.