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parent government, and for peacefulness ju the bosom of his family; yet without any well-grounded hope. The hand of inexorable circumstances was then making many and great changes in and around his beautiful home. The sunshine upon the fields, the forests and the river were as bright as ever; and the flowers bloomed as beautifully, and the birds sang as sweetly as ever, when another spring came, like the angel of the resurrection, to call forth the sleepers in the bosom of mother earth. But in the mansion death had left the memorial footsteps of its recent visit; and the discord of clashing opin. ions had almost hushed into silence the sweet voices of the
social circle in which he had been accustomed to move.
friend of Belvoir was a loyalist and beyond the ocean; and that fine mansion, wherein the Washingtons and Fairfaxes had held generous intercommunication for a quarter of a century, was soon afterward consumed by fire. Its owner never returned to America, and the social intercourse of two long-tried friends was closed forever. George Washington and George William Fairfax never met again on the earth.
The Congress of 1774, doubtful concerning reconciliation with Great Britain upon terms to which the colonists could accede, adjourned, to meet again at the same place on the tenth of May following, unless the desired redress of grievances should speedily take place, and render another national council unnecessary. But the people, taught by long and bitter experience, expected no justice from a blinded ministry, and prepared for inevitable war. They aroused themselves, and organized into military companies for the purpose of discipline.
Suddenly, as if by magic, a vast army was formed. It was, as we have elsewhere observed, “strong, determined, generous,
and panting for action, yet invisible to the superficial observer. It was not seen in the camp, the field, nor the garrison. No drum was heard calling it to action; no trumpet was sounded for battle. It was like electricity, harmless when latent, but terrible when aroused. It was all over the land. It was at the plough, in the workshop, and in the counting-room. Almost every household was its head-quarters, and every roof its tent. It bivouacked in every chamber; and mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts made cartridges for its muskets, and supplied its commissariat. It was the old story of Cadmus repeated in modern history. British oppression had sown dragon's teeth all over the land, and a crop of armed men were ready to spring up, but not to destroy each other." *
Washington, always covetous of rural pursuits and the quiet of domestic life, returned from Philadelphia with the intention of resuming them. But urgent calls to public duty drew him from them. The volunteer companies of his state sought his counsel, and offered him the general leadership; and he went from place to place, reviewing the assembled troops, and imparting wisdom which he had learned from his military experience. Meanwhile, his old companions in arms came frequently to Mount Vernon, for they snuffed the smoke of war from afar. "Among these, Doctors Hugh Mercer, of Fredricksburgh, and James Craik, of Alexandria, were the most welcome, for these Washington loved much.
Other men more distinguished also made frequent visits to Mount Vernon. Among the most famous of these were General Charles Lee and Major Horatio Gates, both of whom had been officers of distinction in the British army, and were tnen residents in Virginia. These frequently accompanied Washington in his military excursions; and during the spring of 1775, they spent much time under his roof.
* Lossing's Life of Washington, i. 470.
Lee was a Welshman, and a year younger than Washington. He possessed fine manly physical proportions, and a fiery spirit which nothing, at times, could control. He had been engaged in the war with the French and Indians in America, in 1756 and a few succeeding years; and the Mohawks, who created him a chief among themselves, gave him the significant name of Boiling Water. Restless and ambitious, he engaged in the continental wars of Europe, wherever he could find employment. At one time we find him an aide to the king of Poland, and then a companion of that king's ambassador to Constantinople. Then we see him in England assailing the British ministry with his sarcastic pen, and by his ill nature and perverse judgment, shutting every door to his own advancement. Disappointed and still restless, he came to America in 1773, and travelled through most of the English provinces. In Virginia he met Major Gates, and was induced by that gentleman to purchase an estate near him, in Berkeley county. There he was residing when the war for independence was fairly kindling, and he espoused the cause of the patriots with a zeal that commanded their greatest admiration. He entered the army as the first major-general under Washington, became very popular with the great body of the people, and for awhile disputed a place in their attachment with Washington himself. His ambition soon conquered his prudence, and he became insolent and insubordinate toward his superiors. With apparent collusion with the enemy, he became a prisoner; endeavored, while a captive, to betray his adopted country; was restored to the army by exchange, but soon afterward was suspended from command because of bad conduct on the field of Monmouth; and died in Philadelphia in comparative poverty, in the autumn of 1782, at the age of fifty-one years. He was a brilliant man in many things, but his life exhibited few commendable traits of character. He was bad in morals and manners; profane and extravagant in language, and feared and loved neither God nor man. In his will he bequeathed his soul to the Almighty and his body to the earth, saying: “I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist meeting-house; for, since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company when living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead."
Major Gates was three years the senior of Washington, and is supposed to have been a natural son of Horace Walpole. He was an officer in the British army during the French and Indian war, and was with Braddock in the battle of the Monongahela, where he was severely wounded. He accom
panied General Mockton to the West Indies as his aide-decamp, and expected great preferment after the campaign was over, as he was the bearer to the king of the tidings of the English victory at Martinico. He was disappointed, and, in 1772, he sold his commission of major, came to America, and purchased an estate in Berkeley county, Virginia, beyond the Blue Ridge.