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A non-fiction by Elbert Hubbard

George Washington

Title:     George Washington
Author: Elbert Hubbard [More Titles by Hubbard]

He left as fair a reputation as ever belonged to a human character.... Midst all the sorrowings that are mingled on this melancholy occasion I venture to assert that none could have felt his death with more regret than I, because no one had higher opinions of his worth.... There is this consolation, though, to be drawn, that while living no man could be more esteemed, and since dead none is more lamented.

---Washington, on the Death of Tilghman

Dean Stanley has said that all the gods of ancient mythology were once men, and he traces for us the evolution of a man into a hero, the hero into a demigod, and the demigod into a divinity. By a slow process, the natural man is divested of all our common faults and frailties; he is clothed with superhuman attributes and declared a being separate and apart, and is lost to us in the clouds.

When Greenough carved that statue of Washington that sits facing the Capitol, he unwittingly showed how a man may be transformed into a Jove.

But the world has reached a point when to be human is no longer a cause for apology; we recognize that the human, in degree, comprehends the divine.

Jove inspires fear, but to Washington we pay the tribute of affection. Beings hopelessly separated from us are not ours: a god we can not love, a man we may. We know Washington as well as it is possible to know any man. We know him better, far better, than the people who lived in the very household with him. We have his diary showing "how and where I spent my time"; we have his journal, his account-books (and no man was ever a more painstaking accountant); we have hundreds of his letters, and his own copies and first drafts of hundreds of others, the originals of which have been lost or destroyed.

From these, with contemporary history, we are able to make up a close estimate of the man; and we find him human--splendidly human. By his books of accounts we find that he was often imposed upon, that he loaned thousands of dollars to people who had no expectation of paying; and in his last will, written with his own hand, we find him canceling these debts, and making bequests to scores of relatives; giving freedom to his slaves, and acknowledging his obligation to servants and various other obscure persons. He was a man in very sooth. He was a man in that he had in him the appetites, the ambitions, the desires of a man. Stewart, the artist, has said, "All of his features were indications of the strongest and most ungovernable passions, and had he been born in the forest, he would have been the fiercest man among savage tribes."

But over the sleeping volcano of his temper he kept watch and ward, until his habit became one of gentleness, generosity, and shining, simple truth; and, behind all, we behold his unswerving purpose and steadfast strength.

And so the object of this sketch will be, not to show the superhuman Washington, the Washington set apart, but to give a glimpse of the man Washington who aspired, feared, hoped, loved and bravely died.

* * * * *

The first biographer of George Washington was the Reverend Mason L. Weems. If you have a copy of Weems' "Life of Washington," you had better wrap it in chamois and place it away for your heirs, for some time it will command a price. Fifty editions of Weems' book were printed, and in its day no other volume approached it in point of popularity. In American literature, Weems stood first. To Weems are we indebted for the hatchet tale, the story of the colt that was broken and killed in the process, and all those other fine romances of Washington's youth. Weems' literary style reveals the very acme of that vicious quality of untruth to be found in the old-time Sunday-school books. Weems mustered all the "Little Willie" stories he could find, and attached to them Washington's name, claiming to write for "the Betterment of the Young," as if in dealing with the young we should carefully conceal the truth. Possibly Washington could not tell a lie, but Weems was not thus handicapped.

Under a mass of silly moralizing, he nearly buried the real Washington, giving us instead a priggish, punk youth, and a Madame Tussaud, full-dress general, with a wax-works manner and a wooden dignity.

Happily, we have now come to a time when such authors as Mason L. Weems and John S.C. Abbott are no longer accepted as final authorities. We do not discard them, but, like Samuel Pepys, they are retained that they may contribute to the gaiety of nations.

Various violent efforts have been made in days agone to show that Washington was of "a noble line"--as if the natural nobility of the man needed a reason--forgetful that we are all sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But Burke's "Peerage" lends no light, and the careful, unprejudiced, patient search of recent years finds only the blood of the common people.

Washington himself said that in his opinion the history of his ancestors "was of small moment and a subject to which, I confess, I have paid little attention."

He had a bookplate and he had also a coat of arms on his carriage-door. The Reverend Mr. Weems has described Washington's bookplate thus: "Argent, two bar gules in chief, three mullets of the second. Crest, a raven with wings, indorsed proper, issuing out of a ducal coronet, or."

* * * * *

Mary Ball was the second wife of Augustine Washington. In his will the good man describes this marriage, evidently with a wink, as "my second Venture." And it is sad to remember that he did not live to know that his "Venture" made America his debtor. The success of the union seems pretty good argument in favor of widowers marrying. There were four children in the family, the oldest nearly full grown, when Mary Ball came to take charge of the household. She was twenty-seven, her husband ten years older. They were married March Sixth, Seventeen Hundred Thirty-one, and on February Twenty-second of the following year was born a man child and they named him George.

The Washingtons were plain, hard-working people--land-poor. They lived in a small house that had three rooms downstairs and an attic, where the children slept, and bumped their heads against the rafters if they sat up quickly in bed.

Washington got his sterling qualities from the Ball family, and not from the tribe of Washington. George was endowed by his mother with her own splendid health and with all the sturdy Spartan virtues of her mind. In features and in mental characteristics, he resembled her very closely. There were six children born to her in all, but the five have been nearly lost sight of in the splendid success of the firstborn.

I have used the word "Spartan" advisedly. Upon her children, the mother of Washington lavished no soft sentimentality. A woman who cooked, weaved, spun, washed, made the clothes, and looked after a big family in pioneer times had her work cut out for her. The children of Mary Washington obeyed her, and when told to do a thing never stopped to ask why--and the same fact may be said of the father.

The girls wore linsey-woolsey dresses, and the boys tow suits that consisted of two pieces, which in Winter were further added to by hat and boots. If the weather was very cold, the suits were simply duplicated--a boy wearing two or three pairs of trousers instead of one.

The mother was the first one up in the morning, the last one to go to rest at night. If a youngster kicked off the covers in his sleep and had a coughing spell, she arose and looked after him. Were any sick, she not only ministered to them, but often watched away the long, dragging hours of the night.

And I have noticed that these sturdy mothers in Israel, who so willingly give their lives that others may live, often find vent for overwrought feelings by scolding; and I, for one, cheerfully grant them the privilege. Washington's mother scolded and grumbled to the day of her death. She also sought solace by smoking a pipe. And this reminds me that a noted specialist in neurotics has recently said that if women would use the weed moderately, tired nerves would find repose and nervous prostration would be a luxury unknown. Not being much of a smoker myself, and knowing nothing about the subject, I give the item for what it is worth.

All the sterling, classic virtues of industry, frugality and truth-telling were inculcated by this excellent mother, and her strong commonsense made its indelible impress upon the mind of her son.

Mary Washington always regarded George's judgment with a little suspicion; she never came to think of him as a full-grown man; to her he was only a big boy. Hence, she would chide him and criticize his actions in a way that often made him very uncomfortable. During the Revolutionary War she followed his record closely: when he succeeded she only smiled, said something that sounded like "I told you so," and calmly filled her pipe; when he was repulsed she was never cast down. She foresaw that he would be made President, and thought "he would do as well as anybody."

Once, she complained to him of her house in Fredericksburg; he wrote in answer, gently but plainly, that her habits of life were not such as would be acceptable at Mount Vernon. And to this she replied that she had never expected or intended to go to Mount Vernon, and moreover would not, no matter how much urged--a declination without an invitation that must have caused the son a grim smile. In her nature was a goodly trace of savage stoicism that took a satisfaction in concealing the joy she felt in her son's achievement; for that her life was all bound up in his we have good evidence.

Washington looked after her wants and supplied her with everything she needed, and, as these things often came through third parties, it is pretty certain she did not know the source; at any rate she accepted everything quite as her due, and shows a half-comic ingratitude that is very fine.

When Washington started for New York to be inaugurated President, he stopped to see her. She donned a new white cap and a clean apron in honor of the visit, remarking to a neighbor woman who dropped in that she supposed "these great folks expected something a little extra." It was the last meeting of mother and son. She was eighty-three at that time and "her boy" fifty-five. She died not long after.

Samuel Washington, the brother two years younger than George, has been described as "small, sandy-whiskered, shrewd and glib." Samuel was married five times. Some of the wives he deserted and others deserted him, and two of them died, thus leaving him twice a sad, lorn widower, from which condition he quickly extricated himself. He was always in financial straits and often appealed to his brother George for loans. In Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one we find George Washington writing to his brother John, "In God's name! how has Samuel managed to get himself so enormously in debt?" The remark sounds a little like that of Samuel Johnson, who on hearing that Goldsmith was owing four hundred pounds exclaimed, "Was ever poet so trusted before?"

Washington's ledger shows that he advanced his brother Samuel two thousand dollars, "to be paid back without interest." But Samuel's ship never came in, and in Washington's will we find the debt graciously and gracefully discharged.

Thornton Washington, a son of Samuel, was given a place in the English army at George Washington's request; and two other sons of Samuel were sent to school at his expense. One of the boys once ran away and was followed by his uncle George, who carried a goodly birch with intent to "give him what he deserved"; but after catching the lad the uncle's heart melted, and he took the runaway back into favor. An entry in Washington's journal shows that the children of his brother Samuel cost him fully five thousand dollars.

Harriot, one of the daughters of Samuel, lived in the household at Mount Vernon and evidently was a great cross, for we find Washington pleading as an excuse for her frivolity that "she was not brung up right, she has no disposition, and takes no care of her clothes, which are dabbed about in every corner, and the best are always in use. She costs me enough!"

And this was about as near a complaint as the Father of his Country, and the father of all his poor relations, ever made. In his ledger we find this item: "By Miss Harriot Washington, gave her to buy wedding-clothes, $100.00." It supplied the great man joy to write that line, for it was the last of Harriot. He furnished a fine wedding for her, and all the servants had a holiday, and Harriot and her unknown lover were happy ever afterwards--so far as we know.

From Seventeen Hundred Fifty to Seventeen Hundred Fifty-nine, Washington was a soldier on the frontier, leaving Mount Vernon and all his business in charge of his brother John. Between these two there was a genuine bond of affection. To George this brother was always, "Dear Jack," and when John married, George sends "respectful greetings to your Lady," and afterwards "love to the little ones from their Uncle." And in one of the dark hours of the Revolution, George writes from New Jersey to this brother: "God grant you health and happiness. Nothing in this world would add so to mine as to be near you." John died in Seventeen Hundred Eighty-seven, and the President of the United States writes in simple, undisguised grief of "the death of my beloved brother."

John's eldest son, Bushrod, was Washington's favorite nephew. He took a lively interest in the boy's career, and taking him to Philadelphia placed him in the law-office of Judge James Wilson. He supplied Bushrod with funds, and wrote him many affectionate letters of advice, and several times made him a companion on journeys. The boy proved worthy of it all, and developed into a strong and manly man--quite the best of all Washington's kinsfolk. In later years, we find Washington asking his advice in legal matters and excusing himself for being such a "troublesome, non-paying client." In his will the "Honorable Bushrod Washington" is named as one of the executors, and to him Washington left his library and all his private papers, besides a share in the estate. Such confidence was a fitting good-by from the great and loving heart of a father to a son full worthy of the highest trust.

Of Washington's relations with his brother Charles, we know but little. Charles was a plain, simple man who worked hard and raised a big family. In his will Washington remembers them all, and one of the sons of Charles we know was appointed to a position upon Lafayette's staff on Washington's request.

The only one of Washington's family that resembled him closely was his sister Betty. The contour of her face was almost identical with his, and she was so proud of it that she often wore her hair in a queue and donned his hat and sword for the amusement of visitors. Betty married Fielding Lewis, and two of her sons acted as private secretaries to Washington while he was President. One of these sons--Lawrence Lewis--married Nellie Custis, the adopted daughter of Washington and granddaughter of Mrs. Washington, and the couple, by Washington's will, became part-owners of Mount Vernon. The man who can figure out the exact relationship of Nellie Custis' children to Washington deserves a medal.

We do not know much of Washington's father: if he exerted any special influence on his children we do not know it. He died when George was eleven years old, and the boy then went to live at the "Hunting Creek Place" with his half-brother Lawrence, that he might attend school. Lawrence had served in the English navy under Admiral Vernon, and, in honor of his chief, changed the name of his home and called it Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon then consisted of twenty-five hundred acres, mostly a tangle of forest, with a small house and log stables. The tract had descended to Lawrence from his father, with provision that it should fall to George if Lawrence died without issue. Lawrence married, and when he died, aged thirty-two, he left a daughter, Mildred, who died two years later. Mount Vernon then passed to George Washington, aged twenty-one, but not without a protest from the widow of Lawrence, who evidently was paid not to take the matter into the courts. Washington owned Mount Vernon for forty-six years, just one-half of which time was given to the service of his country. It was the only place he ever called "home," and there he sleeps.

* * * * *

When Washington was fourteen, his schooldays were over. Of his youth we know but little. He was not precocious, although physically he developed early; but there was no reason why the neighbors should keep tab on him and record anecdotes. They had boys of their own just as promising. He was tall and slender, long-armed, with large, bony hands and feet, very strong, a daring horseman, a good wrestler, and, living on the banks of a river, he became, as all healthy boys must, a good swimmer.

His mission among the Indians in his twenty-first year was largely successful through the personal admiration he excited among the savages. In poise, he was equal to their best, and ever being a bit proud, even if not vain, he dressed for the occasion in full Indian regalia, minus only the war-paint. The Indians at once recognized his nobility, and named him "Conotancarius"--Plunderer of Villages--and suggested that he take to wife an Indian maiden, and remain with them as chief.

When he returned home, he wrote to the Indian agent, announcing his safe arrival and sending greetings to the Indians. "Tell them," he says, "how happy it would make Conotancarius to see them, and take them by the hand."

His wish was gratified, for the Indians took him at his word, and fifty of them came to him, saying, "Since you could not come and live with us, we have come to live with you." They camped on the green in front of the residence, and proceeded to inspect every room in the house, tested all the whisky they could find, appropriated eatables, and were only induced to depart after all the bedclothes had been dyed red, and a blanket or a quilt presented to each.

Throughout his life Washington had a very tender spot in his heart for women. At sixteen, he writes with all a youth's solemnity of "a hurt of the heart uncurable." And from that time forward there is ever some "Faire Mayde" to be seen in the shadow. In fact, Washington got along with women much better than with men; with men he was often diffident and awkward, illy concealing his uneasiness behind a forced dignity; but he knew that women admired him, and with them he was at ease. When he made that first Western trip, carrying a message to the French, he turns aside to call on the Indian princess, Aliguippa. In his journal, he says, "presented her a Blanket and a Bottle of Rum, which latter was thought the much best Present of the 2."

In his expense-account we find items like these: "Treating the ladys 2 shillings." "Present for Polly 5 shillings." "My share for Music at the Dance 3 shillings." "Lost at Loo 5 shillings." In fact, like most Episcopalians, Washington danced and played cards. His favorite game seems to have been "Loo"; and he generally played for small stakes, and when playing with "the Ladys" usually lost, whether purposely or because otherwise absorbed, we know not.

In Seventeen Hundred Fifty-six, he made a horseback journey on military business to Boston, stopping a week going and on the way back at New York. He spent the time at the house of a former Virginian, Beverly Robinson, who had married Susannah Philipse, daughter of Frederick Philipse, one of the rich men of Manhattan. In the household was a young woman, Mary Philipse, sister of the hostess. She was older than Washington, educated, and had seen much more of polite life than he. The tall, young Virginian, fresh from the frontier, where he had had horses shot under him, excited the interest of Mary Philipse, and Washington, innocent but ardent, mistook this natural curiosity for a softer sentiment and proposed on the spot. As soon as the lady got her breath he was let down very gently.

Two years afterwards Mary Philipse married Colonel Roger Morris, in the king's service, and cards were duly sent to Mount Vernon. But the whirligig of time equalizes all things, and, in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-six, General Washington, Commander of the Continental Army, occupied the mansion of Colonel Morris, the Colonel and his lady being fugitive Tories. In his diary, Washington records this significant item: "Dined at the house lately Colonel Roger Morris confiscated and the occupation of a common Farmer."

Washington always attributed his defeat at the hands of Mary Philipse to being too precipitate and "not waiting until ye ladye was in ye mood." But two years later we find him being even more hasty and this time with success, which proves that all signs fail in dry weather, and some things are possible as well as others. He was on his way to Williamsburg to consult physicians and stopped at the residence of Mrs. Daniel Parke Custis to make a short call--was pressed to remain to tea, did so, proposed marriage, and was graciously accepted. We have a beautiful steel engraving that immortalizes this visit, showing Washington's horse impatiently waiting at the door.

Mrs. Custis was a widow with two children. She was twenty-six, and the same age as Washington within three months. Her husband had died seven months before. In Washington's cash-account for May, Seventeen Hundred Fifty-eight, is an item, "one Engagement Ring L2.16.0."

The happy couple were married eight months later, and we find Mrs. Washington explaining to a friend that her reason for the somewhat hasty union was that her estate was getting in a bad way and a man was needed to look after it. Our actions are usually right, but the reasons we give seldom are; but in this case no doubt "a man was needed," for the widow had much property, and we can not but congratulate Martha Custis on her choice of "a man." She owned fifteen thousand acres of land, many lots in the city of Williamsburg, two hundred negroes, and some money on bond; all the property being worth over one hundred thousand dollars--a very large amount for those days. Directly after the wedding, the couple moved to Mount Vernon, taking a good many of the slaves with them. Shortly after, arrangements were under way to rebuild the house, and the plans that finally developed into the present mansion were begun.

Washington's letters and diary contain very few references to his wife, and none of the many visitors to Mount Vernon took pains to testify either to her wit or to her intellect. We know that the housekeeping at Mount Vernon proved too much for her ability, and that a woman was hired to oversee the household. And in this reference a complaint is found from the General that "housekeeper has done gone and left things in confusion." He had his troubles.

Martha's education was not equal to writing a presentable letter, for we find that her husband wrote the first draft of all important missives that it was necessary for her to send, and she copied them even to his mistakes in spelling. Very patient was he about this, and even when he was President and harried constantly we find him stopping to acknowledge for her "an invitation to take some Tea," and at the bottom of the sheet adding a pious bit of finesse, thus: "The President requests me to send his compliments and only regrets that the pressure of affairs compels him to forego the Pleasure of seeing you."

After Washington's death, his wife destroyed the letters he had written her--many hundred in number--an offense the world is not yet quite willing to forget, even though it has forgiven.

* * * * *

Although we have been told that when Washington was six years old he could not tell a lie, yet he afterwards partially overcame the disability. On one occasion he writes to a friend that the mosquitoes of New Jersey "can bite through the thickest boot," and though a contemporary clergyman, greatly flurried, explains that he meant "stocking," we insist that the statement shall stand as the Father of his Country expressed it. Washington also records without a blush, "I announced that I would leave at 8 and then immediately gave private Orders to go at 5, so to avoid the Throng." Another time when he discharged an overseer for incompetency he lessened the pain of parting by writing for the fellow "a Character."

When he went to Boston and was named as Commander of the Army, his chief concern seemed to be how he would make peace with Martha. Ho! ye married men! do you understand the situation? He was to be away for a year, two, or possibly three, and his wife did not have an inkling of it. Now, he must break the news to her.

As plainly shown by Cabot Lodge and other historians, there was much rivalry for the office, and it was only allotted to the South as a political deal after much bickering. Washington had been a passive but very willing candidate, and after a struggle his friends secured him the prize--and now what to do with Martha! Writing to her, among other things he says, "You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you in the most solemn manner that so far from seeking the appointment I have done all in my power to avoid it." The man who will not fabricate a bit in order to keep peace with the wife of his bosom is not much of a man. But "Patsy's" objections were overcome, and beyond a few chidings and sundry complainings, she did nothing to block the great game of war.

At Princeton, Washington ordered campfires to be built along the brow of a hill for a mile, and when the fires were well lighted, he withdrew his army, marched around to the other side, and surprised the enemy at daylight. At Brooklyn, he used masked batteries, and presented a fierce row of round, black spots painted on canvas that, from the city, looked like the mouths of cannon at which men seek the bauble reputation. It is said he also sent a note threatening to fire these sham cannon, on receiving which the enemy hastily moved beyond range. Perceiving afterwards that they had been imposed upon, the brave English sent word to "shoot and be damned." Evidently, Washington considered that all things are fair in love and war.

Washington talked but little, and his usual air was one of melancholy that stopped just short of sadness. All this, with the firmness of his features and the dignity of his carriage, gave the impression of sternness and severity. And these things gave rise to the popular conception that he had small sense of humor; yet he surely was fond of a quiet smile.

At one time, Congress insisted that a standing army of five thousand men was too large; Washington replied that if England would agree never to invade this country with more than three thousand men, he would be perfectly willing that our army should be reduced to four thousand.

When the King of Spain, knowing he was a farmer, thoughtfully sent him a present of a jackass, Washington proposed naming the animal in honor of the donor; and in writing to friends about the present, draws invidious comparisons between the gift and the giver. Evidently, the joke pleased him, for he repeats it in different letters; thus showing how, when he sat down to clear his desk of correspondence, he economized energy by following a form. So, we now find letters that are almost identical, even to jokes, sent to persons in South Carolina and in Massachusetts. Doubtless the good man thought they would never be compared, for how could he foresee that an autograph-dealer in New York would eventually catalog them at twenty-two dollars fifty cents each, or that a very proper but half-affectionate missive of his to a Faire Ladye would be sold by her great-granddaughter for fifty dollars?

In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three there were on the Mount Vernon plantation three hundred seventy head of cattle, and Washington appends to the report a sad regret that, with all this number of horned beasts, he yet has to buy butter. There is also a fine, grim humor shown in the incident of a flag of truce coming in at New York, bearing a message from General Howe, addressed to "Mr. Washington." The General took the letter from the hand of the redcoat, glanced at the superscription, and said: "Why, this letter is not for me! It is directed to a planter in Virginia. I'll keep it and give it to him at the end of the war." Then, cramming the letter into his pocket, he ordered the flag of truce out of the lines and directed the gunners to stand by. In an hour, another letter came back addressed to "His Excellency, General Washington."

It was not long after this a soldier brought to Washington a dog that had been found wearing a collar with the name of General Howe engraved on it. Washington returned the dog by a special messenger with a note reading, "General Washington sends his compliments to General Howe, and begs to return one dog that evidently belongs to him." In this instance, I am inclined to think that Washington acted in sober good faith, but was the victim of a practical joke on the part of one of his aides.

Another remark that sounds like a joke, but perhaps was not one, was when, on taking command of the army at Boston, the General writes to his lifelong friend, Doctor Craik, asking what he can do for him, and adding a sentiment still in the air: "But these Massachusetts people suffer nothing to go by them that they can lay their hands on." In another letter he pays his compliments to Connecticut thus: "Their impecunious meanness surpasses belief." When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Washington refused to humiliate him and his officers by accepting their swords. He treated Cornwallis as his guest, and even "gave a dinner in his honor." At this dinner, Rochambeau being asked for a toast gave "The United States." Washington proposed "The King of France." Cornwallis merely gave "The King," and Washington, putting the toast, expressed it as Cornwallis intended, "The King of England," and added a sentiment of his own that made even Cornwallis laugh--"May he stay there!" Washington's treatment of Cornwallis made him a lifelong friend. Many years after, when Cornwallis was Governor-General of India, he sent a message to his old antagonist, wishing him "prosperity and enjoyment," and adding, "As for myself, I am yet in troubled waters."

* * * * *

Once in a century, possibly, a being is born who possesses a transcendent insight, and him we call a "genius." Shakespeare, for instance, to whom all knowledge lay open; Joan of Arc; the artist Turner; Swedenborg, the mystic--these are the men who know a royal road to geometry; but we may safely leave them out of account when we deal with the builders of a State, for among statesmen there are no geniuses.

Nobody knows just what a genius is or what he may do next; he boils at an unknown temperature, and often explodes at a touch. He is uncertain and therefore unsafe. His best results are conjured forth, but no man has yet conjured forth a Nation--it is all slow, patient, painstaking work along mathematical lines. Washington was a mathematician and therefore not a genius. We call him a great man, but his greatness was of that sort in which we all can share; his virtues were of a kind that, in degree, we too may possess. Any man who succeeds in a legitimate business works with the same tools that Washington used. Washington was human. We know the man; we understand him; we comprehend how he succeeded, for with him there were no tricks, no legerdemain, no secrets. He is very near to us.

Washington is indeed first in the hearts of his countrymen. Washington has no detractors. There may come a time when another will take first place in the affections of the people, but that time is not yet ripe. Lincoln stood between men who now live and the prizes they coveted; thousands still tread the earth whom he benefited, and neither class can forgive, for they are of clay. But all those who lived when Washington lived are gone; not one survives; even the last body-servant, who confused memory with hearsay, has departed babbling to his rest.

We know all of Washington we will ever know; there are no more documents to present, no partisan witnesses to examine, no prejudices to remove. His purity of purpose stands unimpeached; his steadfast earnestness and sterling honesty are our priceless examples.

We love the man.

We call him Father.

[The end]
Elbert Hubbard's Writings: George Washington