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the dining-room to give the information to Mr. Lear, who left the table and went into the hall, when the officer repeated what he had said. Mr. Lear replied that, as the President's secretary, he would take charge of the despatches and deliver them at the proper time. The officer made answer that he had just arrived from the Western army, and his orders were to deliver it with all promptitude, and to the President in person; but that he would wait his directions. Mr. Lear returned, and in a whisper imparted to the President what had passed. General Washington rose from the table and went to the officer. He was back in a short time and made a word of apology for his absence, but no allusion to the cause of it. He had company that day. Every thing went on as usual. Dinner over, the gentlemen passed into the drawing-room of Mrs. Washington, which was open in the evening. The General spoke courteously to every lady in the room, as was his custom. His hours were early, and by ten all the company had gone. Mrs. Washington and Mr. Lear remained. Soon Mrs. Washington left the room. The General now walked backward and forward slowly for some minutes without speaking. Then he sat down on a sofa by the fire, telling Mr. Lear to sit down. To this moment there had been no change in his manner since his interruption at table. Mr. Lear now perceived emotion. This rising in him, he broke out suddenly :-“It's all over! St. Clair's defeated, -routed; the officers nearly all killed, the men by wholesale; the rout complete. Too shocking to think of;--and a surprise into the bargain!" He uttered all this with great vehemence. Then he paused, got up from the sofa, and walked about the room several times, agitated, but saying nothing. Near the door he stopped short and stood still for a few seconds, when his wrath became terrible. “Yes,” he burst forth, “here, on this very spot, I took leave of him. I wished him success and honour. “You have your instructions,' I said, 'from the Secretary of War: I had a strict eye to them, and will add but one word,-beware of a surprise! I repeat it, beware of a surprise; you know how the Indians fight us.' He went off with that as my last solemn warning thrown into his ears.
And yet to suffer that army to be cut to pieces, hacked, butchered, tomahawked, by a surprise, ---the very thing I guarded him against! O God! O God! he's worse than a murderer! How can he answer it to his country? The blood of the slain is upon him,-the curse of the widows and orphans,—the curse of Heaven!" This torrent came out in tones appalling. His very frame shook. “It was awful,” said Mr. Lear. More than once he threw his hands up as he hurled imprecations upon St. Clair. Mr. Lear remained speechless, awed into breathless silence. The roused chief sat down on the sofa once more. He seemed conscious of his passion, and uncomfortable. He was silent. His warmth beginning to subside, he at length said, in an altered voice, “This must not go beyond this room.” Another pause followed,- longer one,—when he said, in o tone quite low, “General St. Clair shall have justice: I looked hastily through the despatches, saw the whole disaster, but not all the particulars.
I will receive him without displeasure; I will hear him without prejudice, he shall have full justice.” He was now (said Mr. Lear) perfectly calm. Half an hour had gone by. The storm was over; and no sign of it was seen in his conduct or heard in his conversation. The whole case was investigated by Congress. St. Clair was exculpated, and regained the confidence Washington bad in him when appointing him to command. He had put himself into the thickest of the fight, and escaped unhurt, though so ill as to be carried on a litter and unable to mount his horse without help.
In relation to the above, let it be granted that Mr. Lear, (who did not sympathize with General Washington's religious opinions,) after the lapse of more than twenty years, retained an accurate recollection of all his words, and that Mr. Rush fully understood them and truly recorded them, as doubtless he did: yet what do they amount to? Is the exclamation “O God! () God!" under his aroused feeling, that swearing since imputed to him, but which from his youth up he had so emphatically condemned in his soldiers as impious and unyentlemanly?*
If it be said that some doubt still rests on the question of General Washington's being a communicant, by reason of the testimony of Bishop White, as mentioned in a previous part of this book, such doubt may be removed in the following manner :-Here are two most respectable officers under General Washington, who testify to the fact of having seen him commune in New York and Philadelphia. He may have communed in Philadelphia on some occasion and yet not been seen by Bishop White, who had the care of two or three churches, at which he officiated alternately in conjunction with one or more ministers. He may have retired, and doubtless did, at other times, and was seen by Bishop White. If it be asked how we can reconcile this leaving of the church at any time of the celebration of the Lord's Supper with a religious character, we reply by stating a well
* The Rev. Dr. McGuire, of Fredericksburg, while preparing his volume on the Religious Opinions and Character of Washington, having heard this report emanating from some of the enemies of Washington and too rea lily admitted by some of his friends, made a particular personal inquiry of Mr. Robert Lewis, of Fredericksburg, and Mr. Laurence Lewis, of Woo llawn, two gentlemen as competent to know the private habits of Washington as any others in the land They were nephews of General Washington. The former lived in the family of Washington for some time ns private secretary: the latter was his near neighbour, living on a farm given him by the General. Both of them were men of the highest character, and pious members of our Church, and both declared that they had never heard an oath from the lips of their uncle. To this testimony, and those of General Porterfield and Major Popham, is to be opposed that of Mr. Tobias Lear's account of one of Washington's paroxysms, as given above, and which, according to his own showing, was never to go beyond the room in which it occurred. The testimony of one who had betrayed a sacred trust of Washington on another occasior besides this should be received with doubt.
known fact,-viz: that in former days there was a most mistaken notion, too prevalent both in England and America, that it was not so necessary in the professors of religion to communicate at all times, but that in this respect persons might be regulated by their feelings, and perhaps by the circumstances in which they were placed. I have had occasion to see much of this in my researches into the habits of the members of the old Church of Virginia. Into this error of opinion and practice General Washington may have fallen, especially at a time when he was peculiarly engaged with the cares of government and a multiplicity of engagements, and when his piety may have suffered some loss thereby.
THE VIRGINIA ALMINACK FOR THE YEAR OF OUR LORD God 1776.
The right Honourable John Earl of Dunmore, Governor.
Members of his Majesty's Council.
Ralph Wormley, jun., Esqr.
Rev'd. John Camm. John Tayloe, Esqr.
John Page, Esqr. Robert Carter, Esqr.
Gawin Corbin, Esqr. Robert Burwell, Esqr.
Governors and Visitors of the College.
Nathaniel Burwell, Esqr., Rector. Hon. Thomas Nelson, Esqr. Thomas Nelson, jun., Esqr., (afterRichard Corbin, Esqr.
wards General Nelson).
Richard Bland, Esqr.
Ralph Wormley, Esqr. Charles Carter, Esqr., Corotoman.
John Blair, Esqr. Peyton Randolph, Esqr.
Robert Beverley, Esqr. Robert Carter Nicholas, Esqr. Benjamin Harrison, Esqr. Mann Page, Esqr.
The foregoing shows who were the leading persons in the government of the State and College in the year 1776. The Mr. Nathaniel Burwell who was rector of the College was probably of Isle of Wight, and the ancestor of many of that name. The Thomas Nelson who was President of the Council was one of the sons of the first Thomas Nelson, and usually called Secretary Nelson, because generally Secretary of the Colony. His brother William, who was generally President of the Council, being now dead, Thomas succeeded to his office as President.
BLISSLAND PARISH, NEw Kent County.
Since the first edition of this book I have received a fragment of the vestry-book of this parish, beginning in the year 1721, and ending in 1786 During this period of sixty-five years, there were only three ministers: the Rev. Daniel Taylor, who continued from 1721 to 1729; the Rev. Chickerley Thacker, from 1729 to 1763; the Rev. Price Davies, from 1763 to 1786 Their continuance in office for such periods speaks well for their charac ter.
The Rev. Mr. Davies was one selected by the House of Burgessen to take part in the services at Williamsburg, at the beginning of our Revolutionary struggle,—which indicates his patriotic principles. The services of the ministers of this parish are supposed to have been divided between Warren Church, so called from the swamp of that name about ten miles below New Kent Court-House, which has entirely disappeared, and Hickory Neck Church, in James City county, which is still standing, though not used by Episcopalians. We hear of some movement towards the re-establishment of Episcopal worship there. It is about ten miles distant from Williamsburg, and was sometimes visited by Bishop Madison. Eltham, the seat of the Bassetts, in New Kent, was within this parish, and the Honourable Burwell Bassett, as well as his father, William Bassett, were long the vestrymen of it. The following is a list of the names of the vestry men from 1721 to 1786 :- Bassett, Thornton, Slater, Cox, Morris, Richardson, Alderley, Armstead, Keeling, Holdcroft, Kenney, Hockaday, Doran, Williams, Woodward, Dickson, Allen, Mackain, Sherman, Clough, Henley, Radcliffe, Terrel, James, Hogy, Power, Goddin, Macon, Dandridge, Hankin, Prince, Russell, Timberlake, Bridges, Banks, Lewis, Baker. In the above, how many of the families in Virginia and elsewhere may find the names of their ancestu«!