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pelled him to change of plan, and made him a planter and a Virginian for life. Meeting Anna, eldest daughter of Hon. William Fairfax, of Fairfax county, he paid his addresses to her, and, being favorably received, an engagement followed. The marriage was, however, delayed by the sudden death of his father, which occurred April 12, 1743. George was then eleven years of age, and was, with the other children of the second marriage, left under the safe guardianship of his mother. The ample property was disposed of by will, the Potomac estate falling to the share of Lawrence; that on Bridge's creek to Augustine; the house and lands upon the Rappahannock being reserved for George when he should reach his majority.
George had, by this time, exhausted the possibilities of the elementary school, which he had before attended, and was taken into the family of his brother Lawrence, that he might have the benefit of a better one that existed in that neighborhood. The remainder of his school life may be dismissed in few words. It seems to have been intended that he should attain a thorough and practical business education-such as should fit him for all the duties of an extensive colonial land owner and planter. Perhaps the possibility of his becoming a magistrate or burgess was also present, as the place that awaited him in the society of Virginia was such as to warrant so modest an ambition. There are now in existence several of his school books, into one of which are copied, with infinite pains, forms for contracts, land conveyances, leases, mortgages, etc. In another are preserved the field notes and calculations of surveys, which he made as a mattei of practice-kept and proved with the same exactness that would have been expected had the result been intended to form the basis of practical transactions. The study of the classics and belles-lettres he never essayed. Throughout these school days Washington pursued his labor with a persistence, dignity, and gravity out of keeping with his years—and which almost justified a remark similar to that made of Louis Philippe by Lamartine, that he had no youth. He had been for some years the companion, on terms of quasi-intellectual equality, of older men than himself, and we look in vain, among all the scattering mementos of his youth, for a sparkle of the gayety or thoughtlessness of the child.
Still he was not, as such boys are so likely te be, a prig, or simply a book-worm. He cultivated his body, with the same quiet assiduity that he gave to his studies, and made such progress in muscular power, and in skill, that he was the master of his fellows in athletic sports, as well as in the exercises of the school-room.
Many were, no doubt, more brilliant than he, at that time, as was his friend and protege, Alexander Hamilton, in later years, but none were more sure of their ground, or more certain at the goal.
Not the least advantage of Washington's sojourn with his brother, was the fact that it introduced him, at once, into the highest and, at the
same time, the best society of the colony. Lawrence had become one of the most honored and prominent men in Virginia. His wealth, his social position and that of the Fairfax family, his sterling character, and unquestioned ability, had united to advance him, and he was a member of the House of Burgesses, as well as adjutant-general of his district, with the rank and pay of a major.
But a few miles below Mount Vernon, as Lawrence Washington had called his estate, and upon the same wooded ridge that bordered the Potomac, was Belvoir, the seat of the Fairfax family. Occupying the ample and elegantly appointed house, was the Hon. William Fairfax, father-in-law of Lawrence Washington—a gentleman who had attained social, political, and military prominence in England, and in the East and West Indies. He had come to Virginia to take charge of the enormous estate of his cousin, Lord Fairfax, which, according to the original grant from the crown, was “for all the lands between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.” This grant had been very liberally construed to include a large part of the land drained by affluents of these streams, embracing a considerable portion of the Shenandoah valley. In the midst of this princely domain, the Fairfaxes lived in the style of English gentry. Their house was always open to guests of the right class, and to no others. The monotony of life was occasionally broken by the arrival in the Potomac of an English war vessel, when its officers were certain to be found at the Fairfax and Washington tables, telling their stories of service in distant seas, of battle, travel, and all the various experiences that a naval life involves.
George was made a sharer, on terms nearly approaching equality, in much of this social intercourse; he felt the refining and broadening influence of contact with accomplished and experienced men of the world, and, not least important, he heard the tales and jests of the seafaring visitors, and hearing, was enthralled. At the age of fourteen he became infatuated with the idea of entering the British navy; his age was suitable, the profession was an excellent one for a young gentleman desiring to push his fortunes, a frigate at that time lay in the river, Lawrence Washington and Mr. Fairfax approved, and nothing seemed necessary to carrying the plan into effect but the consent of the lad's mother. Even this difficulty yielded to argument. George's clothes were packed, and he was ready to go aboard, when the mother's heart failed her, and she withdrew her consent, thus saving Washington to his country. It is more likely, considering his training and disposition, that, had the boy sailed upon that cruise, he would have directed a vessel or fleet against the revolting colonies; called them rebels, not patriots; served the king, not the people.
Back to school he went, no doubt chagrined and crestfallen, and remained for nearly two years. At the end of that time his teacher discharged him as finished, as, no doubt, he was, so far as the capacity of that
master was concerned. These two years were passed in the study of the higher mathematics, his intention being to fit himself for any business or professional emergency, civil or military.
After leaving school, Washington was much more frequently at Belvoir than before. Lord Fairfax, the owner of the estate, was now an inmate of the house, having come to inspect his possessions, and determined to make Virginia his home. He was much impressed by the fertility and beauty of the country, and also, gossip had it, having never recovered from a wound to his heart and pride, inflicted in his youth by a fickle beauty, who preferred a ducal coronet to his more modest rank after the wedding dress was made, was glad to escape from England to the freedom and retirement of Virginia. Lord Fairfax was not far from sixty years of age, tall, erect, and vigorous in figure; kind-hearted, generous but eccentric, and not a man to take every comer into his friendship and confidence. He at once showed a marked liking for the tall, handsome, reserved and dignified young man, whom he so often met at Belvoir. No one longer regarded Washington as a boy, though he was but fifteen years of age. Lord Fairfax was a devoted sportsman, and set up his hunters and hounds at Belvoir, as he had been accustomed in England. Had anything been necessary to confirm his friend . ship for Washington, it was only to find, as his lordship did, that the latter was as hard and intrepid a rider as he, and would follow a fox over the dangerous and difficult hunting grounds of Virginia with as little faltering or fatigue.
So this oddly assorted couple became close friends and constant companions, in the hunt and elsewhere. The old nobleman, littérateur, and man of the world, treated the sturdy young man as a social and intellectual equal, and, from the fullness of experience, unconsciously added, day by day, to his slender knowledge of the world; while the latter, probably quite as unconsciously, in a measure repaid the debt, as his knowledge of the country and of colonial life enabled him to do. One important effect of his intimacy was that it resulted in securing to Washington his first opportunity for testing his new-found freedom, by undertaking an independent enterprise. This happened incidentally, yet was the starting point of the young man's fortunes.
As has been said, Lord Fairfax's estate in Virginia extended beyond the Blue Ridge, and to a considerable distance up the eastern slope of the Alleghanies. West of the former range no survey had ever been made, and reports had come that the country was filling up with lawless squatters, who invariably selected the best lands for settlement, and were in danger of gaining such a foothold that, to oust them, would be a matter of no little difficulty. Lord Fairfax desired a survey of this wild and uncivilized territory to be made. It was a service requiring not only skill as a surveyor, but ability to endure great fatigue, courage to face danger, determination
and ingenuity to meet and overcome difficulties—yet all these qualities he deemed combined in Washington, who had barely reached the age of sixteen years. The committing of so important a trust to one so young, seems almost inconceivable, and this fact is one of the best indications of what the youth must have been, not only in bone and muscle, but in brain, self-reliance, and maturity, at an age when most boys are thinking more of their balls and kites than of the serious duties of life.
Washington eagerly accepted the proposal of Lord Fairfax, and immediately set about his preparations for departure, which occupied but a few days. In company with George William Fairfax, a young man of twentytwo years, son of William Fairfax, he set out in the saddle, during the month of March, 1748. Mr. John S. C. Abbott, in his Life of Washington, describes the experience of the young men in a manner characteristically picturesque. He says:
“The crests of the mountains were still whitened with ice and snow. Chilling blasts swept the plains. The streams were swollen into torrents by the spring rains. The Indians, however, whose hunting parties ranged these forests, were at that time friendly. Still there were vagrant bands wandering here and there, ever ready to kill and plunder. Though these wilds may be called pathless, still there were, here and there, narrow trails which the moccasined foot of the savage had trodden for uncounted centuries. They led, in a narrow track, scarcely two feet in breadth, through dense thickets, over craggy hills, and along the banks of placid streams or foaming torrents. .. It was generally necessary to camp at night wherever darkness might overtake them. With their axes a rude cabin was easily constructed, roofed with bark, which afforded a comfortable shelter from wind and rain. The forest presented an ample supply of game. Delicious brook trout were easily taken from the streams. Exercise and fresh air gave appetite. With a roaring fire crackling before the camp, illumining the forest far and wide, the adventurers cooked their supper and ate it with a relish such as the pampered guests in lordly banqueting halls have seldom experienced. Their sleep was probably more sweet than was ever found on beds of down. Occasionally they would find shelter for the night in the wigwam of the friendly Indian.
In amusing contrast to this rose-colored view of life in the woods, are, the terse and evidently feeling words, from the pen of Washington himself, recorded ii. his journal under date of March 15, 1748: “Worked hard till night and then returned. After supper we were lighted into a room, and I, being not so good a woodman as the rest, stripped myself very orderly and went into the bed, as they call it, when, to my surprise, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted together, without sheet or anything else, but only one threadbare blanket, with double its weight of vermin. glad to get up and put on my clothes and lie as my companions did. Had