The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in contribution to whatever promised utility, but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man's value and gave him solid esteem proportioned to it. His presence, you know, was fine; his stature exactly what one could wish. His deportment was easy, erect, and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback.

        "Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved in safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short, and embarrassed; yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy, correct style. This he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education was merely reading, writing, and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day.

        "His time was employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture and English history. His correspondence became necessarily extensive, and with journalizing his agricultural proceedings, occupied most of his leisure hours within doors.

        "On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect; in nothing bad; in a few points indifferent, and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance, for his was the singular destiny and merit of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war to the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a Government, new in its forms and principles, until it settled down into a quiet and orderly train, and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example.

        "He has often declared to me that he considered our new Constitution as an experiment on the practicability of republican government, and with what dose of liberty man could be trusted with for his own good; that he was determined the experiment should have a fair trial, and would lose the last drop of his blood in support of it."

        To a friend, on one occasion, Mr. Jefferson exclaimed, in a burst of enthusiasm, "Washington's fame will go on increasing until the brightest constellation in yonder heavens shall be called by his name."

                         'His memory sparkles o'er the fountain,'
                         His name's inscribed on loftiest mountain--
                         The gentle rill, the mightiest river,
                         Rolls mingled with his name forever!

        Washington, like the great patromia of Beaufort, was an enthusiastic Mason.

        In the language of Mr. Knapp, in his admirable sketch of Judge Gridley, Grand Master of Massachusetts--

        "It was fortunate for the Masonic fraternity that a man of such fine elements should become engaged at this early period in the cause of the craft; his weight of character, his zeal and his ability to defend and support its cause, was important, and did much to diffuse Masonic light and knowledge. This order of benevolence had just been established in this new world when he was appointed its Grand Master, and he wore its honors unsullied to the last hour of his life. His coadjutor in planting and cultivating this exuberant vine of charity, with whose fruit all nations have been blessed, was the sage and patriotic Franklin, under whose hands, by the smiles of Providence, its roots have struck deeper and deeper, and its branches spread higher and wider; while the fondest hopes of philanthropy have been more than realized in the permanency and the prosperity of our country and our craft. If their spirits could revisit the earth and take note of what is doing here, with what joy would they witness the extension and progress of every branch of knowledge among their descendants; and with what pleasure would they count the number of charitable institutions which, like the dews of Heaven, so gently spread their blissful influences and shed their healing balsams upon the wounds of life.

        "The history of benevolent and useful intitutions are as valuable to the community as are the lives of eminent men. These institutions are like rivers which spring from remote and hidden fountains, and are in their course
Page 10 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS