THE FARMER BOY, AND HOW HE BECAME COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
BY UNCLE JUVINELL.
EDITED BY WILLIAM M. THAYER, AUTHOR OF "THE PIONEER BOY," ETC.
BOSTON: WALKER, WISE, AND COMPANY, 245, WASHINGTON STREET. 1864.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by WALKER, WISE, AND COMPANY, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts
BOSTON: STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY JOHN WILSON AND SON. No. 5, Water Street.
BY REV. WILLIAM M. THAYER.
The reader will remember, that, in the preface of "THE PRINTER BOY," I promised the next volume should be "THE FARMER BOY; OR, HOW GEORGE WASHINGTON BECAME PRESIDENT." That pledge has never been redeemed, though some labor has been performed with reference to it. And now Providence seems to direct the fulfilment of the promise by the pen of another, soon to be well known, I doubt not, to thousands of young readers;—"Uncle Juvinell."
The advance sheets of a volume from his pen, upon the early life of Washington, have been placed in my hands for examination. I have carefully perused the work, and find it to be of so high a character, and so well adapted to the exigencies of the times, that I voluntarily abandon the idea of preparing the proposed volume myself, and most cordially recommend this work to the youth of our beloved land. I take this step with all the more readiness, when I learn that the author has persevered in his labors, though totally blind and almost deaf; and I gladly transfer the title which I proposed to give my own book to his excellent work, well satisfied that the act will prove a public benefit.
The reader will find that Mr. Heady (Uncle Juvinell) has produced a very entertaining and instructive volume. It is written in a racy, sprightly style, that cannot fail to captivate the mind. Partaking himself of the buoyancy and good humor of boyhood, the author is able to write for the boys in a manner that is at once attractive and profitable. He has written a live book of one, who, "though dead, yet speaketh." It is replete with facts, and lessons of wisdom. The virtues are taught both by precept and example, and the vices are held up in all their deformity to warn and save. Religion, too, receives its just tribute, and wears the crown of glory.
The appearance of this volume is timely. Adapted as it is to magnify the patriotic virtues, and the priceless worth of the government under which we live, it will prove a valuable contribution to the juvenile literature of the land. In this period of mighty struggles and issues, when our nation is groaning and travailing in pain to bring forth a future of surpassing renown and grandeur, it is important to inspire the hearts of American youth by the noblest examples of patriotism and virtue. And such is WASHINGTON, the "Father of his Country." It is best that the young of this battling age should study his character and emulate his deeds. His life was the richest legacy that he could leave to unborn generations, save the glorious Republic that he founded; and well will it be for the youth of our country when that life becomes to them the stimulus to exalted aims. Then loyalty will be free as air, and rebellions be unknown; then treason will hide its hydra-head, and our insulted flag wave in triumph where the last chain of slavery is broken.
This volume will do its part to hasten this consummation of our patriot-hopes. Over its pleasant pages, then, we extend the right hand of fellowship to its author, though a stranger to us. Long may his able pen hold out! Widely may this his last work circulate! Blessed may be the fruits!
W. M. T.
FRANKLIN, MASS., October, 1863.
Our beloved country, my dear young readers, has passed through one great revolution; and it is now in the midst of another, which promises to prove even more momentous in its consequences.
Knowing, therefore, the deep and lasting impression the great events of the day must needs produce upon your opening minds, the author of this book has been casting about him how he might contribute to your and the nation's good. As he is altogether bereft of sight, and nearly so of hearing, he is, of course, unable to lift a hand in his country's defence, or raise his voice in her justification. But she has a future; and for that he entertains an earnest hope, that through you, the rising generation, he may do something.
To this end, therefore, he has written this volume, wherein he has endeavored to set forth, in a manner more calculated to attract and impress the youthful mind than has perhaps been heretofore attempted, the life and character of our good and great George Washington.
By so doing, he hopes to awaken in your minds a desire to imitate the example and emulate the virtues of this greatest and wisest of Americans. For should he succeed in this, and thereby influence a thousand of you, when arrived at man's estate, to remain loyal to your country in her hour of peril (who might else have been tempted to turn their hand against her), then shall his humble pen have done more for her future welfare than he could have done for her present deliverance, had he the wielding of a thousand swords.
And, should he ever have reason to suppose that such were really the case, far happier would he be, even in the dark and silent depths of his solitude, than the renowned victor of a hundred battle-fields, in all the blaze and noise of popular applause. Hoping that this little book may, for your sakes, fulfil the object for which it was written, and prove but the beginning of a long and pleasant acquaintance, he will conclude by begging to subscribe himself your true friend and well-wisher,
ELK CREEK, SPENCER COUNTY, KY., 1863.
WHEREIN IT WILL APPEAR WHO UNCLE JUVINELL IS, AND HOW HE CAME TO WRITE THE LIFE OF "THE FARMER BOY" FOR THE LITTLE FOLKS.
George at School 35
IN WHICH THE YOUNG READER WILL FIND SOME ACCOUNT OF THE BIRTH, CHILDHOOD, AND EARLY EDUCATION OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, AND THE STORY OF HIS LITTLE HATCHET; FROM WHICH HE MAY DRAW A WHOLESOME MORAL, IF HE BE DESIROUS OF GROWING IN VIRTUE; TOGETHER WITH OTHER MATTERS OF INTEREST AND IMPORTANCE HARDLY TO BE FOUND ELSEWHERE.
The First Sorrow 46
SHOWING HOW GEORGE MET WITH THE FIRST GREAT SORROW OF HIS LIFE IN THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER; AND HOW HIS MOTHER WAS LEFT A YOUNG WIDOW, WITH THE CARE OF A LARGE FAMILY; WITH SOME REMARKS ON THE PRUDENCE AND WISDOM SUE DISPLAYED IN THE REARING OF HER CHILDREN; TOGETHER WITH THE STORY OF THE SORREL COLT, WHICH UNCLE JUVINELL INTRODUCES BY WAY OF ILLUSTRATING THE CHARACTERS OF BOTH MOTHER AND SON.
Playing Soldier 54
WHEREIN THE YOUNG READER WILL FIND HOW GEORGE FIGURED AS A LITTLE SOLDIER AT SCHOOL; WITH SOME REMARKS TOUCHING HIS WONDERFUL STRENGTH AND ACTIVITY OF BODY, AND COURAGE OF SPIRIT; AND HOW HE WOULD HAVE FIGURED AS A LITTLE SAILOR, HAD HE NOT BEEN PREVENTED BY A MOTHER'S ANXIOUS LOVE; WHICH INFLUENCED NOT ONLY THE WHOLE COURSE OF HIS FUTURE LIFE, BUT ALSO THE DESTINY OF HIS NATIVE COUNTRY, AND, IT MAY BE, THAT OF THE WHOLE WORLD; AS THE LITTLE READER WILL FIND OUT FOR HIMSELF. IF HE BUT HAVE THE PATIENCE TO BEAR UNCLE JUVINELL COMPANY TO THE END OF THIS INTERESTING HISTORY.
"Rules of Behavior" 61
AFFORDING TO THE READER ANOTHER AND HIS LAST GLIMPSE OF WASHINGTON AS A SCHOOL-BOY. HERE HE WILL LEARN OF WASHINGTON'S MANY INGENIOUS MODES OF GAINING AND RETAINING KNOWLEDGE, AND HIS HABITS OF PUTTING IT TO PRACTICAL USES; AND WILL FIND HIS RULES OF BEHAVIOR IN COMPANY AND IN CONVERSATION, WRITTEN AT THE AGE OF THIRTEEN, WHICH UNCLE JUVINELL WOULD EARNESTLY RECOMMEND HIM, AND, IN FACT, ALL HIS READERS, BE THEY BOYS OR GIRLS, MEN OR WOMEN, TO STORE AWAY IN THEIR MEMORIES, IF THEY BE DESIROUS OF GROWING IN VIRTUE. AND OF DEPORTING THEMSELVES IN SUCH A MANNER AS TO GAIN THE GOOD-WILL AND ESTEEM, AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE HAPPINESS, OF ALL AROUND THEM.
In the Wilderness 70
IN WHICH WILL BE SEEN HOW GEORGE BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH OLD LORD FAIRFAX, AND WAS EMPLOYED BY THIS GREAT NOBLEMAN TO ACT AS SURVEYOR OF ALL HIS WILD LANDS; WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE HE LED IN THE WILDERNESS, AND A SOMEWHAT HIGHLY COLORED PICTURE OF A WAR-DANCE PERFORMED BY A PARTY OF INDIANS FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT OF HIM AND HIS FRIENDS.
The Young Surveyor 78
REVEALING STILL FURTHER GLIMPSES OF WASHINGTON AS A YOUNG SURVEYOR,—IN WHICH THE READER WILL SEE HOW THAT GREAT MAN BROUGHT HIS LABORS IN THE WILDERNESS TO AN END; WITH SOME REMARKS RESPECTING THE LOWLAND BEAUTY, AND HOW LITTLE IS KNOWN OF HER.
First Military Appointment 89
IN WHICH THE YOUNG READER WILL LEARN HOW WASHINGTON, AT THE EARLY AGE OF NINETEEN, BECAME ONE OF THE ADJUTANT-GENERALS OF THE PROVINCE OF VIRGINIA; AND HOW HE WENT ON A VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES IN COMPANY WITH HIS BROTHER LAWRENCE, WHO, BEING IN QUEST OF HEALTH, AND FAILING TO FIND IT THERE, RETURNED HOME TO DIE.
Important Explanations 96
WHEREIN UNCLE JUVINELL AND THE LITTLE FOLKS TALK TOGETHER, IN A PLEASING AND FAMILIAR STYLE OF CERTAIN MATTERS CONTAINED IN THE FOREGOING PAGES; WHICH, BEING SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT OF COMPREHENSION, NEED TO BE MORE FULLY AND CLEARLY EXPLAINED, THAT THEY MAY THE BETTER UNDERSTAND WHAT IS TO COME HEREAFTER IN THIS INTERESTING HISTORY.
Indian Troubles 165
WHEREIN UNCLE JUVINELL GOES ON WITH HIS STORY, AND TELLS THE LITTLE FOLKS ALL THAT IS NEEDFUL FOR THEM TO KNOW CONCERNING THE CAUSES THAT BROUGHT ABOUT THE OLD FRENCH WAR; TO WHICH THE YOUNG READER WILL DO WELL TO PAY VERY PARTICULAR ATTENTION.
"Big Talk" with "White Thunder" 115
EXPLAINING HOW MAJOR WASHINGTON CAME TO BE SENT BY GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE ON A MISSION TO THE FRENCH, NEAR LAKE ERIE.—HOW HE SET OUT.—WHAT BEFELL HIM BY THE WAY.—HOW HE STOPPED AT LOGSTOWN TO HAVE A BIG TALK WITH THE HALF-KING, WHITE THUNDER, AND OTHER INDIAN WORTHIES.—HOW HE AT LAST REACHED THE FRENCH FORT, AND WHAT HE DID AFTER HE GOT THERE.
Christmas in the Wilderness 126
ENABLING THE YOUNG READER TO FOLLOW MAJOR WASHINGTON TO HIS JOURNEY'S END, AND SEE HOW HE AND HIS PARTY SPENT THEIR CHRISTMAS IN THE WILDERNESS.—HOW HE TWICE CAME NEAR LOSING HIS LIFE, FIRST BY THE TREACHERY OF AN INDIAN GUIDE, AND THEN BY DROWNING; WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF HIS INTERVIEW WITH THE INDIAN PRINCESS, ALIQUIPPA.
Washington's First Battle 134
IN WHICH THE YOUNG READER, AFTER GETTING A HINT OF THE TREMENDOUS CONSEQUENCES THAT ENSUED FROM THE FRENCH GENERAL'S LETTER, WILL FIND SO MUCH TO ENTERTAIN HIM, THAT HE WILL READILY EXCUSE UNCLE JUVINELL FROM GIVING THE REMAINING HEADS OF THIS CHAPTER; FURTHER THAN TO SAY, THAT IT WINDS UP WITH QUITE A LIVELY AND SPIRITED ACCOUNT OF WASHINGTON'S FIRST BATTLE.
Fort Necessity 146
WHAT BEFELL COLONEL WASHINGTON IN AND AROUND FORT NECESSITY, AND HOW HE SUSTAINED HIS FIRST SIEGE; WHICH WILL BE FOUND EVEN MORE ENTERTAINING THAN THE ACCOUNT OF HIS FIRST BATTLE, NARRATED IN THE LAST CHAPTER.
General Braddock 158
IN WHICH THE YOUNG READER AND COLONEL WASHINGTON FORM THE ACQUAINTANCE OF GENERAL BRADDOCK, AND COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS REGARDING HIS CHARACTER; AND IN WHICH THE READER IS HONORED WITH A SLIGHT INTRODUCTION TO THE GREAT DR. FRANKLIN, WHO GIVES SOME GOOD ADVICE, WHICH BRADDOCK, TO HIS FINAL COST, FAILS TO FOLLOW; AND IS ENTERTAINED WITH A FEW GLIMPSES OF LIFE IN CAMP.
Rough Work 172
THE READER WILL SEE HOW GENERAL BRADDOCK AT LAST SET OUT ON HIS MARCH TO FORT DUQUESNE.—HOW HE GOT ENTANGLED IN THE WILDERNESS, AND WAS FORCED TO CALL UPON THE YOUNG PROVINCIAL COLONEL FOR ADVICE. WHICH, THOUGH WISELY GIVEN, WAS NOT WISELY FOLLOWED.—HOW CAPTAIN JACK MADE AN OFFER, FOR WHICH HE GOT BUT SORRY THANKS; AND WILL FIND A SPRINKLING OF WAYSIDE ITEMS HERE AND THERE; WHICH SAVES THIS CHAPTER FROM BEING CONSIDERED A DULL ONE.
Braddock's Defeat 186
IN WHICH IS RECORDED THE BLOODIEST PAGE IN THE ANNALS OF AMERICA; OR, TO EXPRESS IT OTHERWISE, AN ACCOUNT OF THE FAMOUS BATTLE OF THE MONONGAHELA, COMMONLY CALLED BRADDOCK'S DEFEAT; WHICH, IT WILL BE SEEN AT A GLANCE, MIGHT HAVE TURNED OUT A VICTORY AS WELL, HAD WASHINGTON'S ADVICE BEEN FOLLOWED.
WHEREIN UNCLE JUVINELL AND THE LITTLE FOLKS DISCOURSE TOGETHER, IN A LIVELY AND ENTERTAINING STYLE, OF DIVERS MATTERS TO BE FOUND, AND NOT TO BE FOUND, IN BOOK THURSDAY; WHICH MAY SEEM OF LITTLE CONSEQUENCE TO THOSE ELDERLY PEOPLE WHO ARE TOO WISE TO BE AMUSED, AND WHO WOULD, ANY TIME, RATHER SEE A FACT BROUGHT OUT STARK NAKED THAN DRESSED HANDSOMELY. SUCH OWLS ARE REQUESTED TO PASS OVER THIS CHAPTER, AND PERCH UPON BOOK FRIDAY, PORTIONS OF WHICH WILL, BE FOUND QUITE AS DRY AS THEY COULD POSSIBLY DESIRE.
Work in Earnest 210
SHOWING HOW BRADDOCK'S ARMY CONTINUED ITS FLIGHT TO PHILADELPHIA.—HOW WASHINGTON RETURNED TO MOUNT VERNON, AND WAS SHORTLY AFTERWARDS MADE COMMANDER OF ALL THE FORCES OF VIRGINIA; AND HOW HE WENT TO BOSTON, AND WHY; WITH OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST.
Dark Days 222
STILL FARTHER ACCOUNT OF WASHINGTON'S TROUBLES WITH THE INDIANS AND WITH HIS OWN MEN, AND NOTICE OF HIS MISUNDERSTANDING WITH GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE; ALL OF WHICH, COMBINED, RENDER THIS THE SADDEST AND THE GLOOMIEST PERIOD OF HIS LIFE.
A New Enterprise 233
CONTAINING GLIMPSES OUTSIDE OF THE DIRECT LINE OF OUR STORY, WITH A MORE MINUTE AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL ACCOUNT OF HOW WASHINGTON WOOED AND WON A FAIR LADY THAN IS TO BE MET WITH ELSEWHERE; WITH SOME PARTICULARS TOUCHING AN INTENDED EXPEDITION AGAINST FORT DUQUESNE.
More Blundering 244
SHOWING HOW BRADDOCK'S FOLLY WAS REPEATED BY MAJOR GRANT, AS FOREBODED BY WASHINGTON; AND ALSO WHAT CAME OF THE EXPEDITION AGAINST FORT DUQUESNE.
Washington at Home 255
GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF WASHINGTON'S MARRIAGE WITH MRS. CUSTIS.—HIS RECEPTION BY THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF BURGESSES.—HIS HABITS AS A MAN OF BUSINESS.—HIS RURAL PURSUITS AND AMUSEMENTS.—HIS LOVE OF SOCIAL PLEASURES.—HIS ADVENTURE WITH A POACHER; AND MANY OTHER ITEMS; ALL OF WHICH, COMBINED, MAKE THIS CHAPTER ONE OF THE MOST PLEASING AND ENTERTAINING OF THE WHOLE BOOK.
A Family Quarrel 269
WHEREIN THE YOUNG READER WILL FIND WHAT WILL BE EXPLAINED MORE TO HIS SATISFACTION IN CHAPTER XXIV.
The Cause of the Quarrel 276
AFFORDING A MORE CLEAR, AND SATISFACTORY ACCOUNT OF THE CAUSES THAT BROUGHT ABOUT OUR REVOLUTIONARY WAR THAN WAS GIVEN IN CHAPTER XXIII; BUT CHAPTER XXV. MUST NEEDS BE READ, BEFORE A FULL AND COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF THESE MATTERS CAN BE ARRIVED AT.
Resistance to Tyranny 288
ILLUSTRATING WHAT PART WASHINGTON TOOK IN THESE MEASURES OF RESISTANCE TO BRITISH TYRANNY.—HOW HE BECAME A REPRESENTATIVE OF VIRGINIA IN THE GREAT COLONIAL ASSEMBLY, OTHERWISE CALLED THE OLD CONTINENTAL CONGRESS; AND HOW, UPON THE BREAKING-OUT OF HOSTILITIES BETWEEN THE COLONIES AND THE MOTHER-COUNTRY, HE WAS MADE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF ALL THE FORCES OF THE UNITED COLONIES; WITH OTHER ITEMS TOUCHING THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, AND PATRICK HENRY, THE GREAT VIRGINIA ORATOR.
WHEREIN THE YOUNG READER WILL BE ENTERTAINED WITH THE PLEASING AND EDIFYING CONVERSATION WHICH TOOK PLACE BETWEEN UNCLE JUVINELL AND THE LITTLE FOLKS, TOUCHING DIVERS MATTERS IN BOOK FRIDAY; WHICH DEMAND FURTHER CONSIDERATION FOR A MORE COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HISTORY, PAST AND TO COME.
THE FARMER BOY.
Somewhere in green Kentucky, not a great many years ago, the ruddy light of a Christmas sunset, streaming in at the windows of an old-fashioned brick house, that stood on a gentle hillside, half hidden by evergreens, shone full and broad on a group of merry little youngsters there met together to spend the holiday with their Uncle Juvinell, a charming old bachelor of threescore and ten.
What with "blind man's buff," "leap-frog," "hide-and-seek," "poor pussy wants a corner," Mother Goose, dominos, sky-rockets and squibs, and what with the roasting of big red apples and the munching of gingerbread elephants, the reading of beautiful story-books,—received that morning as Christmas presents from their Uncle Juvinell and other loving relatives,—these little folks had found this day the most delightful of their lives.
Tired at last of play, and stuffed with Christmas knick-knacks till their jackets and breeches could hold no more, they had now betaken themselves to the library to await the return of their Uncle Juvinell, who had gone out to take his usual evening walk; and were now quietly seated round a blazing winter fire, that winked and blinked at them with its great bright eye, and went roaring right merrily up the wide chimney. Just as the last beam of the setting sun went out at the window, Uncle Juvinell, as if to fill its place, came in at the door, all brisk and ruddy from his tramp over the snow in the sharp bracing air, and was hailed with a joyous shout by the little folks, who, hastening to wheel his great arm-chair for him round to the fire, pushed and pulled him into it, and called upon him to tell one of his most charming stories, even before the tingling frost was out of his nose.
As this worthy old gentleman has done much for the entertainment and instruction of the rising generations of the land, it is but due him that some mention, touching his many amiable traits of character and his accomplishments of mind and person, should be made in this place for the more complete satisfaction of those who may hereafter feel themselves indebted to him for some of the most pleasant moments of their lives.
In person, Uncle Juvinell is stout and well-rounded. His legs are fat, and rather short; his body is fat, and rather long; his belly is snug and plump; his hands are plump and white; his hair is white and soft; his eyes are soft and blue; his coat is blue and sleek; and over his sleek and dimpled face, from his dimpled chin to the very crown of his head,—which, being bald, shines like sweet oil in a warm fire-light,—there beams one unbroken smile of fun, good-humor, and love, that fills one's heart with sunshine to behold. Indeed, to look at him, and be with him a while, you could hardly help half believing that he must be a twin-brother of Santa Claus, so closely does he resemble that far-famed personage, not only in appearance, but in character also; and more than once, having been met in his little sleigh by some belated school-boy, whistling homeward through the twilight of a Christmas or New Year's Eve, he has been mistaken for the jolly old saint himself. In short, his whole appearance is in the highest degree respectable; and there is even about him an air of old-fashioned elegance, which of course is owing chiefly to the natural sweetness and politeness of his manners, and yet perhaps a little heightened withal by the gold-bowed spectacles that he wears on his nose, the heavy gold bar that pins his snowy linen, the gold buttons that shine on his coat, his massive gold watch-chain (at the end of which hangs a great red seal as big as a baby's fist), and by his gold-headed ebony cane, that he always carries on his shoulder like a musket when he walks, as much as to say, "Threescore and ten, and no need of a staff yet, my Christian friend." No man is more beloved and esteemed by all who know him, old and young, than he; for like Father Grimes, whose nephew he is by the mother's side.—
"He modest merit seeks to find, And give it its desert; He has no malice in his mind, No ruffles on his shirt.
His neighbors he does not abuse; Is sociable and gay: He wears large buckles in his shoes, And changes them, each day."
If there is one thing about Uncle Juvinell that we might venture to pronounce more charming than another, it is the smile of mingled fun, good-humor, and love, with which his countenance never ceases to shine, save when he hears the voice of pain and his breast with pity burns. Touching this same trait of his, a lady once said in our hearing, that she verily believed a cherub, fresh from the rosy chambers of the morning, came at the opening of each day to Uncle Juvinell's chamber, just on purpose to dash a handful of sunbeams on his head; and, as there were always more than enough to keep his face bathed with smiles for the next twenty-four hours, they were not wasted, but, falling and lodging on his gold spectacles, his gold breast-pin, his gold buttons, his gold watch-chain, and the gold head of his ebony cane, washed them with lustre ever new, as if his face, bright and broad as it was, were not enough to reflect the love and sunshine ever dwelling in his heart. We will not undertake to vouch for the truth of this, however. As the young lady was a marriageable young lady, and had been for a number of years, it would not be gallant or generous for us to mention it; but of this we are certain, that, when this good old gentleman enters a room, there is a warmth and brightness in his very presence, that causes you to look round, half expecting to see the tables and chairs throwing their shadows along the floor, as if, by the power of magic, a window had suddenly been opened in the wall to let in the morning sunshine.
If the affections of Uncle Juvinell's heart are childlike in their freshness, the powers of his intellect are gigantic in their dimensions. He is a man of prodigious learning: for proof of which, you have but to enter his library, and take note of the books upon books that crowd the shelves from the floor to the ceiling; the maps that line the walls; the two great globes, one of the earth and the other of the heavens, that stand on either side of his reading-desk; and the reading-desk itself, whereon there always lies some book of monstrous size, wide open, which no one has ever had the courage to read from beginning to end, or could comprehend if he did.
In the languages he is very expert; speaking French with such clearness and distinctness, that any native-born Frenchman, with a fair knowledge of the English, can with but little difficulty understand more than half he says; and in German he is scarcely less fluent and ready; while his Latin is the envy of all who know only their mother-tongue. In mathematics, his skill is such, that you might give him a sum, the working-out of which would cover three or four large slates; and he would never fail to arrive at the answer, let him but take his time.
In astronomy, he is perfectly at home among the fixed stars; can distinguish them at a single glance, and that, too, without the help of his spectacles, from the wandering planets; and is as familiar with the motion and changes of the moon, as if he had been in the habit for the last forty years of spending the hot summer months at some of the fashionable watering-places of that amiable and interesting orb. But it is in the history of the nations and great men of the earth that Uncle Juvinell most excels, as shall be proved to your entire satisfaction before reaching the end of this volume.
And yet, notwithstanding the vastness of his learning and the gigantic powers of his mind, he can, when it so pleases him, disburden himself of these great matters, and descend from his lofty height to the comprehension of the little folks, with as much ease as a huge balloon, soaring amidst the clouds, can let off its gas, and sink down to the level of the kites, air-balls, and sky-rockets wherewith they are wont to amuse themselves.
Being an old bachelor, as before noticed, he, of course, has no children of his own; but, like the philosopher that he is, he always consoles himself for this misfortune with the reflection, that, had he been so favored, much of his love and affection must needs have been wasted on his own six, eight, or ten, as the case might have been, instead of being divided without measure among the hundreds and thousands of little ones that gladden the wedded life, and fill with their music the homes of others more blessed.
Living, as all his brothers do, in easy circumstances, he has abundant time and leisure to devote himself to the particular interest and enjoyment of these little ones; and is always casting in his mind what he may be doing to amuse them, or make them wiser, better, and happier.
Such is the ease, heartiness, and familiarity with which he demeans himself when among them, and enters into all their little pastimes and concerns, that they stand no more in awe of him than if he were one of their own number; and make him the butt of a thousand impish pranks, at which he laughs as heartily as the merriest rogue among them. And yet it is for that very reason, perhaps, that they love him so devotedly, and would give up their dog-knives or wax dolls any day, sooner than show themselves unmindful of his slightest wishes, or do aught that could bring upon them even his softest rebuke. They make nothing of taking off his gold spectacles, and putting them on their own little pugs to look wise; or running their chubby fists into the tight, warm pockets of his breeches, in quest of his gold pencil or pearl-handled knife; or dashing like mad over the yard, with his gold-headed cane for a steed; or stealing up behind him, as he stands with his back to the fire, and slyly pulling out his big red bandanna handkerchief, wherewith to yoke the dog and cat together as they lie sociably side by side on the hearth-rug. In short, he will suffer them to tease him and tousle him and tumble him to their hearts' content, and set no limits to their liberties, so long as they are careful not to touch his snowy linen with their smutched fingers; for, if Uncle Juvinell has one fault in the world, it is his unreasonable partiality for snowy linen. But, were we to go on with our praises and commendations of this best of men, we should fill a large volume full to overflowing, and still leave the better half unsaid: so we must exercise a little self-denial, and forego such pleasing thoughts for the present, as it now behooves us to bring our minds to bear upon matters we have more nearly in view.
Seeing how earnestly the little folks were bent upon drawing out of him one of his longest stories, Uncle Juvinell now bade them sit down and be quiet till he should have time to conjure up something more charming than any Arabian tale they had ever heard; and throwing himself back in his great arm-chair, and fixing his eyes on the glowing coals, that seemed to present to his fancy an ever-shifting panorama, was soon lost in profound meditation. And the longer he thought, the harder he looked at the fire, which knowingly answered his look with a winking and blinking of its great bright eye, that seemed to say, "Well, Uncle Juvinell, what shall we do for the entertainment or instruction of these little people to-night? Shall we tell them of that crew of antic goblins we wot of, who are wont to meet by moonlight, to play at football with the hanged man's head, among the tombstones of an old graveyard? Or may be that dreadful ogre, with the one fiery eye in the middle of his forehead, who was in the habit of roasting fat men on a spit for his Christmas dinners, would be more to their taste. Or, if you prefer it, let it be that beautiful fairy, who, mounted on a milk-white pony, and dressed in green and gold, made her home in an echoing wood, for no other purpose than to lead little children therefrom, who might by some ill chance be separated from their friends, and lose their way in its tangled wilds. Or perhaps you are thinking it would be more instructive to them were we to conjure up some story of early times in green Kentucky, when our great-grandfathers were wont to take their rifles to bed with them, and sleep with them in their arms, ready to spring up at the slightest rustling of the dry leaves in the woods, and defend themselves against the dreaded Indian, as with panther-like tread he skulked around their lonely dwellings."
To each and all of these, Uncle Juvinell shook his head; none of them being just exactly the thing he wanted. At length, finding that the fire hindered rather than helped him to make a choice, he rose from his seat, turned his back upon it, and looked from one bright face to another of the circle before him, till his eye rested on Daniel, who was among the oldest of the children, and was, by the way, the young historian of the family, and, in his own opinion, a youth of rather uncommon parts. He had that morning received from his uncle, as a Christmas present, that most delightful of story-books, "Robinson Crusoe;" but having seen the unlucky sailor high, but not dry, on his desert island, and having run his eye over all the pictures, he had laid it aside, and was now standing at the reading-desk, looking as wise as a young owl in a fog over a very large book indeed, in which he pretended to be too deeply interested to finish a slab of gingerbread that lay half munched at his side.
Seeing his little nephew thus engaged, Uncle Juvinell smiled a quiet smile all to himself, and, after watching him a few moments, said, "Dannie, my boy, what book is that you are reading with so much interest that you have forgotten your gingerbread?"
"Irving's Life of Washington, sir," replied Daniel with an air.
"A good book, a very good indeed; but too hard for you, I fear," said Uncle Juvinell, shaking his head. "Tell me, though, how far you have read."
"To Braddock's defeat, sir," replied Daniel.
"You have been getting over the ground rather fast, I am thinking; but tell me how you like it," said Uncle Juvinell, by way of drawing his little nephew out.
"Here and there, I come to a chapter that I like very much," replied Daniel: "but there are parts that I don't understand very well; and I was just thinking that I would point them out to you some time, and get you to explain them to me; as you will, I am certain; for you know every thing, and are so obliging to us little folks!"
At this, Uncle Juvinell's face lighted up as with a brilliant thought; but, without seeming to notice his little nephew's request just then, he reseated himself, and again began looking hard at the fire. The fire opened its great bright eye more widely than before, and looked as if it were putting the question, "Well, sir, and what is it now? Out with it, and I will throw what light I can on the matter." After a few moments, there appeared to be a perfect understanding between them; for the fire with a sly wink seemed to say, "A happy thought, Uncle Juvinell,—a very happy thought indeed: I was just on the point of proposing the very same thing myself. Come, let us go about it at once, and make these holidays the brightest and happiest these little folks have ever known, or ever could or would or should know, in all their lives." And the fire fell to winking and blinking at such an extravagant rate, that the shadows of those who were seated round it began bobbing up and down the wall, looking like misshapen goblins amusing themselves by jumping imaginary ropes, the gigantic one of Uncle Juvinell leaping so high as to butt the ceiling.
After several minutes of deep thought, the old gentleman rose, and stood on his short fat legs with the air of a man who had made up his mind, and with a smile on his face, as if sure he was just on the point of giving them all a pleasant surprise. "Laura, my dear," said he, "take down that picture from the wall you see hanging to the right of the bookcase; and you, Ella, my darling, take that bunch of feathers, and brush off the dust from it. Now hand it to me. This, my cherubs," he went on, "is the portrait of the good and great George Washington, who is called the Father of our country. It is to him, more than to any other man, that we owe the blessings of freedom, peace, and prosperity, we now enjoy in larger measure than any other people of the wide earth; and it was for these same blessings that he fought and struggled through all the weary years of our Revolutionary War, amidst difficulties, dangers, and discouragements such as never before tried the strength of man. And when, in the happy end, he, by his courage, skill, and fortitude, and abiding trust in the protection of an all-wise Providence, had come out victorious over all, and driven our cruel enemies from the land, so that our homes were once more gladdened with the smiles of peace and plenty,—then it was that a grateful people with one voice hailed him chosen of the Lord for the salvation of our beloved country. Blessed be the name of George Washington,—blessed for evermore!" And a big tear of love and thankfulness started from each of Uncle Juvinell's mild blue eyes, trickled slowly over his ruddy cheek, and, dropping thence, went hopping and sparkling down his large blue waistcoat.
At this the little folks looked very grave, and thought to themselves, "What a good man Washington must have been, and how much he must have done and suffered for the welfare of his fellow-beings, thus to have brought the tears to our dear old uncle's eyes!" After looking at the picture for some moments in silence, they began talking about it, each in his or her own fashion; while Uncle Juvinell listened with much interest, curious to see what different impressions it would produce on their minds.
"That scroll he holds in his left hand must be his farewell address to his army," said Daniel, the young historian, looking very wise.
"What a fine long sword he carries at his side!" said Bryce, a war-like youngster who had just climbed to the summit of his ninth year, and had, as you must know, a wooden sword of his own, with which he went about dealing death and destruction to whole regiments of cornstalks and squadrons of horse-weeds, calling them British and Tories.
"How tall and grand and handsome he looks!" said Laura, a prim and demure little miss of thirteen: "in his presence, I am sure I could never speak above a whisper."
"That, yonder, among the trees and evergreens on the hill, must be the house where he lived," said Ella, a modest, sweet-mannered little lady of twelve. "What a beautiful place it is! and what a happy home it must have been when he lived in it!"
"And see how the hill slopes down to the river, so grassy and smooth! and such a nice place for little boys to roll over and over down to the bottom!" said Ned, a rough-and-tumble youngster of ten, who spent one-half of the sunshine with his back to the ground and his heels in the air.
"And see the beautiful river so broad and so smooth, and the great ships afar off going down to the sea!" said Johnnie, a little poet of eight, who passed much of his time dreaming with his eyes open.
"And such a pretty play-house as I see there among the bushes on the hillside!" said Fannie, a stout little matron of five, the mother of a large and still increasing family of dolls.
"That is not a play-house, Fannie, but the tomb where Washington lies buried," said Dannie with an air of superior wisdom.
"What a splendid white horse that black man is holding for him! How he bows his neck, and champs his bit, and paws the ground!" said Willie, a harum-scarum, neck-or-nothing young blade of fourteen, who would have given his best leg to have been the owner of a galloping, high-headed, short-tailed pony.
"What is he doing so far away from home without his hat, I wonder?" said Master Charlie, a knowing young gentleman of eight, who was much in the habit of doubting everybody's eyes and ears but his own.
"How kind and good he looks out of his eyes, just like father!" said Mary, an affectionate and timid little creature of seven.
Just then, Addison, a plump little fellow of four, in all the glory of his first new jacket and his first new breeches, who was standing on the top round of Uncle Juvinell's chair, suddenly cried out in a very strong voice for his age, "Oh! he looks just like Uncle Juvinell: now don't he, Cousin Mary?"
For a man of his appearance to be thus compared with so stately and dignified a man as Washington was a thing so ludicrous, that Uncle Juvinell was surprised into the heartiest fit of laughter that he had enjoyed that day. When it was over, he bade Laura hang up the picture again in its accustomed place, and began where he had left off some time before: "Now, my dear children, it came into my mind, while I was talking with your Cousin Dannie a little bit ago, that I could not tell you any thing more entertaining and instructive than the story of Washington's life. It will, I am quite sure, interest you much: for although he was such a great man,—the greatest, no doubt, that ever lived,—and so awful to look upon, yet, for all that, his heart was full to overflowing with the most tender and kindly affections, and, if you can believe it, quite as fond of little children as your Uncle Juvinell; often joining in their innocent sports for a whole hour at a time. Let me see. This is Wednesday; and we have seven, eight, long holidays before us to be as happy as skylarks in. Now, I am thinking, that, if we would have next New Year's Day find us better and wiser, we could not hit upon a more proper plan for beginning so desirable an end than by spending a part of each day in making ourselves acquainted with the life and character of this good and great man, and, at the close of each evening's lesson, talking over what we have learned, to our more complete understanding of the same. And now, my merry ones, speak out, and tell me what you think of it."
"It will be just exactly the very thing," said wise Daniel.
"Glorious!" said rollicking Willie.
"Charming!" said prim and demure Miss Laura.
"'Twill be delightful, I am sure," said modest Ella.
"Nothing could please me better, if we have a good big battle now and then," said war-like Bryce.
"I wonder if it will be as interesting as 'Robinson Crusoe'?" put in doubting Charlie.
"Or 'Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp'?" chimed in dreaming Johnnie.
"And we'll all listen, and be so good!" said timid, loving little Mary.
"Wait a moment for me, uncle, till I run down to the cabin, just to see how Black Daddy's getting along making my sled," said hair-brained Ned.
"And wait a little bit for me too, uncle, till I go and put my dolly babe to bed; for she might take the measles if I keep her up too long," said motherly Fannie.
"And let me sit on your knee, uncle; Cousin Mary wants my chair," said Addison, the youngest one of them all, at the same time climbing up, and getting astride of Uncle Juvinell's left fat leg.
"Then settle yourselves at once, you noisy chatterboxes," said Uncle Juvinell with a shining face; "and mind you be as quiet and mute as mice at a cat's wedding while I am telling my story, or I'll"—His threat was drowned in the joyous shouts of the children as they scrambled into their chairs. When they had all put on a listening look, he poured out a little yellow, squat, Dutch mug brimful of rich brown cider from a big blue pitcher that Black Daddy had just placed on a table close at hand, and, having wet his whistle therewith, began his story. And now and then, as the story went on, the fire, keeping its bright, watchful eye upon the old gentleman, would wink at him in a sly manner, that seemed to say, "Well done, Uncle Juvinell,—very well done indeed. You see, sir, I was quite right in what I told you. We have hit upon the very thing. The little folks are enchanted: they are drawing in wisdom with every breath. A merry Christmas to us all!" Pop, pop! hurrah! pop!
GEORGE AT SCHOOL.
A hundred years ago or more, there stood on the green slopes of the Potomac, in the county of Westmoreland, Va., an old red farmhouse, with a huge stone chimney at each end, and high gray roof, the eaves of which projected in such a manner as to cover a porch in front and two or three small shed-rooms in the rear. Now, although this house was built of wooden beams and painted boards, and was far from being what could be called, even for those times, a fine one,—looking as it did more like a barn than a dwelling for man,—yet, for all that, it had the honor of being the birthplace of the good and great George Washington, who is said, by many very wise persons who ought to know, to have been the greatest man that ever came into this pleasant and glorious world of ours.
His father, Augustine Washington, was married early in life to Jane Butler, who died after having borne him two sons, Lawrence and Augustine. In a year or two after this loss, feeling the want of some one to gladden his lonely heart and home, he married Mary Ball, the belle of Horseneck, and said to have been the most beautiful young lady in all that part of the country. By this union he was blessed with six children, of whom our George, the eldest, was born on the twenty-second day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty-two.
It has often appeared strange to me that nothing should be known of this great man's life up to the completion of his fifth year: and I am sorry for your sakes, my little ones, that such is the case; for it would be such a nice beginning to our story, could we say with certainty that he distinguished himself by walking alone at the age of five months; that he could pronounce "Mother" and "Good" with perfect distinctness when but one year old; that his mother taught him at the age of two to kneel by her side, and lisp, before going to his evening rest, that beautiful prayer, beginning with, "Now I lay me down to sleep;" that he rode like mad, at the age of three, round and round the yard, on his father's buckhorn-headed cane; and that he rode on a real horse at the age of four, and went galloping like a young Tartar round and round the meadow in front of the house, to the delight of his young mother, who watched him from the window. Of all this, and a great deal more of the same sort, you would, I doubt not, like much to hear, and I would like much to tell you; but we must keep within the bounds of true history, and content ourselves with the knowledge of that which really did happen. With this safe rule for our guidance, we will therefore proceed at once to take up the thread of our story at that period of George's boyhood, concerning which some certain record has come down to our time.
At the age of five, when he was old enough to walk all alone for a mile or two through the woods and fields, his parents started him to school one bright spring morning, with his little basket on his arm, containing his dinner and a bran-new spelling-book, to take his first tiny steps in the flowery path of knowledge.
His first teacher was a Mr. Hobby, an old man, who lived on a distant part of his father's plantation, and is said to have been besides the sexton or grave-digger of the neighborhood; and was, I have my private reasons for thinking, a broken-down old soldier, with a big cocked hat that shaded a kindly and weather-beaten face, and a wooden leg,—an ornament for which he was indebted to a cannon-ball, and took more pride in than if it had been a sound one of flesh and bone. As it is rarely ever the case that men with wooden legs are called upon to fight the battles of their country, this worthy old man, who well knew how to read and write, and cipher too, must needs earn his livelihood by teaching school, and sowing his knowledge broadcast among the little children of the neighborhood.
Accordingly, it was to old Mr. Hobby, as everybody called him, that George was indebted for his first insight into the mysteries of book-learning; and although he was in due time to become the greatest man of this or any other age or country, yet he began his education by first learning his A B C, just as did other boys of that day, just as they are now doing, and just as they will continue to do for all time to come. After he had taken his A B C into his memory, and set them there in a straight row each in its proper place, he was not long, depend upon it, in reaching the middle of his spelling-book; and as soon as he could, without anybody's help, climb over tall and difficult words of five or six syllables, such as "immortality" or "responsibility," his master put him in the English Reader, where he soon overtook and went clean ahead of boys a great deal older than himself. From reading, he in a short time rose to writing; and it was said by those who knew him best, that he learned to write a neat round hand without ever once blotting his copy-book; and furthermore, that such a thing as a dirty, thumb-worn, dog-eared book was never seen in his hand. His next step in the path of knowledge was arithmetic; and, in less time than you can well believe, he had got the multiplication-table so thoroughly by heart, that he could run over it as fast backwards, from twelve times twelve to twice one, as common boys straightforward, even with the open book before their eyes. So well did he study, that, in less than four years' time after his first starting to school, the single rule of three was no more to him than long division to most boys; and he could repeat the tables of weights and measures as glibly as you, Master Johnnie, can rattle off the charming story of "Old Mother Hubbard and her Wonderful Dog."
Now, the rapid progress George made in his studies was owing not so much to his uncommon aptitude at learning as to the diligence and industry with which he applied himself to them. For example: when other boys would be staring out at the window, watching the birds and squirrels sporting among the tree-tops; or sitting idly with their hands in their pockets, opening and shutting their jack-knives, or counting their marbles, or munching apples and corn-dodgers in a sneaking and unbecoming manner behind their books; or, more naughty still, shooting paper bullets at old Hobby's wooden leg as he eat dozing behind his high desk of a drowsy summer afternoon,—our George, with his hands to his ears to keep out the schoolroom buzz, would be studying with all his might; nor would he once raise his eyes from his book till every word of his lesson was ready to drop from his tongue's end of its own accord. So well did he apply himself, and so attentive was he to every thing taught him, that, by the time he was ten years old, he had learned all that the poor old grave-digger knew himself; and it was this worthy man's boast in after-years, that he had laid the foundation of Washington's future greatness. But what old Wooden Leg—for so they always called him when his back was turned—could not teach him at school, little George learned at home of his father and mother, who were well educated for those days; and many a long winter evening did these good parents spend in telling their children interesting and instructive stories of olden times, far-off countries, and strange people, which George would write down in his copy-book in his neatest, roundest hand, and remember ever afterward.
A more prudent and careful father, and a more discreet and affectionate mother, than Mr. Washington and his wife Mary, perhaps never lived. So earnest and watchful were they to bring up their children in the fear of the Lord, and in the practice of every noble virtue, that their dutiful behavior and sweet manners were the talk and praise of the good people for miles and miles around. They taught them to be neat and orderly in their dress, as well as civil and polite in their manners; to be respectful to their elders; to be kind to one another, and to every thing God hath made, both great and small, whether man or bird or beast: but chiefly were they concerned to teach them the love of truth, and to tell it at all times when it should be their duty to speak out, let the consequences be what they might. To show you that such wise and careful training was not lost on the tender mind of George, I will tell you the story of his little hatchet, as it may serve you good stead in the day when you may be tempted to wander astray from the path of truth and virtue.
One Christmas Eve, when the sharp, frosty air made the blood brisk and lively in the veins, little George, who was then about six years old, hung up his stocking on the mantel of the huge chimney, saying to himself as he did so, "Good Santa Claus, be kind to me while I am sleeping peacefully." Next morning, bright and early, just as a great Christmas log had begun to blaze and crackle on the hearth, he jumped spryly from his bed, and, without stopping to put on his clothes, ran to his stockings to see what good old Santa Claus had brought him while he slept. I leave you to picture to your minds his delight upon finding therein a little Indian tomahawk, with a bright keen edge and long red handle. It would have done all your hearts good to have seen how he skipped and danced around the room, and flourished his hatchet high over his head; how he went showing it to every one about the house, white and black; praising good old Santa Claus to the very skies, and never once feeling the want of his breeches. But, between you and me, I am rather inclined to suspect, that, if we had any means of arriving at the facts of the case, it would be found that Santa Claus had no more concern in this matter than your Uncle Juvinell himself. To my mind, there is more reason in the supposition, that his father, seeing the jolly old saint pass by at a late hour of the night in an empty sleigh, and that the children were not likely to have their stockings filled for that once, got up early in the morning, and put the hatchet in there himself, rather than that his little son should be disappointed.
Be this as it may, it was all the same to George; and he was as happy as happy could be. At the breakfast-table, he could hardly eat his bread and milk for looking at his shining axe, which he had laid beside him on the table; and, before it was fairly broad daylight, he was out at the wood-yard, ankle-deep in snow, cutting and chopping away at the hard-seasoned beech and maple logs, as if it lay with him, for that day at least, to keep the whole family, white and black, from freezing. By and by, however, he found this more work than play, and began to cast his earnest young eyes about him for something green and soft whereon to try the edge and temper of his hatchet. Presently, as ill-luck would have it, a fine young English cherry-tree, just over the fence hard by, caught his attention, which, without further ado, he fell to hacking might and main; and the way he made the little chips fly was a thing surprising to see.
Next morning, his father, passing by that way, saw the mischief that had been done, and was sorely displeased: for he had planted and reared this selfsame tree with the tenderest care; and, of all the trees in his orchard, there was not one other he prized so highly. Being quite sure that it was the work of some of the black children, he went straightway down to the negro quarter, bent on finding out, and bringing the unlucky culprit to a severe account.
"Dick," said he to the first one he met, "did you cut that cherry-tree?"
"No, mauster; don't know nothin' 'bout it," said Dick, showing the whites of his eyes.
"Did you, Sam?" said Mr. Washington, putting the same question to another little woolly-head.
"No, mauster; don't know nothin' 'bout it," said Sam, likewise showing the whites of his eyes.
The same question was put to Harry, who gave Dick and Sam's answer word for word, and, to add force to his denial, showed the whites of his eyes in like manner; and so on, till more than a dozen had been questioned with the same result; when it came to Jerry's turn to make denial, and show the whites of his eyes.
Now, you must know there was not a more audacious, mischief-making, neck-or-nothing black brat than this same Jerry to be found on the banks of the Rappahannock, which is a very long river indeed. As a fish lives in water, or a salamander in fire, so did Jerry live and breathe, and have his being, in mischief; or, in other words, mischief was the element in which Jerry found his chief delight. If any mishap befell anybody or any thing, at any hour of the day or night, on any part of the plantation, on foot or on horseback, at rest or in motion, it was sure to be brought and laid at Jerry's door. Being aware of all this, Mr. Washington was now quite sure, that, as none of the rest had cut the cherry-tree, Jerry himself must be the offender; and so he put the question to him; to which Jerry, showing the whites of his eyes, made answer, "No, mauster; I didn't cut the cherry-tree: indeed, indeed, and double deed, I didn't cut the cherry-tree."
"Ah! Jerry," said his master, "if you always told the truth, I should know when to believe you; but, as you do not, you must take the consequences of your evil ways, and blame nobody but yourself."
Upon hearing this, Jerry began dancing and hopping around the room in a very brisk and lively manner, even before his master was within ten feet of him, as if he already felt the switch about his legs.
Just then, in the very nick of time, George came walking leisurely by, hatchet in hand; who, upon seeing how matters stood, without a moment's hesitation, ran up to his father, and, dropping his hatchet, caught him round the leg, just as the first stroke of the switch was about to descend on the calves of the unlucky Jerry.
"O papa, papa!" cried he, "don't whip poor Jerry: if somebody must be whipped, let it be me; for it was I, and not Jerry, that cut the cherry-tree. I didn't know how much harm I was doing; I didn't indeed." And the child began crying piteously.
With a look of glad surprise, his father, dropping the switch, caught his brave little boy in his arms, and folded him tenderly, lovingly, to his bosom. "Now, thanks be to God," cried he, "thanks be to God, that I have a son whose love of truth is greater than his fear of punishment! Look on him, my black children, look on him, and be as near like him as you can, if you would have the love of your master and the good-will of all around you."
Seeing the unlooked-for turn the affair had taken, and not having the words to express the feelings of joy and thankfulness that swelled almost to bursting in his little black breast, Jerry darted through the door, out into the yard, kicked up his heels, yelped like a young dog, threw a somerset in the snow, and went rolling over and over down to the bottom of the hill, and ever after loved his noble little master to distraction.
THE FIRST SORROW.
When George had learned all that poor old Hobby could teach him, his father, to reward him for his diligence and good behavior at school, indulged him in two or three weeks' holidays, which he went to spend at a distance from home, among some friends and relatives. Here, as usual, he was made much of; for, being a great favorite with all who knew him, he met with a cordial reception wherever he went; and what with hunting and fishing, riding and visiting, the time spent here was the most delightful he had ever known. But hardly had half the happy days flown by, when word came that his father was sick, even unto death; and that, of all things, he most desired to look upon his noble boy once more before he died. With a sadness and heaviness of heart he had never before experienced, George set out on his return home, where he arrived just in time to receive his dying father's blessing. Long and deeply did he mourn his loss; for his father was most tenderly beloved by his children, and greatly esteemed by his friends and neighbors as a useful member of society, and a man of many sterling traits of character.
Mrs. Washington was thus left a young widow with a large family of young children, whom it now became her duty to provide for and educate in a manner becoming a Christian mother; and how well and faithfully and lovingly she discharged this sacred trust, is most beautifully set forth in the life and character of her great son. She was a woman of uncommon strength and clearness of understanding, and her heart was the home of every pure and noble virtue. She was mild, but firm; generous, but just; candid whenever she deemed it her duty to speak her mind, but never losing sight of the respect and consideration due to the feelings and opinions of others. She was gentle and loving with her children, yet exacting from them in return the strictest obedience to her will and wishes. But of all virtues most sacred in her eyes was that of the love of truth, which she ever sought to implant in their minds; assuring them, that, without it, all other virtues were but as unprofitable weeds, barren of fruits and flowers. She was simple and dignified in her manners, and had a hearty dislike for every thing savoring of parade and idle show. She always received her friends and visitors with a cordial smile of welcome, spreading before them with an unsparing hand the best her house afforded: but, when they rose to depart, she would invite them once, and once only, to stay longer; and, if after this they still seemed bent on going, she would do all in her power to speed them on their journey. With so many traits betokening strength of mind and character, she had but one weakness; and this was her excessive dread of thunder, caused in early maidenhood by seeing a young lady struck dead at her side by lightning.
And such was Mary, the mother of Washington; and seldom indeed has her like been seen. As her husband, by industry and prudent management, had gathered together enough of the riches of this world to leave each of his children a fine plantation, she was not hindered by straitened circumstances, or anxiety as to their means of future support, from giving her chief attention to such bodily and mental training as should have a lasting tendency to make them, in more mature years, healthy, virtuous, and wise.
It has been often remarked, that those men who have most distinguished themselves in the world's history for noble thoughts and heroic deeds, have, as a general thing, inherited those qualities of mind and heart which made them great, from their mothers, rather than from their fathers; and also that their efforts to improve and elevate the condition of their fellow-beings have been owing in a larger measure to the lessons of truth, piety, and industry, taught them by their mothers in childhood and early youth. If this be the case, then how much are we indebted for the freedom, prosperity, and happiness we now enjoy above other nations of the earth, to Mary, the mother of Washington! Perhaps, to give you a still more forcible idea of the characters of both mother and son, and of the wholesome effects on him of her judicious training, I ought to relate in this place the story of his attempt at taming the sorrel horse.
A fine horse was an object that afforded Mrs. Washington, as it did the other substantial Virginia ladies of that day, quite as much, if not more, real pleasure than their more delicate grand-daughters of the present now find in their handsome carriages, lap-dogs, and canary-birds. So great was her fondness for this noble animal, that she usually suffered two or three of her finest to run in a meadow in front of the house, where she might look at them from time to time as she sat sewing at her dining-room window. One of these was a young sorrel horse, of great beauty of form, and fleetness of foot, but of so wild and vicious a nature, that, for fear of accident, she had forbidden any one to mount him, although he had already reached his full height and size.
Now, you must know that a bolder and more skilful rider than George was not to be found in all the Old Dominion, as Virginia is sometimes called; and it was this early practice that afterwards won for him the name of being the finest horseman of his day. Often, as we may very naturally suppose to have been the case, would he reason thus with himself, as, sitting on the topmost rail of a worm fence, he watched the spirited young animal frisking and bounding about the field in all the freedom of his untamed nature: "If I were but once upon his back, with a strong bit in his mouth, believe me, I would soon make him a thing of use as well as ornament; and it would, I am sure, be such a pleasant surprise to mother to look from her window some fine morning, and see me mounted on his back, and managing him with ease, and to know that it was I who had subdued his proud spirit."
Accordingly, full of these thoughts, he arose early one bright summer morning, and invited two or three friends of his own age, then on a visit at his mother's house, to go with him to the fields, to share with him the sport, or lend their aid in carrying out his design, should it be found too difficult and hazardous for himself alone. They needed no second bidding, these young madcaps, to whom nothing could be more to their liking than such wild sport. So at it they went; and after a deal of chasing and racing, heading and doubling, falling down and picking themselves up again, and more shouting and laughing than they had breath to spare for, they at last succeeded in driving the panting and affrighted young animal into a corner. Here, by some means or other (it was difficult to tell precisely how), they managed to bridle him, although at no small risk of a broken head or two from his heels, that he seemed to fling about him in a dozen different directions at once. Having thus made him their captive, they led him out to the more open parts of the field, where George requested his friends to hold him till he could get on his back. But the wild and unruly spirit the young beast had shown that morning had so dismayed them, that they flatly refused to comply; begging him not to think of attempting it, as it would be at the risk of life or limb. But George was not to be daunted by such trifles; and seeing that his blood was up, and knowing that, when this was the case with him, he was not to be turned aside from his purpose, they at length yielded unwilling consent to his entreaties; and, giving him the required aid, he was soon mounted.
This was an insult the proud-spirited animal could not brook; and he began plunging and rearing in a manner so frightful to behold, that they who watched the struggle for mastery expected every moment to see the daring young rider hurled headlong to the ground. But he kept his seat unmoved and firm as an iron statue on an iron horse. At length, however, the horse, clinching the bit between his teeth, became for a time unmanageable, and sped away over the field on the wings of the wind; till, making a false step, he staggered and plunged, rallied again, staggered, and, with the red life-stream gushing from his nostrils, dropped down dead.
George sprang from the ground unharmed: but, when he saw the noble young animal stretched out smoking and bloody and lifeless before him, tears of pity filled his eyes; and still faster did they flow when he thought of the grief it would occasion his mother, when she should hear how her beautiful favorite had come to his end. His companions now rejoining him, they all, with sad misgiving in their hearts, returned to the house, where Mrs. Washington met them with a cheerful good-morning, and, when they had taken their seats at the breakfast-table, began talking with them in her usual lively and entertaining manner, until the dreaded question came: "Well, young gentlemen," said she, "have you seen any thing of my sorrel horse in your walks this morning?"
The boys looked at one another for some moments in silence, scarce knowing what answer to make. At last, George, to put an end to the painful suspense, said in a subdued voice, "Mother, the sorrel horse is dead." He then, in a few brief words, told her how it had all happened, and ended by entreating her forgiveness if he had offended; at the same time assuring her, that, in so doing, he had only thought of giving her a pleasant surprise.
When he first began his account of the mishap, a flush of anger rose to his mother's cheek; of which, however, there was not a trace to be seen by the time he had finished; and she answered, with something like an approving smile, "My son, as you have had the courage to come and tell me the truth at once, I freely forgive you: had you skulked away, I would have despised you, and been ashamed to own you as my son."
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Washington left the care and education of her son George, in no small measure, to the judgment and discretion of her step-son Lawrence, a young man of twenty-five, and lately married to Miss Fairfax. The love that had always existed between these two brothers was something beautiful indeed to behold,—the more so when we take into consideration the difference of fourteen years in their ages; and, now that their dear father was no more, this love grew all the more tender and strong, and George soon learned to look up to his eldest brother as to a second father.
Mr. Lawrence Washington, besides being a fine scholar and one of the most polished gentlemen of his day, was also a brave and able soldier; having served during the late Spanish war as a lieutenant under the great Admiral Vernon, in honor of whom he had named his fine estate on the Potomac, Mount Vernon.
At Mount Vernon, then, we find George spending by far the greater portion of his holidays; and here he often fell in with young officers, fellow-soldiers of his brother, to whom with eager ears he was wont to listen as they recounted their adventures, and told of hard-fought battles by land and sea with the roving pirates, or sea-robbers, and proud and vengeful Spaniards. These stories so fired his ardent young spirit, that he longed of all things to become a great soldier, that he might go forth to fight the enemies of his country, wherever they were to be found, and drive them from the face of the wide earth. To give these feelings some relief, he would muster his little school-fellows at play-time, and take them through the lessons of a military drill; showing them how to fire and fall back, how to advance and retreat, how to form in line of march, how to pitch their tents for a night's encampment, how to lay an Indian ambuscade, how to scale a wall, how to storm a battery; and, in short, forty other evolutions not to be found in any work on military tactics ever written, and at which old Wooden Leg, had he been there, would have shaken his cocked hat with a dubious look. Then dividing them into two opposing armies, with himself at the head of one, and the tallest boy of the school leading on the other, he would incite them to fight sham battles with wooden swords, wooden guns, snow-balls, and such other munitions of war as came most readily to hand; in which George, no matter what might be the odds against him, or what superior advantages the enemy might have in weapons or ground, was always sure to come off victorious.
He was a handsome boy, uncommonly tall, strong, and active for his age; could out-run, out-jump, out-ride any boy three years older than himself; and, in wrestling, there was not one in a hundred who could bring his back to the ground. Many stories are told of his wonderful strength; and the spot is still shown, where, when a boy, he stood on the banks of the Rappahannock River, and, at its widest part, threw a stone to the opposite side,—a feat that no one has been found able to perform since that day. It was said, that, a few years later, he stood under the Natural Bridge, and threw a silver dollar upon the top of it,—a height of two hundred and twenty feet; not less than that of Bunker-hill Monument, and more than double that of the tallest hickory that ever hailed down its ripened nuts upon your heads. Although there were none more studious than he in the schoolroom, yet he always took the keenest delight in every kind of active and manly sport, and was the acknowledged leader of the playground. But he had qualities of mind and heart far more desirable and meritorious than those of mere bodily activity and strength. Such was his love of truth, his strong sense of justice, and his clearness of judgment, that, when any dispute arose between his playmates, they always appealed to him to decide the difference between them, as willing to abide by his decision, and make it their law. Although he had the courage of a young lion, and was even more than a match in strength for many an older boy, he was never known to have a fight at school, nor elsewhere indeed, that I have ever heard; for such was the respect he ever showed to the feelings and wishes of others, that he never gave an insult, and, depend upon it, never received one.
The high ground of Mount Vernon commands a splendid view of the Potomac up and down for miles, where it makes a noble bend, and winds its shining course amidst verdant meadow-slopes and richly wooded hills. Now and then, in the course of the year, some noble ship, with all its sails outspread and gay banners fluttering to the breeze, might be seen moving down the majestic stream, hastening in its pride and strength to stem the billows of the mighty ocean. With the keenest of delight none but the young and daring mind can ever know, George, as he stood on the piazza in front of his brother's mansion, would watch them with wishful eyes, until a bend of the river hid their lofty masts behind the green tops of the yet more lofty hills between. Then would there awaken in his heart an earnest longing to become a sailor; to go forth in some gallant ship upon the face of the great deep; to visit those far-off countries, where he might behold with his own eyes those wonders he had read so much of in books. At such times, it may be, there would arise in his mind enchanting visions of some desert island, upon whose lonely rocky shores he might some day have the rare good fortune of being thrown by the angry billows, there to dwell, like another Robinson Crusoe, many, many years, with no other company than talking birds, skipping goats, and dancing cats, and, if so lucky, a good man Friday, to be rescued by his daring from the bloody clutches of the terrible cannibals.
Lawrence Washington was not long in discovering the thoughts that were uppermost in the mind of the adventurous boy; and, like the generous brother that he was, resolved that, should an opportunity offer, a wish so natural should be gratified. In a short time after, George being then about fourteen years of age, a British man-of-war moved up the Potomac, and cast anchor in full view of Mount Vernon. On board of this vessel his brother Lawrence procured him a midshipman's warrant, after having by much persuasion gained the consent of his mother; which, however, she yielded with much reluctance, and many misgivings with respect to the profession her son was about to choose. Not knowing how much pain all this was giving his mother, George was as near wild with delight as could well be with a boy of a nature so even and steady. Now, what had all along been but a waking dream was about to become a wide-awake reality. His preparations were soon made: already was his trunk packed, and carried on board the ship that was to bear him so far away from his native land; and nothing now remained but to bid farewell to the loved ones at home. But when he came and stood before his mother, dressed in his gay midshipman's uniform, so tall and robust in figure, so handsome in face, and so noble in look and gesture, the thought took possession of her mind, that, if she suffered him to leave her then, she might never see him more; and, losing her usual firmness and self-control, she burst into tears.
"Deeply do I regret, my dear son," said she, "to disappoint you in a wish you have so near at heart: but I find I cannot bring myself to give you up yet; for, young as you are, your aid and counsel have already become to me of the greatest service and comfort; and these little fatherless ones, now weeping around you, have learned to look up to you as their protector and guide. You know too little of the ways of the world, and are too young and inexperienced, to go forth to endure its hardships, and battle with its temptations, that lie in wait on every side to entrap the unwary, and lead them down to destruction. Without you, our home would be lonely indeed: then, for your mother's sake, and for the sake of these little ones, give up your darling scheme, for the present at least, that we may all be happy at home once more together."
Thus entreated, what could he do but yield consent to the wishes of a loving and prudent mother, and remain at home? where, in a few days, his noble self-denial was rewarded with a sweet contentment of mind that he could never have known had he left the dear ones in sorrow behind him, and gone forth to spend months and years upon the billows of the lonely seas. Surely a kind Heaven so ordered that the welfare and happiness of us Americans, and, it may be, that of the whole world, should be made to depend upon the promptings of a mother's love; for had the boy Washington realized this early dream, and gone forth in that gallant ship, he might have perished in the stormy deep, and we had never known the name we now love so much to praise and venerate. Or, by his distinguished abilities, he might have risen to become in time the Lord High Admiral of the British Navy; and, instead of being set apart to the salvation of his native land, might have been made an instrument to its destruction, impossible as such an event may now appear to us, with our knowledge of the glorious work he did perform when in the fulness of his strength and years, and accustomed as we are to behold in him our model of all that is great and virtuous in mankind.
"RULES OF BEHAVIOR."
For the five years following his father's death, George made his home at the house of his half-brother, Augustine Washington, at a considerable distance from his mother's, where he might have the benefit of a better school which that neighborhood afforded. His new schoolmaster was a Mr. Williams, a very worthy man; who, however, although he knew a vast deal more than Mr. Hobby, the poor old grave-digger, was far from being what we might call a first-rate scholar. But what his teacher lacked in learning, George made up in diligence, and the most judicious use of every means of self-improvement within his reach. And here, my dear children, let me remind you of a thing worthy of your remembrance through life, that success in the pursuit of knowledge depends far less upon the ability and skill of the teacher, than upon the industry, perseverance, and willing application of the learner.
Under the instruction of this, his second and last teacher, George got a little insight into English grammar, read some history, became well acquainted with geography, completely mastered arithmetic, and made handsome progress in geometry and trigonometry; which, as you must know, are higher branches of mathematics than arithmetic, and far more difficult to comprehend. In connection with the two latter, he studied surveying; by which is taught, as you must continue to bear in mind hereafter, the measurement of land.
When he had advanced so far in this study as to give him some idea of the proper use and handling of the chain and compass, the two principal instruments employed in this art, he began to put his knowledge into practice by taking surveys of the farms lying in the immediate neighborhood of his schoolhouse, and also of the lands belonging to the estate of Mount Vernon.
Assisted by his schoolmates, he would follow up, and measure off with the help of his long steel chain, the boundary lines between the farms, such as fences, roads, and watercourses; then those dividing the different parts of the same farm; determining at the same time, with the help of his compass, their various courses, their crooks and windings, and the angles formed at their points of meeting or intersection. This would enable him to get at the shape and size not only of each farm, but of every meadow, field, and wood composing it. This done, he would make a map or drawing on paper of the land surveyed, whereon would be clearly traced the lines dividing the different parts, with the name and number of acres of each attached; while, on the opposite page, he would write down the long and difficult tables of figures by which these results had been reached. All this he would execute with as much neatness and accuracy as if it had been left with him to decide thereby some gravely disputed land-claim.
To qualify himself for the management of business affairs upon reaching the age of manhood, he would copy off into a blank-book every form or instrument of writing he would meet with; such as deeds, wills, notes of hand, bills of exchange, receipts, bonds, land-warrants, &c., &c. And, what was still more remarkable in a boy of thirteen, he wrote down, under the head of what he called "Rules of Behavior in Company and Conversation," such wise maxims, and lines of wholesome advice, as he would pick up from time to time in the course of his reading or observation, to aid him in forming habits of industry, politeness, and morality. Some of these rules, your Uncle Juvinell, with an eye mainly to your well-being, will repeat to you; for, when but a boy, he got them by heart, well knowing, that, without some such aid, he would find it hard, if not impossible, to so order his walks through life as to win and deserve the esteem and confidence of his fellow-men, as well as the blessing and approbation of his Maker. And now that he has reached the evening of his days, and is well assured that the daily observance of these rules has made him a wiser, a better, and a happier man, he would most earnestly advise all his friends, great or small, but especially small, be they boys or girls, to pursue the like course, if they would be favored of Heaven in the like manner. Here they are:—
"1. Every action in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those present.
"2. In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.
"3. Speak not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you should hold your peace, walk not when others stop.
"4. Turn not your back to others, especially in speaking; jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes; lean not on any one.
"5. Be not a flatterer; neither play with any one that delights not to be played with.
"6. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.
"7. It is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves, especially if they be above us; with whom in no sort ought we to begin.
"8. Strive not with your superiors in an argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.
"9. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; for it is immodest and presumptuous.
"10. When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.
"11. Before you advise or find fault with any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, presently or at some other time, in what terms to do it; and, in reproving, show no signs of anger, but do it with sweetness and mildness.
"12. Take all advice thankfully, in what time or place soever given; but afterwards, not being blamable, take a time or place convenient to let him know it that gave it.
"13. Mock not in jest at any thing of importance: if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.
"14. Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable yourself; for example is better than precept.
"15. Use no reproachful language against any one; neither curse nor revile.
"16. Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the injury of any.
"17. In your apparel, be modest, and endeavor to accommodate yourself to nature, rather than to procure admiration; keep to the fashion of your equals, such as are civil and orderly, with respect to time and places.
"18. Play not the peacock, looking everywhere about you to see if you be well decked, if your shoes fit well, if your pantaloons sit neatly, and clothes handsomely.
"19. Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
"20. Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a kindly and commendable nature; and, in all causes of passion, admit reason to govern.
"21. Be not immodest in urging a friend to make known a secret.
"22. Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and learned men, nor very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant, nor things hard to believe.
"23. Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth, nor at the table; speak not of melancholy things, as death and wounds; and, if others mention them, change, if you can, the discourse. Tell not your dreams but to your intimate friend.
"24. Break not a jest, when none take pleasure in mirth; laugh not loud, nor at all, without occasion; deride no man's misfortune, though there seem to be some cause.
"25. Speak not injurious words, neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none, although they give occasion.
"26. Seek not to lessen the merits of others; neither give more than due praise.
"27. Go not thither where you know not whether you shall be welcome. Give not advice without being asked; and, when desired, do it briefly.
"28. Reprove not the imperfections of others; for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.
"29. Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of others, and ask not how they came. What you may speak in secret to your friend, deliver not before others.
"30. Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.
"31. When another speaks, be attentive yourself, and disturb not the audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not nor prompt him without being desired; interrupt him not nor answer him until his speech be ended.
"32. Treat with men at right times about business, and whimper not in the company of others.
"33. Be not in haste to relate news, if you know not the truth thereof.
"34. Be not curious to know the affairs of others; neither approach those that speak in private.
"35. Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.
"36. When your masters or superiors talk to anybody, hearken not, nor speak or laugh.
"37. Speak not evil of the absent; for it is unjust.
"38. Make no show of taking delight in your victuals; feed not with greediness; cut your food with a knife, and lean not on the table; neither find fault with what you eat.
"39. Be not angry at the table, whatever happens; and, if you have reason to be so, show it not, but put on a cheerful face, especially if there be strangers; for good humor makes of one dish a feast.
"40. If you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously, in reverence; and honor and obey your parents.
"41. Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.
"42. Labor to keep in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."
Now, does it not strike you, my dear children, as being most truly wonderful that it should have ever entered the mind of a boy of thirteen to lay down for his own guidance and self-improvement such rules and principles as these I have just repeated? It certainly must. And yet when I tell you that he strictly adhered to them through life, and squared his conduct by them daily, you will, no doubt, think it quite unreasonable that he could have been other than the good and great man he was.
These writings I have mentioned filled several quires of paper; and together with his business papers, letters, journals, and account-books, written later in life, and with the same neatness and precision, are still preserved at Mount Vernon with pious care; and are even now to be seen by those who go on pilgrimages to that sacred spot, although, since many of them were penned, more than a hundred years have come and gone.
And thus, my children, you have seen young Washington, at an age when most boys are wasting their precious hours in idle sports, seeking to acquire those habits of industry, punctuality, and method, which afterwards enabled him so to economize time and labor as to do with ease and expedition what others did with difficulty and tardiness. You have seen him making the best use of the slender means within his reach for storing his mind with those treasures of knowledge, and schooling his heart in the daily practice of those exalted virtues, which, after a life well spent and work well done, make good his title to the name he bears,—the greatest and the wisest of human kind.
At last, the day came when George was to leave school for ever; and a day of sorrow it was to his school-fellows, who parted from him with many an affectionate wish, and, as we are told, even with tears; so greatly had he endeared himself to them by his noble disposition, gentle manners, and earnest desire to do as he would be done by, which appeared in all his words and actions. In these regrets, Mr. Williams, his worthy schoolmaster, also shared; and it gave him in after-life, when his little George had become the great Washington, the most heartfelt pleasure to say, that it had never been his privilege to teach another pupil who could at all compare with him for diligence in application, aptitude in learning, docility of disposition, manly generosity, courage, and truth.