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noble domain of many hundred acres, stretching for miles. along the Potomac, and bordering the estates of the Fairfaxes, Masons, and other distinguished families.
Lawrence, who seems to have inherited the military spirit of his family, had lately been to the wars. commander-in-chief of England's navy in the West Indies, had lately chastised the Spaniards for their depredations upon British commerce, by capturing Porto Bello, on the isthmus of Darien. The Spaniards prepared to strike an avenging blow, and the French determined to help them. England and her colonies were aroused. Four regiments, for service in the West Indies, were to be raised in the American col
onies; and from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, the fife and drum of the recruiting sergeant were heard. Lawrence, then a spirited young man of twenty-two, was among the thousands who caught the infection, and obtaining a captain's
commission, he embarked for the West Indies in 1741, with between three and four thousand men under General Wentworth. That officer and Admiral Vernon commanded a joint expedition against Carthagena, in South America, which re
sulted in disaster. According to the best authorities not less than twenty thousand British soldiers and seamen perished, chiefly from a fatal sickness that prevailed, especially among the troops who were commanded by General Wentworth. To that scourge Thompson, in his "Summer," thus touchingly alludes:
"You, gallant Vernon, saw
The miserable scene; you, pitying, saw
Silent, to ask, whom fate would next demand."
In the midst of that terrible pestilence the system of Law rence Washington received those seeds of fatal disease against whose growth it struggled manfully for ten years, and then yielded.
Lawrence returned home in the autumn of 1742, the provincial army in which he had served having been disbanded, and Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth recalled to England. He had acquired the friendship and confidence of both those officers. For several years he kept up a correspondence with the former, and received from him a copy of a medal struck in commemoration of the capture of Porto Bello by Admiral Vernon. This was preserved at Mount Vernon until Washington's death, and is probably in Fossession of some member of the family. The only speci
men of the medal I have ever seen is in my own possession,
from which the engraving was made.
Lawrence intended to go to England, join the regular army, and seek preferment therein; but love changed his resolution and the current of his life, for
"Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And man below, and saints above."
Beautiful Anné, the eldest daughter of the Honorable William Fairfax, of Fairfax county, became the object of his warm attachment, and they were betrothed. Their nuptials were about to be celebrated in the spring of 1743, when a sudden attack of gout in the stomach deprived Lawrence of his father. But the marriage took place in July. All thoughts of military life as a profession passed from the mind of Lawrence, and, taking possession of his Hunting Creek estate, he erected a plain, substantial mansion upon the highest eminence along the Potomac front of his domain, and named the spot MOUNT VERNON, in honor of the gallant admiral.
In that mansion Lawrence resided until his death, and but little change was made in its appearance from the time when it came into the possession of his brother George by inheritance, until the close of the Old War for Independence. It has been described as a house of the first class then occupied by thrifty Virginia planters; two stories in height, with a porch in front, and a chimney built inside, at each end, contrary to the prevailing style. It stood upon a most lovely spot, on the brow of a gentle slope which ended at a thicklywooded precipitous river bank, its summit nearly one hundred feet above the water. Before it swept the Potomac with a magnificent curve, its broad bosom swarming with the graceful swan, the gull, the wild duck, and smaller water-fowl; and beyond lay the green fields and shadowy forests of Maryland.
When Lawrence was fairly settled, with his bride, in this new and pleasant home, little George was a frequent and much-petted visitor at Mount Vernon. His half-brother loved him tenderly, and after their father's death he took a paternal interest in all his concerns. The social influences to which he was subjected were of the highest order. The Fairfaxes held the first rank in wealth and social position, both in England and in Virginia; and the father-in-law of Lawrence, who occupied a beautiful country seat not far from Mount Vernon, called Belvoir, was a man of distinction, having served as an officer of the British army in the East and West Indies, and officiated as governor of New Providence, one of the Bermudas. He now managed an immense landed estate belonging to his cousin, Lord Fairfax, a tall, gaunt, rawboned, near-sighted man, upon whom had fallen