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and intelligence. He was adjutant-general of his district, with the rank and pay of major, and at this time was a popular member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. At Mount Vernon and at Belvoir the sprightly boy George, who was a favorite everywhere, became accustomed to the refinements and amenities of English social life, in its best phases, and this had a marked influence upon his future character.
There were other influences there which made a deep impression upon the mind of the thoughtful boy. Sometimes the companions-in-arms of his brother, or officers from some naval vessel that came into the Potomac, would be guests at Mount Vernon, and perils by field and flood would be related. In these narratives Sir William Fairfax often joined, and related his experience in the far-off Indies, in marches, battles, sieges, and retreats. These fired the soul of young Washington with longings for adventure, and accordingly, we find him, at the age of fourteen years, preparing to enter the English navy as a midshipman, a warrant having been procured. His brother and Mr. Fairfax encouraged his inclination, and his mother's reluctant consent was obtained. A vessel-of-war was lying in the Potomac, and the lad's luggage was on board, when his mother received the following letter from her brother, in England, dated Stratford-by-Bow, 19th May, 1747:
"I understand that you are advised and have some thoughts of putting your son George to sea. I think he had better be put apprentice to a tinker, for a common sailor before the mast has by no means the common liberty of the subject; for they will press him from a ship where he has fifty shillings a
month and make him take twenty-three, and cut, and slash, and use him like a negro, or rather like a dog. And, as to any considerable preferment in the navy, it is not to be expected, as there are always so many gaping for it here who have interest, and he has none. And if he should get to be master of a Virginia ship (which it is very difficult to do), a planter that has three or four hundred acres of land and three or four slaves, if he be industrious, may live more comfortably, and leave his family in better bread, than such a master of a ship can. He must not be too hasty to be rich, but go on gently and with patience, as things will naturally go. This method, without aiming at being a fine gentleman before his time, will carry a man more comfortably and surely through the world than going to sea, unless it be a great chance indeed. I pray God keep you and
"Your loving brother,
This letter, without doubt, made the mother decide to act according to the desire of her heart, for already a friend had written to Lawrence, "I am afraid Mrs. Washington will not keep up to her first resolution. I find
that one word against his going has more weight than ten for it." She could not expose her son to the hardships and perils of the British navy, so vividly portrayed by his uncle. Her consent was withdrawn, and George Washington, with disappointed ambition, returned to school, fell desperately in love with a "lowland beauty" (who reciprocated not his passion, but became the mother of General Henry Lee), indited
sentimental verses, as young lovers are apt to do, sighed for a time in great unhappiness, and then went to live with his brother at Mount Vernon, in partial forgetfulness that he had once dreamed that
"She was his life,
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
Now it was that young Washington's real intimacy with the Fairfax family commenced, and an attachment was formed between himself and George William Fairfax, his senior by six or seven years, who had just brought his bride and her sister to Belvoir.
Young Washington's heart was tender and susceptible, and that bride's beautiful sister tried its constancy to his first love very sorely. To his young friend "Robin," he wrote: "My residence is at present at his lordship's, where I might, was my heart disengaged, pass my time very pleasantly, as there is a very agreeable young lady lives in the same house (Colonel George Fairfax's wife's sister); but as that is only adding fuel to fire, it makes me the more uneasy, for by often and unavoidably being in company with her, revives my former passion for your Lowland Beauty; whereas, was I to live more retired from young women, I might in some measure alleviate my sorrows, by burying that chaste and troublesome passion in the grave of oblivion." Thus wrote George Washington before he was sixteen years of age.
He was soon taken from these temptations. He was a tall, finely-formed, athletic youth, and Lord Fairfax, who was a passionate fox-hunter, though old in years, invited him one day
to join him in the chase. His lordship was so charmed with his young friend's boldness in the saddle and enthusiastic pursuit of the hounds and game, that he took him to his bosom as a companion; and many a hard day's ride this young and old man had together after that, in the forests of Virginia.
But a more noble, because a more useful pursuit than the mere pleasures of the chase, now offered its attractions to the lad. Master Williams had taught him the mysteries of surveying, and the old Lord Fairfax, having observed his practice of the art at Mount Vernon, and his extreme care and accuracy, proposed to him to go to his broad possessions beyond the Blue Ridge, where lawless intruders were seated, and prepare his domain for settlement, by running boundary lines between large sections. The lad gladly acceded to the proposition, and just a month from the time he was sixteen years of age, he set off upon the arduous and responsible enterprise. And to this day a little log-house, near Battle Town, in Clarke county, is pointed out to the traveller, wherein the young surveyor lodged; and in the same county, not far from Winchester, stood, a few years ago, the lodge of Green way Court.
In the wilderness, around the south branch of the Potomac, the future Leader received those lessons in wood-craft- that personal knowledge of the country and its dusky inhabitants, and, above all, that spirit of self-reliance which was ever a most marked and important trait in his character — which fitted him for the great duties of a commander.
So satisfactory were young Washington's services on that occasion, that he received, soon after his return, the appoint
ment of public surveyor, and upon the records of Culpepper county may be read, under date of July 20th, 1749 (O. S.), that "GEORGE WASHINGTON, Gent., produced a commission from the President and Master of William and Mary College, appointing him to be surveyor of this county, which was read, and thereupon he took the usual oaths to his Majesty's person and government, and took and subscribed the abjuration oath and test, and then took the oath of a surveyor, according to law." Part of each year he was beyond the Alleghanies, with no other instruments than compass and chain, acquiring strength of limb and purpose for future great achievements, and putting money in his purse at the rate of a doubloon and sometimes six pistoles a day. These expeditions he always remembered as the greatest pleasures of his youth.
After Washington's death, more than fifty years later, the simple compass and chain and other mathematical instruments of his earlier and later years, were distributed among his family connections, but only one of them, a small library instrument, was mentioned in his will, as follows:
"To David Stuart I give my large shaving and dressing table, and my telescope."
Dr. Stuart married the widow of John Parke Custis, the son of Mrs. Washington. The telescope is now in possession of his granddaughter, wife of the Reverend A. B. Atkins, of Germantown, Pennsylvania.
And now another and more extended field of action opened before the young resident at Mount Vernon. Beneath the roof of that pleasant mansion, toward the spring of 1751, he received from acting Governor Burwell the commission of adjutant of his military district, with the rank and pay of