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CHAPTER takes occurred, the faulty words were so skilfully erased
and corrected, as to render the defect invisible except to a scrutinizing eye. The constructing of tables, diagrams, and other figures relating to numbers or classification, was an exercise in which he seems at all times to have taken much delight. If
of his farms were to be divided into new lots, a plan was first drawn on paper ; if he meditated a rotation of crops, or a change in the mode of culture, the various items of expense, labor, products, and profits were reduced to tabular forms; and in his written instructions to his managers, which were annually repeated, the same method was pursued.
While at the head of the army this habit was of especial service to him. The names and rank of the officers, the returns of the adjutants, commissaries, and quartermasters, were compressed by him into systematic tables, so contrived as to fix strongly in his mind the most essential parts, without being encumbered with details. When the army was to march, or perform any movements requiring combination and concert, a scheme was first delineated; and at the beginning of an active campaign, or in the preparation for a detached enterprise, the line of battle was projected and sketched on paper, each officer being assigned to his post, with the names of the regiments and strength of the forces he was to command.
During the presidency it was likewise his custom to subject the treasury reports and accompanying documents to the process of tabular condensation, with a vast expenditure of labor and patience; but it enabled him to grasp and retain in their order a series of isolated facts, and the results of a complicated mass of figures, which could never have been mastered so effectually by any other mode of approaching them. Such were some of the benefits of those parts of his education, to which he was led by the natural bent of his mind.
Except the above branches of the mathematics, his acquirements did not extend beyond the subjects usually taught to boys of his age at the common schools. It is
Educated only at the common schools,
even doubtful whether he received any instruction in the CHAPTER principles of language. His earliest compositions were often faulty in grammatical construction. By practice, reading, and study, he gradually overcame this defect, till at length he wrote with accuracy, purity of idiom, and a striking appropriateness of phraseology and clearness of style. In the choice of his words, to express precisely and forcibly his meaning, he was always scrupulous. In this respect his language may be said to have reflected the image of his mind, in which candor, sincerity, and directness were prevailing traits.
No aid was derived from any other than his native Acquainted tongue. He never even commenced the study of the an- foreign cient classics. After the French officers had joined the American army in the revolution, and particularly while the forces under Count de Rochambeau were in the country, he bestowed some degree of attention on that language; but at no time could he write or converse in it, or indeed translate any paper.
While at school a project was entertained by his friends, Proposal which, if it had been matured, would have changed his enter the own destiny, and perhaps have produced an important influence upon that of his country. His eldest brother, Lawrence, had been an officer in the late war, and served at the siege of Carthagena and in the West Indies. Being a well informed and accomplished gentleman, he had acquired the esteem and confidence of General Wentworth and Admiral Vernon, the commanders of the expedition, with whom he afterwards kept up a friendly correspondence. Having observed the military turn of his young brother, and looking upon the British navy as the most direct road to distinction in that line, he obtained for George a midshipman's warrant, in the year 1746, when he was fourteen years old. This step was taken with his acquiescence, if not at his request, and he prepared with a buoyant spirit for his departure; but, as the time approached, the solicitude of his mother interposed with an authority, to which nature gave a claim.
At this critical juncture, Mr. Jackson, a friend of the family, wrote to Lawrence Washington as follows. “I am afraid Mrs. Washington will not keep up to her first resolution. She seems to dislike George's going to sea, and says several persons have told her it was a bad scheme. She offers several trifling objections, such as fond, unthinking mothers habitually suggest; and I find that one word against his going has more weight than ten for it.” She persisted in opposing the plan, and it was given up. Nor ought this decision to be ascribed to obstinacy, or maternal weakness. This was her eldest son, whose character and manners must already have exhibited a promise, full of solace and hope to a widowed mother, on whom alone devolved the charge of four younger children. To see him separated from her at so tender an age, exposed to the perils of accident and the world's rough usage, without a parent's voice to counsel or a parent's hand to guide, and to enter on a theatre of action, which would for ever remove him from her presence, was a trial of her fortitude and sense of duty, which she could not be expected to hazard without reluctance and concern.
Soon after leaving school he went to reside with his brother Lawrence, at his seat on the Potomac River, which had been called Mount Vernon, in compliment to the admiral of that name. The winter was passed in his favorite study of the mathematics, and in the exercise of practical surveying, merely with the view of becoming familiar with the application of principles and the use of instruments. At this time he was introduced to Lord Fairfax, and other members of the Fairfax family, established in that part of Virginia.
Lawrence Washington had married a daughter of William Fairfax, a gentleman of consideration on account of his wealth, character, and political station, being many years a member and for some time president of his Majesty's Council in the Colony. His seat was at Belvoir, a short distance from Mount Vernon. He had an interesting family of several sons and daughters, intelligent
Resides with his brother Lawrence,
and cultivated, with whom George associated on terms CHAPTER of intimacy, and formed attachments that were ever after
1. valuable to him. In the father he found a friend and adviser, as well as a man skilled in affairs, of wide experience, and of an enlightened understanding. To his fortunate acquaintance with this family he was mainly indebted for the opportunities of performing those acts, which laid the foundation of his subsequent successes and advancement. Lord Fairfax, a distant relative of William Fairfax, was Lord
Fairfax. a man of an eccentric turn of mind, of great private worth, generous, and hospitable. He had been accustomed to the best society to which his rank entitled him in England. While at the University of Oxford he had a fondness for literature, and his taste and skill in that line may be inferred from his having written some of the papers in the Spectator. Possessing by inheritance a vast tract of country, situate between the Potomac and Rappahannoc Rivers, and stretching across the Allegany Mountains, he made a voyage to Virginia to examine this domain. So well pleased was he with the climate and mode of life that he resolved, after going back to England and arranging his affairs, to return and spend his days in the midst of this wild territory.
At the time of which we are now speaking, he had just arrived to execute his purpose, and was residing with his relative at Belvoir. This was his home for several years; but he at length removed over the Blue Ridge, built a house in the Shenandoah valley, called Greenway Court, and cultivated a large farm. Here he lived in comparative seclusion, often amusing himself with hunting, but chiefly devoted to the care of his estate, to acts of benevolence among his tenants, and to such public duties as devolved upon him, in the narrow sphere he had chosen; a friend of liberty, honored for his uprightness, esteemed for the amenity of his manners and his practical virtues. He died at the advanced age of ninety-two, near the close of the American revolution.
surveyor of Lord Fairfax's lands.
William Fairfax was born in England. He joined the
army in early life, and served in Spain; went next to 1748. the East Indies, and afterwards took part in an expedi
tion against the Island of New Providence. He was successively governor of that Island, and chief justice of the Bahamas; and was thence transferred at his request to an office in New England. While there he yielded to the solicitation of Lord Fairfax to take the agency of his affairs in Virginia, and had been several years in that employment, when the latter assumed the charge into his own hands.
The immense tracts of wild lands, belonging to Lord Fairfax in the rich valleys of the Allegany Mountains, had not been surveyed. Settlers were finding their way up the streams, selecting the fertile places, and securing an occupancy without warrant or license. To enable the proprietor to claim his quitrents and give legal titles, it
was necessary that those lands should be divided into Appointed lots and accurately measured. So favorable an opinion
had he formed of the abilities and attainments of young Washington, that he intrusted to him this responsible service; and he set off on his first surveying expedition in March, just a month from the day he was sixteen years old, accompanied by George Fairfax, the eldest son of William Fairfax.
The enterprise was arduous, requiring discretion and
skill, and attended with privations and fatigues to which Employed as he had not been accustomed. After crossing the first
range of the Alleganies, the party entered a wilderness. From that time their nights were passed under the open sky, or in tents or rude cabins affording but a treacherous shelter against the inclemency of the weather. The winds sometimes beat upon them, and prostrated them to the ground. Winter still lingered on the summits of the mountains; the rivers, swollen by melting snows and recent rains, were impassable at the usual fords, except by swimming the horses; the roads and paths through the woods were obstructed by swamps, rocks, and precipices.
survey or among the Allegany Muuntuins.