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He needed, virtue proof, no thought infirm
And is the judgment of mankind so depraved, is their perception of moral worth so dull, that they can withhold their admiration from such a character and be stow it, for instance, upon the hard-hearted, wondrous youth of ancient renown, who when he had trampled the effeminate rabble of the East under the iron feet of his Macedonian Phalanx, and that world which he wept to conquer was in fact grovelling at his footstool; when he might have founded a dynasty at Babylon which would have crushed the Roman domination in the bud, and changed the history of the world from that time to this, could fool away the sceptre of universal dominion which Providence was forcing into his hand in one night's debauch, and quench power and glory and reason and life in the poisonous cup of wine and harlotry?
Can men coldly qualify their applause of the patriot hero of the American Revolution, who never drew his sword but in a righteous defensive war, and magnify the name of the great Roman Dictator who made the "bravo's trade" the merciless profession of his life, and trained his legions in the havoc of unoffending foreign countries for the "more than civil wars” in which he prostrated the liberties of his own?
Can they seriously disparage our incorruptible Washington, who would not burden the impoverished treasury of the Union by accepting even the frugal pay of his rank; whose entire expenditure charged to the public for the whole war was less than the cost of the stationery of Congress for a single year; whom all the gold of California and Australia could not have
bribed to a mean act, can they seriously disparage him in comparison with such a man as the hero of Blenheim, the renowned English commander, the ablest general, the most politic statesman, the most adroit negotiator of the day, of whom it has been truly said that he never formed the plan of a campaign which he failed to execute, never besieged a city which he did not take, never fought a battle which he did not gain, and who, alas! caused the muster-rolls of his victorious army to be fraudently made out, and pocketed the pay which he drew in the names of men who had fallen in his own sight four years before.
There is a splendid monumental pile in England, the most magnificent perhaps of her hundred palaces, founded in the time of Queen Anne at the public cost, to perpetuate the fame of Marlborough. The grand building, with its vast wings and spacious courts, covers seven acres and a half of land. It is approached on its various sides by twelve gates or bridges, some of them triumphal gates, in a circumference of thirteen miles, enclosing the noble park of twenty-seven hundred acres (Boston Common has forty-three), in which the castle stands, surrounded by the choicest beauties of forest and garden and fountain and lawn and stream. All that gold could buy, or the bounty of his own or foreign princes could bestow, or taste devise, or art execute, or ostentation could lavish, to perfect and adorn the all but regal structure, without and within, is there. Its saloons and its galleries, its library and its museum, among the most spacious in England for a private mansion, are filled with the rarities and wonders of ancient and modern art. Eloquent inscriptions from the most gifted pens of the age—the English by Lord Bolingbroke, the Latin, I
believe, by Bishop Hoadley-set forth on triumphal arches and columns the exploits of him to whom the whole edifice and the domains which surround it are one gorgeous monument. Lest human adulation should prove unequal to the task, Nature herself has been called in to record his achievements. They have been planted, rooted in the soil. Groves and coppices, curiously disposed, represent the position, the numbers, the martial array of the hostile squadrons at Blenheim. Thus, with each returning year, Spring hangs out his triumphant banners. May's Eolian lyre sings of his victories through her gorgeous foliage; and the shrill trump of November sounds "Malbrook" through her leafless branches.
Twice in my life I have visited the magnificent residence, not as a guest; once when its stately porticos afforded a grateful shelter from the noonday sun, and again, after thirty years' interval, when the light of a full harvest moon slept sweetly on the bank once shaded by fair Rosamond's bower, — says tradition, -and poured its streaming bars of silver through the branches of oaks which were growing before Columbus discovered America. But to me, at noontide or in the evening, the gorgeous pile was as dreary as death, its luxurious grounds as melancholy as a churchyard. It seemed to me, not a splendid palace, but a dismal mausoleum, in which a great and blighted name lies embalmed like some old Egyptian tyrant, black and ghastly in the asphaltic contempt of ages, serving but to rescue from an enviable oblivion the career and character of the magnificent peculator and miser and traitor to whom it is dedicated; needy in the midst of his ill-gotten millions; mean at the head of his victorious armies: despicable under the shadow of his
thick-woven laurels ; and poor and miserable and blind and naked amidst the lying shams of his tinsel greatness. The eloquent inscriptions in Latin and English as I strove to read them seemed to fade from arch and column, and three dreadful words of palimpsestic infamy came out in their stead, like those which caused the knees of the Chaldean tyrant to smite together, as he beheld them traced by no mortal fingers on the vaulted canopy which spread like a sky over his accursed revels; and those dreadful words were,
Avarice, Plunder, Eternal Shame!
There is a modest private mansion on the bank of the Potomac, the abode of George Washington and Martha his beloved, his loving, faithful wife. It boasts no spacious portal nor gorgeous colonnade, nor massy elevation, nor storied tower. The porter's lodge at Blenheim Castle, nay, the marble dog-kennels, were not built for the entire cost of Mount Vernon. No arch nor column, in courtly English or courtlier Latin, sets forth the deeds and the worth of the Father of his Country; he needs them not; the unwritten benedictions of millions cover all the walls. No gilded dome swells from the lowly roof to catch the morning or evening beam; but the love and gratitude of united America settle upon it in one eternal sunshine. From beneath that humble roof went forth the intrepid and unselfish warrior, the magistrate who knew no glory but his country's good; to that he returned happiest when his work was done. There he lived in noble simplicity; there he died in glory and peace. While it stands the latest generations of the grateful children of America will make their pilgrimage to it as to a shrine; and when it shall fall, if
fall it must, the memory and the name of Washington shall shed an eternal glory on the spot.
Yes, my friends, it is the pure morality of Washington's character in which its peculiar excellence resides; and it is this which establishes its intimate relations with general humanity. On this basis he ceases to be the hero of America, and becomes the hero of mankind. I have seen it lately maintained by a respectable foreign writer, that he could not have led the mighty host which Napoleon marched into Russia in 1812; not so much one army as thirteen armies, each led by its veteran chief, some of them by tributary kings, and all conducted to their destination across continental Europe without confusion and without mutual interference, by the master mind, the greatest military array the world has ever seen. That Washington, who never proved unequal to any task, however novel or arduous, could not have led that gigantic army into Russia I am slow to believe. I see not why he who did great things with small means is to be supposed to be incompetent to do great things with large means. That he would not, if it depended on him, have plunged France and Europe into that dreadful war, I readily grant. But allowing what cannot be shown, that he was not as a strategist equal to the task in question, I do not know that his military reputation is more impeached by this gratuitous assumption, that he could not have got that mighty host into Russia, than Napoleon's by the historical fact that he could not and did not get it out of Russia.
At any rate, whatever idle comparisons between Napoleon and Washington, unfavorable to the military genius of the latter, may be instituted, Washing