« PreviousContinue »
Then he carefully asked:
“Have you observed Miss Philipse during my absence?”
“I have seen her, frequently.”
“Sometimes alone, frequently in company with Captain Morris.”
“Colonel Stevens, she is an accomplished and refined lady.”
“Truly she is, general; but she is more apt to be caught by the butterfly glitter of appearances than by the sterling worth of a man.”
The last sentence was easily interpreted by Washington. Though a covert compliment to himself, he was not a little uneasy at the part referring to the inability of Miss Philipse to realize “sterling worth” when placed alongside the “butterfly glitter of appearances.”
He lingered three weeks in New York, when urgent appeals came from Virginia. Duty was calling him, and he could not tarry. On the day he left, he saw Miss Philipse. He stated that urgent business called him to the frontier, and, after assuring Miss Philipse of the lasting impression she had made on him, concluded with a proposal. Miss Philipse blushed and gave an evasive answer, so he was compelled to leave with the matter unsettled, yet with room for hope.
In the latter part of March, Washington was at Williamsburg, attending the opening of the legislature of Virginia, eager to promote measures for the protection of the frontier and the capture of Fort Du Quesne, which was the leading object of his ambition. While thus engaged, he received a letter from Noah Stevens informing him that Captain Morris had laid siege in earnest to Miss Philipse, asking him to hurry back to assert his own claims.
“A woman so fickle that once out of sight is out of mind is not worth the winning,” thought Washington and gave his whole attention to the business in hand.
While Washington was on the frontier, at the post of Winchester, with but a handful of men, unaided by the general assembly, defending helpless mothers and babes from the fury of the savage, Mary Philipse was married to Captain Morris. She was lost to him; but Mary's loss was far the greatest, for she lost distinction and renown. She who might have had her name written in history as the choice of the man who founded the greatest republic on earth is to-day unknown.
Master of human destinies am I?
THE field marshal of New France, the Marquis De Montcalm, had no sooner arrived at Quebec as governor-general and commander-in-chief, than he began to post himself as to the relative strength of the English and French forces in the New World. He was not long in discovering that the provincial troops, with their determined officers, were more to be dreaded than the Earl of Loudon and all his regulars.
“Keep Washington and his provincials employed in the southwest, and we need not fear Loudon and Abercrombie,” he declared. Then he also knew that there was a bitter strife between the royalists and provincials, and, while Montcalm dreaded the provincials most, his sympathies were with them. They were a race of brave men struggling for liberty.
Montcalm, however, saw his opportunity and determined to improve it. He cemented the friendship with the Indians by every possible means. He sang their war songs, danced in their war dances and attended their camp fires. To allay the jealousy of the Six Nations, he destroyed the forts at Oswego after they were captured; and the priests who accompanied him erected a cross, on which they placed the words:
“This is the banner of victory.”
Close to it was raised a wooden column, on which was placed the arms of France and the inscription: “Bring lilies with full hands.”
Then Montcalm descended the St. Lawrence with his prisoners, and sent the captured English flags to decorate the churches of Montreal and Quebec. The destruction of the forts at Oswego was an admirable stroke of policy on the part of the French commander. It pleased the savages and, as he hoped, caused them to assume a position of neutrality toward the belligerents. French emissaries soon seduced the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas from British interest. A more repugnant or incompetent person than the Earl of Loudon could not have been chosen. He was imperious and undignified in his deportment. Devoid of either civil or military genius; quick to threaten, but slow to execute; possessing no semblance of public virtue; unsympathetic with anything noble or generous in human character; always in a hurry and hurrying others, but excessively dilatory in the performance of duties, he excited the disgust, jealousy, dislike and contempt of the colonists. He was a stranger to the terms, unselfishness and honor. When Dr. Franklin asked him to reimburse some outlays in public service, the earl said: “You can well afford to wait, as you have doubt. less taken care to fill your own pockets in your public transactions.” Franklin was stunned at this accusation, but, recovering himself, answered: