Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

by the same uniform and punctual observance of religious duties which had always marked his life. As he was chicfly resident in Philadel. phia, during the eight years of his administration, he had a pew in Christ Church of that city, of which the venerable Bishop White was then the Rector, now near his ninetieth year. During all the time that he was in the government, Washington was punctual in his at. tendance on divine worship. His pew was seldom vacant when the weather wo'ild permit him to attend. In regard to his habits, at that time, the living grandson of Mrs. Washington, Geo. W. P. Custis, Esq. of Arlington, bears the following testimony:

“« On Sundays, unless the weather was uncommonly severe, the President, and Mrs. Washington, attended divine service at Christ Church ; and in the evenings the President read to Mrs. Washington, in her chamber, a sermon, or some portion from the Sacred Writings. No visiters, with the exception of Mr. Speaker Trumbull, were admit. ted to the presidoliad on Sundays.'

“ After his retirement from the Chair of State, he still continued the same in spirit and practice. The Church in Alexandria was again his place of worship. The distance, indeed, was nine miles, and yet his pew was seldom unoccupied on the Lord's day.” p. 153, 154.

The author mentions that he always said grace at table. On one occasion, from the force of habit, he performed this duty himself when a clergyman was present-an instance of indecorum very unusual with him. Being told, after the clergyman's departure, of the incivility, he expressed his regret at the oversight, but added, the reverend gentleman will at least be assured, that we are not entirely graceless at Mount Vernon.""

So much for Washington's regular observance of the public duties of religion. There are also, a good many interesting facts illustrating his habits of private devotion.

Col. Temple, one of his aids-de-camp in the French war, our author informs us, has often been heard to say, “that on sudden and unexpected visits into Washington's marquee, he has, more than once, found him on his knees at his devotions." p. 168.

Our readers will doubtless remember the anecdoteoriginally recorded, we believe, in that whimsical production, Weem's Life of Washington," respecting the commander-inchief being accidentally discovered, by a Mr. Potts, at his private devotions in a secluded grove, near the memorable encampment of Valley Forge. We have always considered the story somewhat apocryphal. But our author quotes from a published letter written in 1832, by a Baptist minister near that place, which states that there was a man by the name of Devault Beaver, then living on this spot, eighty years of age, who said he had heard this fact stated by Mr. Potts and his family. Our au

1

thor adds, that Gen. Knox was also an accidental witness of the same thing, and was a fully apprized that prayer was the object of the Commander's frequent visits to the grove," and that the reason of his resorting there was, that his quarters in a log hut at that encampment, were not such as allowed him proper privacy for such a duty.

The following extract will be read with interest :

"In the year 1820, a clergyman of this state, being in company with Major -, a relative of Gen. Washington, had an accidental conversation with him on the subject of Christianity. The conversa. tion was of a controversial nature in the beginning, and as no good seemed to ensue, but some warmth of feeling, an effort was made to arrest the unprofitable discussion by an inquiry made of the Major, as to the religious opinions of his distinguished kinsman, the subject of these pages. This was done in part, as knowing his veneration for Washington, and for information too, as he had been captain of the General's body guard, during a greater part of the war, and possessed the best opportunities of learning his views and habits. In answer to the question, he observed, after hesitating for a moment, Gen Wash. ington was certainly a pious man, his opinions being in favor of reli. gion, and his habits all of that character and description. Being further interrogated as to his habits—he replied, that his uncle, he knew, was in the habit of praying in private—and with the animation of an old soldier, excited by professional recollections, rather than sympathy with the subject, he related the circumstances of the following occurrence : • While encamped at N. J., a soldier arrived one morning, about day-break, with despatches for the Commander. in-chief, from a distant division of the army. As soon as his business was known, he was directed to me as captain of the body guard, to whom he came forth with, and giving me his papers, I repaired at once to the General's quarters. On my way to his room after reaching the house, I had to go along a narrow passage of some length. As I approached his door, it being yet nearly dark, I was arrested by the sound of a voice. I paused and listened for a moment, when I distin. guished it as the General's voice, and in another moment found that he was engaged in audible prayer. As in his earnestness he had not heard my footsteps, or if he heard me did not choose to be interrupted, I retired to the front of the dwelling, till such time as I supposed him unengaged; when returning, and no longer hearing his voice, I knocked at the door, which being promptly opened, I deliverid the despatches, received an answer, and dismissed the soldier.” p. 160, 161.

We give only one more anecdote on this subject, which Mr. M'Guire vouches for as authentic, and which probably, as well as the foregoing, 'he owes the knowledge of to his relation to the family of Washington:

“During his residence in Philadelphia, as President of the United States, it was the habit of Washington, winter and summer, to retire to

his study at a certain hour every night. He usually did so at nine o'clock—always having a lighted candle in his hand, and closing the door carefully after him. A youthful member of his household whose room was near the study, being just across the passage, observing this constant practice of the President, had his thoughts excited in reserence to the cause of so uniform a custom. Accordingly on one occasion, in the indulgence of a juvenile curiosity, he looked into the room sometime after the President had gonc in ; and to his surprise, saw him

upon his knees at a small table, with a candle and open Bible thereon. p. 168, 169.

We here close our extracts from this book. We should be glad, to place upon our pages a good many more facts and anecdotes illustrating the excellence of Washington's character; particularly should we like to give utterance to our views in regard to what we have before intimated as distinguishing the Father of his country above all the great men whom history presents to our contemplation--that perfect proportion and harmony of all the features of his moral and intellectual nature, and that entireness and unity of his character, which was the secret of the repose, dignity and grandeur, that through his whole life made so strong an impression upon, and gave him such power over, all who approached him. But we have not space for this at present.

We shall only add a word in conclusion, respecting the manner in which Mr. M'Guire has executed his task. We are sorry to be obliged to find fault; but we must in honesty say that we believe the author has done great injury to his subject, by the method he has taken of swelling out the size of his book. Besides inflicting upon the reader a great deal of feeble commonplace of his own, he has broken up the unity and weakened the strength of the impression which his evidence is calculated to produce, by his copious quotations of common-place observation from familiar writers--introducing often long passages which have no earthly title to a place in his book, except that they are didactic remarks or general reflections upon the various moral and religious duties, in the discharge of which the illustrious subject of his work was so exemplary; and the strongest reason that we can conjecture why these quotations are made from these particular authors, is that they happened to be at hand to Mr. M'Guire, just as probably they are at hand to nine-tenths of his readers. Thus, apropos to a citation from Washington's Farewell Address, in which the necessity of religious principle to morality is asserted, Mr. M'Guire, after two or three pages of trite generalities on the subject, edifies his read

ers—who however will be sure to skip them with fourteen pages of extracts from Robert Hall's sermon on “ Modern Infidelity," Dr. Ralph Wardlaw's "Christian Ethics," and Chalmers' sermon on the “ Emptiness of Natural Virtue !" Still more laughably—he speaks of an ancient copy of Sir Matthew Hale's

Contemplations," which he informs us“ by the indulgence of the present estimable possessor of Mount Vernon, the writer has upon his table;" and apropos to the fact that it belonged to Washington's mother, he goes on to give us twenty pages of extracts from the book !! and then winds up with a page or two more, in which he amiably indulges himself in the expression of his delight, that Washington should have made such a good book, his “ vade mecum," an assumption by the way, that appears to have no other than the same good reason the author gives for his long extract-namely, that the book belonged to Washington's mother!

These are specimens--the most aggravated indeed-but still only specimens of the way in which a considerable part of this book is made up. We are sorry it is so.

We have great respect for the amiable and estimable author ; and he has exposed himself to some laughter. But that is not the worst of it; he has impaired the effect of the various and valuable testimony to the religious character of the illustrious subject of his book, which he has brought together. We earnestly recommend him, in the next edition, to throw out all these impertinences, and to cut the book down one half. It will double its value ; render it far more respectable in the eyes of men of the world, and far more likely to be read by all.

[blocks in formation]

Art. XIII.-ANALYTICAL AND CRITICAL NOTICES.

1. Parallele des Langues de l'Europe et de l'Inde, par F. G. EICHHOFF. Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1836. 4to: pp. 499.

We have here decidedly the most learned and interesting work that has appeared from the French press for many years past. The author, a learned native of Germany, at present seitled in Paris, and librarian to the Queen, has instituted a comparison in this volume be. tween the Sanscrit, Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Lithuanian, Russian, Gaelic, and Cymric languages, and has proved conclusively the affinity existing between them in their roots and grammatical struc. ture, The work gives the death-blow of course to the absurd theory of Dugald Stewart, which has found so many admirers among our American literati. The path which Eichhoff here treads, was opened by Colebrook, Wilkins, and Wilson, among the English ; by Hum. boldt, Grimm, Bopp, and Pott, among the Germans; and by Bernouf, among the French. The subject is an extremely curious one. A language is found in the remote East, the origin of which is carried back into the most distant ages, a language remarkable for its energy, its regularity, its richness, but above all for its striking affinity to the tongues of Europe. Its grammar explains all their inflections, its vocabulary reproduces all their roots, while at the same time its har. monic alphabet comprises all the sounds of the human voice.

M. Eichhoff has rendered a most valuable service to the scholars of Europe by this publication; and what renders the work peculiarly useful is the employment of Roman characters in the place of the Sanscrit, so that his volume is accessible to every reader. First, the different alphabets are given with remarks. To these succeed the pronouns and adverbs in the different languages above mentioned. Long vocabularies follow of nouns both simple and compounded ; and also of verbal roots, and in every instance affinities are given in various tongues. The elements of declension and conjugation in the different Indo-Germanic tongues close the volume.

This sketch, however, will afford but a feeble idea of the rich and varied contents of the work, and we trust the day is not far distant when it will be better known to our American scholars by actual pe. rusal. As a specimen of beautiful typography, the volume is worthy, in every respect, of the royal press from which it emanates.

2. Lexicon Sophocleum, adhibitis veterum interpretum explicationibus,

grammaticorum notationibus, recentiorum doctorum, commentariis. Composuit FRIDERICUS ELLENDT, A. M., Lit. Antiq. in Univ. Lit. Regim. P. P. E.

vol. 8vo. 1836. We hail with pleasure the completion of this most elaborate and useful work, and congratulate the lovers of the Grecian drama upon

« ÎnapoiContinuați »