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I can truly say, I had rather be at Mount Vernon, with a friend or two about me, than to be attended, at the Seat of Government, by the Officers of State, and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.



You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment,* I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity; and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home, than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years. June, 1775.

I shall rely, confidently, on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall. I shall feel no pain, from the toil or the danger of the campaign. My unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone.



I shall hope, that my friends will visit, and endeavor to keep up the spirits of my wife, as much as they can; for my departure will, I know, be a cutting stroke upon her.


As life is always uncertain, and common prudence dictates to every man the necessity of settling his temporal concerns, whilst it is in his power, and whilst the mind is calm and undisturbed, I have, since I came to this place,* (for I had not time to do it before I left home,) got Colonel Pendleton to draft a Will for me by the directions I gave him; which Will I now inclose.

The provision made for you in case of my death, will, I hope, be agreeable.


To my dearly beloved † wife, Martha Washington, I give and bequeathe the use, profit, and benefit of my whole estate, real and personal, for the term of her natural life, except such parts thereof as are specially disposed of hereafter.


On the night of his death, his attendants discovered on his breast, suspended by a ribbon, the miniature likeness of Mrs. Washington. He had worn it for more than forty years.


It has always been my intention, since my expectation of having issue has ceased, to consider the grandchildren of my wife, in the same light as I do my own relations, and to act a friendly part by them, more especially by the two whom we have raised from their earliest infancy.


I am, honored Madam, your most dutiful son.

If it is in my power to avoid going to Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me, by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor on me to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must or ought to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command.



Mrs. Washington's wishes coincide with my own, as to simplicity of dress, and every thing which can

*His letters to his mother began with the words, "Honored Madam;" and, throughout his life, he beautifully exemplified respectful filial love. His last interview with her was at her home in Fredericksburg, in March, 1789. She died, five months after, August 25th, in the 83d year of her age.

tend to support propriety of character, without partaking of the follies of luxury and ostentation.


In for a penny, in for a pound, is an old adage. I am so hackneyed to the touches of the painter's pencil, that I am now altogether at their beck, and sit like Patience on a monument, whilst they are delineating the lines of my face.

It is a proof, among many others, of what habit and custom can effect. At first, I was as impatient at the request, and as restive under the operation, as a colt is of the saddle. The next time, I submitted very reluctantly, but with less flouncing. Now, no dray moves more readily to the thill, than I do to the painter's chair.



The flattering distinction paid to the anniversary of my birth-day, is an honor for which I dare not attempt to express my gratitude.

I confide in your Excellency's † sensibility, to interpret my feelings for this, and for the obliging manner in which you are pleased to announce it.

* Dray-horse.

The Count de Rochambeau.


His youth, inexperience, and unripened education are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in my opinion, to the completion of the marriage. As his guardian, I conceive it my indispensable duty, to endeavor to carry him through a regular course of education, (many branches of which, I am sorry to add, he is totally deficient in,) and to guard his youth to a more advanced age, before an event, on which his own peace and the happiness of another are to depend, takes place.

Not that I have any doubt of the warmth of his affections, nor, I hope I may add, any fears of a change in them. But, at present, I do not conceive that he is capable of bestowing that attention to the important consequences of the married state, which is necessary to be given by those who are about to enter into it, and, of course, I am unwilling he should do it, till he is.


If the affection which they have avowed for each other, is fixed upon a solid basis, it will receive no diminution in the course of two or three years, which time he may prosecute his studies, and thereby render himself more deserving of the lady, and useful to society.

If, unfortunately, as they are both young, there should be an abatement of affection, on either side,

* The son of Mrs. Washington, John Parke Custis.

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