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or both, it had better precede, than follow, marriage.
To postpone, is all I have in view; for I shall recommend to the young gentleman, with the warmth that becomes a man of honor, (notwithstanding he did not vouchsafe to consult either his mother or me, on the occasion,) to consider himself as much engaged to your daughter, as if the indissoluble knot were tied; and, as the surest means of effecting this, to apply himself closely to his studies, (and in this advice, I flatter myself, you will join me,) by which he will, in a great measure, avoid those flirtations with other young ladies, that may, by dividing the attention, contribute not a little to divide the affection.
ADVICE ON MATRIMONY.
If she wants advice upon it, a father and mother, who are at hand, and competent to give it, are, at the same time, the most proper to be consulted, on so interesting an event.
For my own part, I never did, nor do I believe I ever shall, give advice, to a woman who is setting out on a matrimonial voyage; first, because I never could advise one to marry, without her own consent; and secondly, because I know it is to no purpose to advise her to refrain, when she has obtained it.
*Benedict Calvert. Mr. Custis married Miss Calvert, February 3d, 1774.
A woman very rarely asks an opinion, or requires advice, on such an occasion, till her resolution is formed; and then it is, with the hope and expectation of obtaining a sanction-not that she means to be governed by your disapprobation-that she applies.
In a word, the plain English of the application may be summed up in these words: "I wish you to think as I do; but, if unhappily you differ from me in opinion, my heart, I must confess, is fixed, and I have gone too far, now to retract."
I will give my opinion of the MEASURE, not of the MAN, with candor, and to the following effect. I never expected you would spend the residue of your days in widowhood. But, in a matter so important, and so interesting to yourself, children, and connections, I wish you would make a prudent choice. To do which, many considerations are necessary; such as, the family and connections of the man, his fortune, (which is not the most essential in my eye,) the line of conduct he has observed, and the disposition and frame of his mind. You should consider, what prospect there is of his proving kind and affectionate to you; just, generous, and attentive to your children; and how far his connections will be agreeable to you; for, when they are once formed, agreeable or not, the die being cast, your fate is fixed.
In my estimation, more permanent and genuine happiness is to be found, in the sequestered walks of connubial life, than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure, or the more tumultuous and imposing scenes of successful ambition.
THE PRIVATE CITIZEN.
The great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot, of living and dying a Private Citizen, on my own farm.
PEACE AND RETIREMENT.
As peace and retirement are my ultimate aim, and the most pleasing and flattering wish of my soul, every thing advancive of this end contributes to my satisfaction, however difficult and inconvenient in the attainment, and will reconcile any place and all circumstances to my feelings, whilst I remain in service.
The great object, for which I had the honor to hold an appointment in the service of my country, being
accomplished, I am now preparing to resign it into the hands of Congress, and to return to that domestic retirement, which, it is well known, I left with the greatest reluctance; a retirement, for which I have never ceased to sigh, through a long and painful absence, and in which, (remote from the noise and trouble of the world,) I meditate to pass the remainder of life, in a state of undisturbed repose.
The hour of my resignation is fixed, at twelve today; after which, I shall become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac.
The scene is at last closed. I feel myself eased of a load of public care. I hope to spend the remainder of my days, in cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the domestic virtues. 1783.
Freed from the clangor of arms, and the bustle of a camp, from the cares of public employment, and the responsibility of office, I am now enjoying domestic ease, under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig-tree. And in a small villa, with the implements of husbandry and lambkins around me, I expect to
* December 23d, 1783, when he resigned his military office. At Mount Vernon, his residence.
glide gently down the stream of life, till I am entombed in the mansion of my fathers.
A month from this day, if I should live to see the completion of it, will place me on the wrong (perhaps it would be better to say the advanced) side of my grand climacteric; and although I have no cause to complain of the want of health, I can religiously aver, that no man was ever more tired of public life, or more devoutly wished for retirement, than I do.
Under the shadow of my own vine and my own figtree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the Soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame, the Statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if the globe was insufficient for us all, and the Courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his Prince, in hopes of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception.
I have not only retired from all public employments, but I am retiring within myself, and shall be able to
* January 22d, 1795. He was in his 63d year.