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English Notice of Washington

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

July 22.—A correspondent of the London Chronicle, of this date, gives the following short sketch of the life and character of General Washington:—”As this gentleman always refused to accept of any pecuniary appointment for his public services, no salary has been appointed by Congress to his important command, and he only draws weekly for the expenses of his public table, and other necessary demands.

“General Washington having never been in Europe, could not possibly have seen much military service when the armies of Britain were sent to subdue the Americans; yet still, for a variety of reasons, he was by much the most proper man on the continent, and probably anywhere else, to be placed at the head of an American army. The very high estimation in which he stood for integrity and honor, his engaging in the cause of his country from sentiment, and conviction of her wrongs, his moderation in politics, his extensive property, and his approved abilities as a commander, were motives which necessarily obliged the choice of America to fall upon him.

“That nature has given General Washington extraordinary military talents, will hardly be controverted by his most bitter enemies. Having been early actuated with a warm passion to serve his country in the military line, he has greatly improved his talents by unwearied industry, a close application to the best writers upon tactics, and by a more than common method and exactness. In reality, when it comes to be considered that at first he only headed a body of men entirely unacquainted with military discipline or operations, somewhat ungovernable in temper, and who, at best, could be only styled an alert and good militia; acting under very short enlistments, unclothed, unaccoutred, and at all times very ill supplied with ammunition and artillery; and that with such an army he withstood the ravages and progress of near forty thousand veteran troops, plentifully provided with every necessary article, commanded by the bravest officers in Europe, and supported by a very powerful navy, which effectually prevented all movements by water—when all this comes to be impartially considered, we may venture to pronounce that General Washington may be regarded as one of the greatest military ornaments of the present age.

“General Washington is now in the forty-eighth year of his age. He is a tall, well-made man, rather large boned, and has a tolerably genteel address, his features are manly and bold, his eyes of a bluish cast, and very lively; his hair a deep brown, his face rather long, and marked with the small-pox; his complexion sun-burnt, and without much color, and his countenance sensible, composed, and thoughtful. There is a remarkable air of dignity about him, with a striking degree of gracefulness; he has an excellent understanding, without much quickness; is strictly just, vigilant, and generous; an affectionate husband, a faithful friend, a father to the deserving soldier, gentle in his manners, in temper rather reserved; a total stranger to religious prejudices, which have so often excited Christians of one denomination to cut the throats of those of another. In his morals he is irreproachable, and was never known to exceed the bounds of the most rigid temperance. In a word, all his friends and acquaintances universally allow, that no man ever united in his own character a more perfect alliance of the virtues of the philosopher with the talents of a general. Candor, sincerity, affability, and simplicity, seem to be the striking features of his character, until an occasion offers of displaying the most determined bravery and independence of spirit.”1


1 New Jersey Gazette, December 6.