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dependence; in which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations. Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world; having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action with the blessings of your fellow-citizens. But the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command; it will continue to animate remotest ages. We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves with the interests of those confidential officers who have attended your person to this affecting moment. We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with all his care; that your days may be as happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward which this world can not give."
Washington, now a private citizen, hastened to his beloved home on the Potomac, accompanied on the way by many friends, among whom was Colonel Walker, one the aids of the Baron Steuben. By his hand, he sent a letter to Governor George Clinton—the first that he wrote after his retirement from office - in which he said: “The scene is at last closed. I am now a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac. 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.”
It was on Christmas eve when Washington reached Mount Vernon. It must have been a happy and a merry Christmas in that beautiful home, for the toils and dangers of war were over, peace was smiling upon all the land, and the people were free and independent. The enjoyment of his home, under these circumstances, was an exquisite one to the retired soldier; and in his letters to his friends he gives frequent and touching evidence of his happiness in private life. To Lafayette he wrote on the first of February :
“At length, my dear mårquis, I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig-tree, 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 this 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 view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life, with a heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers."
A little later he wrote to Madam Lafayette, saying:
“ 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 glide gently down the stream of life, till I am entombed in the mansion of my fathers.
“Come, then, let me entreat you, and call my cottage your home; for your own doors do not open to you with more readiness than mine would. You will see the plain manner in which we live, and meet with rustic oivility; and you shall taste the simplicity of rural life. It will diversify the scene, and may give you a higher relish for the gayeties of the court, when you return to Versailles. In these wishes and most respectful compliments, Mrs. Washington joins me.”
Notwithstanding Washington's retirement was so perfect as to amount to positive isolation for a month or more, on account of the effects of an intensely severe winter, which closed almost every avenue to Mount Vernon, and suspended even neighborly inter