ON A REPRINT OF THE ORIGINAL LETTERS FROM WASHINGTON TO JOSEPH REED, DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
REMARKS ON A “REPRINT OF THE ORIGINAL LETTERS FROM WASHINGTON TO JOSEPH REED, DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, REFERRED TO IN THE PAMPHLETS OF LORD MAHON AND MR. SPARKS.” By JARED SPARKS. BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. 1 8 5 3.
<773.4/ ZJ3.25 CAMBRIDGE: METCALF AND COMPANY, PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
REMARKS. So much has already been written concerning the manner in which certain portions of “Washington’s Writings” were edited, that perhaps those, who have bestowed attention upon the subject, may think nothing more is necessary to enable them to form a proper judgment of the case. I have no disposition to protract the controversy by reviving discussions, that may seem to have been exhausted. In my “ Reply to the Strictures of Lord Mahon and Others,” and in a subsequent “ Letter to Lord Mahon,” it has been my aim to state facts without disguise, to explain the principles by which I have been guided, and to vindicate myself from erroneous charges and injurious suspicions, without censuring the opinions entertained by others on the general points at issue, or attempting to establish my own by arguments. The task of an editor in preparing for the press
4 confidential letters, which, the writer never intended should meet the public eye, is delicate and difficult. I felt the full difficidty of this task in regard to a few of Washington’s letters. In fact, it was a question of serious import, and requiring much deliberation, whether such letters should be published at all. I had no doubt, however, at the time, nor have I any now, that, if they were to be published, it was the editor’s duty to revise them with care, and to make such corrections as his judgment and feeling of responsibility should dictate. That this duty was performed in the best manner it could have been done, I shall be the last to affirm. Whether I was too scrupulous or too precise in some instances, or negligent and inconsiderate in others, may safely be left to the decision of those, who are willing to examine with calmness, and judge with candor. I claim only to have been actuated by disinterested motives, and to have followed my unbiassed convictions. Moreover, the subject in its details is one, upon which almost any two minds, viewing it under different aspects, may be led to form conflicting opinions. But all the particulars touching this point, the rules which I adopted, and the reasons for them, are so largely explained in the introductory parts of the work, and in the more recent discussions, that I shall forbear to add any thing further on this occasion.
My present purpose relates to a different topic. It is well known that the animadversions of the critics, who have found so much to censure in my editorial decisions, have been directed chiefly to some ten or twelve private letters from Washington to Joseph Reed, written in the first year of the war. These letters were strictly confidential; no copy of any of them was retained by Washington; nor did he preserve the answers. In “ Washington’s Writings ” these letters were printed from copies of the originals, which latter were furnished to me by their possessor, Mr. William B. Reed, who afterwards printed them in his “ Life of Joseph Reed.” It was discovered that occasional discrepances existed between the two printed texts; and these are the materials which have afforded so fruitful a theme for the ingenious and severe comments of the critics. Mr. Reed has lately reprinted these letters in a separate volume, placing the variations side by side, in parallel columns. In pursuing this course, as he informs the reader, he has been “ actuated by a sense of duty to all parties,” and a desire to render justice to Lord Mahon, to himself, and to me. If an act of injustice had been committed, however inadvertently or from whatever cause, it was certainly right that every ground of complaint on this score should be removed. Alluding to his former
6 work, Mr. Reed says, “ I printed the Washington letters from the originals, the only variations being occasional corrections of grammar and spelling, and the omission of one or two sentences, evidently the result of oversight on my part.” Yet he adds in another place, “ At the time of their publication I had no doubt that it was my duty to print them exactly as they were written.” It happened, however, as indicated by himself in this reprint, that there were frequent variations from the originals in his printed text, occasioned either by “ corrections of grammar and spelling,” or by accidental mistakes. The remarkable omission, by which Lord Mahon and other writers were led to prefer against me the heavy and unjust charge of making additions to Washington’s text, was, in its consequences, the most important of these mistakes. * Another, not less important in itself, and scarcely less so in regard to the animadversions of which it was the cause, remained a mystery till it was explained by this reprint. Washington, giving a reason why * Washington had written, “ Is it possible that any sensible nation upon earth can be imposed upon by such a cobweb scheme, or gauze covering? ” And it thus appeared in “ Washington’s Writings.” But by some accident the passage in italics was omitted in Mr. Reed’s text ; and hence it was inferred that this passage had been “ manufactured ” by me.
7 he had been prevented from showing all the civilities he desired to show to gentlemen in Massachusetts while his head-quarters were at Cambridge, adds, as printed by me, “ If this has given rise to the jealousy, I can only say that I am sorry for it.” In Mr. Reed’s text it was printed, “ I can not say that I am sorry for it.” As it was taken for granted by the critics, that Mr. Reed’s text was right, and mine wrong, they urged with no little acrimony, that I had changed the language and perverted the sense, making Washington express a sentiment on a delicate point directly opposite to the one he intended; and it was ominously inferred, that, if I would take such a liberty in one case, I might do the same anywhere and everywhere, from the beginning to the end of the work. It turns out, however, that I had printed the words correctly. These mistakes in Mr. Reed’s text were unquestionably the result of accident, and it would have been kind in him, if, the moment he saw the comments upon them in the public journals, he had communicated through the same channels a few words of explanation, especially as he was the only person who had the means of doing it, and as the misapprehension had arisen from inadvertences of his own. This would have saved Lord Mahon from the error of making, and the awkwardness of retracting, an unfounded charge; it would have saved
8 me from much obloquy, which flowed from the pens of writers, who seemed not reluctant to seize such an opportunity for the exercise of their critical sagacity, and for expressing their indignant astonishment ; it would have saved the public from misapprehensions and false suspicions. Another error in Mr. Reed’s text, now first corrected in this reprint, likewise exposed me to censure. Washington had written, on a certain occasion, that he did not consider it “ expedient to countermand the raising of the Connecticut regiments on account of the pay,” and it was so printed by me. In Mr. Reed’s work the word Continental appeared instead of Connecticut, and it was again inferred that I had deliberately perverted the truth of history by assigning to the Connecticut troops what was intended to be applied to those of the Continental army. Again, few themes, of so little significance, have been more amply discussed than the phrase “ Old Put,” used in one of Washington’s letters. It here comes forward under an aspect somewhat new. Mr. Reed says, “It is printed ‘Old Put’ in my book, as a quotation. Hence it has been assumed that Washington so used it. On reference, now, however, to the original, I find it written without the quotation marks.” As Mr. Reed’s text was relied on, the assumption of its accuracy was not unnat-
9 ural. It happens, however, that the error on his part is of very little moment in its bearing on the question, since the letter to which Washington was writing an answer contained the phrase, and he - evidently adopted it from that source. This conviction at the time may have induced Mr. Reed to add the quotation marks, or they may have crept in by some accident. But enough has heretofore been said respecting the letters of this class; that is, the letters of which Mr. Reed possesses the originals, and of which Washington retained no copies. My present object is mainly to notice another class of letters ; those to Joseph Reed printed by me from the Letter- Books. Mr. Reed observes, “ I have thought it best to reprint every one of the letters, which have been selected by Mr Sparks, even when he copied, not from the originals, but from the Letter-Books, in order to show, as a mere matter of literary curiosity, how far they differ.” Here Mr. Reed mistakes in saying that he has reprinted “ every one ” of the letters copied by me from the Letter-Books. In reality he has taken but about half of them. The whole number derived from that source is more than twenty. He reprints only ten as having been compared with the copies in the Letter-Books. His method is to divide the page into two par- 2
10 allel columns, printing in one of them the text of the original letter, and placing in the other the variations exhibited by the same letter as printed in “Washington’s Writings.” “In this way,” he says, “ an accurate judgment may be formed of the real extent of the alterations.” If he had written variations instead of alterations, this statement would have been more accurate, but even then, as applied to this class of letters, it w’ould have led to a deceptive conclusion. By the way in which the texts are compared, it is left to be inferred that every change from the originals as printed by Mr. Reed has been made by me. The initial of my name is prefixed to each separate variation, whether consisting of a single word or more. As the matter stands, no reader would suspect that any of these variations are to be ascribed to the differences between the originals and the copies in the Letter- Books, from which the text in “Washington’s Writings ” was printed; or, if such a suspicion should arise, the reader would have no means of deciding which particular variations are chargeable to the Letter-Books, and which to me. I cannot but regard this mode of comparison, however well intended, as exhibiting the case under a deceptive aspect, and as placing to my account numerous alterations for which I am in no degree responsible, and which are plainly nothing more
11 nor less than discrepances between the originals and the Letter-Books. It is true, in the instance of a single letter (December 12th, 1778), Mr. Reed says in a note, “ The text of the original and the Letter-Book certainly do not agree literally ”; but he does not furnish the reader with any guide by which the disagreements can be detected; and each one is marked by the initial of my name, although sixteen in that particular letter are chargeable to the Letter-Book, and not to any editorial discretion or indiscretion on my part. Under these circumstances, I have felt it to be a duty, not as “ a matter of literary curiosity,” but as an act of justice to myself, to revise this branch of the subject, and endeavor to place it in a light by which the facts of the case may be more clearly perceived and understood. I have accordingly taken pains to procure exact transcripts from the Letter- Books, and to compare them with Mr. Reed’s reprint from the originals, for the purpose of ascertaining in what particulars they differ. To these I propose to call the reader’s attention. Speaking of omissions, Mr. Reed says, “ The only safe rule seems to be that which was adopted by Chief Justice Marshall long ago. I have before me an unpublished letter from him to the printer of his Life of Washington in 1804, in answer to an urgent request for the suppression of a passage
12 calculated to give pain to living persons. The request was assented to, but explicit direction given to mark the fact that a passage was. omitted.” Whatever direction he may have given to the printer, as to this particular passage, it would be difficult to find a mark indicating the omission ; and still more difficult to prove, that, in practice, he adopted any such rule as the one here mentioned. All the evidence would tend to establish the contrary. In his work are many selections from Washington’s letters, some of them of considerable length, and in the midst of them are frequent omissions of paragraphs and sentences. In no instance, it is believed, can any mark or other indication be discovered, which intimates an omission. I shall produce a few examples illustrative of this fact; and also a few others, showing the kind of editorial revision which Judge Marshall bestowed upon the manuscript selections in preparing them for the press. In the first place, I shall present the parallel passages in which discrepances occur between Mr. Reed’s originals and the same letters as recorded in the Letter-Books. It is here to be observed, that all the passages from the Letter-Books accord with the text printed by me in “ Washington’s Writings,” except the variations mentioned in the notes.
13 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. Having no idea of its being a private letter, much less suspecting the tendency of the correspondence, I opened it, as I had done all letters to you from the same place and Peck's ddill, upon the business of your office — — sincerely wish your labors may be crowned with the desired success. * * This letter Mr. Reed “ prints from the Letter-Book.” In two short sentences there are three errors, being two omissions, and a wrong name of a place, which latter is important ; thus showing the difficulty of securing verbal accuracy in printing from copies of manuscripts, even when the attention is directed to that point alone. t The above is an exact transcript from the Letter-Book, and is precisely as printed by me, except the following transposition. The words, “ are deliberating on an answer to give the Commissioners to the adThere is another consideration with me. Congress perhaps at this instant are deliberating on an answer to give the Commissioners to an address they have received from them. Should a letter therefore from a member, (in which light you will be considered') hold out sentiments different from theirs, an unfavorable use will doubtless be made of it. Text of the Letter-Books. November 30th, 1776. Having no idea of its being a private letter, much less suspecting the tendency of the correspondence, I opened it, as I had done all other letters to you from the same place and Peekskill, upon the business of your office — — sincerely wish that your labors may be crowned with the desired success. June 15th, 1778. There is another consideration which weighs with me. Congress, at this instant perhaps, are deliberating on an answer to give the Commissioners to the address which they have received from them. Should your letter, therefore, (considered as coming from a member) contain sentiments repugnant to theirs, an unfavorable use, more than probably, will be made of it.f
14 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. —for he was instructed to collect — I have ordered an inquiry into his conduct on this occasion. — the infamous practice of forestalling, and the engrossing such articles — — which by these practices comes to it thro' the hands of these people — — by accumulating the quantum necessary for ordinary purposes to an enormous sum — — we are not to expect that the path will be strewed with flowers — As my letter to Congress of this date has carried a full account of the cantonment of the troops, and other matters of public concernment, I have no need to repeat them to you as an individual member. — the committee of arrangement will perfect the Text of the Letter-Books. November 27th 1778. * dress which they have received from*them,” are printed thus; “ are deliberating on an answer to the address, which they have received from the Commissioners.” Mr. Reed says this letter “ is not in the Letter-Books ”; but in this he is mistaken. It may be found there, recorded in its appropriate place. * Here again Mr. Reed mistakes in saying that “this letter is not recorded in the Letter-Books.” — as he was instructed to collect — I have ordered an inquiry into his conduct on that occasion. — the infamous practice of forestalling and engrossing such articles — — which by this means come to it through the hands of these people — — by accumulating the quantum necessary for ordinary purposes to an amazing sum — — we are not to expect that the path is to be strewed with flowers — As my letter to Congress of this date has given a full account of the cantonment of the troops and other matters of public concernment, I have no need to repeat it to you as an individual member. — the committee of arrangement will perfect the
15 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. good work they begun in the summer — — with sincere regard and affection — What did or could prompt the Knight to this expedition is beyond the reach of my conception, considering the unseasonableness of it. — not conceiving that he could miss it so much in point of intelligence as to mistime matters so egregiously, if either of the other two was his object — — could not help being uneasy lest some disaster might befall them — — posted back from Elizabethtown on the morning of the 5th, and got within twelve or fifteen miles of King’s Ferry, when I was met by an express informing me that the enemy had landed at that place, set fire to two small log’d houses, destroyed nine barrels of spoiled herrings, and had set sail for New York. Text of the Letter-Books. good work they began in the summer — — with sincere esteem and affection — December 12th, 1778. What did or could prompt the Knight to this expedition, I am at a loss to discover, considering the unseasonableness of it. — not conceiving that he could be so much out in point of intelligence as to mistime matters so egregiously, if either of the two first was his object — — could not help being uneasy lest disaster might happen — — posted back from Elizabethtown at four o’clock on the morning of the 5 th, and got within twelve or fifteen miles of King’s Ferry, when I was met by an express informing me that the enemy had landed at that place, burned two or three logged houses with nine barrels, of spoilt herrings, and had reembarked and sailed for New York again * * In connection with this passage Mr. Reed observes, that “ Mr. Sparks in his first pamphlet expresses some doubt as to the accuracy of
16 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. — and will be led naturally to conclude that bold and confident assertions, uncontradicted, must be founded in truth. — but however convenient it may have been for his purpose to establish this doctrine — — I will defy any person out of my own family to say, that I have ever mentioned his name after his trial commenced, if it was to be avoided; and when it was not, if I have not studiously declined — — as I never entertained any jealousy of, or apprehension from him, so neither did I ever do more than common civility — — but the affairs of the army requires a constant attention and presence, and circumstanced as matters are at this juncture — — as peace and retirement are my ultimate aim, and the Text of the Letter-Books. — and will be led naturally to believe that bold and confident assertions, uncontradicted, must be founded in truth. — but however convenient it may have been for his purposes to establish this belief — — I will defy any person out of my own family to say, that I have ever mentioned his name, if it was to be avoided ; and, when not, that I have not studiously declined — — as I never entertained any jealousy of, or apprehended from * him, so neither did I ever do more than common civility — my text.” I did not intend to express any doubt. I said only, that “ logged” in the Letter-Book was written “ log’d ” in his manuscript. The printers dropped the last syllable, aifd made it log houses, perhaps for the same reason that they print brick or stone houses, instead of bricked or stoned houses. * This phrase was omitted by me, doubtless because a blunder of the transcriber left it without meaning in the Letter-Book. Mr. Reed's copy makes the sense clear. — but the affairs of the army require my constant attention and presence, and circumstanced as matters are at this time — — as peace and retirement are my ultimate aim, and the
17 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. most pleasing and flattering wish of my soul — — will reconcile any place and all circumstances to my feelings, whilst I remain in service. — as the season is now approaching when either negotiation or vigorous exertions must take place ; and General Clinton doubtless will, in the latter case — — the sole purpose of this letter is to suggest to your consideration — — for giving an alarm to the militia of the country, and for fixing places of rendezvous for them, that in cases of sudden emergency they may be quickly assembled, free from tumult — — the preparations for it will be hid under the darkest veil — — any apprehensions I may entertain on this delicate subject unfounded—happy to find it your opinion — Text of the Letter-Books. most pleasing and flattering hope of my soul — — will reconcile any place and all circumstances to my feelings, whilst I continue in service. Makcii 28th, 1779. * * Mr. Reed is again mistaken when he says, “ This letter, I believe, is not in the Letter-Book.” — as the season is now fast approaching when either negotiation or vigorous exertions must take place of inactivity ; and as General Clinton doubtless will, in the latter case — — the sole purpose of this letter is to suggest for your consideration —■ — for giving an alarm to the militia of the country, and for fixing on places of rendezvous for them, that in cases of sudden emergency they may quickly assemble, free from tumult — — the preparations for it will be held under the darkest veil — May 8th, 1779. — any apprehensions I may entertain on this delicate subject ill-founded—happy to find it is your opinion — 3
18 Text as printed by Mr. Ref.d. — fixing the trial at that day week ; you will be pleased to have delivered to him — — carries an alloy which no temper can bear with perfect composure. The motives, which actuate this gentleman are better understood by himself than me. Whether these, or motives yet more dark and hidden, govern him — — I should have thought myself a proper object for the lash, not only of his, but the pen of every other writer, and a fit subject of public resentment. — but little better than a mere chaos — — that a plain narrative of facts — If this gentleman is envious of my station, and conceives that I stand in his way — — recruits from the state of Massachusetts — — Discouraging as all this is — — Providence having so often taken us up when bereft of other hope — Text of the Letter-Books. — fixing the trial at that day ; which you will be pleased to cause to be delivered to him — July 29th, 1779. — carries an alloy which no mind can bear with perfect composure. The motives, which actuate this gentleman, can be better accounted for by himself than me. Whether these, or motives still more hidden and dark, govern him — — I should have thought myself a proper subject for the lash, not only of his, but the pen of every other writer, and a fit object for public resentment. — but little more than a mere chaos — — that a plain and simple narrative of facts — If this gentleman is envious of my station, and thinks I stand in his way — — recruits from the state of Massachusetts Bay — — discouraging as this is — — Providence having so often taken us up when bereft of every other hope —
19 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. — till the effect of the present exertions of G. B., this campaign, is known, when,possibly, a new scene may open. But this concern received additional poignancy from two considerations, which were but little known, and one of them never will be known to the world, because I shall never attempt to palliate my own foibles by exposing the error of another, — The other was a Resolve of Congress in the emphatic words, — When I came to Fort Lee, and found no measures taken for an evacuation — — when I found other opinions coinciding with his — — I conceived that every impediment which stood in their way — — when thrown into the scale of those opinions — — the pen of a malignant writer, who is always less regardful of facts — — where concealment of a few circumstances will answer his purpose, or where a small Text of the Letter-Books. — till the effect of the present exertions of Great Britain, this campaign, is known, and some new scene opened to our view. August 22d, 1779. But this concern received additional poignancy from two considerations, which did not appear; one of which never will be known to the world, because I shall never palliate my own faults by exposing those of another, — The other was a Resolve of Congress, in the strong and emphatical words following, — When I came to Fort Lee, and found no measures taken towards an evacuation — — when I found other opinions so coincident with his — — I conceived that every impediment that stood in their way — — when thrown into the scale with those opinions — — the pen of a malignant writer, who is less regardful of facts — — where concealment of a few circumstances answers his purposes, or where a small
20 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. transposition of them will give a very different complexion to the same transaction. — but abundant reason to confirm me in it. — our money would have been upon a very different establishment in point of credit to what it is at this day — Such men as compose the bulk of an army are in a different train of thinking and acting to what they were in the early stages of the war, and nothing is now left for it but an annual and systematical mode of drafting, — — it will come to this, for there are people enow, old soldiers — — the difference will be, that instead of the public’s emitting or borrowing money to pay their bounties (which is enlarged greatly every new enlistment), these sums will be paid by individuals — — raise the value of it by multiplying the means of its use — — weakened by intestine divisions have energy enough to Text of the Letter-Books. transposition of them will give a very different complexion to the same thing. — but abundant reason to confirm it. — our money would have been upon a very different establishment in point of credit to * what it now is — * In these places to was printed from, probably as a grammatical correction. Such men as compose the bulk of an army are in a different train of thinking to * what they were in those early stages of the war, and nothing is now left but an annual and systematical mode of drafting, — — it will come to this, for there are people now, old soldiers — — the difference will be, that in lieu of the public’s emitting or borrowing money to pay the bounties, which increase rapidly every new enlistment, these bounties will be paid by individuals — — raise the value of it by multiplying the means for using it — — weakened by internal divisions have energy enough to
21 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. carry statutes of this nature into execution — — it cannot in my opinion be justified upon any principle of common policy — — appears substantial justice to the public, and each individual — — to what they esteemed their rights — — influence the conduct of by far the greatest part — — yet the ties are not sufficiently strong to induce their submission — — depreciation of money on one hand — — I wish you to be convinced, that I do not want inclination to comply where I can do it consistently with any of your wishes. — different from that which for a long time prevailed — Text of the Letter-Books. carry statutes of this kind into execution — — it cannot in my opinion stand justified upon any principles of common policy — — appears substantial justice to the public, and to individuals — October 22d, 1779. — to what they esteem their rights — — influence the conduct of by far the greater part — — yet the tics are not * strong to induce their submission — * Here was evidently an omission in the text of the Letter-Book. To complete the sense, the passage was printed — “are not so strong as to induce,” — a sense borne out by the original. f The word that was piinted when it, probably by design, as the sentence in its present construction is obscure, and scarcely grammatical. That this was perceived by Washington himself is evident from the change he made in the copy which he sent to General Reed, as here printed. — depreciation of money on the one hand — — I wish you to be convinced, that I do not want inclination to comply with your wishes in any instance that f is within the reach of my power consistently to aid them. May 28th, 1780. — different from that which has for a long time prevailed —
22 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. — you would be convinced that these expressions are not too strong, and that we have almost ceased to hope. — in such a state of insensibility to its interest, that I dare not flatter myself — — from every account I have been able to collect will be very inconsiderable — The abilities of her present financier has done wonders. Commerce and industry are the best means of a nation. If we do our duty, we may even hope to make the campaign decisive on this continent. When any great object is in view, the popular mind is roused into expectation and prepared to make sacrifices both of ease and property ; if those to whom they confide the management of their affairs do Text of the Letter-Books. — you would be convinced that these expressions are not too strong, and that we have every thing to dread. Indeed, I have almost ceased to hope. — in such a state of insensibility to its interests, that I dare not flatter myself — — from every account I have been able to collect will be inconsiderable — The abilities of her present financier have done wonders. Commerce and industry are the best mines of a nation. If we do our duty, we may even hope to make the campaign decisive of this continent * * Printed, “ decisive of this contest,” possibly by an error of the transcriber, but probably by design, as the phrase “decisive of” does not here suit the word “continent.” Mr. Reed’s text is apparently more correct. t It is obvious that some word is here omitted in the Letter-Book. The vacancy was filled by “ people,” which the sense clearly requires. “ They,” in the other text, has no appropriate antecedent. July 4th, 1780. When any great object is in view, the popular mind is roused into expectation and prepared to make sacrifices both of ease and property ; if those to whom the f confide the management of their affairs do
23 Text as printed by Mr. Reed. not call them to make these sacrifices — I am of a very different sentiment. That overruling Providence ■which has so often and so remarkably interposed in our favor, never manifested itself more conspicuously than in the timely discovery of his horrid intention to surrender the Post and Garrison of West Point into the hands of the enemy. — the command of that Post — — for which he was appointed, seems to have made — Text of the Letter-Books. not call them to make these sacrifices — I am of very different sentiment * * Printed “ sentiments.” f Mr. Reed is mistaken in supposing that this letter “ is not in the Letter-Books.” October 18th, 178O.t That overruling Providence, which has so often and so remarkably interposed in our favor, never manifested itself more conspicuously than in the timely discovery of his horrid design of surrendering the Post and Garrison of West Point into the hands of the enemy. — the command of the Post — — for which he was appointed, seem to have made — In the above examples, all the variations from Mr. Reed’s copy exist in the Letter-Books, from which the text in “Washington’s Writings” was printed; and, I repeat, they agree with that text except in the instances here specified in the notes. I am not answerable, therefore, for these variations. On the contrary, I had no copy to follow or consult but the one recorded in the Letter-Books. There are a few other variations, and for these
24 I am willing to be responsible, because they were made under a full conviction of their propriety ; but they rarely extend beyond a single word or phrase, and are for the most part grammatical corrections ; such as altering the singular number to the plural, or the contrary, when the construction required it, the insertion of a particle or a relative pronoun, the change of one preposition for another, or of an adjective to an adverb, and the like. Special care was also taken to print all the proper names correctly, however they may have been written ; and this was not so easy a task as might at first be imagined. Nor should it be overlooked, that the variations, whatever may have been their origin, are in the words, and not in the substance. The sense of the writer, as to any point he is aiming to present, is clearly the same in the different texts. As Chief Justice Marshall’s testimony has been appealed to, with reference to this subject, it may not be out of place here to add a few examples illustrative of the method followed by him in editing the selections, which he made from Washington’s letters. Mr. Reed thinks he adopted a rule by which he indicated to the reader the omission of a passage, whenever it happened, by some mark. I have not been able to discover any indications
25 of this kind in his “ Life of Washington,” although omissions frequently occur. The following selections are taken at random from various parts of the work. The passages in italics are supplied from the Letter-Books, and they were omitted by him without any mark denoting the fact. I believe the same will be found true in all other cases, so that, if he had any rule at all, it must have been not to mark the places where passages were left out. LETTER TO GENERAL SCHUYLER. July 15th, 1777. “ The evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence is an event of chagrin and surprise, not apprehended nor within the compass of my reasoning. I know not upon what principle it was founded, and I should suppose it still more difficult to reconcile, if the garrison amounted to five thousand men, in high spirits, healthy, well supplied with provision and ammunition, and the Eastern militia marching to their succor, as you mention in your letter of the 9th to the Council of Safety of New York. This stroke is severe indeed, and has distressed us much. But, notwithstanding things at present wear a dark and gloomy aspect, I hope a spirited opposition will check the progress of General Burgoyne’s arms, and that the confidence derived from success will hurry him into measures, that will in their consequences be favorable to us. We should never despair. Our situation has before been unpromising, and has changed for the better. So, I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions, and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times.”—Vol. III. p. 254. 4
26 LETTER TO CONGRESS. August 20th, 1780. “ It will be an interesting winter. Many circumstances will contribute to a negotiation. An army on foot, not only for another campaign, but for several campaigns, would determine the enemy to pacific measures, and enable us to insist upon favorable terms in forcible language. An army insignificant in numbers, dissatisfied, crumbling to pieces, would be the strongest temptation they could have to try the experiment a little longer. It is an old maxim, that the surest way to make a good peace is to be well prepared for war. “ I am inclined to hope a draft for the war, or for three years, would succeed. Many incentives of immediate interest may he held up to the people to induce them to submit to it. They must begin to consider the repeated bounties they are obliged to pay as a burthen, and be willing to get rid of it by sacrificing a little more once for all. Indeed, it is probable the bounties may not be much greater in that case than they have been. The people of the States near the seat of war ought to enter into such a plan with alacrity, as it would ease them in a variety of respects ; among others, by obviating the frequent calls upon the militia. “ I cannot forbear returning in this place to the necessity of a more ample and equal provision for the army. The discontents on this head have been gradually matured to a dangerous extremity. There are many symptoms that alarm and distress me. Endeavors are using to unite both officers and men in a general refusal of the money, and some corps now actually decline receiving it. Every method has been taken to counteract it, because such .a combination in the army would be a severe blow to our declining currency. The most moderate insist that the accounts of depreciation ought to be liquidated at stated periods, and certificates given by government for the sums due. They will not be satisfied with a general declaration that it shall be made good.
27 “ This is one instance of complaint. There are others equally serious. Among the most serious is the inequality of the provision made by the several States. Pennsylvania maintains her officers in a decent manner; she has given them half pay for life. What a wide difference between their situation and that of the officers of every other line in this army, some of whom are actually so destitute of clothing as to be unfit for duty, and obliged for that cause only to confine themselves to quarters. I have often said, and I beg leave to repeat it, the half-pay provision is in my opinion the most politic and effectual that can be adopted. On the whole, if something satisfactory be not done, the army (already so much reduced in officers by daily resignations, as not to have a sufficiency to do the common duties of it) must either cease to exist at the end of the campaign, or it will exhibit an example of more virtue, fortitude, self-denial, and perseverance, than has perhaps ever yet been paralleled in the history of human enthusiasm.”—Vol. IV. p. 298. LETTER TO GENERAL LINCOLN. October 2d, 1'82. 11 I repeat it, when I reflect on these irritable circumstances, unattended by one thing to soothe their feelings, or brighten the gloomy prospect, I cannot avoid apprehending that a train of evils will follow, of a very serious and distressing nature. On the other hand, could the officers be placed in as good a situation, as when they came into service, the contention, I am persuaded, would be, not who should continue in the field, but who should retire to private life. “1 wish not to heighten the shades of the picture so far as the real life would justify me in doing, or I would give anecdotes of patriotism and distress which have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed in the history of mankind. But, you may rely upon it, the patience and long sufferance of this army are almost exhausted, and there never was so great a spirit of discontent as at this instant.”—Vol. IV. p. 580,
28 LETTER TO HENRY LEE. September 22, 1788. “ It was for a long time doubtful whether we were to survive as an independent republic, or decline from our federal dignity into insignificant and wretched fragments of empire. The adoption of the constitution so extensively, and with so liberal an acquiescence on the part of the minorities in general, promised the former; but lately, the circular letter of New York has manifested, in my apprehension, an unfavorable, if not an insidious tendency to a contrary policy. I still hope for the best; but before you mentioned it, I could not help fearing it would serve as a standard to which the disaffected might resort. It is now evidently the part of all honest men, who are friends to the new constitution, to endeavour to give it a chance to disclose its merits and defects by carrying it fairly into effect, in the first instance. For it is to be apprehended, that by an attempt to obtain amendments before the experiment has been candidly made, i more is meant than meets the ear,’ that an intention is concealed, to accomplish slily, what could not have been done openly, to undo all that has been done. If the fact so exists, that a kind of combination is forming to stifle the government in embryo, it is a happy circumstance that the design has become suspected. Preparations should be the sure attendant upon forewarning. Probably, prudence, wisdom, and patriotism were never more essentially necessary than at the present moment: and so far as it can be done in an irreproachably direct manner, no effort ought to be left unassayed to procure the election of the best possible characters to the new Congress. On their harmony, deliberation, and decision every thing will depend. I heartily wish Mr. Madison was in our Assembly ; .as I think, with you, it is of unspeakable importance Virginia should set out in her federal measures under right auspices. “ The principal topic of your letter is to me a point of great delicacy indeed ; insomuch that I can scarcely, without some impropriety, touch upon it. In the first place, the event to
■which you allude may never happen, among other reasons because, if the partiality of my fellow-citizens conceive it to be a mean by which the sinews of the new government would be strengthened, it will of consequence be obnoxious to those who are in opposition to it, many of whom, unquestionably, will be placed among the electors.” — Vol. V. p. 138. LETTER TO DAVID STUART. New York, June 15, 1790. “ Before the custom was established, which now accommodates foreign characters, strangers, and others who from motives of curiosity, respect to the chief magistrate, or any other cause, are induced to call upon me, I was unable to attend to any business whatsoever. For gentlemen, consulting their own convenience rather than mine, were calling from the time I rose from breakfast, often before, until I sat down to dinner. This, as I resolved not to neglect my public duties, reduced me to the choice of one of these alternatives, either to refuse them altogether, or to appropriate a time for the reception of them. The first would, I well knew, be disgusting to many ; the latter, I expected, would undergo animadversion from those who would find fault with or without cause. To please every body wras impossible. I therefore adopted that line of conduct which combined public advantage with private convenience, and which in my judgment was unexceptionable in itself. That I have not been able to make boros to the taste of poor Colonel B------ (who, by the by, I believe never saw one of them) is to be regretted, especially too as, upon those occasions, they were indiscriminately bestowed, and the best I was master of. Would it not have been better to have thrown the veil of charity over them, ascribing their stiffness to the effects of age, or to the unskilfulness of my teacher, than to pride and dignity of office, which Cod knows has no charms for me ? For 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
30 ly the officers of state and the representatives of every Power in Europe.. il These visits arc optional. They are made without invitation. Between the hours of three and four every Tuesday, I am prepared to receive them. Gentlemen, often in great numbers, come and go, chat with each other, and act as they please. A porter shows them into the room, and they retire from it when they choose, and without ceremony.” — Vol. V. p. 165. Such was the practice of Judge Marshall in regard to omissions. But it should be observed, that the writer’s train of thought, as to the points intended to be presented by the selections from any letter, is nowhere interrupted. The parts retained have a clear connection. It would have added nothing to the reader’s instruction, if he had been informed at certain places, by a mark or otherwise, that passages were omitted. He might have gained more, if the whole letter in each case, instead of parts, had been printed ; but, as this was not consistent with the plan of the work, there seems no good reason why he should be told, that other parts were left out, which were irrelevant to the matter in hand. A letter frequently treats of topics totally distinct from each other, and in this respect it is the same as a collection of letters written upon different subjects. In such a letter, the omission of one or more topics has no effect upon the others, and
31 is the same in reality as the omission of a separate letter, which has no hearing upon the matter intended to be represented. When, for any reason, the train of the writer’s ideas is suddenly broken off, or his meaning obscured, by the omission of a paragraph, sentence, or phrase, it certainly is essential that the fact should be noted; but such is not the case in any of the above selections, and probably not in any others comprised in the “ Life of Washington.” The following selections are introduced for the purpose of a comparison between Judge Marshall’s text and that of the Letter-Books. The italics indicate the discrepances. Judge Marshall’s Text. LETTER TO “ Great numbers of them have gone off, in some instances almost by -whole regiments, in many by half ones, and by companies at a time. This circumstance of itself, independent of others, when fronted by a well-appointed enemy, superior in number to our whole collected force, would be sufficiently disagreeable ; but when it is added that their example has inText of the Letter-Books. CONGRESS. Sept. 2d, 1776. “ Great numbers of them have gone off, in some instances almost by whole regiments, by half ones, and by companies at a time. This circumstance of itself, independent of others, when fronted by a well-appointed enemy, superior in number to our whole collected force, would be sufficiently disagreeable, but when their example has infected another part of the
32 Judge Marshall’s Text. fected another part of the army ; that their want of discipline, and refusal of almost every kind of restraint and government, have rendered a like conduct but too common in the whole ; and have produced an entire disregard of that order and subordination necessary for the well-doing of an army, and which had been before inculcated as well as the nature of our military establishment would admit, our condition is still more alarming.” — Vol. II. p. 455. LETTER TO “It is now extremely obvious from their movements, from our intelligence, and from every other circumstance, that, having their whole army upon Long Island, except about four thousand men who remain on Staten Island, they mean to inclose us in this island by taking post in our rear, while their ships effectually secure the front; and thus, by cutting off our communication with the country, oblige us Text of the Letter-Books. army, when their want of discipline, and refusal of almost every kind of restraint and government, have produced a like conduct but too common to the whole, and an entire disregard of that order and subordination necessary to the well-doing of an army, and which had been inculcated before, as well as the nature of our military establishment would admit of, our condition is still more alarming-” CONGRESS. Sept. Sth, 1776. “ It is now extremely obvious, from all intelligence, from their movements and every other circumstance, that having landed their whole army on Long Island (except about four thousand on Staten Island) they mean to inclose us on the Island of New .York by taking post in our rear, while the shipping effectually secures the front, and thus either by cutting off our communication with the country, oblige us to fight them J z o o
33 Judge Marshall’s Text. to fight them on their own terms, or surrender at discretion ; or, if that shall be deemed more advisable, by a brilliant stroke endeavor to cut this army to pieces, and secure the possession of arms and stores, which they well know our inability to replace. “ Having their system unfolded to us, it becomes an important consideration how it could be most successfully opposed. On every side there is a choice of difficulties, and experience teaches us, that every measure on our part (however painful the reflection) must be taken with some apprehension, that all the troops will not do their duty.” — Vol. II. p. 466. Text of the Letter-Books. on their own terms, or surrender at discretion, or by a brilliant stroke endeavor to cut this army in pieces and secure the collection of arms and stores, which they well know we shall not be soon able to reptlace. “ Having therefore their system unfolded to us, it became an important consideration how it could be most successfully opposed. On every side there is a choice of difficulties, and every measure on our part (however painful the reflection is from experience') to be formed with some apprehension, that all our troops will not do their duty.” LETTER TO GENERAL ARNOLD. “ They might possibly be successful, but the probability would be infinitely against them. Should they be imprudent enough to make the attempjt, I shall keep ' close upon their heels, and will do every thing in my power to make the project fatal to them. 5 June 17, 1777. “ They might possibly be successful, but the probability would be infinitely against them. Should they be imprudent enough to do it, I shall keep close upon their heels, and do every thing in my power to make the project fatal to them.
34 Judge Marshall’s Text. “ But, besides the argument in favor of their intending, in the first place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure, every appearance contributes to confirm the opinion. Had their design been for the Delaware in the first instance, they would probably have made a secret, rapid march for it, and not have halted so as to awaken our attention, and give us time to prepare for obstructing them. Instead of that, they have only advanced to a position necessary to facilitate an attack on our right, the part in which we are most exposed. In addition to this circumstance, they have come out as light as possible, leaving all their baggage, provisions, boats, and bridges at Brunswick. This plainly contradicts the idea of their intending to push for the Delar ware:’ — Vol. ILL p. 112. Text of the Letter-Books. “ But, besides the argument for their intending, in the first place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure, every appearance coincides to confirm the opinion. Had they designed for the Delaware in the first instance, they would probably have made a secret, rapid march for it, and not halted, as they have done, to awaken our attention, and give us time to prepare for obstructing them. Instead of that, they have only advanced to a position necessary to facilitate an attack upon our right, which is the part they have the greatest likelihood of injuring us in ; and added to this consideration, they have come out as light as possible, leaving all their baggage, provisions, boats, and bridges at Brunswick ; which plainly contradicts the idea for pushing for the Delaware.” LETTER TO GENERAL SULLIVAN. Sept. 1st, 1778. . “ First impressions, you “ First impressions, you know, are generally longest know, are generally longest retained, and will serve to fix, remembered, and will serve todigitalcommons.cedarville.edu