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that it is with pleasure I receive reproof when Chap. I. reproof is due, because no person can be 1757. readier to accuse me than I am to acknowledge an error, when I have committed it; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of being guilty of one. But, on the other hand, it is with concern I remark, that my best endeavours lose their reward, and that my conduct, although I have uniformly studied to make it as unexceptionable as I could, does not appear to you in a favourable point of light, Otherwise, your honour would not have ac. cused me of loose behaviour, and remissness of duty, in matters where, I think, I have rather exceeded, than fallen short of it. This, I think, iş evidently the case in speaking of Indian affairs at all, after being instructed in very express terms 'Not to have any concern with, or management of Indian affairs,' This has induced me to forbear mentioning the Indians in my letters to your honour of late, and to leave the misunderstanding which you speak of, between mr. Alkin and them, to be related by him.”
Not long after this, he received a letter in. forming him of some coarse calumny reflecting on his veracity and his honour, which had been circulated, and reported to the governor. A copy of this letter he enclosed to mr. Dinwiddie, and thus addressed him. “I should take it infinitely kind if your honour would please to
CHAP. I. inform me, whether a report of this nature was 1757. ever made to you, and in that case who was
the author of it?
“It is evident from a variety of circumstances and especially from the change in your honour's conduct towards me, that some person as well inclined to detract, but better skilled in the art of detraction than the author of the above stupid scandal, has made free with my character. For I cannot suppose that malice so absurd, so barefaced, so diametrically opposite to truth; to common policy; and in short to every thing but villainy, as the above is, could impress you with so ill an opinion of my honour and honesty.
“ If it be possible that colonel ......; for my belief is staggered; not being conscious of hav. ing given the least cause to anyone, much less to that gentleman, to reflect so grossly; I say if it be possible that ...... could descend so low, as to be the propagator of this story; he must either be vastly ignorant of the state of affairs in this county at that time, or else, he must suppose that the whole body of inhabitants had combined with me in executing the deceitful fraud. Or why did they, almost to a man, forsake their dwellings in the greatest terror and confusion? and while one half of them sought shelter in paltry forts, (of their own building) the other should fee to the adjacent counties
for refuge; numbers of them even to Carolina: CHAP. I. from whence they have never returned?
1757 "These are facts well known; but not better known, than that these wretched people, while they lay pent up in forts destitute of the common supports of life, (having in their precipitate fight forgotten, or were unable rather to secure any kind of necessaries) did dispatch messengers of their own (thinking I had not represented their miseries in the piteous manner they de. served) with addresses to your honour and the assembly, praying relief. And did I ever send any alarming account, without sending also the original papers (or the copies) which gave rise to it?
“That I have foibles, and perhaps many of them, I shall not deny; I should esteem myself, as the world also would, vain and empty, were I to arrogate perfection.
“Knowledge in military matters is to be acquired by practice and experience only, and if I have erred, great allowance should be made for my errors, for want of them; unless those errors should appear to be wilful; and then I conceive, it would be more generous to charge me with my faults, and let me stand or fall, according to evidence, than to stigmatize me behind my back.
" It is uncertain in what light my services may have appeared to your honour: but this I know, and it is the highest consolation I am
CHAP. I. capable of feeling, 'that no man that ever was 1757. employed in a public capacity, has endeavoured
to discharge the trust reposed in him, with greater honesty, and more zeal for the country's interest, than I have done: and if there is any person living, who can say with justice that I have offered any intentional wrong to the public, I will cheerfully submit to the most ignominious punishment that an injured people ought to inflict. On the other hand, it is hard to have my character arraigned, and my actions condemned without a hearing
" I must therefore again beg in more plain, and in very earnest terms, to know if ...... has taken the liberty of representing my conduct to your honour with such ungentlemanly freedom as the letter implies? your condescension herein will be acknowledged a singular favour.”
In a letter some short time after this, to the lieutenant governor, he says, “I do not know that I ever gave your honour cause to suspect me of ingratitude, a crime I detest, and would most carefully avoid. If an open disinterested behaviour carries offence, I may have offended, for I have all along laid it down as a maxim to represent facts freely and impartially, but not more so to others than to you, sir, If instances of my ungrateful behaviour had been particularized, I would have answered them. But I have long been convinced that my actions and their motives have been maliciously aggravated.”
In this letter he solicited (as the lieutenant CHAP. I. governor was to leave the province in Novem. 1757. ber) permission to come to Wiliiamsburgh, since he had some accounts to settle which he was desirous of adjusting. This permission, the governor refused in abrupt and disobliging terms, telling him, that he had frequently been indulged, and ought not now to ask for leave of absence.
In answer to this letter, colonel Washington, after stating the immovable determination of the inhabitants to leave the country unless more efficiently protected, added, “ to give a more succinct account of their affairs than I could in writing was the principal, among many other reasons, that induced me to ask leave to come down. It was not to enjoy a party of pleasure that I asked leave of absence, I have been indulged with few of those, winter or summer.”
Mr. Dinwiddie soon afterwards took leave of Virginia, and the government devolved on mr. Blair, the president of the council. Between him and the commander of the colonial forces, the utmost cordiality continued to exist.
Afterthe close of this campaign, lord Loudoun returned to England, and general Abercrombie succeeded to the command of the army. The department of the middle and southern provinces takes the was committed to general Forbes, and, to the against fort
du Quesne. inexpressible gratification of colonel Wash.