George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Kirkpatrick, 22 September 1756

From John Kirkpatrick

Alexandria Septemr 22d 1756

Dear Sir

I had your favour at Noon, before Which the Express had set out for Mount Vernon, after giving him half a Dollar for Expences.1

The uneasiness you Lye under from the Vain Babling of Worthless, Malicious, Envious Sycophants, give me much Concern—Conscious of a Due & Honorable Discharge of Your Duty, (as undoubtedly you Must be) Their Censure, & Scurrility loses it’s force & Venom by Your Silent Contempt, and Disdain—No Character or Station is free from Calumny, and to be Sure, You can’t expect a Singularity of that nature, Especialy in that Conspicuous Office You so justly hold—The Selfevident Falsitys aserted by that Witty Writer of the Centinell, must Condemn him in the Judgement of every Rationall, Reflecting Being—and to Regard his Illnatured Slander by Vindication of Facts would be a Condescension, arguing a Consciousness of the Crime—Which is all that his Spite Aims at.2

In the Short time I have had to dive into the Generall Opinion of Your resignation I find it disagreable, & unpleasant to all their inclinations, and woud certainly be at a Loss for Such another to fill your place—I Communicated yours to Mr Ramsay who thinks as every Body else must, that to Lay down Your Commission now, woud be the Means of More reflections, and Less Satisfaction to you—Tho’, Two, three or four are gather’d together to foment an ill spirit of Slander, and propogate Lyes, to amuse the Unthinking Mob—You & every Reasonable person is Sensible that the Whole thinking part of the Legislative power, are Much in Your Interest, & pleased with your Conduct for the preservation of the Country—How far you have miss’d in the design cannot be Laid to your Charge, on a Single review of the Circumstances, Difficulties, and Extent of Frontier. Might I be allowed to Offer my Opinion—I woud Overlook the Scurrility of the Centinell, Continue to Serve My Country wt. the usuall Zeal—Remark the Determinations of this Assembly, & their future Behaviour—Waite upon His Excellency Lord Loudon—& take My Measures in Consequence of their issues—For as Pope says—

Envy, will Merit like a Shade pursue,

And aLike a Shadow prove the Substance true.3

I have hurried off these few thoughts irregularly wc. I hope you’ll excuse, on Account of keeping the Boy for Some information.

The Sentiments you entertain of my Sincere Respect & Attachment to Your Person & Interest do Me Much Honor, & I woud urge the truth—I Shall transgress on your kind permission of stay here, not a Moment beyond my necessity—I hope to be Able on the pleasure of seeing You, to be more explicit on the above—Believe me now Dr Sr Your Most Obt Hume Sert

Jno. Kirkpatrick

Mr Ramsay has wrote you.4


1GW’s letter has not been found.

2The Virginia-Centinel No. X, signed by L. and V. and filling almost the entire first page of the Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) on 3 Sept. (No. IX was printed on 12 Aug.), included a long paragraph attacking the Virginia Regiment in the following terms. The portions in angle brackets are taken from the Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 25 Nov. 1756.

“No Profession in the World can secure from Contempt and Indignation a Character made up of Vice and D⟨e⟩bauchery; and no Man is obliged to tre⟨a⟩t such a Cha⟨r⟩acter as sacred. When raw Novices and R⟨a⟩kes, Spend thrifts and Bank⟨r⟩upt⟨s⟩, who have been never used to command, or who ha⟨v⟩e been found insufficient fo⟨r⟩ the Management of their own priv⟨a⟩te Aff⟨ai⟩rs, are hono⟨r⟩ed with Commissions in ⟨t⟩he A⟨r⟩my; when Men are ⟨a⟩dvanced acco⟨r⟩ding to Seniority, the Interests and Influence of Friends, &c. and not accor⟨d⟩ing to Merit; when the common Soldiers are abused, in a Fit of Humor or Passion, or through an O⟨st⟩entation of Authori⟨t⟩y; and in the mean Time, perhaps, tolera⟨t⟩ed or co⟨nniv⟩ed at, in Pr⟨a⟩ctices really wor⟨t⟩hy of Correction; when the Militia Men ⟨a⟩re brow-beat and d⟨i⟩scourag⟨e⟩d in every noble At⟨c⟩hievment, as claiming a share with the Soldiery in their Mo⟨n⟩opoly of Hono⟨r⟩; when the Officers give ⟨t⟩heir Men ⟨a⟩n Example of all Manner of D⟨e⟩ba⟨u⟩chery, Vice and I⟨dl⟩ene⟨s⟩s, when they l⟨i⟩e sculking in Forts, and there dissolving in Pl⟨e⟩asure, till ala⟨r⟩med by ⟨t⟩he App⟨r⟩oach o⟨f⟩ the Enemy, who could expect to find them no whe⟨r⟩e else; when instead of sea⟨r⟩ching out the Enemy, waylay⟨i⟩ng and ⟨su⟩r⟨pri⟩sing them ob⟨structin⟩g their Marche⟨s⟩, and preven⟨t⟩ing their Incursi⟨o⟩n⟨s⟩, they tempt them by their Sec⟨u⟩r⟨it⟩y and Laziness, to c⟨o⟩me in Quest of them, a⟨n⟩d ⟨a⟩tta⟨c⟩k ⟨t⟩hem in thei⟨r⟩ For⟨t⟩ifica⟨t⟩ions.—When thi⟨s⟩ is the Case, how wre⟨t⟩chedly he⟨l⟩pless must a Nation be? What useless Lumber, what an Encum⟨b⟩ran⟨c⟩e, i⟨s⟩ the Soldiery;

Conscius ipse sibi d. s. putat omnia dici.

“I would by no Means m⟨a⟩ke the Event the Standard by which to judge of the Measure⟨s⟩ taken though ⟨t⟩his be un⟨d⟩oubted⟨l⟩y the Standard of the Crowd. S⟨u⟩ccessful R⟨a⟩shne⟨s⟩s will never fail of popu⟨la⟩r Applause, and unfortunate good Co⟨nd⟩u⟨ct⟩ will never escape Cen⟨s⟩ure. But w⟨h⟩en nothing brave i⟨s⟩ so much as attempted, but very rarel⟨y⟩, o⟨r⟩ by Accident, or for necessary Self-defence; when Men whose Profession it is to endure Hardships, and encounter Dangers, c⟨a⟩utio⟨u⟩sly shun them, and suff⟨e⟩r their Count⟨r⟩y to be ravaged in thei⟨r⟩ ver⟨y⟩ Ne⟨i⟩g⟨h⟩bo⟨u⟩rhood; then certainly, Censure cannot be silent; nor can th⟨e⟩ Public receive much Advantage from a Regiment of such dastardly Debauchees.”

3Or, as Alexander Pope had it in An Essay on Criticism,

Envy will Merit as its Shade pursue,

But like a Shadow, proves the Substance true.”

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