George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Chastellux, 1 February 1784

To Chastellux

Mount Vernon 1st Feby 1784.

My Dear Chevr

I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 23d of August from L’Orient. I hope this Letter will find you in the circle of your friends at Paris, well recovered from the fatigues of your long & wearisome inspection on the frontiers of the Kingdom.1

I am at length become a private citizen of America, on the banks of the Potowmac; where under my own Vine & my own Fig tree—free from the bustle of a camp & the intrigues of a Court, I shall view the busy world, “in the calm lights of mild philosophy”2—& with that serenity of mind which the Soldier in his pursuit of glory, & the Statesman of fame, have not time to enjoy. I am not only retired from all public employments; but I am retireing within myself & shall tread the private walks of life with heartfelt satisfaction.

After seeing New York evacuated by the British Forces on the 25th of Novembr, & civil Government established in the City, I repaired to Congress, & surrendered into their hands, all my powers, with my Commission on the 23d of Decemr and arrived at this Cottage on Christmas eve, where I have been close locked up ever since in Frost & Snow. Mrs Washington thanks you for your kind remembrance of her, & prays you to accept her best wishes. With sentiments of pure & unabated friendship, I am My Dr Chevr Yours &ca

G: Washington

LB, DLC:GW; copy, ScC: Washington Letters.

François-Jean de Beauvoir, chevalier de Chastellux (1734–1788), the soldier and philosophe, landed at Newport, R.I., in July 1780 with the French army as one of Rochambeau’s major generals. He remained in America for over a year after the victory at Yorktown, leaving for France in January 1783. Chastellux spoke English fluently, and GW was one among the many friends he made in the American army and with whom he remained in correspondence until his death in October 1788. The chevalier de Chastellux became the marquis in 1784 at the death of his brother.

1Chastellux began his letter to GW of 23 Aug. 1783: “The King having honoured me since my return to Europe with a commission of inspector of his troops, and the Regiments I am to inspect being scattered through all the frontiers of this Kingdom, I am engaged in a progress of four thousand miles, but I find my self presently as near america as possible; and I wish heartily that instead of travelling on by land, I might embark at this place and proceed to Virginy where I am told your excellency is retired like an other Cincinnatus” (DLC:GW). Founded in 1664 by the French East India Company on an inlet of the Bay of Biscay and bought by the French government in 1782, Lorient was a free port and was to become an important station for the French navy.

2The ending lines, in Addison, Cato, description begins Joseph Addison. The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, Esq. 4 vols. London, 1761. description ends act 1, sc. 1, are:

Thy steady temper, Portius,

Can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Caesar,

In the calm lights of mild Philosophy.

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