George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Radnor, 8 July 1797

To Radnor

Mount Vernon 8th July 1797

My Lord,

The sentiments which your Lordship has been pleased to express (in your favour of the 19th of January last) relatively to my public conduct, do me great honour; and I pray you to accept my grateful acknowledgment of the unequivocal evidence it conveys, of the favourable opinion you entertain of the principles by which it was actuated.1

For having performed duties, (which I conceive every Country has a right to require of its citizens) I claim no merit; but no man can feel more sensibly the reward of approbation for such services, than I do. Next to the consciousness of having acted faithfully in discharging the several trusts to which I have been called, the thanks of ones country, & the esteem of good men, is the highest gratification my mind is susceptible of.

I am now placed in the shade of my Vine and Fig tree; and at the age of Sixty five, am re-commencing my Agricultural & Rural pursuits; which were always more congenial to my temper and disposition than the noise & bustle of public employment; notwithstanding so small a portion of my life has been engaged in the former.

I reciprocate with great cordiality the good wishes you have been pleased to bestow on me, and pray devoutly, that we may both witness, and that shortly, the return of Peace, for a more bloody, expensive & eventful War, is not recorded in modern, if to be found in ancient history. I have the honor to be Your Lordships Most Obedient and Very Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, second earl of Radnor (1750–1828), often voted against Lord North in the House of Commons before succeeding to the title in 1776. In 1778 he voted against continuing the American war.

1Radnor’s letter of 19 Jan. 1797 from Longford Castle near Salisbury reads: “Tho’ of Necessity a Stranger to You, I cannot deny myself the Satisfaction among the Many, who will probably even from this Country intrude upon your Retirement, of offering to You my Congratulations on your withdrawing yourself from the Scene of public Affairs with a Character, which appears to me perfectly unrivalled in History. The voluntary Resignation of Authority, wielded as it was, while You thought fit to wield it, for the Advantage of your Country in the universal Opinion of Mankind, confirms the Judgement I had presumed to form of your Moderation, and completes the Glory of your Life. Permit me, Sir, who enlisted, in no political Party have as a public Man looked up to You with Veneration; Who have seen the Begining of your Career against England with Approbation, because I felt England was unjust; Who have seen You discontinue your Hostility towards England, when in good Faith she was no longer acting as an Enemy to America, but was by honest Councels endeavouring to be as closely connected in Amity, as she is by natural, & mutual Interests; Who have seen You the Instrument in the Hand of Providence of wresting from the British Minister an Influence destructive of the just Rights of both Countries, and of establishing the Independence of America, which I am persuaded will eventually, if your Principles, & your Wisdom shall actuate your Successors, be the Means of securing these respectively to us both; Who have seen You in Adversity, and in Prosperity alike the good, the firm, the moderate, the honest, and the disinterested Patriot; Permit me I say, as an Englishman, and as a Man to rejoice at the Completion of such a Character, and to offer my unfeigned Wishes dictated by Respect for a peaceful Evening of your Life, and the Realization (as is my sincere Belief) of your posthumous Fame, and your eternal Happiness” (PHi: Gratz Collection).

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