George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 19 April 1783

London April 19th 1783

My Dear General

From the bottom of a heart that has never, since our parting, ceased to glow with the purest Affection, and most perfect respect for you, I beg leave to offer my warmest and most sincere Congratulations on that exalted Fame which you have so nobly won, and to which your truly glorious Actions so fully entitle you. For you, has been reserved the rare Distinction of performing Atchievements, which attract the admiration both of the old, and new world. Posterity will not fail to celebrate the uncommon Talents, and Virtues which united to form a Character and served to accomplish a Revolution the most wonderful that is to be met within the History of mankind. It does not belong to me to enumerate them, nor even to touch the Subject. My abilities, I am conscious, are unequal to the dignity of it. My Pen cannot do Justice to the Sentiments I feel. The Poets and Historians of after Ages shall vie with each other, in endeavouring to represent it in it’s true brillancy. Tho’ I could speak of it as I ought, I know well, that it should not be in your ear, because it would most certainly offend that innate modesty for which you, like all other great Men have been ever remarkable. Permit me, however, to assure You, and I do it with great truth, that, tho’ I may at times, have viewed some Objects, in a light different from that, in which they appeared to your [inlarged] Eye, that, time did not exist, nor did that event occur which could find me not interested in your Honour and Welfare. On all occasions I gloried in that intimacy and Friendship in which I so long had the happiness to live with you. The desire of indulging this well founded pride led me to talk of you, in all Companies; and I had thereby frequent opportunities of doing Justice to the goodness of that Heart, and the Superiority of those Talents, which, I knew assuredly, my Friend possessed. By doing so uniformly, I found that, I gave pleasure to many, and that I removed the prejudices and false impressions of many. ’Tis true I made some powerful Enemies to myself, by my conduct in this matter, and created obstacles and Barrs in the way of having my own Interest advanced. To this however, I could not sacrifice the Friendship and Gratitude which I owed. Perhaps at some time or other you may hear a little of some particulier scrapes, into which I brought myself, by the Lines I followed. Delicacy forebids my mentioning them. Some of your Friends in this Country can do it, I claim no merit from any such Circumstance: You may think I have been rather [officcious] my intentions, after all, were of the purest kind, and I always approve of them, whether you shall be pleased to do so, I know not.

What I beg to mention to You is, that the very eminent Station and Rank to which your merit called you, and which You have supported with Dignity and Success, will bring along with it the troubles usually attending such; I mean that of receiving many Solicitations for Favour and Preferement, and of my Solicitations among the rest. I should not call these matter of Trouble to You; because it is impossible that the great Scenes, in which you have acted, and all the eminence you have gained can have produced any change in the native benevolence of your heart, which will induce you to imploy all your power in doing good.

Were it possible My Dear General for us to change Situations but for a little, I am certain, I know so much of myself, as to be persuaded, that few things could give me much pleasure, as renewing former habits with you, and hitting upon some expedient, to enable my former bosom and confidential friend to pass the remainder of his Days comfortably. I take the liberty to inform You, that my Situation, for some years back, has been very unpleasant to me. The obstacles I referred to which I threw in my own way, together with the consequences of the obstinate Bilious Disorder I contracted in Jamaica, and which I gave you some Account of in my former Letters, contributed much to render it so. I have therefore but a gloomy prospect before me, respecting the State of the Evening of my days unless you shall dispel the cloud that hangs over it. Advantagious proposals were intimated about my going to Serve in your Country, which I always loved, these I rejected for obvious reasons while my conduct in this matter was here considered as imprudent.

Uninformed as I am of the nature of those powers which you may now retain, I cannot even mention my wishes, as, to what may be convenient for you to do or think of in my favour. Let me therefore only in general hint, that should Your Influence be of that extensive nature, which the generality beleive, and to which all think you have an [uncontracttable]right, it may be no difficult matter for you to get me some genteel appointment either in this Country, or in France. For some years I passed a considerable part of my time in France, and made some very respectable Acquaintances in that Country. From your own knowledge of me, I would hope you will not deem me unqualified for the duties of a Military Agent, for finding and sending out such Supplies as your Troops may want from this Country or from France—or of a Consul—or a Resident, at one of the small European Courts. Or for acting in any other way you think to fix for me, or choose to procure.

Have you any thoughts of gratifying the great curiosity and earnest wishes of Europe by shewing them the Author of one of the greatest and most extraordinary Revolutions that has occurred in any Period of History? If you should cross the Broad Water a Line from you directed to Lieut. Col. Robert Stewart under Cover to my worthy Friend John [Toreman] Esqr. M.P. Grays:Inn, London will find me out and bring me to You in whatever part of Europe you may be. But if you are resolved to remain in your own Country, I think of paying my respects at Mt Vernon, where I shall be happy to recognize in the personage of my old Friend, presenting what is very rare a Great General. In the mean time let me beg the favour of an answer as soon as you conveniently can. Our Correspondence is suffered a very long and [tedious] interruption. May I also beg you will do me the particular Honour to present my Compliments in the warmest and most respectful terms to Your Lady and that you may be still persuaded of the highest esteem, most perfect regard and inviolable attachment with which I have the Honour to be My Dear General Your ever affectionate Friend & most faithful hble Servt

Robert Stewart

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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