Worthy Partner: The Papers of Martha Washington

By Joseph E. Fields; Martha Washington | Go to book overview

From David Humphreys

Madrid, July 5th. 1800 recd - Feby 1802

Dear & respected Madam Answd by T. Lear - March 6, 1802

In conformity to the intimation given in my letter dated the 22nd of Feby last, I now dedicate to you a Poem on the death of your late Husband delivered yesterday at the House of the American Legation in this City, in presence of a respectable number of Persons belonging to different nations. Their partiality to the subject led them to listen to it with peculiar indulgence. And from you, I flatter myself, it will meet with no unfavorable reception even if it should not have the desired effect of diminishing the source of your sorrow, as it contains a representation (tho but an imperfect one) of my melancholy sensations and as it is rather the production of the heart than of the head. When I wrote to you on the 22d of Feby last, I was ignorant that day had been set apart as sacred to the memory of Genl Washington...I was inconscious that the voice of mourning was raised at that moment throughout every district in the United States for your & their irreparable loss. Yet, on a day which had been rendered forever memorable by his birth, it was so natural for the feelings of the nation to be in sympathy, that I could not fail of participating in the mournful solemnity which I afterwards found had been recommended by the President to the People of the Union.

The Anniversary of Independence produces, in some sort, a renovation of the same sentiments. For who can separate the idea of our Washington from that of our Independence? Who can avoid renewing their lamentations that he, who contributed so largely to the establishment of it, is now no more? That he was raised up by Heaven to be more instrumental than any other mortal in obtaining the acknowledgement of our right to be an independent nation & in securing the enjoyment of our civil liberty under a good form of Government, no one has ever pretended to deny. For the accomplishment of this glorious destiny, it was indispensably necessary that he should have been born just so long before the Revolution, as to have acquired all the quality of body & mind adequate to the performance of the important part he was called upon to act. This observation has probably often occurred & been expressed. But I beg leave to mention another which has not to my knowledge, hitherto been made. It seems not unreasonable to suppose (from the wonderful change of sentiments which has since taken place in France) that his death was ordained by Providence to happen exactly at the point of time, when the salutary influence of his example would be more extensively felt than it could have been at any other period. So that it may be said of him, with peculiar propriety, that his whole existence was of a piece & that he died

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