George Washington: The Image and the Man

George Washington: The Image and the Man

George Washington: The Image and the Man

George Washington: The Image and the Man

Excerpt

George Washington came of a family that must be called undistinguished, unless a persistent mediocrity, enduring many generations, is in itself a distinction. With the exception of the illustrious George there is no record of a Washington who ever attained anything more than a quickly fading celebrity. The name is unknown in science, in literature, in art, in commerce, in large-scale industry.

The Sulgrave Washingtons were parochial English squires. They had a coat of arms and a family tree on which a Sir or a Colonel bloomed now and then. Their family motto was Exitus Acta Probat, which may be translated, "The end justifies the means." Jesuitical, to be sure, but not important, for no doubt it influenced the conduct of the Washingtons about as little as mottoes usually influence conduct.

They were sane and dull people, these Washingtons, and excessively normal. Men of this type, in all ages of history, have presented an opaque surface to the fresh thought of their time. They are conservative by instinct. But their vitality is tough and deeply rooted, and their stolidity is antiseptic. They are immune to the fructifying quality of genius.

Sulgrave is a tiny manor of Northamptonshire. The country thereabouts reminds one of southern Connecticut. A panorama of white meandering roads, gently swelling hills and . . .

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