CONGRESS CONFESSES ITS HELPLESSNESS.
“AT length,” so wrote Washington to Lafayette in 1783, “I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, solacing myself with tranquil enjoyments, retiring within myself, able to tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction, envious of none, determined to be pleased with all; and, this being the order for my march, I will move gently down the stream of life till I sleep with my fathers.” The French minister, Luzerne, who visited Washington a few weeks after his return to private life, “found him attired in a plain gray suit like a Virginia farmer.” “To secure the happiness of those around him appeared to be his chief occupation.”* His country with one voice acknowledged that but for him its war of revolution must have failed. His glory pervaded the world, and the proofs of it followed him to his retirement.
Houdon, the great French sculptor of his day, moved more by enthusiasm for him than by the expected compensation for making his statue, came over with his assistants to Mount Vernon to take a mould of his person, to study his countenance, to watch his step as he walked over his fields, his attitude as he paused; and so he has preserved for posterity the features and the form of Washington.
Marie Antoinette added words of her own to those of the king of France, who invited him to visit them. Luzerne pressed the invitation as the heartfelt desire of the French
* Luzerne to Rayneval, 12 April 1784.