This last chapter cannot begin more fitly than by quoting again the words of Mr. McMaster: “George Washington is an unknown man.” Mr. McMaster might have added that to no man in our history has greater injustice of a certain kind been done, or more misunderstanding been meted out, than to Washington, and although this sounds like the merest paradox, it is nevertheless true. From the hour when the door of the tomb at Mount Vernon closed behind his coffin to the present instant, the chorus of praise and eulogy has never ceased, but has swelled deeper and louder with each succeeding year. He has been set apart high above all other men, and reverenced with the unquestioning veneration accorded only to the leaders of mankind and the founders of nations; and in this very devotion lies one secret at least of the fact that, while all men have praised Washington, comparatively few have understood him. He has been lifted high up into a lonely greatness, and unconsciously put outside the range of human sympathy. He has been accepted as a being as nearly perfect as it is given to man to be, but our warm personal interest has been reserved for other and lesser men who seemed to be nearer to us in their virtues and their errors alike. Such isolation, lofty though it be, is perilous and leads to grievous misunderstandings. From it has come the widespread idea that Washington was cold, and as devoid of human sympathies as he was free from the common failings of humanity.
Of this there will be something to say presently, but meantime there is another more prolific source of error in regard to Washington to be considered. Men who are loudly proclaimed to be faultless always excite a certain kind of resentment. It is a dangerous eminence for any one to occupy. The temples of Greece are in ruins, and her marvelous literature is little more than a collection of fragments, but the feelings of the citizens who exiled Aristides because they were weary of hearing him called “just,” exist still, unchanged and unchangeable. Washington has not only been called “just,” but he has had every other good quality attributed to him by countless biographers and eulogists with an almost