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the feuds occasioned by the disregard of his counsels, and to repair the mischief which he had vainly endeavoured to prevent.
In all this he found Hamilton's services of the utmost value, and the wisdom and magnanimity of the chief never appear to greater advantage, than when they take form and substance in the words of the Young Secretary.
But the time for action was again approaching. Philadelphia was menaced by the enemy, and, however unwilling to risk a general engagement, Washington felt that he must strike a blow in defence of the capital. Accordingly, he fought the battle of the Brandywine, and, after a severe struggle, was defeated, and compelled to abandon the city to its fate. Congress adjourned to Lancaster, having first invested Washington with extraordinary powers for the emergency; and, before the English arrived at Philadelphia, Hamilton was despatched thither to procure contributions of blankets, clothing, and other stores, to remove the horses, and to send the vessels up the Delaware, so as to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. He executed this delicate mission with great success, giving as little offence as possible to the inhabitants, and addressing a letter to the ladies, which seems to have reconciled them to the necessity of parting with their fleecy treasures.
It was at the battle of the Brandywine that another young officer, whose name was afterwards well known in both hemispheres, first had an opportunity of showing his prowess. Amongst the foreigners, who had lately joined the American army as volunteers, was the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman of about Hamilton's age, who had left his pleasant home and gentle bride, and all the gaieties of the proudest court in Europe, to serve a cause with which he had no direct concern, but which had inspired his romantic fancy with an ardent enthusiasm. He belonged to a small class of highborn men with popular sympathies, who in that age were anticipating the speedy advent of a millennium of political freedom, and cherishing dreams of human perfection, from which ere long they were destined to be rudely awakened. At all times of his life he was probably deficient in the wisdom and foresight of a statesman, and at a subsequent period in his career he exhibited an amount of weakness and infatuation, which brought the most serious calamities on his king and country; but there can be little doubt of his honesty and singleness of purpose: and when, as
in 1777, he appeared suddenly on the scene, with his youth, his rank, his engaging manners, his generosity, , and his courage, it is no wonder that he speedily gained the love and admiration of his new comrades. Washington invited him to share his quarters with his usual frankness and urbanity. “I cannot promise you the luxuries of a court,” he said ; “but as you have become an American soldier, you will doubtless accommodate yourself to the fare of an American army.” And, for several years from that date, Lafayette lived in the most intimate relations with the general and his family, and a friendship sprang up between him and Hamilton, which left many pleasing recollections to both of them.
After fighting another battle at Germantown, which nearly proved a victory, Washington retreated to White Marsh, and occupied himself in providing for the defence of the forts on the Delaware. Meanwhile, Gates had been more fortunate in the Northern campaign. Aided by the magnanimous Schuyler, whom he had supplanted in the command, and by Benedict Arnold (a brave and adventurous soldier, whose services had been poorly requited) he succeeded in forcing Burgoyne to capitulate at Saratoga. It was a brilliant achievement, and very beneficial to the
American cause, but it seems to have filled the mind of Gates with a strange presumption. He neglected to inform the commander-in-chief of his success, and left him to hear of the event by public rumour alone. Moreover, he gave no account of how he intended to dispose of his victorious troops, and Washington was at this time in great need of reinforcements. It was therefore resolved, in a council of war, to send Hamilton to Gates with a letter from Washington, of which the following is an extract:“By this opportunity I do myself the pleasure to congratulate you on the signal success of the
army under your command, in compelling General Burgoyne and his whole force to surrender themselves prisoners of war-an event that does the highest honour to the American arms, and which, I hope, will be attended with the most extensive and happy consequences. At the same time, I cannot but regret that a matter of such magnitude, and so interesting to our general operations, should have reached me by report only, or through the channel of letters not bearing that authenticity which the importance of it required, and which it would have received by a line under your signature stating the simple fact,”
Besides this dignified rebuke, Hamilton was the
bearer of instructions, in virtue of which he was to represent to General Gates the situation of the main army, and to urge on him the necessity of immediately detaching a portion of his forces to the assistance of his chief. On reaching Albany, he found Gates most unwilling to comply with Washington's wishes, ready to make any excuse for detaining the troops, and supported in his views by many of his officers, and by the New England States. It was a difficult position for a young man like Hamilton, thus brought into direct collision with a general flushed with conquest, in the midst of his popularity and triumph. But he never hesitated in the straight line of duty. Having advanced every argument he could think of, in favour of sending the required reinforcements, and finding that Gates would only agree, and that most reluctantly, to spare the weakest of three brigades at his disposal, he at once addressed him in language which could not be misunderstood or disregarded. “Knowing that General Washington wished me to pay the greatest deference to your judgment,” he wrote, “I ventured so far to deviate from the instructions he gave me, as to consent, in compliance with your opinion, that two brigades should remain here instead of one. At the same