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ly interesting in the character of André. To an excellent understanding, well improved by education and travel, he united a peculiar elegance of mind and manners, and the advantages of a pleasing person. It is said that he possessed a pretty taste for the fine arts, and had himself attained some proficiency in poetry, music and painting. His knowledge appeared without ostentation, and embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanies so many talents and accomplishments, which left you to suppose more than appeared. His sentiments were elevated and inspired esteem, they had a softness that conciliated affection. His elocution was handsome, his address easy, polite and insinuating. By his merit he had acquired the unlimited confidence of his General, and was making rapid progress in military rank and reputation. But in the height of his career, flushed with new hopes from the execution of a project the most beneficial to his party that could be devised, he is at once precipitated from the summit of
pros. perity, sees all the expectations of his ambition blasted, and himself ruined. The character I have given of him is drawn partly from what I saw of him myself, and partiy from information. I am aware that a man of real merit is never seen in so favourable a light as through the medium of adversity. The clouds that surround him are so many shades that set off his good qualities. Misfortune cuts down little vanities, that in prosperous times serve as so many spots in his virtues ; and gives a tone to humanity that makes his worth more amiable.
“ His spectators, who enjoy a happier lot, are less prone to detract from it through envy; and are much disposed by compassion to give the credit he deserves, and perhaps even to magnify it."
General WASHINGTON referred the case of Major André to a Board of fourteen General officers. Of this Board General Green was President, and the foreign Generals La Fayette and Steuben were members. They were to determine in what character he was to be considered, and what punishment ought to be inflicted. This Board treated their prisoner with the utmost delicacy and tenderness. They desired him to answer no question that embarrassed his feelings. But, concerned only for his honour, he frankly confessed that he did not come on shore under the sanction of a flag, and stated so fully all facts respecting himself, that it became unnecessary to examine a single witness; but he cautiously guard. ed against communications that would involve the guilt of others.
The Board reported the important facts in the case, and gave it as their opinion that André was a Spy, and that agreeably to the laws and usages of nations, he ought to suffer death. His execution took place next day.
André was reconciled to death, but not to the mode of dying, which the laws of war had assigned to persons in his situation. He wished to die as a soldier, not as a criminal. In language, that proved him possessed of the nicest feelings of heroism and honour, he wrote to General WASHINGTON, soliciting that he might not die on a gibbet : But the stern maxims of justice forbade a compliance with the request, although the sensibility of the General was wounded by a refusal.
Major André walked with composure to the place of execution between two American officers. When he beheld the instrument of his fate, he asked with some emotion, “must I die in this manner ?” “ It is unavoidable,” was the answer.
He replied, “ I am reconciled to my fate, but not to the mode ;'' but immediately added, “it will be but a momentary pang
With a countenance of serenity and magnanimity that melted the heart of every spectator, he mounted the cart. Being asked at the fatal moment if he wished to say any thing, only that
you will witness to the world, that I die like a brave man.”
Never, perhaps, did an execution of this kind more deeply interest the finer feelings of human nature. The General officers, who reported his case, lamented the necessity they were under to advise that as a spy he should be hung, and the heart of General WASHINGTON was wrung with anguish when he signed his death warrant. But the fatal wound that would have been inflicted on the country, had Arnold's treason succeeded, made the sacrifice necessary for the publick safety. The American of. ficers universally discovered a sympathy for the unfortunate sufferer, and the sensibility of the publick was greatly excited on the occasion.
Great, but unavailing endeavours had been used by Sir Henry Clinton to save Major André. Even Arnold had the presumption to write a threatening letter to General WASHINGTON on the subject, The General deigned not to answer his letter, but he conveyed to him his wife and his baggage. The merits and the fate of André gave a darker shade to the baseness and treachery of Arnold, and he became an object of publick detestation and abhorrence. “ André," observed General WASHINGTON in a letter to a friend, “has met his fate with that fortitude which was to be expected from an accomplished man and gallant officer ; but I am mistaken if at this time Arnold is undergoing the torments of a mental hell. He wants feeling : From some traits of his character, which have lately come to my knowledge, he seems to have been so hackneyed in crime, so lost to all sense of honour and shame, that while his faculties still enable him to continue his sordid pursuits, there will be no time for remorse."*
Arnold published at New York, an address to the inhabitants of America, and a proclamation to the officers and soldiers of the American army. In these publications, he attempted to sow the seeds of disaffection to the government among the citizens, and to allure, by the prospect of emolument and promotion, numbers from the army to the British standard ; but these publications met with universal indignation and contempt. During the whole period of the revolutionary war, the infamous Arnold was the only American officer, who deserted his banners, and turned his sword against the bosom of his country.
* Colonel Hamilton in a private letter to a friend unfolded the practices to which General WASHINGTON here alludes. “ This man (Amold) is in every sense despicable. In addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution during his command in Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his papers has unfolded, the history of his command at West Point is a history of little as well as great villainies. He practiced every dirty art of peculation and even stooped to connexions with the settlers of the garrison to defraud the
On the discovery of the defection of Arnold, General WASHINGTON strengthened the garrison of West Point; and moved the army to a position to support it, should Sir Henry Clinton make an attempt to carry the post. But although he had acquired a correct knowledge of its works, and was as. sisted by the advice of Arnold, he was not inclined to hazard the assault unaided by plot and stratagem,
The state of the army lay perpetually upon the mind of the Commander in Chief. Not wholly discouraged by former unsuccessful attempts to persuade Congress to adopt a permanent military establishment, he embraced the inactive period of this campaign once more to address that honourable body on this important subject,
His letter was dated as early as August, while exerting himself to be in readiness to cooperate with the French troops, and he observed,
“But while we are meditating offensive operations which may
either not be undertaken at all, or being undertaken may fail, I am persuaded Congress are not inattentive to the present state of the army, and will view in the same light with me the necessity of providing in time against a period (the first of January) when one half of our present force will dissolve. The shadow of an army that will remain, will have every motive, except mere patriotism, to abandon the service, without the hope which has hitherto supported them of a change for the better,