Thursday, March 30, 2017

British Columbia George Washington Cherry Tree

"Never did the wise Ulysses take more pains with his beloved Telemachus, that did Mr. Washington with George, to inspire him with an early love of truth."  -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

For a guy with three young daughters who is still in the (cough! cough!) prime of his life... I sure spend a lot of time with dead people.  I have a library full of them.

"'Truth, George' (said he) 'is the loveliest quality of youth.  I would ride fifty miles, my son, to see the little boy whose heart is so honest, and his lips so pure, that we may depend on every word he says.'" -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

The thing about reading dead authors and pouring over the past through the eyes of those long since withered away... is that it gives you a certain perspective about the living.
"'Pa, (Said George very seriously) do I ever tell lies?'"
"'No, George, I thank God you do not, my son; and I rejoice in the hope you never well.'"  -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

Contrary to popular belief, the dead don't stop being stubborn or mischievous or ornery or flat out deceitful after they have passed.  In fact, the dead lie more than anyone else I know.  (Yep! Pun Challenge Accepted) Case in point, that historical rascal, that pox of fallacious fallacy...  George Washington.
"One day, in the garden, where he often amused himself hacking his mother's pea-sticks, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English Cherry-tree... the next morning the old gentleman finding out what had befallen his tree..." -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

My kids loved reading the famous yarn of young George cutting down the cherry tree and then fessing up to his tree-hugging Pa  because he's so blamed honest and truthful and forthright and presidential and whatnot.  They liked it in the same way they enjoyed Columbus discovering the world was round or Newton getting domed from a falling apple or Einstein flunking math or Franklin with his kite on a stormy night.  You know, they love to accept the Big Historical Lie... and boy!  Do I love it too.
"'I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie.  I did cut it with my hatchet.'" -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

History is choke-full of scholars pouring over letters and documents and artifacts and new wonders are discovered every day. Things thought lost. Mysteries solved.  It's almost as if the dead try to grasp on to their secrets until their bones turn to dust.  The living do this too.
"'Such an act of heroism in my son, is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."  -The Life of Washington, Mason Locke Weems 1809

We all hold on to our secrets so tight, so afraid someone might actually know us.  It forever divides us and keeps us from being our truest self.  So yes, Jefferson owned slaves...and Paul Revere didn't ride alone... and Washington had teeth made of hippopotamus bone... and Adams despised both Franklin AND Jefferson... and what's your big secret?  Oh, right!  That's asking too much, isn't it?  Suddenly, living in a fairy-tale world of cherry trees choppings doesn't seem so bad after all.  Oh yes... give me the big lie every time.  





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