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[81] him, never could equal. His deep blue eyes are now
Chap. XLV.} 1775.
dimmed; his step has lost its certainty; he rises to decline the appointment; all eyes rest on him, and the convention hangs on his words: ‘I am an old man, almost deprived of sight; the honorable testimony of my country's approbation shall ever animate me, as far as I am able, to support the glorious cause in which America is now engaged; but advanced age renders me incapable of an active part in the weighty concerns which must be agitated in the great council of the united colonies, and I desire that some abler person may supply my place.’ The convention having unanimously thanked him for his fidelity, released him from further service only on account of his years. A strong party, at the head of which were Henry, Jefferson, and Carrington, turned for his successor to George Mason, a man of yet rarer virtues, now for the first time a member of a political body. He was a patriot, who renounced ambition, making no quest of fame, never appearing in public life but from a sense of duty and for a great end. ‘He will not refuse,’ said Jefferson and Henry, ‘if ordered by his country.’ But he was still suffering from an overwhelming domestic grief; as he gave his reasons for his refusal, tears ran down the presiding officer's cheeks; and the convention listened to him with the sympathy of a family circle. At the same time that Mason declined, he recommended Francis Lee, who was accordingly chosen in the room of Bland, yet only by one vote over a candidate who was noted for loyalty and dread of a democratic republic.

A spirit of moderation prevailed in the election of the committee of safety for the province; Edmund

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