When George Washington was stationed in early life at Alexandria, with a regiment under his command, his spirit became heated one day at an election, and he said something very offensive to a Mr. Payne. In response, Payne felled him to the ground with one blow of his cane. On hearing of the insult offered to their commander, the regiment, burning for revenge, immediately started for the city; but Washington met them and begged them by their regard for him to return peaceably to their barracks. Thinking himself in the wrong in his hasty expressions, he nobly resolved to make an honorable reparation. The next morning Washington sent a polite note requesting Payne to meet him at the tavern. Payne took it for a challenge, and went in expectation of a duel. However, what was his surprise to find, instead of pistols, a decanter of wine on the table.
Washington rose to meet him and said with a smile, "Mr. Payne, to err is human; but to correct our errors is always honorable. I believe I was wrong yesterday. You have had, I think, some satisfaction; and, if you deem that sufficient, here is my hand. Let us be friends."
Such an act of justice and courtesy few could resist; and Payne became, from that moment through life, an enthusiastic friend and admirer of Washington, who in all of his victories never won a more glorious triumph. When, by ruling his own spirit, he subdued the anger of his enemy and won his confidence and love.
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