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at home with them, and take care of them, than to exhibit their counterfeits at the National Academy of Design, or anywhere else.
Historical View of the American Revolution. By GEORGE WASHINGTON
GREENE, author of Historical Studies, &c. 12mo. pp. 459. Boston:
Although we have found many things, both in the matter and style, of this volume, which show room for improvement, we feel that we should be neither just nor candid did we not cordially recommend it as an important contribution to our historical literature. It consists of a series of twelve lectures read before the Lowell Institute of Boston, in 1863, and some of which were read at the Cooper Institute, New York, the same year. That the lectures embrace a wide field may be seen from the fact that they discuss, respectively, the Causes, the Phases, the Congress, Congress and State Governments, Finances, Diplomacy, the Army, Campaigns, Foreign Element, Martyrs, Prose Literature, and Poetical Literature, of the Revolution. We need hardly say that no intelligent, thoughtful person could fail to invest these subjects with interest; and that Prof. Greene possesses those qualities in a high degree, we. cheerfully admit. In his lecture on "The Foreign Element in the Revolution,” he is more liberal in doing justice to France, for the powerful aid she afforded, than any other American writer, although he by no means exaggerates the facts.
It is too often forgotten, in discussing the nature of the struggle between the colonies and the mother country, that the former had both the physical and moral support of one of the greatest, if not the very greatest, of military powers in the world. The common impression is that, although we had many French officers in the American service, foremost among whom was Lafayette, we had not the advantage of the French nation as an ally ; in other words, there are but few who seem to be aware that France declared war against England in our behalf, and that consequently the struggle of the latter was not merely one against her rebellious colonies, but very soon became also a struggle against France, who attacked her in Europe as well as in America, with all the vigor and intrepidity characteristic of that gallant nation.
There is no reason why this fact should be concealed ; on the contrary, it is important that it should be known, so that it may put others on their guard. It will be remembered that none took more pains to ignore the aid rendered by France than the leaders of the late rebellion against the Union, especially before they commenced the war. Their chief argument was: “Our colonial forefathers, who were a mere handful,
were enabled to set the power of England at defiance, and establish their independence ; why, then, should we doubt of success, who form a nation of upwards of ten millions ?” There was not a word about the French until it was too late ; thus the masses of the Southern people were deceived by concealing from them the facts of history, under the guise of patriotism.
Our revolutionary forefathers had given abundant proofs of their heroism, bravery, and patriotism, before they got any assistance from France, as a nation. This ought to satisfy us; nor should we think it in the least derogatory to our prestige that it should be known by the world, and, especially, by all sections of our own people, that it was not ; single-handed we were able to force so powerful a nation as England to acknowledge our independence. Fortunately, the results of the recent rebellion afford a sufficient lesson by themselves, without reference to the revolutionary struggle. The great Republic has satisfied, friends and foes alike, that those who seek its ruin can only expect to ruin themselves.
We do not take these remarks, or any of them, from Prof. Greene's lectures; we always give our own views, let the subject be what it may. When we use the thoughts of another we quote them as such, whether our object be to commend or condemn them, and accordingly we now proceed to give a few extracts from the volume before us. The lecturer shows how strong were the prejudices entertained against the countrymen of Lafayette, and which were the most cherished of all brought by the colonists from the mother country, adding the following remarks:
“ But American statesmen well knew that in their unequal contest with the most powerful nation of Europe, France was their first, if not their only ally. They needed French arms. They needed French money. They might need French ships of war, and French soldiers. This reflection had led them to welcome, as a happy omen, the first appearance of military adventurers from France, and added not a little to the embarrassment of Congress when they became so numerous as to make it necessary to refuse their offers of service. Yet the minds of these statesmen were not free from the hereditary prejudices, as the conduct of John Adams and John Jay clearly showed, at a moment when all prejudice ought to have ceased : nor the minds of generals, and still less of inferior officers, as plainly appeared in the expedition against Rhode Island. What, then, could be expected or rather, what was not to be feared-when well-dressed and well-paid French soldiers should be brought to serve side by side with the half-naked soldiers of America ?
“To smooth these difficulties, to overcome these prejudices, to convert antipathy into confidence, and jealousy into an honorable and friendly emulation, was the first good office which Lafayette rendered his adopted country. His money gave him the means of doing many little acts of reasonable kindness, and he did them with a grace which doubled their value. His rank enabled him to assume a tone with his dissatisfied countrymen, which sometimes checked their arrogance, and often set bounds to their pretensions. A true Frenchman in impulse, chivalrous sense of honor, and liveliness of perception, he taught Americans to bear more readily with qualities which his example sbowed them might easily be united with the perseverance, the firmness of principle, and the soundness of judgment which they had been wont to set above all other qualities. The French alliance might have been gained without Lafayette ;
but the harmony of feeling which made it practically available was, in a large measure, owing to the hold which Lafayette had taken upon the confidence and the affections of the American army and the American people.
“ And but for him that alliance might have come too late. It is true that he came to us in defiance of his government, escaping in disguise the lettre de cachet which a ministry, alarmed and shocked at his disobedience, had issued against him. But it is no less true that the sympathetic enthusiasm of Paris was raised to the highest pitch by this display of a chivalrous daring, which Paris. ians prize so highly; and that the English court was fully persuaded that he had done nothing but what his own court approved. Thus the French government found itself strengthened at home for an open declaration, and stimulated from abroad by the increasing jealousy of its powerful rival. Lafayette's hand is almost as visible in the treaty of alliance as the hand of Franklin himself.”
This gives a fair view of the question, so far as it goes; it does justice to France. But at least four or five of the following pages should be read in connection with it, in order to understand the scope of the author's discussion. The professor is not equally liberal in dealing with other “foreign elements." “We know," he says, “ that there were many foreigners among the common soldiers; for we know that, on more than one occasion, when men were chosen for special service, special care was taken to employ none but natives" (p. 282). It seems that had it not been for this our author would not have known that any foreigners but the French had entered our armies. He admits, indeed, that “there was a German legion; and (that) German and Irish names meet us constantly in the imperfect muster-rolls,” &c.—" but we know, also, that then, as now, hundreds bore German and Irish names who had never seen Ireland or Germany,” (pp. 282–3). From this it seems to follow that those who did see those countries and belong to them deserve blame from “the natives."
One Irishman is mentioned, as if intended to represent the part taken by his countrymen in general in our struggle ; although he did not come to this country from Ireland, but from France, in whose army he had served thirty years, attaining the rank of colonel. “He was anxious,” says the professor, “to become an American citizen, as he told the credulous Silas Deane; but still more anxious to become an American general, as Con. gress soon discovered” (p. 293). None but an Irishinan would have been so selfish as this! Finally, after doing a great many horrible things, this Irish brigadier-general returned to France, "leaving in American history a name second only to that of Benedict Arnold,” &c. (p. 296).
On examination, we find that the darkest features in the "treason" of Conway consisted in his having made some criticisms, in a private letter, on the generalship of Washington, giving the preference to that of General Gates; and even for this he made an humble apology to the Father of his Country. It is not even pretended that he ever attempted to betray the cause in which his sword had voluntarily been drawn, for love or money ; yet we are told that he is "second only to Arnold.” As no other Irishman is mentioned in the “Foreign Element,” the inference is that the Amer
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can people of the present day may accept Conway as a fair specimen of the Irish of revolutionary times. Doubtless some learned professor of eighty or ninety years hecce will discover that the Irish have been equally treasonable, unreliable, and insignificant in the great war just closed.
We are sorry to find such narrow-mindedness in the volume before us; it is not creditable to the author, nor to anybody else. As for the publishers, we entirely exculpate them from having any sympathy with “Know-nothingism," or any other illiberal or puerile exploded notion; for, of all our publishers, they are the most cosmopolitan in feeling and spirit, as well as the most judicious in their taste as public caterers.
We do not condemn the professor's book, however, because he sometimes makes observations and statements which show neither learning, wisdom, nor good taste. There is safficient good in it to counterbalance these defects; quite enough, indeed, to render it worth a much higher price than the publishers ask for it; and we should admit the fact were its objectionable features evən directed against ourselves personally. Probably no part of the book will be more generally read than the two lectures on the Literature of the Revolution; although we confess we do not like the style in which they are written. It seems to us rather inflated, somewhat too ambitious, and by no means faultless in its syntax. For too frequently he pays more attention to sound than sense. Thus, for example, in speaking of Alexander Hamilton, he says: strange to find a boy of seventeen writing with such evident familiarity about Grotius and Puffendorff, and urging home upon his antagonist the unconscious accordance of his fundamental axioms with the godless theory of Hobbes” (p. 385). Now, what is there so very remarkable in finding a boy of seventeen writing familiarly about Grotius and Puffendorff ? We know boys of less than sixteen who write “with evident familiarity about” the differential and integral calculus, about organic chemistry, &c., and there were those who did so quite as long ago as the time of Hamilton, if not a little before.
On the same page, the professor says: “But the most important channel of Hamilton's influence as a writer from 1777 to 1781 was through Washington's official correspondence; in which it is as impossible to deny that he bore an important part as to deny that the similarity of tone and thought which pervade it from the beginning to the end of Washington's life, prove the importance of the part which he also took in the preparation of the documents that bear his signature” (p. 385). This sentence is, indeed, sadly defective; according to the elementary principles of the English language the noun similarity is the nominative to both the verbs marked in Italics, but both have the plural form, as if similarity and thought were the nominative, whereas thought is the object of the preposition understood after tone. But we have only to turn one leaf in order to find worse, as, for instance, where the author tells us that, “If
there was less of eloquence in the pulpit, there was fervor, earnestness, and fearless patriotism ” (p. 387). Thus “fervor, earnestness, and patriotism” are made to agree, or rather to disagree, with the verb was. If the author be right, and we wrong, then it is proper to say they was.
All we mean by this, however, is that the author should be more careful than he is, both in his statements and in the structure of his language. If he would use fewer words, he would do much better. At the same time we must repeat that his book will repay a careful perusal, and that no one who takes any lively interest in American history should fail to read it. It is printed in large clear type, on good white paper, and neatly and substantially bound.
The Person of Christ, the Miracle of History, with a Reply to Strauss and
Renan, and a collection of Testimonies of Unbelievers. By PHILIP
1865. THERE is no Christian writer, no matter what sect he may belong to, who would not profit in his views of Christianity by a careful perusal of this little volume. Indeed, we know no other religious book of the same size which we could more unhesitatingly recommend for the family library ; for what is promised in the titlepage is faithfully and successfully performed in the body of the work. Lest a translation might be supposed to misrepresent the views of those known to be infidels, the original language in which their opinions have been expressed is given in “ The Person of Christ."
This is true of extracts given from Diderot, Roussea u, Napoleon I. Renan, &c., which form a feature in the book which is at once interesting and instructive. We have an extract from Hess's “Life of Jesus," in which Diderot is represented by a personal witness as having paid the following tribute to the sacred Scriptures, after he had taken part for some time, with several other infidels, in ridiculing Christianity : “A merveilles, messieurs," he says, "à merveilles, je ne connais personne en France ni ailleurs qui sache écrire et parler avec plus d'art et de talent. Cependant malgré tout le mal que nous avons dis, et sans doute avec beaucoup de raison, ce diable de livre, j'ose vous defier, tout sant que vous êtes, de faire un récit qui soit aussi simple, mais en même temps aussi sublime, aussi touchant, que le récit de la passion et de la mort de Jésus Christ, qui produise le même effet, qui fasse une sensation aussi forte, aussi généralement ressentie, et dont l'influence soit encore la même après tant de siècles. ***
* For a wonder, gentlemen, for a wonder, I know nobody, either in France or anywhere else, who could write and speak with more art and talent. Notwithstanding all the bad things we have said, and no doubt with good reason, of this devil of a book, I defy you all—as many as are here—to prepare a tale so simple, and at the same time so sublime and touching, as the tale of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, &c.