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their ignoble and heroic qualities are portrayed with equal impartiality. Hence, we have no fine-spun theories to cover the narrowness of view, the harshness of judgment, and the implacable intolerance, which mark the annals of the puritan period. The banishment of Baptists, and the whipping and hanging of Quakers, bring out the candor of the historian, but do not move his ingenuity in the way of apology. And in this particular, the puritans themselves, could they have foreseen the labors of Mr. Hildreth, would-unlike too many of their admiring posterity-have thanked him for his fidelity. Toleration, with them, was the most damnable of heresies; and the suspicion that any narrator of their transactions might, at some future period, make apologies for their want of such a trait of character, would have filled them with horror. Let us add, the treachery which moved the undying revenge of the aborigines, leading to the most bloody and painful episodes of the colonial history, is described without terms of extenuation.
That portion of the history which relates to the revolution is equally impartial. The lagging zeal with which so many of the colonies responded to the declaration of independence; the niggard appropriations to meet the exigencies of the war; the extreme difficulty in procuring enlistments; the sectional jealousies which distressed and reduced the army of Washington, and moved his soul almost to despair;-all these matters are detailed without any trick to hide or pervert the humiliating facts. An historian, whose anxiety not to wound the ill-grounded patriotic pride of his countrymen exceeded his love for simple truth, would have found no place for the fact, that on the very morning of the battle of Behmus' Heightsa most important engagement, and the precursor of the surrender of Burgoyne-the very soldiers who had won the victory of Bennington, taking advantage of the circumstance that their term of enlistment expired that day, refusing the most urgent entreaties, marched off for their homes, leaving their comrades in arms to the uncertainties and perils of the coming conflict. Our author's fearless candor will not permit him to hide the real truth, that while the success of the revolution is mainly due to the prudence and disinterested patriotism of the noble com
mander-in-chief, and to the devotion to the cause of American independence which really animated the majority of the people, very much is also to be set down to the hesitating, vacillating proceedings of the British government, and to the incompetence and dilatory conduct of the generals to whom it had, at first, entrusted the management of the war. The few particulars which appear in our account of that portion of the history touching the presidential terms, confirm the belief, that a fixed purpose to present all phases of our history, and in due proportions, has governed the author throughout his entire work.
We must name by itself the particular wherein Mr. Hildreth deserves, in a pre-eminent degree, the gratitude of every American, who, appreciating the moral conditions on which alone nations as well as individuals can prosper, has the welfare of his country at heart. The institution of African slavery-that monstrous inconsistency in the heart of a nation which, in the preamble of its independence, declares all men to have been created equal, and which perpetually vaunts itself the model republic, that growing blight, which, at the time we write, has attained to such portentous authority as to threaten the extension of its curse over the whole land,—is, for the first time, dealt with manfully, fearlessly, and truthfully by an American historian. The author makes no disguise of his loathing for the "peculiar institution." His description of its workings in our history everywhere breathes that love of liberty, and that sacred regard for the rights of the humblest of his fellow-men, which commands our reverence and kindles our best enthusiasm. Let it not, however, be inferred that it is by epithets alone that he has presented the real character of human slavery. The sure tendency of such a system to induce, on the part of both master and slave, mental and bodily apathy, eating out the very life of industry and enterprise-to debase the mind and soul, quenching the fire of manly impulse, putting a ban upon free thought and speech-to efface the moral sense, and seal up the fountains of humane feeling -in all these particulars, the inevitable tendency of slavery needs but a simple statement, without the accompa niment of vehement denunciation, to be seen in its real character and detested. Our author has portrayed the
character of American slavery in the most emphatic of all terms, by showing, in terse yet simple phrase, what the institution has done-done in the way of making justice and humanity subordinate to the mercenary claims of trade and commerce-in perverting legislation from its noblest end, the protection of man himself as greater than his gains in corrupting the integrity of public men and lowering the standard of public morality. We will here add that Mr. Hildreth's reader will learn that the first introduction of African slaves into this country, in Virginia, was not, as sycophant apologists would have us believe, a measure of the mother country in opposition to the wishes of the colony, but was with "the free consent and cooperation of the colonists themselves." We must not fail to state, that the truthful words in which slavery is dealt with, brings into more vivid prominence the position of those men, scattered over the whole country, whose consciences were outraged by its presence, and who, though entangled in its meshes, never lost a favorable opportunity to bear earnest and effective testimony against it. The darkness of the general picture is greatly relieved when we find in the federal convention so imperative an anti-slavery sentiment as to bring from Madison the declaration, that it was "wrong to admit, in the constitution, the idea that there could be in man property -a decla ration so far acted upon as to prevent any direct recogni tion of slavery in the constitution as finally adopted.
Let it not be presumed, that in sketching the portraits of our ancestors, Mr. Hildreth has been governed by a censorious spirit. The integrity which has moved him to present with equal candor all the phases of their history, is by no means a mere pride of integrity, which delights to exaggerate the foibles it has the daring to bring into view. A genial spirit pervades his entire work. Indeed, so far from under-estimating the general merits of the persons of his history, we claim that his very impartiality has but placed those merits in a more conspicuous light. In reading his account of their doings, we feel, as we have never felt in reading any other author, our connection with them as members of a common humanity. We enter into their feelings. We sympathize with their endeavors. We appreciate the obstacles which obstructed their prog
An honest avowal of their foibles shows them to be but fallible creatures like ourselves. And if, while weighed down by the infirmities common to our nature, having the usual temptations of humanity to overcome, they have nevertheless produced such a history as we can now claim, and which with all its defects we can but look upon with a glow of patriotic pride, we must regard their achievements as all the more redounding to their praise. To attribute to them superhuman qualities is to make their success easy, and so far to neutralize the real heroism of their triumph. To portray them as a different order of beings from ourselves, is to excite not admiration for what they did, but to exercise our curiosity as to what they were, and how they succeeded. To present them as human beings, is to call forth our admiration and to kindle our enthusiasm. In presenting the persons of American history with strict conformity to "the conditions of humanity," Mr. Hildreth has touched the chords of sympathy which connect us with them; so doing, it can but be the effect of his labors to excite a love of the much that is noble in their experience, and to call up in the breasts of his appreciating fellow-countrymen a resolve to emulate the general excellence of their example.
We have only to add, that considerations of style in no way diminish the praise we have felt called upon to bestow on the general contents of Mr. Hildreth's six volumes. A style of elegant simplicity, wholly devoid of ostentatious display, clear almost to perfect transparency, seems the fitting dress in which to clothe the annals and characters of a people, the general attractiveness of whose history needs not the arts of the rhetorician to hold a reader's attention, and to secure his approving judgment.
G. H. E.
Rev. E. M. Woolley.
Memoir of Rev. Edward Mott Woolley. By his daughter, Mrs. Fidelia Woolley Gillett, assisted by Rev. A. B. Grosh. With an Appendix, &c. Boston: Abel Tompkins, 1855. pp. 360.
BIOGRAPHY holds an important place in literature. No life is so insignificant as to have no influence on the lives of others no mind is so feeble as to exert, directly or indirectly, no controlling force over other minds. Society is an aggregate, and no individual is insulated from surrounding potencies of good and evil; and the more strongly marked is the character of one of its units, the more forcible is its action on its contiguous units.
Biography perpetuates, in some degree, this power. It is the echo repeating tones that have died on the lips. It is the light in the track of the vanished sun. If the last rays of the luminary be lurid and baneful-let clouds rest on their retreating gleams; and if those tones be harsh and dissonant, let them pass into unawakening silence.
The memories of those who have not lived good lives, however distinguished by talent, should only be perpetuated as moral beacons on the dangerous billows of human life. The history of the bucanier and murderer may instruct the psychologist, who analyzes the spiritual, as the anatomist dissects the material being, and truths beneficial to man may result sometimes from his researches; but the young who read are unskilled in tracing cause and consequence, and, to them, the moral lesson is veiled. The undeveloped, though nobly endowed, mind is attracted by valor however misdirected, and weaves around it its own indwelling romance. pirate, braving death on his battle-deck, or on the scaffold that ends his crimes, elicits the admiration instinctively paid to an unconquerable and defiant courage; while the heroism of patient suffering, and unostentatious duty, and even the sublime death of the patriot-martyr, arouse no thrill of sympathy.
But the psychologist has not equal advantage with his