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The memorials of that generation, by whose efforts the independence of the United States was achieved, are in great abundance. There is hardly an event of importance, from the year 1765 to the date of the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, in September, 1783, which has not been recorded, either by the industry of actors upon the scene, or by the indefatigable activity of a succeeding class of students. These persons have devoted themselves, with a highly commendable zeal, to the investigation of all particulars, even the most minute, that relate to this interesting period. The individuals, called to act most conspicuously in the Revolution, have many of them left voluminous collections of papers, which, as time passes, find their way to the light by publication, and furnish important illustrations of the feelings and motives under which the contest was carried
The actors are thus made to stand in bold
relief before us. We not only see the public record, but the private commentary also; and these, taken in connexion with the contemporaneous histories, all of which, however defective in philosophical analysis, are invaluable depositories of facts related by living witnesses, will serve to transmit to posterity the details for a narration in as complete a form as will in all probability ever be attained by the imperfect faculties of man.
Admitting these observations to be true, there is, nevertheless, a distinction to be drawn between the materials for a history of action and those for one of feeling; between the conduct of men aiming at distinction among their fellowbeings, and the private, familiar sentiments, that run into the texture of the social system, without remark or the hope of observation. Here it is, that something like a void in our annals appears still to exist. Our history is for the most part wrapped up in the forms of office. The great men of the Revolution, in the eyes of posterity, are, many of them, like heroes of a mythological age. They are seen, for the most part, when conscious that they are acting upon a theatre, where individual sentiment must be sometimes disguised, and often sacrificed, for the public good. Statesmen and generals rarely say all they think or feel. The consequence is,
that, in the papers which come from them, they are made to assume a uniform of grave hue, which, though it doubtless exalts the opinion entertained of their perfections, somewhat diminishes the interest with which later generations study their character. Students of human nature seek for examples of man under circumstances of difficulty and Strial; man as he is, not as he would appears but there are many reasons why they are often baffled in the search. We look for the workings of the heart, when those of the head alone are presented to
We watch the emotions of the spirit, and yet find clear traces only of the reasoning of the intellect. The solitary meditation, the confidential whisper to a friend, never meant to reach the ear of the multitude, the secret wishes, not to be blazoned forth to catch applause, the fluctuations between fear and hope, that most betray the springs of action, these are the guides to character, which most frequently vanish with the moment that called them forth, and leave nothing to posterity but the coarser elements for judgment, that may be found in elaborated results.
There is, moreover, another distinction to be observed, which is not infrequently lost sight of. It is of great importance not only to understand the nature of the superiority of
the individuals, who have made themselves a name above their fellow-beings, but to estimate the degree in which the excellence for which they were distinguished was shared by those among whom they lived. Inattention to this duty might present Patrick Henry and James Otis, Washington, Jefferson, and Samuel Adams, as the causes of the American Revolution, which they were not. There was a moral principle in the field, to the power of which a great majority of the whole population of the colonies, whether male or female, old or young, had been long and habitually trained to do homage. The individuals named, with the rest of their celebrated associates, who best represented that moral principle before the world, were not the originators, but the spokesmen of the general opinion, and instruments for its adaptation to existing events. Whether fighting in the field, or deliberating in the Senate, their strength against Great Britain was, not that of numbers, nor of wealth, nor of genius; but it drew its nourishment from the sentiment that pervaded the dwellings of the entire population.
How much this home sentiment did then, and does ever, depend upon the character of the female portion of the people, will be too readily understood by all, to require explanation. The
domestic hearth is the first of schools, and the best of lecture-rooms; for there the heart will coöperate with the mind, the affections with the reasoning power. And this is the scene for the almost exclusive sway of the weaker sex. Yet, great as the influence thus exercised undoubtedly is, it escapes observation in such a manner, that history rarely takes much account of it. The maxims of religion, faith, hope, and charity, are not passed through the alembic of logical proof, before they are admitted into the daily practice of women. They go at once into the teachings of infancy, and thus form the only high and pure motives of which matured manhood can, in its subsequent action, ever boast. Neither, when the stamp of duty is to be struck in the young mind, is there commonly so much of alloy in the female heart as with men, with which the genuine metal may be fused, and the face of the coin made dim. There is not so much room for the doctrines of expediency, and the promptings of private interest, to compromise the force of public example. In every instance of domestic convulsions, and when the pruning-hook is deserted for the sword and musket, the sacrifice of feelings made by the female sex is unmixed with a hope of worldly compensation. With them there is no ambition to gratify, no fame to be