« PreviousContinue »
Ub hesitate to believe that Calender -was really guilty of the offence for which he was punched.
We have thuB far found so much to approve in this volume that we regret to see the author lending his influence to what we believe to be unjust criticisms upon Generals Putnam and Sullivan. They undoubtedly made mistakes in this battle, but they were honest and patriotic men, and performed the duty assigned to them as well as they knew how. They saw but a small part of the field, and they acted upon the best information they had or could reasonably have been expected to have. They rendered great services, then and there, which justice requires us to acknowledge with gratitude, and we are pained to see that they are made to appear, unintentionally perhaps, in a ridiculous light. Their mistakes, in fact, were natural, and grew, in part, out of the character of their troops, and, in part, out of the essentially vicious plan of operations marked out for them.
We had hoped that, after what has been recently published in reply to their detainers, we should hear no more of the criticisms which have been made upon their conduct in connection with this battle. It may be that Mr. Bancroft will hereafter modify some of the statements which he made about these and other officers in iiis 9th volume, as he has so many other statements in former volumes. Should he do so, other writers may perhaps follow his example in this respect also.
We have noticed a few instances where the author employs terms of description which are too general and vague for the true purposes of nistory. He speaks of the cowardice and general inefficiency of the " Connecticut militia," and ne refers in terms of condemnation to the conduct of "a Connecticut regiment." Was the whole body of Connecticut militia guilty of cowardice? Was any one Connecticut regiment so much a type of the rest that discrimination would be useless, or comparisons odious?
The habit which has come down to us of ascribing to Washington at the outset of the war the highest order of military talents is unhappily not confined to those florid rhetoricians, who, once a year at least, mount upon the wings of the " American eagle " and soar away among the clouds, in imitation or in rivalry of the balloonist, whose motive power is no less characteristically gaseous. Even many of our sobgr historians indulge in this error. It is well known that political reasons had no slight influence in the selection of Washington as commander-in-chief, and that several of his subordinates had already received a better military training and had
fained a wider experience in war. But in lieu of this superior training and experience e had what is often, and what in his case most conspicuously proved to be, still better —that sound judgment which was seldom at fault, and the faculty of harmonizing conflicting elements, and of leading men straight forward'through fearful doubts, disasters and delays towards the end to which his hopes pointed.
Such writers and speakers do him injustice; because had he possessed at the outset of the revolutionary war all the military qualifications which have been either expressly or impliedly attributed to him, the evidence ought to have been more abundant than it was. They also, thereby, do not a few of his subordinates great injustice, since while they claim that the plans of operation adopted in the early stages of the war were wise, they are obliged to account for their failure by questioning the ability or fidelity of those entrusted with their execution, and, in order to do this, they have perverted facts in some notable instances. We expect that the successful general will be subjected during his remaining life-time to a certain amount of adulation and eulogy; but in the course of time the motive for such language ceases and men begin to reason and reflect upon the facts. If his services have redounded to the welfare of a people they are not apt to fail in justly appreciating them. In the case of Washington, his services to his country were too great and Beneficial to require embellishment; and his fiime is not enhanced, but, on the contrary, is imperilled by any attempt to represent him as infallible.
In regard to the plan formed for the defence of New-York and Brooklyn, our historians nave generally avoided the expression of an opinion. This failure to discuss a purely military question may have arisen in some instances frftm a conscious inability to comprehend the various elements of the problem, but in others may, perhaps, more properly lieattributed to an inherited though false estimate of the military capacity of Washington. It was his own plan, and therefore must have been a wise one.
It is admitted by all that it was exceedingly desirable that the American forces should hold New-York, and that this could only be done by holding the Brooklyn heights, but, after the arrival of the enemy in sight of New-York, and especially after the landing of a force upon the island—the flower of the British army, led hj veteran officers of distinguished ability—in numbers vastly superior to our own, why our feeble force, mainly composed of militia, and scattered along miles of extenor lines or behind incomplete and inadequate works of defence, was not at once withdrawn to the main land, is utterly incomprehensible. Two dire alternatives alone remained to them—capitulation or total destruction. It was left to the useless and terrible slaughter of August 27th, however, to open the eyes of the commanderin-chief to the faulty nature of his plans, and to the gravity of the blunder he had committed.
Rambles about Portsmouth. Second Series. Sketches of Persons, Localities and Incidents of Two Centuries: Principally from Tradition and Unpublished Documents. By Charles W. Brewster. With a Biographical Sketch of the Author, by Wm. H. Y. Hackett. Portsmouth, N. H.: Printed and Published by Lewis W. Brewster, Portsmouth Journal Office. 18G9. 8vo. pp. 375.
It is probable that no where else among the early provincial settlements of NewEngland can there be found so many elements of romantic history as in this comparatively old town and region. For about two hundred years, the evidences of its prosperity slowly but steadily increased. It came at an early period to be the abode of a class of people who were not surpassed in intelligence, refinement and enterprise m any other New-England community. Here the royal governors resided, and maintained no inconsiderable degree of that courtly ceremony and etiquette which characterized the social life of the province, and which is still seen in a tew families. Up to the eve of the revolutionary war her people were eminently loyal; a pleasant and close intercourse prevailed between her leading men and the ruling class of England; while disturbances of a civil or of an ecclesiastical nature were few in number and temporary in duration. Being the chief maritime town of the Province, it became the centre of commercial interests which eventually reached to all parts of the globe and yielded ample returns of wealth, a liberal portion of which was expended by its owners in building handsome and spacious family mansions, in erecting churches, in the maintenance of excellent schools, and in a generous dispensing of social hospitalities.
During the last fifty years, however, Portsmouth has not kept pace with some other New-England towns less favored by nature. Her once considerable commerce has dwindled into insignificance; many of her oldest and leading families have disappeared; thousands of her sons and daughters have emigrated to more inviting fields, and her chief interests are, for the most part, in the hands of men who are not native to the soil. Her large aggregate wealth has been diverted, in the main, to the development of other sections of the country, and her great natural resources— her excellent harbor? her noble river, navigable at all seasons of the year, and the frequent opportunities she has had to connect herself by railways with a vast and productive interior country, have not been and do not seem likely to be fully utilized. Portland, much less favored by nature, and much younger in years, under better auspices is making rapid strides in a career of prosperity.
But, whatever of a like character may occur hereafter, the picturesque scenery of old " Strawberry Banck " wili continue to attract the visitor, and her traditions and romantic history will never cease to interest the antiquary and the historian. Happily much of this history has been gathered into the printed page, and that much of "the past is secure." The " Annals of Portsmouth," compiled by Col. Nathaniel Adams, and published in 18-25, has long been a rare book. In 1859, Mr. Charles W. Brewster republished from his paper, the Portsmouth Journal, a series of " Rambles about Portsmouth," the materials for which he had been collecting during many years. This unique and exceedingly valuable book was noticed in the Register, and the frequent references in these pages to its treasures of local and family history attest alike their interest and importance.
At the time of his death, in 18G8, Mr. Brewster had nearly completed for republication, from his paper, the chief portion of the volume now before us.
This volume is prefaced with a likeness of Mr. Brewster, and an appreciative sketch of his life from the pen of his friend, the Hon. Wm. H. Y. Hackett, who says: "His labor in obtaining biographical facts, anecdotes and incidents as materials for history, was such as no man would perform unless his heart was in his work. These articles • • • were compiled, through many years, from all accessible sources, manuscripts, letters, family records, city records, old newspapers, old deeds, wills, tombstones, and the recollection of aged people • • * ." "It is worthy of marked commendation, however, that he avoided the temptation of giving credence to pure fiction. * * * There was the quaint'humor of the chronicler, and "the fidelity of the historian." Amid the arduous labors of fifty years spent in editing, printing and publishing a weekly paper, in the proper care of a family, and in the discharge of civil trusts, Mr. Brewster found time for the work which has resulted in these two volumes, the last of which has now been given to the public by his son. Such an example and such results furnish an incentive to others to go forward in similar undertakings.
The edition of the first scries of the Rambles having been exhausted, Mr. Lewis W. Brewster, of Portsmouth, proposes to publish another edition by subscription, and those who desire to obtain that volume should forward their names to him at an early day.
The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Say: To which are prefixed the Charters of the Province, with Historical and Explanatory Notes, and an Appendix. Published under Chapter 87 of the General Court of the Commonwealth for the year 18(57. Volume I. Boston: Wright & Potter, Printers to the State. 1869. Royal 8vo. pp. xxix. and 904.
The preface to this volume is signed by Messrs. Ellis Ames and Ahner C. Goodell, Esquires, two of the three commissioners appointed by the legislature of 1865, to compile the public and private acts and resolves of the Province, and this circumstance leads us to suppose that they alone are entitled to credit for the fidelity with which this task has been performed. The selection of these gentlemen was lortunate; both of them being well qualified for such an undertaking by study and practice of the law, and one of them, at least, by habits of accurate historical research, the fruits of which exist in many forms.
This preface sets forth the purpose, method and results of their work, and gives a summary of the attempts, more or less successful, of other commissioners, acting under legislative authority, and at different periods of our provincial history, to compile tlie whole body of the laws.
The first edition of the laws was published in 1699, "in one small-folio volume of one hundred and fifty-eight pages, besides the charter and a brief index." A revision of the laws was made in 1713, and distributed in 1714. In 1783, a new and more perfect edition of the index of 1714, with the supplementary acts, waspublished by authority. Revisions were subsequently made which are known as the revisions of 1727, 1712, 1755, 1761, 1703, 1801 and 1814. In 1807, a new and quasi revision of the edition of 1801 was published. None of these, however, were satisfactory, and all omitted the acts and resolves which had been repealed, or which had ceased to have effect.
The present volume contains all the acts and resolves, public and private, passed from 1699 to 1714, inclusive of both dates, with the exception of a few, of which, so far, neither the originals nor any copies have been found. The subsequent volumes will be no less complete.
The preface further informs us that the commission have also "gathered and arranged nine volumes of public acts from June 8, 1692, to June 17, 1774, and a volume of tax acts from 1726 to Oct. 4, 1780, inclusive, * * * besides five volumes of manuscript extracts " from the records of proceedings of the Governor and Council.
Each act has been printed from copies carefully compared with the originals, whenever they exist, or, in the absence of these, reference has been had to the nest best authority ; so that we may safely rely upon this edition as being as accurate and complete as it is now possible to make it.
The notes, explanatory and historical, are valuable features of the work. The appendix contains carefully prepared and full indexes of names and subjects, and a list of all the acts and resolves embraced in the volume, with the dates of their passage, or disallowance by the Privy Council, or expiration, <fcc.; all of which will be found exceedingly convenient.
We have said enough to indicate the general character of the work, and the scholarly manner of its execution. Its absolute accuracy can only bo tested by diligent study and use. Its publication is another illustration of the wise and liberal policy of Massachusetts in her effort to collect and preserve her legislative and documentary history. She has, also, made some progress in publishing, and, so, in best preserving her fast decaying records, and it is to be most earnestly desired that nothing may be allowed to interrupt any longer so laudable au undertaking.
The frequent revision and general publication of her laws is eminently conducivo to the beet interests of the Commonwealth, and one of the surest aids to a united and intelligent support of her institutions will be found in securing to her people a full understanding of her eventful progress from a feeble and dependent colony to a powerful and sovereign state. To this end this volume and its successors will largely contribute; for hither her jurists, legislators and historians will come to study one form and expression of that steady growth of liberty under law—the development of the principle and habit of self-government—which the history of Massachusetts so well exemplifies.
The Composition of Indian Geographical Names, illustrated from the Algonkin Languages. By J. Hammond Trumbull, President of the Connecticut Historical Society. From the Connecticut Historical Society's Collections. Vol. II. Hartford: Press of Case, Lockwood & Brainard. 1870. 8vo. pp. 51. Fifty copies printed.
The early colonists of the country had little respect for the character, history, or traditions of the savages whom they found occupying the soil, and they made little attempt to preserve the Indian geographical names. They and their descendants generally, until within a recent period, borrowed most names for towns and cities from the old world, or from ancient mythology. Not content with borrowing and using a name once, they continued to apply these names and the names of public men, to as many towns and places, even within the same State, as fancy might dictate. We still follow a bad example.
Recently attention has been more particularly turned to Indian geographical names; but even these we have employed, in most instances, without regard to their original use or meaning, and the climax of absurdity was reached when we transferred the Indian names of mountains and rivers to our ships of war.
Even most of the few geographical names which the colonists adopted have become " unmeaning sounds. As Mr. Trumbull says: "Their original character was lost by their transfer to a foreign tongue. Nearly all have suffered some mutilation or change of form. • • • Some have been separated from the localities to which they Delonged, and assigned to others to which they are etymologically inappropriate. A mountain receives the name of a river; a bay, that of a capo or a peninsula; a tract of land, that of a rock or water fall. • • • Every [Indian] name described the locality to which it was offixed." The description was either topographical, or historical, or indicative of position with reference to or distance from some place well known and fixed.
Mr. Trumbull has for a long time given patient investigation and critical study to Indian onomatology, and Here presents us with an exposition of the structural laws governing the geographical names used by the North-American Indians. It is not a mere summary of landfill guessing and idle speculation such as we have often had, but, so far as we are aware, it is the first successful attempt to apply sound philological principles to this subject.
According to his view, and it is undoubtedly the correct one, " nearly all these names may lie referred to one of three classes: 1. Those formed by the union of two elements, which we may call adjectival and substantival; with or without a locative suffix or post-position meaning, as: at, in, by, nor, Ac. II. Those which have a single element, the substantival or 'ground-word,' with its locative suffix. III. Those formed from verbs, as participials or verbal nouns, denoting a place where the action of the verb is performed."
Mr. Trumbull concludes his able paper by suggesting a method of analysis, and the tests to be employed in judging of the probability that a supposed translation of any name is the true one.
Pioneer Biography. Sketches of the Lives of some of the Early Settlers of Butler County, Ohio. By James Mcbride, of Hamilton. Vol. I. Cincinnati: Robert Clark & Co. 18G9. 8vo. pp. xi. and 352. With a portrait of the Author.
The contents of this elegantly printed volume, which is a further contribution to the "Ohio Valley Historical Series," to which frequent reference has been made in the Register, are as follows: Biographical Sketch of the Author; Author's Preface; and the Biographies of John Reily. Thomas Irwin, Joel Collins, Isaac Anderson, Samuel Dick, Joseph Hough and John Woods. In typography and paper this volume is in keeping with others of the series to which it belongs.
Mr. McBride, the author of these biographies, who died in 1859, at the age of 70 years, and who was at that date one of the oldest and best known pioneers of southern Ohio, was well qualified for this work by his tastes, early associations, and opportunities for collecting such materials. He gave great attention, also, for many years to the monuments and supposed Indian fortifications in the Bouthera part of Ohio and Indiana, and collected a large cabinet of antiquities which is now m Philadelphia. "His antiquarian notes, drawings, plans of survey, and manuscripts, * * • constitute a considerable portion of the first work published by the Smithsonian Institution, "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley," though he received no credit for it at the hands of the compilers.
The " publisher's notice," prefixed to the volume, gives the history of these papers, and shows that they are entitled to full faith and credit. They certainly are not only well written, but are of thrilling interest and of the greatest value, as memorials of the early settlers of southern Ohio, and of their protracted and bitter contests with the Indians—contests, in all respects, such as the fathers of New-England had but a very slight taste of.
We venture to express a hope that the good people of Ohio suitably appreciate the services of Messrs. Clarke & Co. in rescuing from oblivion and publishing her early history. Future generations will eventually realize the debt they owe to these early pioneers, and they will also remember with gratitude the men who put the record of such heroic lives into print. Brass and marble will decay; but a historical book is destined to live forever, and in its pages the publisher, no less than the author, erects his perennial monument.
The Celebration of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Primitive Organization of the Congregational Church and Society in Franklin, Connecticut, October 14, 1808. Tuttle, Moorhouse & Taylor, Printers, New-Haven. 1869. 8vo.
Franklin, Ct., embraces teiritory which till 1786 was a part of Norwich, and known, from 1663 to the incorporation of the new town, as " West Farms." The Congregational Church and Society, the second above referred to, was organized in what was then Norwich, in 1716, but its territorial limits, at first, were more extensive than those of the present town of Franklin, and embraced most of what is Franklin, a part of Sprague and a part of New Concord (now Bozrah).
The volume before us contains quite a complete history of this Society and of the town itself; as set forth by Dr. Ashbel Woodward in his Historical Address, and in the Historical Sermon by Rev. Franklin C. Jones, delivered at the celebration of the Society's organization, and in the notes appended to those discourses. Besides these, the volume contains the poems, hymns, speeches, and letters from sons of Franklin, which helped make the occasion one of great interest to the native-born inhabitants, and add interest to the book even for the eye of the stranger.
The volume is embellished with portraits of Rev. Dr. Samuel Nott, a native of Saybrook, Ct., but for about 70 years (1782—1852) pastor of the Church and Society, and an elder brother of Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Nott; of Col. Jacob Kingsbury, who for about 40 years was in the military service of the country, a native of the West Farms; of the Hon. Lafayette S. Foster, too well known to need description, also a native; and of the Hon. Ephraiui H. Hyde, Lt. Gov. of Connecticut, 1867 and 1868, a descendant of one of the first settlers of West Farms.
From the interesting genealogical notes which Dr. Woodward has furnished, we observe among other able, distinguished, or worthy men and women who had their birth in the West Farms, or are descended from the first settlers, the names of Millard Fillmore, Jeremiah Mason, Rev. David Avery, one of the most patriotic of the clergy of the epoch of the revolution ; Hon. Uri Tracy ; Rev. Charles Backus, D.D.; FJisha Huntington, M.D., &c.
The work is also furnished with an excellent map, and is in all respects creditable to the town, and to those who were directly concerned in its publication.
History of Old Chester, from 1719 to 1869. By Benjamin Chase. Auburn, N. H.: Published by the Author. 1869. 8vo. pp. xvi. and 762. With portraits, a map, and other illustrations.
As a political community Old Chester dates from too recent a period in our provincial history to promise the student or antiquary much in the way of exciting interest, for, l>eing an interior town, it was never the theatre of any events of general importance. While this is sufficiently accurate for a general statement, it must