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economy, or who has any regard for his own honour, character, or peace of mind, will risk them upon militia.”
We should be tempted, notwithstanding the narrowness of our limits, to enlarge upon this important topic, if we were not pretty well persuaded that our countrymen have grown wiser by experience, and that such errors will never be repeated.
When the army evacuated York-Island and moved towards the White-Plains, it was still determined to hold Fort Washington; and the battalion to which captain Graydon belonged, now commanded by lieutenant-colonel Cadwalader, was ordered to remain in that post.
Our author maintains, and we think with great reason, that Fort Washington was wholly untenable, and that there was no adequate object to be gained by the attempt to keep it. General Washington seemed to think so, but had left its defence or evacuation to the discretion of general Green. We hope he was mistaken in the opinion, which he says was current among the prisoners, that the troops had been sacrificed to the selfish feelings and unfriendly temper of the eastern towards the southern men.
The circumstances of his capture and of his detention, first in New York and afterwards on Long-Island, and of his release after a captivity of eight months, are minutely told. We cannot afford room for any extracts except for the following letter from general Washington in answer to a letter from Mr. G's mother, on hearing of his captivity. Every thing proceeding from this great man is interesting; and the letter, as Mr. Graydon remarks, “ Considering the pressing situation of affairs, displays a mind at once superior to adversity and alive to the impressions of humanity and the feelings of private distress.
“ Brunswick, 30th November, 1776. “ MADAM,
“ Your letter to your son (enclosed to me) went in, the day after it came to my hands, by a flag which happened to be going to New York. I am very sorry for the misfortune of your son's captivity; but these are accidents which must be experienced and felt in war. Colonel Cadwalader who has been suffered to return to Philadelphia would be able to inform you of your son's health. Any hard money, which you may be able to forward to me or Mr.
Tilghman (who is of my family) shall be conveyed to him by some means or other.
I am, madam,
The affair of Fort Washington, says our author, had an effect not unlike that of entering into a monastery in England, in days of yore; as, in the one case, a man was said to be civilly dead, so in the other he was militarily so.
The places of the officers had been supplied by others; and a reinstatenient, in the rank to which they were entitled by the rule of seniority, was not to be effected without extreme embarrassment and injury to the service. This circumstance put an end to our author's military career.
After the war, he commenced the practice of the law, but was soon called from the bar on receiving, in the year 1785, the appointment of prothonotary of Dauphin county.
Mr. Graydon was chosen an elector at the first election for president of the United States, and was a member of the convention which framed the present constitution of Pennsylvania. He was removed from his office of prothonotary of Dauphin county, by governor M‘Kean, in the year 1798.
The latter part of our author's book consists chiefly of remarks upon the principal events in the politics of the United States and of Pennsylvania, from the period of the revolutionary war to the date of his publication.
He is a very decided high-toned federalist, and is by no means sparing of reproaches upon the conduct and motives of his political opponents; yet there runs throughout the work a very high strain of independent, manly sentiment, and a consciousness of good intentions which cannot fail to impress the reader very favourably, whatever his politics may be. Upon those of the author we do not profess to give any opinion—they are questions of party, with which we have no concern, and of which every one will judge according to his habits of thinking. It only remains, therefore, to say of the merits of the book, that it contains a more particular account of some interesting events in the history of our country, than we have elsewhere seen. From works like Mr. Graydon's our future historians will derive important aid. They are not only more interesting than general histories, but give us views of things which the latter do not afford. They admit us behind the curtain, and we see the springs of certain events of which the general historian exhibits only the effects. We see them, too, stripped of the false importance and glare which general descriptions are calculated to produce.
Our author has interspersed in his book many pleasant anecdotes, and some well drawn characters. His classical allusions and apt quotations discover the writer to be well acquainted with subjects of literature; and his style is pure, nervous, and very often elegant.
Having thus bestowed the praise which we think is due to the work before us, we should not discharge our duty faithfully, if we did not advert, though very briefly, to its faults. We would therefore suggest to the author, in case he should revise his work for another edition, to expunge some anecdotes and remarks which are too unimportant to deserve insertion and which have no tendency to promote his object of illustrating the character and spirit of the times. We need not point them out to the writer, as we think he will readily discover them on a revisal; nor is it necessary, for the same reason, to mention a few words and phrases, for which his knowledge of the language will easily supply him with better substitutes.
There is another charge of a more serious nature, which we think the readers of this book will probably make against it: they will perhaps imagine that some parts of it have a good deal of asperity and unnecessary querulousness, and are too much like a satire upon our political institutions, and the character of the people. All this too we are afraid will be ascribed to personal chagrin, arising from disappointment. And this will also be thought a little unreasonable, since the author acknowledges his unfitness for the pursuits of wealth or political distinction. We acknowledge our partiality to the character which the author gives of himself, and which we have no doubt is correctly drawn. But we cannot altogether defend him from the accusation of claiming rather too much credit for what he might have been, and which is not. The faults which are attributable to the pete
sonal part of the memoirs, we think are wholly provincial, they are such as are almost inseparable from secluded habits and a village life. His contempt for the arts of popularity is quite consistent with the author's integrity and manly spirit of independence; but it loses much of its merit when it is mixed with bitter complaints and reproaches.
In short, we think that those who despise popular favours should not quarrel with their distribution; and that anger is much less becoming, and dignified, and consistent with the real contempt of popularity, than good-humor and a considerable indulgence for the people's errors.
Upon the whole, we recommend our author's book very strongly, and should be pleased to see his example followed by othor gentlemen of talents, whose opportunities of observation, during the revolutionary war, have enabled them to communicate useful and agreeable information.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
STRICTURES ON THE EDINBURGH REVIEW.
There are few subjects of abuse against this country more common, among British critics, than our corruptions of the English language. To believe these worthy persons, one would suppose that we were relapsing into barbarism, and deviating so constantly from the pure models of English literature, that the language of Shakspeare and Milton and Pope would soon be unintelligible. This folly, from being ludicrous, has become, by repetition, quite wearisome; and we shall therefore employ a few pages in exposing the utter ignorance of the English language, which these critics themselves display, in reproving the supposed corruptions of America. That we may not be accused of selecting a contemptible adversary, we shall take the Edinburgh reviewers, who confessedly stand at the very head of the VOL. VII.
British critics, and proceed to exhibit to our countrymen a specimen of British criticism on American literature. • An American gentleman, Mr. Barlow, lately published an enlarged edition of one of his early poems, under the title of the Columbiad. In reviewing this work, the Edinburgh critics, in. stead of confining themselves to an examination of its merits, have contrived to connect with it a variety of remarks on the literature and language of the United States. Of the Columbiad itself, we do not pretend to be the champions or the admirers: we therefore shall not, at this time, advert to some of the critical strictures on it, which we think betray an ignorance of the common rules of poetical composition; nor shall we attempt to refute a number of observations on the country, which are dis. tinguished only for the frothy impertinence with which they are uttered. The sole object, to which our limits at present restrict us, is to prove that the Edinburgh reviewers are not only destitute of correct information, as to the language of America, which they attempt to criticise, but that they are ignorant of the very elementary principles of English grammar. To show these facts in the strongest manner, we shall begin by quoting their own language.
“ Before proceeding,” say they, “ to lay before our readers any of the passages which make up this comprehensive detail, it is proper, and indeed in some respects necessary to apprise them, that this American bard frequently writes in a language utterly unknown to the prose or verse of this country. We have often heard it reported, that our transatlantic brethren were beginning to take it amiss, that their language should still be called English; and truly we must say that Mr. Barlow has gone far to take away that ground of reproach. The ground-work of his speech, perhaps, may be English, as that of the Italian is Latin; but the variations amount already to a change of dialect, and really make a glossary necessary for most untravelled readers. As this is the first specimen which has come to our hands of any considerable work composed in the American tongue, it may be gratifying to our philological readers if we make a few remarks on it.”