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NEW YORK:

ROBERT CRAIGHEAD, PRINTER,

No. 112 FULTON-STREET.

THE

NEW YORK REVIEW.

No. XIX.

JANUARY, 1842.

ART. 1.-1. Letters of John Adams, addressed to his Wife. Edited by his Grandson, CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Boston: 1841. 2 vols. 12mo.

2. Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams, with an Introductory Memoir, by her Grandson, CHARLES FRANCIS 2 vols. 12mo. ADAMS. Boston: 1840.

IN our last number we directed the attention of our readers to the neglected record of the life and services of one of the great men of the Revolution, and endeavored, by its illustration, to revive something like popular interest in the annals of the best days of the republic, her true heroic days. We have reason to hope that the effort has not been vain, and that our hasty and necessarily imperfect summary of the incidents of Mr. Jay's life, and honest panegyric on his virtues and public services, have not been without their fruit. Thus encouraged, we propose to notice, as fully as our limits will permit, the fresh and most attractive volumes whose titles are prefixed to this article, and which most strikingly illustrate the career and character of another man of our classic story, the friend of Jay, one to whom tardy justice has been done, but whose name is destined, when prejudice has had its day, (and it is nearly over,) to command

NO. XIX.-VOL. X.

1

universal regard wherever the true principles of the American Revolution are appreciated.

One word, however, as to the study of revolutionary history, and especially of revolutionary biography. We attach great importance to it, and for many reasons. The times we live in are times of presumptuous speculation and arrogant self-sufficiency. Our public men, wantonly defying authority, however sacred, (we speak now of course merely of secular concerns,) not only judge for themselves, but seem to consider it an especial merit, and a peculiar badge of honesty and single-minded patriotism, if their self-regulated judgment can be made to differ from that of the great and good who have preceded them. There is a principle of sceptical dissent at work, which is undermining all prescriptive influence, and, not unlike the principle of excessive dissent in more sacred matters, is making us a nation of doubters and deniers, and is changing public opinion, which, on certain great principles of government, should have all the steadiness which a decent reverence for authority gives, to a fluctuating, flickering sentiment, that sheds no steady light when light is most needed. If public opinion, or even the judgment of public functionaries, on questions which time has placed at least beyond the reach of inconsiderate controversy, were made to rest on more secure foundations than it appears to do, if we could but realize that its real and safest basis is primitive authority, the precepts and practices of the early days of the republic, and that this authority is too sacred to be lightly questioned, there would be a conservative influence at work, in which sober-minded men would have great reason to rejoice. This is no anti-democratic sentiment which we utter. The times we call the best times, are those when pure democracy prevailed when the people spoke with their own lips, an organ more miraculous far than a prostituted and venal press-when the unassisted, undisciplined strength of the people burst the chains which bound them, and by its direct agency built up the institutions under which they were content to live, and that their children should live after them. It is the precepts and practice of those days to which we appeal as authority. It is authority to which we can freely bow without derogation to the most sensitive republicanism.

But not only do we live in times of arrogance in matters of opinion, but our days are those of most absurd self-complacency in matters of public conduct. Every thing is

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