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the blight of provincialism; and whenever a redeeming ray broke through the gloom, we saw the “sister country,” as unscrupulous in her love as in her hate, appropriate it to the purposes of her advancement and glory-thus coiling round this fated land like the serpent around the limbs of the doomed priest, which communicated its subtle poison to every member over which it slowly trailed to the seat of life, so that e'er Lacoon's brain was stung, all the rest was a corpse.
With a view of standing in the way of this current of literary life, ebbing away and leaving death behind, we determined to open new though humble sources for it at home, and to tend it there with our hearts and brains, until a new generation and better destiny gave rise to worthier ministers, who in the glow of nationhood would vindicate, for our loved land, her pre-eminence in sanctity and learning. Hence the undertaking of the Irish Library—ambitious, it may be, mistaken, it may be, too sanguine, it may be, but surely not mean, interested, or dishonourable.
My allotted share of the work was the easiest of execution. Any other would be unsuited to me. But its difficulties have multiplied with the success of my friends—the triumph of whose labours has set the nation thinking, and pre-occupied the public taste with refined and healthy sentiments.
Apart from this, my principal difficulty has been that of compression. It will be at once seen that the limits of a volume of the “ Irish Library” are too confined for the most condensed resume extending over many years, and embracing a wide range of incidents as varied and as important as ever shed lustre on peace, or spread desolation on the paths of war. Among a great mass of facts, all of singular interest, I was perplexed to select which could be omitted with least disadvantage ; nor can I flatter myself that in that selection I shall not disappoint many readers of American history.
For the rest my task has been light. The history of events so recent could scarcely be encumbered with contradiction. The historian's most trying labour has been spared to me, for scarcely anywhere have I been compelled to decide between two authorities, and not in one important matter have I had to search after hidden or obscured truth. One prevailing idea and one only I have felt bound to combat. This involves no fact. It is the embodiment of a belief-a , general and wide spread belief, to which some of the greatest names in history have lent their sanction.
The eloquence of Burke and Chatham has consecrated the sentiment which recognises, in
the singular austerity of the puritan's faith, the true if not the only impulse of American resistance. The same belief is the most prominent and gorgeous figure in Bancroft's grand picture of American history. The present first minister of France, as distinguished in the sphere of literature as in the science of government, adds to it the weight of his austere character and cele. brated name. It is hard to say that the genius of the former would yield to the prejudices with which they were beset, so far as to court şustainment by flattering a mistaken religious zeal, which claimed for the doctrines of the reformation the only sure guardianship of civil liberty. Yet the false colours with which their eloquence in vested the cause and character of the struggle, 'cannot be otherwise accounted for. The enthusiasm of Bancroft and of Guizot, supplies the cause, perhaps the justification, of their too san, guine religious delineation.
But sober history everywhere repudiates an in. ference so flattering to tenets which once identified with themselves the harshest elements of an intolerant civil code.,, It is far from my purpose sto cast imputations on the sincerity or purity of any man's religious belief. I would be still more reluctant to deny to the inhabitants of Massachu
Guizot's “Washington" passim.
setts a fair share in the glory as well as the hazards of the revolution; and I am glad of an opportunity to mingle my humble voice with that of an approving world in bearing testimony to the virtue and disinterestedness which have there redeemed my coloured fellow-man from shame and slavery. But I have found no fact to justify the assumption, highly sanctioned though it be, that the revolution was solely, or even mainly, owing to the character or influence of any peculiar form of faith. All history recognises the inflexibility, purity, and singleness of purpose stamped on the acts and language of the citizens of Boston, and those who shared their first struggle, danger, and triumph, wben they alone sustained the conflict; but it would be unjust to omit that the sympathy and sustainment they received from the other. states, in the hour of most danger, were equally noble, and still more generous, for they might not only save themselves, but obtain large advantages, if, when Boston was doomed; they declined to incur the consequences of England's wrath, or to share the peril of averting it. In no single state did a feeling of selfishness,,the menace.of danger, or the hope of profitable-security, sway the public councils. Men of every creed and every country were emulous for the first place in danger, and the last in local or personal advantages.
The facts which, in these pages, I have con-. densed with the most scrupulous fidelity to truth, will, I think, bear out the opinion that every form of Christian belief repudiates civil degradation and slavery—that the sincerer Catholicity, Protestantism, or Puritanism is, the more securely may liberty rely on its sustainment; and that, on the other hand, the perfection of civil liberty exalts and purifies any form of religion with which it is associated. God forbid that they were incompatible. If, in truth, they were, woe be to the human race.
My effort bas been to shew that they are not. If I have to any extent succeeded, my fondest ambition shall be fulfilled.
Originally I intended to group together all my own countrymen who took a conspicuous part in i the revolution. I abandoned that intention, feeling that—although my labour, such as it was, had, above all things, for its object the advancement of my countrymen's information, feelings, hopes, courage, and prospects—my impartiality may appear questionable, if I selected them as leading characters in the history of a great people, of whom they formed but a proportionate part.
I will be, however, pardoned if here I refer with pride to familiar names that shed lustre on the struggle of America.