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nine years, in grand military costume, a little lame in one leg, and somewhat blind in one eye, but on the whole, a portly, imposing figure, under marching orders for the southern army.* After this personal description, follows one of the general's manners, which, though uniformly consonant to the gravity of his character and the dignity of his station,' were, it seems, sometimes cheerful even to playfulness ;' but always marked with that unaffected urbanity which 'flows from the politeness of the heart.'
Becoming perhaps somewhat sensible of the disorder of his march, our biographer now begins to retrograde, and carries back his hero to the Siege of Boston,' where he is made to astonish the natives, with the neatness of his style, the soundness of his judgment, the extent of his knowledge, and the bulk of his library; after which, follows an explana→ tion of the means by which he acquired his stern integrity and devotedness to religious and political liberty, and which, after all, turns out to be only a traditionary impression, handed down from his ancestor, John Greene, whom the fanatics of Massachusetts' had handled somewhat roughly in a
Next in succession comes the narrative of John Gorton, and his persecution, capture, trial, sentence of death, and conditional pardon, &c. followed by a Panorama, (as our author would call it,) of the township of Warwick-the creek and the mills-the stone house and the blacksmith's shop; and having thus prudently and humanely provided a comfortable place for the General to be born in, he at last gives us a peep at the accouchement,' and a horoscope, drawn on the occasion, by that great Narraganset astrologer and manmidwife, Dr. Spencer.
Another specimen of "confusion worse confounded," may be seen in our author's everlasting story of John Banks, and his army contracts and bills of exchange-which, being intended as a defence of the General, ought to have been continuous, unbroken by any episode, and cleared from all obscurities, whether in the facts themselves, or in the manner of stating them. But, instead of this, he clips his thread into a hundred pieces, and then attempts to work the fragments into a web, with other and totally different materials. The
*Through hurry or oversight in making the extracts which served as a basis for this review, the title of the 1st chapter was incorrectly quoted: It should be "Portrait, Parentage, and Early Life"-which escaped detection till the most of the impression was out of the press.
first notice taken of the business, is at page 285, vol. II. in which he announces reports ' as false and calumnious as those ' which had once affected the General's moral character whilst in the quarter master's department,' viz.: his having com'bined with a mercantile house, under the firm of Hunter, 'Banks & Co. to participate in a contract for the supply of 'the troops, and even to practise upon the necessities of his 'companions in arms.' Still, this is a mere note of preparation, ending in a promise, that the subject should be taken up and discussed in good time.' At the end of thirty-two quarto pages, this good time had, as we hoped, arrived; but it was only to make us acquainted with the principal personages of the drama, and to furnish a hint of the general nature of the business, when the curtain again falls, and other and different scenes follow-a plot to carry off the General→→→ Col. Lee's motives for leaving the army-the discontents of the legion and of the Pennsylvania line-and, lastly, a sketch of the enjoyments furnished by the neighbourhood of Round O, in spite of military bickerings'-such as good dinners, old wine, and rich heiresses; to all which is very properly appended a scrap of sentimental metaphysics, showing that in modern ages and nations, the transition from war to love, has ever been direct and uniform.' These subjects occupy no less than seventy-four pages, when lo! John Banks is again brought on the stage, to make a bow, or to snuff the candles; for he is immediately withdrawn, under a recollection that before our author can proceed with the sequel of this thrice-begun tale, he must go back to the events which happened prior to the discovery of Banks' partnership with Burnett, (the General's aid,) and the illicit commerce carried on by them with the British posts. 'Tis not therefore till the whole of this new matter is disposed of, that Mr. Johnson finds time to give us the substance of the General's defence !
We have already hinted that our estimate of the language of the sketches, is not more favourable than that already expressed with regard to their method or arrangement; and the specimens we are able to furnish, without any particular search, will, we think, sufficiently justify the suggestion.
1st. The language is sometimes vulgar; as in the following instances that have as yet been written'-' delivered up to me'' requested of the latter to preserve'-' disappointed in'- never did man make more earnest efforts than Governor Matthews did' the letters of Greene allege a
disappointment, but contain no imputation on General Sumpter, because of it'-' the first commencement of the revolutionary ferment' immediately after that event, 'D'Estaing had left the American coast.' The words printed in italics are all vulgar pleonasms, and ought to have been omitted.
2d. It is often grammatically corrupt, as follows:—' Being 'joined by his cavalry that had swum the river'-' there are 'insects of the spider-kind, whose sting will prove mortal, if their venom be not arrested by proper applications'-' one 'perfectly at their ease'—' him, who carries his researches' -'the packet which contained the bills were forwarded by 'Captain Shelton, and to ensure their transportation, were 'enclosed to Governor Harrison, with a request that they 'should be forwarded to their direction'-' while making up the packet, General Scott, through whose hands they pass'ed,' &c. &c.
3d. It is frequently foppish or affected, as in the following instances: It smacked of federalism'-' there was in it a ' taste of stubborn vindication'-' the politeness of the heart' if the reader will place himself on the Salsbury road, we will give him a panorama of the battle'—' his distresses are 'dwelt upon with a degagè air'—' one of the contretemps of Greene Wayne wished to take possession of Savannah, 'vi et armis'—the time for another of Marion's avataras had ' arrived'—' powder is the sine qua non of war'—' Gunn de'clared his resolution, to follow up the routine of the amende 'honourable, by a personal attack'- the uti possidetis prin'ciple'' carte blanche'-' envelope' Tristes reliquiæ,** &c. &c.
4th. It is sometimes bombastic, being much too fine for the occasion. 'Wrapped in his cloak, and canopied by the heavens, with his head pillowed on the root of a shady 'china-tree, the General passed that night in slumbers, undisturbed by anticipations of the bloody scenes of the following day.' 'It was the calm which rests on the deep, when the conflict of the elements is concealed in the clouds.' There is a sacredness in the character of our revolution, that gives
*No. 165, of the Spectator, (by Addison,) on the use of foreign words, may be profitably read by the Judge-and the more so, as he will find prefixed to it, a rule of Horace, which applies to the subject, and which limits the right of borrowing foreign words, to cases in which our own language altogether fails to convey our ideas.
'importance to the minutest incident connected with it. Like the 'fly, that has plunged into the consecrated chalice, its insignificance gives place to a new character, communicated to it by asso'ciation.' While men govern the world, their passions govern 'men, and trifles act upon the passions, trifles will have much 'to do in the affairs of mankind. From the war that desolated
the kingdom of Priam, founded that of Rome, changed the 'face of conquering Greece, and gave two immortal poems 'to the world, to that which broke its rage upon the icebergs 'of Russia, gave a new master to Europe, and chained its 'old one to a sea-girt rock, like the unhappy Andromeda, many have been the mighty conflicts that have been pro'duced by trifles. When the quaiì escaped from beneath the ' cloak of Alcibiades, and the assembled people of Athens 'ran obsequiously to catch it, who would have imagined this 'to be the first link in the chain of incidents that should de'prive that people of liberty, and their country of the domi'nion of Greece? How sovereign must have been the reign ' of trifles, when the mistress of the world was herself govern'ed by the pecking of a chicken, or the perching of a crow! And where was ere ever a spectacle exhibited of abject subjection to trifles, more conspicuous than when in the plains of Platea, the congregated armies of Greece, awaiting the issue of a battle decisive of country, family, freedom, life, crouched beneath their shields, could abide the 'pelting of the Persian darts, while an ignorant fanatic was 'slaughtering oxen, to find the prophetic speck which chance 'might place upon their intestines.' Our author may, and very probably will, think it unjust, thus to stigmatize the finest parts of his work, and to put out the very eyes of his discourse." But he ought to know that ornaments have their proper places, and that as no one but a savage would hang a diamond to his nose, so no practised and well instructed writer would exert his strength in showing the value of trifles.*
5th. It often borders on the extravagant or hyperbolical; as when in speaking of his hero he says, 'he exhibited a 'splendour of military character, excelled only by him [Washington] whom none can equal.' Of the same person he says,
*The phraseology of this passage is not its greatest fault; if regarded as an argument it is worse, for it defeats itself, and before it ends, stigmatizes as blockheads both Greeks and Romans, for their " abject subjection to trifles."
(after stating his acquisition of Turenne's Works, Sharp's Guide, Plutarch's Lives, and Cæsar's Commentaries,) he 'read and studied, with a military eye, the history of all the wars of celebrity.' Again Advantages in early life he had none:' yet, in the same paragraph we read, that Greene was a striking instance of what good examples, 'sound principles, and industrious habits can accomplish.' And afterwards, speaking of the character and conduct of the General's father, he adds, 'Nor did he fail to inspire them, '(his eight sons,) with the most elevated principles of moral con'duct, or to form them for the conscientious discharge of those ' duties, which constitute the good man and the useful citizen.' We know not how Mr. Johnson may estimate these things; but in our opinion they were advantages. Of Marion's activity it is said—' the movement of this officer was that of
light, and his actions partook of its purity.' In the preface, we have the following passage: 'It cannot be denied, that
'there exists a considerable defect in all the histories of that
period [the revolution] that have as yet been written. For although the military and more public events, may have 'been accurately narrated, the intrigues that agitated Con'gress, and a variety of events, explanatory of their acts and ' their errors-remain in utter obscurity. Of all these, Mr.
Read could have furnished the most perfect narrative.' If these intrigues were as numerous or complicated as this passage would induce us to believe, a perfect narrative of all of them, would be not merely extraordinary, but miraculous, and, of course, very much beyond the powers of Mr. Read, any other man.
6th. The sentences are sometimes involved and obscure, as in the following instances:- Some years since I was con'sulted by Mrs. Shaw, &c. Until that time, I had never understood,' &c. What time is meant by some years since ? That time is a definite expression, referring to some month, or day, or year; and when we make use of it, the time referred to ought to be specified, otherwise the expression conveys no precise idea. 'Over the whole country, as far as the li'mits of New-York, or to the Pacific Ocean,' as though these were synonymous terms.
"General Sumpter retired across the Santee, and Marion into the heart of his brigade, to undergo any of those military transformations, to which he, in common with the other state commanders, was constantly subjected.' Vol. ii. p. 177.