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in any language. Above all, the history of our own country, short as it is in comparison with that of cotemporary nations, should be the daily fare of the judgment, and the most distinct image on the memory of every man among us, who wishes to keep alive in his breast, the enthusiasm of public virtue, and to feel habitually, the influence of the soundest maxims of freedom and patriotism., Our annals are simple indeed, and comparatively brief, but they are, by far the purest, of which any people can boast, and rich in the most beautiful, and animating examples, of honour, of wisdom, of manly sentiment, and courageous enterprize.
We have been led into these reflections, by the perusal of a work, which has recently come into our possession, and upon which we have dwelt with more satisfaction, than
almost any other, which it has been our good fortune to peruse. It is an Italian history of the war of the independence of the United States,—“Storia della guerra dell' Independenza “ degli Stati Uniti d'America”-published in the commencement of the present year at Paris, and written by Carlo Botta a distinguished member of the academy of Turin, and of the legislative body of France. The author was already advantageously known to the literary world, by a history of Piedmont and of the house of Savoy, and has added greatly to his reputation by the work before us. The style and the distribution of the materials, have received the warmest applause from the critics of the French metropolis, and as far as a general acquaintance with the Italian language enables us to judge of the former, we very fully concur in their opinion. The work consists of four volumes octavo, and is divided into fourteen books, which comprize the history of our war, from its origin, until the period of general Washington's resignation of the chief command. The narrative is copious and lucid, and framed from the most authentic, as well as the most ample materials. The author appears to have sought out, with indefatigable industry, every document calculated to give light or fulness to his recital, and to have consulted, with great care and minuteness, all the publications, not only of France but of this country and of England, from which the most accu. rate, as well as comprehensive knowledge of our history is to be drawn.
He displays not only an admirable degree of skill, in his arrangement of the occurrences of a war, of which the action was exceedingly complicated, and the theatre immense, but a scrupulous adherence to truth, in the colouring of his facts, and in his delineations of character. His predilection for the American cause, which is so manifest throughout, and which must be felt by every enlightened and generous mind, never betrays him into exaggerated representations of the merits of either side. There is but one serious defect, which we have had occasion to remark in this work;—the propensity which the author evinces, to ascribe too large a share of the success of our glorious struggle, to the cooperation of the French. The efforts made by these States, anterior to the period when the forces of France were brought to their aid, are sufficient to show, that they had the ability and the spirit to work out their deliverance, even if they had continued to stand alone in the contest. This disposition, however, of which we complain in Mr. Botta, is much more faintly marked than might have been expected, when we call to mind, that it is in France that his history was published. Livy and Sallust are the models, which the author has chosen in the composition of his work. In a well written preface, he states that he has laboured assiduously, to assimilate his style to the purest standards of strength and simplicity, of which his native literature can boast. We remark with pleasure, that he has successfully avoided, the common vices of the modern Italian diction, in which force is sacrificed to harmony, and bombast mistaken for elevation. It has been a singular gratification to us, to see our history in this rich and mellifluous idiom which, as it is found in the pages of Mr. Botta, not only regales the ear, but delights the understanding.
Towards the conclusion of his work, the Author makes some judicious remarks, concerning the establishment of our constitution. He observes particularly, and with great truth, that the chief causes of the tranquillity, with which we settled the forms of our government, were, the sober character and sound sense of the people of this country; but at the same time, that much was owing to the close affinity between the government which we threw off, and that which we adopted. The transition, he adds, was easy and natural, from a mild and temperate monarchy, to a well regulated Republic, and required none of those violent convulsions, which the passage from one extreme to another, both in the moral and physical world, almost uniformly entails.*
We subjoin, for those who understand the Italian, the text of the passa ges to which we refer, as a specimen of the Author's manner, and regret that our limits will not permit us to enter, at this time, upon a regular analy.
The Author speaks of our constitution as a system of polity more happily organized, than any other which has ever existed, and seems to delight in contemplating the singular felicity of the result of a war, which, in its origin, and in its vicis
sis of the work. It is in the narrative parts, however, that Mr. de Botta particularly excels.
“Un'altra, è possente cagione, per la quale la rivoluzione Americana ebbe quella riuscita, che i Capi di lei și erano proposto, si fù la poca differenza, che passò tra quella maniera di Governo, dalla quale erano partiti, e quell'altra, alla quale s' incamminarono. Imperchiocchè non dalla Monarchia dispotica andaron essi verso la libertà, ma sibbene da una Mo. narchia temperata; ed è la condizione delle cose morali nell'uomo, come quella delle fisiche, e quella stessa di tutta la natura, nelle quali i totali, ed improvvisi cambiamenti non si possono fare senza causare o gravi malattie, o morti, o rovine. L'autorità regia in America, siccome lontana, e dagli ordini di un governo largo tarpata, era poco operosa, o poco sentita; e perciò, quando gli Americani se la levarono di collo, poco si accorsero del cambiamento; e tolla la Realtà, e conservati tutti i pristini ordini, si trovarono ad un tratto, e naturalmente costituiti in Repubblica.”
“A questo medesimo esito dell'Americana rivoluzione contribuirono ancora non poco la regola, e la misura, colle quali quei popoli assegnati di natura, e nel proposito loro non che costanti, tenaci procedettero. Contenti allo aver tolta la Realtà, consistettero, e stabilmente perseverarono negli antichi ordini, ch' erano rimasti. Così non incontrarono peggio per non aver voluto acquista meglio, sapendo, che per lo più mal ne incoglie a coloro, che cercano miglior pan, che di grano. Conobberoessi ottimamente, che l'incostanza, e la volubilità nei propositi scemano gravità alla causa, non le lasciano porre le sue radici, accrescono il numero degli scontenti. Imperci. occhè di migliori gambe si corre ad una meta certa, che ad una incerta, e quello, che piace all'uno non piacendo all'altro, la moltiplicità dei fini moltiplica anche coloro, che gli disgradano. Così allevarono gli Americani la pianta, perchè la lasciarono allignare, e colsero il frutto, perchè lo lasciarono maturare. Non fecero eglino ad ogni piè sospinto mutazioni nello Stato; perchè non essendo impazienti di natura, nè insopportabili de' disagj, essendo anzi pazientissimi, e sopportabilissimi, i mali, che pruovavano, non a dif. fetti, che credessero esistere negli ordini pubblici, nè alla insufficienza, od ulla cattività dei Reggitori, ma sibbene alle difficoltà delle circostanze, ed alla necessità delle cose attribuivano. Del qual effeito fù anche cagione, che in mezzo a quei popoli per la consueta, ed antica maniera del viver loro dovevano in minor numero, che in mezzo ad altri trovarsi gli uomini cupidi di maggioreggiare, e di soprastare agli altri. Nè era là andazzo, che s inimicassero, ed anche s'accalognassero tra di loro gli amici, solo perchè ano di essi era diventato statuale, e teneva i Maestrati, e l'altro nò. Perciocchè più operava in essi l'amor della patria, che l'ambizione. Perilchè se vi furono la Libertini, e Reali, non vi furono però Libertini di diversa sorte, i quali colle discordie loroel seno di quella lacerassero. I dispareri frà di questi furono pochi, e leggieri; ne mai proruppero in isfrenate ire, in guerra cittadina, in confiscazioni ed in morti. Quindi uniti prevalsero, e colsero il frutto dello avere le proprie discrepanze alla citta' donato, e la salute della Republica al desiderio di sovrastare anteposto. Mirabile esempio, che i turbati, ed avventati consigli guastano le imprese, e fan rovinare gli Stati; mentre i modesti, e temperati le conducono, e gli fondano."
situdes, as well as in its termination, was one of the most edifying, imposing, and elevating spectacles that the human drama ever exhibited. How must a member of the French Legislative body feel, when, possessing a mind like that of Mr. Botta, he contrasts the sequel of our war, with that of the Revolution of France, and the character of our political and social organization, with that of the Empire to which he belongs?--While he might compliment us upon the possession of almost all the blessings, that can fall to the lot of man in political society, he must be satisfied that if we addressed him in our turn, it could only be in the language of his countryman Alfieri.
V'ha patria, dove
lieve mal; il pessimo è dei mali
che i cuori tutti ingombra.
The history of our Revolution, although embracing a vast theatre of action, and a great multiplicity of events, is, nevertheless, justly viewed and admired by Mr. Botta, as a perfectly consistent and beautiful whole. Although the scale of movement is immense, the movement itself is simple, and circumscribed, both as to time and object. It has, as it were, all the unities—its regular exposition, its intrigue, and its dénouement. The object is distinctly seen from the outset; obstacles intervene, but the plot thickens; the glorious aim is at length successfully achieved, and the nature of the catastrophe such as to exalt the dignity, and to heighten the interest of the
*“ You have a country where one alone can wish and the rest obey.-. “ Country, honour, Liberty, children, names once so dear, are profaned in " the mouths of slaves, while that one exists who robs you of them all. “ Slaughter and violence, rapine and shame are but light evils, when com“pared with that worst of all miseries,—the withering fear which over“ whelms every heart. The timorous citizens dare not speak, scarcely dare “ look each other in the face:---Such is your suspicion and distrust, that the “ brother fears the brother, the father, the son; the venal are bought, the “good intimidated, the upright destroyed, and the whole body of the State “ debased and oppressed."
whole representation. We wish we could add that nothing has since occurred, to weaken the impression, which was then left upon the minds of the world!
There was too, in our war, a sort of climax,--a regularly increasing complication and variety in the means, which renders the march of events still more interesting. First the contestbetween England and her Colonies alone:—then the intervention of France; afterwards the implication of Spain and Holland: subsequently the combats of the fleets, both on the American and European seas;—the battles of the armies on the two continents, and finally, by the union of all these powers, the humiliation of England, and her compulsory recognition of those colonists as an independent people, whom she had, in some sort, driven into independence, by her oppression and injustice.
To all the other sources of dramatic interest, which this war may be said to possess, there must be added, the moral dignity of the personages, who officiated in the scene. The American actors engaged in it, both in the senate and in the field, have, we can venture to assert, juster claims to the respect and affection of mankind, than any other patriots on the records of history, whether we look to the purity of their motives, to the wisdom of their measures, to the sustained force and persevering temperance of their resolution, to their fortitude in adversity, or to the consummation and consequences of their enterprize. They acquired political fame and military glory, but these they did not seek; they had but one object and reward in view in all their labours and sufferings, and that was, the independence of their country. They hallowed their pious work, and put the seal upon their own glorious immortality, by erecting, in the fabric of our constitution, what we trust will prove, both a fixed habitation, and an impregnable fortress for Liberty. Among them, was one character, of an heroic elevation known only, perhaps, to the legends of Antiquity, and of which no other example has been seen in modern times. Almost all nations have concurred in ascribing to the hero of our Revolution, a combination of public and private virtues, such as never before fell to the lot of any one of the human species to whom Providence had assigned a distinguished part on the theatre of the world.
Our Italian Author appears to have felt the moral sublimity which accompanies the name of Washington, and acknowledges that he was such a principal figure, as was best suited to the “history piece" of the American war, and alone fitted to perfect the majesty of the canvass. Mr. de Botta dwells con amore upon what he considers as the closing scene of our Re.