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How far the misfortunes of Burgoyne were owing to accidents beyond human control, and how far they are to be ascribed to the individual conduct and courage of the American commander, would be a useless and invidious inquiry. Reasoning on the ordinary ground, his merits were exceedingly great, and this event entitled him to a high rank among the deliverers of his country. The memory of all former misfortunes were effaced by the magnitude of this victory, and the government and people vied with each other in expressing their admiration of the conquering general. Besides the thanks of congress, the general received from the president a gold medal as a memorial of their gratitude.
Every war abounds with cases of private suffering and distress, very few of which become public, though sympathy and curiosity are powerfully excited by narratives of that kind ; and the feelings of a whole nation are remarkably swayed by them. The expedition of Burgoyne was adorned by the romantic and affecting tales of Miss M‘Crea, and Lady Harriet Ackland. The latter is of no further consequence in this narration, than as it reflects great credit on the politeness and humanity of general Gates ; major Ackland, the husband of this lady, was wounded and made prisoner in one of the battles preceding the surrender, and his wife, in going to the hostile camp to
attend her husband, met with a reception which proved that long converse with military scenes, had left the virtues of humanity wholly unimpaired in his bosom.*
We do not feel ourselves authorized to enter minutely into certain mysterious transactions which followed these great events, and which exhibited the melancholy prospect, not of skirmishes and battles with the common enemy, but of a war of jealousy, suspicion and recrimination, between the chief commanders of the American forces. We hardiy dare renture to touch upon leading facts, and to draw any positive conclusions from them at this late period, and without that knowledge which a personal acquaintance with the parties only can confer, would be presumptuous and absurd.
The first step to these misunderstandings, which has gained historical notice appears to be an unsuccessful application to Gates by Washington, for a detachment of his troops, after the course of events had clearly established the superiority of the northern army, exclusive of this detachment, over the enemy. After the capture of Burgoyne, it was extremely difficult either by persuasion or remonstrances, to induce general Gates, who was in quarters at Albany, to believe that the dangers of the southern army warranted him in parting with any of his forces. This reluctance, however, was finally overcome by the address and perseverance of colonel Hamilton ; but the previous delays were supposed by some to contribute to the success of the British arms in Jersey, and on the Delaware. It is proper to observe, however, that these delays partly arose from the mutinous spirit of the troops intended to be draughted from the north.
The exigencies of the American troops, in the rigorous winter of seventeen hundred and seventy-seven, for provisions, led to a very singular contest between the civil and military power, in which the former recommended violence and cruelty, and the latter was the advocate of mildness and justice. Congress commanded the wants of the army to be supplied by a species of military execution. The general was insurmountabiy averse to any mode but fair purchase. The commander, since the acquisition of the coloniai metropolis, by Howe, refused to adopt offensive measures. A strong party in
* The adventures of this lady have been made the theme of a long poem by Mrs. Morton of Boston. Her theory is very pleasing, and her verses have considerable merit, but whether the heroism of lady Ackland ought to be considered as exemplifying the influence of what is called a fashionable and luxurious education, or as forming a singular esception to the natural and ordinary effects of such an education, may be questioned by some.
a large one among the people, highly disapproved of his forbearance. The brilliant exploits of Gates, in the north, naturally presented him as a suitable successor to the commander in chief. Thus far we inay venture to go, but we are not justified in assigning the degree of inRuence which personal animosity or ambition possessed over the feelings or conduct of general Gates on this occasion : how far the project of exalting him to the chief command originated with, or was promoted by himself; and if this were in any degree the case, how far upright or questionable means were employed for this end, we decide not. The regard due to the reputation of both those illustrious men, requires a nearer and nicer scrutiny to qualify any one for a judge in this case, than is possible for any one now living to make.* We hardly need to add that no change was essected, and that henceforward the popularity of Washington continued to increase.
It is well known that success does not always prove the wisdom of military plans, nor their failure always evidence their folly. Had Washington on that occasion been superseded by Gates—had Philadelphia been stormed, and Cornwallis and his army made prisoners-we should have escaped the miseries of three or four years' war. The promotion of Gates would have been universally applauded, and his glory in a great measure have supplanted that of Washington. Yet this event might have flowed from an unforeseen and momentary accident. Offensive measures at that season might not have deserved suc
To all thuse who reason justly from the experience of the past, they might appear rash and inexpedient. Yer as a large party in congress and among the people, disapproved of Washington's forbearance, his successor would have appeared to owe his success to his superior valour and conduct. Fortunately, however, perhaps, Gates was denied an opportunity of trying his own plans. For the same accident which sometimes gives success to a rash measure, quite as often irustrates a prudent one ; and failure would have been as readily admilied by the people a sufficient proof of his temerity as success of his foresight. Gates was placed at the head of the board of war, å post of trust and dignity scarcely inferior to that of commander in chici. His influence was immediately felt by the numerous class of the disaffected
* A good deal is said on this subject by Marshall, in his third volume, to which we gladly refer the reader for further, though certainly not for complete information, on this subject. An impartial mind will ever find such topics exceedingly embarrassing, and the very glory of Washington will inspire Candor with new caution, lest its lustre should mislead into injustice towards another.
and suspected. These had been treated in the true spirit of revolutions, with superfluous rigour and capricious cruelty. Gates's system was that of forbearance and lenity-of allowing largely for honest intentions and difference of opinion. The benignity of his measures were seconded by the urbanity of his personal deportment-he was courteous and friendly even to the proscribed.
The quakers of Pennsylvania were favourably disposed to Great Britain. This was a practical consequence of their conscientious aversion to war. How far their inclination and judgment, independent of religious motives, made them as a body favourable to that cause, it is needless to say. Their conscientious plea obtained no indulgence from the ruling party, and they were involved without ceremony, in the charge of treason and rebellion. Their sufferings constitute no particular stigma against the American revolution, because jealousy, intolerance, and oppression, belong of necessity to all revolutions.
Gates had always a particular kindness for the quakers. He displayed on all occasions, almost ostentatiously, his reverence for the head of that sect. The first use he made of the power annexed to his present station, was to redress their complaints, and relieve their sufferings.
(To be continued.)
FOR THE PORTFOLIO.
A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE
OF THE LATE THOMAS DRYSDALE, M. D.
IF to erect a permanent and well-deserved monument to genius and learning, to hold forth to public admiration a model of character calculated to awaken the sensibility and rouse the virtuous emulation of the youth of our country, and to rescue from the leaden grasp of Oblivion the memory of exalted modesty and worth-If these be among the legitimate objects of American biography, the name of Drysdale should no longer slumber amid the silence of his ashes-It should be no longer entrusted to the precarious keeping of an humble hic jacet, etched on a head-stone near the shores of the Chesapeake.
Thomas Drysdale, though not of a wealthy or distinguished family, was, notwithstanding, slescended of reputable parentage.
born in the city of Baltimore about the year 1772. Like many other individuals, who have become afterwards conspicuous for genius and letters, he was an infant of so feeble a frame, and such infirm health, that, for a considerable time, his dissolution was looked for as a certain and speedy event. But he was preserved for other destinies, and to carry to his tomb deeper regrets and keener sorrows, than could be lavished on the grave of an unpromising child. While yet of very tender age he was left an orphan by the death of his father. Soon after this melancholy occurrence he had the good fortune to attract the notice and conciliate the affections of Dr. Dorling, of Baltimore, a gentleman of talents, worth, and affluence, who, having no children of his own, adopted him as his son. Nor was this adoption the result of either relation. ship, accident, or caprice. It arose from a conviction in the penetrating and benevolent mind of Dr. Dorling, that his ward had received from nature the germe of eminence.
When placed at school, young Drysdale was far from disappointing the hopes and expectations of his patron and father. On the other hand, his improvement outstripped even the anticipations of the fondest affections. Beneath the infuence of skilful culture, the powers and beauties of his mind expanded with the rapidity and luxuriance of the young olive, when fostered by the sunshine of the most genial sky. In every seminary through which he passed in pursuit of his education, it was his fortune to become the leader of his class, the favourite of his teacher, and an honour to the institution. For his orderly and respectful deportment, and the general clecorum of his conduct, as a pupil, were alike exemplary to his equals, and pleasing to his superiors.
But the excellence of his character was not centred exclusively in the superiority of his intellect. His temper was sprightly, his disposition mild, his manners affable and engaging, his sentiments liberal and manly, and his heart the favourite seat of the social affections. Though his fancy was vivid and his wit keen and sparkling, they were never exercised at the expense of the feelings of a friend. Their play was brilliant but inoffensive, like the lambent flame of the poet, which, without scorching a hair of his head, sported around the temples of the infant Ascanius. They procured him many admirers, some friends, but no enemies.
Possessing talents of so elevated an order, joined to an ardent passion for knowledge, and enjoying the fairest opportunities our country assorded, young Drysdale's education could not fail to be of a superior character. Accordingly in the Latin, Greek, and Franch languages, together with the various elementary branches of science taught in our colleges, his knowledge soon became uncommonly accurate and pro