August 26, 2008

Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence**

** Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, B J Lossing, 1848

The last time I visited my mother, I skimmed the shelves of my dad's books to see if there was anything interesting. I grabbed this book. The format is good for bedside reading, since there are 3 to 5 page biographical sketches of the 56 men who signed the D of I. Very informative.

However, the book is a riot of Capitalization, Commas, and Rhetoric. Here are some samples.

He took a prominent part in the debates respecting the independence of the Colonies, and voted for, and signed that glorious Declaration of American disenthralment. Soon after this act was consummated, he returned home and was immediately appointed by governor Trumbull and the Council of Safety, to the command of a detachment of Connecticut militia.

His clear perception saw the end from the beginning, and those delusive hopes which the repeal of obnoxious acts held forth, had no power over Lewis Morris. Neither could they influence his patriotism, for he was a stranger to a vacillating, temporizing spirit. He refused office under the Colonial government, for his domestic ease and comfort were paramount to the ephemeral enjoyment of place.

In many places it reads like a cross between an object lesson and a letter of recommendation. Here's a representative sample:

The life of Mr. Hopkins exhibits a fine example of the rewards of honest, persevering industry. Although his early education was limited, yet he became a distinguished mathematician, and filled almost every public station in the gift of the people, with singular ability. He was a sincere and consistent Christian, and the impress of this profession was upon all his deeds.

Overall, it's slow going. On the other hand, what's the hurry?

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