« ПредишнаНапред »
extensive powers confided to the revisors, might have resulted in the establishment of a new code. With such a result in prospect, the further prosecution of his original purpose seemed useless; but as there was reason to believe that the revision would effect no material change in the institutions, through which the public authorities were exercised, it still left open to his views the wide field of public relations under the State Government. The design was, therefore, bounded to the examination of these, and to the investigation of the institutions of the Colony, so far as it might be necessary to illustrate the existing State establishments. In this form, it received the sanction and patronage of the Legislature, in the winter of 1826–27; but it again became the sacrifice of unexpected occurrences. Thrown suddenly into the midst of the engrossing cares and labors of public life, at the very moment when he was about to enter upon its execution, the writer yielded it to the necessities of the moment, as one would his first-born. The hour of retirement from public employments at length arrived; and the field of his contemplated exertions was still unoccupied. Yet with the first fervor of the enterprise, had passed away much of the energy so necessary for its accomplishment: and it might still have slept, but for the promptings of a soft and gentle monitor. It was easily revived; for authors have their first loves, as well as lovers, to which, with all that time and distance can effect, the “untiavelļed heart will still return, and cling the closer for the separation of the past.
Of a design thus formed and quickened into life, the writer now presents the first fruits. If, to the reader, they bring neither interest 'nor information, where both were promised, let him remember, that to the writer they are associated with the cherished projects of his youth; and if he has been deluded by the hope of affording pleasure or instruction to others, where he has found both, he is only the victim of a common error. If he could but hope to effeot one purpose, he would ask no greater boon. The
history of his native State abounds with recollections that would adorn any people: her sons have been conspicuous for every talent and virtue that lends dignity to human nature; and her institutions dispense freedom, security, and happiness to the citizen. Yet where are her memorials of the past, to teach whence sprang the enjoyments of the . present; and to give value and permanence to her liberties, by the knowledge of the perils through which they have gone? All have passed, or are passing into oblivion; and after the lapse of two centuries, we are yet a new people, with scarcely a single monument or cherished remembrance of the past, around which State pride may cling. The originals of many of our Institutions, are lost to public view: the spirit, nay, the very form of others, are scarcely understood; and our Constitution and laws have almost become a mystery, to be solved only by the oracular responses of the favored few, who have had the means and leisure to explore them. Intent upon the present, we seem to have forgotten that the great secret of national advancement consists in the cultivation of a proper national pride; and that the elements of this pride exist in the associations of a nation's history, and in the devotion to her institutions which springs from a knowledge of their nature and ends. By these the citizen is identified with his country, and subjected to the influence of feelings and impulses, which, in times past, have made men heroes and patriots, and conducted whole nations to freedom. The welfare and advancement of the State, are thus made objects of individual interest; and in the engrossing desire to advance its character, all petty jealousies and rivalries are merged. If such is the natural result of a proper State pride, where is the State whom it behooves more sedulously to cultivate it, than that in which we dwell? If the writer's humble efforts can contribute in any degree to promote it, by rendering the people of Maryland more familiar with its history and institutions, or by tempting others of more ability to improve the beginning he has made, his highest aims are reached.
It is unnecessary to detail the plan of this work. It is its own interpreter: and to explain its purposes in advance, is like detaining the traveller upon the threshold, to describe to him the mansion he is about to enter. Prefatory sketches are, commonly, but so many glimpses of the promised land, to tempt the reader to the travel : but there is a better lure, in the impulses of unsatisfied curiosity. There is at least a greater probability in the latter case, that the reader will get beyond the preface. In this volume, no attempt has been made to investigate the History and condition of the Indians of Maryland: but the writer is not without hopes, that he will be enabled to attach to the second volume a memoir of some interest upon this subject. In the Appendix to the second volume will be found a list of the officers who have filled the higher provincial and State offices, extending from the colonization to the present day, and designating the times of their appointment and removal: and a series of statistical tables, relative to the population, commerce, and manufactures of the State, and of its principal towns. All else of the plan, that is not developed in this volume, will appear in proper season.
Whatever may be thought of the plan, or of the manner of its execution, the reader, in passing upon them, will call to mind the intrinsic difficulties of the attempt. To sketch the history and describe the institutions of a people, is no light undertaking, even when the materials are abundant, and are already collected for reference. Yet when it is accomplished with such aids, it is an easy and delightful task, in contrast with the labors of the present effort. In most of his researches, the writer has had no pioneer: and he has been compelled to rely principally, for the sources of his information, upon unpublished and imperfect records, the very perusal of which, if inflicted as a punishment, would be intolerable. Fortunately for him, the labor was alleviated by the kind attentions of the State Officers, having the custody of the public records, who were ever ready to
assist him in his researches and share his toils. Deeply sensible of these attentions, he cannot suffer the occasion to pass without thus publicly tendering his acknowledgments for them, to Mr. Ridgely, the State Librarian, Mr. Brewer, the Register of the Land Office, Mr. Pearce, the late Clerk of the House of Delegates, and Mr. Murray, the late Clerk of the Council. To his friend, Mr. Jonas Green, of Annapolis, he is indebted, as the reader will perceive, for some of the most valuable information which this work embodies; information furnished with that peculiar kindness of manner, which strives to break the weight of obligation, by seeming rather to be the receiver than the giver of favors. To Mr. James Carroll, and Mr. Fielding Lucas, Jun., of Baltimore, he is indebted for several rare works, which he had occasion to consult in the course of his researches : and Mr. Carroll also kindly submitted, for his perusal, some very interesting memoranda, of his own collection, in reference to the Provincial Government. Mr. Horatio Ridout of Anne Arundel, as soon as he was apprised of the writer's intentions, transmitted to him a record of all the correspondence of Governor Sharpe, during his long administration of this Province. This record was made by the father of Mr. Ridout, the acting Secretary of Governor Sharpe, and is full of interesting details, relative to the internal polity of this Province, and the operations of the colonies generally, during the French war, which was closed by the treaty of Paris. Unfortunately it was not received, nor was the writer aware of its character, before that part of this work which particularly relates to Gov. Sharpe's administration, had gone to the press; but he still hopes to avail himself of some of its most interesting portions, in the succeeding volume. None but those who have engaged in such undertakings as the present, can know how grateful such attentions are; and none but the ungrateful can fail to remember, and acknowledge them.
Attached to a profession upon which he depends for support, the writer has been compelled to make the pursuits of this work, in reference to his general employments, what Madame De Stael has said love is in the history of man, a mere episode. But, to accomplish this in the few months which have elapsed since it was commenced for publication, he has found it necessary to devote to it many of the hours due to sleep and exercise, and often to bring to the task a languid and exhausted frame. Yet even with all the inequalities and imperfections which such a manner of writing is calculated to impart, he was unwilling to abandon a design which could not otherwise have been effected.
Alike its author, this work has had no patron to usher it into public view, and it must make friends as it goes. The generous mind will appreciate its difficulties, and make due allowance for its imperfections. To those who look upon the approbation of others' efforts as the office of inferior minds, and the art of finding faults as the evidence of their. own superiority, the author has but one admonition to give. If respected, it will relieve him from that class of critics, who, like certain insects, annoy more by their buzz than their sting. It is couched in the language of an old Maryland poet; Let critics, that may discommend it,
mend it. BALTIMORE, February 12th, 1831.