Revolutionary New England, 1691-1776

By James Truslow Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE RISING TIDE

Opening of a New Period -- Effects of Peace -- Change in Land Policy -- Extension of Frontier -- Growing Problem of the West India Trade -- Rise in Living Costs -- Paper Money -- Effect on Political Parties -- John Wise and Colonial Political Philosophy -- Increasing Demands of the People for Control -- Character of the Democracy

THE division of history into periods, or of a historical work into chapters, is merely a concession to a peculiarity of our mental constitution which seems unable to grasp any subject unless thus arbitrarily broken up into morsels of convenient size. But that utterly mysterious play of cosmic energy, call it by what name we may, which for hundreds of thousands of years has been peopling the earth with its myriads upon myriads of human beings, each called into being for the merest second of sentient existence, and then gone into the unknowable again, like the spray of some eternal water-fall, knows nothing of such divisions. Even the patterns formed by a few of these little lives for some brief moment, the lines of development that we trace in some small chosen period, merge not only before and after but on all sides into the illimitable and indivisible sea of existence.

In the living present it is not so difficult to become aware of the complexity of life and of its continuity. We realize that all sorts of things are going on about us all at once; that probably no two people in the country think alike on all subjects; that an infinite number of movements, tendencies, facts of all kinds, are influencing ourselves and all about us; that this year has developed unperceived out of the last and will slip with as little sudden alteration into the next. But in reading history we are apt to be deceived into thinking in terms of distinct periods, of comparatively few movements, and of few intellectual and

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