Thackeray, in the beginning of his lectures on the Four Georges, makes loving mention of a charming lady of the old school, whose life extended far back into the last century. "I often thought," he says, "as I took my kind old friend's hand, how with it I held on to the old society of wits and men of the world."
Even such a link with the past, to those of us at least who have reached middle age, is Mrs. Madison. This life of hers which almost or quite touched ours, touched also the lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, of Decatur and Somers and Paul Jones, of Talleyrand and Lafayette and Jefferson, while she was "dear Dolly," to the spouse of Washington himself. Her life was so deeply influenced by its environment, and its significance depended so largely upon the people and events with which it was connected, that I feel that no apology is necessary for the effort I have made to present in this volume less a formal biography than a sketch of the social and domestic life of the epoch as it affected Dolly Madison.