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These annals were first published in 1840. They reappear after an interval of twenty years. In that interval the old questions which inflamed the zeal and sharpened the wit of parties have totally disappeared from the political field: the parties themselves have fermented into new compounds, and lost all cognizable identity. Old warriors, who dealt mortal blows on each other's sconce, have sunk to sleep in the same truckle bed, and have waked up in mutual surprise to find themselves in each other's arms, with a new flag above them, and new and unaccustomed voices giving the word of command. The youth who have grown up to manhood in the mean time, and have come to be conspicuous in the conduct of public affairs, compose a distinct generation, as unconscious of the events, the interests, and sentiments of twenty years ago as of those of remote antiquity. These not only reject the traditions and teachings of the past, but repudiate and ignore the whole scheme of social and political opinion of the men who have gone before them, disdaining to adopt their maxims of government, their policy, their forbearance, their toleration, or their affections. They inaugurate a new era of new principles, new purposes, new powers, new morals, and, alas! of new hatreds. May it not serve a good turn toward arresting this torrent of innovation, to present to the leisure meditation of those who are embarking upon its stream, a few memorials of a bygone day, quite as distinguished as the present for the intensity of its political ardors and the absurdity of its excesses, but, fortunately, more harmless and amiable in its temper? Is it not worth while to attempt, by these playful sketches of the past, to lure the angry combatants into a smile, and, by showing them the grotesque retribution which history inflicts upon distempered parties after a few decades of oblivion, to beguile them into some consideration of the predicament in which they may leave their own renown? May not all sober-minded lovers of their country contemplate with some profit the morale of a picture—even as light and extravagant as this—which represents the engrossments of parties who fancied that the destinies of a great nation hung upon the plots and counterplots of their busy ferment,—which engrossments, with all their concomitant gravities and glorifications, twenty years have shriveled into the dimensions of a pleasant farce—a little stage imbroglio of comic conceits and fussy nothings? That intrepidity of absurdity which no responsible individual would dare to countenance in his own conduct, and which is only possible to organized bodies propelled by the ardor of party enthusiasm, is a fact in human action worth the study of the philosopher. By some unexplored tidal law, parties would seem to move through successive ebb and flow toward a final culmination of mischievous extreme, each refluent wave returning with heavier mass, until the accumulated weight of madness and folly overtopples, breaks, and dissolves in noisy foam. As we have a computed cycle of a money-crisis, the known result of an increasing and rapid prosperity ill used, so also we have the regularly recurring political crisis, the result of increasing party-power abused by rash and insolent presumption upon its strength

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