surviving words are obviously inadequate to account for the popular effect of their speeches, it is still possible to measure the efficiency of the pamphleteer.
When John Adams
tells us that “James Otis
was Isaiah and Ezekiel
united,” we must take his word for the impression which Otis
's oratory left upon his mind.
But John Adams
's own writings fill ten stout volumes which invite our judgment.
The “truculent and sarcastic splendor” of his hyperboles need not blind us to his real literary excellencies, such as clearness, candor, vigor of phrase, freshness of idea.
A testy, rugged, “difficult” person was John Adams
, but he grew mellower with age, and his latest letters and journals are full of whimsical charm.
's cousin Samuel was not precisely a charming person.
Bigoted, tireless, secretive, this cunning manipulator of political passions followed many tortuous paths.
His ability for adroit misstatement of an adversary's position has been equaled but once in our history.
But to the casual reader of his four volumes, Samuel Adams
seems ever to be breathing the liberal air of the town-meeting: everything is as plainly obvious as a good citizen can make it. He has, too, the large utterance of the European
liberalism of his day.