J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nothing Material

Recently I wrote an entry about Patrick M’Robert’s tour of the northern British colonies in North America in 1774-75. I omitted how his account actually starts:

We met with nothing material on our passage; only a little girl of about nine years of age fell over board and was lost.


Tricia said...

Oh my! Do you believe that post shows the temperment of the natives of those times? And also, kind sir please tell me, do you believe that it is inevitable that history repeats itself? As an expert I would really appreciate your opinion. Regards, Tricia

J. L. Bell said...

Children died more frequently in the eighteenth century, so people would have seen the loss of a little girl like this as less of a surprise. It's clear from sources that parents grieved at such early deaths, and I have to believe that Mr. M'Robert didn't know this family well for him to write so cavalierly about the daughter drowning.

I don't think it's inevitable for history to repeat itself. Indeed, there's a saying that history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes. In other words, there are always going to be strong similarities among events, and human beings are keen to notice those patterns.