Influences - Recollections of An Old Soldier - the Life of Captain David Perry (1741-1826)

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Revolutionary soldier by A. Chappel



It is evident that David Perry read much and studied much to have written his life history with such fluency. The texts which undoubtedly most influenced Capt. David Perry are The Holy Bible, King James Version; and the Massachusetts Bay Psalter, which contains translations of the Psalms that pre-date the KJV translation. These were the books on which education in the Massachusetts common schools was based -- a legacy of the Puritain tradition. Judging by town records where he lived and was active in local affairs, Sunday sermons were an important part of his life.
In addition to religious education, Perry had access to newspapers and pamphlets then circulating widely in New England, and he, like the rest of the reading public was consequently "remarkably well-informed on about public affairs" (Hickey, 319). Perry's writing shows the influence of some of the same sources used by Matthew Carey• in his book The Olive Branch, published repeatedly between 1815 and 1818. Information printed in one newspaper was often reprinted in local papers around the country, and Perry and Carey undoubtedly read some of the same material. David Perry was also familiar with Dr. David Ramsay's The History of the American Revolution published in 1789, and probably read other books as he could.
The reader of Recollections should bear in mind that Perry spoke the still-very-much-British English of the 1820s. Most of his phrases and constructions were common to the time in which he lived. To be sure, the debates in congress exhibited erudite oratory, and both these and other reports in the newspapers Perry read used a large vocabulary with classic and biblical allusions, but Perry's eloquence is nonetheless diminished and is, indeed, striking in its own way. His allusions, Biblical or otherwise, flow naturally as part of the whole of his thoughts, as does his entire narrative.
Of the Bible, it is important to understand that David Perry was raised on it, and, at least at age 79 when he is writing his Recollections, he sees his life through eyes that demonstrate not only his knowledge of it but his study of, and belief in it words. It is apparent from his attitude toward the events in his life, the people he met, and the history of his times, and also by such facts as his intimate friendship with the son of a well-known Boston preacher, that he maintained this devotion and belief in both the Bible and in God throughout his life.
-- D.G. Jones © 2003, 2012.
[ Editor's Note: Any brackets or emphasis on this page are mine. ]
[ To order a hard copy of Recollections click here. ]
 |  Biblical Passages Quoted by David Perry  | 
 |  Examples of Biblical Language in Recollections  | 
 |  Quotes by Perry from Contemporary Newspapers  | 

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Biblical Passages Quoted by David Perry
coverd my head in the day of battle = Psalms 140:7.  KJV
the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much = James 5:16.  KJV
sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord = Proverbs 15:8.  KJV
fought a good fight = 2 Timothy 4:7.  KJV

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Examples of Biblical Language in Recollections 
answered him by fire. Allusion to the prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal. See 1 Kings 18:24-38, and 2 Kings 1:10-12, KJV.
former times = previous years; in this case ancient, Old Testament times. See Ruth 4:7.
the good hand of God. See Ezra 7:9A, 8:18, Nehemiah 2:8.  KJV
all kinds of music. See Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15.  KJV
discomfited their whole force. See Exodus 17:13, Joshua 10:10, Judges 4:15, 8:12.  KJV
returned them back. See 1 Kings 19:21, and Luke 8:37KJV (return back)
from whence they came. see Hebrews 11:15,  KJV (from whence they came out).
Had not the Lord been on our side, and fought our battles. See Psalms 124:1-3, and 2 Chronicles 32:8.  KJV
of one heart and one mind. This wording appears in the Bible as �one heart� or �one mind� in: 1 Chronicles 12:38, Jeremiah 32:39, Ezekiel 11:19, Job 23:13, Acts 4:32, Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 1:27, 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8.  KJV (LDS descendants of David Perry, and other LDS readers, will also want to consult 2 Nephi 1:21, & Moses 7:18.) See also Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address (excerpted below).

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Quotes by Perry from Contemporary Newspapers
the "Bulwark of our religion." The reference to Great Britain as the "Bulwark of our religion"• appeared in newspapers of the day, apparently sparked by Gov. Caleb Strong's proclamation. Both Perry and Matthew Carey quote it -- Carey in The Olive Branch (10 Jun. 1818; reprint Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1969, p. 206). Carey's principal source was "'The Weekly Register,' edited by H[ezekiah] Niles" (Carey, 17). Also Known as "Niles' Register"•, this contemporary Republican news magazine "specializing in publishing government documents" (Hickey, 319) was printed in Baltimore, MD, 1811-1837, and read throughout the U.S., either in the original or excerpted in local papers.  

of one heart and one mind. In this phrase, as in David Perry�s closing admonition, one sees the influence of such published documents as Thomas Jefferson�s First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1801:

�Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. . . . We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world�s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question . . . And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.�
(Source: "Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address." The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. 1996. (Emphasis mine.)

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KJV = The Holy Bible, King James Version

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