A pride of little lions -- many of them from Revolutionary times -- in amiable when not admiring profiles which run about ten pages. Whether it's that ""ideal of universal accomplishment"" the Admirable Crichton; or a devoted adoptive daughter of Montaigne; or the cynosure of cynicism, La Rochefoucauld; or a pirate Captain Tew; or an early (1776) submarine inventor, David Bushnell; or Marie Antoinette's ""lover"" Axel Fersen; or a schoolteacher-Continental soldier, Deborah Sampson; or the ""gay and virtuous spirit of Parson Weems""; or Noyes who advocated Bible Communism and wife-swapping at Oneida; etc. etc. Mr. Bishop's style is elderly (""He . . . had little appetite for seeking with his beloved some desert, with the woods for their only shelter, and fruits their only repast."") and given to moralistic ruminations -- ""But its lessons, like the lessons of history, always come too late."" They might be self-fulfilling.