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The Englishwoman in America by Isabella Lucy Bird

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thermometer many degrees below the freezing-point, yet the dryness of the
atmosphere prevented any feeling of cold. The air was pure, still, and
perfectly elastic; a fitful aurora lighted our way, and the iron hoofs of
the fast-trotting ponies rattled cheerily along the frozen ground. I
almost regretted the termination of the drive, even though the pleasant
villa of ----, and a room lighted by a blazing wood fire, awaited me.

The weather was perfectly delightful. Cloudless and golden the sun set at
night; cloudless and rosy he rose in the morning; sharp and defined in
outline the leafless trees rose against the piercing blue of the sky; the
frozen ground rang to every footstep; thin patches of snow diversified the
landscape; and the healthful air braced even invalid nerves. Boston is a
very fine city, and the whole of it, spread out as a panorama, can be seen
from several neighbouring eminences. The rosy flush of a winter dawn had
scarcely left the sky when I saw the town from Dorchester Heights. Below
lay the city, an aggregate of handsome streets lined with trees, stately
public buildings, and church-spires, with the lofty State House crowning
the whole. Bright blue water and forests of masts appeared to intersect
the town; green, wooded, swelling elevations, dotted over with white villa
residences, environed it in every direction; blue hills rose far in the
distance; while to the right the bright waters of Massachusett's bay,
enlivened by the white sails of ships and pilot-boats, completed this
attractive panorama.

Boston is built on a collection of peninsulas; and as certain shipowners
possess wharfs far up in the town, to which their ships must find their
way, the virtue of patience is frequently inculcated by a long detention
at drawbridges, while heavily-laden vessels are slowly warped through the
openings. The equanimity of the American character surprised me here, as
it often had before; for, while I was devising various means of saving
time, by taking various circuitous routes, about 100 _detenus_ submitted
to the delay without evincing any symptoms of impatience. Part of Boston
is built on ground reclaimed from the sea, and the active inhabitants
continually keep encroaching on the water for building purposes.

This fine city appeared to greater advantage on my second visit, after
seeing New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, and other of the American towns. In
them their progress is evidenced by a ceaseless building up and pulling
down, the consequences of which are heaps of rubbish and unsightly
hoardings covered with bills and advertisements, giving to the towns thus
circumstanced an unfinished, mobile, or temporary look. This is still
further increased where many of the houses are of wood, and can be moved
without being taken to pieces. I was riding through an American town one
afternoon, when, to my surprise, I had to turn off upon the side walk, to
avoid a house which was coming down the street, drawn by ten horses, and
assisted by as many men with levers. My horse was so perfectly unconcerned
at what was such a novel spectacle to me, that I supposed he was used to
these migratory dwellings.

Boston has nothing of all this. Stately, substantial, and handsome, it
looks as if it had been begun and completed in a day. There is a most
pleasing air of respectability about the large stone and brick houses; the
stores are spacious and very handsome; and the public buildings are
durably and tastefully built. Scientific institutions, music halls, and
the splendid stores possessed by the booksellers and philosophical
instrument makers, proclaim the literary and refined tastes of the
inhabitants, which have earned for their city the name of the "American
Athens." There is an air of repose about Boston; here, if anywhere, one
would suppose that large fortunes were realised and enjoyed. The sleek
horses do not appear to be hurried over the pavements; there are few
placards, and fewer puffs; the very carts are built rather to carry weight
than for speed. Yet no place which I visited looked more thriving than
Boston. Its streets are literally crammed with vehicles, and the side
walks are thronged with passengers, but these latter are principally New
Englanders, of respectable appearance. These walks are bordered by acacia
and elm trees, which seem to flourish in the most crowded thoroughfares,
and, besides protecting both men and horses from the intense heat, their
greenness, which they retain till the fall, is most refreshing to the eye.
There are a great many private carriages to be seen, as well as people on
horseback. The dwelling-houses have plate-glass windows and bright green
jalousies; the side walks are of granite, and the whole has an English
air. The common, or rather the park, at Boston, is the finest public
promenade that I ever saw, about fifty acres in extent, and ornamented
with avenues of very fine trees. This slopes to the south, and the highest
part of the slope is crowned by the State House and the handsomest private
residences in the city. Boston is very clean and orderly, and smoking is
not permitted in the streets. There is a highly aristocratic air about it,
and those who look for objects of historical interest will not be
disappointed. There is the old Faneuil Hall, which once echoed to the
stormy arguments and spirit-stirring harangues of the leaders of the
Revolution. A few antiquated, many-gabled houses, remain in its
neighbourhood, each associated with some tradition dear to the Americans.
Then there is a dark-coloured stone church, which still in common parlance
bears the name of King's Chapel. It is fitted with high pews of dark
varnished oak, and the English liturgy, slightly altered, is still used as
the form of worship. Then there is the Old South Meeting house, where the
inhabitants remonstrated with the governor for bringing in the king's
troops; and, lastly, Griffin's Wharf, where, under the impulse of the
stern concentrated will of the New England character, the "Sons of
Liberty" boarded the English ships, and slowly and deliberately threw the
tea which they contained into the water of the harbour.

I visited the Bunker's Hill monument, and was content to take on trust the
statement of the beauty of the view from the summit, as the monument,
which is 221 feet in height, is ascended by a very steep staircase.
Neither did I deny the statement made by the patriotic Americans who were
with me, that the British forces were defeated in that place, not feeling
at all sure that the national pride of our historians had not led them to
tell a tale more flattering than true; for

"Some say that we won,
And some say that they won,
And some say that none won at a', man."

We visited the naval yard at Charlestown, and the _Ohio_, an old seventy-
four, now used as a receiving-ship. There was a very manifest difference
between the two sides of the main-deck of this vessel; one was
scrupulously clean, the other by no means so; and, on inquiring the
reason, I was told that the clean side was reserved for strangers!
Although this yard scarcely deserves the name of an arsenal, being the
smallest of all which America possesses, the numerous guns and the piles
of cannon-balls show that she is not unprepared for aggressive or
defensive war.

The Merchants' Exchange, where every change in the weather at New Orleans
is known in a few minutes; the Post-Office, with its innumerable letter-
boxes and endless bustle; the Tremont Hall, one of the finest music-halls
in the world; the water-works, the Athenaeum, and the libraries, are all
worthy of a visit.

There is a museum, which we visited in the evening, but it is not
creditable to the taste of the inhabitants of this fine city. There are
multitudes of casts and fossils, and stuffed beasts and birds, and
monsters, and a steam-engine modelled in glass, which works beautifully;
but all these things are to hide the real character of this institution,
and appeared to be passed unnoticed by a large number of respectable-
looking people who were thronging into a theatre at the back--a very
gloomy-looking edifice, with high pews. A placard announced that Dickens'
'_Hard Times_,' which it appears from this has been dramatised, was about
to be acted. The plays are said to be highly moral, but in the melodrama
religion and buffoonery are often intermingled; and I confess that I did
not approve of this mode of solacing the consciences of those who object
to ordinary theatricals, for the principle involved remains the same.

The National Theatre is considered so admirably adapted for seeing,
hearing, and accommodation, that it is frequently visited by European
architects. An American friend took me to see it in the evening, when none
are admitted but those who are going to remain for the performance. This
being the rule, the doorkeeper politely opposed our entrance; but on my
companion stating that I was a stranger, he instantly admitted us, and
pointed out the best position for seeing the edifice. The theatre, which
has four tiers of boxes, was handsome in the extreme, and brilliantly
lighted; but I thought it calculated to produce the same effect of
dizziness and headache, as those who frequent our House of Peers
experience from the glare and redundant decoration.

This was one among the many instances where the name of stranger produced
a magic effect. It appeared as if doors which would not open to anything
else, yielded at once to a request urged in that sacred name. This was the
case at the Mount Auburn Cemetery, where the gatekeeper permitted us as
strangers to drive round in a carriage, which is contrary to rule, and on
no occasion would those who so courteously obliged us accept of any

There is some rivalry on the part of the people of Boston and New York
with regard to the beauty of their cemeteries. Many travellers have
pronounced the cemetery of Mount Auburn to be the loveliest in the world;
but both it and that of Greenwood are so beautiful, that it is needless to
"hint a fault or hesitate a dislike" with regard to either. Mount Auburn
has verdant slopes, and deep wild dells, and lakes shaded by forest-trees
of great size and beauty; and so silent is it, far removed from the din of
cities, that it seems as if a single footstep would disturb the sleep of
the dead. Here the neglectfulness and dreariness of the outer aspect of
the grave are completely done away with, and the dead lie peacefully under
ground carpeted with flowers, and shaded by trees. The simplicity of the
monuments is very beautiful; that to Spurzheim has merely his name upon
the tablet. Fulton, Channing, and other eminent men are buried here.

New York is celebrated for frequent and mysterious conflagrations; so are
all the American cities in a less degree. This is very surprising to
English people, many of whom scarcely know a fire-engine by sight. Boston,
though its substantial erections of brick and stone present great
obstacles to the progress of the devouring element, frequently displays
these unwished-for illuminations, and has some very well organized fire
companies. These companies, which are voluntary associations, are one of
the important features of the States. The Quakers had the credit of
originating them. Being men of peace, they could not bear arms in defence
of their country, and exchanged militia service for the task of
extinguishing all the fires caused by the wilfulness or carelessness of
their fellow-citizens. This has been no easy task in cities built of wood,
which in that dry climate, when ignited, burns like pine-knots. Even now,
fires occur in a very unaccountable manner. At New York my slumbers were,
frequently disturbed by the quick-tolling bell, announcing the number of
the district where a fire had broken out. These fire companies have
regular organizations, and their members enjoy several immunities, one of
which I think is, that they are not compelled to serve as jurymen.

They are principally composed of young men, some of them the wilder
members of the first families in the cities.

Their dresses are suitable and picturesque, and, with the brilliant
painting and highly-polished brasses of their large engines, they form one
of the most imposing parts of the annual pageant of the "_Glorious
Fourth_." The fireman who first reaches the scene of action is captain for
the night, and this honour is so much coveted, as to lead them often to
wait, ready equipped, during the winter nights, that they may be able to
start forth at the first sound of the bell. There is sufficient dangerous
adventure, and enough of thrilling incident, to give the occupation a
charm in the eyes of the eager youth of the cities. They like it far
better than playing at soldiers, and are popular in every city. As their
gay and glittering processions pass along the streets, acclamations greet
their progress, and enthusiastic ladies shower flowers upon their heads.
They are generous, courageous, and ever ready in the hour of danger. But
there is a dark side to this picture. They are said to be the _foci_ of
political encroachment and intrigue, and to be the centre of the restless
and turbulent spirits of all classes. So powerful and dangerous have they
become in many instances, that it has been recently stated in an American
paper, that one of the largest and most respectable cities in the Union
has found it necessary to suppress them.

The Blind Asylum is one of the noblest charitable institutions of Boston.
It is in a magnificent situation, overlooking all the beauties of
Massachusett's Bay. It is principally interesting as being the residence
of Laura Bridgman, the deaf and blind mute, whose history has interested
so many in England. I had not an opportunity of visiting this asylum till
the morning of the day on which I sailed for Europe, and had no
opportunity of conversing with this interesting girl, as she was just
leaving for the country. I saw her preceptor, Dr. Howe, whose untiring
exertions on her behalf she has so wonderfully rewarded. He is a very
lively, energetic man, and is now devoting himself to the improvement of
the condition of idiots, in which already he has been extremely

Laura is an elegant-looking girl, and her features, formerly so vacant,
are now animated and full of varying expression. She dresses herself with
great care and neatness, and her fair hair is also braided by herself.
There is nothing but what is pleasing in her appearance, as her eyes are
covered with small green shades. She is about twenty-three, and is not so
cheerful as she formerly was, perhaps because her health is not good, or
possibly that she feels more keenly the deprivations under which she
labours. She is very active in her movements, and fabricates numerous
useful and ornamental articles, which she disposes of for her mother's
benefit. She is very useful among the other pupils, and is well informed
with regard to various branches of useful knowledge. She is completely
matter-of-fact in all her ideas, as Dr. Howe studiously avoids all imagery
and illustration in his instructions, in order not to embarrass her mind
by complex images. It is to be regretted that she has very few ideas on
the subject of religion.

One of the most interesting places to me in the vicinity of Boston was the
abode of General Washington. It became his residence in 1775, and here he
lived while the struggle for freedom was going on in the neighbourhood.

It is one of the largest villas in the vicinity of Boston, and has side
verandahs resting on wooden pillars, and a large garden in front. Some
very venerable elms adjoin the house, and the grounds are laid out in the
fashion which prevailed at that period. The room where Washington penned
his famous despatches is still held sacred by the Americans. Their
veneration for this renowned champion of independence has something almost
idolatrous about it. It is very fortunate that the greatest character in
American history should be also the best. Christian, patriot, legislator,
and soldier, he deserved his mother's proud boast, "I know that wherever
George Washington is, he is doing his duty." His character needed no lapse
of years to shed a glory round it; the envy of contemporary writers left
it stainless, and succeeding historians, with their pens dipped in gall,
have not been able to sully the lustre of a name which is one of the
greatest which that or any age has produced.

This mansion has, however, an added interest, from being the residence of
the poet Longfellow. In addition to his celebrity as a poet, he is one of
the most elegant scholars which America has produced, and, until recently,
held the professorship of modern languages at the neighbouring university
of Cambridge. It would be out of place here to criticise his poetry.
Although it is very unequal and occasionally fantastic, and though in one
of his greatest poems the English language appears to dance in chains in
the hexameter, many of his shorter pieces well upwards from the heart, in
a manner which is likely to ensure durable fame for their author. The
truth, energy, and earnestness of his 'Psalm of Life' and 'Goblet of
Life,' have urged many forward in the fight, to whom the ponderous
sublimity of Milton is a dead language, and the metaphysical lyrics of
Tennyson are unintelligible. It appeared to me, from what I heard, that
his fame is even greater in England than in his own country, where it is
in some danger of being eclipsed by that of Bryant and Lowell. He is
extremely courteous to strangers, and having kindly offered, through a
friend, to show me Cambridge University, I had an opportunity of making
his acquaintance.

I have been frequently asked to describe his personal appearance, and
disappointment has frequently been expressed at the portrait which truth
compels me to give of him. He is neither tall, black-haired, nor pale; he
neither raises his eyes habitually to heaven, nor turns down his shirt-
collar. He does not wear a look of melancholy resignation, neither does he
live in love-gilded poverty, in a cottage embosomed in roses. On the
contrary, he is about the middle height, and is by no means thin. He has
handsome features, merry blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion; he lives in a
large mansion, luxuriously furnished; and, besides having a large fortune,
is the father of six blooming children. In short, his appearance might be
considered jovial, were it not so extremely gentlemanly.

Mr. Longfellow met us at the door, with that urbanity which is so
agreeable a feature in his character, and, on being shown into a very
handsome library, we were introduced to Mrs. Longfellow, a lady of
dignified appearance and graceful manner. She is well known as the _Mary
of Hyperion_; and after a due degree of indignation with the author of
that graceful and poetical book, she rewarded his constancy and devotion
with her hand. The library was panelled in the old style, and a large
collection of books was arranged in recesses in the wall: but the
apartment evidently served the purposes of library and boudoir, for there
were numerous evidences of female taste and occupation. Those who think
that American children are all precocious little men and women would have
been surprised to see the door boisterously thrown open by a little
blooming boy, who scrambled mirthfully upon his father's knee, as though
used to be there, and asked him to whittle a stick for him.

It is not often that the conversation of an author is equal in its way to
his writings, therefore I expected in Mr. Longfellow's case the
disappointment which I did not meet with. He touched lightly on various
subjects, and embellished each with the ease and grace of an accomplished
scholar, and, doubtless in kindly compliment to an English visitor,
related several agreeable reminiscences of acquaintanceships formed with
some of our _literati_ during a brief visit to England. He spoke with much
taste and feeling of European antiquities, and of the absence of them in
the New World, together with the effect produced by the latter upon the
American character. He said that nothing could give him greater pleasure
than a second visit to Europe, but that there were "six obstacles in the
way of its taking place."

With him as a very able _cicerone_ I had the pleasure of visiting
Cambridge University, which reminded me more of England than anything I
saw in America; indeed there are features in which it is not unlike its
English name sake. It has no Newtonian or Miltonian shades, but in another
century the names of those who fill a living age with lustre will have
their memorials among its academic groves. There are several halls of dark
stone or red brick, of venerable appearance, and there are avenues of
stately elms. The library is a fine Gothic edifice, and contains some
valuable manuscripts and illuminated editions of old works. There was a
small copy of the four evangelists, written in characters resembling
print, but so small that it cannot be read without a magnifying glass.
This volume was the labour of a lifetime, and the transcriber completed
his useless task upon his deathbed. While Mr. Longfellow was showing me
some autographs of American patriots, I remarked that as I was showing
some in a Canadian city, a gentleman standing by, on seeing the signature
of the Protector, asked, in the most innocent ignorance, who Oliver
Cromwell was? A lady answered that he was a successful rebel in the olden
time! "If you are asked the question a second time," observed the poet,
who doubtless fully appreciates the greatness of Cromwell, "say that he
was an eminent brewer."

Altogether there is very much both of interest and beauty in Boston and
its environs; and I was repeatedly told that I should have found the
society more agreeable than that of New York. With the exception of visits
paid to the houses of Longfellow and the late Mr. Abbott Lawrence, I did
not see any of the inhabitants of Boston, as I only spent three days in
the neighbourhood; but at Mr. Amy's house I saw what is agreeable in any
country, more especially in a land of transition and change--a happy
American home. The people of this western Athens pride themselves upon the
intellectual society and the number of eminent men which they possess,
among whom may be named Longfellow, Emerson, Lowell, Dana, and Summer. One
of these at least is of the transcendental school. I very much regretted
that I had not more time to devote to a city so rich in various objects of
interest; but the northern winter had already begun, and howling winds and
angry seas warned me that it was time to join my friends at Halifax, who
were desirous to cross the "vexed Atlantic" before the weather became yet
more boisterous.


Origin of the Constitution--The Executive--Congress--Local Legislatures--
The army and navy--Justice--Slavery--Political corruption--The foreign
element--Absence of principle--Associations--The Know-nothings--The Press
and its power--Religion--The Church--The Clergy.

Before concluding this volume it will be proper to offer a few remarks
upon American institutions, and such of their effects as are obvious to a
temporary resident in the States. In apology for my own incompetence, I
must again remind the reader that these are merely surface observations,
offered in accordance with the preface to this work.

The Constitution demands the first notice. When our American colonies
succeeded in throwing off the yoke of England, it became necessary for
them to choose a form of government. No country ever started under such
happy auspices. It had just concluded a successful struggle with one of
the greatest empires in the world; its attitude of independence was
sympathised with by the enthusiastic spirits of Europe, and had even
gained the respect of that upright monarch, who, on receiving the first
ambassador from his revolted colonies, addressed him with these memorable
words:--"I was the last man in England to acknowledge the independence of
America; but, being secured, I shall be the last man in England to violate
it." Thus circumstanced, each of the thirteen States, with the exception
of Rhode Island, sent delegates to Philadelphia to deliberate on the form
of government which should be adopted. This deliberative assembly of a
free people presented a sublime spectacle in the eyes of nations. After
two years of consideration, and considerable differences of opinion, it
was decided that the monarchical traditions of the Old World were effete
and obsolete; and accordingly a purely Republican Constitution was
promulgated, under which the United States have become a rich and powerful
nation. It is gratifying to an English person to know that the
Constitution of the States was derived in great measure from that of
England, enlarged, and divested of those which were deemed its
objectionable features. The different States had previously possessed
local assemblies, and governors, and the institutions connected with
slavery; the last remain to this day in pretty much the same state as when
they were bequeathed by England to America. Washington entered upon the
office of President in 1789, and discharged its duties, as he did those of
every other station, with that high-souled and disinterested patriotism
which render him as worthy to be imitated as admired.

There are three authorities, the President, the Senate, and the House of
Representatives, all elected by the people; thus their acts are to a
certain extent expressive of the popular will.

The President is elected by universal suffrage, once in four years. He
receives a salary of 5000_l._ per annum, and is assisted by five
secretaries, who, with two other executive officers, are paid at the rate
of 1600_l._ a-year.

This officer has considerable power and enormous patronage. He makes
treaties, which merely require the ratification of the Senate; he grants
pardons, and may place his veto on the acts of the two other estates,
provided that they have not been returned by two-thirds of the members of
the respective houses.

There are sixty-two Senators, or two from each State. These are elected by
the local legislatures for a term of six years, and one-third of the
number retire every two years. Each Senator must be thirty years of age;
he must be a resident of the State which he represents, and he must have
been naturalised for nine years.

The Lower House, or House of Representatives, is perhaps the most purely
popular body in the world. The members are elected for two years by
universal suffrage, that is, by the votes of all the free male citizens of
America who have attained the age of 21. Each member of the Lower House
must have been naturalised for seven years, and he must have passed the
age of 25. Population has been taken as the basis of representation, in
the following very simple manner. The number of Representatives was fixed
by Act of Congress at 233, although a new one has recently been added for
California. The aggregate representative population (by the last decennial
enumeration, 21,767,673) is taken, and divided by 233; and the quotient,
rejecting fractions, is the ratio of apportionment among the several
States. The representative population of each State is then ascertained,
and is divided by the above named ratio, and the quotient gives the number
of representatives to each State. The State of New York, being the most
populous, possesses 33 representatives; two of the States, namely,
Delaware and Florida, require no more than one each. On a rough
calculation, each member represents about 90,000 persons. The two houses
together are named Congress, and the members of both receive 32_s._ per
diem for their attendance, without deduction in case of sickness, in
addition to travelling expenses. All measures of legislation and taxation
must receive the approval of the President and the Congress, the majority
in Congress representing the popular will. Every State has its assembly
and governor, and to a certain extent has power to make its own laws. The
members of these assemblies, the governors of the States, and the mayors
and municipal officers of the cities, are all elected by universal

No system of direct taxation is adopted in the States, except for local
purposes. The national revenue is derived from customs duties, on many
articles so high as to amount to protective duties; from the sale of wild
lands; and from one or two other sources. The annual revenue of the
country is about 12,000,000_l._, and the expenditure is under the income.
The state officials are rather poorly paid. The chief ambassadors do not
receive more than 1800_l._ per annum, and the chief justice, whose duties
are certainly both arduous and responsible, only receives a salary of
1000_l._ a year. The principal items of expenditure are connected with the
army and navy, and the officers in both these services are amply
remunerated. The United States navy is not so powerful as might be
expected from such a maritime people. There are only twelve ships of the
line and twelve first class frigates, including receiving-ships and those
on the stocks.

The standing army consists of 10,000 men, and is regarded with some
jealousy by the mass of the people. The pay in this branch of the service
varies from that of a major-general, which is 1000_l._ a year, to that of
a private, which is about 1_s._ 6_d._ a day. This last is larger than it
appears, as it is not subject to the great deductions which are made from
that of an English soldier. The real military strength of America consists
of an admirably trained militia force of about 2,200,000 men, supported at
an enormous expense. This large body is likely to prove invincible for
defensive purposes, as it is composed of citizens trained to great skill
as marksmen, and animated by the strongest patriotism; but it is to be
hoped that it also furnishes a security against an offensive war on a
large scale, as it is scarcely likely that any great number of men would
abandon their business and homes for any length of time for aggressive

The highest court of law in the United States is the Supreme Court, which
holds one annual session at Washington. It is composed of a chief justice
and eight associate justices, and is the only power not subjected directly
or indirectly to the will of the people. The United States are divided
into nine judicial circuits, in each of which a Circuit Court is held
twice a year by a justice of the Supreme Court, assisted by the district
judge of the State in which the court sits. There is, however, a great
weakness both about the Executive and the administration of justice, the
consequence of which is, that, when a measure is placed upon the statute-
book which is supposed to be obnoxious to any powerful class, a _league_
is formed by private individuals for the purpose of enforcing it, or in
some cases it would become a dead letter. The powerful societies which are
formed to secure the working of the "_Maine Law_" will occur at once to
English readers.

Each State possesses a distinct governmental machinery of its own,
consisting of a Governor, a Senate, and a House of Representatives. The
Governor is elected by a majority of the votes of the male citizens for a
term of years, varying in different States from one to four. The Senators
are elected for like periods, and the Representatives are chosen for one
or two years. The largest number of Representatives for any one State is

Nearly all power in the United States is held to a great extent on popular
sufferance; it emanates from the will of the majority, no matter how
vicious or how ignorant that majority may be. In some cases this leads to
a slight alteration of the Latin axiom, _Salus populi est suprema lex_,
which may be read, "the _will_ of the people is the supreme law." The
American constitution is admirable in theory; it enunciates the
incontrovertible principle, "All men are free and equal." But
unfortunately, a serious disturbing element, and one which by its indirect
effects threatens to bring the machinery of the Republic to a "dead lock,"
appears not to have entered into the calculations of these political

This element is slavery, which exists in fifteen out of thirty-one states,
and it is to be feared that by a recent act of the legislature the power
to extend it is placed in the hands of the majority, should that majority
declare for it, in the new States. The struggle between the advocates of
freedom and slavery is now convulsing America; it has already led to
outrage and bloodshed in the State of Kansas, and appearances seem to
indicate a prolonged and disastrous conflict between the North and South.
The question is one which cannot be passed over by any political party in
the States. Perhaps it may not be universally known in England that
slavery is a part of the ratified Constitution of the States, and that the
Government is bound to maintain it in its integrity. Its abolition must be
procured by an important change in the constitution, which _would_ shake,
and _might_ dislocate, the vast and unwieldy Republic. Each State, I
believe, has it in its power to abolish slavery within its own limits, but
the Federal Government has no power to introduce a modification of the
system in any. The federal compact binds the Government "not to meddle
with slavery in the States where it exists, to protect the owners in the
case of runaway slaves, and to defend them in the event of invasion or
domestic violence on account of it." _Thus the rights and property in
slaves of the slaveholders are legally guaranteed to them by the
Constitution of the United States._ At the last census the slaves amounted
to more than 3,000,000, or about an eighth of the population, and
constitute an alien body, neither exercising the privileges nor animated
by the sentiments of the rest of the commonwealth. Slavery at this moment,
as it is the curse and the shame, is also the canker of the Union. By it,
by the very constitution of a country which proudly boasts of freedom,
three millions of intelligent and responsible beings are reduced to the
level of mere property--property legally reclaimable, too, in the Free
States by an act called the Fugitive Slave Act. That there are
slaveholders amiable, just, and humane, there is not a doubt; but slavery
in its practice as a system deprives these millions of knowledge, takes
away from them the Bible, keeps a race in heathen ignorance in a Christian
land, denies to the slaves compensation for their labour, the rights of
marriage and of the parental relation, which are respected even among the
most savage nations; it sustains an iniquitous internal slave-trade--it
corrupts the owners, and casts a slur upon the dignity of labour. It acts
as an incubus on public improvement, and vitiates public morals; and it
proves a very formidable obstacle to religion, advancement, and national
unity; and so long as it shall remain a part of the American constitution,
it gives a living lie to the imposing declaration, "All men are free and

Where the whole machinery of government is capable of being changed or
modified by the will of the people while the written constitution remains,
and where hereditary and territorial differences of opinion exist on very
important subjects, it is not surprising that party spirit should run very
high. Where the highest offices in the State are neither lucrative enough
nor permanent enough to tempt ambition--where, in addition, their
occupants are appointed by the President merely for a short term--and
where the highest dignity frequently precedes a lifelong obscurity, the
notoriety of party leadership offers a great inducement to the aspiring.
Party spirit pervades the middle and lower ranks; every man, almost every
woman, belongs to some party or other, and aspires to some political

Any person who takes a prominent part either in local or general politics
is attacked on the platform and by the press, with a fierceness, a
scurrility, and a vulgarity which spare not even the sanctity of private
life. The men of wealth, education, and talent, who have little either to
gain or lose, and who would not yield up any carefully adopted principle
to the insensate clamour of an unbridled populace, stand aloof from public
affairs, with very few exceptions. The men of letters, the wealthy
merchants, the successful in any profession, are not to be met with in the
political arena, and frequently abstain even from voting at the elections.
This indisposition to mix in politics probably arises both from the coarse
abuse which assails public men, and from the admitted inability, under
present circumstances, to stem the tide of corrupt practices, mob-law, and
intimidation, which are placing the United States under a tyranny as
severe as that of any privileged class--the despotism of a turbulent and
unenlightened majority. Numbers are represented _exclusively_, and partly
in consequence, property, character, and stake in the country are the last
things which would be deemed desirable in a candidate for popular favour.

Owing to the extraordinary influx of foreigners, an element has been
introduced which could scarcely have entered into the views of the framers
of the Constitution, and is at this time the great hindrance to its
beneficial working. The large numbers of Irish Romanists who have
emigrated to the States, and whose feelings are too often disaffected and
anti-American, evade the naturalisation laws, and, by surreptitiously
obtaining votes, exercise a most mischievous influence upon the elections.
Education has not yet so permeated the heterogeneous mass of the people as
to tell effectually upon their choice of representatives. The electors are
caught by claptrap, noisy declamation, and specious promises, coupled with
laudatory comments upon the sovereign people. As the times for the
elections approach, the candidates of the weaker party endeavour to obtain
favour and notoriety by leading a popular cry. The declamatory vehemence
with which certain members of the democratic party endeavoured to fasten a
quarrel upon England at the close of 1855 is a specimen of the political
capital which is too often relied upon in the States.

The enormous numbers of immigrants who annually acquire the rights of
citizenship, without any other qualification for the franchise than their
inability to use it aright, by their ignorance, turbulence, and often by
their viciousness, tend still further to degrade the popular assemblies.
It is useless to speculate upon the position in which America would be
without the introduction of this terrible foreign element; it may be
admitted that the republican form of government has not had a fair trial;
its present state gives rise to serious doubts in the minds of many
thinking men in the States, whether it can long continue in its present

The want of the elements of permanency in the Government keeps many
persons from entering into public life; and it would appear that merit and
distinguished talent, when accompanied by such a competence as renders a
man independent of the emoluments of office, are by no means a passport to
success. The stranger visiting the United States is surprised with the
entire absence of gentlemanly feeling in political affairs. They are
pervaded by a coarse and repulsive vulgarity; they are seldom alluded to
in the conversation of the upper classes; and the ruling power in this
vast community is in danger of being abandoned to corrupt agitators and
noisy charlatans. The President, the Members of Congress, and to a still
greater extent the members of the State Legislatures, are the _delegates_
of a tyrannical majority rather than the _representatives_ of the people.
The million succeeds in exacting an amount of cringing political
subserviency, in attempting to obtain which, in a like degree, few despots
have been successful.

The absence of a property qualification, the short term for which the
representatives are chosen, and the want, in many instances, of a
pecuniary independence among them, combined with a variety of other
circumstances, place the members of the Legislatures under the direct
control of the populace; they are its servile tools, and are subject to
its wayward impulses and its proverbial fickleness; hence the remarkable
absence of any fixed line of policy. The public acts of America are
isolated; they appear to be framed for the necessities of the moment,
under the influence of popular clamour or pressure; and sometimes seem
neither to recognise engagements entered into in the past, or the probable
course of events in the future. America does not possess a traditional
policy, and she does not recognise any broad and well-defined principle as
the rule for her conduct. The national acts of spoliation or meanness
which have been sanctioned by the Legislature may be distinctly traced to
the manner in which the primary elections are conducted. It is difficult,
if not impossible, for the European governments to do more than guess at
the part which America will take on any great question--whether, in the
event of a collision between nations, she will observe an impartial
neutrality, or throw the weight of her influence into the scale of liberty
or despotism.

It is to be feared that political morality is in a very low state. The
ballot secures the electors from even the breath of censure by making them
irresponsible; few men dare to be independent. The plea of expediency is
often used in extenuation of the grossest political dishonesty. To obtain
political favour or position a man must stoop very low; he must cultivate
the good will of the ignorant and the vicious; he must excite and minister
to the passions of the people; he must flatter the bad, and assail the
honourable with unmerited opprobrium. While he makes the assertion that
his country has a monopoly of liberty, the very plan which he is pursuing
shows that it is fettered by mob rule. No honourable man can use these
arts, which are, however, a high-road to political eminence. It is
scarcely necessary to remark upon the effect which is produced in society
generally by this political corruption.

The want of a general and high standard of morality is very apparent. That
dishonesty which is so notoriously and often successfully practised in
political life is not excluded from the dealings of man with man.

It is jested about under the name of "smartness," and commended under that
of "cuteness," till the rule becomes of frequent and practical
application, that the disgrace attending a dishonourable transaction lies
only in its detection,--that a line of conduct which custom has sanctioned
in public life cannot be very blameable in individual action.

While the avenues to distinction in public life are in great measure
closed against men of honour, wealth offers a sure road to eminence, and
the acquisition of it is the great object followed. It is often sought and
obtained by means from which considerations of honesty and morality are
omitted; but there is not, as with us, that righteous censorship of public
opinion which brands dishonesty with infamy, and places the offender
apart, in a splendid leprosy, from the society to which he hoped wealth
would be a passport. If you listen to the conversation in cars,
steamboats, and hotels, you become painfully impressed with the absence of
moral truth which pervades the country. The success of Barnum, the immense
popularity of his infamous autobiography, and the pride which large
numbers feel in his success, instance the perverted moral sense which is
very much the result of the absence of principle in public life; for the
example of men in the highest positions in a state must influence the
masses powerfully either for good or evil. A species of moral obliquity
pervades a large class of the community, by which the individuals
composing it are prevented from discerning between truth and falsehood,
except as either tends to their own personal aggrandisement. Thus truth is
at a fearful discount, and men exult in successful roguery, as though a
new revelation had authorised them to rank it among the cardinal virtues.

These remarks apply to a class, unfortunately a very numerous one, of the
existence of which none are more painfully conscious than the good among
the Americans themselves. Of the upper class of merchants,
manufacturers, shipbuilders, &c., it would be difficult to speak too
highly. They have acquired a world-wide reputation for their uprightness,
punctuality, and honourable dealings in all mercantile transactions.

The oppression which is exercised by a tyrant majority is one leading
cause of the numerous political associations which exist in the States.
They are the weapons with which the weaker side combats the numerically
superior party. When a number of persons hit upon a grievance, real or
supposed, they unite themselves into a society, and invite delegates from
other districts. With a celerity which can scarcely be imagined,
declarations are issued and papers established advocating party views;
public meetings are held, and a complete organization is secured, with
ramifications extending all over the country. A formidable and compact
body thus arises, and it occasionally happens that such a society,
originating in the weakness of a minority, becomes strong enough to
dictate a course of action to the Executive.

Of all the associations ever formed, none promised to exercise so
important an influence as that of the Know-nothings, or the American
party. It arose out of the terrific spread of a recognised evil--namely,
the power exercised upon the Legislature by foreigners, more especially by
the Irish Romanists. The great influx of aliens, chiefly Irish and
Germans, who speedily or unscrupulously obtain the franchise, had caused
much alarm throughout the country. It was seen that the former, being
under the temporal and spiritual domination of their priests, and through
them under an Italian prince, were exerting a most baneful influence upon
the republican institutions of the States. Already in two or more States
the Romanists had organised themselves to interfere with the management of
the public schools. This alarm paved the way for the rapid extension of
the new party, which first made its appearance before men's eyes with a
secret organization and enormous political machinery. Its success was
unprecedented. Favoured by the secresy of the ballot, it succeeded in
placing its nominees in all the responsible offices in several of the
States. Other parties appeared paralysed, and men yielded before a
mysterious power of whose real strength they were in complete ignorance.
The avowed objects of the Know-nothings were to establish new
naturalization laws, prohibiting any from acquiring the franchise without
a residence of twenty-one years in the States--to procure the exclusion of
Romanists from all public offices--to restore the working of the
constitution to its original purity--and to guarantee to the nation
religious freedom, a free Bible, and free schools; in fact, to secure to
_Americans_ the right which they are in danger of ceasing to possess--
namely, that of governing themselves.

The objects avowed in the preliminary address were high and holy; they
stirred the patriotism of those who writhed under the tyranny of an
heterogeneous majority, while the mystery of nocturnal meetings, and a
secret organization, conciliated the support of the young and ardent. For
a time a hope was afforded of the revival of a pure form of republican
government, but unfortunately the Know-nothing party contained the
elements of dissolution within itself. Some of its principles savoured of
intolerance, and of persecution for religious opinions, and it ignored the
subject of slavery. This can never be long excluded from any party
consideration, and, though politicians strive to evade it, the question
still recurs, and will force itself into notice. Little more than a year
after the Know-nothings were first heard of, they came into collision with
the subject, in the summer of 1855, and, after stormy dissensions at their
great convention, broke up into several branches, some of which totally
altered or abandoned the original objects of their association.

Their triumph was brief: some of the States in which they were the most
successful have witnessed their signal overthrow, [Footnote: At several of
the state elections at the close of 1855 the Know-nothings succeeded in
placing their nominees in public offices, partly by an abandonment of some
of their original aims.] and it is to be feared that no practical good
will result from their future operations. But the good cause of
constitutional government in America is not lost with their failure--
public opinion, whenever it shall be fairly appealed to, will declare
itself in favour of truth and order; the conservative principle, though
dormant, is yet powerful; and, though we may smile at republican
inconsistencies, and regret the state into which republican government has
fallen, it is likely that America contains the elements of renovation
within herself, and will yet present to the world the sublime spectacle of
a free people governing itself by just laws, and rejoicing in the purity
of its original republican institutions.

The newspaper press is one of the most extraordinary features in the
United States. Its influence is omnipresent. Every party in religion,
politics, or morals, speaks, not by one, but by fifty organs; and every
nicely defined shade of opinion has its voices also. Every town of large
size has from ten to twenty daily papers; every village has its three or
four; and even a collection of huts produces its one "daily," or two or
three "weeklies." These prints start into existence without any fiscal
restrictions: there is neither stamp nor paper duty. Newspapers are not a
luxury, as with us, but a necessary of life. They vary in price from one
halfpenny to threepence, and no workman who could afford his daily bread
would think of being without his paper. Hundreds of them are sold in the
hotels at breakfast-time; and in every steamer and railway car, from the
Atlantic ocean to the western prairies, the traveller is assailed by
newsboys with dozens of them for sale. They are bought in hundreds
everywhere, and are greedily devoured by men, women, and children. Almost
as soon as the locality of a town is chosen, a paper starts into life,
which always has the effect of creating an antagonist.

The newspapers in the large cities spare no expense in obtaining, either
by telegraph or otherwise, the earliest intelligence of all that goes on
in the world. Every item of English news appears in the journals, from the
movements of the court to those of the _literati_; and a weekly summary of
parliamentary intelligence is always given. Any remarkable law proceedings
are also succinctly detailed. It follows, that a dweller at Cincinnati or
New Orleans is nearly as well versed in English affairs as a resident of
Birmingham, and English politics and movements in general are very
frequent subjects of conversation. Since the commencement of the Russian
war the anxiety for English intelligence has increased, and every item of
Crimean or Baltic news, as recorded in the letters of the "special
correspondents," is reprinted in the American papers without abridgment,
and is devoured by all classes of readers. The great fault of most of
these journals is their gross personality; even the privacy of domestic
life is invaded by their Argus-eyed scrutiny. The papers discern
everything, and, as everybody reads, no current events, whether in
politics, religion, or the world at large, are unknown to the masses. The
contents of an American paper are very miscellaneous. Besides the news of
the day, it contains congressional and legal reports, exciting fiction,
and reports of sermons, religious discussions, and religious
anniversaries. It prys into every department of society, and informs its
readers as to the doings and condition of all.

Thus every party and sect has a daily register of the most minute sayings
and doings, and proceedings and progress of every other sect; and as truth
and error are continually brought before the masses, they have the
opportunity to know and compare. There are political parties under the
names of Whigs, Democrats, Know-nothings, Freesoilers, Fusionists,
Hunkers, Woolly-heads, Dough-faces, Hard-shells, Soft-shells, Silver-
greys, and I know not what besides; all of them extremely puzzling to the
stranger, but of great local significance. There are about a hundred so-
called religious denominations, from the orthodox bodies and their
subdivisions to those professing the lawless fanaticism of Mormonism, or
the chilling dogmas of Atheism. All these parties have their papers, and
each "movement" has its organ. The "Woman's Right Movement" and the
"Spiritual Manifestation Movement" have several.

There is a continual multiplication of papers, corresponding, not only to
the increase of population, but to that of parties and vagaries. The
increasing call for editors and writers brings persons into their ranks
who have neither the education nor the intelligence to fit them for so
important an office as the _irresponsible guidance_ of the people. They
make up for their deficiencies in knowledge and talent by fiery and
unprincipled partisanship, and augment the passions and prejudices of
their readers instead of placing the truth before them. The war carried on
between papers of opposite principles is something perfectly terrific. The
existence of many of these prints depends on the violent passions which
they may excite in their supporters, and frequently the editors are men of
the most unprincipled character. The papers advocating the opinions of the
different religious denominations are not exempt from the charge of
personalities and abusive writing. No discord is so dread as that carried
on under the cloak of religion, and religious journalism in the States is
on a superlatively bitter footing.

But evil as is, to a great extent, the influence exercised by the press,
terrible as is its scrutiny, and unlimited as is its power, destitute of
principle as it is in great measure, it has its bright as well as its dark
side. Theories, opinions, men, and things, are examined into and sifted
until all can understand their truth and error. The argument of antiquity
or authority is exploded and ridiculed, and the men who seek to sustain
antiquated error on the foundation of effete tradition are compelled to
prove it by scripture or reason. Yet such are the multitudinous and
tortuous ways in which everything is discussed, that multitudes of persons
who have neither the leisure nor ability to reflect for themselves know
not what to believe, and there is a very obvious absence of attachment to
clear and strongly defined principles. The great circulation which the
newspapers enjoy may be gathered, without giving copious statistics, from
the fact that one out of the many New York journals has a circulation of
187,000 copies. [Footnote: There are now about 400 daily newspapers in the
States: their aggregate circulation is over 800,000 copies. There are 2217
weekly papers, with an aggregate circulation of 3,100,057 copies; and the
total aggregate circulation of all the prints is about 5,400,000 copies.
In one year about 423,000,000 copies of newspapers were printed and
circulated.] The _New York Tribune_ may be considered the "leading
journal" of America, but it adheres to one set of principles, and Mr.
Horace Greely, the editor, has the credit of being a powerful advocate of
the claims of morality and humanity.

It is impossible for a stranger to form any estimate of the influence
really possessed by religion in America. I saw nothing which led me to
doubt the assertion made by persons who have opportunities of forming an
opinion, that "America and Scotland are the two most religious countries
in the world."

The Sabbath is well observed, not only, as might be expected, in the New
England States, but in the large cities of the Union; and even on the
coasts of the Pacific the Legislature of California has passed an act for
its better observance in that State. It is probable that, in a country
where business pursuits and keen competition are carried to such an
unheard-of extent, all classes feel the need of rest on the seventh day,
and regard the Sabbath as a physical necessity. The churches of all
denominations are filled to overflowing; the proportion of communicants to
attendants is very large; and the foreign missions, and other religious
societies, are supported on a scale of remarkable liberality.

There is no established church or dominant religious persuasion in the
States. There are no national endowments; all are on the same footing, and
live or die as they obtain the suffrages of the people. While the State
does not recognise any one form of religion, it might be expected that she
would assist the ministers of all. Such is not the case; and, though
Government has wisely thought it necessary to provide for the education of
the people, it has not thought it advisable to make any provision for the
maintenance of religion. Every one worships after his own fashion; the
sects are numerous and subdivided; and all enjoy the blessings of a
complete religious toleration.

Strange sects have arisen, the very names of which are scarcely known in
England, and each has numerous adherents. It may be expected that
fanaticism would run to a great height in the States. Among the 100
different denominations which are returned in the census tables, the
following designations occur: Mormonites, Antiburgers, Believers in God,
Children of Peace, Disunionists; Danian, Democratic Gospel, and Ebenezer
Socialists; Free Inquirers, Inspired Church, Millerites, Menonites, New
Lights, Perfectionists, Pathonites, Pantheists, Tunkards, Restorationists,
Superalists, Cosmopolites, and hosts of others.

The clergy depend for their salaries upon the congregations for whom they
officiate, and upon private endowments. The total value of church property
in the United States is estimated at 86,416,639 dollars, of which one-half
is owned in the States of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The
number of churches, exclusive of those in the newly-organised territories,
is about 38,000. There is one church for every 646 of the population. The
voluntary system is acted upon by each denomination, though it is slightly
modified in the Episcopalian church. In it, however, the bishops are
elected, the clergy are chosen by the people, and its affairs are
regulated by a convention. It is the oldest of the denominations, and is
therefore entitled to the first notice.

It has 38 bishops, 1714 ministers, and 105,350 communicants. It has 1422
churches, and its church property is estimated at 11,261,970 dollars. A
large number of the educated and wealthy are members of this body. Its
formularies, with the exception of some omissions and alterations, are the
same as those of the Church of England. Some of its bishops are men of
very high attainments. Dr. McIlvaine, the Bishop of Ohio, is a man of
great learning and piety, and is well known in England by his theological

The Methodists are the largest religious body in America. As at home, they
have their strong sectional differences, but they are very useful, and are
particularly acceptable to the lower orders of society, and among the
coloured population. They possess 12,467 churches, 8389 ministers, and
1,672,519 communicants, and the value of their church property exceeds
14,000,000 dollars.

The Presbyterians are perhaps the most important of the religious bodies,
as regards influence, education, and wealth. Their stronghold is in New
England. They have 7752 congregations, 5807 ministers, and 680,021
communicants. Their church property is of the value of 14,000,000 dollars.

The Baptists are very numerous. They have 8181 churches, 8525 ministers,
1,058,754 communicants, and church property to the amount of 10,931,382

The Congregationalists possess 1674 churches, 1848 ministers, and 207,609
communicants. Their property is of the value of 7,973,962 dollars.

The Roman Catholics possessed at the date of the last census 1112
churches, and church property to the amount of 9,000,000 dollars.

There is church accommodation for about 14,000,000 persons, or
considerably more than half the population. There are 35,000 Sabbath
schools, with 250,000 teachers, and 2,500,000 scholars. Besides the large
number of churches, religious services are held in many schools and
courthouses, and even in forests and fields. The dissemination of the
Bible is on the increase. In last year the Bible Society distributed
upwards of 11,000,000 copies. The Society for Religious Publications
employed 1300 colporteurs, and effected sales during the year to the
amount of 526,000 dollars. The principal of the religious societies are
for the observance of the sabbath, for temperance, anti-slavery objects,
home missions, foreign missions, &c. The last general receipts of all
these societies were 3,053,535 dollars.

In the State of Massachusetts the Unitarians are a very influential body,
numbering many of the most intellectual and highly educated of the
population. These, however, are divided upon the amount of divinity with
which they shall invest our Lord.

The hostile spirit which animates some of the religious journals has been
already noticed. There is frequently a good deal of rivalry between the
members of the different sects; but the way in which the ministers of the
orthodox denominations act harmoniously together for the general good is
one of the most pleasing features in America. The charitable religious
associations are on a gigantic scale, and are conducted with a liberality
to which we in England are strangers. The foreign missions are on a
peculiarly excellent system, and the self-denying labours and zeal of
their missionaries are fully recognised by all who have come in contact
with them. No difficulty is experienced in obtaining money for these
objects; it is only necessary to state that a certain sum is required,
and, without setting any begging machinery to work, donations exceeding
the amount flow in from all quarters.

Altogether it would appear from the _data_ which are given that the
religious state of America is far more satisfactory than could be expected
from so heterogeneous a population. The New England States possess to a
great extent the externals of religion, and inherit in a modified degree
the principles of their Puritan ancestors; and the New Englanders have
emigrated westward in large numbers, carrying with them to the newly
settled States the leaven of religion and morality. The churches of every
denomination are crowded, and within my observation by as many gentlemen
as ladies; but that class of aspiring spirits, known under the name of
"_Young America_," boasts a perfect freedom from religious observances of
every kind.

There is a creed known by the name of Universalism, which is a compound of
Antinomianism with several other forms of error, and embraces tens of
thousands within its pale. It often verges upon the most complete
Pantheism, and is very popular with large numbers of the youth of America.

There is a considerable amount of excitement kept up by the religious
bodies in the shape of public re-unions, congregational _soirees_, and the
like, producing a species of religious dissipation, very unfavourable, I
should suppose, to the growth of true piety. This system, besides aiding
the natural restlessness of the American character, gives rise to a good
deal of spurious religion, and shortens the lives and impairs the
usefulness of the ministers by straining and exhausting their physical

To the honour of the clergy of the United States it must be observed that
they keep remarkably clear from party-politics, contrasting in this
respect very favourably with the priests of the Church of Rome, who throw
the weight of their influence into the scale of extreme democracy and
fanatical excesses. The unity of action which their ecclesiastical system
ensures to them makes their progressive increase much to be deprecated.

It is owing in great measure to the efforts of the ministers of religion
that the unbending principles of truth and right have any hold upon the
masses; they are ever to be found on the side of rational and
constitutional liberty in its extreme form, as opposed to licence and
anarchy; and they give the form of practical action to the better feelings
of the human mind. Amid the great difficulties with which they are
surrounded, owing to the want of any fixed principles of right among the
masses, they are ever seeking to impress upon the public mind that the
undeviating laws of morality and truth cannot be violated with impunity
any more by millions than by individuals, and that to nations, as to
individuals, the day of reckoning must sooner or later arrive.

The voluntary system in religion, as it exists in its unmodified form in
America, has one serious attendant evil. Where a minister depends for his
income, not upon the contributions to a common fund, as is the case in the
Free Church of Scotland, but upon the congregation unto which he
ministers, his conscience is to a dangerous extent under the power of his
hearers. In many instances his uncertain pecuniary relations with them
must lead him to slur over popular sins, and keep the unpalatable
doctrines of the Bible in the background, practically neglecting to convey
to fallen and wicked man his Creator's message, "Repent, and believe the
Gospel." It has been found impossible in the States to find a just medium
between state-support, and the apathy which in the opinion of many it has
a tendency to engender, and an unmodified voluntary system, with the
subservience and "high-pressure" which are incidental to it.

Be this as it may, the clergy of the United States deserve the highest
honour for their high standard of morality, the fervour of their
ministrations, the zeal of their practice, and their abstinence from


General remarks continued--The common schools--Their defect--Difficulties
--Management of the schools--The free academy--Railways--Telegraphs--
Poverty--Literature--Advantages for emigrants--Difficulties of emigrants--
Peace or war--Concluding observations.

At a time when the deficiencies of our own educational system are so
strongly felt, it may be well to give an outline of that pursued in the
States. The following statistics, taken from the last census, show that
our Transatlantic brethren have made great progress in moral and
intellectual interests.

At the period when the enumeration was made there were 80,958 public
schools, with 91,966 teachers, and 2,890,507 scholars; 119 colleges, with
11,903 students; 44 schools of theology; 36 schools of medicine; and 16
schools of law. Fifty millions of dollars were annually spent for
education, and the proportion of scholars to the community was as 1 to 5.

But it is to the common-school system that the attention should be
particularly directed. I may premise that it has one unavoidable defect,
namely, the absence of religious instruction. It would be neither possible
nor right to educate the children in any denominational creed, or to
instruct them in any particular doctrinal system, but would it not, to
take the lowest ground, be both prudent and politic to give them a
knowledge of the Bible, as the only undeviating rule and standard of truth
and right? May not the obliquity of moral vision, which is allowed to
exist among a large class of Americans, be in some degree chargeable to
those who have the care of their education--who do not place before them,
as a part of their instruction, those principles of truth and morality,
which, as revealed in Holy Scripture, lay the whole universe under
obligations to obedience? History and observation alike show the little
influence practically possessed by principles destitute of superior
authority, how small the restraint exercised by conscience is, and how far
those may wander into error who once desert "Life's polar star, the fear
of God." In regretting the exclusion of religious instruction from the
common-school system, the difficulties which beset the subject must not be
forgotten, the multiplicity of the sects, and the very large number of
Roman Catholics. In schools supported by a rate levied indiscriminately on
all, to form a course of instruction which could bear the name of a
religious one, and yet meet the views of all, and clash with the
consciences and prejudices of none, was manifestly impossible. The
religious public in the United States has felt that there was no tenable
ground between thorough religious instruction and the broadest toleration.
Driven by the circumstances of their country to accept the latter course,
they have exerted themselves to meet this omission in the public schools
by a most comprehensive Sabbath-school system. But only a portion of the
children under secular instruction in the week attend these schools; and
it must be admitted that to bestow intellectual culture upon the pupils,
without giving them religious instruction, is to draw forth and add to the
powers of the mind, without giving it any helm to guide it; in other
words, it is to increase the capacity, without diminishing the propensity,
to do evil.

Apart from this important consideration, the educational system pursued in
the States is worthy of the highest praise, and of an enlightened people
in the nineteenth century. The education is conducted at the public
expense, and the pupils consequently pay no fees. Parents feel that a free
education is as much a part of the birthright of their children as the
protection which the law affords to their life and property.

The schools called common schools are supported by an education rate, and
in each State are under the administration of a general board of
education, with local boards, elected by all who pay the rate. In the
State of Massachusetts alone the sum of 921,532 dollars was raised within
the year, being at the rate of very nearly a dollar for every inhabitant.
Under the supervision of the General Board of Education in the State,
schools are erected in districts according to the educational necessities
of the population, which are periodically ascertained by a census.

To give some idea of the system adopted, I will just give a sketch of the
condition of education in the State of New York, as being the most
populous and important.

There is a "state tax," or "appropriation," of 800,000 dollars, and this
is supplemented by a rate levied on real and personal property. Taking as
an authority the return made to the Legislature for the year ending in
1854, the total sum expended for school purposes within the State amounted
to 2,469,248 dollars. The total number of children in the organised
districts of the State was 1,150,532, of whom 862,935 were registered as
being under instruction. The general management of education within the
State is vested in a central board, with local boards in each of the
organised districts, to which the immediate government and official
supervision of the schools are intrusted.

The system comprises the common schools, with their primary and upper
departments, a normal school for the preparation of teachers, and a free
academy. In the city of New York there are 224 schools in the receipt of
public money, of which 25 are for coloured children, and the number of
pupils registered is given at 133,813. These common or ward schools are
extremely handsome, and are fitted up at great expense, with every modern
improvement in heating and ventilation. Children of every class, residing
within the limits of the city, are admissible without payment, as the
parents of all are supposed to be rated in proportion to their means.

There is a principal to each school, assisted by a numerous and efficient
staff of teachers, who in their turn are expected to go through a course
of studies at the Normal School. The number of teachers required for these
schools is very great, as the daily attendance in two of them exceeds
2000. The education given is so very superior, and habits of order and
propriety are so admirably inculcated, that it is not uncommon to see the
children of wealthy storekeepers side by side with those of working
mechanics. In each school there is one large assembly-room, capable of
accommodating from 500 to 1000 children, and ten or twelve capacious
class-rooms. Order is one important rule, and, that it may be acted upon,
there is no overcrowding--the pupils being seated at substantial mahogany
desks only holding two.

The instruction given comprises all the branches of a liberal education,
with the exception of languages. There is no municipal community out of
America in which the boon of a first-rate education is so freely offered
to all as in the city of New York. There is no child of want who may not
freely receive an education which will fit him for any office in his
country. The common school is one of the glories of America, and every
citizen may be justly proud of it. It brings together while in a pliant
condition the children of people of different origins; and besides
diffusing knowledge among them, it softens the prejudices of race and
party, and carries on a continual process of assimilation.

The Board of Education of New York has lately thrown open several of these
schools in the evening, and with very beneficial results. The number of
pupils registered last year was 9313. Of these, 3400 were above the age of
16 and under 21, and 1100 were above the age of 21. These evening-schools
entailed an additional expense of 17,563 dollars; the whole expenditure
for school purposes in the city being 430,982 dollars. In the ward and
evening schools of New York, 133,000 individuals received instruction.
Each ward, or educational district, elects 2 commissioners, 2 inspectors,
and 8 trustees. The duties of the inspectors are very arduous, as the
examinations are frequent and severe.

The crowning educational advantage offered by this admirable system is the
Free Academy. This academy receives its pupils solely from the common
schools. Every person presenting himself as a candidate must be more than
13 years of age, and, having attended a common school for 12 months, he
must produce a certificate from the principal that he has passed a good
examination in spelling, reading, writing, English grammar, arithmetic,
geography, elementary book-keeping, history of the United States, and
algebra. This institution extends to the pupils in the common schools the
advantage of a free education in those higher departments of learning
which cannot be acquired without considerable expense in any other
college. The yearly examination of candidates for admission takes place
immediately after the common school examinations in July. There are at
present nearly 600 students under the tuition of 14 professors, and as
many tutors as may be required. The course of study extends over a period
of 5 years, and is very complete and severe. Owing to the principle
adopted in their selection, the pupils, representing every social and
pecuniary grade in society, present a very high degree of scholarship and
ability. In this academy the vestiges of antagonism between the higher and
lower classes are swept away. Indeed, the poor man will feel that he has a
greater interest in sustaining this educational system than the rich,
because he can only obtain through it those advantages for his children
which the money of the wealthy can procure from other sources. He will be
content with his daily toil, happy in the thought that, by the wise
provision of his government, the avenues to fame, preferment, and wealth,
are opened as freely to his children as to those of the richest citizen in
the land.

In order to secure a supply of properly qualified teachers, the Board of
Education has established a normal school, which numbers about 400 pupils.
Most of these are assistant-teachers in the common schools, and attend the
normal school on Saturdays, to enable themselves to obtain further
attainments, and higher qualifications for their profession.

Under this system of popular education, the average cost per scholar for 5
years, including books, stationery, fuel, and all other expenses, is 7
dollars 2 cents per annum. This system of education is followed in nearly
all the States; and while it reflects the highest credit on America, it
contrasts strangely with the niggard plan pursued in England, where so
important a thing as the education of the people depends almost entirely
on precarious subscriptions and private benevolence.

With a gratuitous and comprehensive educational system, it may excite some
surprise that the citizens of New York and other of the populous cities
are compelled to supplement the common schools with those for the
shoeless, the ragged, and the vicious, very much on the plan of our Scotch
and English ragged-schools. Already the large cities of the New World are
approximating to the condition of those in the Old, in producing a
subsidence or deposit of the drunken, the dissolute, the vicious, and the
wretched. With parents of this class, education for their offspring is
considered of no importance, and the benevolent founders of these schools
are compelled to offer material inducements to the children to attend, in
the shape of food and clothing. At these schools, in place of the cleanly,
neat, and superior appearance of the children in the common schools, dirt,
rags, shoeless feet, and pallid, vicious, precocious countenances are to
be seen. Nothing destroys so effectually the external distinguishing
peculiarities of race as the habit of evil. There is a uniformity of
expression invariably produced, which is most painful. These children are
early taught to look upon virtue only as a cloak to be worn by the rich.
This dangerous and increasing class in New York is composed almost
entirely of foreign immigrants. The instruction in these schools is given
principally by ladies of high station and education. It is a noble feature
in New York "high life," and in process of time may diminish the gulf
which is widening between the different classes, and may lessen the
hideous contrasts which are presented between princely fortunes on the one
hand, and vicious poverty on the other.

Taking the various schools throughout the Union, it is estimated that
between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 individuals are at this time receiving

To turn from the social to the material features of the United States:
their system of internal communication deserves a brief notice, for by it
their resources have been developed to a prodigious extent. The system of
railways, telegraphs, and canal and river navigation presents an
indication of the wealth and advancement of the United States, as
wonderful as any other feature of her progress. She contains more miles of
railway than all the rest of the world put together.

In a comparatively new country like America many of the items of expense
which attend the construction of railways in England are avoided; the
initiatory expenses are very small. In most of the States, all that is
necessary is, for the company to prove that it is provided with means to
carry out its scheme, when it obtains a charter from the Legislature at a
very small cost. In several States, including the populous ones of New
York and Ohio, no special charter is required, as a general railway law
prescribes the rules to be observed by joint-stock companies. Materials,
iron alone excepted, are cheap, and the right of way is usually freely
granted. In the older States land would not cost more than 20_l._ an acre.
Wood frequently costs nothing more than the labour of cutting it, and the
very level surface of the country renders tunnels, cuttings, and
embankments generally unnecessary. The average cost per mile is about
38,000 dollars, or 7600_l._

In States where land has become exceedingly valuable, land damages form a
heavy item in the construction of new lines, but in the South and West the
case is reversed, and the proprietors are willing to give as much land as
may be required, in return for having the resources of their localities
opened up by railway communication. It is estimated that the cost of
railways in the new States will not exceed 4000_l._ per mile. The termini
are plain, and have been erected at a very small expense, and many of the
wayside stations are only wooden sheds. Few of the lines have a double
line of rails, and the bridges or viaducts are composed of logs of wood,
with little ironwork and less paint, except in a few instances. Except
where the lines intersect cultivated districts, fences are seldom seen,
and the paucity of porters and other officials materially reduces the
working expenses. The common rate of speed is from 22 to 30 miles an hour,
but there are express trains which are warranted to perform 60 in a like
period. The fuel is very cheap, being billets of wood. The passenger and
goods traffic on nearly all the lines is enormous, and it is stated that
most of them pay a dividend of from 8 to 15 per cent.

The primary design has been to connect the sea-coast with all parts of the
interior, the ulterior is to unite the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. At the
present time there are about 25,000 miles of railway in operation and
course of construction, and the average rate of fare is seldom more than
1_d._ per mile. Already the chief cities of the Atlantic have been
connected with the vast valley of the Mississippi, and before long the
regions bordering on Lake Huron and Lake Superior will be united with
Mobile and New Orleans. In addition to this enormous system of railway
communication, the canal and river navigation extends over 10,000 miles,
and rather more than 3000 steamboats float on American waters alone.

The facilities for telegraphic communication in the States are a further
evidence of the enterprise of this remarkable people. They have now 22,000
miles of telegraph in operation, and the cost of transmitting messages is
less than a halfpenny a word for any distance under 200 miles. The cost of
construction, including every outlay, is about 30_l._ per mile. The wires
are carried along the rail ways, through forests, and across cities,
rivers, and prairies. Messages passing from one very distant point to
another have usually to be re-written at an intermediate station; though
by an improved plan they have been transmitted direct from New York to
Mobile, a distance of 1800 miles. By the Cincinnati telegraphic route to
New Orleans, a distance from New York of 2000 miles, the news brought by
the British steamer to Sandy Hook at 8 in the morning has been telegraphed
to New Orleans, and before 11 o'clock the effects produced by it upon
speculations there have been returned to New York--the message
accomplishing a distance of 4000 miles in three hours. The receipts are
enormous, for, in consequence of the very small sum charged for
transmitting messages, as many as 600 are occasionally sent along the
principal lines in one day. The seven principal morning papers in New York
paid in one year 50,000 dollars for despatches, and 14,000 for special
messages. Messages connected with markets, public news, the weather, and
the rise and fall of stocks, are incessantly passing between the great
cities. Any change in the weather likely to affect the cotton-crop is
known immediately in the northern cities. While in the Exchange at Boston,
I witnessed the receipt of a telegraphic despatch announcing that a heavy
shower was falling at New Orleans!

It must not be supposed that there is no poverty in the New World. During
one year 134,972 paupers were in the receipt of relief, of whom 59,000
were in the State of New York; but to show the evil influence of the
foreign, more especially the Irish, element in America, it is stated that
75 per cent. of the criminals and paupers are foreigners.

The larger portion of the crime committed is done under the influence of
spirits; and to impose a check upon their sale, that celebrated enactment,
known under the name of the "_Maine Law_" has been placed upon the
statute-books of several of the States, including the important ones of
New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Nebraska. This law
prohibits, under heavy penalties, the manufacture or sale of alcoholic
liquors. It has been passed in obedience to the will of the people, as
declared at the elections; and though to us its provisions seem somewhat
arbitrary, its working has produced very salutary effects.

When so much importance is attached to education, and such a liberal
provision is made for it, it is to be expected that a taste for reading
would be universally diffused. And such is the case: America teems with
books. Every English work worth reading is reprinted in a cheap form in
the States as soon as the first copy crosses the Atlantic. Our reviews and
magazines appear regularly at half price, and Dickens' 'Household Words'
and 'Chambers' Journal' enjoy an enormous circulation without any
pecuniary benefit being obtained by the authors. Every one reads the
newspapers and 'Harper's Magazine,' and every one buys bad novels, on
worse paper, in the cars and steamboats. The States, although amply
supplied with English literature, have many popular authors of their own,
among whom may be named Prescott, Bancroft, Washington Irving, Stowe,
Stephens, Wetherall, Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, and Bryant. Books are
very cheap wherever the editions of English works are concerned, and a
library is considered an essential part of the fitting up of a house. In
many of the States there are public libraries supported by a rate. In the
State of New York, in the year ending 1854, the Commissioners of Education
received 90,579 dollars for libraries.

Perhaps the greatest advantage offered to emigrants is the opportunity
everywhere afforded of investing small sums of money advantageously. In
England, in most branches of trade, the low rate of wages renders it
impossible for the operative to save any portion of his earnings; and even
when he is able to do so, he can rarely obtain a higher rate of interest
for his money than that which the savings-banks offer. Economise as he
may, his hard-won savings seldom are sufficient to afford him a provision
in old age. In America, on the contrary, the man who possesses 5_l._ or
10_l._ has every hope of securing a competence. He may buy land in newly-
settled districts, which sometimes can be obtained at 7_s._ an acre, and
hold it till it becomes valuable, or he may obtain a few shares in any
thriving corporate concern. A hundred ways present themselves to the man
of intelligence and industry by which he may improve and increase his
little fortune. The necessaries of life are abundant and cheap, and, aided
by a free education, he has the satisfaction of a well-grounded hope that
his children will rise to positions of respectability and affluence, while
his old age will be far removed from the pressure of want. The knowledge
that each shilling saved may produce ten or twenty by judicious investment
is a constant stimulus to his industry.

Yet, from all that I have seen and heard, I should think that Canada West
offers a more advantageous field for emigrants. Equally free and
unburdened by taxation, with the same social and educational advantages,
with an increasing demand for labour of every kind, with a rich soil,
extraordinary facilities of communication, and a healthy climate,
pauperism is unknown; fluctuations in commercial affairs are comparatively
small, and, above all, the emigrant is not exposed to the loss of
everything which he possesses as soon as he lands.

An infamous class of swindlers, called "emigrant-runners," meet the poor
adventurer on his arrival at New York. They sell him second-class tickets
at the price of first-class, forged passes, and tickets to take him 1000
miles, which are only available at the outside for 200 or 300. If he holds
out against their extortions, he is beaten, abused, loses his luggage for
a time, or is transferred to the tender mercies of the boarding-house
keeper, who speedily deprives him of his hard-earned savings. These
runners retard the westward progress of the emigrant in every way; they
charge enormous rates for the removal of his luggage from the wharf; they
plunder him in railway-cars, in steamboats, in lodging-houses; and if
Providence saves him from sinking into drunkenness and despair, and he can
be no longer detained, they sell him a lot in some non-existent locality,
or send him off to the west in search of some pretended employment. Too
frequently, after the emigrant has lost his money and property, sickened
by disappointment and deserted by hope, he is content to remain at New
York, where he contributes to increase that "dangerous class" already so
much feared in the Empire City.

One point remains to be noticed, and that is, the feeling which exists in
America towards England. Much has been done to inflame animosity on each
side; national rivalries have been encouraged, and national jealousies
fomented. In travelling through the United States I expected to find a
very strong anti-English feeling. In this I was disappointed. It is true
that I scarcely ever entered a car, steamboat, or hotel, without hearing
England made a topic of discussion in connexion with the war; but, except
on a few occasions in the West, I never heard any other than kindly
feelings expressed towards our country. A few individuals would
prognosticate failure and disaster, and glory in the anticipation of a
"busting-up;" but these were generally "Kurnels" of militia, or newly-
arrived Irish emigrants. These last certainly are very noisy enemies, and
are quite ready to subscribe to the maxim, "That wherever England
possesses an interest, there an American wrong exists." Some of the papers
likewise write against England in no very measured terms; but it must be
borne in mind that declamatory speaking and writing are the safety-valves
of a free community, and the papers from which our opinion of American
feeling is generally taken do not represent even a respectable minority in
the nation. American commercial interests are closely interwoven with-
ours, and "Brother Jonathan" would not lightly go against his own
interests by rushing into war on slight pretences.

While I was dining at an hotel in one of the great American cities a
gentleman proposed to an English friend of his to drink "Success to Old
England." Nearly two hundred students of a well-known college were
present, and one of them begged to join in drinking the toast on behalf of
his fellow-students. "For," he added, "we, in common with the educated
youth of America, look upon England as upon a venerated mother." I have
frequently heard this sentiment expressed in public places, and have often
heard it remarked that kindly feeling towards England is on the increase
in society.

The news of the victory of the Alma was received with rejoicing; the
heroic self-sacrifice of the cavalry at Balaklava excited enthusiastic
admiration; and the glorious stand at Inkermann taught the Americans that
their aged parent could still defend the cause of freedom with the vigour
of youth. The disasters of the winter, and the gloomy months of inaction
which succeeded it, had the effect of damping their sympathies; the
prophets of defeat were for a time triumphant, and our fading prestige,
and reputed incapacity, were made the subjects of ill-natured discussion
by the press. But when the news of the fall of Sebastopol arrived, the
tone of the papers changed, and, relying on the oblivious memories of
their readers, they declared that they had always prophesied the
demolition of Russia. The telegraphic report of the victory was received
with rejoicing, and the ship which conveyed it to Boston was saluted with
thirty-one guns by the States artillery.

The glory of the republic is based upon its advanced social principles and
its successful prosecution of the arts of peace. As the old military
despotisms cannot compete with it in wealth and enlightenment, so it
attempts no competition with them in standing armies and the arts of war.
National vanity is a failing of the Americans, and, if their military
prowess had never been proved before, they might seek to display it on
European soil; but their successful struggle with England in the War of
Independence renders any such display unnecessary. The institutions of the
States do not date from the military ages of the world, and the Federal
Constitution has made no provision for offensive war. The feeling of the
educated classes, and of an immense majority in the Free States, is
believed to be essentially English. Despotism and freedom can never unite;
and whatever may be the declamations of the democratic party, the opinion
of those who are acquainted with the state of popular feeling is that, if
the question were seriously mooted, a war with England or a Russian
alliance would secure to the promoters of either the indignation and
contempt which they would deserve. It is earnestly to be hoped, and I
trust that it may be believed, that none of us will live to see the day
when two nations, so closely allied by blood, religion, and the love of
freedom, shall engage in a horrible and fratricidal war.

Such of the foregoing remarks as apply to the results of the vitiation of
the pure form of republican government delivered to America by Washington,
I have hazarded with very great diffidence. In England we know very little
of the United States, and, however candid the intentions of a tourist may
be, it is difficult in a short residence in the country so completely to
throw off certain prejudices and misapprehensions as to proceed to the
delineation of its social characteristics with any degree of fairness and
accuracy. The similarity of language, and to a great extent of customs and
manners, renders one prone rather to enter into continual comparisons of
America with England than to look at her from the point from which she
really ought to be viewed--namely, _herself_. There are, however, certain
salient points which present themselves to the interested observer, and I
have endeavoured to approach these in as candid a spirit as possible, not
exaggerating obvious faults, where there is so much to commend and admire.

The following remarks were lately made to me by a liberal and enlightened
American on the misapprehensions of British observers:--"The great fault
of English travellers in this land very often is that they see all things
through spectacles which have been graduated to the age and narrow local
dimensions of things in England; and because things here are new, and all
that is good, instead of being concentrated into a narrow space so as to
be seen at one glance, is widely diffused so as not to be easily gauged--
because, in other words, it is the spring here and not the autumn, and our
advance has the step of youth instead of the measured walk of age; and
because our refinements have not the precise customs to which they have
been accustomed at home, they turn away in mighty dissatisfaction. There
are excellences in varieties, and things which differ may both be good."


The _America_--A gloomy departure--An ugly night--Morning at Halifax--Our
new passengers--Babies--Captain Leitch--A day at sea--Clippers and
steamers--A storm--An Atlantic moonlight--Unpleasant sensations--A gale--

On reaching Boston I found that my passage had been taken in the Cunard
steamer _America_, reputed to be the slowest and wettest of the whole
line. Some of my kind American friends, anxious to induce me to remain for
the winter with them, had exaggerated the dangers and discomforts of a
winter-passage; the December storms, the three days spent in crossing the
Newfoundland Banks, steaming at half-speed with fog-bells ringing and
foghorns blowing, the impossibility of going on deck, and the
disagreeableness of being shut up in a close heated saloon. It was with
all these slanders against the ship fresh in my recollection that I saw
her in dock on the morning of my leaving America, her large, shapeless,
wall-sided hull looming darkly through a shower of rain. The friends who
had first welcomed me to the States accompanied me to the vessel,
rendering my departure from them the more regretful, and scarcely had I
taken leave of them when a gun was fired, the lashings were cast off, and
our huge wheels began their ceaseless revolutions.

It was in some respects a cheerless embarkation. The Indian summer had
passed away; the ground was bound by frost; driving showers of sleet were
descending; and a cold, howling, wintry wind was sweeping over the waters
of Massachusetts Bay. We were considerably retarded between Boston and
Halifax by contrary winds. I had retired early to my berth to sleep away
the fatigues of several preceding months, and was awoke about midnight by
the most deafening accumulation of sounds which ever stunned my ears. I
felt that I was bruised, and that the berth was unusually hard and cold;
and, after groping about in the pitch-darkness, I found that I had been
thrown out of it upon the floor, a fact soon made self-evident by my being
rolled across the cabin, a peculiarly disagreeable course of locomotion.
It was impossible to stand or walk, and in crawling across to my berth I
was assailed by my portmanteau, which was projected violently against me.
Further sleep for some hours was impossible. Bang! bang! would come a
heavy wave against the ship's side, close to my ears, as if trying the
strength of her timbers. Crash! crash! as we occasionally shipped heavy
seas, would the waves burst over the lofty bulwarks, and with a fall of
seven feet at once come thundering down on the deck above. Then one sound
asserted its claim to be heard over all the others--a sound as if our
decks were being stove--a gun or some other heavy body had broken loose,
and could not be secured. The incessant groaning, splitting, and heaving,
and the roar of the water through the scuppers, as it found a tardy egress
from the deluged deck, was the result of merely a "head-wind" and "an ugly

Late on the second evening of our voyage, I walked on deck. It was the
"fag-end" of a gale, and the rain was pouring down upon the slippery
planks. Brightly a skyrocket whizzed upwards from a distant ship, and
burst in a shower of flame, followed by two others, signalling our old
acquaintance the _Canada_, bound from Liverpool to Boston. We sent up some
fireworks in return, and soon lost sight of the friendly light on her
paddle-box. She was the only ship that we saw till we reached the Irish

With some of the other passengers, I was on deck at five in the morning,
to see the lights on the heads of Halifax harbour. It was dark and
intensely cold and wet. A shower of rain had frozen on deck during the
night, and as it began to melt the water ran off in little sooty rills.
Slowly, shivering figures came on deck, men in envelopes of fur, and
oilskin capes and coats, with teeth chattering with cold, with wrinkled
brows, and blue cold noses. And slowly lightened the clear eastern sky,
and the crescent moon and stars disappeared one by one, and gradually the
low pine-clad hills of Nova Scotia stood out in dark relief against the
light, when, all of a sudden, "like a glory, the broad sun" rose behind
the purple moorlands, and soon hill and town and lake-like bay were bathed
in the cold glow of a winter sunrise. It was now half-past seven--the
morning-gun had boomed from the citadel, and, in honour of such an
important event as the arrival of the European steamer, it might have been
supposed that the inhabitants of the quiet town of Halifax would have been
astir. In this idea a Scotch friend and I stepped ashore with the
intention of visiting an Indian curiosity-shop. In dismal contrast to the
early habits which prevail in the American cities, where sleep is yielded
to as a necessity, instead of being indulged in as a luxury, we found the
shops closed, and, except the people immediately connected with the
steamer, none were stirring in the streets but ragged negroes and squalid-
looking Indians. A few 'cute enterprising Yankees would soon metamorphose
the aspect of this city. As an arrogant American once observed to me, "It
would take a 'Blue Nose' (a Nova-Scotian) as long to put on his hat as for
one of our free and enlightened citizens to go from Bosting to New
_Orleens_." The appearance of the town was very repulsive. A fall of snow
had thawed, and mixing with the dust, store-sweepings, cabbage-stalks,
oyster-shells, and other rubbish, had formed a soft and peculiarly
penetrating mixture from three to seven inches deep.

Eighteen passengers joined the _America_ at Halifax, and among them I was
delighted to welcome my cousins, a party of seven, _en route_ from Prince
Edward Island to England. The two babies which accompanied them were
rather dreaded in prospect, but I believe that their behaviour gained them
general approbation. As dogs are not allowed on the poop or in the saloon,
a well-conditioned baby is rather a favourite in a ship; gentlemen of
amiable dispositions give it plenty of nursing and tossing, and stewards
regard it with benignant smiles, and occasionally offer it "titbits"
purloined from dinner.

Among the passengers who joined us at Halifax were Captain Leitch, and
three of the wrecked officers of the steamship _City of Philadelphia_,
which was lost on Cape Race three months before. Captain Leitch is a
remarkable-looking man, very like the portraits of the Count of Monte
Christo. His heroism and presence of mind on the occasion of that terrible
disaster were the means of saving the lives of six hundred people, many of
whom were women and children. When the ship struck, the panic among this
large number of persons was of course awful; but so perfect was the
discipline of the crew, and so great their attachment to their commander,
that not a cabin-boy left the ship in that season of apprehension without
his permission. Captain Leitch said that he would be the last man to quit
the ship, and he kept his word; but the excitement, anxiety, and
subsequent exposure to cold and fatigue, more especially in his search
after the survivors of the ill-fated Arctic, brought on a malady from
which he was severely suffering.

We had only sixty passengers on board, and the party was a remarkably
quiet one. There was a gentleman going to Paris as American consul, a
daily, animated, and untiring advocate of slavery; a Jesuit missionary, of
agreeable manners and cultivated mind, on his way to Rome to receive an
episcopal hat; two Jesuit brethren; five lively French people; and the
usual number of commercial travellers, agents, and storekeepers,
principally from Canada. There were very few ladies, and only three
besides our own party appeared in the saloon. For a few days after leaving
Halifax we had a calm sea and fair winds, accompanied with rain; and with
the exception of six unhappy passengers who never came upstairs during the
whole voyage, all seemed well enough to make the best of things.

A brief description of the daily routine on board these ships may serve to
amuse those who have never crossed the Atlantic, and may recall agreeable
or disagreeable recollections, as the case may be, to those who have.

During the first day or two those who are sea-sick generally remain
downstairs, and those who are well look sentimentally at the receding
land, and make acquaintances with whom they walk five or six in a row,
bearing down isolated individuals of anti-social habits. After two or
three days have elapsed, people generally lose all interest in the
novelty, and settle down to such pursuits as suit them best. At eight in
the morning the dressing-bell rings, and a very few admirable people get
up, take a walk on deck, and appear at breakfast at half-past eight. But
to most this meal is rendered a superfluity by the supper of the night
before--that condemned meal, which everybody declaims against, and
everybody partakes of. However, if only two or three people appear, the
long tables are adorned profusely with cold tongue, ham, Irish stew,
mutton-chops, broiled salmon, crimped cod, eggs, tea, coffee, chocolate,
toast, hot rolls, &c. &c.! These viands remain on the table till half-past
nine. After breakfast some of the idle ones come up and take a promenade
on deck, watch the wind, suggest that it has changed a little, look at the
course, ask the captain for the fiftieth time when he expects to be in
port, and watch the heaving of the log, when the officer of the watch
invariably tells them that the ship is running a knot or two faster than
her real speed, giving a glance of intelligence at the same time to some
knowing person near. Many persons who are in the habit of crossing twice
a-year begin cards directly after breakfast, and, with only the
interruption of meals, play till eleven at night. Others are equally
devoted to chess; and the commercial travellers produce small square books
with columns for dollars and cents, cast up their accounts, and bite the
ends of their pens. A bell at twelve calls the passengers to lunch from
their various lurking-places, and, though dinner shortly succeeds this
meal, few disobey the summons. There is a large consumption of pale ale,
hotch-potch, cold beef, potatoes, and pickles. These pickles are of a
peculiarly brilliant green, but, as the forks used are of electro-plate,
the daily consumption of copper cannot be ascertained.

At four all the tables are spread; a bell rings--that "tocsin of the
soul," as Byron has sarcastically but truthfully termed the dinner-bell;
and all the passengers rush in from every quarter of the ship, and seat
themselves with an air of expectation till the covers are raised. Grievous
disappointments are often disclosed by the uplifted dish-covers, for it
must be confessed that to many people dinner is the great event of the
day, to be speculated upon before, and criticised afterwards. There is a
tureen of soup at the head of each table, and, as soon as the captain
takes his seat, twelve waiters in blue jackets, who have been previously
standing in a row, dart upon the covers, and after a few minutes of
intense clatter the serious business of eating begins. The stewards serve
with civility and alacrity, and seem to divine your wishes, their good
offices no doubt being slightly stimulated by the vision of a _douceur_ at
the end of the voyage. Long bills of fare are laid on the tables, and good
water, plentifully iced, is served with each meal. Wine, spirits,
liqueurs, and ale are consumed in large quantities, as also soups, fish,
game, venison, meat, and poultry of all kinds, with French side-dishes, a
profusion of jellies, puddings, and pastry, and a plentiful dessert of
fresh and preserved fruits. Many people complain of a want of appetite at
sea, and the number of bottles of "Perrin's Sauce" used in the Cunard
steamers must almost make the fortune of the maker. At seven o'clock the
tea-bell rings, but the tables are comparatively deserted, for from half-
past nine to half-past ten people can order whatever they please in the
way of supper.

In the _America_, as it was a winter-passage, few persons chose to walk on
deck after dinner, consequently the saloon from eight till eleven
presented the appearance of a room at a fashionable hotel. There were two
regularly organised whist-parties, which played rubbers _ad infinitum_.
Cards indeed were played at most of the tables--some played backgammon--a
few would doze over odd volumes of old novels--while three chess-boards
would be employed at a time, for there were ten persons perfectly devoted
to this noble game. The varied employments of the occupants of the saloon
produced a strange mixture of conversations. One evening, while waiting
the slow movements of an opponent at chess, the following remarks in
slightly raised tones were audible above the rest:--"Do you really think
me pretty?--Oh flattering man!--Deuce, ace--Treble, double, and rub--
That's a good hand--Check--It's your play--You've gammoned me--Ay, ay,
sir--Parbleu!--Holloa! steward, whisky-toddy for four--I totally despise
conventionalisms--Checkmate--Brandy-punch for six--You've thrown away all
your hearts"--and a hundred others, many of them demands for something
from the culinary department. Occasionally a forlorn wight, who neither
played chess nor cards, would venture on deck to kill time, and return
into the saloon panting and shivering, in rough surtout and fur cap,
bringing a chilly atmosphere with him, voted a bore for leaving the door
open, and totally unable to induce people to sympathise with him in his
complaints of rain, cold, or the "ugly night." By eleven the saloon used
to become almost unbearable, from the combined odours of roast onions,
pickles, and punch, and at half-past the lights were put out, and the
company dispersed, most to their berths, but some to smoke cigars on deck.

Though the Cunard steamers are said by English people to be as near
perfection as steamers can be, I was sorry not to return in a clipper.
There is something so exhilarating in the motion of a sailing-vessel,
always provided she is neither rolling about in a calm, lying to in a
gale, or beating against a head-wind. She seems to belong to the sea, with
her tall tapering masts, her cloud of moving canvas, and her buoyant
motion over the rolling waves. Her movements are all comprehensible, and
_above-board_ she is invariably clean, and her crew are connected in one's
mind with nautical stories which charmed one in the long-past days of
youth. A steamer is very much the reverse. "Sam Slick," with his usual
force and aptitude of illustration, says that "she goes through the water
like a subsoil-plough with an eight-horse team." There is so much noise
and groaning, and smoke and dirt, so much mystery also, and the ship
leaves so much commotion in the water behind her. There do not seem to be
any regular sailors, and in their stead a collection of individuals
remarkably greasy in their appearance, who may be cooks or stokers, or
possibly both. Then you cannot go on the poop without being saluted by a
whiff of hot air from the grim furnaces below; men are always shovelling
in coal, or throwing cinders overboard; and the rig does not seem to
belong to any ship in particular. The masts are low and small, and the
canvas, which is always spread in fair weather, looks as if it had been
trailed along Cheapside on a wet day. In the _America_ it was not such a
very material assistance either; for on one occasion, when we were running
before a splendid breeze under a crowd of sail, the engines were stopped
and the log heaved, which only gave our speed at three miles an hour. One
lady passenger had been feeding her mind with stories of steamboat
explosions in the States, and spent her time in a morbid state of terror
by no means lessened by the close proximity of her state-room to the
dreaded engine.

On the sixth day after leaving Halifax the wind, which everybody had been
hoping for or fearing, came upon us at last, and continued increasing for
three days, when, if we had been beating against it, we should have called
it a hurricane. It was, however, almost directly aft, and we ran before it
under sail. The sky during the two days which it lasted was perfectly
cloudless, and the sea had that peculiar deep, clear, greenish-blue tint
only to be met with far from land. There was a majesty, a sublimity about
the prospect from the poop exceeding everything which I had ever seen.
_There_ was the mighty ocean showing his power, and _here_ were we poor
insignificant creatures overcoming him by virtue of those heaven sent arts
by which man

"Has made fire, flood, and earth,
The vassals of his will."

I had often read of mountain waves, but believed the comparison to be a
mere figure of speech till I saw them here, all glorious in their beauty,
under the clear blue of a December sky. Two or three long high hills of
water seemed to fill up the whole horizon, themselves an aggregate of a
countless number of leaping, foam-capped waves, each apparently large
enough to overwhelm a ship. Huge green waves seemed to chase us, when,
just as they reached the stern, the ship would lift, and they would pass
under her. She showed especial capabilities for rolling. She would roll
down on one side, the billows seeming ready to burst in foam over her,
while the opposite bulwark was fifteen or eighteen feet above the water,
displaying her bright green copper. The nights were more glorious than the
days, when the broad full moon would shed her light upon the water with a
brilliancy unknown in our foggy clime. It did not look like a wan flat
surface, placed flat upon a watery sky, but like a large radiant sphere
hanging in space. The view from the wheel-house was magnificent. The
towering waves which came up behind us heaped together by mighty winds,
looked like hills of green glass, and the phosphorescent light like fiery
lamps within--the moonlight glittered upon our broad foamy wake--our masts
and spars and rigging stood out in sharp relief against the sky, while for
once our canvas looked white. Far in the distance the sharp bow would
plunge down into the foam, and then our good ship, rising, would shake her
shiny sides, as if in joy at her own buoyancy. The busy hum of men marred
not the solitary sacredness of midnight on the Atlantic. The moon "walked
in brightness," auroras flashed, and meteors flamed, and a sensible
presence of Deity seemed to pervade the transparent atmosphere in which we
were viewing "the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep."

I could scarcely understand how this conjunction of circumstances could
produce any but agreeable sensations; but it is a melancholy fact that the
saloon emptied and the state-rooms filled, and the number of promenaders
daily diminished. People began to find the sea "an unpleasant fact." I
heard no more Byronic quotations about its "glad waters," or comments on
the "splendid run"--these were changed into anxious questions as to when
we should reach Liverpool? and, if we were in danger? People querulously
complained of the ale, hitherto their delight; abused the meat; thought
the mulligatawny "horrid stuff;" and wondered how they could ever have
thought plum-puddings fit for anything but pigs. Mysterious disappearances
were very common; diligent peripatetics were seen extended on sofas, or
feebly promenading under shelter of the bulwarks; while persons who prided
themselves on their dignity sustained ignominious falls, or clung to
railings in a state of tottering decrepitude, in an attempted progress
down the saloon. Though we had four ledges on the tables, cruets, bottles
of claret, and pickles became locomotive, and jumped upon people's laps;
almost everything higher than a plate was upset--pickles, wine, ale, and
oil forming a most odoriferous mixture; but these occurrences became too
common to be considered amusing. Two days before reaching England the gale
died away, and we sighted Cape Clear at eight o'clock on the evening of
the eleventh day out. A cold chill came off from the land, we were
enveloped in a damp fog, and the inclemency of the air reminded us of what
we had nearly forgotten, namely, that we were close upon Christmas.

The greater part of Sunday we were steaming along in calm water, within
sight of the coast of Ireland, and extensive preparations were being made
for going ashore--some people of sanguine dispositions had even decided
what they would order for dinner at the _Adelphi_. Morning service was
very fully attended, and it was interesting to hear the voices of people
of so many different creeds and countries joining in that divinely-taught
prayer which proclaims the universal brotherhood of the human race,
knowing that in a few hours those who then met in adoration would be
separated, to meet no more till summoned by the sound of the last trumpet.

Those who expected to spend Sunday night on shore were disappointed. A
gale came suddenly on us about four o'clock, sails were hastily taken in,
orders were hurriedly given and executed, and the stewards were in
despair, when a heavy lurch of the ship threw most of the things off the
table before dinner, mingling cutlery, pickles, and broken glass and
china, in one chaotic heap on the floor. As darkness came on, the gale
rose higher, the moon was obscured, the rack in heavy masses was driving
across the stormy sky, and scuds of sleet and spray made the few venturous
persons on deck cower under the nearest shelter to cogitate the lines--

"Nights like these,
When the rough winds wake western seas,
Brook not of glee."

I might dwell upon the fury of that night--upon the awful blasts which
seemed about to sweep the seas of every human work--upon our unanswered
signals--upon the length of time while we were

"Drifting, drifting, drifting,
On the shifting
Currents of the restless main"--

upon the difficulty of getting the pilot on board--and the heavy seas
through which our storm-tossed bark entered the calmer waters of the
Mersey: but I must hasten on.

Night after night had the French and English passengers joined in drinking
with enthusiasm the toast "_La prise de Sebastopol_"--night after night
had the national pride of the representatives of the allied nations
increased, till we almost thought in our ignorant arrogance that at the
first thunder of our guns the defences of Sebastopol would fall, as did
those of Jericho at the sound of the trumpets of Joshua. Consequently,
when the pilot came on board with the newspaper, most of the gentlemen
crowded to the gangway, prepared to give three cheers for the fall of

The pilot brought the news of victory--but it was of the barren victory of
Inkermann. A gloom fell over the souls of many, as they read of our
serried ranks mown down by the Russian fire, of heroic valour and heroic
death. The saloon was crowded with eager auditors as the bloody tidings
were made audible above the roar of winds and waters. I could scarcely
realise the gloomy fact that many of those whom I had seen sail forth in
hope and pride only ten months before were now sleeping under the cold
clay of the Crimea. Three cheers for the victors of Inkermann, and three
for our allies, were then heartily given, though many doubted whether the
heroic and successful resistance of our troops deserved the name of

Soon after midnight we anchored in the Mersey, but could not land till
morning, and were compelled frequently to steam up to our anchors, in
consequence of the fury of the gale. I felt some regret at leaving the
good old steamship _America_, which had borne us so safely across the
"vexed Atlantic," although she rolls terribly, and is, in her admirable
captain's own words, "an old tub, but slow and sure." She has since
undergone extensive repairs, and I hope that the numerous passengers who
made many voyages in her in the shape of rats have been permanently

Those were sacred feelings with which I landed upon the shores of England.
Although there appeared little of confidence in the present, and much of
apprehension for the future, I loved her better when a shadow was upon her
than in the palmy days of her peace and prosperity. I had seen in other
lands much to admire, and much to imitate; but it must not be forgotten
that England is the source from which those streams of liberty and
enlightenment have flowed which have fertilised the Western Continent.
Other lands may have their charms, and the sunny skies of other climes may
be regretted, but it is with pride and gladness that the wanderer sets
foot again on British soil, thanking God for the religion and the liberty
which have made this weather-beaten island in a northern sea to be the
light and glory of the world.

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