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American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens

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'The pistol was one of a pair stolen some days previous from a
baker in Independence, and the legal authorities have the
description of the other.'

'RENCONTRE.

'An unfortunate AFFAIR took place on Friday evening in Chatres
Street, in which one of our most respectable citizens received a
dangerous wound, from a poignard, in the abdomen. From the Bee
(New Orleans) of yesterday, we learn the following particulars. It
appears that an article was published in the French side of the
paper on Monday last, containing some strictures on the Artillery
Battalion for firing their guns on Sunday morning, in answer to
those from the Ontario and Woodbury, and thereby much alarm was
caused to the families of those persons who were out all night
preserving the peace of the city. Major C. Gally, Commander of the
battalion, resenting this, called at the office and demanded the
author's name; that of Mr. P. Arpin was given to him, who was
absent at the time. Some angry words then passed with one of the
proprietors, and a challenge followed; the friends of both parties
tried to arrange the affair, but failed to do so. On Friday
evening, about seven o'clock, Major Gally met Mr. P. Arpin in
Chatres Street, and accosted him. "Are you Mr. Arpin?"

'"Yes, sir."

'"Then I have to tell you that you are a - " (applying an
appropriate epithet).

'"I shall remind you of your words, sir."

'"But I have said I would break my cane on your shoulders."

'"I know it, but I have not yet received the blow."

'At these words, Major Gally, having a cane in his hands, struck
Mr. Arpin across the face, and the latter drew a poignard from his
pocket and stabbed Major Gally in the abdomen.

'Fears are entertained that the wound will be mortal. WE
UNDERSTAND THAT MR. ARPIN HAS GIVEN SECURITY FOR HIS APPEARANCE AT
THE CRIMINAL COURT TO ANSWER THE CHARGE.'

'AFFRAY IN MISSISSIPPI.

'On the 27th ult., in an affray near Carthage, Leake county,
Mississippi, between James Cottingham and John Wilburn, the latter
was shot by the former, and so horribly wounded, that there was no
hope of his recovery. On the 2nd instant, there was an affray at
Carthage between A. C. Sharkey and George Goff, in which the latter
was shot, and thought mortally wounded. Sharkey delivered himself
up to the authorities, BUT CHANGED HIS MIND AND ESCAPED!'

'PERSONAL ENCOUNTER.

'An encounter took place in Sparta, a few days since, between the
barkeeper of an hotel, and a man named Bury. It appears that Bury
had become somewhat noisy, AND THAT THE BARKEEPER, DETERMINED TO
PRESERVE ORDER, HAD THREATENED TO SHOOT BURY, whereupon Bury drew a
pistol and shot the barkeeper down. He was not dead at the last
accounts, but slight hopes were entertained of his recovery.'

'DUEL.

'The clerk of the steamboat TRIBUNE informs us that another duel
was fought on Tuesday last, by Mr. Robbins, a bank officer in
Vicksburg, and Mr. Fall, the editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel.
According to the arrangement, the parties had six pistols each,
which, after the word "Fire!" THEY WERE TO DISCHARGE AS FAST AS
THEY PLEASED. Fall fired two pistols without effect. Mr. Robbins'
first shot took effect in Fall's thigh, who fell, and was unable to
continue the combat.'

'AFFRAY IN CLARKE COUNTY.

'An UNFORTUNATE AFFRAY occurred in Clarke county (MO.), near
Waterloo, on Tuesday the 19th ult., which originated in settling
the partnership concerns of Messrs. M'Kane and M'Allister, who had
been engaged in the business of distilling, and resulted in the
death of the latter, who was shot down by Mr. M'Kane, because of
his attempting to take possession of seven barrels of whiskey, the
property of M'Kane, which had been knocked off to M'Allister at a
sheriff's sale at one dollar per barrel. M'Kane immediately fled
AND AT THE LATEST DATES HAD NOT BEEN TAKEN.

'THIS UNFORTUNATE AFFRAY caused considerable excitement in the
neighbourhood, as both the parties were men with large families
depending upon them and stood well in the community.'

I will quote but one more paragraph, which, by reason of its
monstrous absurdity, may be a relief to these atrocious deeds.

'AFFAIR OF HONOUR.

'We have just heard the particulars of a meeting which took place
on Six Mile Island, on Tuesday, between two young bloods of our
city: Samuel Thurston, AGED FIFTEEN, and William Hine, AGED
THIRTEEN years. They were attended by young gentlemen of the same
age. The weapons used on the occasion, were a couple of Dickson's
best rifles; the distance, thirty yards. They took one fire,
without any damage being sustained by either party, except the ball
of Thurston's gun passing through the crown of Hine's hat. THROUGH
THE INTERCESSION OF THE BOARD OF HONOUR, the challenge was
withdrawn, and the difference amicably adjusted.'

If the reader will picture to himself the kind of Board of Honour
which amicably adjusted the difference between these two little
boys, who in any other part of the world would have been amicably
adjusted on two porters' backs and soundly flogged with birchen
rods, he will be possessed, no doubt, with as strong a sense of its
ludicrous character, as that which sets me laughing whenever its
image rises up before me.

Now, I appeal to every human mind, imbued with the commonest of
common sense, and the commonest of common humanity; to all
dispassionate, reasoning creatures, of any shade of opinion; and
ask, with these revolting evidences of the state of society which
exists in and about the slave districts of America before them, can
they have a doubt of the real condition of the slave, or can they
for a moment make a compromise between the institution or any of
its flagrant, fearful features, and their own just consciences?
Will they say of any tale of cruelty and horror, however aggravated
in degree, that it is improbable, when they can turn to the public
prints, and, running, read such signs as these, laid before them by
the men who rule the slaves: in their own acts and under their own
hands?

Do we not know that the worst deformity and ugliness of slavery are
at once the cause and the effect of the reckless license taken by
these freeborn outlaws? Do we not know that the man who has been
born and bred among its wrongs; who has seen in his childhood
husbands obliged at the word of command to flog their wives; women,
indecently compelled to hold up their own garments that men might
lay the heavier stripes upon their legs, driven and harried by
brutal overseers in their time of travail, and becoming mothers on
the field of toil, under the very lash itself; who has read in
youth, and seen his virgin sisters read, descriptions of runaway
men and women, and their disfigured persons, which could not be
published elsewhere, of so much stock upon a farm, or at a show of
beasts:- do we not know that that man, whenever his wrath is
kindled up, will be a brutal savage? Do we not know that as he is
a coward in his domestic life, stalking among his shrinking men and
women slaves armed with his heavy whip, so he will be a coward out
of doors, and carrying cowards' weapons hidden in his breast, will
shoot men down and stab them when he quarrels? And if our reason
did not teach us this and much beyond; if we were such idiots as to
close our eyes to that fine mode of training which rears up such
men; should we not know that they who among their equals stab and
pistol in the legislative halls, and in the counting-house, and on
the marketplace, and in all the elsewhere peaceful pursuits of
life, must be to their dependants, even though they were free
servants, so many merciless and unrelenting tyrants?

What! shall we declaim against the ignorant peasantry of Ireland,
and mince the matter when these American taskmasters are in
question? Shall we cry shame on the brutality of those who
hamstring cattle: and spare the lights of Freedom upon earth who
notch the ears of men and women, cut pleasant posies in the
shrinking flesh, learn to write with pens of red-hot iron on the
human face, rack their poetic fancies for liveries of mutilation
which their slaves shall wear for life and carry to the grave,
breaking living limbs as did the soldiery who mocked and slew the
Saviour of the world, and set defenceless creatures up for targets!
Shall we whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each
other by the Pagan Indians, and smile upon the cruelties of
Christian men! Shall we, so long as these things last, exult above
the scattered remnants of that race, and triumph in the white
enjoyment of their possessions? Rather, for me, restore the forest
and the Indian village; in lieu of stars and stripes, let some poor
feather flutter in the breeze; replace the streets and squares by
wigwams; and though the death-song of a hundred haughty warriors
fill the air, it will be music to the shriek of one unhappy slave.

On one theme, which is commonly before our eyes, and in respect of
which our national character is changing fast, let the plain Truth
be spoken, and let us not, like dastards, beat about the bush by
hinting at the Spaniard and the fierce Italian. When knives are
drawn by Englishmen in conflict let it be said and known: 'We owe
this change to Republican Slavery. These are the weapons of
Freedom. With sharp points and edges such as these, Liberty in
America hews and hacks her slaves; or, failing that pursuit, her
sons devote them to a better use, and turn them on each other.'

CHAPTER XVIII - CONCLUDING REMARKS

THERE are many passages in this book, where I have been at some
pains to resist the temptation of troubling my readers with my own
deductions and conclusions: preferring that they should judge for
themselves, from such premises as I have laid before them. My only
object in the outset, was, to carry them with me faithfully
wheresoever I went: and that task I have discharged.

But I may be pardoned, if on such a theme as the general character
of the American people, and the general character of their social
system, as presented to a stranger's eyes, I desire to express my
own opinions in a few words, before I bring these volumes to a
close.

They are, by nature, frank, brave, cordial, hospitable, and
affectionate. Cultivation and refinement seem but to enhance their
warmth of heart and ardent enthusiasm; and it is the possession of
these latter qualities in a most remarkable degree, which renders
an educated American one of the most endearing and most generous of
friends. I never was so won upon, as by this class; never yielded
up my full confidence and esteem so readily and pleasurably, as to
them; never can make again, in half a year, so many friends for
whom I seem to entertain the regard of half a life.

These qualities are natural, I implicitly believe, to the whole
people. That they are, however, sadly sapped and blighted in their
growth among the mass; and that there are influences at work which
endanger them still more, and give but little present promise of
their healthy restoration; is a truth that ought to be told.

It is an essential part of every national character to pique itself
mightily upon its faults, and to deduce tokens of its virtue or its
wisdom from their very exaggeration. One great blemish in the
popular mind of America, and the prolific parent of an innumerable
brood of evils, is Universal Distrust. Yet the American citizen
plumes himself upon this spirit, even when he is sufficiently
dispassionate to perceive the ruin it works; and will often adduce
it, in spite of his own reason, as an instance of the great
sagacity and acuteness of the people, and their superior shrewdness
and independence.

'You carry,' says the stranger, 'this jealousy and distrust into
every transaction of public life. By repelling worthy men from
your legislative assemblies, it has bred up a class of candidates
for the suffrage, who, in their very act, disgrace your
Institutions and your people's choice. It has rendered you so
fickle, and so given to change, that your inconstancy has passed
into a proverb; for you no sooner set up an idol firmly, than you
are sure to pull it down and dash it into fragments: and this,
because directly you reward a benefactor, or a public servant, you
distrust him, merely because he is rewarded; and immediately apply
yourselves to find out, either that you have been too bountiful in
your acknowledgments, or he remiss in his deserts. Any man who
attains a high place among you, from the President downwards, may
date his downfall from that moment; for any printed lie that any
notorious villain pens, although it militate directly against the
character and conduct of a life, appeals at once to your distrust,
and is believed. You will strain at a gnat in the way of
trustfulness and confidence, however fairly won and well deserved;
but you will swallow a whole caravan of camels, if they be laden
with unworthy doubts and mean suspicions. Is this well, think you,
or likely to elevate the character of the governors or the
governed, among you?'

The answer is invariably the same: 'There's freedom of opinion
here, you know. Every man thinks for himself, and we are not to be
easily overreached. That's how our people come to be suspicious.'

Another prominent feature is the love of 'smart' dealing: which
gilds over many a swindle and gross breach of trust; many a
defalcation, public and private; and enables many a knave to hold
his head up with the best, who well deserves a halter; though it
has not been without its retributive operation, for this smartness
has done more in a few years to impair the public credit, and to
cripple the public resources, than dull honesty, however rash,
could have effected in a century. The merits of a broken
speculation, or a bankruptcy, or of a successful scoundrel, are not
gauged by its or his observance of the golden rule, 'Do as you
would be done by,' but are considered with reference to their
smartness. I recollect, on both occasions of our passing that ill-
fated Cairo on the Mississippi, remarking on the bad effects such
gross deceits must have when they exploded, in generating a want of
confidence abroad, and discouraging foreign investment: but I was
given to understand that this was a very smart scheme by which a
deal of money had been made: and that its smartest feature was,
that they forgot these things abroad, in a very short time, and
speculated again, as freely as ever. The following dialogue I have
held a hundred times: 'Is it not a very disgraceful circumstance
that such a man as So-and-so should be acquiring a large property
by the most infamous and odious means, and notwithstanding all the
crimes of which he has been guilty, should be tolerated and abetted
by your Citizens? He is a public nuisance, is he not?' 'Yes,
sir.' 'A convicted liar?' 'Yes, sir.' 'He has been kicked, and
cuffed, and caned?' 'Yes, sir.' 'And he is utterly dishonourable,
debased, and profligate?' 'Yes, sir.' 'In the name of wonder,
then, what is his merit?' 'Well, sir, he is a smart man.'

In like manner, all kinds of deficient and impolitic usages are
referred to the national love of trade; though, oddly enough, it
would be a weighty charge against a foreigner that he regarded the
Americans as a trading people. The love of trade is assigned as a
reason for that comfortless custom, so very prevalent in country
towns, of married persons living in hotels, having no fireside of
their own, and seldom meeting from early morning until late at
night, but at the hasty public meals. The love of trade is a
reason why the literature of America is to remain for ever
unprotected 'For we are a trading people, and don't care for
poetry:' though we DO, by the way, profess to be very proud of our
poets: while healthful amusements, cheerful means of recreation,
and wholesome fancies, must fade before the stern utilitarian joys
of trade.

These three characteristics are strongly presented at every turn,
full in the stranger's view. But, the foul growth of America has a
more tangled root than this; and it strikes its fibres, deep in its
licentious Press.

Schools may be erected, East, West, North, and South; pupils be
taught, and masters reared, by scores upon scores of thousands;
colleges may thrive, churches may be crammed, temperance may be
diffused, and advancing knowledge in all other forms walk through
the land with giant strides: but while the newspaper press of
America is in, or near, its present abject state, high moral
improvement in that country is hopeless. Year by year, it must and
will go back; year by year, the tone of public feeling must sink
lower down; year by year, the Congress and the Senate must become
of less account before all decent men; and year by year, the memory
of the Great Fathers of the Revolution must be outraged more and
more, in the bad life of their degenerate child.

Among the herd of journals which are published in the States, there
are some, the reader scarcely need be told, of character and
credit. From personal intercourse with accomplished gentlemen
connected with publications of this class, I have derived both
pleasure and profit. But the name of these is Few, and of the
others Legion; and the influence of the good, is powerless to
counteract the moral poison of the bad.

Among the gentry of America; among the well-informed and moderate:
in the learned professions; at the bar and on the bench: there is,
as there can be, but one opinion, in reference to the vicious
character of these infamous journals. It is sometimes contended -
I will not say strangely, for it is natural to seek excuses for
such a disgrace - that their influence is not so great as a visitor
would suppose. I must be pardoned for saying that there is no
warrant for this plea, and that every fact and circumstance tends
directly to the opposite conclusion.

When any man, of any grade of desert in intellect or character, can
climb to any public distinction, no matter what, in America,
without first grovelling down upon the earth, and bending the knee
before this monster of depravity; when any private excellence is
safe from its attacks; when any social confidence is left unbroken
by it, or any tie of social decency and honour is held in the least
regard; when any man in that free country has freedom of opinion,
and presumes to think for himself, and speak for himself, without
humble reference to a censorship which, for its rampant ignorance
and base dishonesty, he utterly loathes and despises in his heart;
when those who most acutely feel its infamy and the reproach it
casts upon the nation, and who most denounce it to each other, dare
to set their heels upon, and crush it openly, in the sight of all
men: then, I will believe that its influence is lessening, and men
are returning to their manly senses. But while that Press has its
evil eye in every house, and its black hand in every appointment in
the state, from a president to a postman; while, with ribald
slander for its only stock in trade, it is the standard literature
of an enormous class, who must find their reading in a newspaper,
or they will not read at all; so long must its odium be upon the
country's head, and so long must the evil it works, be plainly
visible in the Republic.

To those who are accustomed to the leading English journals, or to
the respectable journals of the Continent of Europe; to those who
are accustomed to anything else in print and paper; it would be
impossible, without an amount of extract for which I have neither
space nor inclination, to convey an adequate idea of this frightful
engine in America. But if any man desire confirmation of my
statement on this head, let him repair to any place in this city of
London, where scattered numbers of these publications are to be
found; and there, let him form his own opinion. (1)

It would be well, there can be no doubt, for the American people as
a whole, if they loved the Real less, and the Ideal somewhat more.
It would be well, if there were greater encouragement to lightness
of heart and gaiety, and a wider cultivation of what is beautiful,
without being eminently and directly useful. But here, I think the
general remonstrance, 'we are a new country,' which is so often
advanced as an excuse for defects which are quite unjustifiable, as
being, of right, only the slow growth of an old one, may be very
reasonably urged: and I yet hope to hear of there being some other
national amusement in the United States, besides newspaper
politics.

They certainly are not a humorous people, and their temperament
always impressed me is being of a dull and gloomy character. In
shrewdness of remark, and a certain cast-iron quaintness, the
Yankees, or people of New England, unquestionably take the lead; as
they do in most other evidences of intelligence. But in travelling
about, out of the large cities - as I have remarked in former parts
of these volumes - I was quite oppressed by the prevailing
seriousness and melancholy air of business: which was so general
and unvarying, that at every new town I came to, I seemed to meet
the very same people whom I had left behind me, at the last. Such
defects as are perceptible in the national manners, seem, to me, to
be referable, in a great degree, to this cause: which has
generated a dull, sullen persistence in coarse usages, and rejected
the graces of life as undeserving of attention. There is no doubt
that Washington, who was always most scrupulous and exact on points
of ceremony, perceived the tendency towards this mistake, even in
his time, and did his utmost to correct it.

I cannot hold with other writers on these subjects that the
prevalence of various forms of dissent in America, is in any way
attributable to the non-existence there of an established church:
indeed, I think the temper of the people, if it admitted of such an
Institution being founded amongst them, would lead them to desert
it, as a matter of course, merely because it WAS established. But,
supposing it to exist, I doubt its probable efficacy in summoning
the wandering sheep to one great fold, simply because of the
immense amount of dissent which prevails at home; and because I do
not find in America any one form of religion with which we in
Europe, or even in England, are unacquainted. Dissenters resort
thither in great numbers, as other people do, simply because it is
a land of resort; and great settlements of them are founded,
because ground can be purchased, and towns and villages reared,
where there were none of the human creation before. But even the
Shakers emigrated from England; our country is not unknown to Mr.
Joseph Smith, the apostle of Mormonism, or to his benighted
disciples; I have beheld religious scenes myself in some of our
populous towns which can hardly be surpassed by an American camp-
meeting; and I am not aware that any instance of superstitious
imposture on the one hand, and superstitious credulity on the
other, has had its origin in the United States, which we cannot
more than parallel by the precedents of Mrs. Southcote, Mary Tofts
the rabbit-breeder, or even Mr. Thorn of Canterbury: which latter
case arose, some time after the dark ages had passed away.

The Republican Institutions of America undoubtedly lead the people
to assert their self-respect and their equality; but a traveller is
bound to bear those Institutions in his mind, and not hastily to
resent the near approach of a class of strangers, who, at home,
would keep aloof. This characteristic, when it was tinctured with
no foolish pride, and stopped short of no honest service, never
offended me; and I very seldom, if ever, experienced its rude or
unbecoming display. Once or twice it was comically developed, as
in the following case; but this was an amusing incident, and not
the rule, or near it.

I wanted a pair of boots at a certain town, for I had none to
travel in, but those with the memorable cork soles, which were much
too hot for the fiery decks of a steamboat. I therefore sent a
message to an artist in boots, importing, with my compliments, that
I should be happy to see him, if he would do me the polite favour
to call. He very kindly returned for answer, that he would 'look
round' at six o'clock that evening.

I was lying on the sofa, with a book and a wine-glass, at about
that time, when the door opened, and a gentleman in a stiff cravat,
within a year or two on either side of thirty, entered, in his hat
and gloves; walked up to the looking-glass; arranged his hair; took
off his gloves; slowly produced a measure from the uttermost depths
of his coat-pocket; and requested me, in a languid tone, to 'unfix'
my straps. I complied, but looked with some curiosity at his hat,
which was still upon his head. It might have been that, or it
might have been the heat - but he took it off. Then, he sat
himself down on a chair opposite to me; rested an arm on each knee;
and, leaning forward very much, took from the ground, by a great
effort, the specimen of metropolitan workmanship which I had just
pulled off: whistling, pleasantly, as he did so. He turned it
over and over; surveyed it with a contempt no language can express;
and inquired if I wished him to fix me a boot like THAT? I
courteously replied, that provided the boots were large enough, I
would leave the rest to him; that if convenient and practicable, I
should not object to their bearing some resemblance to the model
then before him; but that I would be entirely guided by, and would
beg to leave the whole subject to, his judgment and discretion.
'You an't partickler, about this scoop in the heel, I suppose
then?' says he: 'we don't foller that, here.' I repeated my last
observation. He looked at himself in the glass again; went closer
to it to dash a grain or two of dust out of the corner of his eye;
and settled his cravat. All this time, my leg and foot were in the
air. 'Nearly ready, sir?' I inquired. 'Well, pretty nigh,' he
said; 'keep steady.' I kept as steady as I could, both in foot and
face; and having by this time got the dust out, and found his
pencil-case, he measured me, and made the necessary notes. When he
had finished, he fell into his old attitude, and taking up the boot
again, mused for some time. 'And this,' he said, at last, 'is an
English boot, is it? This is a London boot, eh?' 'That, sir,' I
replied, 'is a London boot.' He mused over it again, after the
manner of Hamlet with Yorick's skull; nodded his head, as who
should say, 'I pity the Institutions that led to the production of
this boot!'; rose; put up his pencil, notes, and paper - glancing
at himself in the glass, all the time - put on his hat - drew on
his gloves very slowly; and finally walked out. When he had been
gone about a minute, the door reopened, and his hat and his head
reappeared. He looked round the room, and at the boot again, which
was still lying on the floor; appeared thoughtful for a minute; and
then said 'Well, good arternoon.' 'Good afternoon, sir,' said I:
and that was the end of the interview.

There is but one other head on which I wish to offer a remark; and
that has reference to the public health. In so vast a country,
where there are thousands of millions of acres of land yet
unsettled and uncleared, and on every rood of which, vegetable
decomposition is annually taking place; where there are so many
great rivers, and such opposite varieties of climate; there cannot
fail to be a great amount of sickness at certain seasons. But I
may venture to say, after conversing with many members of the
medical profession in America, that I am not singular in the
opinion that much of the disease which does prevail, might be
avoided, if a few common precautions were observed. Greater means
of personal cleanliness, are indispensable to this end; the custom
of hastily swallowing large quantities of animal food, three times
a-day, and rushing back to sedentary pursuits after each meal, must
be changed; the gentler sex must go more wisely clad, and take more
healthful exercise; and in the latter clause, the males must be
included also. Above all, in public institutions, and throughout
the whole of every town and city, the system of ventilation, and
drainage, and removal of impurities requires to be thoroughly
revised. There is no local Legislature in America which may not
study Mr. Chadwick's excellent Report upon the Sanitary Condition
of our Labouring Classes, with immense advantage.

* * * * * *

I HAVE now arrived at the close of this book. I have little reason
to believe, from certain warnings I have had since I returned to
England, that it will be tenderly or favourably received by the
American people; and as I have written the Truth in relation to the
mass of those who form their judgments and express their opinions,
it will be seen that I have no desire to court, by any adventitious
means, the popular applause.

It is enough for me, to know, that what I have set down in these
pages, cannot cost me a single friend on the other side of the
Atlantic, who is, in anything, deserving of the name. For the
rest, I put my trust, implicitly, in the spirit in which they have
been conceived and penned; and I can bide my time.

I have made no reference to my reception, nor have I suffered it to
influence me in what I have written; for, in either case, I should
have offered but a sorry acknowledgment, compared with that I bear
within my breast, towards those partial readers of my former books,
across the Water, who met me with an open hand, and not with one
that closed upon an iron muzzle.

THE END

POSTSCRIPT

AT a Public Dinner given to me on Saturday the 18th of April, 1868,
in the City of New York, by two hundred representatives of the
Press of the United States of America, I made the following
observations among others:

'So much of my voice has lately been heard in the land, that I
might have been contented with troubling you no further from my
present standing-point, were it not a duty with which I henceforth
charge myself, not only here but on every suitable occasion,
whatsoever and wheresoever, to express my high and grateful sense
of my second reception in America, and to bear my honest testimony
to the national generosity and magnanimity. Also, to declare how
astounded I have been by the amazing changes I have seen around me
on every side, - changes moral, changes physical, changes in the
amount of land subdued and peopled, changes in the rise of vast new
cities, changes in the growth of older cities almost out of
recognition, changes in the graces and amenities of life, changes
in the Press, without whose advancement no advancement can take
place anywhere. Nor am I, believe me, so arrogant as to suppose
that in five and twenty years there have been no changes in me, and
that I had nothing to learn and no extreme impressions to correct
when I was here first. And this brings me to a point on which I
have, ever since I landed in the United States last November,
observed a strict silence, though sometimes tempted to break it,
but in reference to which I will, with your good leave, take you
into my confidence now. Even the Press, being human, may be
sometimes mistaken or misinformed, and I rather think that I have
in one or two rare instances observed its information to be not
strictly accurate with reference to myself. Indeed, I have, now
and again, been more surprised by printed news that I have read of
myself, than by any printed news that I have ever read in my
present state of existence. Thus, the vigour and perseverance with
which I have for some months past been collecting materials for,
and hammering away at, a new book on America has much astonished
me; seeing that all that time my declaration has been perfectly
well known to my publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, that no
consideration on earth would induce me to write one. But what I
have intended, what I have resolved upon (and this is the
confidence I seek to place in you) is, on my return to England, in
my own person, in my own journal, to bear, for the behoof of my
countrymen, such testimony to the gigantic changes in this country
as I have hinted at to-night. Also, to record that wherever I have
been, in the smallest places equally with the largest, I have been
received with unsurpassable politeness, delicacy, sweet temper,
hospitality, consideration, and with unsurpassable respect for the
privacy daily enforced upon me by the nature of my avocation here
and the state of my health. This testimony, so long as I live, and
so long as my descendants have any legal right in my books, I shall
cause to be republished, as an appendix to every copy of those two
books of mine in which I have referred to America. And this I will
do and cause to be done, not in mere love and thankfulness, but
because I regard it as an act of plain justice and honour.'

I said these words with the greatest earnestness that I could lay
upon them, and I repeat them in print here with equal earnestness.
So long as this book shall last, I hope that they will form a part
of it, and will be fairly read as inseparable from my experiences
and impressions of America.

CHARLES DICKENS.

MAY, 1868.

Footnotes:

(1) NOTE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION. - Or let him refer to an able,
and perfectly truthful article, in THE FOREIGN QUARTERLY REVIEW,
published in the present month of October; to which my attention
has been attracted, since these sheets have been passing through
the press. He will find some specimens there, by no means
remarkable to any man who has been in America, but sufficiently
striking to one who has not.

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