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Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope

Part 5 out of 7

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The little bonnets and the large hats were ranged in long rows,
and their stillness was for a long time so unbroken, that I could
hardly persuade myself the figures they surmounted were alive.
At length a grave square man arose, laid aside his ample beaver,
and after another solemn interval of silence, he gave a deep
groan, and as it were by the same effort uttered, "Keep thy
foot." Again he was silent for many minutes, and then he
continued for more that an hour to put forth one word at a time,
but at such an interval from each other that I found it quite
impossible to follow his meaning, if, indeed, he had any. My
Quaker friend told me she knew not who he was, and that she much
regretted I had heard so poor a preacher. After he had
concluded, a gentleman-like old man (a physician by profession)
arose, and delivered a few moral sentences in an agreeable
manner; soon after he had sat down, the whole congregation rose,
I know not at what signal, and made their exit. It is a singular
kind of worship, if worship it may be called, where all prayer is
forbidden; yet it appeared to me, in its decent quietness,
infinitely preferable to what I had witnessed at the Presbyterian
and Methodist Meeting-houses. A great schism had lately taken
place among the Quakers of Philadelphia; many objecting to the
over-strict discipline of the orthodox. Among the seceders there
are again various shades of difference; I met many who called
themselves Unitarian Quakers, others were Hicksites, and others
again, though still wearing the Quaker habit, were said to be

We visited many churches and chapels in the city, but none that
would elsewhere be called handsome, either internally or

I went one evening, not a Sunday, with a party of ladies to see a
Presbyterian minister inducted. The ceremony was woefully long,
and the charge to the young man awfully impossible to obey, at
least if he were a man, like unto other men. It was matter of
astonishment to me to observe the deep attention, and the
unwearied patience with which some hundreds of beautiful young
girls who were assembled there, (not to mention the old ladies,)
listened to the whole of this tedious ceremony; surely there is
no country in the world where religion makes so large a part of
the amusement and occupation of the ladies. Spain, in its most
catholic days, could not exceed it: besides, in spite of the
gloomy horrors of the Inquisition, gaiety and amusement were not
there offered as a sacrifice by the young and lovely.

The religious severity of Philadelphian manners is in nothing
more conspicuous than in the number of chains thrown across the
streets on a Sunday to prevent horses and carriages from passing.
Surely the Jews could not exceed this country in their external
observances. What the gentlemen of Philadelphia do with
themselves on a Sunday, I will not pretend to guess, but the
prodigious majority of females in the churches is very
remarkable. Although a large proportion of the population of
this city are Quakers, the same extraordinary variety of faith
exists here, as every where else in the Union, and the priests
have, in some circles, the same unbounded influence which has
been mentioned elsewhere.

One history reached me, which gave a terrible picture of the
effect this power may produce; it was related to me by my
mantua-maker; a young woman highly estimable as a wife and
mother, and on whose veracity I perfectly rely. She told me that
her father was a widower, and lived with his family of three
daughters, at Philadelphia. A short time before she married, an
itinerant preacher came to the city, who contrived to obtain an
intimate footing in many respectable families. Her father's was
one of these, and his influence and authority were great with all
the sisters, but particularly with the youngest. The young
girl's feelings for him seem to have been a curious mixture of
spiritual awe and earthly affection. When she received a hint
from her sisters that she ought not to give him too much
encouragement till he spoke out, she showed as much holy
resentment as if they had told her not to say her prayers too
devoutly. At length the father remarked the sort of covert
passion that gleamed through the eyes of his godly visitor, and
he saw too, the pallid anxious look which had settled on the
young brow of his daughter; either this, or some rumours he had
heard abroad, or both together, led him to forbid this man his
house. The three girls were present when he did so, and all
uttered a deprecating "Oh father!" but the old man added stoutly.
If you show yourself here again, reverend sir, I will not only
teach you the way out of my house, but out of the city also. The
preacher withdrew, and was never heard of in Philadelphia
afterwards; but when a few months had passed, strange whispers
began to creep through the circle which had received and honoured
him, and, in due course of time, no less than seven unfortunate
girls produced living proofs of the wisdom of my informant's
worthy father. In defence of this dreadful story I can only make
the often repeated quotation, "I tell the tale as 'twas told to
me;" but, in all sincerity I must add, that I have no doubt of
its truth.

I was particularly requested to visit the market of Philadelphia,
at the hour when it presented the busiest scene; I did so, and
thought few cities had any thing to show better worth looking at;
it is, indeed, the very perfection of a market, the _beau ideal_
of a notable housewife, who would confide to no deputy the
important office of caterer. The neatness, freshness, and entire
absence of every thing disagreeable to sight or smell, must be
witnessed to be believed. The stalls were spread with snow-white
napkins; flowers and fruit, if not quite of Paris or London
perfection, yet bright, fresh, and fragrant; with excellent
vegetables in the greatest variety and abundance, were all so
delightfully exhibited, that objects less pleasing were
overlooked and forgotten. The dairy, the poultry-yard, the
forest, the river, and the ocean, all contributed their spoil;
in short, for the first time in my life, I thought a market a
beautiful object. The prices of most articles were, as nearly
as I could calculate between dollars and francs, about the same
as at Paris; certainly much cheaper than in London, but much
dearer than at Exeter.

My letters of introduction brought me acquainted with several
amiable and interesting people. There is something in the tone
of manners at Philadelphia that I liked; it appeared to me that
there was less affectation of ton there than elsewhere. There is
a quietness, a composure in a Philadelphia drawing-room, that is
quite characteristic of a city founded by William Penn. The
dress of the ladies, even those who are not Quakers, partakes of
this; they are most elegantly neat, and there was a delicacy and
good taste in the dress of the young ladies that might serve as a
model to the whole Union. There can hardly be a stronger
contrast in the style of dress between any two cities than may be
remarked between Baltimore and Philadelphia; both are costly, but
the former is distinguished by gaudy splendour, the latter by
elegant simplicity.

It is said that this city has many gentlemen distinguished by
their scientific pursuits; I conversed with several well informed
and intelligent men, but there is a cold dryness of manner and an
apparent want of interest in the subjects they discuss, that, to
my mind, robs conversation of all its charm. On one occasion I
heard the character and situation of an illustrious officer
discussed, who had served with renown under Napoleon, and whose
high character might have obtained him favour under the
Bourbons, could he have abandoned the principles which led him to
dislike their government. This distinguished man had retreated
to America after the death of his master, and was endeavouring to
establish a sort of Polytechnic academy at New York: in speaking
of him, I observed, that his devotion to the cause of freedom
must prove a strong recommendation in the United States. "Not
the least in the world, madam," answered a gentleman who ranked
deservedly high among the _literati_ of the city, "it might
avail him much in England, perhaps, but here we are perfectly
indifferent as to what people's principles may be."

This I believe to be exactly true, though I never before heard it
avowed as a national feature.

The want of warmth, of interest, of feeling, upon all subjects
which do not immediately touch their own concerns, is universal,
and has a most paralysing effect upon conversation. All the
enthusiasm of America is concentrated to the one point of her own
emancipation and independence; on this point nothing can exceed
the warmth of her feelings. She may, I think, be compared to a
young bride, a sort of Mrs. Major Waddle; her independence is to
her as a newly-won bridegroom; for him alone she has eyes, ears,
or heart;--the honeymoon is not over yet;--when it is, America
will, perhaps, learn more coquetry, and know better how to _faire
l'aimable_ to other nations.

I conceive that no place in the known world can furnish so
striking a proof of the immense value of literary habits as the
United States, not only in enlarging the mind, but what is of
infinitely more importance, in purifying the manners. During my
abode in the country I not only never met a literary man who was
a tobacco chewer or a whiskey drinker, but I never met any who
were not, that had escaped these degrading habits. On the women,
the influence is, if possible, still more important;
unfortunately, the instances are rare, but they are to be found.
One admirable example occurs in the person of a young lady of
Cincinnati: surrounded by a society totally incapable of
appreciating, or even of comprehending her, she holds a place
among it, as simply and unaffectedly as if of the same species;
young, beautiful, and gifted by nature with a mind singularly
acute and discriminating, she has happily found such
opportunities of cultivation as might distinguish her in any
country; it is, indeed, that best of all cultivation which is
only to be found in domestic habits of literature, and in that
hourly education which the daughter of a man of letters receives
when she is made the companion and friend of her father. This
young lady is the more admirable as she contrives to unite all
the multifarious duties which usually devolve upon American
ladies, with her intellectual pursuits. The companion and
efficient assistant of her father's literary labours, the active
aid in all the household cares of her mother, the tender nurse of
a delicate infant sister, the skilful artificer of her own always
elegant wardrobe, ever at leisure, and ever prepared to receive
with the sweetest cheerfulness her numerous acquaintance, the
most animated in conversation, the most indefatigable in
occupation, it was impossible to know her, and study her
character without feeling that such women were "the glory of all
lands," and, could the race be multiplied, would speedily become
the reformers of all the grossness and ignorance that now degrade
her own. Is it to be imagined, that if fifty modifications of
this charming young woman were to be met at a party, the men
would dare to enter it reeking with whiskey, their lips blackened
with tobacco, and convinced, to the very centre of their hearts
and souls, that women were made for no other purpose than to
fabricate sweetmeats and gingerbread, construct shirts, darn
stockings, and become mothers of possible presidents? Assuredly
not. Should the women of America ever discover what their power
might be, and compare it with what it is, much improvement might
be hoped for. While, at Philadelphia, among the handsomest, the
wealthiest, and the most distinguished of the land, their
comparative influence in society, with that possessed in Europe
by females holding the same station, occurred forcibly to my

Let me be permitted to describe the day of a Philadelphian lady
of the first class, and the inference I would draw from it will
be better understood.

It may be said that the most important feature in a woman's
history is her maternity. It is so; but the object of the
present observation is the social, and not the domestic influence
of woman.

This lady shall be the wife of a senator and a lawyer in the
highest repute and practice. She has a very handsome house, with
white marble steps and door-posts, and a delicate silver knocker
and door-handle; she has very handsome drawing-rooms, very
handsomely furnished, (there is a sideboard in one of them, but
it is very handsome, and has very handsome decanters and cut
glass water-jugs upon it); she has a very handsome carriage, and
a very handsome free black coachman; she is always very
handsomely dressed; and, moreover, she is very handsome herself.

She rises, and her first hour is spent in the scrupulously nice
arrangement of her dress; she descends to her parlour neat,
stiff, and silent; her breakfast is brought in by her free black
footman; she eats her fried ham and her salt fish, and drinks her
coffee in silence, while her husband reads one newspaper, and
puts another under his elbow; and then, perhaps, she washes the
cups and saucers. Her carriage is ordered at eleven; till that
hour she is employed in the pastry-room, her snow-white apron
protecting her mouse-coloured silk. Twenty minutes before her
carriage should appear, she retires to her chamber, as she calls
it, shakes, and folds up her still snow-white apron, smooths her
rich dress, and with nice care, sets on her elegant bonnet, and
all the handsome _et cetera_; then walks down stairs, just at
the moment that her free black coachman announces to her free
black footman that the carriage waits. She steps into it, and
gives the word, "Drive to the Dorcas society." her footman stays
at home to clean the knives, but her coachman can trust his
horses while he opens the carriage door, and his lady not being
accustomed to a hand or an arm, gets out very safely without,
though one of her own is occupied by a work-basket, and the other
by a large roll of all those indescribable matters which ladies
take as offerings to Dorcas societies. She enters the parlour
appropriated for the meeting, and finds seven other ladies, very
like herself, and takes her place among them; she presents her
contribution, which is accepted with a gentle circular smile, and
her parings of broad cloth, her ends of ribbon, her gilt paper,
and her minikin pins, are added to the parings of broad cloth,
the ends of ribbon, the gilt papers, and the minikin pins with
which the table is already covered; she also produces from her
basket three ready-made pincushions, four ink-wipers, seven paper
matches, and a paste-board watch-case; these are welcomed with
acclamations, and the youngest lady present deposits them
carefully on shelves, amid a prodigious quantity of similar
articles. She then produces her thimble, and asks for work; it
is presented to her, and the eight ladies all stitch together for
some hours. Their talk is of priests and of missions; of the
profits of their last sale, of their hopes from the next; of the
doubt whether your Mr. This, or young Mr. That should receive the
fruits of it to fit him out for Liberia; of the very ugly bonnet
seen at church on Sabbath morning, of the very handsome preacher
who performed on Sabbath afternoon, and of the very large
collection made on Sabbath evening. This lasts till three, when
the carriage again appears, and the lady and her basket return
home; she mounts to her chamber, carefully sets aside her bonnet
and its appurtenances, puts on her scolloped black silk apron,
walks into the kitchen to see that all is right, then into the
parlour, where, having cast a careful glance over the table
prepared for dinner, she sits down, work in hand, to await her
spouse. He comes, shakes hands with her, spits, and dines. The
conversation is not much, and ten minutes suffices for the
dinner; fruit and toddy, the newspaper and the work-bag succeed.
In the evening the gentleman, being a savant, goes to the Wister
society, and afterwards plays a snug rubber at a neighbour's.
The lady receives at tea a young missionary and three members of
the Dorcas society.--And so ends her day.

For some reason or other, which English people are not very
likely to understand, a great number of young married persons
board by the year, instead of "going to housekeeping," as they
call having an establishment of their own. Of course this
statement does not include persons of large fortune, but it does
include very many whose rank in society would make such a mode of
life quite impossible with us. I can hardly imagine a
contrivance more effectual for ensuring the insignificance of a
woman, than marrying her at seventeen, and placing her in a
boarding-house. Nor can I easily imagine a life of more uniform
dulness for the lady herself; but this certainly is a matter of
taste. I have heard many ladies declare that it is "just quite
the perfection of comfort to have nothing to fix for oneself."
Yet despite these assurances I always experienced a feeling
which hovered between pity and contempt, when I contemplated
their mode of existence.

How would a newly-married Englishwoman endure it, her head and
her heart full of the one dear scheme--

"Well ordered home, _his_ dear delight to make?"

She must rise exactly in time to reach the boarding table at the
hour appointed for breakfast, or she will get a stiff bow from
the lady president, cold coffee, and no egg. I have been
sometimes greatly amused upon these occasions by watching a
little scene in which the bye-play had much more meaning than the
words uttered. The fasting, but tardy lady, looks round the
table, and having ascertained that there was no egg left, says
distinctly, "I will take an egg if you please." But as this is
addressed to no one in particular, no one in particular answers
it, unless it happen that her husband is at table before her, and
then he says, "There are no eggs, my dear." Whereupon the lady
president evidently cannot hear, and the greedy culprit who has
swallowed two eggs (for there are always as many eggs as noses)
looks pretty considerably afraid of being found out. The
breakfast proceeds in sombre silence, save that sometimes a
parrot, and sometimes a canary bird, ventures to utter a timid
note. When it is finished, the gentlemen hurry to their
occupation, and the quiet ladies mount the stairs, some to the
first, some to the second, and some to the third stories, in an
inverse proportion to the number of dollars paid, and ensconce
themselves in their respective chambers. As to what they do
there it is not very easy to say, but I believe they clear-starch
a little, and iron a little, and sit in a rocking-chair, and sew
a great deal. I always observed that the ladies who boarded,
wore more elaborately worked collars and petticoats than any one
else. The plough is hardly a more blessed instrument in America
than the needle. How could they live without it? But time and
the needle wear through the longest morning, and happily the
American morning is not very long, even though they breakfast at

It is generally about two o'clock that the boarding gentlemen
meet the boarding ladies at dinner. Little is spoken, except a
whisper between the married pairs. Sometimes a sulky bottle of
wine flanks the plate of one or two individuals, but it adds
nothing to the mirth of the meeting, and seldom more than one
glass to the good cheer of the owners, it is not then, and it is
not there, that the gentlemen of the Union drink. Soon, very
soon, the silent meal is done, and then, if you mount the stairs
after them, you will find from the doors of the more affectionate
and indulgent wives, a smell of cigars steam forth, which plainly
indicates the felicity of the couple within. If the gentleman be
a very polite husband, he will, as soon as he has done smoking
and drinking his toddy, offer his arm to his wife, as far as the
corner of the street, where his store, or his office is situated,
and there he will leave her to turn which way she likes. As this
is the hour for being full dressed, of course she turns the way
she can be most seen. Perhaps she pays a few visits; perhaps she
goes to chapel; or, perhaps, she enters some store where her
husband deals, and ventures to order a few notions; and then she
goes home again--no, not home--I will not give that name to a
boarding-house--but she re-enters the cold heartless atmosphere
in which she dwells, where hospitality can never enter, and where
interest takes the management instead of affection. At tea they
all meet again, and a little trickery is perceptible to a nice
observer in the manner of partaking the pound-cake, &c. After
this, those who are happy enough to have engagements hasten to
keep them; those who have not, either mount again to the solitude
of their chamber, or, what appeared to me much worse, remain in
the common sitting-room, in a society cemented by no tie,
endeared by no connexion, which choice did not bring together,
and which the slightest motive would break asunder. I remarked
that the gentlemen were generally obliged to go out every
evening on business, and, I confess, the arrangement did not
surprise me.

It is not thus that the women can obtain that influence in
society which is allowed to them in Europe, and to which, both
sages and men of the world have agreed in ascribing such salutary
effects. It is in vain that "collegiate institutes" are formed
for young ladies, or that "academic degrees" are conferred upon
them. It is after marriage, and when these young attempts upon
all the sciences are forgotten, that the lamentable
insignificance of the American woman appears, and till this be
remedied, I venture to prophesy that the tone of their
drawing-rooms will not improve.

Whilst I was at Philadelphia a great deal of attention was
excited by the situation of two criminals, who had been convicted
of robbing the Baltimore mail, and were lying under sentence of
death. The rare occurrence of capital punishment in America
makes it always an event of great interest; and the approaching
execution was repeatedly the subject of conversation at the
boarding table. One day a gentleman told us he had that morning
been assured that one of the criminals had declared to the
visiting clergyman that he was certain of being reprieved, and
that nothing the clergyman could say to the contrary made any
impression upon him. Day after day this same story was repeated,
and commented upon at table, and it appeared that the report had
been heard in so many quarters, that not only was the statement
received as true, but it began to be conjectured that the criminal
had some ground for his hope. I learnt from these daily
conversations that one of the prisoners was an American, and the
other an Irishman, and it was the former who was so strongly
persuaded he should not be hanged. Several of the gentlemen at
table, in canvassing the subject, declared, that if the one were
hanged and the other spared, this hanging would be a murder, and
not a legal execution. In discussing this point, it was stated
that very nearly all the white men who had suffered death since
the declaration of Independence had been Irishmen. What truth
there may be in this general statement, I have no means of
ascertaining; all I know is, that I heard it made. On this
occasion, however, the Irishman was hanged, and the American
was not.


Return to Stonington--Thunderstorm--Emigrants--Illness--Alexandria

A fortnight passed rapidly away in this great city, and,
doubtless, there was still much left unseen when we quitted it,
according to previous arrangement, to return to our friends in
Maryland. We came back by a different route, going by land from
Newcastle to French Town, instead of passing by the canal. We
reached Baltimore in the middle of the night, but finished our
repose on board the steam-boat, and started for Washington at
five o'clock the next morning.

Our short abode amid the heat and closeness of a city made us
enjoy more than ever the beautiful scenery around Stonington.
The autumn, which soon advanced upon us, again clothed the woods
in colours too varied and gaudy to be conceived by those who have
never quitted Europe; and the stately maize, waving its flowing
tassels, as the long drooping blossoms are called, made every
field look like a little forest. A rainy spring had been
followed by a summer of unusual heat; and towards the autumn
frequent thunderstorms of terrific violence cleared the air, but
at the same time frightened us almost out of our wits. On one
occasion I was exposed, with my children, to the full fury of
one of these awful visitations. We suffered considerable
terror during this storm, but when we were all again safe, and
comfortably sheltered, we rejoiced that the accident had
occurred, as it gave us the best possible opportunity of
witnessing, in all its glory, a transatlantic thunderstorm. It
was, however, great imprudence that exposed us to it, for we
quitted the house, and mounted a hill at a considerable distance
from it, for the express purpose of watching to advantage the
extraordinary aspect of the clouds. When we reached the top of
the hill half the heavens appeared hung with a heavy curtain; a
sort of deep blue black seemed to colour the very air; the
blizzards screamed, as with heavy wing they sought the earth. We
ought, in common prudence, to have immediately retreated to the
house, but the scene was too beautiful to be left. For several
minutes after we reached our station, the air appeared perfectly
without movement, no flash broke through the seven-fold cloud,
but a flickering light was visible, darting to and fro behind it.
By degrees the thunder rolled onward, nearer and nearer, till
the inky cloud burst asunder, and cataracts of light came pouring
from behind it. From that moment there was no interval, no
pause, the lightning did not flash, there were no claps of
thunder, but the heavens blazed and bellowed above and around us,
till stupor took the place of terror, and we stood utterly
confounded. But we were speedily aroused, for suddenly, as if
from beneath our feet, a gust arose which threatened to mix all
the elements in one. Torrents of water seemed to bruise the
earth by their violence; eddies of thick dust rose up to meet
them; the fierce fires of heaven only blazed the brighter for the
falling flood; while the blast almost out-roared the thunder.
But the wind was left at last the lord of all, for after striking
with wild force, now here, now there, and bringing worlds of
clouds together in most hostile contact, it finished by clearing
the wide heavens of all but a few soft straggling masses, whence
sprung a glorious rainbow, and then retired, leaving the earth to
raise her half crushed forests; and we, poor pigmies, to call
back our frighted senses, and recover breath as we might.

During this gust, it would have been impossible for us to have
kept our feet; we crouched down under the shelter of a heap of
stones, and, as we informed each other, looked most dismally

Many trees were brought to the earth before our eyes; some torn
up by the roots, and some mighty stems snapt off several feet
from the ground. If the West Indian hurricanes exceed this, they
must be terrible indeed.

The situation of Mrs. S--'s house was considered as remarkably
healthy, and I believe justly so, for on more than one occasion,
persons who were suffering from fever and ague at the distance of
a mile or two, were perfectly restored by passing a week or
fortnight at Stonington; but the neighbourhood of it,
particularly on the side bordering the Potomac, was much
otherwise, and the mortality among the labourers on the canal
was frightful.

I have elsewhere stated my doubts if the labouring poor of our
country mend their condition by emigrating to the United States,
but it was not till the opportunity which a vicinity to the
Chesapeake and Ohio canal gave me, of knowing what their
situation was after making the change, that I became fully aware
how little it was to be desired for them.

Of the white labourers on this canal, the great majority are
Irishmen; their wages are from ten to fifteen dollars a month,
with a miserable lodging, and a large allowance of whiskey. It
is by means of this hateful poison that they are tempted, and
indeed enabled for a time, to stand the broiling heat of the sun
in a most noxious climate: for through such, close to the
romantic but unwholesome Potomac, the line of the canal has
hitherto run. The situation of these poor strangers, when they
sink at last in "_the fever,_" which sooner or later is sure to
overtake them, is dreadful. There is a strong feeling against
the Irish in every part of the Union, but they will do twice as
much work as a negro, and therefore they are employed. When
they fall sick, they may, and must, look with envy on the slaves
around them; for they are cared for; they are watched and
physicked, as a valuable horse is watched and physicked: not so
the Irishman, he is literally thrown on one side, and a new
comer takes his place. Details of their sufferings, and unheeded
death, too painful to dwell upon, often reached us; on one
occasion a farmer calling at the house, told the family that a
poor man, apparently in a dying condition, was lying beside a
little brook at the distance of a quarter of a mile. The spot
was immediately visited by some of the family, and there in
truth lay a poor creature, who was already past the power of
speaking; he was conveyed to the house and expired during the
night. By enquiring at the canal, it was found that he was an
Irish labourer, who having fallen sick, and spent his last cent,
had left the stifling shanty where he lay, in the desperate
attempt of finding his way to Washington, with what hope I know
not. He did not appear above twenty, and as I looked on his
pale young face, which even in death expressed suffering, I
thought that perhaps he had left a mother and a home to seek
wealth in America. I saw him buried under a group of locust
trees, his very name unknown to those who laid him there, but
the attendance of the whole family at the grave, gave a sort of
decency to his funeral which rarely, in that country, honors the
poor relics of British dust: but no clergyman attended, no
prayer was said, no bell was tolled; these, indeed, are
ceremonies unthought of, and in fact unattainable without much
expense, at such a distance from a town; had the poor youth been
an American, he would have been laid in the earth in the same
unceremonious manner. But had this poor Irish lad fallen sick
in equal poverty and destitution among his own people, he would
have found a blanket to wrap his shivering limbs, and a kindred
hand to close his eyes.

The poor of great Britain, whom distress, or a spirit of
enterprise tempt to try another land, ought, for many reasons,
to repair to Canada; there they would meet co-operation and
sympathy, instead of malice, hatred, and all uncharitableness.

I frequently heard vehement complaints, and constantly met the
same in the newspapers, of a practice stated to be very generally
adopted in Britain of sending out cargoes of parish paupers to
the United States. A Baltimore paper heads some such remarks
with the words


and then tells us of a cargo of aged paupers just arrived from
England, adding, "John Bull has squeezed the orange, and now
insolently casts the skin in our faces." Such being the feeling,
it will be readily believed that these unfortunates are not
likely to meet much kindness or sympathy in sickness, or in
suffering of any kind. If these American statements be correct,
and that different parishes are induced, from an excessive
population, to pay the voyage and outfit of some of their paupers
across the Atlantic, why not send them to Canada?

It is certain, however, that all the enquiries I could make
failed to substantiate these American statements. All I could
ascertain was, that many English and Irish poor arrived yearly in
the United States, with no other resources than what their labour
furnished. This, though very different from the newspaper
stories, is quite enough to direct attention to the subject. It
is generally acknowledged that the suffering among our labouring
classes arises from the excess of our population; and it is
impossible to see such a country as Canada, its extent, its
fertility, its fine climate, and know that it is British ground,
without feeling equal sorrow and astonishment that it is not made
the means of relief. How earnestly it is to be wished that some
part of that excellent feeling which is for ever at work in
England to help the distressed, could be directed systematically
to the object of emigration to the Canadas. Large sums are
annually raised for charitable purposes, by weekly subscriptions
of one penny; were only a part of the money so obtained to be
devoted to this object, hundreds of families might yearly be sent
to people our own land. The religious feeling, which so
naturally mixes with every charitable purpose, would there find
the best field for its exertions. Where could a missionary,
whether Protestant or Catholic, find a holier mission than that
which sent him to comfort and instruct his countrymen in the
wilderness? or where could he reap a higher reward in this world,
than seeing that wilderness growing into fertile fields under the
hands of his flock?

I never saw so many autumn flowers as grow in the woods and
sheep-walks of Maryland; a second spring seemed to clothe the
fields, but with grief and shame I confess, that of these
precious blossoms I scarcely knew a single name. I think the
Michaelmas daisy, in wonderful variety of form and colour, and
the prickly pear, were almost my only acquaintance: let no one
visit America without having first studied botany; it is an
amusement, as a clever friend of mine once told me, that helps
one wonderfully up and down hill, and must be superlatively
valuable in America, both from the plentiful lack of other
amusements, and the plentiful material for enjoyment in this;
besides, if one is dying to know the name of any of these lovely
strangers, it is a thousand to one against his finding any one
who can tell it.

The prettiest eclipse of the moon I ever saw was that of
September, of this year, (1830). We had been passing some hours
amid the solemn scenery of the Potomac falls, and just as we were
preparing to quit it, the full moon arose above the black pines,
with half our shadow thrown across her. The effect of her rising
thus eclipsed was more strange, more striking by far, than
watching the gradual obscuration; and as I turned to look at the
black chasm behind me, and saw the deadly alder, and the
poison-vine waving darkly on the rocks around, I thought the
scene wanted nothing but the figure of a palsied crone, plucking
the fatal branches to concoct some charm of mischief.

Whether some such maga dogged my steps, I know not, but many
hours had not elapsed ere I again felt the noxious influence of
an American autumn. This fever, "built in th' eclipse," speedily
brought me very low, and though it lasted not so long as that of
the preceding year, I felt persuaded I should never recover from
it. Though my forebodings were not verified by the event, it was
declared that change of air was necessary, and it was arranged
for me, (for I was perfectly incapable of settling any thing for
myself,) that I should go to Alexandria, a pretty town at the
distance of about fifteen miles, which had the reputation of
possessing a skilful physician.

It was not without regret that we quitted our friends at
Stonington; but the prescription proved in a great degree
efficacious; a few weeks' residence in Alexandria restored my
strength sufficiently to enable me to walk to a beautiful little
grassy terrace, perfectly out of the town, but very near it, from
whence we could watch the various craft that peopled the Potomac
between Alexandria and Washington. But though gradually
regaining strength, I was still far from well; all plans for
winter gaiety were abandoned, and finding ourselves very well
accommodated, we decided upon passing the winter where we were.
It proved unusually severe; the Potomac was so completely frozen
as to permit considerable traffic to be carried on by carts,
crossing on the ice, from Maryland. This had not occurred before
for thirty years. The distance was a mile and a quarter, and we
ventured to brave the cold, and walk across this bright and
slippery mirror, to make a visit on the opposite shore; the
fatigue of keeping our feet was by no means inconsiderable, but
we were rewarded by seeing as noble a winter landscape around us
as the eye could look upon.

When at length the frost gave way, the melting snow produced
freshes so violent as to carry away the long bridge at
Washington; large fragments of it, with the railing still erect,
came floating down amidst vast blocks of ice, during many
successive days, and it was curious to see the intrepidity with
which the young sailors of Alexandria periled their lives to
make spoil of the timber.

The solar eclipse of the 12th of February, 1831, was nearer total
than any I ever saw, or ever shall see. It was completely
annular at Alexandria, and the bright ring which surrounded the
moon's shadow, though only 81 deg. in breadth, gave light sufficient
to read the smallest print; the darkness was considerably
lessened by the snow, which, as the day was perfectly unclouded,
reflected brightly all the light that was left us.

Notwithstanding the extreme cold, we passed the whole time in the
open air, on a rising ground near the river; in this position
many beautiful effects were perceptible; the rapid approach and
change of shadows, the dusky hue of the broad Potomac, that
seemed to drink in the feeble light, which its snow-covered banks
gave back to the air, the gradual change of every object from the
colouring of bright sunshine to one sad universal tint of dingy
purple, the melancholy lowing of the cattle, and the short, but
remarkable suspension of all labour, gave something of mystery
and awe to the scene that we shall long remember.

During the following months I occupied myself partly in revising
my notes, and arranging these pages; and partly in making myself
acquainted, as much as possible, with the literature of the

While reading and transcribing my notes, I underwent a strict
self-examination. I passed in review all I had seen, all I had
felt, and scrupulously challenged every expression of
disapprobation; the result was, that I omitted in transcription
much that I had written, as containing unnecessary details of
things which had displeased me; yet, as I did so, I felt strongly
that there was no exaggeration in them; but such details, though
true, might be ill-natured, and I retained no more than were
necessary to convey the general impressions received. While thus
reviewing my notes, I discovered that many points, which all
scribbling travellers are expected to notice, had been omitted;
but a few pages of miscellaneous observations will, I think,
supply all that can be expected from so idle a pen.


American Cooking--Evening Parties--Dress--Sleighing--
Money-getting Habits--Tax-Gatherer's Notice--Indian
Summer--Anecdote of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar

In relating all I know of America, I surely must not omit so
important a feature as the cooking. There are sundry anomalies
in the mode of serving even a first-rate table; but as these are
altogether matters of custom, they by no means indicate either
indifference or neglect in this important business; and whether
castors are placed on the table or on the sideboard; whether
soup, fish, patties, and salad be eaten in orthodox order or not,
signifies but little. I am hardly capable, I fear, of giving a
very erudite critique on the subject; general observations
therefore must suffice. The ordinary mode of living is abundant,
but not delicate. They consume an extraordinary quantity of
bacon. Ham and beaf-steaks appear morning, noon, and night. In
eating, they mix things together with the strangest incongruity
imaginable. I have seen eggs and oysters eaten together: the
sempiternal ham with apple-sauce; beefsteak with stewed peaches;
and salt fish with onions. The bread is everywhere excellent,
but they rarely enjoy it themselves, as they insist upon eating
horrible half-baked hot rolls both morning and evening. The
butter is tolerable; but they have seldom such cream as every
little dairy produces in England; in fact, the cows are very
roughly kept, compared with our's. Common vegetables are
abundant and very fine. I never saw sea-cale or cauliflowers,
and either from the want of summer rain, or the want of care, the
harvest of green vegetables is much sooner over than with us.
They eat the Indian corn in a great variety of forms; sometimes
it is dressed green, and eaten like peas; sometimes it is broken
to pieces when dry, boiled plain, and brought to table like rice;
this dish is called hominy. The flour of it is made into at
least a dozen different sorts of cakes; but in my opinion all
bad. This flour, mixed in the proportion of one-third with fine
wheat, makes by far the best bread I ever tasted.

I never saw turbot, salmon, or fresh cod; but the rock and shad
are excellent. There is a great want of skill in the composition
of sauces; not only with fish, but with every thing. They use
very few made dishes, and I never saw any that would be approved
by our savants. They have an excellent wild duck, called the
Canvass Back, which, if delicately served, would surpass the
black cock; but the game is very inferior to our's; they have no
hares, and I never saw a pheasant. They seldom indulge in second
courses, with all their ingenious temptations to the eating a
second dinner; but almost every table has its dessert,
(invariably pronounced desart) which is placed on the table
before the cloth is removed, and consists of pastry, preserved
fruits, and creams. They are "extravagantly fond," to use their
own phrase, of puddings, pies, and all kinds of "sweets,"
particularly the ladies; but are by no means such connoisseurs in
soups and ragouts as the gastronomes of Europe. Almost every one
drinks water at table, and by a strange contradiction, in the
country where hard drinking is more prevalent than in any other,
there is less wine taken at dinner; ladies rarely exceed one
glass, and the great majority of females never take any. In
fact, the hard drinking, so universally acknowledged, does not
take place at jovial dinners, but, to speak plain English, in
solitary dram-drinking. Coffee is not served immediately after
dinner, but makes part of the serious matter of tea-drinking,
which comes some hours later. Mixed dinner parties of ladies and
gentlemen are very rare, and unless several foreigners are
present, but little conversation passes at table. It certainly
does not, in my opinion, add to the well ordering a dinner table,
to set the gentlemen at one end of it, and the ladies at the
other; but it is very rarely that you find it otherwise.

Their large evening parties are supremely dull; the men sometimes
play cards by themselves, but if a lady plays, it must not be for
money; no ecarte, no chess; very little music, and that little
lamentably bad. Among the blacks, I heard some good voices,
singing in tune; but I scarcely ever heard a white American, male
or female, go through an air without being out of tune before the
end of it; nor did I ever meet any trace of science in the
singing I heard in society. To eat inconceivable quantities of
cake, ice, and pickled oysters--and to show half their revenue in
silks and satins, seem to be the chief object they have in these

The most agreeable meetings, I was assured by all the young
people, were those to which no married women are admitted; of the
truth of this statement I have not the least doubt. These
exclusive meetings occur frequently, and often last to a late
hour; on these occasions, I believe, they generally dance. At
regular balls, married ladies are admitted, but seldom take much
part in the amusement. The refreshments are always profuse and
costly, but taken in a most uncomfortable manner. I have known
many private balls, where every thing was on the most liberal
scale of expense, where the gentlemen sat down to supper in one
room, while the ladies took theirs, standing, in another.

What we call picnics are very rare, and when attempted, do not
often succeed well. The two sexes can hardly mix for the greater
part of a day without great restraint and ennui; it is quite
contrary to their general habits; the favourite indulgences of
the gentlemen (smoking cigars and drinking spirits), can neither
be indulged in with decency, nor resigned with complacency.

The ladies have strange ways of adding to their charms. They
powder themselves immoderately, face, neck, and arms, with
pulverised starch; the effect is indescribably disagreeable by
daylight, and not very favourable at any time. They are also
most unhappily partial to false hair, which they wear in
surprising quantities; this is the more to be lamented, as they
generally have very fine hair of their own. I suspect this
fashion to arise from an indolent mode of making their toilet,
and from accomplished ladies' maids not being very abundant; it
is less trouble to append a bunch of waving curls here, there,
and every where, than to keep their native tresses in perfect

Though the expense of the ladies' dress greatly exceeds, in
proportion to their general style of living, that of the ladies
of Europe, it is very far (excepting in Philadelphia) from being
in good taste. They do not consult the seasons in the colours or
in the style of their costume; I have often shivered at seeing a
young beauty picking her way through the snow with a pale
rose-coloured bonnet, set on the very top of her head: I knew one
young lady whose pretty little ear was actually frostbitten from
being thus exposed. They never wear muffs or boots, and appear
extremely shocked at the sight of comfortable walking shoes and
cotton stockings, even when they have to step to their sleighs
over ice and snow. They walk in the middle of winter with their
poor little toes pinched into a miniature slipper, incapable of
excluding as much moisture as might bedew a primrose. I must say
in their excuse, however, that they have, almost universally,
extremely pretty feet. They do not walk well, nor, in fact, do
they ever appear to advantage when in movement. I know not why
this should be, for they have abundance of French dancing-masters
among them, but somehow or other it is the fact. I fancied I
could often trace a mixture of affectation and of shyness in
their little mincing unsteady step, and the ever changing
position of the hands. They do not dance well; perhaps I should
rather say they do not look well when dancing; lovely as their
faces are, they cannot, in a position that exhibits the whole
person, atone for the want of _tournure_, and for the universal
defect in the formation of the bust, which is rarely full, or
gracefully formed.

I never saw an American man walk or stand well; notwithstanding
their frequent militia drillings, they are nearly all hollow
chested and round shouldered: perhaps this is occasioned by no
officer daring to say to a brother free-born "hold up your head;"
whatever the cause, the effect is very remarkable to a stranger.
In stature, and in physiognomy, a great majority of the
population, both male and female, are strikingly handsome, but
they know not how to do their own honours; half as much
comeliness elsewhere would produce ten times as much effect.

Nothing can exceed their activity and perseverance in all kinds
of speculation, handicraft, and enterprise, which promises a
profitable pecuniary result. I heard an Englishman, who had been
long resident in America, declare that in following, in meeting,
or in overtaking, in the street, on the road, or in the field, at
the theatre, the coffee-house, or at home, he had never overheard
Americans conversing without the word DOLLAR being pronounced
between them. Such unity of purpose, such sympathy of feeling,
can, I believe, be found nowhere else, except, perhaps, in an
ants' nest. The result is exactly what might be anticipated.
This sordid object, for ever before their eyes, must inevitably
produce a sordid tone of mind, and, worse still, it produces a
seared and blunted conscience on all questions of probity. I
know not a more striking evidence of the low tone of morality
which is generated by this universal pursuit of money, than the
manner in which the New England States are described by
Americans. All agree in saying that they present a spectacle of
industry and prosperity delightful to behold, and this is the
district and the population most constantly quoted as the finest
specimen of their admirable country; yet I never met a single
individual in any part of the Union who did not paint these New
Englanders as sly, grinding, selfish, and tricking. The yankees
(as the New Englanders are called) will avow these qualities
themselves with a complacent smile, and boast that no people on
the earth can match them at over reaching in a bargain. I have
heard them unblushingly relate stories of their cronies and
friends, which, if believed among us, would banish the heroes
from the fellowship of honest men for ever; and all this is
uttered with a simplicity which sometimes led me to doubt if the
speakers knew what honour and honesty meant. Yet the Americans
declare that "they are the most moral people upon earth." Again
and again I have heard this asserted, not only in conversation,
and by their writings, but even from the pulpit. Such broad
assumption of superior virtue demands examination, and after four
years of attentive and earnest observation and enquiry, my honest
conviction is, that the standard of moral character in the United
States is very greatly lower than in Europe. Of their religion,
as it appears outwardly, I have had occasion to speak frequently;
I pretend not to judge the heart, but, without any uncharitable
presumption, I must take permission to say, that both Protestant
England and Catholic France show an infinitely superior religious
and moral aspect to mortal observation, both as to reverend
decency of external observance, and as to the inward fruit of
honest dealing between man and man.

In other respects I think no one will be disappointed who visits
the country, expecting to find no more than common sense might
teach him to look for, namely, a vast continent, by far the
greater part of which is still in the state in which nature left
it, and a busy, bustling, industrious population, hacking and
hewing their way through it. What greatly increases the interest
of this spectacle, is the wonderful facility for internal
commerce, furnished by the rivers, lakes, and canals, which
thread the country in every direction, producing a rapidity of
progress in all commercial and agricultural speculation
altogether unequalled. This remarkable feature is perceptible in
every part of the union into which the fast spreading population
has hitherto found its way, and forms, I think, the most
remarkable and interesting peculiarity of the country. I hardly
remember a single town where vessels of some description or other
may not constantly be seen in full activity.

Their carriages of every kind are very unlike ours; those
belonging to private individuals seem all constructed with a view
to summer use, for which they are extremely well calculated, but
they are by no means comfortable in winter. The waggons and cars
are built with great strength, which is indeed necessary, from
the roads they often have to encounter. The stagecoaches are
heavier and much less comfortable than those of France; to those
of England they can bear no comparison. I never saw any harness
that I could call handsome, nor any equipage which, as to horses,
carriage, harness, and servants, could be considered as complete.
The sleighs are delightful, and constructed at so little expense
that I wonder we have not all got them in England, lying by, in
waiting for the snow, which often remains with us long enough to
permit their use. Sleighing is much more generally enjoyed by
night than by day, for what reason I could never discover, unless
it be, that no gentlemen are to be found disengaged from business
in the mornings. Nothing, certainly, can be more agreeable than
the gliding smoothly and rapidly along, deep sunk in soft furs,
the moon shining with almost midday splendour, the air of crystal
brightness, and the snow sparkling on every side, as if it were
sprinkled with diamonds. And then the noiseless movement of the
horses, so mysterious and unwonted, and the gentle tinkling of
the bells you meet and carry, all help at once to soothe and
excite the spirits: in short, I had not the least objection to
sleighing by night, I only wished to sleigh by day also.

Almost every resident in the country has a carriage they call a
carryall, which name I suspect to be a corruption of the cariole
so often mentioned in the pretty Canadian story of Emily Montagu.
It is clumsy enough, certainly, but extremely convenient, and
admirably calculated, with its thick roof and moveable draperies,
for every kind of summer excursion.

Their steam-boats, were the social arrangements somewhat
improved, would be delightful, as a mode of travelling; but they
are very seldom employed for excursions of mere amusement: nor do
I remember seeing pleasure-boats, properly so called, at any of
the numerous places where they might be used with so much safety
and enjoyment.

How often did our homely adage recur to me, "All work and no play
would make Jack a dull boy;" Jonathan is a very dull boy. We are
by no means so gay as our lively neighbours on the other side the
Channel, but, compared with Americans, we are whirligigs and
tetotums; every day is a holyday, and every night a festival.

Perhaps if the ladies had quite their own way, a little more
relaxation would be permitted; but there is one remarkable
peculiarity in their manners which precludes the possibility of
any dangerous outbreaking of the kind: few ladies have any
command of ready money entrusted to them. I have been a hundred
times present when bills for a few dollars, perhaps for one, have
been brought for payment to ladies living in perfectly easy
circumstances, who have declared themselves without money, and
referred the claimant to their husbands for payment. On every
occasion where immediate disbursement is required it is the same;
even in shopping for ready cash they say, "send a bill home with
the things, and my husband will give you a draft."

I think that it was during my stay at Washington, that I was
informed of a government regulation, which appeared to me
curious; I therefore record it here.

Every Deputy Post-Master is required to insert in his return the
title of every newspaper received at his office for distribution.
This return is laid before the Secretary of State, who,
perfectly knowing the political character of each newspaper, is
thus enabled to feel the pulse of every limb of the monster mob.
This is a well imagined device for getting a peep at the politics
of a country where newspapers make part of the daily food, but is
it quite consistent with their entire freedom? I do not believe
we have any such tricks to regulate the disposal of offices and

I believe it was in Indiana that Mr. T. met with a printed
notice relative to the payment of taxes, which I preserved as a
curious sample of the manner in which the free citizens are
coaxed and reasoned into obeying the laws.


"Those indebted to me for taxes, fees, notes, and accounts, are
specially requested to call and pay the same on or before the 1st
day of December, 1828, as no longer indulgence will be given. I
have called time and again, by advertisement and otherwise, to
little effect; but now the time has come when my situation
requires immediate payment from all indebted to me. It is
impossible for me to pay off the amount of the duplicates of
taxes and my other debts without recovering the same of those
from whom it is due. I am at a loss to know the reason why those
charged with taxes neglect to pay; from the negligence of many it
would seem that they think the money is mine, or I have funds to
discharge the taxes due to the State, and that I can wait with
them until it suits their convenience to pay. The money is not
mine; neither have I the funds to settle amount of the duplicate.
My only resort is to collect; in doing so I should be sorry to
have to resort to the authority given me by law for the recovery
of the same. It should be the first object of every good citizen
to pay his taxes, for it is in that way government is supported.
Why are taxes assessed unless they are collected? Depend upon
it, I shall proceed to collect agreeably to law, so govern
yourselves accordingly.

Sh'ff and Collector, D.C.
Nov 20, 1828."

"N.B. On Thursday, the 27th inst. A. St. Clair and Geo. H.
Dunn, Esqrs. depart for Indianopolis; I wish as many as can pay
to do so, to enable me to forward as much as possible, to save
the twenty-one per cent, that will be charged against me after
the 8th of December next.


The first autumn I passed in America, I was surprised to find a
great and very oppressive return of heat, accompanied with a
heavy mistiness in the air, long after the summer heats were
over; when this state of the atmosphere comes on, they say, "we
have got to the Indian summer." On desiring to have this phrase
explained, I was told that the phenomenon described as the
_Indian Summer_ was occasioned by the Indians setting fire to the
woods, which spread heat and smoke to a great distance; but I
afterwards met with the following explanation, which appears to
me much more reasonable. "The Indian summer is so called
because, at the particular period of the year in which it
obtains, the Indians break up their village communities, and go
to the interior to prepare for their winter hunting. This
season seems to mark a dividing line, between the heat of summer,
and the cold of winter, and is, from its mildness, suited to
these migrations. The cause of this heat is the slow combustion
of the leaves and other vegetable matter of the boundless and
interminable forests. Those who at this season of the year have
penetrated these forests, know all about it. To the feet the
heat is quite sensible, whilst the ascending vapour warms every
thing it embraces, and spreading out into the wide atmosphere,
fills the circuit of the heavens with its peculiar heat and

This unnatural heat sufficiently accounts for the sickliness of
the American autumn. The effect of it is extremely distressing
to the nerves, even when the general health continues good; to
me, it was infinitely more disagreeable than the glowing heat of
the dog-days.

A short time before we arrived in America, the Duke of
Saxe-Weimar made a tour of the United States. I heard many
persons speak of his unaffected and amiable manners, yet he could
not escape the dislike which every trace of gentlemanly feeling
is sure to create among the ordinary class of Americans. As an
amusing instance of this, I made the following extract from a

"A correspondent of the Charlestown Gazette tells an anecdote
connected with the Duke of Saxe-Weimar's recent journey through
our country, which we do not recollect to have heard before,
although some such story is told of the veritable Capt. Basil
Hall. The scene occurred on the route between Augusta and
Milledgeville; it seems that the sagacious Duke engaged three or
four, or more seats, in the regular stage, for the accommodation
of himself and suite, and thought by this that he had secured the
monopoly of the vehicle. Not so, however; a traveller came
along, and entered his name upon the book, and secured his seat
by payment of the customary charges. To the Duke's great
surprise on entering the stage, he found our traveller
comfortably housed in one of the most eligible seats, wrapt up in
his fear-nought, and snoring like a buffalo. The Duke, greatly
irritated, called for the question of consideration. He
demanded, in broken English, the cause of the gross intrusion,
and insisted in a very princely manner, though not, it seems in
very princely language, upon the incumbent vacating the seat in
which he had made himself so impudently at home. But the Duke
had yet to learn his first lesson of republicanism. The driver
was one of those sturdy southrons, who can always, and at a
moment's warning, whip his weight in wild cats: and he as
resolutely told the Duke, that the traveller was as good, if not
a better man, than himself; and that no alteration of the
existing arrangement could be permitted. Saxe-Weimar became
violent at this opposition, so unlike any to which his education
hitherto had ever subjected him, and threatened John with the
application of the bamboo. This was one of those threats which
in Georgia dialect would subject a man to "a rowing up salt
river;" and, accordingly, down leaped our driver from his box,
and peeling himself for the combat, he leaped about the vehicle
in the most wild-boar style, calling upon the prince of a five
acre patch to put his threat in execution. But he of the star
refused to make up issue in the way suggested, contenting himself
with assuring the enraged southron of a complaint to his
excellency the Governor, on arriving at the seat of government.
This threat was almost as unlucky as the former, for it wrought
the individual for whom it was intended into that species of
fury, which, through discriminating in its madness, is
nevertheless without much limit in its violence, and he swore
that the Governor might go to --, and for his part he would just
as leave lick the Governor as the Duke; he'd like no better fun
than to give both Duke and Governor a dressing in the same
breath; could do it, he had little doubt, &c. &c.; and
instigating one fist to diverge into the face of the marvelling
and panic-stricken nobleman, with the other he thrust him down
into a seat alongside the traveller, whose presence had been
originally of such sore discomfort to his excellency, and bidding
the attendants jump in with their discomfited master, he mounted
his box in triumph, and went on his journey." I fully believe
that this brutal history would be as distasteful to the travelled
and polished few who are to be found scattered through the Union,
as it is to me: but if they do not deem the _possibility_ of such
a scene to be a national degradation, I differ from them. The
American people (speaking of the great mass) have no more idea of
what constitutes the difference between this "Prince of a five
acre patch," and themselves, than a dray-horse has of estimating
the points of the elegant victor of the race-course. Could the
dray-horse speak, when expected to yield the daintiest stall to
his graceful rival, he would say, "a horse is a horse;" and is it
not with the same logic that the transatlantic Houynnhnm puts
down all superiority with "a man is a man?"

This story justifies the reply of Talleyrand, when asked by
Napoleon what he thought of the Americans, "Sire, ce sont des
fiers cochons, et des cochons fiers."


Literature--Extracts--Fine Arts--Education

The character of the American literature is, generally speaking,
pretty justly appreciated in Europe. The immense exhalation of
periodical trash, which penetrates into every cot and corner of
the country, and which is greedily sucked in by all ranks, is
unquestionably one great cause of its inferiority. Where
newspapers are the principal vehicles of the wit and wisdom of a
people, the higher graces of composition can hardly be looked

That there are many among them who can write well, is most
certain; but it is at least equally so, that they have little
encouragement to exercise the power in any manner more dignified
than becoming the editor of a newspaper or a magazine. As far as
I could judge, their best writers are far from being the most
popular. The general taste is decidedly bad; this is obvious,
not only from the mass of slip-slop poured forth by the daily and
weekly press, but from the inflated tone of eulogy in which their
insect authors are lauded.

To an American writer, I should think it must be a flattering
distinction to escape the admiration of the newspapers. Few
persons of taste, I imagine, would like such notice as the
following, which I copied from a New York paper, where it
followed the advertisement of a partnership volume of poems by a
Mr, and Mrs. Brooks; but of such, are their literary notices
chiefly composed.

"The lovers of impassioned and classical numbers may promise
themselves much gratification from the muse of Brooks, while the
many-stringed harp of his lady, the Norna of the Courier Harp,
which none but she can touch, has a chord for every heart."

Another obvious cause of inferiority in the national literature,
is the very slight acquaintance with the best models of
composition, which is thought necessary for persons called well
educated. There may be reason for deprecating the lavish expense
of time bestowed in England on the acquirement of Latin and
Greek, and it may be doubtful whether the power of composing in
these languages with correctness and facility, be worth all the
labour it costs; but as long as letters shall be left on the
earth, the utility of a perfect familiarity with the exquisite
models of antiquity, cannot be doubted. I think I run no risk of
contradiction, when I say that an extremely small proportion of
the higher classes in America possess this familiar acquaintance
with the classics. It is vain to suppose that translations may
suffice. Noble as are the thoughts the ancients have left us,
their power of expression is infinitely more important as a study
to modern writers; and this no translation can furnish. Nor did
it appear to me that their intimacy with modern literature was
such as to assist them much in the formation of style. What they
class as modern literature seems to include little beyond the
English publications of the day.

To speak of Chaucer, or even Spenser, as a modern, appears to
them inexpressibly ridiculous; and all the rich and varied
eloquence of Italy, from Dante to Monti, is about as much known
to them, as the Welsh effusions of Urien and Modred, to us.

Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, &c., were read by the old
federalists, but now they seem known more as naughty words, than
as great names. I am much mistaken if a hundred untravelled
Americans could be found, who have read Boileau or Le Fontaine.
Still fewer are acquainted with that delightful host of French
female writers, whose memoirs and letters sparkle in every page
with unequalled felicity of style. The literature of Spain and
Portugal is no better known, and as for "the wits of Queen Anne's
day," they are laid _en masse_ upon a shelf, in some score of
very old-fashioned houses, together with Sherlock and Taylor, as
much too antiquated to suit the immensely rapid progress of mind
which distinguishes America.

The most perfect examples of English writing, either of our own,
or of any former day, have assuredly not been produced by the
imitation of any particular style; but the Fairy Queen would
hardly have been written, if the Orlando had not; nor would
Milton have been the perfect poet he was, had Virgil and Tasso
been unknown to him. It is not that the scholar mimics in
writing the phrases he has read, but that he can neither think,
feel, nor express himself as he might have done, had his mental
companionship been of a lower order.

They are great novel readers, but the market is chiefly furnished
by England. They have, however, a few very good native novels.
Mr. Flint's Francis Berrian is delightful. There is a vigor and
freshness in his writing that is exactly in accordance with what
one looks for, in the literature of a new country; and yet,
strange to say, it is exactly what is most wanting in that of
America. It appeared to me that the style of their imaginative
compositions was almost always affected, and inflated. Even in
treating their great national subject of romance, the Indians,
they are seldom either powerful or original. A few well known
general features, moral and physical, are presented over and over
again in all their Indian stories, till in reading them you lose
all sense of individual character. Mr. Flint's History of the
Mississippi Valley is a work of great interest, and information,
and will, I hope, in time find its way to England, where I think
it is much more likely to be appreciated than in America.

Dr. Channing is a writer too well known in England to require my
testimony to his great ability. As a preacher he has, perhaps,
hardly a rival any where. This gentleman is an Unitarian, and I
was informed by several persons well acquainted with the literary
character of the country, that nearly all their distinguished men
were of this persuasion.

Mr. Pierpoint is a very eloquent preacher, and a sweet poet. His
works are not so well known among us as .they ought to be. Mr.
Everett has written some beautiful lines, and if I may judge from
the specimens of his speeches, as preserved in the volumes
intitled "Eloquence of the United States," I should say that he
shone more as a poet than an orator. But American fame has
decided otherwise.

Mr. M. Flint, of Louisiana, has published a volume of poems which
ought to be naturalised here. Mr. Hallock, of New York, has much
facility of versification, and is greatly in fashion as a
drawing-room poet, but I think he has somewhat too much respect
for himself, and too little for his readers.

It is, I think, Mr. Bryant who ranks highest as the poet of the
Union. This is too lofty an eminence for me to attack; besides,
"I am of another parish," and therefore, perhaps, no very fair

From miscellaneous poetry I made a great many extracts, but upon
returning to them for transcription I thought that ill-nature and
dulness, ('oh ill-matched pair!') would be more served by their
insertion, than wholesome criticism.

The massive Fredoniad of Dr. Emmons, in forty cantos, I never
read; but as I did not meet a single native who had, I hope this
want of poetical enterprise will be excused.

They have very few native tragedies; not more than half a dozen I
believe, and those of very recent date. It would be ungenerous
to fall heavily upon these; the attempt alone, nearly the most
arduous a poet can make, is of itself honourable: and the success
at least equal to that in any other department of literature.

Mr. Paulding is a popular writer of novels; some of his
productions have been recently republished in England. Miss
Sedgwick is also well known among us; her "Hope Leslie" is a
beautiful story. Mr. Washington Irving and Mr. Cooper have so
decidedly chosen another field, whereon to reap their laurels,
that it is hardly necessary to name them here.

I am not, of course, competent to form any opinion of their
scientific works; but some papers which I read almost
accidentally, appeared to me to be written with great clearness,
and neatness of definition.

It appears extraordinary that a people who loudly declare their
respect for science, should be entirely without observatories.
Neither at their seats of learning, nor in their cities, does any
thing of the kind exist; nor did I in any direction hear of
individuals, given to the study of astronomy.

I had not the pleasure of making any acquaintance with Mr.
Bowditch, of Boston, but I know that this gentleman ranks very
high as a mathematician in the estimation of the scientific world
of Europe.

Jefferson's posthumous works were very generally circulated
whilst I was in America. They are a mighty mass of mischief. He
wrote with more perspicuity than he thought, and his hot-headed
democracy has done a fearful injury to his country. Hollow and
unsound as his doctrines are, they are but too palatable to a
people, each individual of whom would rather derive his
importance from believing that none are above him, than from the
consciousness that in his station he makes part of a noble whole.
The social system of Mr. Jefferson, if carried into effect,
would make of mankind an unamalgamated mass of grating atoms,
where the darling "I'm as good as you," would soon take place of
the law and the Gospel. As it is, his principles, though happily
not fully put in action, have yet produced most lamentable
results. The assumption of equality, however empty, is
sufficient to tincture the manners of the poor with brutal
insolence, and subjects the rich to the paltry expediency of
sanctioning the falsehood, however deep their conviction that it
is such. It cannot, I think, be denied that the great men of
America attain to power and to fame, by eternally uttering what
they know to be untrue. American citizens are not equal. Did
Washington feel them to be so, when his word outweighed (so
happily for them) the votes of thousands? Did Franklin think
that all were equal when he shouldered his way from the printing
press to the cabinet? True, he looked back in high good humour,
and with his kindest smile told the poor devils whom he left
behind, that they were all his equals; but Franklin did not speak
the truth, and he knew it. The great, the immortal Jefferson
himself, he who when past the three score years and ten, still
taught young females to obey his nod, and so became the father of
unnumbered generations of groaning slaves, what was his matin and
his vesper hymn? "All men are born free and equal." Did the
venerable father of the gang believe it? Or did he too purchase
his immortality by a lie?

From the five heavy volumes of the "Eloquence of the United
States," I made a few extracts, which I give more for the sake of
their political interest, than for any purpose of literary

Mr. Hancock (one of those venerated men who signed the act of
independence), in speaking of England, thus expresses himself:
"But if I was possessed of the gift of prophecy, I dare not
(except by Divine command) unfold the leaves on which the destiny
of that once powerful kingdom is inscribed." It is impossible
not to regret that Mr. Hancock should thus have let "I dare not,
wait upon I would." It would have been exceedingly edifying to
have known beforehand all the terrible things the republic was
about to do for us.

This prophetic orator spoke the modest, yet awful words, above
quoted, nearly sixty years ago; in these latter days men are
become bolder, for in a modern 4th of July oration, Mr. Rush,
without waiting, I think, for Divine command, gives the following
amiable portrait of the British character.

"In looking at Britain, we see a harshness of individual character
in the general view of it, which is perceived and acknowledged by
all Europe; a spirit of unbecoming censure as regards all customs
and institutions not their own; a ferocity in some of their
characteristics of national manners, pervading their very
pastimes, which no other modern people are endued with the
blunted sensibility to bear; an universal self-assumed
superiority, not innocently manifesting itself in speculative
sentiments among themselves, but unamiably indulged when with
foreigners, of whatever description, in their own country, or
when they themselves are the temporary sojourners in a foreign
country; a code of criminal law that forgets to feel for human
frailty, that sports with human misfortune, that has shed more
blood in deliberate judicial severity for two centuries past,
constantly increasing, too, in its sanguinary hue, than has ever
been sanctioned by the jurisprudence of any ancient or modern
nation, civilized and refined like herself; the merciless
whippings in her army, peculiar to herself alone, the conspicuous
commission and freest acknowledgment of vice in the upper
classes; the overweening distinctions shown to opulence and
birth, so destructive of a sound moral sentiment in the nation,
so baffling to virtue. These are some of the traits that rise up
to a contemplation of the inhabitants of this isle."

Where is the alchymy that can extract from Captain Hall's work
one thousandth part of the ill-will contained in this one
passage? Yet America has resounded from shore to shore with
execrations against his barbarous calumnies.

But now we will listen to another tone. Let us see how Americans
can praise. Mr. Everett, in a recent 4th of July oration, speaks

"We are authorised to assert, that the era of our independence
dates the establishment of the only perfect organization of
government." Again, "Our government is in its theory perfect,
and in its operation it is perfect also. Thus we have solved
the great problem in human affairs." And again, "A frame of
government perfect in its principles has been brought down from
the airy regions of Utopia, and has found a local habitation and
a name in our country."

Among my miscellaneous reading, I got hold of an American
publication giving a detailed, and, indeed, an official account
of the capture of Washington by the British, in 1814. An event
so long past, and of so little ultimate importance, is, perhaps,
hardly worth alluding to; but there are some passages in the
official documents which I thought very amusing.

At the very moment of receiving the attack of the British on the
heights of Bladensburgh, there seems to have been a most curious
puzzle among the American generals, as to where they were to be
stationed, and what they were to do. It is stated that the
British threw themselves forward in open order, advancing singly.
The American general (Winden) goes on in his narrative to
describe what followed, thus:

"Our advanced riflemen now began to fire, and continued it for
half a dozen rounds, when I observed them to run back to an
orchard. They halted there, and seemed for a moment about
returning to their original position, but in a few moments
entirely broke and retired to the left of Stansburg's line. The
advanced artillery immediately followed the riflemen.

"The first three or four rockets fired by the enemy were much
above the heads of Stansburg's line; but the rockets having taken
a more horizontal direction, an universal flight of the centre
and left of this brigade was the consequence. The 5th regiment
and the artillery still remained, and I hoped would prevent the
enemy's approach, but they advancing singly, their fire annoyed
the 5th considerably, when I ordered it to retire, to put it out
of the reach of the enemy. This order was, however, immediately
countermanded, from an aversion to retire before the necessity
became stronger, and from a hope that the enemy would issue in a
body, and enable us to act upon him on terms of equality. But
the enemy's fire beginning to annoy the 5th still more, by
wounding several of them, and a strong column passing up the
road, and deploying on its left, I ordered them to retire; their
retreat became a flight of absolute and total disorder."

Of Beall's regiment, the general gives the following succinct
account--"It gave one or two ineffectual fires and fled."

In another place he says, piteously,--"The cavalry would do any
thing but charge."

General Armstrong's gentle and metaphysical account of the
business was, that--"Without all doubt the determining cause of
our disasters is to be found in the love of life."

This affair at Washington, which in its result was certainly
advantageous to America, inasmuch as it caused the present
beautiful capitol to be built in the place of the one we burnt,
was, nevertheless, considered as a national calamity at the time.
In a volume of miscellaneous poems I met with one, written with
the patriotic purpose of cheering the country under it; one
triplet struck me as rather alarming for us, however soothing to

"Supposing George's house at Kew
Were burnt, as we intend to do,
Would that be burning England too?"

I think I have before mentioned that no work of mere pleasantry
has hitherto been found to answer; but a recent attempt of the
kind as been made, with what success cannot as yet be decided.
The editors are comedians belonging to the Boston company, and it
is entitled "The American Comic Annual." It is accompanied by
etchings, somewhat in the manner, but by no means with the spirit
of Cruikshank's. Among the pleasantries of this lively volume
are some biting attacks upon us, particularly upon our utter
incapacity of speaking English. We really must engage a few
American professors, or we shall lose all trace of classic purity
in our language. As a specimen, and rather a favourable one, of
the work, I transcribed an extract from a little piece, entitled,
"Sayings and Doings, a Fragment of a Farce." One of the
personages of this farce is an English gentleman, a Captain
Mandaville, and among many speeches of the same kind, I selected
the following. Collins's Ode is the subject of conversation.

"A--r, A--a--a it stroiks me that that you manetion his the hode
about hangger and ope and orror and revenge you know. I've eard
Mrs. Sitdowns hencored in it at Common Garden and Doory Lane in
the ight of her poplarity you know. By the boye, hall the hactin
in Amareka is werry orrid. You're honely in the hinfancy of the
istoryonic hart you know; your performers never haspirate the
haitch in sich vords for instance as hink and hoats, and leave
out the _w_ in wice wanity you know; and make nothink of homittin
the _k_ in somethink."

There is much more in the same style, but, perhaps, this may
suffice. I have given this passage chiefly because it affords an
example of the manner in which the generality of Americans are
accustomed to speak of English pronunciation and phraseology.

It must be remembered, however, here and every where, that this
phrase, "the Americans," does not include the instructed and
travelled portion of the community.

It would be absurd to swell my little volumes with extracts in
proof of the veracity of their contents, but having spoken of the
taste of their lighter works, and also of the general tone of
manners, I cannot forbear inserting a page from an American
annual (The Token), which purports to give a scene from
fashionable life. It is part of a dialogue between a young lady
of the "highest standing" and her "tutor," who is moreover her
lover, though not yet acknowledged.

"And so you wo'nt tell me," said she, "what has come over you,
and why you look as grave and sensible as a Dictionary, when, by
general consent, even mine, 'motley's the only wear?'"

'"Am I so grave, Miss Blair?"

'"Are you so grave, Miss Blair? One would think I had not got
my lesson today. Pray, sir, has the black ox trod upon your toe
since we parted?"

'Philip tried to laugh, but he did not succeed; he bit his lip
and was silent.

'"I am under orders to entertain you, Mr. Blondel, and if my poor
brain can be made to gird this fairy isle, I shall certainly be
obedient. So I begin with playing the leech. What ails you,

'"Miss Blair!" he was going to remonstrate.

'"Miss Blair! Now, pity. I'm a quack! for whip me, if I know
whether Miss Blair is a fever or an ague. How did you catch it,

'"Really, Miss Blair--"

'"Nay, I see you don't like doctoring; I give over, and now I'll
be sensible. It's a fine day, Mr. Blondel."


'"A pleasant lane, this, to walk in, if one's company were

'"Does Mr. Skefton stay long?" asked Philip, abruptly.

'"No one knows,"

'"Indeed! are you so ignorant?"

'"And why does your wisdom ask that question?"'

In no society in the world can the advantage of travel be so
conspicuous as in America, in other countries a tone of
unpretending simplicity can more than compensate for the absence
of enlarged views or accurate observation; but this tone is not
to be found in America, or if it be, it is only among those who,
having looked at that insignificant portion of the world not
included in the Union, have learnt to know how much is still
unknown within the mighty part which is. For the rest, they all
declare, and do in truth believe, that they only, among the sons
of men, have wit and wisdom, and that one of their exclusive
privileges is that of speaking English _elegantly_. There are
two reasons for this latter persuasion; the one is, that the
great majority have never heard any English but their own, except
from the very lowest of the Irish; and the other, that those who
have chanced to find themselves in the society of the few
educated English who have visited America, have discovered that
there is a marked difference between their phrases and accents
and those to which they have been accustomed, whereupon they
have, of course, decided that no Englishman can speak English.

The reviews of America contain some good clear-headed articles;
but I sought in vain for the playful vivacity and the
keenly-cutting satire, whose sharp edge, however painful to the
patient, is of such high utility in lopping off the excrescences
of bad taste, and levelling to its native clay the heavy growth
of dulness. Still less could I find any trace of that graceful
familiarity of learned allusion and general knowledge which mark
the best European reviews, and which make one feel in such
perfectly good company while perusing them. But this is a tone
not to be found either in the writings or conversation of
Americans; as distant from pedantry as from ignorance, it is not
learning itself, but the effect of it; and so pervading and
subtle is its influence that it may be traced in the festive
halls and gay drawing-rooms of Europe as certainly as in the
cloistered library or student's closet; it is, perhaps, the last
finish of highly-finished society.

A late American Quarterly has an article on a work of Dr. Von
Schmidt Phiseldek, from which I made an extract, as a curious
sample of the dreams they love to batten on.

Dr. Von Phiseldek (not Fiddlestick), who is not only a doctor of
philosophy, but a knight of Dannebrog to boot, has never been in
America, but he has written a prophecy, showing that the United
States must and will govern the whole world, because they are so
very big, and have so much uncultivated territory; he prophesies
that an union will take place between North and South America,
which will give a death-blow to Europe, at no distant period;
though he modestly adds that he does not pretend to designate the
precise period at which this will take place. This Danish
prophecy, as may be imagined, enchants the reviewer. He exhorts
all people to read Dr. Phiseldek's book, because "nothing but
good can come of such contemplations of the future, and because
it is eminently calculated to awaken the most lofty anticipations
of the destiny which awaits them, and will serve to impress upon
the nation the necessity of being prepared for such high
destiny." In another place the reviewer bursts out, "America,
young as she is, has become already the beacon, the patriarch of
the struggling nations of the world;" and afterwards adds, It
would be departing from the natural order of things, and the
ordinary operations of the great scheme of Providence, it would
be shutting our ears to the voice of experience, and our eyes to
the inevitable connexion of causes and their effects, were we to
reject the extreme probability, not to say _moral certainty_,
that the old world is destined to receive its influences in
future from the new." There are twenty pages of this article,
but I will only give one passage more; it is an instance of the
sort of reasoning by which American citizens persuade themselves
that the glory of Europe is, in reality, her reproach. "Wrapped
up in a sense of his superiority, the European reclines at home,
shining in his borrowed plumes, derived from the product of every
corner of the earth, and the industry of every portion of its
inhabitants, with which his own natural resources would never
have invested him, he continues revelling in enjoyments which
nature has denied him."

The American Quarterly deservedly holds the highest place in
their periodical literature, and, therefore, may be fairly quoted
as striking the keynote for the chorus of public opinion. Surely
it is nationality rather than patriotism which leads it thus to
speak in scorn of the successful efforts of enlightened nations
to win from every corner of the earth the riches which nature has
scattered over it.

The incorrectness of the press is very great; they make strange
work in the reprints of French and Italian; and the Latin, I
suspect, does not fare much better: I believe they do not often
meddle with Greek.

With regard to the fine arts, their paintings, I think, are quite
as good, or rather better, than might be expected from the
patronage they receive; the wonder is that any man can be found
with courage enough to devote himself to a profession in which he
has so little chance of finding a maintenance. The trade of a
carpenter opens an infinitely better prospect; and this is so
well known, that nothing but a genuine passion for the art could
beguile any one to pursue it. The entire absence of every means
of improvement, and effectual study, is unquestionably the cause
why those who manifest this devotion cannot advance farther. I
heard of one young artist, whose circumstances did not permit his
going to Europe, but who being nevertheless determined that his
studies should, as nearly as possible, resemble those of the
European academies, was about to commence drawing the human
figure, for which purpose he had provided himself with a thin
silk dress, in which to clothe his models, as no one of any
station, he said, could be found who would submit to sit as a
model without clothing.

It was at Alexandria that I saw what I consider as the best
picture by an American artist that I met with. The subject was
Hagar and Ishmael. It had recently arrived from Rome, where the
painter, a young man of the name of Chapman, had been studying
for three years. His mother told me that he was twenty-two years
of age, and passionately devoted to the art; should he, on
returning to his country, receive sufficient encouragement to
keep his ardour and his industry alive, I think I shall hear of
him again.

Much is said about the universal diffusion of education in
America, and a vast deal of genuine admiration is felt and
expressed at the progress of mind throughout the Union. They
believe themselves in all sincerity to have surpassed, to be
surpassing, and to be about to surpass, the whole earth in the
intellectual race. I am aware that not a single word can be
said, hinting a different opinion, which will not bring down a
transatlantic anathema on my head; yet the subject is too
interesting to be omitted. Before I left England I remember
listening, with much admiration, to an eloquent friend, who
deprecated our system of public education, as confining the
various and excursive faculties of our children to one beaten
path, paying little or no attention to the peculiar powers of
the individual.

This objection is extremely plausible, but doubts of its
intrinsic value must, I think, occur to every one who has marked
the result of a different system throughout the United States.

From every enquiry I could make, and I took much pains to obtain
accurate information, it appeared that much is attempted, but
very little beyond reading, writing, and bookkeeping, is
thoroughly acquired. Were we to read a prospectus of the system
pursued in any of our public schools and that of a first-rate
seminary in America, we should be struck by the confined
scholastic routine of the former, when compared to the varied and
expansive scope of the latter; but let the examination go a
little farther, and I believe it will be found that the old
fashioned school discipline of England has produced something
higher, and deeper too, than that which roars so loud, and
thunders in the index.

They will not afford to let their young men study till two or
three and twenty, and it is therefore declared, _ex cathedra
Americana_, to be unnecessary. At sixteen, often much earlier,
education ends, and money-making begins; the idea that more
learning is necessary than can be acquired by that time, is
generally ridiculed as obsolete monkish bigotry; added to which,
if the seniors willed a more prolonged discipline, the juniors
would refuse submission. When the money-getting begins, leisure
ceases, and all of lore which can be acquired afterwards, is
picked up from novels, magazines, and newspapers.

At what time can the taste be formed? How can a correct and
polished style, even of speaking, be acquired? or when can the
fruit of the two thousand years of past thinking be added to the
native growth of American intellect? These are the tools, if I
may so express myself, which our elaborate system of school
discipline puts into the hands of our scholars; possessed of
these, they may use them in whatever direction they please
afterwards, they can never be an incumbrance.

No people appear more anxious to excite admiration and receive
applause than the Americans, yet none take so little trouble,
or make so few sacrifices to obtain it. This may answer among
themselves, but it will not with the rest of the world;
individual sacrifices must be made, and national economy
enlarged, before America can compete with the old world in
taste, learning, and liberality.

The reception of General Lafayette is the one single instance
in which the national pride has overcome the national thrift;
and this was clearly referrible to the one single feeling of
enthusiasm of which they appear capable, namely, the triumph
of their successful struggle for national independence. But
though this feeling will be universally acknowledged as a worthy
and lawful source of triumph and of pride, it will not serve to
trade upon for ever, as a fund of glory and high station among
the nations. Their fathers were colonists; they fought stoutly,
and became an independent people. Success and admiration, even
the admiration of those whose yoke they had broken, cheered
them while living, still sheds a glory round their remote and
untitled sepulchres, and will illumine the page of their history
for ever.

Their children inherit the independence; they inherit too the
honour of being the sons of brave fathers; but this will not give
them the reputation at which they aim, of being scholars and
gentlemen, nor will it enable them to sit down for evermore to
talk of their glory, while they drink mint julap and chew
tobacco, swearing by the beard of Jupiter (or some other oath)
that they are very graceful, and agreeable, and, moreover abusing
every body who does not cry out Amen!

To doubt that talent and mental power of every kind exist in
America would be absurd; why should it not? But in taste and
learning they are woefully deficient; and it is this which
renders them incapable of graduating a scale by which to measure
themselves. Hence arises that over weening complacency and
self-esteem, both national and individual, which at once renders
them so extremely obnoxious to ridicule, and so peculiarly
restive under it.

If they will scorn the process by which other nations have become
what they avowedly intend to be, they must rest satisfied with
the praise and admiration they receive from each other; and
turning a deaf ear to the criticism of the old world, consent to
be their own prodigious great reward."

Alexandria has its churches, chapels, and conventicles as
abundantly, in proportion to its size, as any city in the Union.
I visited most of them, and in the Episcopal and Catholic heard
the services performed quietly and reverently.

The best sermon, however, that I listened to, was in a Methodist
church, from the mouth of a Piquot Indian. It was impossible not
be touched by the simple sincerity of this poor man. He gave a
picture frightfully eloquent of the decay of his people under the
united influence of the avarice and intemperance of the white
men. He described the effect of the religious feeling which had
recently found its way among them as most salutary. The purity
of his moral feeling, and the sincerity of his sympathy with his
forest brethren, made it unquestionable that he must be the most
valuable priest who could officiate for them. His English was
very correct, and his pronunciation but slightly tinctured by
native accent.

While we were still in the neighbourhood of Washington, a most
violent and unprecedented schism occurred in the cabinet. The
four secretaries of State all resigned, leaving General Jackson
to manage the queer little state barge alone.

Innumerable contradictory statements appeared upon this occasion
in the papers, and many a cigar was thrown aside, ere half
consumed, that the disinterested politician might give breath to
his cogitations on this extraordinary event; but not all the
eloquence of all the smokers, nor even the ultradiplomatic
expositions which appeared from the seceding secretaries
themselves, could throw any light on the mysterious business.
It produced, however, the only tolerable caricature I ever saw
in the country. It represents the President seated alone in his
cabinet, wearing a look of much discomfiture, and making great
exertions to detain one of four rats, who are running off, by
placing his foot on the tail. The rats' heads bear a very
sufficient resemblance to the four ex-ministers. General
Jackson, it seems, had requested Mr. Van Buren, the Secretary of
State, to remain in office till his place was supplied; this gave
occasion to a _bon mot_ from his son, who, being asked when his
father would be in New York, replied, "When the President takes
off his foot."


Journey to New York--Delaware River--Stagecoach--
City of New York--Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies--
Theatres--Public Garden--Churches--Morris Canal--

At length, in spite of the lingering pace necessarily attending
consultations, and arrangements across the Atlantic, our plans
were finally settled; the coming spring was to show us New York,
and Niagara, and the early summer was to convey us home.

No sooner did the letter arrive which decided this, than we began
our preparations for departure. We took our last voyage on the
Potomac, we bade a last farewell to Virginia, and gave a last day
to some of our kind friends near Washington.

The spring, though slow and backward, was sufficiently advanced
to render the journey pleasant; and though the road from
Washington to Baltimore was less brilliant in foliage than when
I had seen it before, it still had much of beauty. The azalias
were in full bloom, and the delicate yellow blossom of the
sassafras almost rivalled its fruit in beauty.

At Baltimore we again embarked on a gigantic steam-boat, and
reached Philadelphia in the middle of the night. Here we changed
our boat and found time, before starting in the morning, to take
a last look at the Doric and Corinthian porticos of the two
celebrated temples dedicated to Mammon.

The Delaware river, above Philadelphia, still flows through a
landscape too level for beauty, but it is rendered interesting by
a succession of gentlemen's seats, which, if less elaborately
finished in architecture, and garden grounds, than the lovely
villas on the Thames, are still beautiful objects to gaze upon as
you float rapidly past on the broad silvery stream that washes
their lawns They present a picture of wealth and enjoyment that
accords well with the noble city to which they are an appendage.
One mansion arrested our attention, not only from its being more
than usually large and splendid, but from its having the monument
which marked the family resting-place, rearing itself in all the
gloomy grandeur of black and white marble, exactly opposite the
door of entrance.

In Virginia and Maryland we had remarked that almost every family
mansion had its little grave yard, sheltered by locust and
cypress trees; but this decorated dwelling of the dead seemed
rather a melancholy ornament in the grounds.

We had, for a considerable distance, a view of the dwelling of
Joseph Bonaparte, which is situated on the New Jersey shore, in
the midst of an extensive tract of land, of which he is the

Here the ex-monarch has built several houses, which are occupied
by French tenants. The country is very flat, but a terrace of
two sides has been raised, commanding a fine reach of the
Delaware River; at the point where this terrace forms a right
angle, a lofty chapel has been erected, which looks very much
like an observatory; I admired the ingenuity with which the
Catholic prince has united his religion and his love of a fine
terrestrial prospect. The highest part of the building presents,
in every direction, the appearance of an immense cross; the
transept, if I may so express it, being formed by the projection
of an ample balcony, which surrounds a tower. A Quaker
gentleman, from Philadelphia, exclaimed, as he gazed on the
mansion, "There we see a monument of fallen royalty! Strange!
that dethroned kings should seek and find their best strong-hold
in a Republic."

There was more of philosophy than of scorn in his accent, and his
countenance was the symbol of gentleness and benevolence; but I
overheard many unquakerlike jokes from others, as to the
comfortable assurance a would-be king must feel of a faithful
alliance between his head and shoulders.

At Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, we left our
smoothly-gliding comfortable boat for the most detestable
stage-coach that ever Christian built to dislocate the joints of
his fellow men. Ten of these torturing machines were crammed
full of the passengers who left the boat with us. The change in
our movement was not more remarkable than that which took place
in the tempers and countenances of our fellow-travellers.
Gentlemen who had lounged on sofas, and balanced themselves in
chairs, all the way from Philadelphia, with all the conscious
fascinations of stiff stays and neck-cloths, which, while doing
to death the rash beauties who ventured to gaze, seemed but a
whalebone panoply to guard the wearer, these pretty youths so
guarded from without, so sweetly at peace within, now crushed
beneath their armour, looked more like victims on the wheel, than
dandies armed for conquest; their whalebones seemed to enter into
their souls, and every face grew grim and scowling. The pretty
ladies too, with their expansive bonnets, any one of which might
handsomely have filled the space allotted to three,--how sad the
change! I almost fancied they must have been of the race of
Undine, and that it was only when they heard the splashing of
water that they could smile. As I looked into the altered eyes
of my companions, I was tempted to ask, "Look I as cross as you?"
Indeed, I believe that, if possible, I looked crosser still, for
the roads and the vehicle together were quite too much for my

At length, however, we found ourselves alive on board the boat
which was to convey us down the Raraton River to New York.

We fully intended to have gone to bed, to heal our bones, on
entering the steam-boat, but the sight of a table neatly spread
determined us to go to dinner instead. Sin and shame would it
have been, indeed, to have closed our eyes upon the scene which
soon opened before us. I have never seen the bay of Naples, I
can therefore make no comparison, but my imagination is incapable
of conceiving any thing of the kind more beautiful than the
harbour of New York. Various and lovely are the objects which
meet the eye on every side, but the naming them would only be to
give a list of words, without conveying the faintest idea of the
scene. I doubt if ever the pencil of Turner could do it justice,
bright and glorious as it rose upon us. We seemed to enter the
harbour of New York upon waves of liquid gold, and as we darted
past the green isles which rise from its bosom, like guardian
centinels of the fair city, the setting sun stretched his
horizontal beams farther and farther at each moment, as if to
point out to us some new glory in the landscape.

New York, indeed, appeared to us, even when we saw it by a
soberer light, a lovely and a noble city. To us who had been so
long travelling through half-cleared forests, and sojourning
among an "I'm-as-good-as-you" population, it seemed, perhaps,
more beautiful, more splendid, and more refined than it might
have done, had we arrived there directly from London; but making
every allowance for this, I must still declare that I think New
York one of the finest cities I ever saw, and as much superior to
every other in the Union (Philadelphia not excepted), as London
to Liverpool, or Paris to Rouen. Its advantages of position are,
perhaps, unequalled any where. Situated on an island, which I
think it will one day cover, it rises, like Venice, from the sea,
and like that fairest of cities in the days of her glory,
receives into its lap tribute of all the riches of the earth.

The southern point of Manhatten Island divides the waters of the
harbour into the north and east rivers; on this point stands the
city of New York, extending from river to river, and running
northward to the extent of three or four miles. I think it
covers nearly as much ground as Paris, but is much less thickly
peopled. The extreme point is fortified towards the sea by a
battery, and forms an admirable point of defence; I should
suppose, no city could boast. From hence commences the splendid
Broadway, as the fine avenue is called, which runs through the
whole city. This noble street may vie with any I ever saw, for
its length and breadth, its handsome shops, neat awnings,
excellent _trottoir_, and well-dressed pedestrians. It has not
the crowded glitter of Bond Street equipages, nor the gorgeous
fronted palaces of Regent Street; but it is magnificent in its
extent, and ornamented by several handsome buildings, some of
them surrounded by grass and trees. The Park, in which stands
the noble city-hall, is a very fine area, I never found that the
most graphic description of a city could give me any feeling of
being there; and even if others have the power, I am very sure I
have not, of setting churches and squares, and long drawn
streets, before the mind's eye. I will not, therefore, attempt a
detailed description of this great metropolis of the new world,
but will only say that during the seven weeks we stayed there, we
always found something new to see and to admire; and were it not
so very far from all the old-world things which cling about the
heart of an European, I should say that I never saw a city more
desirable as a residence.

The dwelling houses of the higher classes are extremely handsome,
and very richly furnished. Silk or satin furniture is as often,
or oftener, seen than chintz; the mirrors are as handsome as in
London; the cheffoniers, slabs, and marble tables as elegant; and

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