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our country and its institutions, in England or elsewhere, have ever given us the smallest uneasiness, nor do we conceive how they should disturb the tranquillity of any rational mind. If the remarks of a stranger convey salutary truths, we feel it a duty to acknowledge, as it is our interest to profit by them. But what possible harm can his errors or bis falsehoods domexcept, indeed, to those who are sensitive enough to be angry with them? Even in the case of an individual, it would infer a great want of self-respect, to be so excessively alive to the opinions of others-much more to think of retaliating upon a vulgar calumniator in his own way. But what is undignified in the case of an individual, becomes quite absurd in a whole people—especially in a people full of a prophetic confidence in its destinies, and every day, as we are taught to believe, marching with such gigantic strides to the fulfilinent of them. Surely, it is unworthy of such a people to think of making any other answer to the misrepresentations of a prejudiced, or theoretical, or lying traveller, (as the case may be) than the pregnant one conveyed in a line of Dante
Taci, e lascia volger gli anni.* We cannot say that we found any single passage in these volumes, more offensive to us than the following :
“ The fact of the greater part of all the works which are read in one country, being written for a totally different state of society in another, forms a very singular anomaly in the bistory of nations and I am disposed to think that the Americans would be a happier people if this incongruous communication were at an end. If they got no more books or newspapers from us, than we do from France or Spain, they would, I really believe, be much happier, as far as their intercourse with this country has any
influence over them.” Vol. i. p. 243. Yet there is, unfortunately, but too much truth in it. For all our hyperbolical vauntings about our own superiority to the rest of mankind, we do defer too much to English criticism, and suffer ourselves at once to be governed and to be made unhappy by it. We have too much national vanity, and too little of the far nobler feeling of national pride. There can be no true greatness either in individuals or in multitudes without self-reliance. Enthusiasm must be too intense to quail at ridicule, genius must soar above criticism, or there is no hope of excellence. We must learn to think only of truth and nature in what we lo and say, and to be contented with the applauses of our own people. Instead of clipping and paring away our energies, to suit ourselves to the taste of foreigners, let us give them free
scope, and trust to the sympathies of our neighbours, our friends, our brethren. What Frenchman expects to be admired at London, or cares a straw about the opinions of English and Scotch censors ? For him the whole world lies between the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Ocean. We are, in this respect, too fortunate, did we but know and appreciate our own advantages. Ridiculous as some of our anticipations, bottomed upon the "geometrical ratio” may be, there is one which cannot fail. Beyond a doubt, in the course of half a century more, the audience to which American genius shall address itself, (great as it already is) will be far more numerous—the theatre more vast and imposing, if not altogether so brilliant as that of the parent country. At the end of yet another half century, it will be said of England, with truth, pars minima est ipsa sui. Her language will become a dialect. It will be to the great Anglo-Saxon tongue, spoken on the banks of the Missouri and the Hudson, at best, what the Attic was to the Hellenic or common Greek. The majority, with anything like equality of force and advantages, will govern in this as in other things. The adoption into good use in England of very many words, but the other day rejected and ridiculed as Americanisms, shews already what is the inevitable tendency of things. And, after all, what does it signity to us whether that language shall be intelligible and agreeable or not to a foreign ear.* Happy the men who shall lead the way in the formation of a national literature-who shall strike the chord to which so many millions of American hearts sball vibrate forever, and leave a name to be re-echoed
“ With a shout
As from blest voices, uttering joy." We begin by avowing frankly that we have been, upon the whole, agreeably disappointed in Captain Hall's report of us. From all that we had heard of his conversations and deportment while among us, we had been led to expect a great deal of misrepresentation and acrimony in his book. We must do him the justice to say, that there is very little of the formerin the way of any positive suggestio falsi at least—and nothing at all of the latter. Most of what he states as matter of fact, we believe to be substantially true. Our readers will understand us.
We would carefully distinguish between his statements and his inferences between the journal of the traveller and the common-place book of the Tory philosopher. That he should be dissatisfied with our political institutions, was quite a
* See the remarks of Captain Hall on this subject, at vol. i. p. 241,
matter of course. What Englishman or Scotchman, or, any other loyal subject (we say nothing of a salaried functionary) of his Britannic Majesty, could ever tolerate popular government in any shape? Or why should we, who utterly abominate their polity, and give ourselves so little trouble to conceal our aversion to it, deny the same privilege to them? We were fully prepared, therefore, for his diatribes upon this subject; and all that we felt ourselves at liberty to exact from him, was what every gentleman owes to his own reputation, viz. that he should state our case fairly. It would be going too far to say, that he has done this exactly. It would be, perhaps, expecting too much of him to require it. He came hither with preconceived opinions—he is an homme à système, and visited us for the purpose of collecting facts to support his theory. He has accordingly seen everything with a partial and prejudiced eye. There is no doubt about this, so far, we mean, as our political constitution and its effects on society are concerned. On another vital subject, as we shall presently have to remark more particularly, he does not seem to have adhered so pertinaciously to his opinions. But on this great subject of popular institutions, he looks at all the phenomena through a false medium, and draws conclusions the very reverse of those which would seem fairly deducible from his own premises. When we say, therefore, that he has not, to our knowledge been guilty of any important misrepresentation, our proposition is, of course, subject to the qualification, that he has suffered his inveterate opinions to throw a false colouring over the objects of his inquiry, and to betray him into the exaggeration and unfairness of a professed advocate. Thus, it is undoubtedly true, that with some few exceptions, the speeches of our members of Congress are intolerably long-winded, rhetorical and commonplace, although it may be true that the subject, by the time it has passed through a discussion of fifty orators and at least as many days, is as fully elucidated as it could be by as many Pitts and Cannings. So, it is certainly true, that the great democratic principle, as it is called, of rotation in office, operates rather too actively to admit of a very mature experience in most of our politicians-and yet it does not necessarily follow but that our raw recruits in legislation are quite a match for the disciplined veterans of other countries. Again, our worthy Captain is lamentably behind the spirit of the age of the nineteenth century-in bis notions about an establishment and the union of Church and State; yet he admits that he saw every where the most profound respect for religion, and he is only apprehensive, a priori, lest (to verify his theory) things will not long go on in the same train.
Let it be remembered too, that he visited us at a juncture as inauspicious for the country, as it was well suited to the supposed purpose of the tourist. He was here in the very “torrent, tempest and, as I may say, whirlwind of our passions." was an eye and ear witness of many of those disgusting and disgraceful abominations which have made the late presidential election forever memorable-may it be forever unparalleled in our history. He heard of nothing else wherever he went. The rancorous hostility, the atrocious calumnies, the systematic misrepresentation, the violation of every decency of life, that distinguished the party warfare of the day, pressed upon his observation on all sides. He saw the daily press teeming with ribaldry and falsehood, until the very sight of a newspaper became loathsome to every body that had any sense of shame left. He heard of eves-droppers reporting conversations--of friends publishing the letters of their correspondents-of guests violating the rights of hospitality, and the sanctity of the fireside and the festive board. He saw this ruthless and unprincipled warfare carried into the very bosom of domestic life, and even female sensibility and honour assailed by remorseless ruffians, apparently with the countenance of men who ought to have blushed at the bare idea of such an alliance. This baleful spirit pervaded everything, disturbed everything, corrupted everything. It is impossible for any good citizen to contemplate this subject without anxiety and alarm. What is to become of the country if it is to be eternally distracted by the most slavish and degrading of all sorts of political party, that, namely, in which the fundamental maxim of republican government is reversed, and all principles are sacrificed to men? Captain Hall has given anything but an exaggerated account of this mighty evil, in a passage which we are about to cite. Pudet hæc opprobria nobis ! We know that there are men, and those probably, among the busiest and basest actors in such scenes, who would as little scruple to deny their existence, as to get them up again whenever their own ends could be answered by it. But protestations of this sort, however vehemently patriotic they may sound, cannot restore the peace, the dignity, and the morals of a people thus excited and misled. We see no remedy for these things while the daily press is conducted as it is—and while good citizens shrink from the responsibility of denouncing the mean or unprincipled expedients resorted to by their own party, and every thorough-paced partisan, on the contrary, acts as if he thought success the only test of merit, and failure the only sort of dishonour worth avoiding. VOL. IV.-N0. 8.
“ The most striking peculiarity of this spirit, in contradistinction to what we see in England, is that its efforts are directed more exclusively to the means, than to any useful end. The Americans, as it appears to me, are infinitely more occupied about bringing in a given candidate, than they are about the advancement of those measures of which he is conceived to be the supporter. They do occasionally advert to these prospective measures, in their canvassing arguments in defence of their own friends, or in attacks upon the other party ; but always, as far as I could see, more as rhetorical flourishes, or as motives to excite the furious acrimony of party spirit, than as distinct or sound anticipations of the line of policy which their candidate, or his antagonist, was likely to follow. The intrigues, the canvassings for votes, all the machinery of newspaper abuse and praise, the speeches and manœuvres in the Legislature, at the bar, by the fireside, and in every hole and corner of the country from end to end, without intermission, form integral parts of the business-apparently far more important than the candidate's wishes-his promises--or even than his character and fitness for the office.
“ All these things, generally speaking, it would seem, are subordinate considerations ; so completely are mev's minds swallowed up in the technical details of the election. They discuss the chances of this or that State, lown, or parish, or district, going with or against their friend. They overwhelm one another with that most disagreeable of all forms of argument-authorities. They analyze every sentence uttered by any man, dead or alive, who possesses, or ever did possess, influence; not, it must be observed, to come at any better knowledge of the candidate's pretensions as a public man, but merely to discover how far the weight of such testimony is likely to be thrown into their own scale, or that of the opposite party.
“ The election of the President, being one affecting the whole country, the respective candidates for that office were made the butts at which all political shafts were aimed, and to which every other election was rendered subservient, not indirectly, but by straight and obvious
It was of no importance, apparently, whether the choice to be made, at any given election, were that of a governor, a member of Congress, or to the Legislature of the State-or whether it were that of a constable of the obscure ward of an obscure town—it was all the same. The candidates seldom, if ever, that I could see, even professed to take their chief ground as the fittest men for the vacant office-this was often hardly thought of—as they stood forward simply as Adams men or Jackson men-these being the names, it is right to mention, of the two gentlemen aiming at the Presidency. Although the party principles of these candidates for any office, on the subject of the Presidential election, could not-nine cases in ten-afford any index to their capacity for filling the station to which they aspired, their chance of success was frequently made to hinge upon that matter exclusively. Thus the ma who could bring the most votes to that side of this grand, all-absorbing Presidential question, which happened to have the ascendency for the time being, was sure to gain the day, whether he were or were not the best suited to fill the particular vacancy.