« السابقةمتابعة »
subject to greater trials than any other, have we grown weary in contemplating the sorrows. of earth and the perfidy of professing friends! how often wished to forget the present, and travel back among the quiet groves where we once loved to wander; to recall the images of the kind and beautiful with whom we then worshipped around the magic altars of boyhood's love!
But one word about my book. In publishing these Letters, I have yielded to the counsel of those in whose judgment I confide more than in my own. I do not flatter myself that in all points I shall be favoured with the sympathy or the concurrence of the reader. Many, perhaps, will think I have drawn too dark a picture of England; of the sufferings and sorrows of the mass of the British people. To such I can only say, I have described things as they appeared to me, and endeavoured to write with candour.
The pleasure of visiting our Father-land; of wandering among its venerable monuments; of conversing with its illustrious men, was all sadly marred by the sight of the misery, ignor
ance, oppression, and want which I met on every side.
I well know the dreadful meaning of these words, but I would sooner see the children of my love born to the heritage of Southern slavery, than to see them subjected to the blighting bondage of the poor English operative's life.
In writing this work I have thought I might render some service to our country, by diffusing among its citizens a more correct knowledge of the spirit and condition of the nation with whom, at no distant day, they may be brought into collision; and by inspiring them, if possible, with a warmer regard and love for their own free institutions, and more devout gratitude to Heaven for the blessings they dispense.
I am prepared for abuse from Englishmen on both sides the Atlantic-I expect it. They will ask, with no slight manifestation of astonishment, "What does the author mean by the SHAME of England? Who ever heard of the SHAME of England?"
There are thousands of Englishmen in our land, driven from their own country, who yet
deny, when they get here, that there is any such thing. They have little sympathy with our institutions; and no love for the country which has adopted them. How different all this from the enthusiastic attachment of the generous-hearted Irishman who has "dashed from his lips the poisoned cup of European servitude," for a home in this New Free World.
But I ought, and I do say, with pleasure, that there are many Englishmen in America worthy of a home among us; that there is, too, a numerous band of noble Reformers in England. In their breasts the fire of the Puritans still burns; they know the truth, and feel it; they love humanity-liberty. May God bless them!
Nor have I forgotten that I found many noble hearts in England: they took me by the hand, and gave me a generous welcome; and since my return I have had occasion to know that by some of them, at least, I am still remembered. Not a day passes that I do not think of their cheerful homes in "Green Albion." For all this unexpected, unsought, and un
merited kindness to a stranger, they have his gratitude; and his prayers for the blessing of the "stranger's God."
When I stepped upon my native soil again, my eyes had been so wearied with the sight of oppression and suffering, that I felt from my heart that I could embrace every green hilltop of our own free land-I thanked God I was an American.
If by these pages I shall inspire one reader with a higher love of Truth and Freedom; with a deeper indignation against wrong; with a noble purpose to diffuse the hallowed spirit of Liberty throughout the world, I shall feel that I have not written in vain.
C. EDWARDS LESTER.
UTICA, October 1, 1841.