« السابقةمتابعة »
‘rica may be of but little moment to her; but the future destinies of that country do not admit of a doubt; over those of England there lower some shadows of uncertainty. Should, then, a day of 'gloom arrive; should those reverses overtake her, from which
the proudest empires have not been exempt; she may look back with regret at her infatuation, in repulsing from her side a nation
she might have grappled to her bosom, and thus destroying her ' only chance for real friendship beyond the boundaries of her own dominions.
• There is a general impression in England, that the people of the United States are inimical to the parent country. It is one of
the errors which have been diligently propagated by designing • writers. There is, doubtless, considerable political hostility, and "a general soreness at the illiberality of the English press; but, collectively speaking, the prepossessions of the people are strongly in favour of England. Indeed, at one time they amounted, in 'many parts of the Union, to an absurd degree of bigotry. The • bare name of Englishman was a passport to the confidence and hospitality of every family, and too often gave a transient cur
rency to the worthless and the ongrateful. Throughout the coun'try there was something of enthusiasm connected with the idea of • England. We looked to it with a hallowed feeling of tenderness and veneration, as the land of our forefathers—the august repository of the monuments and antiquities of our race—the birthplace and mausoleum of the sages and heroes of our paternal history. After our own country, there was none in whose glory we more delighted-none whose good opinion we were more anxious 'to possess--none toward which our hearts yearned with such * throbbings of warm consanguinity. Even during the late war, whenever there was the least opportunity for kind feelings to spring forth, it was the delight of the generous spirits of our country to show that, in the midst of hostilities, they still kept • alive the sparks of future friendship.
Is all this to be at an end? Is this golden band of kindred sympathies, so rare between nations, to be broken for ever?-· Perhaps it is for the best-it may dispel an illusion which might
have kept us in mental vassalage, interfered occasionally with our 'true interests, and prevented the growth of proper national pride. • But it is hard to give up the kindred tie ! and there are feelings
dearer than interest-closer to the heart than pride—that will • still make us cast back a look of regret, as we wander farther and farther from the paternal roof, and lament the waywardness ' of the parent, that would repel the affections of the child.
• Shortsighted and injudicious, however, as the conduct of Eng• Jand may be in this system of aspersion, recrimination on our part would be equally ill-judged. I speak not of a prompt and spi
rited vindication of our country, or the keenest castigation of her slanderers—but I allude to a disposition to retaliate in kind, to ' retort sarcasm and inspire prejudice, which seems to be spreading widely among our writers
. Let us guard particularly against such a temper, for it would double the evil, instead of redressing * the wrong. Nothing is so easy and inviting as the retort of abuse and sarcasm ; but it is a paltry and unprofitable contest. It is the alternative of a morbid mind, fretted into petulance, rather than warmed into indignation. If England is willing to permit the mean jealousies of trade, or the rancorous animosities of politics, to deprave the integrity of her press, and poison the fountain • of public opinion, let us beware of her example. She may deem o it her interest to diffuse error, and engender antipathy, for the
purpose of checking emigration; we have no purpose of the kind " to serve. Neither have we any spirit of national jealousy to gratify; for as yet, in all our rivalships with England, we are the rising and the gaining party. There can be no end to answer, therefore, but the gratification of resentment—a mere spirit of retaliation, and even that is impotent. Our retorts are never republished in England; they fall short, therefore, of their aim ;-buc they foster a querulous and peevish temper among our writers; they sour the sweet flow of our early literature, and sow thorns and brambles among its blossoms. What is still worse, they circulate through our own country, and, as far as they have effect, excite • virulent national prejudices. This last is the evil most especially to be deprecated. Governed, as we are, entirely by public opinion, the utmost care should be taken to preserve the purity of the pub• lic mind. Knowledge is power, and truth is knowledge; wboever, therefore, knowingly propagates a prejudice, wilfully saps the foundation of his country's strength.
But, above all, let us not be influenced by any angry feelings, so far as to shut our eyes to the perception of what is really excellent and amiable in the English character. We are a young people, necessarily an imitative one, and must take our examples and models, in a great degree, from the existing nations of Europe.
There is no country more worthy of our study than England. The spirit of her constitution is most analagous to ours. · The manners of her people their intellectual activity-their • freedom of opinion—their habits of thinking on those subjects which concern the dearest interests and most sacred charities of private life, are all congenial to the American character-and, in fact, are all intrinsically excellent; for it is in the moral feeling of the people that the deep foundations of British prosperity are · laid; and however the superstructure may be time-worn, or over' run by abuses, there must be something solid in the basis, admi• rable in the materials, and stable in the structure of an edifice
that so long has towered unshaken amidst the tempests of the world.
Let it be the pride of our writers, therefore, discarding all feelings of irritation, and disdaining to retaliate the illiberality of • British authors, to speak of the English nation without prejudice, and with determined candour. While they rebuke the indiscriminating bigotry with which some of our countrymen admire and imitate every thing English, merely because it is English, let them frankly point out what is really worthy of approbation. . We may thus place England before us as a perpetual volume of reference, wherein are recorded sound deductions from ages of experience ; and while we avoid the errors and absurdities which may have crept into the page, we may draw thence golden maxims of practical wisdom, wherewith to strengthen and to embellish our national character. pp. 104-116.
It is consolatory to the genuine friends of mankind—to the friends of peace and liberty and reason—to find such sentiments gaining ground in the world; and, above all, to find them inculcated with so much warmth and ability by a writer of that country which has had the strongest provocation to disown them, and whose support of them is, at the present moment, by far the most important. We have already pledged ourselves to do what in us lies to promote the same good cause ;—and if our labours are only seconded in America with a portion of the zeal and eloquence which is here employed in their behalf, we have little doubt of seeing them ultimately crowned with success. It is impossible, however, in the mean time, to disguise, that much more depends upon the efforts of the American writers, than upon ours; both because they have naturally the most weight with the party who is chiefly to be conciliated, and because their reasonings are not repelled by that outrageous spirit of party which leads no small numbers among us, at the present moment, to reject and vilify whatever is recommended by those who are generally opposed to their plans of domestic policy. The aspect of the times has compelled us to oppose many of the measures of the party now in power in this country and the consequence has been, that their baser retainers make it a point of conscience to abuse all that we recommend, though no way connected with questions of politics or party; and we have thus acquired the extraordinary power of making our bitterest adversaries say any thing we please—as often as we can bring ourselves to say just the contrary. The number of persons, however, who are above this miserable influence and judge for themselves upon all general questions, is rapidly increasing in our land : and we have no doubt that we shall, every quarter, make more and more proselytes to all our doctrines that are right in themselves, and supported with temperance and reason.
In justice to the work before us, however, we should say, that a very small proportion of its contents relates either to politics, or to subjects at all connected with America. There is a Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' which is an excellent pendant to Rip Van Winkle ; and there are two or three other papers, the localities of which are Transatlantic. But out of the thirty-five pieces which the book contains, there are not more than six or seven that have this character. The rest relate entirely to England; and consist of sketches of its manners, its scenery, and its characters, drawn with a fine and friendly hand-and remarks on its literature and peculiarities, at which it would be difficult for any rational creature to be offended. As a specimen of the manner in which those Sketches are executed, we add the following account of the author's visit to a country church in an aristocratical part of the country.
• The congregation was composed of the neighbouring people of rank, who sat in pews sumptuously lined and cushioned, furnished • with richly-gilded prayer books, and decorated with their arms
upon the pew doors; of the villagers and peasantry, who filled 'the back seats, and a small gallery beside the organ; and of the 'poor of the parish, who were ranged on benches in the aisles.
• The service was performed by a snufiling, well fed vicar, who had a snug dwelling near the church. He was a privileged guest • at all the tables of the neighbourhood, and had been the keenest ' fox hunter in the county, until age and good living bad disabled him from doing any thing more than ride to see the hounds throw off, and make one at the hunting dinner.
• Under the ministry of such a pastor, I found it impossible to 'get into the train of thought suitable to the time and place; so
having, like many other feeble Christians, compromised with my 'conscience, by laying the sin of my own delinquency at another • person's threshold, I occupied myself by making observations on my neighbours.
I was as yet a stranger in England, and curious to notice the manners of its fashionable classes. I found, as usual, that there was the least pretension where there was the most acknowledged • title to respect. I was particularly struck, for instance, with the family of a nobleman of bigh rank, consisting of several sons • and daughters. Nothing could be more simple and unassuming 'than their appearance. They generally came to church in the plainest equipage, and often on foot. The young ladies would stop and converse, in the kindest manner, with the peasantry, caress the children, and listen to the stories of the humble cottagers. Their countenances were open and beautifully fair, with an expression of high refinement, bnt, at the same time, a frank 'cheerfulness, and an engaging affability. Their brothers were
tall, and elegantly formed. They were dressed fashionably, but simply; with strict neatness and propriety, but without any mannerism or foppishness. Their whole demeanour was easy and natural, with that lofty grace, and noble frankness, which be• speak free-born souls that have never been checked in their
growth boy feelings of inferiority. There is a healthful hardiness • about real dignity, that never dreads contact and communion
with others, however humble. It is only spurious pride that is 'morbid and sensitive, and shrinks from every touch. I was pleas.ed to see the manner in which they would converse with the. peasantry about those rural concerns and field sports, in which the gentlemen of this country so much delight. In these conversations, there was neither haughtiness on the one part, nor servility on the other; and you were only reminded of the difference of 'rank by the habitual respect of the peasant.
• In contrast to these, was the family of a wealthy citizen, who had amassed a vast fortune; and, having purchased the estate and mansion of a ruined nobleman in the neighbourhood, was en* deavouring to assume all the style and dignity of an hereditary lord of the soil. The family always came to church en prince. They were rolled majestically along in a carriage emblazoned with arms, • The crest glittered in silver radiance from every part of the harness where a crest could possibly be placed. A fai coachman in a three-cornered hat, richly laced, and a flaxen wig, curling close “round his rosy face, was seated on the box, with a sleek Danish
dog beside him. Two footmen in gorgeous liveries, with huge ' bouquets, and gold-headed canes, lolled behind. The carriage
rose and sunk on its long springs with peculiar stateliness of motion. The very horses champed their bits, arched their necks, • and glanced their eyes more proudly than common borses ; either because they had got a little of the family feeling, or were reined up more tightly than ordinary.
I could not but admire the style with which this splendid pageant ' was brought up to the gate of the churchyard. There was a vast effect produced at the turning of an angle of the wall. A great cracking of the whip; straining and scrambling of the horses ; glistening of harness, and flashing of wheels through gravel. • This was the moment of triumph and vain glory to the coach
man. The horses were urged and checked until they were fret•ted into a foam. They threw out their feet in a prancing trot, dashing about pebbles at every step. The crowd of villagers sauntering quietly to church, opened precipitately to the right " and left, gaping in vacant admiration. On reaching the gate,
the horses were pulled up with a suddenness that produced an • immediate stop, and almost threw them on their haunches.
• There was an extraordinary hurry of the footmen to alight,