صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

busy little fellow pulled him by the arm, and rising on tiptoe, inquired in his ear, " whether he was Federal or Democrat.” Rip was equally at a loss to comprehend the question ; when a knowing, self-important old gentleman, in a sharp cocked hat, made his way through the crowd, putting them to the right and left with his elbows as he passed, and planting himself before Van • Winkle, with one arm akimbo, the other resting on his cane, his • keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating, as it were, into his very 'soul, demanded, in an austere tone, “ what brought him to the

election with a gun on his shoulder, and a mob at his heels, and • whether he meant to breed a riot in the village ?” “ Alas! gen*tlemen," cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, “ I am a poor quiet man, 'a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the King, God bless him !"

• Here a general shout burst from the by-standers—“ A tory! a 'tory! a spy! a refugee ! hustle him! away with him !" it was ' with great difficulty that the self-important man in the cocked hat restored order; and having assumed a tenfold austerity of brow, demanded again of the unknown culprit what he came there for, • and whom he was seeking. The poor man humbly assured him that he meant no harın, but merely came there in search of some of his neighbours, who used to keep about the tavern.--"Wellwho are they?--name them."-Rip bethought himself a moment,

and inquired - Where's Nicholas Vedder ?" -There was a silence • for a little while, when an old man replied, in a thin piping voice, 6" Nicholas Vedder? why he is dead and gone these eighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the churchyard that used to tell all about him, but that's rotted and gone too.""" Where's Brom Dutcher ?”_" Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war; some say he was killed at the storming of Stoney-Point-others say he was drowned in a squall at the . foot of Antony's Nose. I don't know-he never came back

again."-" Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmaster?"_" He went off to the wars too, was a great militia general, and is now in Congress.”—Rip's heart died away, at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world. Every answer puzzled him, too, by treating of such enormous lapses of time, and of matters which he could not * understand : war-congress-Stoney-Point;-he had no courage * to ask after any more friends.

At this critical moment a fresh likely-looking woman pressed through the throng to get a peep at the gray-bearded man. She had a chubby child in her arms, which, frightened at his looks, began to cry. “Hush, Rip,” cried she, “ hush, you little fool, • the old man won't hurt you." The name of the child, the air of • the mother, the tone of her voice, all awakened a train of recolVOL. II.

23

• lections in his mind. " What is your name, my good woman?"

asked he.-" Judith Gardenier.”_" And your father's name?”— 666 Ah, poor man, his name was Rip Van Winkle ; it's twenty 6 years since he went away from home with his gun, and never has • been heard of since his dog came home without him; but whe

ther he shot himself, or was carried away by the Indians, nobody

can tell. I was then but a little girl.”-Rip had but one question . more to ask ; but he put it with a faltering voice ;_"Where's * your mother?” -Oh, she too had died but a short time since; she broke a blood vessel in a fit of passion at a New-England

peddler.-There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelli.gence. The honest man could contain himself no longer.-He caught his daughter and her child in his arms.-"I am your father!” cried he—“ Young Rip Van Winkle once-old Rip Van • Winkle now!" pp. 80–87.

Upon his identity being duly ascertained, he is taken home to his daughter's house, and resumes most of his ancient habits.

He used to tell his story to every stranger that arrived at Mr. • Doolittle's hotel. He was observed, at first, to vary on some points, every time he told it, which was, doubtless, owing to his having so recently awaked. It at last settled down precisely to the tale I have related, and not a man, woman, or child in the neighbourhood, but knew it by heart. Some always pretended

to doubt the reality of it, and insisted that Rip had been out of • his head, and that this was one point on which he always remained flighty. The old Dutch inhabitants, however, almost universally gave it full credit. Even to this day they never hear a thunder storm of a summer afternoon, about the Kaatskill, but they say Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their game of 'ninepins; and it is a common wish of all henpecked husbands in the neighbourhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands, that

they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle's flaögon. pp. 91-92.

We have made rather large extracts from this facetious legend -and yet have mangled it a little in our abridgment. But it seemed fair and courteous not to stint a stranger on his first introduction to our pages; and what we have quoted, we are persuaded, will justify all that we have said in his favour.

We shall now make another long extract from a paper of a very different character; an essay on the temper in which recent English writers have spoken of America. The tone of the author upon this delicate subject is admirable and the substance of his observations so unanswerably just and reasonable, that we cannot help thinking that they will produce beneficial effects, in both the countries to which they relate. He begins by observing, that notwithstanding the great intercourse which subsists between the two

countries, there is no people concerning whom the great mass of

the British public has less pure information, or entertains more * numerous prejudices.' And this be explains, in part, by suggesting that It has been the peculiar lot of our country to be visited

by the worst kind of English travellers,' &c. [See p. 193, of our No. 1.1

What follows, however, is of infinitely greater importance-and we have the less scruple in borrowing largely from this part of the work before us, that we should otherwise have felt it our duty to endeavour, in our own words, to inculcate the same doctrines, most probably with less authority, at least on our side of the water, and certainly with less elegance and force of writing.

I shall not, however, dwell on this irksome and hackneyed to. pic; nor should I have adverted to it, but for the undue interest 'apparently taken in it by my countrymen, and certain injurious 'effects which I apprehended it might produce upon the national ' feeling. We attach too much consequence to these attacks. They

cannot do us any essential injury. The tissue of misrepresenta'tions attempted to be woven round us, are like cobwebs woven

round the limbs of an infant giant. Our country continually out'grows them. One falsehood after another falls off of itself. We

have but to live on, and every day we live a whole volume of re' futation. All the writers of England united, if we could for a moment suppose their great minds stooping to so unworthy a com

bination, could not conceal our rapidly-growing importance and 'matchless prosperity. They could not conceal that these are ow‘ing, not merely to physical and local, but also to moral causes. To 'the political liberty, the general diffusion of knowledge, the pre'valence of sound moral and religions principles, which give force

and sustained energy to the character of a people; and in fact, . have been the acknowledged and wonderful supporters of their * own national power and glory,' &c. [See p. 194, No. 1.]

Over no nation does the press hold a more absolute control than over the people of America ; for the universal education of the poorest classes makes every individual a reader. There is nothing published in England on the subject of our country, that does not circulate through every part of it. There is not a ca·lumny dropt from an English pen, nor an unworthy sarcasm ut*tered by an English statesman, that does not go to blight good • will, and add to the mass of latent resentment. Possessing, then, 'as England does, the fountain head from whence the literature of

the language flows, how completely is it in her power, and how "truly is it her duty, to make it the medium of amiable and magnanimous feeling a stream where the two nations might meet together, and drink in peace and kindness. Should she, however, persist in turning it to waters of bitterness, the time may come 'when she may repent her folly. The present friendship of America 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 currency to the worthless and the ungrateful. 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-pone 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• land may be in this system of aspersion, recrimination on our 'part would be equally ill-judged. I speak not of a prompt and spi

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

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 poli6 tics, to deprave the integrity of her press, and poison the fountain

of public opinion, let us beware of her example. She may deem sit 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 re-
'taliation, and even that is impotent. Our retorts are never re-
• published in England; they fall short, therefore, of their aim ;-but
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 ; whoever, 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 ex'cellent 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 Eng

land. 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 ihe 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, admirable in the materials, and stable in the structure of an edifice

« السابقةمتابعة »