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Miller, spent their happiest days in Glasgow; that Roscoe and Currie illustrated the society of Liverpool--and Priestley and Ferriar and Darwin that of Manchester? The wealth and skill and enterprise of all the places is equally indisputable--and we confess we are yet to learn in which of the elements of respectability they can be imagined to be inferior to New York, or Baltimore, or Philadelphia.
But there is yet another passage in the Review which Mr W. has quoted as insulting and vituperative--for such a construction of which we confess ourselves still less able to divine
It is part of an honest and very earnest attempt to overcome the high monarchical prejudices of a part of our own country against the Americans, and notices this objection to their manners only collaterally and hypothetically. Mr W. needs not be told that all courtiers and zealots of monarchy impute rudeness and vulgarity to republicans. The French used to describe an inelegant person as having · Les manières d'un Suisse, En Hollande civilisé; '-and the Court faction among ourselves did not omit this reproach when we went to war with the Americans. To expose ihe absurdity of such an attack, we expressed ourselves in 1814 as follows.
• The complaint respecting America is, that there are no people of fashion, that their column still wants its Corinthian capital, or, in other words, that those who are rich and idle, have not yet existed so long, or in such numbers, as to have brought to full perfection that system of ingenious trifling and elegant dissipation, by means of which it has been discovered that wealth and leisure may be most agreeably disposed of. Admitting the fact to be so, and in a country where there is no court, no nobility, and no monument or tradition of chivalrous usages,—and where, moreover, the greatest number of those who are rich and powerful have raised themselves to that eminence by mercantile industry, we really do not see how it could well be otherwise ; we could still submit, that this is no lawful cause either for national contempt or for national hostility. It is a peculiarity in the structure of society among that people, which, we take it, can only give offence to their visiting acquaintance; and, while it does us no sort of harm while it subsists, promises, we think, very soon to disappear altogether, and no longer to aflict even our imagination. The number of individuals born to the enjoyment of hereditary wealth is, or at least was, daily increasing in that coun. try; and it is impossible that their multiplication (with all the models of European refinement before them, and all the advantages resulting from a free government and a general system of good education) should fail
, within a very short period, to give birth to a better tone of conversation and society, and to manners more dignified and refined. Unless we are very much misinformed, indeed, the symptoms of sucb a change may already be traced in their cities. Their youths of fortune already travel over all the countries of Europe for their improvement; and specimens are occasionally met with, even in these islands, which, with all our prejudices, we must admit, would do no discredit to the best blood of the land from which they originally sprung.'
Now, is there really any matter of offence in this ?-In the first place, is it not substantially true ?-in the next place, is it not mildly and respectfully stated ? Is it not true, that the greater part of those who compose the higher society of the American cities, bave raised themselves to opulence by commercial pursuits ?--and is it to be imagined that, in America alone, this is not to produce its usual effects upon the style and tone of society? As families become old, and hereditary wealth comes to be the portion of many, it cannot but happen that a change of manners will take place ;-and is it an insult to suppose that this change will be an improvement ? Surely they cannot be perfect, both as they are, and as they are to be; and, while it seems impossible to doubt that a considerable change is inevitable, the offence seems to be, that it is expected to be for the better! It is impossible, we think, that Mr W, can seriously imagine that the manners of any country upon earth can be so dignified and refined—or their tone of conversation and society so good, when the most figuring persons come into company from the desk and the counting-house, as when they pass only from one assembly to another, and have had no other study or employment from their youth up, than to render society agreeable, and to cultivate all those talents and manners which give its charm to polite conversation. If there are any persons in America who seriously dispute the accuracy of these opinions, we are pretty confident that they will turn out to be those whom the rest of the country would refer to in illustration of their truth. The truly polite, we are persuaded, will admit the case to be pretty much as we have stated it. The upstarts alone will contend for their present perfection. If we have really been so unfortunate as to give any offence by our observations, we suspect that offence will be greater at New Orleans than at New York,--and not quite so slight at New York as at Philadelphia.
But we have no desire to pursue this topic any further-nor any interest indeed to convince those who may not be already satisfied. If Mr W. really thinks us wrong in the opinions we have now expressed, we are willing for the present to be thought so: But surely we have said enough to show that we had plausible grounds for those opinions; and surely, if we did entertain
them, it was impossible to express them in a manner less offensive. We did not even recur to the topic spontaneously—but occasionally took it up in a controversy on behalf of America, with a party of our own countrymen. What we said was not addressed to America--but said of her; and, most indisputably, with friendly intentions to the people of both countries.
But we have dwelt too long on this subject. The manners of fashionable life, and the rivalry of bon ton between one country and another, is, after all, but ‘a poor affair to occupy the attention of philosophers, or affect the peace of nations.-Of what real consequence is it to the happiness or glory of a country, how a few thousand idle people-probably neither very virtuous nor very useful-pass their time, or diyert the ennui of their inactivity ?-And men must really have a great propensity to hate each other, when it is thought a reasonable ground of quarrel, that the rich descuvrés of one country are accused of not knowing how to get through their day so cleverly as those of another. Manners alter from age to age, and from country to country; and much is at all times arbitrary and conventional in that which is esteemed the best. What pleases and amuses each people the most, is the best for that people: And, where states are tolerably equal in powerand wealth, a great and irreconcileable diversity is often maintained with suitable arrogance and inflexibility, and no common standard recognised or dreamed of. The bon ton of Pekin has no sort of affinity, we suppose, with the bon ton of Paris--and that of Constantinople but little resemblance to either. The difference, to be sure, is not so complete within the limits of Europe; but it is sufficiently great, to show the folly of being dogmatical or intolerant upon a subject so incapable of being reduced to principle. The French accuse us of coldness and formality, and we accuse them of monkey tricks and impertinence. The good company of Rome would be much at a loss for amusement at Amsterdam; and that of Brussels at Madrid. The manners of America, then, are probably the best for Ame. rica: But, for that very reason, they are not the best for us: And when we hinted that they probably might be improved, we spoke with reference to the European standard, and to the feelings and judgment of strangers, to whom that standard alone was familiar. When their circumstances, and the structure of their society, come to be more like those of Europe, their manners will be more like—and they will suit better with those altered circumstances. When the fabric has reached its utmost elevation, the Corinthian capital may be added: For the present, the Doric is perhaps more suitable; and, if the style be kept pure, we are certain it will be equally graceful. VOL. XXXIII. NO. 66.
4. It only remains to notice what is said with regard to Negro Slavery ;-and on this we shall be very short. We have no doubt spoken very warmly on the subject in one of our late Numbers ;-but Mr W. must have read what we there said, with a jaundiced eye indeed, if he did not see that our warmth proceeded, not from any animosity against the people among whom this miserable institution existed, but against the institution itself-and was mainly excited by the contrast that it presented to the freedom and prosperity upon which it was so strangely engrafted;—thus appearing
- Like a stain upon a Vestal's robe, The worse for what it soils. 'Accordingly, we do not call upon other nations to hate and despise America for this practice; but upon the Americans themselves to wipe away this foul blot from their character. We have a hundred times used the same language to our own countrymen—and repeatedly on the subject of the Slave Trade;-and Mr W. cannot be ignorant, that many pious and excellent citizens of his own country have expressed themselves in similar terms with regard to this very institution. As to his recriminations on England, we shall explain to Mr W. immediately, that they have no bearing on the question between us; and, though nobody can regret more than we do the domestic slavery of our West India islands, it is quite absurd to represent the difficulties of the abolition as at all parallel in the case of America. It seems to be pretty clearly made out, that, without slaves, those islands could not be maintained; and, independent of private interests, the trade of England cannot afford to part with them. But will any body pretend to say, that the great and comparatively temperate regions over which the American Slavery extends, would be deserted, if all their inhabitants were free-or even that they would be permanently less populous or less productive? We are perfectly aware, that a sudden or immediate emancipation of all those who are now in slavery, might be attended with frightful disorders, as well as intolerable losses; and, accordingly, we have nowhere recommended any such measure: But we must repeat, that it is a crime and a shame, that the freest nation on the earth should keep a million and a half of fellow-creatures in chains, within the very territory and sanctuary of their freedom; and should see them multiplying, from day to day, without thinking of any provision for their ultimate liberation. When we say this, we are far from doubting that there are many amiable and excellent individuals among the slave proprietors. There were many such among the importers of slaves in our West
Indies ; Yet, it is not the less true, that that accursed traffic was a crime--and it was so called in the most emphatic language, and with general assent, year after year, in Parliament, without any one ever imagining that this imported a personal attack on those individuals, far less a blot upon the nation which tolerated and legalized their proceedings.
Before leaving this topic, we have to thank Mr W. for a great deal of curious, and, to us, original information, as to the history of the American slave trade, and the measures pursued by the different States with regard to the institution of slavery: From which we learn, among other things, that, so early as 1767, the legislature of Massachussets brought in a bill for prohibiting the importation of negroes into that province, which was rejected by the British governor, in consequence express
instructions; and another in 1774 shared the same fate. We learn also, that, in 1770, two years before the decision in the case of Somerset in England, the courts of the same distinguished province decided, upon solemn argument, that no person could be held in slavery within their jurisdiction; and awarded not only their freedom, but wages for their past services, to a variety of negro suitors. These, indeed, are fair subjects of pride and exultation; and we hail them, without grudging, as bright trophies in the annals of the States to which they relate. But do not their glories cast a deeper shade on those who have refused to follow the example-and may we not now be allowed to speak of the guilt and unlawfulness of slavery, as their own countrymen are praised and boasted of for having spoken, so many years
We learn also from Mr W., that Virginia abolished the foreign slave trade so early as 1778- Pensylvania in 1780-Massachussets in 1787--and Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1788. It was finally interdicted by the General Congress in 1794; and made punishable as a crime, seven years before that measure was adopted in England. We have great pleasure in stating these facts. But they all appear to us not only incongruous with the permanent existence of slavery, but as indicating those very feelings with regard to it which we have been so severely blamed for expressing.
We here close our answer to Mr W.'s charges. Our readers, we fear, have been for some time tired of it. And, indeed, we have felt all along, that there was something absurd iir'answering gravely to such an accusation. If any regular reader of our Review could be of opinion that we were hostile to America, and desirous of fomenting hostility between her and this country,