The question is, the comparative security of person and property in Great Britain and the United States. I acknowledge that, if Ireland were taken into the account, it would very much reduce our proportional numbers; but, then, there crime is fomented by traitors and demagogues—a circumstance which must not be overlooked.
Still, the whole of Ireland would offer nothing equal in atrocity to what I can prove relative to one small town in America: that of Augusta, in Georgia, containing only a population of 3,000, in which, in one year, there were fifty-nine assassinations committed in open day, without any notice being taken of them by the authorities.
This, alone, will exceed all Ireland, and I therefore do not hesitate to assert, that if every crime committed in the United States were followed up by conviction, as it would be in Great Britain, the result would fully substantiate the fact, that, in security of person and property, the advantage is considerably in favour of my own country.
Note 1. Miss Martineau, speaking of the jealousy between the Americans and the French creoles, says—"No American expects to get a verdict, on any evidence, from a jury of French creoles."
Note 2. America though little more than sixty years old as a nation, has already published an United States Criminal Calendar (Boston, 1835.) I have this book in my possession, and, although in number of criminals it is not quite equal to our Newgate Calendar, it far exceeds it in atrocity of crime.
Note 3. Some allowance must be made for the license of the reporters, but in the main it is a very fair specimen of the recorder's style and language.
Note 4. There is, as will appear by the quotations, as much fun in the police reports in New York as in the best of ours: the style of the Recorder is admirably taken off.
Note 5. Miss Martineau, speaking of a trial for murder in the United States, says, "I observed that no one seemed to have a doubt of his guilt." She replied, that there never was a clearer case: but that he would be acquitted; the examination and trial were a mere form, of which everyone knew the conclusion beforehand. The people did not choose to see any more hanging, and till the law was so altered as to allow an alternative of punishment, no conviction for a capital offence would be obtainable. I asked on what pretence the young man would be got off, if the evidence against him was as clear as it was represented. She said some one would be found to swear an alibi.
"A tradesman swore an alibi; the young man was acquitted, and the next morning he was on his way to the West."
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER FORTY SIX.
Englishmen express their surprise that in a moral community such a monstrosity as Lynch law should exist; but although the present system, which has been derived from the original Lynch law, cannot be too severely condemned, it must, in justice to the Americans, be considered that the original custom of Lynch law was forced upon them by circumstances. Why the term of Lynch law has been made use of, I do not know; but in its origin the practice was no more blameable than were the laws established by the Pilgrim fathers on their first landing at Plymouth, or any law enacted amongst a community left to themselves, their own resources, and their own guidance and government. Lynch law, as at first constituted, was nothing more than punishment awarded to offenders by a community who bed been injured, and who had no law to refer to, and could have no redress if they did not take the law into their own hands; the present system of Lynch law is, on the contrary, an illegal exercise of the power of the majority in opposition to and defiance of the laws of the country, and the measure of justice administered and awarded by those laws.
It must be remembered that fifty years ago, there were but a few white men to the westward of the Alleghany Mountains; that the states of Kentucky and Tennessee were at that time as scanty in population, as even now are the districts of Ioway and Columbia; that by the institutions of the Union a district required a certain number of inhabitants before it could be acknowledged as even a district; and that previous to such acknowledgment, the people who had squatted on the land had no claim to protection or law. It must also be borne in mind, that these distant territories offered an asylum to many who fled from the vengeance of the laws, men without principle, thieves, rogues, and vagabonds, who escaping there, would often interfere with the happiness and peace of some small yet well-conducted community, which had migrated and settled on these fertile regions. These communities had no appeal against personal violence, no protection from rapacity and injustice. They were not yet within the pale of the Union; indeed there are many even now in this precise situation (that of the Mississippi for instance,) who have been necessitated to make laws of government for themselves, and who acting upon their own responsibilities, do very often condemn to death, and execute. [Note 1.] It was, therefore, to remedy the defect of their being no established law, that Lynch law, as it is termed, was applied to; without it, all security, all social happiness would have been in a state of abeyance. By degrees, all disturbers of the public peace, all offenders against justice met with their deserts; and as it is a query, whether on its first institution, any law from the bench was more honestly and impartially administered than this very Lynch law, which has now had its name prostituted by the most barbarous excesses and contemptuous violation of all law whatever. The examples I am able to bring forward of Lynch law, in its primitive state, will be found to have been based upon necessity, and a due regard to morals and to justice. For instance, the harmony of a well-conducted community would be interfered with by some worthless scoundrel, who would entice the young men to gaming, or the young women to deviate from virtue. He becomes a nuisance to the community, and in consequence the heads or elders would meet and vote his expulsion. Their method was very simple and straight-forward; he was informed that his absence would be agreeable, and that if he did not "clear out" before a certain day, he would receive forty lashes with a cow-hide. If the party thought proper to defy this notice, as soon as the day arrived he received the punishment, with a due notification that, if found there again after a certain time, the dose would be repeated. By these means they rid the community of a bad subject, and the morals of the junior branches were not contaminated. Such was in its origin the practice of Lynch law.
A circumstance occurred within these few years in which Lynch law was duly administered. At Dubuque, in the Ioway district, a murder was committed. The people of Dubuque first applied to the authorities of the state of Michigan, but they discovered that the district of Ioway was not within the jurisdiction of that State; and, in fact, although on the opposite side of the river there was law and justice, they had neither to appeal to. They would not allow the murderer to escape; they consequently met, selected among themselves a judge and a jury, tried the man, and, upon their own responsibility, hanged him.
There was another instance which occurred a short time since at Snakes' Hollow, on the western side of the Mississippi, not far from the town of Dubuque. A band of miscreants, with a view of obtaining possession of some valuable diggings (lead mines,) which were in the possession of a grocer who lived in that place, murdered him in the open day. The parties were well known, but they held together and would none of them give evidence. As there were no hopes of their conviction, the people of Snakes' Hollow armed themselves, seized the parties engaged in the transaction, and ordered them to quit the territory on pain of having a rifle-bullet through their heads immediately. The scoundrels crossed the river in a canoe, and were never after heard of.
I have collected these facts to show that Lynch law has been forced upon the American settlers in the western states by circumstances; that it has been acted upon in support of morality and virtue, and that its awards have been regulated by strict justice. But I must now notice this practice with a view to show how dangerous it is that any law should be meted out by the majority, and that what was commenced from a sense of justice and necessity, has now changed into a defiance of law, where law and justice can be readily obtained. The Lynch law of the present day, as practised in the states of the west and south, may be divided into two different heads: the first is, the administration of it in cases in which the laws of the states are considered by the majority as not having awarded a punishment adequate, in their opinion, to the offence committed; and the other, when from excitement the majority will not wait for the law to act, but inflict the punishment with their own hands.
The following are instances under the first head.
Every crime increases in magnitude in proportion as it affects the welfare and interest of the community. Forgery and bigamy are certainly crimes, but they are not such heavy crimes as many others to which the same penalty is decreed in this country. But in a commercial nation forgery, from its effects, becomes most injurious, as it destroys confidence and security of property, affecting the whole mass of society. A man may have his pocket picked of 1000 pounds or more, but this is not a capital offence, as it is only the individual who suffers; but if a man forges a bill for 5 pounds he is (or rather, was) sentenced by our laws to be hanged. Bigamy may be adduced as another instance: the heinousness of the offence is not in having more than one wife, but in the prospect of the children of the first marriage being left to be supported by the community. Formerly, that was also pronounced a capital offence. Of punishments, it will be observed that society has awarded the most severe for crimes committed against itself, rather than against those which most offend God. Upon this principle, in the southern and western states, you may murder ten white men and no one will arraign you or trouble himself about the matter; but steal one nigger, and the whole community are in arms, and express the most virtuous indignation against the sin of theft, although that of murder will be disregarded.
One or two instances in which Lynch law was called in to assist justice on the bench, came to my knowledge. A Yankee had stolen a slave, but as the indictment was not properly worded, he knew that he would be acquitted, and he boasted so, previous to the trial coming on. He was correct in his supposition; the flaw in the indictment was fatal, and he was acquitted. "I told you so," said he, triumphantly smiling as he left the court, to the people who had been the issue of the trial.
"Yes," replied they, "it is true that you have been acquitted by Judge Smith, but you have not yet been tried by Judge Lynch." The latter judge was very summary. The Yankee was tied up, and cow-hided till he was nearly dead; they then put him into a dug-out and sent him floating down the river. Another instance occurred which is rather amusing, and, at the same time, throws some light upon the peculiar state of society in the west.
There was a bar-keeper at some tavern in the state of Louisiana (if I recollect right) who was a great favourite; whether from his judicious mixture of the proportions of mint juleps and gin cocktails, or from other causes, I do not know; but what may appear strange to the English, he was elected to an office in the law courts of the state, similar to our Attorney-General, and I believe was very successful, for an American can turn his hand or his head to almost anything. It so happened that a young man who was in prison for stealing a negro, applied to this attorney-general to defend him in the court. This he did so successfully that the man was acquitted; but Judge Lynch was as usual waiting outside, and when the attorney came out with his client, the latter was demanded to be given up. This the attorney refused, saying that the man was under his protection. A tumult ensued, but the attorney was firm; he drew his Bowie-knife, and addressing the crowd, said, "My men, you all know me: no one takes this man, unless he passes over my body." The populace were still dissatisfied, and the attorney not wishing to lose his popularity, and at the same time wanting to defend a man who had paid him well, requested the people to be quiet a moment until he could arrange the affair. He took his client aside, and said to him, "These men will have you, and will Lynch you, in spite of all my efforts, only one chance remains for you, and you must accept it: you know that it is but a mile to the confines of the next state, which if you gain you will be secure. You have been in prison for two months, you have lived on bread and water, and you must be in good wind, moreover, you are young and active. These men who wish to get hold of you are half drunk, and they never can run as you can. Now, I'll propose that you have one hundred and fifty yards law, and then if you exert yourself, you can easily escape." The man consented, as he could not help himself: the populace also consented, as the attorney pointed out to them that any other arrangement would be injurious to his honour. The man, however, did not succeed; he was so frightened that he could not run, and in a short time he was taken, and had the usual allowance of cow-hide awarded by Judge Lynch. Fortunately he regained his prison before he was quite exhausted, and was sent away during the night in a steamer.
At Natchez, a young man married a young lady of fortune, and, in his passion, actually flogged her to death. He was tried, but as there were no witnesses but negroes, and their evidence was not admissible against a white man, he was acquitted: but he did not escape; he was seized, tarred and feathered, scalped, and turned adrift in a canoe without paddles.
Such are the instances of Lynch law being superadded, when it has been considered by the majority that the law has not been sufficiently severe. The other variety of Lynch law is, when they will not wait for law, but, in a state of excitement, proceed to summary punishment.
The case more than once referred to by Miss Martineau, of the burning alive of a coloured man at St Louis, is one of the gravest under this head. I do not wish to defend it in any way, but I do, for the honour of humanity, wish to offer all that can be said in extenuation of this atrocity: and I think Miss Martineau, when she held up to public indignation the monstrous punishment, was bound to acquaint the public with the cause of an excitable people being led into such an error. This unfortunate victim of popular fury was a free coloured man, of a very quarrelsome and malignant disposition; he had already been engaged in a variety of disputes, and was a nuisance in the city. For an attempt to murder another coloured man, he was seized, and was being conducted to prison in the custody of Mr Hammond, the Sheriff, and another white person who assisted him in the execution of his duty. As he arrived at the door of the prison, he watched his opportunity, stabbed the person who was assisting the Sheriff, and, then passing his knife across the throat of Mr Hammond, the carotid artery was divided, and the latter fell dead upon the spot. Now, here was a wretch who, in one day, had three times attempted murder, and had been successful in the instance of Mr Hammond, the sheriff, a person universally esteemed. Moreover, when it is considered that the culprit was of a race who are looked upon as inferior; that this successful attempt on the part of a black man was considered most dangerous as a precedent to the negro population; that, owing to the unwillingness to take away life in America, he might probably have escaped justice; and that this occurred just at the moment when the abolitionists were creating such mischief and irritation:—although it must be lamented that they should have so disgraced themselves, the summary and cruel punishment which was awarded by an incensed populace is not very surprising. Miss Martineau has, however, thought proper to pass over the peculiar atrocity of the individual who was thus sacrificed: to read her account of the transaction, it would appear as if he were an unoffending party, sacrificed on account of his colour alone.
Another remarkable instance was the execution of five gamblers at the town of Vicksburgh, on the Mississippi. It may appear strange that people should be lynched for the mere vice of gambling: but this will be better understood when, in my second portion of this work, I enter into a general view of society in the United States. At present it will be sufficient to say, that as towns rise in the South and West, they gradually become peopled with a better class; and that, as soon as this better class is sufficiently strong to accomplish their ends, a purification takes place much to the advantage of society. I hardly need observe; that these better classes come from the Eastward. New Orleans, Natchez, and Vicksburgh are evidences of the truth of observations I have made. In the present instance, it was resolved by the people of Vicksburgh that they would no longer permit their city to be the resort of a set of unprincipled characters, and that all gamblers by profession should be compelled to quit it. But, as I have the American account of what occurred, I think it will be better to give it in detail, the rather as I was informed by a gentleman residing there that it is perfectly correct:—
Our city has for some days past been the theatre of the most novel and startling scenes that we have ever witnessed. While we regret that the necessary for such scenes should have existed, we are proud of the public spirit and indignation against offenders displayed by the citizens, and congratulate them on having at length banished a class of individuals, whose shameless vices and daring outrages have long poisoned the springs of morality, and interrupted the relations of society. For years past, professional gamblers, destitute of all sense of moral obligation—unconnected with society by any of its ordinary ties, and intent only on the gratification of their avarice—have made Vicksburgh their place of rendezvous—and, in the very bosom of our society, boldly plotted their vile and lawless machinations. Here, as everywhere else, the laws of the country were found wholly ineffectual for the punishment of these individuals; and, emboldened by impunity, their numbers and their crimes have daily continued to multiply. Every species of transgression followed in their train. They supported a large number of tippling-houses, to which they would decoy the youthful and unsuspecting, and, after stripping them of their possessions, send them forth into the world the ready and desperate instrument of vice. Our streets were ever resounding with the echoes of their drunken and obscene mirth, and no citizen was secure from their villainy. Frequently, in armed bodies, they have disturbed the good order of public assemblages, insulted our citizens, and defied our civil authorities. Thus had they continued to grow bolder in their wickedness, and more formidable in their numbers, until Saturday, the 4th of July (inst), when our citizens had assembled together, with the corps of Vicksburg volunteers, at a barbecue, to celebrate the day by the usual festivities. After dinner, and during the delivery of the toasts, one of the officers attempted to enforce order and silence at the table, when one of these gamblers, whose name is Cabler, who had impudently thrust himself into the company, insulted the officer, and struck one of the citizens. Indignation immediately rose high, and it was only by the interference of the commandant that he was saved from instant punishment. He was, however, permitted to retire, and the company dispersed. The military corps proceeded to the public square of the city, and were there engaged in their exercises, when information was received that Cabler was coming up, armed, and resolved to kill one of the volunteers, who had been most active in expelling him from the table. Knowing his desperate character, two of the corps instantly stepped forward and arrested him. A loaded pistol and a large knife and dagger were found upon his person, all of which he had procured since he separated from the company. To liberate him would have been to devote several of the most respectable members of the company to his vengeance, and to proceed against him at law, would have been mere mockery, inasmuch as, not having had the opportunity of consummating his design, no adequate punishment could be inflicted on him. Consequently, it was determined to take him into the woods and Lynch him, which is a mode of punishment provided for such as become obnoxious in a manner which the law cannot reach. He was immediately carried out under a guard, attended by a crowd of respectable citizens, tied to a tree, punished with stripes, tarred and feathered, and ordered to leave the city in forty-eight hours. In the meantime, one of his comrades, the Lucifer of his gang, had been endeavouring to rally and arm his confederates for the purpose of rescuing him—which, however, he failed to accomplish.
"Having thus aggravated the whole band of these desperadoes, and feeling no security against their vengeance, the citizens met at night in the Court-house, in a large number, and there passed the following resolutions:—
"Resolved, That a notice be given to all professional gamblers, that the citizens of Vicksburg are resolved to exclude them from this place and its vicinity; and that twenty-four hours' notice be given them to leave the place.
"Resolved, That all persons permitting faro-dealing in their houses, he also notified that they will be prosecuted therefore.
"Resolved, That one hundred copies of the foregoing resolutions be printed and stuck up at the corners of the streets—and that this publication be deemed a notice.
"On Sunday morning, one of these notices was posted at the corners of each square of the city. During that day (the 5th) a majority of the gang, terrified by the threats of the citizens, dispersed in different directions, without making any opposition. It was sincerely hoped that the remainder would follow their example and thus prevent a bloody termination of the strife which had commenced. On the morning of the 6th, the military corps, followed by a file of several hundred citizens, marched to each suspected house, and sending in an examining committee, dragged out every faro-table and other gambling apparatus that could be found. At length they approached a house which occupied by one of the most profligate of the gang, whose name was North, and in which it was understood that a garrison of armed men had been stationed. All hoped that these wretches would be intimidated by the superior numbers of their assailants, and surrender themselves at discretion rather than attempt a desperate defence. The house being surrounded, the back door was burst open, when four or five shots were fired from the interior, one of which instantly killed Dr Hugh S Bodley, a citizen universally beloved and respected. The interior was so dark that the villains could not be seen; but several of the citizens, guided by the flash of their guns, returned their fire. A yell from one of the party announced that one of the shots had been effectual, and by this time a crowd of citizens, their indignation overcoming all other feelings, burst open every door of the building, and dragged into the light those who had not been wounded.
"North the ringleader, who had contrived this desperate plot, could not be found in the building, but was apprehended by a citizen, while attempting, in company with another, to make his escape at a place not fir distant. Himself, with the rest of the prisoners, was then conducted in silence to the scaffold. One of them, not having been in the building before it was attacked, nor appearing to be concerned with the rest, except that he was the brother of one of them, was liberated. The remaining number of five, among whom was the individual who had been shut, but who still lived, were immediately executed in presence of the assembled multitude. All sympathy for the wretches was completely merged in detestation and horror of their crime. The whole procession then returned to the city, collected all the faro-tables into a pile, and burnt them. This being done, a troop of horsemen set out for a neighbouring house; the residence of J Hord the individual who had attempted to organise a force on the first day of the disturbance for the rescue of Cabler, who had since been threatening to fire the city. He had, however, made his escape on that day, and the next morning crossed the Big Black at Baldwin's Ferry, in a state of indescribable consternation. We lament his escape, as his whole course of life for the last three years has exhibited the most shameless profligacy, and been a series of continual transgressions against the laws of God and man.
"The names of the individuals who perished were as follow:—North, Hullams, Dutch Bill, Smith, and Mccall.
"Their bodies were cut down on the morning after the execution, and buried in a ditch.
"It is not expected that this act will pass without censure from those who had not an opportunity of knowing and feeling the dire necessity out of which it originated. The laws, however severe in their provision, have never been sufficient to correct a vice which must be established by positive proof, and cannot, like others, be shown from circumstantial testimony. It is practised, too, by individuals whose whole study is to violate the law in such a manner as to evade its punishment, and who never are in want of secret confederates to swear them out of their difficulties, whose oaths cannot be impeached for any specific cause. We had borne with their enormities until to suffer them any longer would not only have proved us to be destitute of every manly sentiment, but would also have implicated us in the guilt of necessaries to their crimes. Society may be compared to the elements, which, although 'order is their first law,' can sometimes be purified only by a storm. Whatever, therefore, sickly sensibility or mawkish philanthropy may say against the course pursued by us, we hope that our citizens will not relax the code of punishment which they have enacted against this infamous and baleful class of society; and we invite Natchez, Jackson, Columbus, Warrenton, and all our sister towns throughout the State, in the name of our insulted laws, of offended virtue, and of slaughtered innocence, to aid us in exterminating this deep-rooted vice from our land. The revolution has been conducted here by the most respectable citizens, heads of families, members of all classes, professions, and pursuits. None have been heard to utter a syllable of censure against either the act or the manner in which it was performed.
"An Anti-Gambling Society has been formed, the members of which have pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honours for the suppression of gambling, and the punishment and expulsion of gamblers.
"Startling as the above may seem to foreigners, it will ever reflect honour on the insulted citizens of Vicksburg, among those who best know how to appreciate the motives by which they were actuated. Their city now stands redeemed and ventilated from all the vices and influence of gambling and assignation houses; two of the greatest curses that ever corrupted the morals of any community."
That the society in the towns on the banks of the Mississippi can only, like the atmosphere, "be purified by storm," is, I am afraid, but too true.
I have now entered fully, and I trust impartially, into the rise and progress of Lynch Law, and I must leave my readers to form their own conclusions. That it has occasionally been beneficial, in the peculiar state of the communities in which it has been practised, must be admitted; but it is equally certain that it is in itself indefensible, and that but too often, not only the punishment is much too severe for the offence, but what is still more to be deprecated, the innocent do occasionally suffer with the guilty.
"A similar case is to be found at the present day, west of the Mississippi. Upon lands belonging to the United States, not yet surveyed or offered for sale, are numerous bodies of people who have occupied them, with the intention of purchasing them when they shall be brought into the market. These persons are mailed squatters, and it is not to be supposed that they consist of the elite of the emigrants to the West; yet we are informed that they have organised a government for themselves, and regularly elect magistrates to attend to the execution of the laws. They appears in this respect, to be worthy descendants of the pilgrims."—Carey on Wealth.
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN.
I wish the remarks in this chapter to receive peculiar attention, as in commenting upon the character of the Americans, it is but justice to them to point out that many of what may be considered their errors, arise from circumstances over which they have no control; and one which has no small weight in this scale is the peculiar climate of the country; for various as is the climate, in such an extensive region, certain it is, that in one point, that of excitement, it has, in every portion of it, a very pernicious effect.
When I first arrived at New York, the effect of the climate upon me was immediate. On the 5th of May, the heat and closeness were oppressive. There was a sultriness in the air, even at that early period of the year, which to me seemed equal to that of Madras. Almost every day there were, instead of our mild refreshing showers, sharp storms of thunder and lightning; but the air did not appear to me to be cooled by them. And yet, strange to say, there were no incipient signs of vegetation: the trees waved their bare arms, and while I was throwing off every garment which I well could, the females were walking up and down Broadway wrapped up in warm shawls. It appeared as if it required twice the heat we have in our own country, either to create a free circulation in the blood of the people, or to stimulate nature to rouse after the torpor of a protracted and severe winter. In a week from the period I have mentioned, the trees were in full foliage, the belles of Broadway walking about in summer dresses and thin satin shoes; the men calling for ice, and rejoicing in the beauty of the weather, the heat of which to me was most oppressive. In one respect there appears to be very little difference throughout all the States of the Union; which is, in the extreme heat of the summer months, and the rapid changes of temperature which take place in the twenty-four hours. When I was on Lake Superior the thermometer stood between 90 degrees and 100 degrees during the day, and at night was nearly down to the freezing point. When at St Peter's, which is nearly as far north, and farther west, the thermometer stood generally at 100 degrees to 106 degrees during the day, and I found it to be the case in all the northern States when the winter is most severe, as well as in the more southern. When on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, where the heat was most insufferable during the day, our navigation was almost every night suspended by the thick dank fogs, which covered not only the waters but the inland country, and which must be anything but healthy. In fact, in every portion of the States which I visited, and in those portions also which I did not visit, the extreme heat and rapid changes in the weather were (according to the information received front other persons) the same.
But I must proceed to particulars. I consider the climate on the sea coasts of the eastern States, from Maine to Baltimore, as the most unhealthy of all parts of America; as, added to the sudden changes, they have cold and damp easterly winds, which occasion a great deal of consumption. The inhabitants, more especially the women, shew this in their appearance, and it is by the inhabitants that the climate must be tested. The women are very delicate, and very pretty; but they remind you of roses which have budded fairly, but which a check in the season has not permitted to blow. Up to sixteen or seventeen, they promise perfection; at that age their advance appears to be checked. Mr Sanderson, in a very clever and amusing work, which I recommend to every one, called "Sketches of Paris," says: "Our climate is noted for three eminent qualities—extreme heat and cold, and extreme suddenness of change. If a lady has bad teeth, or a bad complexion, she lays them conveniently to the climate; if her beauty, like a tender flower, fades before noon, it is the climate; if she has a bad temper, or a snub nose; still it is the climate. But our climate is active and intellectual, especially in winter, and in all seasons more pure and transparent than the inking skies of Europe. It sustains the infancy of beauty—why not its maturity? It spares the bud—why not the opened blossom, or the ripened fruit? Our negroes are perfect in their teeth—why not the whites? The chief preservation of beauty in any country is health, and there is no place in which this great interest is so little attended to as in America. To be sensible of this, you must visit Europe—you must see the deep bosomed maids of England upon the Place Vendome and the Rue Castiglione."
I have quoted this passage, because I think Mr Sanderson is not just in these slurs upon his fair countrywomen. I acknowledge that a bad temper does not directly proceed from climate, although sickness and suffering, occasioned by climate, may directly produce it. As for the snub nose, I agree with him, that climate has not so much to do with that. Mr Sanderson is right in saying, that the chief preservative of beauty is health; but may I ask him, upon what does health depend but upon exercise? and if so, how many days are there in the American summer in which the heat will admit of exercise, or in the American winter in which it is possible for women to walk out? for carriage driving is not exercise, and if it were, from the changes in the weather in America, it will always be dangerous. The fact is, that the climate will not admit of the exercise necessary for health, unless by running great risks, and very often contracting cold and chills, which end in consumption and death. To accuse his countrywomen of natural indolence, is unfair; it is an indolence forced upon them. As for the complexions of the females, I consider they are much injured by the universal use of close stoves, so necessary in the extremity of the winters. Mr S's implication, that because negroes have perfect teeth, therefore so should the whites, is another error. The negroes were born for, and in, a torrid clime, and there is some difference between their strong ivory masticators and the transparent pearly teeth which so rapidly decay in the eastern states, from no other cause than the variability of the climate. Besides, do the teeth of the women in the western states decay so fast? Take a healthy situation, with an intermediate climate, such as Cincinnati, and you will there find not only good teeth, but as deep-bosomed maids as you will in England; so you will in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin, which, with a portion of Ohio, are the most healthy states in the Union. There is another proof, and a positive one, that the women are affected by the climate and not through any fault of their own, which is, that if you transplant a delicate American girl to England, she will in a year or two become so robust and healthy as not to be recognised upon her return home; showing that the even temperature of our damp climate is from the capability of constant exercise, more conducive to health, than the sunny, yet variable atmosphere of America.
The Americans are fond of their climate, and consider it, as they do every thing in America, as the very best in the world. They are, as I have said before, most happy in their delusions. But if the climate be not a healthy one, it is certainly a beautiful climate to the eye; the sky is so clear, the air so dry, the tints of the foliage so inexpressibly beautiful in the autumn and early winter months: and at night, the stars are so brilliant, hundreds being visible with the naked eye which are not to be seen by us, that I am not surprised at the Americans praising the beauty of their climate. The sun is terrific in his heat, it is true, but still one cannot help feeling the want of it, when in England, he will disdain to shine for weeks. Since my return to this country, the English reader can hardly form an idea of how much I have longed for the sun. After having sojourned for nearly two years in America, the sight of it has to me almost amounted to a necessity, and I am not therefore at all astonished at an American finding fault with the climate of England; nevertheless, our climate, although unprepossessing to the eye, and depressive to the animal spirits, is much more healthy than the exciting and changeable atmosphere, although beautiful in appearance, which they breathe in the United States.
One of the first points to which I directed my attention on my arrival in America, was to the diseases most prevalent. In the eastern States, as may be supposed, they have a great deal of consumption; in the western, the complaint is hardly known: but the general nature of the American diseases are neuralgic, or those which affect the nerves, and which are common to almost all the Union. Ophthalmia, particularly the disease of the ophthalmic nerve, is very common in the eastern States. The medical men told me that there were annually more diseases of the eye in New York city alone, than perhaps all over Europe. How far this may be correct I cannot say; but this I can assert, that I never had any complaint in my eyes until I arrived in America, and during a stay of eighteen months, I was three times very severely afflicted. The oculist who attended me asserted that he had seven hundred patients.
The tic doloureux is another common complaint throughout America,— indeed so common is it, that I should say that one out of ten suffers from it, more or less; the majority, however, are women.
I saw more cases of delirium tremens in America, than I ever heard of before. In fact, the climate is one of extreme excitement. I had not been a week in the country before I discovered how impossible it was for a foreigner to drink as much wine or spirits as he could in England, and I believe that thousands of emigrants have been carried off by making no alteration in their habits upon their arrival. See Note 1.
The winters in Wisconsin, Ioway, Missouri, and Upper Canada, are dry and healthy, enabling the inhabitants to take any quantity of exercise, and I found that the people looked forward to their winters with pleasure, longing for the heat of the summer to abate.
Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and a portion of Ohio, are very unhealthy in the autumns from the want of drainage; the bilious congestive fever, ague, and dysentery, carrying off large numbers, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and the eastern portions of Tennessee, are comparatively healthy. South Carolina, and all the other southern States, are, as it is well known, visited by the yellow fever, and the people migrate every fall to the northward, not only to avoid the contagion, but to renovate their general health, which suffers from the continual demand upon their energies, the western and southern country being even more exciting than the east. There is a fiery disposition in the Southerners which is very remarkable; they are much more easily excited than even the Spaniard or Italian, and their feelings are more violent and unrestrainable, as I shall hereafter show. That this is the effect of climate I shall now attempt to prove by one or two circumstances, out of the many which fell under my observation. It is impossible to imagine a greater difference in character than exists between the hot-blooded Southerner, and the cold calculating Yankee of the eastern States. I have already said that there is a continual stream of emigration from the eastern States to the southward and westward the farmers of the eastern States leaving their comparatively barren lands to settle down upon the more grateful soils of the interior. Now, it is a singular, yet a well known fact, that in a very few years the character of the Eastern farmer is completely changed. He arrives there a hard-working, careful, and sober man; for the first two or three years his ground is well tilled, and his crops are abundant; but by degrees he becomes a different character: he neglects his farm, so that from rich soil he obtains no better crops than he formerly did upon his poor land in Massachusetts; he becomes indolent, reckless, and often intemperate. Before he has settled five years in the Western country, the climate has changed him into a Western man, with all the peculiar virtues and vices of the country.
A Boston friend of mine told me that he was once on board of a steamboat on the Mississippi, and found that an old schoolfellow was first mate of the vessel. They ran upon a snag, and were obliged to lay the vessel on shore until they could put the cargo on board of another steamboat, and repair the damage. The passengers, as usual on such occasions, instead of grumbling at what could not be helped, as people do in England, made themselves merry; and because they could not proceed on their voyage they very wisely resolved to drink champagne. They did so: a further supply being required, this first mate was sent down into the hold to procure it. My Boston friend happened to be at the hatchway when he went down with a flaring candle in his hand, and he observed the mate creep over several small barrels until he found the champagne cases, and ordered them up.
"What is in those barrels?" inquired he of the mate when he came up again.
"Oh, gunpowder!" replied the mate.
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed the Bostonian, "is it possible that you could be so careless? why I should have thought better of you; you used to be a prudent man."
"Yes, and so I was, until I came into this part of the country," replied the mate, "but somehow or another, I don't care for things now, which, when I was in my own State, would have frightened me out of my wits." Here was a good proof of the Southern recklessness having been imbibed by a cautious Yankee.
I have adduced the above instances, because I consider that the excitement so general throughout the Union, and forming so remarkable a feature in the American character, is occasioned much more by climate than by any other cause: that the peculiarity of their institutions affords constant aliment for this excitement to feed upon is true, and it is therefore seldom allowed to repose. I think, moreover, that their climate is the occasion of two bad habits to which the Americans are prone, namely, the use of tobacco and of spirituous liquors. An Englishman could not drink as the Americans do; it would destroy him here in a very short time, by the irritation it would produce upon his nerves. But the effect of tobacco is narcotic and anti-nervous; it allays that irritation, and enables the American to indulge in stimulating habits without their being attended with such immediate ill consequences.
To the rapid changes of the climate, and to the extreme heat, must be also to a great degree ascribed the excessive use of spirituous liquors; the system being depressed by the sudden changes demanding stimulus to equalise the pulse. The extraordinary heat during the summer is also another cause of it. The Rev Mr Reid says, in his Tour through the States, "the disposition to drink now became intense; we had only to consider how we might safely gratify it; the thermometer rose to low, and the heat and perspiration were intolerable." Now, if a Christian divine acknowledged this feeling, it is not to be supposed but that others must be equally affected. To drink pure water during this extreme heat is very dangerous: it must be qualified with some wine or spirit; and thus is an American led into a habit of drinking, from which it is not very easy, indeed hardly possible, for him to abstain, except during the winter, and the winters in America are too cold for a man to leave off any of his habits. Let it not be supposed that I wish to excuse intemperance: far from it; but I wish to be just in my remarks upon the Americans, and show, that if they are intemperate (which they certainly are), there is more excuse for them than there is for other nations, from their temptation arising out of circumstances.
There is but one other point to be considered in examining into the climate of America. It will be admitted that the American stock is the very best in the world, being originally English, with a favourable admixture of German, Irish, French, and other northern countries. It moreover has the great advantage of a continual importation of the same varieties of stock to cross and improve the breed. The question then is, have the American race improved or degenerated since the first settlement? If they have degenerated, the climate cannot be healthy.
I was very particular in examining into this point, and I have no hesitation in saying, that the American people are not equal in strength or in form to the English. I may displease the Americans by this assertion, and they may bring forward their backwoodsmen and their Kentuckians, who live at the spurs of the Alleghany Mountains, as evidence to the contrary; but although they are powerful and tall men they are not well made, nor so well made as the Virginians, who are the finest race in the Union. There is one peculiar defect in the American figure common to both sexes, which is, narrowness of the shoulders, and it is a very great defect; there seems to be a check to the expansion of the chest in their climate, the physiological causes of which I leave to others. On the whole, they certainly are a taller race than the natives of Europe, but not with proportionate muscular strength. Their climate, therefore, I unhesitatingly pronounce to be bad, being injurious to them in the two important points, of healthy vigour in the body, and healthy action of the mind; enervating the one, and tending to demoralise the other.
Note 1. Vermont, New Hampshire, the interior portion of the State of New York, and all the portions of the other States which abut on the great lakes, are healthy, owing to the dryness of the atmosphere being softened down by the proximity of such large bodies of water.
VOLUME THREE, CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT.
Mr Carey, in his statistical work, falls into the great error of most American writers—that of lauding his own country and countrymen, and inducing them to believe that they are superior to all nations under heaven. This is very injudicious, and highly injurious to the national character: it upholds that self-conceit to which the Americans are already so prone, and checks that improvement so necessary to place them on a level with the English nation. The Americans have gained more by their faults having been pointed out by travellers than they will choose to allow; and, from his moral courage in fearlessly pointing out the truth, the best friend to America, among their own countrymen, has been Dr Charming. I certainly was under the impression, previous to my visit to the United States, that education was much more universal there than in England; but every step I took, and every mile I travelled, lowered my estimate on that point. To substantiate my opinion by statistical tables would be difficult; as, after much diligent search, I find that I can only obtain a correct return of a portion of our own establishments; but, even were I able to obtain a general return, it would not avail me much, as Mr Carey has no general return to oppose to it. He gives us, as useful, Massachusetts and one or two other States, but no more; and, as I have before observed, Massachusetts is not America. His remarks and quotations from English authors are not fair; they are loose and partial observations, made by those who have a case to substantiate. Not that I blame Mr Carey for making use of those authorities, such as they are; but I wish to show that they have misled him.
I must first observe that Mr Carey's estimate of education in England is much lower than it ought to be; and I may afterwards prove that his estimate of education in the United States is equally erroneous on the other side.
To estimate the amount of education in England by the number of national schools must ever be wrong. In America, by so doing, a fair approximation may be arrived at, as the education of all classes is chiefly confined to them; but in England the case is different; not only the rich and those in the middling classes of life, but a large proportion of the poor, sending their children to private schools. Could I have obtained a return of the private seminaries in the United Kingdom, it would have astonished Mr Carey. The small parish of Kensington and its vicinity has only two national schools, but it contains 292 (I believe this estimate is below the mark) private establishments for education; and I might produce fifty others, in which the proportion would be almost as remarkable. I have said that a large portion of the poorer classes in England send their children to private teachers. This arises from a feeling of pride; they prefer paying for the tuition of their children rather than having their children educated by the parish, as they term the national schools. The consequence is, that in every town, or village, or hamlet, you will find that there are "dame schools," as they are termed, at which about one half of the children are educated.
The subject of national education has not been warmly taken up in England until within these last twenty-five years, and has made great progress during that period. The Church of England Society for National Education was established in 1813. Two years after its formation there were only 230 schools, containing 40,484 children. By the Twenty-seventh Report of this Society, ending the year 1838, these schools had increased to 17,341, and the number of scholars to 1,003,087. But this, it must be recollected, is but a small proportion of the public education in England; the Dissenters having been equally diligent, and their schools being quite as numerous in proportion to their numbers. We have, moreover, the workhouse schools, and the dame schools before mentioned, for the poorer classes; and for the rich and middling classes, establishments for private tuition, which, could the returns of them and of the scholars be made, would, I am convinced, amount to more than five times the number of the national and public establishments. But as Mr Carey does not bring forward his statistical proof; and I cannot produce mine, all that I can do is to venture my opinion from what I learnt and saw during my sojourn in the United States, or have obtained from American and other authorities.
The State of Massachusetts is a school; it may be said that all there are educated, Mr Reid states in his work:—
"It was lately ascertained by returns from 131 towns in Massachusetts, that the number of scholars was 12,393; that the number of persons in the towns between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one who are unable to write was fifty-eight; and in one town there were only three persons who could not read or write, and those three were dumb."
I readily assent to this, and I consider Connecticut equal to Massachusetts; but as you leave these two states, you find that education gradually diminishes. [See Note 1.] New York is the next in rank, and thus the scale descends until you arrive at absolute ignorance.
I will now give what I consider as a fair and impartial tabular analysis of the degrees of education in the different states in the Union. It may be cavilled at, but it will nevertheless be a fair approximation. It must be remembered that it is not intended to imply that there are not a certain portion of well-educated people in those states put down in class 4, as ignorant states, but they are included in the Northern states, where they principally receive their education.
Degrees of Education in the different States in the Union.
============================+ Y1st Class. YPopulation.Y +—————————-—————- YMassachusetts Y 700,000Y —————————-—————-+ YConnecticut Y 298,000Y +—————————-—————- Y Y 998,000Y —————————-—————-+ Y2nd Class. Y Y +—————————-—————- YNew York Y 2,400,000Y —————————-—————-+ YMaine Y 555,000Y +—————————-—————- YNew Hampshire Y 300,000Y —————————-—————-+ YVermont Y 330,000Y +—————————-—————- YRhode Island Y 110,000Y —————————-—————-+ YNew Jersey Y 360,000Y +—————————-—————- YOhio Y 1,300,000Y —————————-—————-+ Y Y 5,355,000Y +—————————-—————- Y3rd Class Y Y —————————-—————-+ YVirginia Y 1,360,000Y +—————————-—————- YNorth Carolina Y 800,000Y —————————-—————-+ YSouth Carolina Y 650,000Y +—————————-—————- YPennsylvania (note)Y 1,600,000Y —————————-—————-+ YMaryland Y 500,000Y +—————————-—————- YDelaware Y 80,000Y —————————-—————-+ YColumbia [district]Y 50,000Y +—————————-—————- YKentucky Y 800,000Y —————————-—————-+ Y Y 5,840,000Y +—————————-—————- Y4th Class Y Y —————————-—————-+ YTennessee Y 900,000Y +—————————-—————- YGeorgia Y 620,000Y —————————-—————-+ YIndians Y 650,000Y +—————————-—————- YIllinois Y 320,000Y —————————-—————-+ YAlabama Y 600,000Y +—————————-—————- YLouisiana Y 350,000Y —————————-—————-+ YMissouri Y 350,000Y +—————————-—————- YMississippi Y 150,000Y —————————-—————-+ YMichigan Y 120,000Y +—————————-—————- YArkansas Y 70,000Y —————————-—————-+ YWisconsin Y 20,000Y +—————————-—————- YFlorida [territory]Y 50,000Y —————————-—————-+ Y Y 5,000,000Y +============================
If I am correct, it appears then that we have:—
+====================+======+ YHighly educated Y 998,000Y +———————————+————-+ YEqual with Scotland Y5,355,000Y +———————————+————-+ YNot equal with EnglandY5,840,000Y +———————————+————-+ YUneducated Y6,000,000Y +====================+========+
This census is an estimate of 1836, sufficiently near for the purpose. It is supposed that the population of the united States has since increased about two millions, and of that increase the great majority is in the Western states, where the people are wholly uneducated. Taking, therefore, the first three classes, in which there is education in various degrees, we find that they amount to 12,193,000; against which we may fairly put the 5,000,000 uneducated, adding to it, the 2,000,000 increased population, and 3,000,000 of slaves.
I believe the above to be a fair estimate, although nothing positive can be collected from it. In making a comparison of the degree of education in the United States and in England, one point should not be overlooked. In England, children may be sent to school, but they are taken away as soon as they are useful, and have little time to follow up their education afterwards. Worked like machines, every hour is devoted to labour, and a large portion forget, from disuse, what they have learnt when young. In America, they have the advantage not only of being educated, but of having plenty of time, if they choose, to profit by their education in after life. The mass in America ought, therefore, to be better educated than the mass in England, where circumstances are against it. I must now examine the nature of education given in the United States.
It is admitted as an axiom in the United States, that the only chance they have of upholding their present institutions is by the education of the mass; that is to say, a people who would govern themselves must be enlightened. Convinced of this necessity, every pains has been taken by the Federal and State governments to provide the necessary means of education [See Note 4.] This is granted; but we now have to inquire into the nature of the education, and the advantages derived from such education as is received in the United States.
In the first place, what is education? Is teaching a boy to read and write education? If so, a large proportion of the American community may be said to be educated; but, if you supply a man with a chest of tools, does he therefore become a carpenter! You certainly give him the means of working at the trade, but instead of learning it, he may only cut his fingers. Reading and writing without the farther assistance necessary to guide people aright, is nothing more than a chest of tools.
Then, what is education? I consider that education commences before a child can walk: the first principle of education, the most important, and without which all subsequent are but as leather and prunella, is the lesson of obedience—of submitting to parental control—"Honour thy father and thy mother!"
Now, any one who has been in the United States must have perceived that there is little or no parental control. This has been remarked by most of the writers who have visited the country; indeed to an Englishman it is a most remarkable feature. How is it possible for a child to be brought up in the way that it should go, when he is not obedient to the will of his parents? I have often fallen into a melancholy sort of musing after witnessing such remarkable specimens of uncontrolled will in children; and as the father and mother both smiled at it, I have thought that they little knew what sorrow and vexation were probably in store for them, in consequence of their own injudicious treatment of their offspring. Imagine a child of three years old in England behaving thus:—
"Johnny, my dear, come here," says his mamma.
"I won't," cries Johnny.
"You must, my love, you are all wet, and you'll catch cold."
"I won't," replies Johnny.
"Come, my sweet, and I've something for you."
"Oh! Mr —, do, pray make Johnny come in."
"Come in, Johnny," says the father.
"I tell you, come in directly, sir—do you hear?"
"I won't," replies the urchin taking to his heels.
"A sturdy republican, sir," says his father to me, smiling at the boy's resolute disobedience.
Be it recollected that I give this as one instance of a thousand which I witnessed during my sojourn in the country.
It may be inquired, how is it that such is the case at present, when the obedience to parents was so rigorously inculcated by the puritan fathers, that by the blue laws, the punishment of disobedience was death? Captain Hall ascribes it to the democracy, and the rights of equality therein acknowledged; but I think, allowing the spirit of their institutions to have some effect in producing this evil, that the principal cause of it is the total neglect of the children by the father, and his absence in his professional pursuits, and the natural weakness of most mothers, when their children are left altogether to their care and guidance.
Mr Sanderson, in his Sketches of Paris, observes:—"The motherly virtues of our women, so eulogised by foreigners, is not entitled to unqualified praise. There is no country in which maternal care is so assiduous; but also there is none in which examples of injudicious tenderness are so frequent." This I believe to be true; not that the American women are really more injudicious than those of England, but because they are not supported as they should be by the authority of the father, of whom the child should always entertain a certain portion of fear mixed with affection, to counterbalance the indulgence accorded by natural yearnings of a mother's heart.
The self-will arising from this fundamental error manifests itself throughout the whole career of the American's existence, and, consequently, it is a self-willed nation par excellence.
At the age of six or seven you will hear both boys and girls contradicting their fathers and mothers, and advancing their own opinions with a firmness which is very striking.
At fourteen or fifteen the boys will seldom remain longer at school. At college, it is the same thing; (note 6) and they learn precisely what they please, and no more. Corporal punishment is not permitted; indeed, if we are to judge from an extract I took from an American paper, the case is reversed.
The following "Rules" are posted up in New Jersey school-house:—
"No kissing girls in school-time; no licking the master during holy days."
At fifteen or sixteen, if not at college, the boy assumes the man; he enters into business, as a clerk to some merchant, or in some store. His father's home is abandoned, except when it may suit his convenience, his salary being sufficient for most of his wants. He frequents the bar, calls for gin cocktails, chews tobacco, and talks politics. His theoretical education, whether he has profited much by it or not, is now superseded by a more practical one, in which he obtains a most rapid proficiency. I have no hesitation in asserting that there is more practical knowledge among the Americans than among any other people under the sun. (note 7).
It is singular that in America, everything, whether it be of good of evil, appears to assist the country in going a-head. This very want of parental control, however it may affect the morals of the community, is certainly advantageous to America, as far as her rapid advancement is concerned. Boys are working like men for years before they would be in England; time is money, and they assist to bring in the harvest.
But does this independence on the part of the youth of America end here? On the contrary, what at first was independence, assumes next the form of opposition, and eventually that of control.
The young men before they are qualified by age to claim their rights as citizens, have their societies, their book-clubs, their political meetings, their resolutions, all of which are promulgated in the newspapers; and very often the young men's societies are called upon by the newspapers to come forward with their opinions. Here is opposition. Mr Cooper says, on page 152 of his "Democrat":—
"The defects in American deportment are, notwithstanding, numerous and palpable. Among the first may be ranked, insubordination in children, and a great want of respect for age. The former vice may be ascribed to the business habits of the country, which leave so little time for parental instruction, and, perhaps, in some degree to the acts of political agents, who, with their own advantages in view, among the other expedients of their cunning, have resorted to the artifice of separating children from their natural advisers by calling meetings of the young to decide on the fortunes and policy of the country."
But what is more remarkable, is the fact that society has been usurped by the young people, and the married and old people have been, to a certain degree, excluded from it. A young lady will give a ball, and ask none but young men and young women of her acquaintance; not a chaperon is permitted to enter, and her father and mother are requested to stay upstairs, that they may not interfere with the amusement. This is constantly the case in Philadelphia and Baltimore, and I have heard bitter complaints made by the married people concerning it. Here is control. Mr Sanderson, in his "Sketches of Paris," observes:—
"They who give a tone to society should have maturity of mind; they should have refinement of taste, which is a quality of age. As long as college beaux and boarding-school misses take the lead, it must be an insipid society, in whatever community it may exist. Is it not villainous in your Quakerships of Philadelphia, to lay us, before we have lived half our time out, upon the shelf! Some of the native tribes, more merciful, eat the old folks out of the way."
However, retribution follows: in their turn they marry, and are ejected; they have children, and are disobeyed. The pangs which they have occasioned to their own parents are now suffered by them in return, through the conduct of their own children; and thus it goes on, and will go on, until the system is changed.
All this is undeniable; and thus it appears that the youth of America, being under no control, acquire just as much as they please, and no more, of what may be termed theoretical knowledge. Thus is the first great error in American education, for how many boys are there who will learn without coercion, in proportion to the number who will not? Certainly not one in ten, and, therefore it may be assumed that not one in ten is properly instructed. [See note 6.]
Now, that the education of the youth of America is much injured by the want of control on the part of the parents, is easily established by the fact that in those states where the parental control is the greatest, as in Massachusetts, the education is proportionably superior. But this great error is followed by consequences even more lamentable: it is the first dissolving power of the kindred attraction, so manifest throughout all American society. Beyond the period of infancy there is no endearment between the parents and children; none of that sweet spirit of affection between brother and sisters; none of those links which unite one family; of that mutual confidence; that rejoicing in each other's success; that refuge, when they are depressed or afflicted, in the bosoms of those who love us—the sweetest portion of human existence, which supports us wider, and encourages us firmly to brave, the ills of life—nothing of this exists. In short, there is hardly such a thing in America as "Home, sweet home." That there are exceptions to this, I grant but I speak of the great majority of cases, and the results upon the character of the nation. Mr Cooper, speaking of the weakness of the family tie in America, says—
"Let the reason be what it will, the effect is to cut us off from a large portion of the happiness that is dependent on the affections."
The next error of American education is, that in their anxiety to instil into the minds of youth a proper and ardent love of their own institutions, feelings and sentiments are fostered which ought to be most carefully checked. It matters little whether these feelings (in themselves vices) are directed against the institutions of other countries; the vice once engendered remains, and hatred once implanted in the breast of youth, will not be confined in its action. Neither will national conceit remain only national conceit, or vanity be confined to admiration of a form of government; in the present mode of educating the youth of America, all sight is lost of humility, good-will, and the other Christian virtues, which are necessary to constitute a good man, whether he be an American, or of any other country.
Let us examine the manner in which a child is taught. Democracy, equality, the vastness of his own country, the glorious independence, the superiority, of the Americans in all conflicts by sea or land, are impressed upon his mind before he can well read. All their elementary books contain garbled and false accounts of naval and land engagements, in which every credit is given to the Americans, and equal vituperation and disgrace thrown upon their opponents. Monarchy is derided, the equal rights of man declared—all is invective, uncharitableness, and falsehood.
That I may not in this be supposed to have asserted too much, I will quote a reading-lesson from a child's book, which I purchased in America as a curiosity, and is now in my possession. It is called the "Primary Reader for Young Children," and contains many stories besides this, relative to the history of the country.
"STORY ABOUT THE 4TH OF JULY".
6. "I must tell you what the people of New York did. In a certain spot in that city there stood a large statue, or representation of King George III. It was made of lead. In one hand he held a sceptre, or kind of sword, and on his head he wore a crown."
7. "When the news of the Declaration of Independence reached the city, a great multitude were seen running to the statue."
8. "The cry was heard, 'Down with it—down with it!' and soon a rope was placed about its neck, and the leaden King George came tumbling down."
9. "This might fairly be interpreted as a striking prediction of the downfall of the monarchical form of government in these United States."
10. "If we look into history, we shall frequently find great events proceeding from as trifling causes as the fall of the leaden statue, which not unaptly represents the character of a despotic prince."
11. "I shall only add, that when the statue was fairly down, it was cut to pieces, and converted into musket-balls to kill the soldiers whom his majesty had sent over to fight the Americans."
This is quite sufficient for a specimen. I have no doubt that it will be argued by the Americans—"We are justified in bringing up our youth to love our institutions." I admit it; but you bring them up to hate other people, before they have sufficient intellect to understand the merits of the case.
The author of "A Voice from America," observes:—
"Such, to a great extent is the unavoidable effect of that political education which is indispensable to all classes of a self-governed people. They must be trained to it from their cradle; it must go into all schools; it must thoroughly leaven the national literature, it must be 'line upon line, and precept upon precept,' here a little and there a little; it must be sung, discoursed, and thought upon everywhere and by every body."
And so it is; and as if this scholastic drilling were not sufficient, every year brings round the 4th of July, on which is read in every portion of the states the act of independence, in itself sufficiently vituperative, but invariably followed-up by one speech (if not more) from some great personage of the village, hamlet, town, or city, as it may be, in which the more violent he is against monarchy and the English, and the more he flatters his own countrymen, the more is his speech applauded.
Every year is this drilled into the ears of the American boy, until he leaves school, when he takes a political part himself, connecting himself with young men's society, where he spouts about tyrants, crowned heads, shades of his forefathers, blood flowing like water, independence, and glory.
The Rev Mr Reid very truly observes, of the reading of the Declaration of Independence:—"There is one thing, however, that may justly claim the calm consideration of a great and generous people. Now that half a century has passed away, is it necessary to the pleasures of this day to revive feelings in the children which, if they were found in the parent, were to be excused only by the extremities to which they were pressed? Is it generous, now that they have achieved the victory, not to forgive the adversary? Is it manly, now that they have nothing to fear from Britain, to indulge in expressions of hate amid vindictiveness, which are the proper language of fear? Would there be less patriotism, because there was more charity? America should feel that her destinies are high and peculiar. She should scorn the patriotism which cherishes the love of one's own country, by the hatred of all others."
I think, after what I have brought forward, the reader will agree with me, that the education of the youth in the United States is immoral, and the evidence that it is so, is in the demoralisation which has taken place in the United States since the era of the Declaration of Independence, and which fact is freely admitted by so many American writers:—
"Aetas parentum pejor avis tulit Nos nequieres, mox daturos Progeniem vitiosiorem." Horace, book iii, ode 6.
I shall by and by shew some of the effects produced by this injudicious system of education; of which, if it is necessary to uphold their democratical institutions, I can only say, with Dr Franklin, that the Americans "pay much too dear for their whistle."
It is, however, a fact, that education (such as I have shown it to be) is in the United States more equally diffused. They have very few citizens of the States (except a portion of those in the West) who may be considered as "hewers of wood and drawers of water," those duties being performed by the emigrant Irish and German, and the slave population. The education of the higher classes is not by any means equal to that of the old countries or Europe. You meet very rarely with a good classical scholar, or a very highly educated man, although some there certainly are, especially in the legal profession. The Americans have not the leisure for such attainments: hereafter they may have; but at present they do right to look principally to Europe for literature, as they can obtain it thence cheaper and better. In every liberal profession you will find that the ordeal necessary to be gone through is not such as it is with us; if it were, the difficulty of retaining the young men at college would be much increased. To show that such is the case, I will now just give the difference of the acquirements demanded in the new and old country to qualify a young man as an MD.
============================================================================+ YEnglish Physician YAmerican Physician Y +————————————————————————————————————————— Y1. A regular classical education at college Y1. Not required Y —————————————————————————————————————————+ Y2. Apprenticeship of not less than five years Y2. One year's apprenticeshipY +————————————————————————————————————————— Y3. Preliminary examination in the classics, etcetera Y3. Not required Y —————————————————————————————————————————+ Y4. Sixteen months' attendance at lectures in 2.5 yearsY4. Eight months in two yearsY +————————————————————————————————————————— Y5. Twelve months' hospital practice Y5. Not required Y —————————————————————————————————————————+ Y6. Lectures on botany, natural philosophy, etcetera Y6. Not required Y +================================================================================
If the men in America enter so early into life that they have not time to obtain the acquirements supposed to be requisite with us, it is much the same thing with the females of the upper classes, who, from the precocious ripening by the climate and consequent early marriages, may be said to throw down their dolls that they may nurse their children.
The Americans are very justly proud of their women, and appear tacitly to acknowledge the want of theoretical education in their own sex, by the care and attention which they pay to the instruction of the other. Their exertions are, however, to a certain degree, checked by the circumstance, that there is not sufficient time allowed previous to the marriage of the females to give that solidity to their knowledge which would ensure its permanency. They attempt too much for so short a space of time. Two or three years are usually the period during which the young women remain at the establishments, or colleges I may call them (for in reality they are female colleges.) In the prospectus of the Albany Female Academy, I find that the classes run through the following branches:—French, book-keeping, ancient history, ecclesiastical history, history of literature, composition, political economy, American constitution, law, natural theology, mental philosophy, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, natural philosophy, astronomy, chemistry, botany, mineralogy, geology, natural history, and technology, besides drawing, penmanship, etcetera, etcetera.
It is almost impossible for the mind to retain, for any length of time, such a variety of knowledge, forced into it before a female has arrived to the age of sixteen or seventeen, at which age, the study of these sciences, as is the case in England, should commence not finish. I have already mentioned that the examinations which I attended were highly creditable both to preceptors and pupils; but the duties of an American woman as I shall hereafter explain, soon find her other occupation, and the ologies are lost in the realities of life. Diplomas are given at most of these establishments, on the young ladies completing their course of studies. Indeed, it appears to be almost necessary that a young lady should produce this diploma as a certificate of being qualified to bring up young republicans. I observed to an American gentlemen how youthful his wife appeared to be—"Yes," replied he, "I married her a month after she had graduated." The following are the terms of a diploma, which was given to a young lady at Cincinnati, and which she permitted me to copy:—
"In testimony of the zeal and industry with which Miss M—-T—-has prosecuted the prescribed course of studies in the Cincinnati Female Institution, and the honourable proficiency which she has attained in penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, rhetoric, belles-lettres, composition, ancient and modern geography, ancient and modern history, chemistry, natural philosophy, astronomy, etcetera. etcetera. etcetera, of which she has given proofs by examination.
"And also as a mark of her amiable deportment, intellectual acquirements, and our affectionate regard, we have granted her this letter—the highest honour BESTOWED in this institution."
[Seal.] "Given under our hands at Cincinnati, this 19th day of July, Anno Domini 1837."
The ambition of the Americans to be a-head of other nations in every thing, produces, however, injurious effects, so far as the education of the women is concerned. The Americans will not "leave well alone," they must "gild refined gold," rather than not consider themselves in advance of other countries, particularly of England. They alter our language, and think that they have improved upon it; as in the same way they would raise the standard of morals higher than with us, and consequently fall much below us, appearances supplying the place of the reality. In these endeavours they sink into a sickly sentimentality, and, as I have observed before, attempts at refinement in language, really excite improper ideas. As a proof of the ridiculous excess to which this is occasionally carried, I shall insert an address which I observed in print; had such a document appeared in the English newspapers, it would have been considered as a hoax.
"Mrs Mandelle's Address:—
"To the young ladies of the Lancaster Female Academy, at an examination on the 3rd March, 1838.
"Affectionate Pupils:—With many of you this is our final meeting in the relative position of teacher and pupil, and we must part perhaps to meet no more. That this reflection filtrates from my mind to my heart with saddening influence, I need scarce assure you. But Hope, in a voice sweet as 'the wild strains of the Eolian harp,' whispers in dulcet accents, 'we may again meet.' In youth the impressions of sorrow are fleeting and evanescent as 'the vapery sail,' that momentarily o'ershadows the luciferous orb of even, vanishes and leaves her disc untarnished in its lustre: so may it be with you—may the gloom of this moment, like the elemental prototype, be but the precursor of reappearing radiance undimmed by the transitory shadow.
"Happy and bright indeed has been this small portion of your time occupied, not only in the interesting pursuit of science, but in a reciprocation of attentions and sympathies, endeared by that holiest ligament of earthly sensibilities, religion, which so oft has united us in soul and sentiment, as the aspirations of our hearts simultaneously ascended to the mercy-seat of the great Jehovah! The remembrance of emotions like these are ineffaceable by care or sorrow, and only blotted out by the immutable hand of death. These halcyon hours of budding existence are to memory as the oasis of the desert, where we may recline beneath the soothing influence of their umbrage, and quaff in the goblet of retrospection the lucid draught that refreshes for the moment, and is again forgotten. Permit me to solicit, that the immaculate principles of virtue, I have so often and so carefully inculcated, may not be forgotten, but perseveringly cherished and practised. May the divine dictates of reason murmur in harmonious cadence, bewitching as the fabled melody of the musical bells on the trees of the Mahomedan Paradise. She dwells not alone beneath the glittering star, nor is always encircled by the diamond cestus and the jewel'd tiara! indeed not! and the brilliancy emulged from the spangling gems, but make more hideous the dark, black spot enshrined in the effulgence. The traces of her peaceful footsteps are found alike in the dilapidated hovel of the beggared peasant, and the velveted saloon of the coroneted noble; who may then apportion her a home or assign her a clime? In making my acknowledgments for the attentive interest with which you received my instructions; and the respectful regard you manifested in appreciating my advice, it is not as a compliment to your vanity, but a debt due to your politeness and good sense. Long, my beloved pupils, may my precepts and admonitions live in your hearts; and hasten you, in the language of Addison, to commit yourself to the care of Omnipotence, and when the morning calls again to toil, cast all your cares upon him the author of your being, who has conducted you through one stage of existence, and who will always be present to guide and attend your progress through eternity."