In conclusion, I will only add a few remarks as to ocean steamers, on which subject, as on the invention of the engine, there is considerable difficulty in awarding the honours to any single individual. The Americans were the first to employ steamers along the coast, and the "Savannah," built by them in 1819, was the first vessel that crossed the ocean employing steam in any way as an assistant. But in her the steam was a very small auxiliary power, and upon the sails the vessel mainly depended. She cannot, therefore, fairly be called an ocean steamer. The "Enterprise," a vessel of 500 tons burden, with two 120 horse-power engines, started from London for Calcutta, touching at the Cape of Good Hope, about the year 1826; and may be fairly considered as the first vessel that made an ocean journey essentially dependent on steam. Subsequently the "Royal William," built at Quebec, after running between that port and Halifax from 1831 to 1833, started in the fall of the latter year for Falmouth; and to her belongs the honour of being the first bona fide paddle-wheel steamer that crossed the Atlantic. She was afterwards sold to the Portuguese government, and fitted up as a man-of-war steamer, under the name of the "Dona Isabella."
If, however, it be asked, where oceanic communication took its rise, unquestionably that honour belongs to Bristol and the "Great Western," a steamer of 210 feet in length, 1240 tons, fitted with two engines of 210 horse-power each. This vessel started on the 8th of March, 1838, under the command of Captain Hosken, reached New York in thirteen days ten hours, and made the return passage in fifteen days. Since that date ocean steamers and steam companies have risen up like mushrooms. England and America have established a kind of weekly Derby, Cunard entering one horse and Collins the other. Unquestionably the Americans have been pioneers in improving the build, and a rivalry has sprung up which is as useful as it is honourable.
The English boats adhere to a greater proportion of sail, in case of accidents to the engine; the Americans carry less sail than we do, for the sake of increasing the speed. As to relative comfort on board the two boats, an American gentleman, who had made several voyages, told me the only difference he ever discovered was, the same as exists between the hotels of the respective countries.—To return to litigation.
Another claim frequently set up in America is the invention of the telegraph. Even in the Census Report—which I suppose may be considered a Government work—I read the following:—"It is to American ingenuity that we owe the practical application of the telegraph. While the honour is due to Professor Morse for the practical application and successful prosecution of the telegraph, it is mainly owing to the researches and discoveries of Professor Henry, and other scientific Americans, that he was enabled to perfect so valuable an invention." It is difficult to conceive a more unblushing piece of effrontery than the foregoing sentence, which proclaims throughout the Union that the electric telegraph in its practical working is the invention of one American, and in its scientific details the invention of other Americans, neither of which assertions has truth for its basis, and consequently the superstructure is a fiction—the only available excuse for which would be, that the writer had never heard of what was going on in Europe. Had he taken the least trouble to inquire into the subject before he wrote, he never would—it is to be hoped—have so grossly deceived his countrymen.
He might have easily ascertained that such men as Oersted, Ampere, Arago, Sturgeon, had mastered in detail the various scientific difficulties that stood in the way of the accomplishment of the long-desired object; and he might also have known that Cooke in England and Stienhiel in Germany had both overcome the practical difficulties before Professor Morse had enlightened the Republic with his system, which—like Bain's—is simply another method of producing the same result—i.e., telegraphic communication.
Mr. Cooke took out his patent in conjunction with Professor Wheatstone, whose attention had long been turned to this subject, and whose name has been so much before the public, that not a few persons attribute the telegraph to him exclusively. There was, indeed, some dispute between them as to their respective claims, and the matter was referred to Sir I. Brunel and Professor Daniell for arbitration. The burden of their decision was, that Mr. Cooke was entitled to stand alone as the gentleman to whom Great Britain is indebted for having practically introduced and carried out the telegraph as a useful undertaking; Professor Wheatstone's profound and successful researches having already prepared the public to receive it.—So much for the justice of the American claim to the invention, which, like steam, has been the produce of many heads, and was brought into practical use first by Cooke, then by Stienhiel in Germany, and lastly by Morse in America.
Another invention of which the public have heard no little discussion lately is the reaping machine. To the American nation doubtless belongs the credit of forcing it into notice and into use; but as for any claim to the invention, it is equally certain they have none. That honour is due solely to the Rev. Patrick Bell, a Scotch minister in the presbytery of Arbroath. He first tried his reaping machine in August, 1828, at his father's farm on Lord Airlie's estate, where it has been in yearly use ever since; and in October he exhibited it at the Highland Society's meeting at Glasgow. The principle upon which his first machine was made differs in nothing from those making at this hour; and, as some of the people employed on his father's farm migrated to America, it is only reasonable to suppose they carried sufficient information with them to explain the machine. American ingenuity soon copied, and American energy soon gave an impulse to, Mr. Bell's machine, for which, though denying them the invention, we ought not to deny them our thanks.
But while I thus explain the unwarrantable claims which Americans have set forth, I must not allow John Bull to lay the flattering unction to his soul that none of his claimed discoveries are disputed on the other side of the Atlantic, I have seen a Book of Facts printed in America, which charges us with more than one geographical robbery in the Arctic Seas, in which regions, it is well known, American enterprise and sympathy have been most nobly employed. As I am incapable of balancing the respective claims, I leave that subject to the Hydrographer's office of the two countries.
The citizens of the Republic have but little idea of the injurious effects which the putting forward unwarrantable claims has upon their just claims. I have now before me a letter from a seafaring man who has spent a quarter of a century upon the borders of the United States; he is writing on the subject of their claims to the invention of steam, and he winds up in these words:—"They are with this, as they are with every other thing to which either merit or virtue is attached—the sole and only proprietors and originators, and say both the one and the other are unknown out of the universal Yankee nation." I do not endorse the sentiment, but I quote it to show the effect produced on some minds by the unfounded claims they have put forward.
They have ingenuity and invention enough legitimately belonging to them for any nation to be justly proud of, without plucking peacock's feathers from others, and sending them throughout the length and breadth of the Republic as the plumage of the American eagle. How many useful inventions have they not made in machinery for working wood? Is not England daily importing some new improvement therein from the American shores? Look again at their perfect and beautiful invention for the manufacture of seamless bags, by Mr. Cyrus Baldwin, and which he has at work at the Stark Mills. There are 126 looms in operation, all self-acting and each one making 47 bags daily; the bags are a little more than three and a half feet long, and chiefly used, I believe, for flour and grain. When they are finished, sewing-machines are at hand, which can hem at the rate of 650 bags each daily. This same gentleman has also adapted his looms to the making hoses for water, of which he can complete 1000 feet a day by the experimental loom now in use, and it is more than probable these hoses will entirely supersede the use of the leather ones, being little more than one-tenth the price, and not requiring any expense to keep in order.
Another and very important purpose to which their ingenuity has applied machinery is, the manufacture of fire-arms. It has long been a matter of surprise to me, why so obvious and useful an application of machinery was neglected by the Government at home. The advantages of being able to transfer all screws, springs, nipples, hammers, &c., from one musket to another, are so manifest to the most infantine comprehension, that I suppose they considered it beneath their notice; nor can I make out that they have duly inquired into the various breech-loading systems used in the States, some of which they have been testing in their Navy for years. As, however, we are beginning to copy their application of machinery, I dare say the next generation will take up the question of breech-loading arms.
A few observations on the Militia appear to follow naturally after remarks on fire-arms. According to the most reliable information which I have been able to obtain, every able-bodied male between 18 and 40 years of age is liable to militia service. Those who do not serve are subject to a fine, varying in different States, from 3s. upwards; which sum helps to pay those who do duty. The pay of a private while on duty is about 10s. a-day, and that of officers in proportion. Formerly, they only turned out two days in the year; now I believe, they generally turn out ten, and in some of the cities twenty, days annually. The persons excused from militia service, are the clergy, medical men, fire companies, and those who have held a commission for three years. Each regiment settles its own uniform; and it is a strange sight to see companies in French, German, and Highland uniforms, all marching gaily through the streets.
The day of firing at a mark is quite a fete; they parade the town, with the target untouched, on their road to the ground: there they commence firing, at 100 yards; if the bull's-eye be not sufficiently riddled, they get closer and closer, until, perforated and in shreds, it scarce hangs together as they return through the town bearing it aloft in triumph, and followed by all the washed, half-washed, and unwashed aspirants to military glory.
I believe the good sense of the people is endeavouring to break through the system of nationalizing the companies into French, German, Highland, &c., believing that keeping up such distinctions is more calculated to produce discord than harmony. How long it will be before they succeed in eradicating these separate nationalities, I cannot pretend to say.
With respect to their numbers, I cannot give any accurate information. The American Almanack—generally a very useful source of information—puts them down at 2,202,113; which is evidently a little bit of Buncombe, as those figures represent very nearly the whole able-bodied men in the Republic between the ages of 18 and 40. As they are liable to be called on, the Almanack puts them down as though regularly enrolled; their real numbers I leave to the fertility of the imagination. In the same authority, I find the officers calculated at 76,920, of which 765 are generals. These numbers, I imagine, must also go through a powerful process of subtraction before the exact truth would be arrived at, although I believe there are twice 765 citizens who enjoy the titular honour.
One fact, however, is beyond doubt; they have a large militia, accustomed to, and fond of, using fire-arms; and those who feel disposed to approach their shores with hostile intentions, will find the old Scotch motto applicable to them in its fullest sense,—
"Nemo me impune lacessit."
[Footnote CI: The Marquis de Jouffroy is said to have worked a boat by steam on the Seine in 1781; but the Revolution breaking out, he appears to have been unable to complete his invention.]
[Footnote CJ: The foregoing details are essentially extracted from a work by Mr. Woodcroft, professor of machinery at University College, London; who, after proving that the previous inventions of his countrymen were combined together, for the first time, in the boat engined by Symington, thus clearly and summarily disposes of the pretensions put forward in favour of Fulton:—"In fact, if these inventions separately, or as a combination, were removed out of Fulton's boat, nothing would be left but the hull; and if the hull could then be divested of that peculiarity of form, admitted to have been derived from Colonel Beaufoy's experiments, all that would remain would be the hull of a boat of ordinary construction."]
I now come to the consideration of the annual celebration of the 4th July, an event which presents itself to my mind under two opposite aspects, the one beneficial, the other injurious. If contemplated as a nation's grateful acknowledgment to Providence for the successful termination of an arduous struggle for independence, it assumes an aspect at once dignified and Christian; but if into its celebration other elements enter which are calculated to nourish hostile feelings towards those who have long ceased to reciprocate such unworthy sentiments, in that case I think its aspect may be fairly termed both injurious and unchristian.
Let me then call your attention to the method of celebration. It consists of three parts:—First, the reading of the Declaration of Independence; secondly, an oration on the subject; lastly, procession and jollification.
Now what is the Declaration of Independence? It is a document which details their views of the oppression and injustice which justified their rebellion against the mother country. The clauses are too numerous to quote in full, but I subjoin a few, that the reader may form his own opinion. Speaking of the sovereign of Great Britain, they say he has protected "armed troops among us, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow-citizens taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions. In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
I pause not to ask if any of these charges are correct or not: grant them accuracy in every statement, nay more, admit that they were eminently calculated to stir up the feelings of the colonists, and to inflame that spirit which was requisite to make their struggle for independence justifiable and successful, and that they were therefore called for by the emergencies of the day;—but nearly eighty years have rolled over since that Declaration was penned; there is no success sought for now which renders such appeals necessary, and surely it is not for the purpose of justifying their rebellion that they are made. Where then is the good to be derived from such declarations? Is there any misgiving in the Republic as to sentiments of patriotism or pluck? Surely none. But who can help seeing the evil to which they lead? These annual recapitulations of old grievances, buried beneath nearly a century, must tend to excite hostile feelings towards England. Conceive for one moment France reading annually a declaration of independence from British arms on the anniversary of their recapture of Calais, and engrossing in that document every injustice or atrocity which the English perpetrated during their rule; not to mention the undignified nature of such a course, who can doubt that it would be pre-eminently calculated to generate those hostile feelings which it is the bounden duty of all civilized States to allay? In short, what does it so much resemble as the system by which, in barbarous days long since past, the Highland clans used to perpetuate their feuds. If a Christian community cannot glory in and commemorate national independence without such adjuncts, such a ceremony would, in my humble opinion, be more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
Among other pernicious influences, I should mention that the Irish celebrate the battle of the Boyne annually in order to prevent their national angry passions from subsiding. Not the least curious features in these same Paddies is the fact that, while cursing England for her treatment of Ireland, they all unite as one man in favour of Slavery. Mr. Mitchell, the escaped convict, is said to have expressed his opinion that a plantation on the Alabama river with fifty sleek slaves, was the beau ideal of a terrestrial paradise. If he be a bachelor, and still entertain the same sentiments, I would recommend him to take "The stewardess of the Lady Franklin" as the sharer of his joys.
With regard to the orations pronounced, the one I heard at Geneseo had nothing that struck me as in any way lending itself to those feelings I have so freely censured; but it is not always so. I have before me now an epitome of a speech made by the Honourable D.S. Dickenson, at Syracuse, on July 4th, 1853. Being an honourable, it is not unfair to suppose him—mind, I say to suppose him—a man of superior attainment, selected by a well-educated people. The epitome is headed "Vigorous Discussion and Patriotic Sentiments." I only quote one passage, which I could almost fancy Matthew Ward, the hero of the Louisville school-room, had written; it runs thus—"The eloquent orator then went on for nearly half an hour in a strain of withering sarcasm and invective, exposing the shameless and wicked oppressions of England in her collieries, in her factories, in her oppression of Ireland; denouncing her as a nation whose history was written in oppression and blood (great applause.)"—It is difficult to believe that the chosen representative of an intelligent community should thus speak of that nation to which his own country is indebted for nearly every valuable institution she possesses; but when such ridiculous vituperation is received with shouts of applause from the gaping rowdies who throng around him, does it not clearly demonstrate the truth of my previous statements as to the effects which the celebration of the 4th of July, as now observed, may naturally lead to? I say, may lead to, because I would fain hope, for the sake of the credit and dignity of the Republic, that such disreputable orations are rare exceptions.
But that such feelings of aversion to the mother country are generated among the masses, is proved indirectly in another quarter—viz., Congress. During the debate on the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, a Mr. Douglas, to whom I have before alluded, and who may be considered as the representative of the rabid and rowdy portion of the community, thus expresses himself with regard to England: "It is impossible she can love us,—I do not blame her for not loving us,—sir, we have wounded her vanity and humbled her pride,—she can never forgive us. But for us, she would be the first Power on the face of the earth,—but for us, she would have the prospect of maintaining that proud position which she held for so long a period. We are in her way. She is jealous of us; and jealousy forbids the idea of friendship. England does not love us; she cannot love us, and we cannot love her either. We have some things in the past to remember that are not agreeable. She has more in the present to humiliate her that she cannot forgive."—After which expressions, the poor little man, as though he had not the slightest conception of the meaning of the words he was using, adds the following sentence, deprecating all he had previously uttered: "I do not wish to administer to the feeling of jealousy and rivalry that exists between us and England. I wish to soften and smooth it down as much as possible."
On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Butler, senator for South Carolina, who honestly did deprecate such language as the foregoing, referred, by way of contrast, to the many constitutional principles the Republic had derived from England, and also to the valuable literature which she had produced, and by which the Republic had benefited. Upon which, poor Mr. Douglas got furious, and asserted, that "Every English book circulated contains lurking and insidious slanders and libels upon the character of our people and the institutions and policy of our Government."—He then discovered that abolitionism began, in England, and that "she keeps her missionaries perambulating this country, delivering lectures and scattering abroad incendiary publications, designed to excite prejudices, hate, and strife between the different sections of the Union."—He then, with Illinois truthfulness, hints at Uncle Tom's Cabin, as though it were English literature, and which, he says, "is designed to stir up treason and insurrection around his—Mr. Butler's—fireside," &c.—He returns to the charge, and asserts, with equal accuracy, "Millions are being expended to distribute Uncle Tom's Cabin throughout the world, with the view of combining the fanaticism, ignorance, and hatred of all the nations of the earth in a common crusade against the peculiar institutions of the State and section of this Union represented by the senator from South Carolina." One might almost imagine that the copy of Webster's Dictionary, which Mr. Douglas has in his library—if he possess such a thing—has omitted an old English word, spelt T R U T H.
But the point I wish to call the reader's especial attention to, is, that the little senator's rabid rhapsody was received with shouts of gallery applause, which, as I have before observed, is an exhibition of sentiment not allowed in the Senate to either members of Congress or gallery. Yet, so thoroughly had he expressed the feelings of the said rowdies, that they could not resist the unlawful burst of approval. Mr. Butler of course replied to his absurd arguments; but my object is not discussion. I only allude to the subject at all for the purpose of proving my previous assertion, that within the walls of Congress itself, elements calculated to engender feelings of animosity towards Great Britain are to be found at work. It is this deep-seated consciousness of guilt that makes that portion of the citizens of the Republic so sensitive with regard to the observations which proceed from this country. Americans like Mr. Butler, who maintain the dignity of their country without descending to paltry popularity-hunting calumny, can afford to read any criticisms which may come from across the water with as much calmness as American remarks are read here. Such men have no accusing conscience gnawing at their vitals. If the population of the two countries were fed upon Judge Douglas's venomous diet, ere long, like the Kilkenny cats, nothing but the tails would be left.
I have felt it imperative to make these remarks, that my countrymen may understand why they so constantly find the strongest symptoms of hostility to England in a certain class of American writers. Even in the text-books for children, you can detect the same animus working. Miss Willard, in her History of the United States, narrates that six Indian chiefs came to Colonel Washington, the grandfather of the founder of the Republic, to treat for peace. The treachery to, and cold-blooded murder of, these poor Indians she disposes of thus:—"He wrongfully put them to death." General Clinton's conduct, in the prosecution of his duties to his country, which never displayed any such revolting act, she describes as reviving in a civilized age "barbarous atrocities."—Take another instance of amiable sentiments towards England, as exhibited by the Common Council of New York, who voted 200l. to entertain John Mitchell, the convict who had escaped from custody. The Mayor addresses him in the following terms:—"When, sir, you were silenced by restraint, overpowered by brutal force, and foreign bayonets were employed on your own soil to suppress truth and to bind upon your limbs and mind the shackles of slavery, we sympathized with you in your adversity. We hated the tyrant and loved the victim. And when, sir, after the semblance of a trial, you were condemned and hurried as a felon from your home, your country, and your friends, to a distant land, we were filled with indignation, and pledged a deeper hatred towards the enemies of man."—Mr. Mitchell, in reply, confesses himself from earliest youth a traitor to his country, and honours the British Government with the following epithets: "I say to them that they are not a government at all, but a gang of conspirators, of robbers, of murderers." These sentiments were received by the multitude around with "great applause." Considering how many causes for exciting ill-will exist, the only wonder is that, when so large a portion of the Republicans are utterly ignorant of the truth as regards England, the feeling is not more hostile.
It is needless to assert, that the feelings of jealousy and animosity ascribed to England by Mr. Douglas, exist only in the disordered imagination of his own brain and of those of the deluded gulls who follow in his train: for I am proud to say no similar undignified and antagonistic elements are at work here; and, if any attempt were made to introduce them, the good sense of the country would unite with one voice to cry them down. I defy all the educated, ignorant, or rabid population of the Republic to bring forward any instance where, either in the celebration of any ceremony, the orations of any senator, or the meetings of any corporation, such unworthy and contemptible animosity towards the United States has ever been shadowed forth.
I must not, however, allow the reader to understand from the foregoing remark that there is an universal national antipathy to England; although, whenever she is brought into juxtaposition with the Republic, it may appear very strongly developed. The most erroneous impressions were at the time this was written, abroad among my countrymen, in respect of American sympathies with Russia. Filibusteros, rabid annexationists, inveterate Slaveholders, and Rowdies of every class, to which might have been added a few ignoble minds who made the grave of conscience a "stump" from which to pour forth Buncombe speeches to catch ephemeral popularity, constituted the body in America who sympathised with Russia. All the intelligence of the North, and a great portion of that of the South, felt the deepest interest in our success, not merely as descendants of the mother country, but also because they recognised the war in which we were engaged as a struggle in the cause of liberty. We could not suffer ourselves to be deceived by the Filibustero Press, nor by the accounts we read of vessels laden with arms carrying them to Russia. Those were no more proofs of the national feeling, than the building of slave-clippers every year at Baltimore is a proof that the nation wishes to encourage the slave-trade. The true feeling of a nation must be sought for far deeper than in the superficial clamour of political demagogues, backed though it be by the applause of gaping crowds whose worst passions are pandered to for the sake of a transient breath of popularity.
The preceding observations lead naturally to a few observations upon American character in a national point of view; for in treating of so exceedingly varied a community, combining as it does nearly every nation of the Old World, it would be beyond the limits of a work like this to enter into details on so complicated a subject.
As I prefer commencing with the objectionable points, and winding up with the more favourable, I shall first name Vanity as a great national feature. The fulsome adulation with which the Press bespatters its readers, throughout the length and breadth of the Union, wherever any comparisons are drawn with other nations, is so great that the masses have become perfectly deluded; and being so far removed from the nations of the Old World, and knowing, consequently, nothing of them except through the columns of a vanity-feeding Press, they receive the most exaggerated statements as though they were Gospel truths—little aware how supremely ridiculous the vaunting which they read with delight makes them appear in the eyes of other people.
I insert the following extract from the Press, as one instance among many of the vain and ridiculous style of some of their editorial leaders. It is taken from the New York Herald—one of the most widely-circulated papers in the Union, but one which, I am bound in justice to say, is held in contempt[CK] by the more intelligent portion of the community. Speaking of Mrs. B. Stowe's reception in England, he says:—"She proves herself quite an American in her intercourse with the English aristocracy. Her self-possession, ease, and independence of manner were quite undisturbed in the presence of the proud duchesses and fraughty dames of the titled English nobility. They expected timidity and fear, and reverence for their titles, in an untitled person, and they found themselves disappointed. Mrs. Stowe felt herself their equal in social life, and acted among them as she felt. This, above all other things, has caused a great astonishment in the higher circles in favour of American women, for in fact it is a quality peculiarly distinguishing an American woman, that she can be and is a duchess among duchesses."
Even in the simple article of diplomatic dress we see the same feature peeping out. Vanity may be discovered as readily in singularity, however simple, as in the naked savage who struts about as proud as a peacock, with no covering but a gold-laced cocked hat on his head and a brass-mounted sword at his side. When civilized society agrees upon some distinctive uniform for diplomatic service, who can fail to observe the lurking vanity that dictated the abolition of it by the Republic?—not to mention the absurdity of wearing a sword in plain clothes. The only parallel it has among bipeds, that I know of, is a master-at-arms on board a ship, with a cane by his side; but then he carries a weapon which he is supposed to use. The Minister of the Republic carries a weapon for ornament only. In quadruped life, it reminds me of a poodle closely shaved all over, except a little tuft at the end of his tail, the sword and the tuft recalling to mind the fact that the respective possessors have been shorn of something.
Firmly convinced, from my earliest schoolboy days, of the intimate connexion which exists between boasting and bullying, I had long blushed to feel how pre-eminent my own country was in the ignoble practice; but a more intimate acquaintance with the United States has thoroughly satisfied me that that pre-eminence justly belongs to the great Republic. But it is not merely in national matters that this feeling exhibits itself; you observe it in ordinary life as well, by the intense love shown for titles; nobody is contented until he obtain some rank. I am aware this is a feature inseparable from democracy. Everybody you meet is Captain, Colonel, General, Honourable, Judge, or something; and if they cannot obtain it legitimately, they obtain it by courtesy, or sometimes facetiously, like a gentleman I have before alluded to, who obtained the rank of judge because he was a connoisseur in wine. In these, and a thousand other ways, the love of vanity stands nationally revealed.
I do not think Americans are aware what injustice they do themselves by this love of high-sounding titles.[CL] For instance, in a paper before me, I see a Deputy Sheriff calling on the mob to resist the law; I see Governor Bigler authorizing General King to call out the military, one naturally supposes to keep order; but observe he calls Mr. Walker, of Erie, a traitor and a scoundrel; of the directors and managers of the railroad, he says, "We will whip them, will whip them, will bury them so deep electricity can't reach them—we will whip them—we will whip the g—ts out of them!" &c.—Now, judging of these people by their titles, as recognised by the rest of the civilized world, what a disgrace to the higher classes of Americans is the foregoing! But anybody who really knows the title system of the Republic will at once see that the orator was a mere rowdy. Thus they suffer for their vanity. It pervades every class of the whole community, from the rowdy, who talks of "whipping creation," to the pulpit orator, who often heralds forth past success to feed the insatiable appetite: in short, it has become a national disease; and were it not for the safety-valve formed by the unmeasured terms of mutual vituperation they heap upon each other on occasions of domestic squabbles, their fate would assuredly be that of the frog in the fable.
In the medical world, it is said no one has a cold without fever; and I think it may with equal truth be asserted of the national world, no nations are vain without being afflicted with sensitiveness: at all events, it is true as regards the United States. No maiden in her teens is so ticklishly sensitive as the Americans. I do not refer merely to that portion of the community of which I have selected Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, as the type; I allude also to the far higher order of intelligence with which the Republic abounds. There is a touchiness about them all with respect to national and local questions which I never saw equalled: in fact, the few sheets of their Press which reach this country are alone sufficient to convince any one on that point; for in a free country the Press may always be fairly considered, to a certain extent, as the reflex of the public mind. I suppose it is with nations as with individuals, and that each are alike blind to their own failings. In no other way can I account for the Republic overlooking so entirely the sensitiveness of others. Take for instance the appointment of M. Soule—a Frenchman naturalized in America—as minister to the court of Spain. I do not say that he was a Filibustero, but he was universally supposed to be identified with that party; and if he were not so identified, he showed a puerile ignorance of the requirements of a Minister, quite beyond conception, when he received a serenade of five thousand people at New York, who came in procession, bearing aloft the accompanying transparencies, he being at the time accredited to his new ministry.
On the first transparency was the following motto:—
A STAR. PIERCE.
On the second banner:—
YOUNG AMERICA AND YOUNG CUBA. Free thought and free speech for the Cubans.
'Tis no flight of fancy, for Cuba must be, and 'tis Written by fate, an isle Great and free.
O pray, ye doomed tyrants, Your fate's not far: A dread Order now watches you,— It is the Lone Star.
On the third banner:—
Cuba must and shall be free.
The Antilles Flower, The true Key of the Gulf, Must be plucked from the Crown Of the Old Spanish Wolf.
Monumental representation—a tomb and a weeping willow. On the tomb were the words—
LOPEZ AND CRITTENDEN,
AGUERO AND ARMATERO.
They and their companions are not forgotten.
M. Soule accepts the compliment, and makes a speech, in which he informs his audience that he cannot believe "that this mighty nation can be chained now within the narrow limits which fettered the young Republic of America," &c.
Change the scene, and let any American judge in the following supposed and parallel case. Imagine expeditions fitted out in England, in spite of Government, to free the slaves in the Southern States; imagine a Lopez termination to the affair, and the rowdy blood of England forming other Filibustero expeditions; then imagine the Hon. Mr. Tenderheart identifying himself with them, and receiving an appointment as minister to Washington; after which, imagine him serenaded at St. James's by thousands of people bearing transparencies, the first representing a naked woman under the slave-driver's lash; the second, containing some such verses as "The Antilles Flower," &c.; for instance:—
"The slaves must be plucked From the chains that now gall 'em, Though American wolves An inferior race call 'em."
Let the minister accept the serenade, and address the multitude, declaring "that this mighty nation can no longer be chained down to passive interference," &c. Let me ask any American how the Hon. Mr. Tenderheart would be received at Washington, particularly if a few days after he took a shot at his French colleague because another person insulted him in that gentleman's house?—I ask, what would Americans say if such a line of conduct were to be pursued towards them? I might go further, and suppose that a conclave of English Ministers met at Quebec, and discussed the question as to how far the flourishing town of Buffalo, so close on the frontier, was calculated to endanger the peace and prosperity of Canada, and then imagine them winding up their report with this clause—If it be so—"then by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from its present owners." The American who penned that sentence must possess a copy of the Scriptures unknown to the rest of the world. Surely America must imagine she has the monopoly of all the sensitiveness in the world, or she would never have acted by Spain as she has done. How humiliated must she feel while contemplating the contrast between her act in appointing the minister, and Spain's demeanour in her silent and dignified reception of him!
This same sensitiveness peeps out in small things as well as great, especially where England is concerned: thus, one writer discovers that the Americans speak French better than the English; probably he infers it from having met a London Cit who had run over to Paris for a quiet Sunday, and who asked him "Moosyere, savvay voo oo ey lay Toolureeze?" Another discovers that American society is much more sought after than English; that Americans are more agreeable, more intelligent, more liberal, &c.; but the comparison is always with England or the English. And why all this? Simply because it feeds the morbid appetite of many Republican citizens, which the pure truth would not.
This sensitiveness also shows itself in the way they watch the opinions of their country expressed by The Times, or by any largely circulating paper. I remember an American colonel who had been through the whole Mexican war, saying to me one day, "I assure you the Mexican troops are the most contemptible soldiers in the world; I would rather a thousand to one face them than half the number of Camanche Indians."—The object of this remark was to show on what slight and insufficient grounds The Times had spoken of the United States as a great military nation since the Mexican war. An article giving them due credit for a successful campaign was easily magnified beyond its intended proportions, and my gallant friend was modestly disclaiming so high-sounding an appellation; but such evidently was the construction which he felt his countrymen had put upon it.
I turn now for a few moments to the question of Morals; and here, again, it is of course only in a wholesale manner I can treat of the subject. As far as my inquiries enable me to judge, I find the same elements producing the same results here as in England. Wherever masses are clustered together most largely, there vice runs as rampant as in England; nay, I have the authority of a lecture delivered at the Maryland Institute, for saying that it is even worse in many places. After describing various instances of lawless conduct, the lecturer continues thus: "Such lawlessness as I have described is not tolerated in any other part of the world, and would not be tolerated here for a moment, but for the criminal apathy of our citizens generally, and the truckling, on the part of our politicians and public officers, for the votes of the very men whom they know to be violating and trampling on the laws."—In illustration, he states, "In every part of Europe in which I have travelled,—in England, Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy; under all the different systems of religion and forms of government; in the large cities, and the small towns and villages; in the highways and byways,—I found better public order, more decorum, where bodies of men were assembled together, and less tendency to rowdyism, pugilism, and violence, than there is in most parts of this country. In this general statement of the fact, all unprejudiced travellers will, I suppose concur."—Further on, he draws a comparison favourable to London; and, with regard to the Police in our metropolis, he says, "A more respectable and finer-looking body of men it would be difficult to find in any country. A stranger may apply to one for information, with a certainty of receiving a polite and intelligent answer," &c.—I only quote the last paragraph, in case Mr. Matt. Ward should see these pages, and that he may know how the Police behave towards those who know how to conduct themselves.[CM]
The lecturer goes on to complain of the depravity of youth. He then attacks the dispensation of the law, pointing out many instances of their mal-administration. He then proceeds to attack the fire companies; he admits their courage and daring, but points out at the same time their lawlessness. He says—speaking of Philadelphia—"Almost every company has its war-song, breathing the most barbarous and bloodthirsty sentiments towards some rival association, and describing the glory of the fireman to the destruction of his enemy's apparatus, or worse yet, his life."—He gives the following list of the terrific names of the companies: "Hornets, Snappers, Blood-reds, Bed-bugs, Rock-boys, Buffaloes, Skimmers, Scrougers, Revengers, Knockers, Black-hawks, Pirate-boys, Kill-devils." After which he gives the following specimen, of their songs, written by a "Bluffer and Red-devil:"—
"INDEPENDENT HOSE SONG.
"We're the saucy Hyena-boys of George's-street, as all knows; We can whip the Penn and Globe, likewise the Carroll Hose; We'll whip the three together, the Bed-bugs and South Penn throw in for ease; We do run our carriage among our foes, and run her where we please.
"You'd better hush your blowing, Globe, if you know when you are well; For if we take your engine again, we'll smash her all to hell. Here is luck to the Bluffers, and all honest boys of that name; Here is to the Hyenas and Red-devils, that no one can tame."
He subsequently points out the evils of allowing political passions to guide citizens in the selection of officers, and declares, "that persons are elected to, and now fill, important offices in Baltimore, to whom no responsible trust in private life would be confided by the very men who voted for them."[CN] With regard to the actual commission of crime, and the due punishment of the offenders, he draws the following comparison between London and Baltimore: "The population of the former is 13 times greater than that of the latter; but the number of arrests is as 1 to 7,—in other words, the commission of crime, in proportion to numbers, was 46 per cent. greater than in London. Then, to show the inefficiency of the law, he proceeds to state, that the commitments for trial were only 29 per cent. greater, and that, even of those committed, many escaped just punishment. Of course, the large cities in America are the only places in which any comparison can be made with this country; but, while doing so, the tide of emigration, which helps to fill up their numbers, must not be lost sight of, or we should judge them unfairly.
With regard to the masses that are spread over the length and breadth of the land, I certainly have never seen nor heard anything that need make England ashamed of the comparison. It would not be equitable to judge by mere numbers,—you must also bring into the balance the comparative state of affluence and independence of the respective parties; for who can doubt that distress is one of the great causes of crime? Even in the wealthy State of New York, I find an account of the following outrage, committed upon a Mr. Lawrence, when serving a summons upon his aggressor, Mr. Deitz: "He found Mr. Deitz near the house, and handed him the papers. Deitz took them and read them, when he threw them on the ground,—seized Lawrence by the throat, calling him a d——d scoundrel, for coming to serve papers on him. He then called to his family to blow a horn, when a man, named Hollenbeck, who was at work for Deitz as a mason, interceded for Lawrence, who managed to get away, and started off on a run. Deitz followed in pursuit, knocked Lawrence down, and held him until four men in disguise made their appearance. They then tied his hands behind him, and took him to a small piece of bush near by,—then tore off his coat, vest, and cravat, and with a jack-knife cut off his hair, occasionally cutting his scalp,—and, remarking that they had a plaster that would heal it up, they tarred his head and body, and poured tar into his boots. After exhausting all their ingenuity this way, each cut a stick, and whipped him until they got tired. They then tied his hands before him, and started him for the house, each of them kicking him at every step. They made him take the papers back, but took them away again;—when, after knocking him down again, they left him, and he succeeded in reaching the residence of George Beckers last evening. His legs, hands, arms, and face are badly bruised."—If we travel West and South, we shall doubtless find that morality is far more lax than in England; but what can you expect where gentlemen, even senators for States, go out to fight bloody duels with rifles at twenty paces, while crowds of spectators are looking on?
Where the Americans have the advantage over our population is, first and foremost, in possessing a boundless extent of territory which gives a rich return for comparatively little labour, and where, if labour is wanted, the scarcity of the article insures its commanding a high price. Compare England for one moment with two of the oldest American States, and therefore the most thickly populated:—
Square Miles. Inhabitants.
England contains 50,000 17,923,000 New York " 46,000 3,097,000 Pennsylvania " 46,000 2,311,786
We here see, that if we take the most populous States in the Union, the proportion is nearly 6 to 1 in favour of America; but, if we mass the whole, we shall find—
Square Miles. Inhabitants.
Great Britain and Ireland contain 120,000 27,400,000 United States 3,500,000 23,192,000
This would bring the proportion of population to extent of territory, in rough numbers:—
Great Britain and Ireland 228 inhabitants to the square mile. United States 7 " " "
In other words, Great Britain is 32 times as thickly populated as the Republic. If these facts are borne in mind, I confess that the commission of crime in Great Britain appears to me proportionally far smaller than in the States, notwithstanding all the advantages of the free and liberal education which is within their reach.
I cannot but think that the general system of training youth in the Republic has a most prejudicial effect, in many instances, on their after-life. In their noble zeal for the education of the brain, they appear to me to lose sight almost entirely of the necessity of disciplining the mind to that obedience to authority, which lays the foundation of self-control and respect for the laws of the land. Nationally speaking, there is scarcely such a thing as a lad in the whole Union. A boy in the States hardly gets over the novelty of that portion of his dress which marks the difference of sex, ere his motto is: "I don't care; I shall do what I best please:" in short, he is made a man before he ceases to be a boy; he consequently becomes unable to exercise that restraint which better discipline might have taught him, and the acts of his after-life are thus more likely to be influenced by passion and self-will than by reason or reflection. I find in the lecture from which I have already quoted, the following paragraph, which, as I consider it illustrative of my last observation, I insert at length.
"But the most alarming feature in the condition of things, not only in the city, but elsewhere throughout the country, is the lawlessness of the youth. The most striking illustration of this which I have seen is taken from a Cincinnati paper of last January. It seems that in the course of a few days one hundred applications had been made by parents in that city to have their own children sent to the House of Refuge. The particulars of one case, which happened a short time before, are given:—a boy, twelve years of age, was brought before the Mayor's Court by his father, who stated that the family were absolutely afraid the youth would take their lives, and that he had purchased a pistol for the purpose of shooting the housekeeper. A double-barrelled pistol was produced in court, which the police-officer had taken from the boy, who avowed that he had bought it for the purpose stated. The mayor sent the boy to the House of Refuge."
I now pass on to the question of Liberty in the United States. If by liberty be understood the will of the greater number ruling the State or regulating its laws, certainly they have more liberty than England; but if by liberty be understood that balance of power and adaptation of the laws to the various interests of the whole community, combined with the due execution, of them against offenders of whatever class, then I consider that there is unquestionably more liberty in England, in spite of the restrictions by which the franchise is limited—nay, rather I should say, in consequence of those very restrictions; for I believe they tend to secure the services of more liberal, high-minded, and independent representatives than any country—however highly educated its population may be—would return under a system of universal suffrage. I do not intend to convey in the foregoing observation, any opinion as to how far it is desirable, or otherwise, to modify the restrictions at present existing in England; it is obvious they should keep pace with the growing intelligence of the community, inasmuch as, if they do not, popular agitation is readily excited, and violent changes are forced by ignorant passion, going far beyond those which educated prudence and a sense of justice ought to have brought forward.—Prevention is better than cure.
Mr. Everett, in a letter dated July 25, 1853, after observing that it has long been the boast of England that she is the great city of refuge for the rest of Europe, adds, "it is the prouder boast of the United States, that they are, and ever have been, an asylum for the rest of the world, including Great Britain herself:" he then goes on to say, "no citizen has ever been driven into banishment."—This is bravely said by an able son of the "Land of Liberty;" but when he penned it, he appears to have forgotten that there are upwards of three millions of his own fellow-creatures held in the galling shackles of hopeless slavery by the citizens of that land of which he makes so proud a boast; and that from one to two thousand of the wretched victims escape annually to the British colony adjoining, which is their sole city of refuge on the whole North American continent. Doubtless Mr. Everett's countrymen do not sufficiently know this startling point of difference, or they would hesitate in accepting such a boast. So ignorant are some of his countrymen of the real truth as regards the citizens of Great Britain, that a friend of mine was asked by a well-educated and otherwise intelligent son of the Republic, "Is it really true that all the land in England belongs to the Queen?"
While on the subject of liberty, it is well to observe one or two curious ways in which it may be said to be controlled in America. If any gentleman wished to set up a marked livery for his servants, he could not do so without being the subject of animadversions in the rowdy Press, styling him a would-be aristocrat. But perhaps the most extraordinary vagary is the Yankee notion that service is degrading; the consequence of which is that you very rarely see a Yankee servant; and if by chance you find one on a farm, he insists on living and eating with the overseer. So jealous are they of the appearance of service, that on many of the railways there was considerable difficulty in getting the guard, or conductor, to wear a riband on his hat designating his office, and none of the people attached to the railway station will put on any livery or uniform by which they can be known. I wonder if it ever occurs to these sons of the Republic, that in thus acting they are striking at the very root of their vaunted equal rights of man, and spreading a broader base of aristocracy than even the Old World can produce. Servants, of course, there must be in every community, and it is ridiculous to suppose that American gentlemen ever did, or ever will, live with their housemaids, cooks, and button-boys; and if this be so, and that Americans consider such service as degrading, is it not perfectly clear that the sons of the soil set themselves up as nobles, and look upon the emigrants—on whom the duties of service chiefly devolve—in the light of serfs?
I may, while discussing service, as well touch upon the subject of strikes. The Press in America is very ready to pass strictures on the low rate of wages in this country, such as the three-ha'penny shirt-makers, and a host of other ill-paid and hard-worked poor. Every humane man must regret to see the pressure of competition producing such disgraceful results; but my American friends, if they look carefully into their own country, will see that they act in precisely the same way, as far as they are able; in short, that they get labour as cheap as they can. Fortunately for the poor emigrant, the want of hands is so great, that they can insure a decent remuneration for their work; but the proof that the Anglo-Saxon in America is no better than the rest of the world in this respect, is to be found in the fact that strikes for higher wages also take place among them. I remember once reading in the same paper of the strike of three different interests; one of which was that indispensable body, the hotel-waiters. The negroes even joined with the whites, and they gained their point; they knew the true theory of strikes, and made their move "when the market was rising." The hotels were increasing their charges, and they merely wanted their share of the prosperity.
I now propose to consider one of the brightest features in the national character—Intelligence. Irresistible testimony is borne to their appreciation of the value of education, not merely by the multitudes of schools of all kinds, and by the numbers that attend them, but also by that arrangement of which they may be so justly proud, and which opens the door to every branch of study to their poorest citizens free of expense. No praise is too high for such a noble national institution as the school system of the Republic. How far it may be advisable to bring all the various classes of the community together at that early age when habits which affect after-life are so readily acquired, is another question. Though the roughness of the many may derive advantage from contact with the polish of the few, it appears to me more than probable that the polish of the few will be influenced far more considerably by the roughness of the many. I cannot, therefore, but imagine that the universal admixture of all classes of society in early infancy must operate prejudicially to that advancement in the refinements of civilization which tends to give a superior tone to the society of every country. It must not, however, be imagined that the intelligence obtained at these schools is confined to those subjects which are requisite for making dollars and cents. People of this country, judging of the Republicans by the general accounts given of them through the Press, can have little idea of the extent to which the old standard works of the mother-country are read; but there is an intelligent portion of our own nation to be found among the booksellers, who can enlighten them on this point. I have been told by several of them, not only that old editions of our best authors are rapidly being bought up by citizens of the United States, but that in making their purchases they exhibit an intimate acquaintance with them far greater than they find generally among Englishmen, and which proves how thoroughly they are appreciated by them.
Then again, with reference to their own country; it is impossible for any one to travel among them without being struck with the universal intelligence they possess as to its constitution, its politics, its laws, and all general subjects connected with its prosperity or its requirements; and if they do not always convey their information in the most classical language, at all events they convey it in clear and unmistakeable terms. The Constitution of their country is regularly taught at their schools; and doubtless it is owing to this early insight into the latent springs by which the machinery of Government is worked, that their future appetite for more minute details becomes whetted. I question very much if every boy, on leaving a high school in the United States, does not know far more of the institutions of his country than nine-tenths of the members of the British House of Commons do of theirs. At the same time it should not be forgotten, that the complications which have grown up with a nationality of centuries render the study far more difficult in this country, than it possibly can, be in the giant Republic of yesterday. And in the same way taxation in England, of which 30,000,000l. is due as interest on debt before the State receives one farthing for its disbursements, is one of the most intricate questions to be understood even by enlarged minds; whereas in the United States, scarcely any taxation exists, and the little that does, creates a surplus revenue which they often appear at a loss to know how to get rid of.
Doubtless, the intelligence of the community sometimes exhibits itself in a 'cuteness which I am not prepared to defend. A clear apprehension of their immediate material interests has produced repudiation of legitimate obligations; but those days are, nationally speaking, I hope, gone by, and many of their merchants stand as high in the estimation of the commercial world as it is possible to desire. At the same time, it is equally true that the spirit of commercial gambling has risen to a point in the States far above what it ever has in this country,—except, perhaps, during the Railway epidemic; and the number of failures is lamentably great.
With their intelligence they combine an enterprise that knows no national parallel. This quality, aided by their law of limited liability, has doubtless tended to urge forward many works and schemes from which the Union is deriving, and has derived, great wealth and advantage; at the same time it has opened the door for the unscrupulous and the shrewd to come in and play high stakes with small capital—in playing which reckless game, while some become millionaires others become bankrupts. This latter state is a matter of comparative unimportance in a country like the Republic, where the field is so great, and a livelihood easily attainable until some opening occurs, when they are as ready to rush into it again as if they had been foaled at Niagara, and had sucked in the impetuosity of its cataract.
There is one shape that their enterprise takes which it would indeed be well for us to imitate, and that is early rising. I quite blush for my country when I think what a "Castle of Indolence" we are in that respect, especially those who have not the slightest excuse for it. On what principle the classes of society in England who are masters of their own time, turn night into day, waste millions yearly in oil and wax, and sleep away the most fresh and healthy hours of the morning, for no other visible purpose but to enable themselves to pass the night in the most stuffy and unhealthy atmosphere, is beyond my comprehension. One thing is certain: it has a tendency to enervate both body and mind, and were it not for the revivifying effects produced by a winter residence in the country, where gentlemen take to field sports, and ladies to razeed dresses, sensible shoes, and constitutional walks, the mortality among our "upper ten thousand" would, I believe, be frightful. In America, the "boys" get up so early, that it is said they frequently "catch the birds by their tails as they are going to roost;" and it is no doubt owing to this that they are so 'cute. Talk about "catching a weasel asleep," let me see any of my metropolitan drone friends who can catch a Yankee boy asleep!
It is not, however, merely to early rising that they owe their 'cuteness. A total absence of idleness, and the fact of being constantly thrown on their own resources in cases of minor difficulty, aid materially in sharpening their wits. You may see these latter influences operating in the difference between soldiers and sailors, when placed in situations where they have to shift for themselves. Some of their anecdotes bearing upon 'cuteness are amusing enough. I will give one as an illustration.—Owing to some unknown cause, there was a great dearth of eggs in one of the New England States, and they consequently rose considerably in price. It immediately occurred to a farmer's wife, that, if she could in any way increase the produce of her hens, it would be a source of great gain to her; she accordingly fitted the bottom of each laying hen's bed with a spring, and fixed a basin underneath, capable of holding two eggs. In due time, the hens laid; but as each hen, after laying, missed the warmth of the precious deposit, she got up to look if it was all right. To her astonishment, no egg was to be seen. "Bless my soul!" says the hen, "well, I declare I thought I had laid an egg. I suppose I must be mistaken;" and down she went to fulfil her duties again. Once more she rose to verify her success. No egg was there. "Well, I vow," quoth Mrs. Hen, "they must be playing me some trick: I'll have one more shot, and, if I don't succeed, I shall give it up." Again she returned to her labours, and the two eggs that had passed into the basin below supporting the base of her bed, success crowned her efforts, and she exclaimed, "Well, I have done it this time at all events!" The 'cute wife kept her counsel, and said nothing, either to the hens or to her neighbours, and thus realized a comfortable little bag of dollars.—I give the anecdote as narrated to me, and I must confess I never saw the operation, or heard the remarks of the outwitted hens. I insert it lest in these days of agricultural distress (?) any farmer's wife be disposed to make a trial of a similar experiment.[CO]
I proceed to consider the energy of the Republicans, a quality in which they may challenge comparison with the world. No enterprise is too great for them to undertake, and no hardship too severe for them to endure. A Yankee will start off with his household gods, and seek a new home in the wilderness, with less fuss than a Cockney would make about packing up a basket of grub to go and pic-nic in Richmond Park. It is the spirit of adventure that has enabled them to cover a whole continent in the incredible manner which the map of the United States shows. The great drawback to this phase of their energy is the total absence it exhibits of those ties of home to which we so fondly cling in the old country. If we were a nation of Yankees, I feel persuaded that in five years we should not have ten millions of inhabitants. No Yankee can exist without elbow-room, except it be the more degraded and rowdy portion of the community, who find a more congenial atmosphere in those sinks of vice inseparable from large towns. This migratory spirit has caused them to exhibit their energy and enterprise in those countless miles of rail and telegraph, which bring the citizens of the most distant States into easy communication with Washington and the Eastern cities. The difficulty of procuring labour is no doubt one cause of the very inefficient way in which many of these works are performed; and it also disables them for executing gigantic works with the speed and certainty that such operations are completed in England. The miniature Crystal Palace at New York afforded a convincing proof of what I have stated; for although it was little more than a quarter of the size of the one in Hyde Park, they were utterly foiled in their endeavours to prepare it in time. In revenge for that failure, the Press tried to console the natives by enlarging on the superior attraction of hippodromes, ice-saloons, and penny shows, with which it was surrounded, and contrasting them with the "gloomy grandeur" of the palace in London. Gloomy grandeur is, I suppose, the Yankee way of expressing the finest park in any city in the world.
Among other remarks on Americans, I have heard many of my countrymen say, "Look how they run after lords!"—It is quite true; a live lord is a comparative novelty, and they run after him in the same way as people in England run after an Indian prince, or any pretentious Oriental: it is an Anglo-Saxon mania. Not very long ago, a friend of mine found a Syrian swaggering about town, feted everywhere, as though he were the greatest man of the day; and who should the Syrian nabob turn out to be, but a man he had employed as a servant in the East, and whom he had been obliged to get bastinadoed for petty theft. In England we run after we know not whom; in America, if a lord be run after, there is at all events a strong presumption in favour of his being at least a gentleman. We toady our Indian swells, and they toady their English swells; and I trust, for our sake, that in so doing they have a decided advantage over us.
I have also heard some of my countrymen observe, as to their hospitality, "Oh! it's very well; but if you went there as often as I do, you would see how soon their hospitality wears off." Who on earth ever heard such an unreasonable remark! Because a man, in the fulness of hospitality, dedicates his time, his money, and his convenience to welcome a stranger, of whose character and of whose sociability he knows nothing whatever, is he therefore bound to be saddled with that acquaintance as often as the traveller chooses to visit the American Continent? Is not the very idea preposterous? No man in the world is more ready to welcome the stranger than the American; but if the stranger revisit the same places, the courtesy and hospitality he receives must, in justice, depend upon the impression which his company has left on those upon whom he inflicted it. No doubt the scanty number of travellers enables Americans to exercise more universal hospitality than they could do if the country were filled with strangers in the same way as Great Britain is. The increased travelling of late years has necessarily made a marked difference on that point among ourselves, and doubtless it may hereafter act upon the United States; but the man who does not admit hospitality to be a most distinctive feature of the Republic, at the present time, must indeed be rotten in the brain or the heart.
With regard to the political character of the Union, it is very much in the same state as that of England. The two original parties were Whig and Democrat, the former being synonymous with the Tory party in this country—i.e., an honest body of men, who, in their earnest endeavours to keep the coach straight, put the drag on so often that the horses get restive sometimes, and start off at score when they feel the wheel clogged. The Democrats are more nearly represented by a compound of Whig and Radical—i.e., a body of men who, in their energetic exertions to make the coach go, don't trouble themselves much about the road, and look upon the drag as a piece of antiquated humbug. Sometimes this carelessness also leads to the team-bolting; but in the States there is so much open country that they may run away for miles without an upset; whereas in England, when this difficulty occurs, the ribands are generally handed over to the Jarvey of the opposite party. This old state of affairs is entirely changed in both hemispheres; each party is more or less broken up, and in neither country is there at present any distinct body sufficiently numerous to form a strong government.
In consequence of these disruptions, it may be imagined how difficult it would be to give any accurate description of the different pieces of crockery that constitute the political "service." Formerly, the two cries of "Protection to Home Manufacture" and "Free Trade" were the distinct rallying points. At present there are Slaveholders, Slavery Extension, Free-soil, Abolitionist, Annexationist, and Heaven alone knows how many more parties, on the question of Slavery alone, into which the Democratic or dominant party is divided, independent of those other general political divisions which must necessarily exist in so large and varied a community. From the foregoing you will observe that, to say a man is a Democrat conveys no distinct idea of his politics except that he is not a Whig; and the Whigs also have their divisions on the Slave question.
But there is a party lately come into the field, and called the Know-nothings, which requires a special notice. Their ostensible principles have been published in the leading journals of this country, and carry a certain degree of reason upon the face of them, the leading features being that they are a secret society banded together for the purpose of opposing the priestly influence of the Humanists in political matters: for prolonging the period requisite to obtain the rights of citizenship; and for the support of the native-born American in opposition to all other candidates for any public situation that may be contested. Such is the substance of their manifesto. Their opponents say that they are sheer humbugs, and brought into life by a few old political hacks for their own selfish ends. Owing to the factions in the old Whig and Democratic parties, their opponents believe they may succeed for a year or two, but they prophesy their speedy and total disruption. Time will show—I am no prophet. There is one point in their charter, however, that I cannot believe will ever succeed—viz., naturalization or citizenship. Congress would be loth to pass any law that might tend to turn the stream of emigration into another channel, such as Australia or Canada; and individual States would be equally loth to pass such a local law for the same reason, inasmuch as if they did, the emigrants would move on to those States where they obtained most speedily the rights of citizens. The crusade against the Romanists is also so opposed to the spirit of a constitution which professes the principle of the equal rights of man, that it is more than probable they may ere long divide upon the unsolvable question of how to draw the line of demarcation between the influence of the priest and the opinion of his flock. As far, therefore, as I am capable of judging, I do not believe they have a sufficiently broad and distinct basis to stand upon, and I think also that the fact of their being a secret society will rather hasten their end than otherwise.
The last point I shall allude to is the future prospects of the Republic; a question which doubtless is veiled in much obscurity. The black cloud of the South hangs perpetually over their heads, ever from time to time threatening to burst upon them. In the Free States many feel strongly the degradation of being forced to aid in the capture of the fugitive slave; and the aversion to the repulsive task is increasing rather than decreasing. The citizens have on many occasions risen in masses against those who were executing the law, and the military have been brought into collision with them in defending the authorities. The dread of breaking up the Union alone prevents that clause being struck out from the Constitution, by which they are compelled not merely to restore but to hunt up the fugitive. The "Freesoilers" also feel indignant at seeing their nation turning virgin soil into a land of Slavery; the Nebraska Bill has strengthened that feeling considerably. The Abolitionists are subject to constant fits of rabidity which increase intensity with each successive attack. Thousands and thousands of Northerns, who writhe under the feeling that their star-spangled banner is crossed with the stripes of the slave, turn back to the history of their country, and recalling to mind the glorious deeds that their ancestors have accomplished under that flag, their hearts respond—"The Union for ever!"
But perhaps the strongest feeling in the Republic which tends to keep things quiet, is that the intelligence of the community of the North, who are opposed both to slavery and to the fugitive law, foresee that if those objects are only to be obtained at the price of separation from the South, greater evils would probably accrue than those they are anxious to remove. However peaceably a separation might be made in appearance, it could never take place without the most bitter feelings of animosity. Junius describes the intensity of the feeling, by saying, "He hated me as much as if he had once been my friend;" and so it would assuredly prove. Squabbles would breed quarrels, and quarrels would grow into wars; the comparative harmony of a continent would be broken up, and standing armies and fleets become as necessary in the New World as they unfortunately are in the Old. If the South are determined to perpetuate Slavery, the only way it will ever cease to stain the Union is by the force of public opinion, and by the immigration of the white man gradually driving the negro southwards from State to State. As his value decreases, breeding for the market will gradually cease; and he may eventually die out if the millennium does not interfere with the process.
Another, possible cause for division in the Union may come from California, in which State a feeble cry has already been heard of—"a Western Republic." The facility of intercourse afforded by railroads seems likely to stop the swelling of that cry; but if California did separate, it would not be attended with those evils which a disruption of the Southern States would inevitably produce. The only other chance of a division in the Republic which I can conceive possible is, in the event of a long war with any great maritime power, for ends which only affected one particular portion of the States; in which case the irresistible influence of the all mighty dollar might come into powerful action. The wealth of America is her commerce; whatever checks that, checks the pulsations of her vitality; and unless her honour was thoroughly compromised in the struggle, neither North nor South would be disposed to prolong a ruinous struggle for the sole benefit of the other. The prospects of such a contingency may, I trust, be deemed visionary. France is not likely to come in contact with the Union; and the only other maritime nation is Great Britain, whose interests are so identified with peace, that it is hardly possible she should encourage any other than the most friendly relations. Neither party could gain anything by a war, and both parties would inevitably suffer immensely; and although I fear there is but too strong evidence, that many ignoble minds in the Republic make blustering speeches, and strive to excite hostile feelings, the real intelligence and wealth of the States repudiate the unworthy sentiment, and deprecate any acts that could possibly lead to a collision between the two countries. Besides all which, there is that strong affinity between L. s. d. and dollars and cents, whereby so strong an influence is exercised over that commercial body which constitutes no unimportant portion of the wealth and intelligence of both nations.
If the views I have taken be correct, it is indeed impossible to foreshadow the future of the United States; centuries must elapse ere it can become sufficiently peopled to test the adaptation of its present form of government to a thickly populated country; in the meantime, there seems scarcely a limit to her increase in wealth and prosperity. Her present gigantic stride among the nations of the world appears but an invisible atom, if compared with the boundless resources she encircles within her borders, not the least important of which is that mass of energy and intelligence she is, year by year, sowing broadcast throughout the length and breadth of the land, the Church and the School ever following in the train, and reproducing those elements to which she owes her present proud position.
My task is now done. I have endeavoured, in the preceding pages, to convey some general idea of the places I visited, and of the objects which appeared to me most worthy of notice. I have touched but lightly on Cuba, and I have not dwelt at any great length on the prosperous and rising colony of Canada. My remarks have been chiefly on the United States, which, differing in so many points from, the country of her birth, and occupying so conspicuous a place among the nations, presented the most extended field for observation and comment. I have on all occasions stated plainly the impressions produced upon my mind. I have freely remarked upon all those topics which, being public, I conceive to be the legitimate field for a traveller's criticism; where I have praised, or where I have condemned, I have equally endeavoured to explain my reasons. I have called attention to facts and opinions connected with my own country, where I thought similar points in the Republic might help to throw light upon them. Lastly, I have endeavoured to explain the various causes by which hostile feelings towards this country are engendered and spread abroad among a certain portion of the community; and I have stated my firm conviction, that the majority of the highest order of intelligence and character entertain a sincere desire to perpetuate our present friendly relations.
In conclusion, I would observe, that the opinions and feelings of a nation should not be hastily drawn from the writings of a passing traveller, or from the casual leaders of a Free Press. Man is ever prone to find fault with his neighbour, because the so doing involves a latent claim to superior intelligence in himself; but a man may condemn many things in a nation, while holding the nation itself in high esteem. The world is a large society,—a traveller is but one of the company, who converses through the Press; and as, in the smaller circles, conversation would die or freeze if nothing were stated but what could be mathematically proved, so would volumes of travels come to an untimely end, if they never passed beyond the dull boundary of facts. In both cases, opinions are the life of conversation; because, as no two people agree, they provoke discussion, through the openings of which, as truth oozes out, wise men catch it, leaving the refuse to the unreflecting.
The late Lord Holland, who was equally remarkable for his kindness and his intelligence, is said to have observed, "I never met a man so great a fool, but what I could learn something from him." Reader, I am bound to confess his Lordship never met me; but I cannot take my leave without expressing a hope, that you will not be less fortunate than that amiable Peer.
And now, farewell, thou Giant Republic! I have long since left thy shores; but I have brought with me, and fondly cherish, the recollection of the many pleasant days I spent within thy borders, and of all those friends whose unceasing hospitality and kindness tracked my path without intermission. I care not for the Filibusteros and Russian sympathizers; I know that the heart of the intelligence of thy people beats with friendly pulsations, to which that of my own countrymen readily responds. All we should, and I trust all we do, mutually desire, is, to encourage an honourable and increasing rivalry in arts, science, commerce, and good-will. He who would disturb our amicable relations, be he Briton or American, is unworthy of the name of a man; for he is a foe to Liberty—Humanity—and Christianity.
[Footnote CK: The New York Herald is edited by two renegade British subjects, one of whom was, I am told, formerly a writer in a scurrilous publication in this country.]
[Footnote CL: It has been cited as an example of their fondness for grand-sounding titles, that while, by the Census of Great Britain, there were only 2,328 physicians to 15,163 surgeons, in the United States there were 40,564 physicians to only 191 surgeons.]
[Footnote CM: Vide chapter entitled "America's Press and England's Censor."]
[Footnote CN: One of the few cases in which perhaps there is an advantage in the masses voting, is where a question of public advantage is brought forward, to which many and powerful local interests or monopolies are opposed. Take, for instance, the supply of London with good water, which the most utter dunderhead must admit to be most desirable; yet the influence of vested interests is so strong that its two millions of inhabitants seem destined to be poisoned for centuries, and the lanes and courts will, in all probability, continue as arid as the desert during the same period.—London, look at New York and blush!]
[Footnote CO: While on the subject of eggs, I would ask my reader, did you ever, while eating the said article, find your patience sorely tried as each mouthful was being taken from its shell, and dipped carefully into the salt? If you have ever felt the inconvenience of this tedious process, let me suggest to you a simple remedy. After opening the egg, and taking out one spoonful, put in enough salt for the whole, and then on the top thereof pour a few drops of water; the saline liquid will pervade the whole nutritious substance, and thus render unnecessary those annoying transits above named, which make an egg as great a nuisance at the breakfast-table as a bore in society. Who first took out a patent for this dodge I cannot say, but I suppose it must have been a New Englander.]
Extent of Telegraph in the United Kingdom.
Miles. Miles of Wire. ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH COMPANY. 5,070 Under ground 5,000 Above ground 20,700
MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH COMPANY. 1,740 Under ground 6,180 Above ground 4,076
SUBMARINE TELEGRAPH COMPANY. 400 Under ground 2,740 Above ground —
BRITISH TELEGRAPH COMPANY. 1,000[CP] Under ground 2,755 Above ground 3,218
IRISH TELEGRAPH COMPANY. 88 Under ground 176 Above ground — —— —— Total 8,298 Total 44,845
Of the foregoing, 534 miles are submarine, employing 1100 miles of wire. The cost of putting up a telegraph was originally 105l. per mile for two wires. Experience now enables it to be done for 50l., and that in a far more durable and efficient manner than is practised in the United States. The cost of laying down a submarine telegraph is stated to be about 230l. per mile for six wires, and 110l. for single wires.
One feature in which the telegraphs of Great Britain differ materially from those of America and all other countries, is, the great extent of underground lines. There are nearly 17,000 miles of wire placed underground in England, the cost of which is six times greater than that of overground lines; but it has the inestimable advantage of being never interrupted by changes of weather or by accidents, while the cost of its maintenance is extremely small. This fact must be borne in mind, when we come to consider the relative expense of the transmission of messages in England and the States.
In the foregoing lines we have shown, that England possesses, miles of line, 8,298; miles of wire, 44,845; the United States possesses, miles of lines, 16,735; miles of wire, 23,281.
We thus see, that the telegraph in the United States extends over more than twice as much ground as the British lines; while on the other hand the system of telegraph in England is so much more fully developed, that nearly double the quantity of wire is in actual use. On the English lines, which are in the hands of three companies only, from 25,000 to 30,000 miles are worked on Cook and Wheatstone's system; 10,000 on the magnetic system—without batteries;—3000 on Bain's chemical principle—which is rapidly extending;—and the remainder on Morse's plan.
The price of the transmission of messages is less in America than in England, especially if we regard the distance of transmission. In America a message is limited to ten words; in England to twenty words; and the message is delivered free within a certain distance from the station.
In both countries the names and addresses of the sender and receiver are sent free of charge. The average cost of transmission from London to every station in Great Britain is 13/10 of a penny per word per 100 miles. The average cost from Washington to all the principal towns in America is about 6/10 of a penny per word per 100 miles. The ordinary scale of charges for twenty words in England is 1s. for fifty miles and under; 2s. 6d. between fifty miles and 100 miles; all distances beyond that, 5s. with a few exceptions, where there is great competition. Having received the foregoing statement from a most competent authority, its accuracy may be confidently relied upon.
In conclusion, I would observe that the competition which is gradually growing up in this country must eventually compel a reduction of the present charges; but even before that desirable opposition arrives, the companies would, in my humble opinion, exercise a wise and profitable discretion by modifying their present system of charges. Originally the addresses of both parties were included in the number of words allowed; that absurdity is now given up, but one scarcely less ridiculous still remains—viz., twenty words being the shortest message upon which their charges are based. A merchant in New York can send a message to New Orleans, a distance of 2000 miles, and transact important business in ten words—say "Buy me a thousand bales of cotton—ship to Liverpool;" but if I want to telegraph from Windsor to London a distance of twenty miles, "Send me my portmanteau," I must pay for twenty words. Surely telegraph companies would show a sound discretion by lowering the scale to ten words, and charging two-thirds of the present price for twenty. Opposition would soon compel such a manifestly useful change; but, independent of all coercion, I believe those companies that strive the most to meet the reasonable demands of the public will always show the best balance-sheet at the end of the year.—Thirteenpence is more than one shilling.
A short Sketch of the Progress of Fire-arms.
The first clear notice which we have of rifles is in the year 1498, nearly 120 years after the invention of gunpowder was known to Europe. The Chinese, I believe, claim the invention 3000 years before the Creation. The first rifle-maker was one Zugler, in Germany, and his original object appears to have been merely to make the balls more ragged, so as to inflict more serious wounds; a result produced before that time by biting and hacking the balls. This appears clearly to have been the intention, inasmuch as the cuts were made perfectly straight in the first instance. The accurate dates of the introduction of the various twists I have not been able to ascertain.
I can find no mention of breech-loading arms before the reign of Henry VIII., since which time they have been constantly used in China and other parts of the East. In 1839, they were, I understand, extensively used in Norway. A breech-loading carbine, lately brought across to this country from America as the invention of Mr. Sharpe, was patented by a Mr. Melville, of London, as far back as 1838. I understand Mr. Sharpe's carbine was tried at Woolwich not long ago, and found to clog, owing to the expansion of the metal from consecutive firing. Nor has any breech-loading weapon hitherto introduced been able to make its way into extensive practical use, although the Americans have constantly used them in their navy for some years past. To return to ancient times.—There is a matchlock in the Tower of London with one barrel and a revolving breech cylinder which was made in the fifteenth century, and there is a pistol on a similar plan, and dating from Henry VIII., which may be seen in the Rotunda at Woolwich. The cylinders of both of these weapons were worked by hand.
The old matchlock, invented in 1471, gave way to a substitute scarcely less clumsy, and known by the initiated as the wheel-lock, the ignition taking place by the motion of the steel wheel against a fixed flint placed in the midst of the priming. This crude idea originated in 1530, and reigned undisputed until the invention of the common old flint and steel, about the year 1692, when this latter became lord paramount, which it still remains with some infatuated old gentlemen, in spite of the beautiful discovery of the application of fulminating powder, as a means of producing the discharge.
Mr. Forsyth patented this invention in 1807, but, whether from prejudice or want of perfection in its application, no general use was made of the copper cap until it was introduced among sportsmen by Mr. Egg, in 1818, and subsequently Mr. J. Manton patented his percussion tubes for a similar purpose. The use of the copper cap in the army dates 1842, or nearly a quarter of a century after its manifest advantages had been apparent to the rest of the community.
Previous to this invention it was impossible to make revolving weapons practically available for general use.
The public are indebted to Mr. Jones for the ingenious mechanism by which continuous pressure on the trigger causes both the revolution of the barrels and the discharge of the piece; this patent goes back to 1829-1830. Colonel Colt first endeavoured to make a number of barrels revolve by raising the hammer, but the weight of the barrels suggested a return to the old rotatory cylinder, for which he took out a patent in 1835; and in 1836 he took out another patent for obtaining the rotatory motion by drawing back the trigger, and he subsequently introduced the addition of a lever ramrod fixed on to the barrel. Col. Colt came to the conclusion that the hammer-revolving cylinder was the more useful article, inasmuch as it enabled the person using it to take a more steady aim than with the other, which, revolving and firing by the action of the trigger, the moment of explosion could not be depended upon. To Col. Colt belongs the honour of so combining obsolete and modern inventions, and superadding such improvements of his own, as to produce the first practical and really serviceable weapon.
Since then Messrs. Dean and Adams, in 1852, revived the old invention of the trigger-revolving cylinder, which has the advantage of only requiring one hand to fire, but which is immeasurably inferior where accuracy of aim is wanted. Mr. Tranter, in 1853, patented a new invention, which, by employing a double trigger, combines the advantages of Colt and avoids the drawbacks of Dean and Adams. By a side-wind he has also adapted that invaluable application of Colt's—a fixed lever ramrod. Many other patents are springing up daily, too numerous to mention, and too similar to admit of easy definition.
To return to rifles.—It is well known that the ordinary rifle in use until late years was the seven-grooved, with a spherical ball, and the two-grooved, with a zone bullet; the latter an invention known as the Brunswick rifle; and imported from Berlin about 1836. It was upon this weapon Mr. Lancaster proceeded to make some very ingenious experiments, widening the grooves gradually until at last they met, and an elliptic bore rifle was produced, for which he obtained a patent in July, 1850; but upon investigation it would be proved that Mr. Lancaster's patent was invalid, inasmuch as the elliptical bore rifle is of so ancient a date that it is mentioned in Scloppetaria—a work printed in 1808—as even then obsolete; the details, methods, and instruments for their fabrication are fully described therein; and I have seen a rifle of this kind, made by "Dumazin, a Paris," which is at least a century old; it is now in the possession of the Duke of Athole. Mr. Lancaster is entitled to the credit of bringing into practical use what others had thrown on one side as valueless.
From rifles I turn to balls, in which the chief feature of improvement is the introduction of the conical shape. The question of a conical ball with a saucer base is fully discussed in Scloppetaria, but no practical result seems to have been before the public until Monsieur Delvigue, in 1828, employed a solid conical ball, which, resting on the breech clear of the powder, he expanded by several blows with the ramrod sufficiently to make it take the grooves. Colonel Thouvenin introduced a steel spire into the breech, upon which the ball being forced, it expanded more readily. This spire is called the "tige." Colonel Tamisier cut three rings into the cylindrical surface of the bullet, to facilitate the expansion and improve its flight. These three combinations constitute the Carabine a Tige now in general use in the French army. Captain Minie—in, I believe, 1850—dispensed with the tige, and employed a conical hollow in the ball; into which, introducing an iron cup, the explosion of the powder produced the expansion requisite. As Captain Minie has made no change in the rifle, except removing a tige which was only lately introduced, it is certainly an extraordinary Irishism to call his conical ball a Minie rifle; it was partially adopted in England as early as 1851. Why his invention has not been taken up in France, I cannot say.
Miraculous to remark, the British Government for once appear to have appreciated a useful invention, and various experiments with the Minie ball were carried on with an energy so unusual as to be startling. It being discovered that the iron cup had various disadvantages, besides being a compound article, a tornado of inventions rushed in upon the Government with every variety of modification. The successful competitor of this countless host was Mr. Pritchett, who, while dispensing with the cup entirely, produced the most satisfactory results with a simple conical bullet imperceptibly saucered out in the base, and which is now the generally adopted bullet in Her Majesty's service. The reader will recognise in Mr. Pritchett's bullet a small modification of the conical ball alluded to in Scloppetaria nearly fifty years ago.