We returned to Liverpool, and dined with a gentleman who has been very polite to us—Mr. Thomas Davies, a celebrated maker of gold watches. From him I obtained one, preferring an English to a Swiss timepiece. Here we saw the cultivation of plants in the house in greater perfection than I recollect elsewhere.
To-morrow we are to take our departure; and, though very glad to return home, yet I feel sorry at leaving a country where there is so much that is excellent and noble and beautiful. I have learnt, certainly, that England and America have too much in common to justify the indulgence of hatred and prejudice; and I find the tone of feeling here, among wise and-good people, very kind towards America. I have rarely heard a reflection upon our country, excepting upon our slavery. That they must talk about; and they are a little like the man who, having just got rid of the irritable affection supposed to trouble the North Britons, could not for his life help speaking of sulphur. An Englishman is sure to tell you that he is free from this sin—yes, washed, but scarcely dry.
Our hotel is filling up with Americans, and, we expect to meet many friends on board the Atlantic. I am much pleased with the appearance of Captain West; he looks every inch an admiral. And now, my dear fellow, I shall see you, perhaps, before you read my letter; but I have kept my promise to tell you what we saw and did. Of course many things will occur to our memories when we get home, and will furnish matter for chitchat which I hope soon to have with you, as in days of old. Well, you are now at the business of life, and I am yet a little longer to spend my time in preparation for it. I wonder how we shall come out, Charley? But time will tell, and let us do our best.
P.S. I must not forget to tell you that, while at Bristol, the doctor and I ran up to Windsor to see the royal agricultural exhibition, held this year in the Home Park. James stopped with our friends, and we were anxious to see the great show of England in her farming interest. The display was very great, and the cattle were wonderfully fine in all the departments—Durham, Hereford, Devons, and Channel Island. The last are very nice animals for a paddock, and give good milk. The horses were good; and I longed to bring home one or two that I saw, and felt strongly tempted. But the sheep and swine were the most remarkable things there. Really, we know little about sheep. They are monstrous, and yet very symmetrical and beautiful; whilst there are pigs, strange as you may think it, that have established high claims to beauty and perfection. I greatly preferred the Sussex breed to any other. Never was a town so crowded as this same Windsor. Thousands upon thousands were flocking into it; and how and where they fed I cannot divine. Money seemed useless, and waiters hardly looked at half crowns for retaining fees.
NEW YORK, August 3,1851.
We are, through the goodness of Providence, safely returned. We had a good voyage, in a capital ship, and under the charge of as good a captain as ever sailed the ocean. Our passengers were about one hundred and thirty in number, and very agreeable—some few were our old voyagers in the Arctic. With an exception or two, our way was as pleasant as it could have been; and there were some cheerful spirits that knew how to create sunshine at all hours. I cannot tell what travellers can desire in a steamer which they will not find in the Collins line. It seems to us that we have had the full worth of the money paid for passage. How different it is to come to New York in ten days, instead of being on the ocean for sixty-four days, as I have in a sailing packet! Well, this saving of time and feelings is worth the difference of the passage price. I am at a loss to understand how Americans who have to cross the ocean should think of supporting the English steamers in preference to our own superior ships. The influence of every English agent, of course, goes out in behalf of the old line; and all sorts of stories are told about winter passages, the importance of boats especially built for strength, and the advantages of experience. Now, the history of the American line is a perfect refutation of all this twaddle. The truth is, that all voyaging is connected with exposedness to some danger; and up to this moment the Americans have had, in all their ocean steam voyages, the full measure of success. They have lost no boat, they have sacrificed no lives, and they present a fleet of steamships the like of which the world cannot equal. Whenever an American citizen takes his passage in a foreign steamer, and an American one is at hand, he tacitly confesses the superiority of other lands, in ocean navigation, to his own country, and he contributes his full share to depress American enterprise, and aids so far as he can to insure its failure. The eyes of the English nation are upon our ships; and if we desire the spread of our national fame, we should, every man of us, labor to sustain our own steamers and propellers. And the government of our country should strenuously guard the interests of this available arm of national defence; and the country at large, would certainly sustain Congress in liberal support of this truly American enterprise.
Perhaps, Charley, you are ready to say to us, "Well, what do you think, after all you have been seeing in other lands?". I reply: We think that we return home with all our hearts more warmly attached to our beloved land than when we left her shores. We have seen lands, as fair, and fields as fertile, as our own. We have seen monarchies and republics; but nowhere have we seen man as erect and self-respecting as at home. Here we have equal laws, civil and religious liberty, no bishop to intimidate a day laborer who prefers to pass by his cathedral gates and worship his Maker in a humbler temple. Here our streets are not labelled with "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite," but the things signified are known and felt by every man that traverses these avenues of business. Here we have not thousands of armed men in this great city to preserve liberty; but every man enjoys it, and sees nothing of the government, which, though unseen, is all-powerful in the affections of the country.
We come home grateful that we have such a country; and though we love and admire much, very much, in England, yet we rejoice that we can call the United States our land. We hope we are better prepared than before we started to do her service. I am quite satisfied, Charley, that God has not done for any other people what he has for us. We know nothing of the restless anxiety which depresses men in England as to the means of procuring the necessaries of life. We have our chief anxieties called out in reference to the obtaining the luxuries and embellishments of life; the necessaries are almost certain to every man who has health and character. But in England, toil is poorly requited; and a father and husband may, after unremitting labor, have to find his refuge, and his only one, in that petition of the Lord's Prayer, which you and I never employed in pure faith, "Give me this day my daily bread." We say so; but we know whence it is coming to us. He knows not; and what he knows not, he asks God after.
A thoughtful and humane American cannot travel in Europe without having his sympathies daily called out in behalf of the sufferings of man. I am no apologist for slavery; I deeply lament its existence; but I believe that there is as much suffering in coal pits and manufacturing districts of England as in our southern slave states. In regard to England, I feel encouraged. In an absence of fifteen years I see marked improvement. Man is more respected, as man, than he once was; the masses are coming up; and the wealthy and the noble are more considerate. It is a great folly and a wickedness to think that the nobility of England are weak, vicious, unfeeling, proud, and self-indulgent. Some of the noblest characters of England are to be found in the peerage—men who "fear God and work righteousness." Their homes are often centres of diffusive blessedness; and were the nobility of England what too many here suppose them, the state could not last a twelvemonth. The queen is popular, and is clearly a woman of great tact. She would do at a crisis. Prince Albert is everything to her. He is a profoundly wise and prudent man, highly educated, and has very superior powers of mind. He is continually making speeches, but they are all marked by adaptation. I have never heard one disrespectful word uttered in England in regard to him. His labors for the exhibition, have been remarkable, and but for the prince the palace never would have been reared. England is happy indeed in having such a man to counsel and support the sovereign.
Europe looks as though a storm were once more about to gather over her old battle fields. France is not in her true position. She would like to see her armies employed; and I shall not be surprised to hear of his holiness clearing out from Rome and seeking protection from Austria. If that happens, France will sustain liberal views in the Eternal City, and the contest will be severe.
Popery has lost its hold upon the continent, and is seeking to regain its influence in England, and plant it in America. The people of England are Protestant to the heart's core. The folly of a few scholastics at Oxford has created all the hue and cry of Puseyism, and invigorated the hopes of Rome. These men at Oxford have poisoned the minds of a few of their pupils, and in the upper walks of life some sympathy is seen with views that seem at least semi-Papistical. But the great body of the people is sound. More than half the population is made up of dissenters and they, to a man, hate "the beast;" and there is about as much danger of Popery being established in England as there is of absolute monarchy being embraced as our form of government.
Popery in America must spread by immigration. We have Ireland virtually in America; but here the Irish will gradually merge into Americans, and the power of the priesthood will be less and less regarded by their children. I have no apprehensions from the coming of Catholics to our country. Let them come, and we must get Bibles ready for them, and Bible readers to visit them, and schools to teach their children; and if cardinal, or archbishop, or priest tell us that Popery is the friend of science, and that it never persecuted genius, imprisoned learning, nor burnt God's saints, we will tell the deceiver that he lies in the face of God and man and the world's history.
I am not, my dear fellow, uncharitable; a man may be better than his creed; and I believe that some priests who have sung the song of the mass will hereafter sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. But of Popery, as it is seen in Italy, and Austria, and other parts of the old world, I cannot but pronounce it a curse to the human family, a system all unworthy of God, and blasting to the happiness of man.
The boys are in the enjoyment of health, and will soon see you. They have been constant sources of pleasure to me, by their thoughtful kindness and consideration; and nothing has transpired, to cause us to look back with pain on any part of our wanderings from home.
Yours, very truly,
JNO. O. CHOULES.
To Mr. CHARLES W. DUSTAN,
Stapleton; Staten Island, New York.