Page images

assume another shape; on the other hand, the fall of those flimsy structures may abridge its duration. At any rate, we believe there are few thinking men among the North Americans who seriously doubt that some change must take place before this extensive country shall number, as it is sure to do before twenty years are over, twenty millions of people, composed of all nations and languages, religions, sects, and colours-divided into twentyfour states, each having its peculiar government and its separate interests, and each jealous of all the rest. It is only in a new and thinly-peopled country, wherein every man has plenty of elbow-room, that such a state of society could be expected to hold together; in old countries no such confederacy could possibly exist and history has left us nothing like it. Mr. de Roos has some observations on this subject, which we willingly quote :

The experiment of a democracy upon so great a scale was a bold conception, considering the fate which has hitherto invariably attended all systems of popular government-a conception worthy of a mighty mind, worthy of the philosophic statesman, who " eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis." How long this vast machine will continue to work, is a matter of interesting speculation. Hitherto the Americans have enjoyed the advantage of occupying a country where the evils of an overflowing population have not been felt; where every man is either a farmer or a merchant; where there are no idlers; and, more than all, where there are no poor; for vile indeed must be the American who cannot in some capacity earn an ample maintenance. When, however, the means of carrying off a superfluous population begin to fail, which at some period must be the case; when the sated ambition of wealth gives place to the love of distinction and power; and when the struggle for superiority between the young and old states gives rise to disturbances, symptoms of which have already appeared, we may expect to see the disadvantages of a popular government.-Personal Narrative, pp. 24, 25.

Our own opinion, however, is, that whatever difference of interests and feeling existed between the northern, the southern, and the western states, during the late war, the return and continuance of peace have nearly put an end to all animosities arising out of political opinions among those whose opinions have any weight, and that the Union is gaining strength every day. We merely laugh at our German author's prediction, that the next election will be the crisis that must decide whether the republican or the monarchical government is eventually to prevail. If Adams be re-elected, he pronounces the downfal of the federal government; and it seems in his estimation, that he has all the New England States, and part of New York and New Jersey, on his side; and that in both these latter states, as well as in Virginia, public opinion, among the higher classes, declares itself almost




openly for monarchical government.' But then the fierce Kentuckians, and all the western and southern states, are his avowed and decided enemies; and so they may be, and again try to elect General Jackson;* be very boisterous, and drunken, and quarrelsome, (as bad almost as our own rabble were at Preston, in Lancashire, the other day,) and in three days all will be calm again.

There is no doubt, however, that the sober and right-thinking part of the people tremble at the idea of placing a military man at the head of the government, and particularly such a man as Jackson, who is represented as one destitute of every qualification for the presidency, and possessing nothing to recommend him to the suffrages of his fellow-citizens, but an ungovernable temper, a ferocious courage, and a contempt for the constitution and laws. They are apprehensive, and not without reason, that, should such a man be elected, the character of the government of their peaceable and flourishing confederacy may be changed into 'that of the most miserable, the most despotic, and, to all the enjoyments of life, the most formidable that ever afflicted the human race-a military republic.' The natural consequence would be, that of running into the contrary extreme-the establishment of that monarchical government, towards which, our German tells us, the friends of Mr. Adams are already well disposed.

Our author gives a whimsical instance, which we shall extract, of the absurd extent to which this spirit of party-feeling and animosity is carried in the unenlightened part of the States :

Last year a steam-boat was launched from the wharfs at Pittsburgh; she was destined to run between that place and New Orleans, and was to start immediately on her first trip. Thousands of people were collecting on the bank of the Ohio (Monongehela ;) trunks, barrels, and bales, lay ready for embarkation; the passengers were going to enter their names; the public attention was in suspense, and only waited for the last act of this interesting scene. At length the veil was removed from the bust placed at the head of the vessel, and the name of the steam-boat appeared in letters of gold a yard long. In less than five minutes, not a spectator, not passenger, not a trunk, not a barrel, not a bale was to be seen: without uttering a word, the silent multitude had disappeared. The name of the steam-boat was Lady Adams, her bust, an elegant piece of carving in princely costume with a diadem, was proudly displayed at the head of the vessel. The owner, who had a few days previously arrived from the south-west, and thought to give the good people of Pittsburgh an agreeable surprise, found himself wofully disappointed, and he replaced the elegant figure

If the account of this man's conduct, as stated in a Tenessee newspaper, be true, and it is authenticated by the signature of one of the parties concerned, he is fitter for a cell in a gaol, with a strait waistcoat, than the president's chair.


by that of the martial-whiskered General Caffee; and then only did passengers, bales, and barrels return, though not in half the number they had before presented themselves.'-United States, pp. 25, 26.

The president of the United States, be his sentiments what they may, has an arduous and delicate task to perform. He has all the conflicting interests and the opposite opinions of a stern republican population to conciliate-he has to frame his messages, and trim his measures, so nicely as not to be defeated, nor to give offence to the congress, in which all these opinions and interests are congregated; but each member of which,-so at least our German tells us,-takes care of his own interests first, then those of his constituents, and last of all, those of the nation. The president may almost be said to stand alone; he has no cabinet to consult, nor any other dependence for assistance or advice, except on a few irresponsible official underlings. He derives none of that advantage which the ministers of religion are supposed to confer, by their influence over the minds of the people, and which, in monarchical governments, when used with discretion, is no mean support of the throne. The American government, indeed, has been deeply censured for its laxity and indifference in matters of religion, even on the score of state policy. Ministers of all sects indifferently, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Papists, Unitarians, are seen officiating as chaplains at the openings of the sessions of congress; and the consequences of this apparent indifference are what might have been looked for. In the total absence of a church establishment and a national religion, the people, abandoned to their own fancies, have split into -a hundred different sects, and some of the lower orders, uneducated and uninformed, have adopted the wildest notions and conduct that can possibly be imagined.

It is due, however, to the respectable part of the citizens of the United States, of whatever sect, to state that they are not only observant of religious duties, but cheerfully and willingly tax themselves, sometimes very heavily, in the building of churches and chapels, and in providing funds for the payment of their ministers. The contributions for this purpose exceed, in many places, the whole amount of taxes paid to government. In Philadelphia alone we are assured there are more than eighty churches and meeting-houses, all of which are frequented on the sabbath-day. In Pittsburgh, a city only created the other day, there are no less than ten churches, one of which our author says is in a style of Gothic elegance, worthy an European metropolis. The ministers of the episcopalian church are said to be more tolerant in temper, and consequently more popular among the better classes of society, than the presbyterians, but many fami

lies attend equally, and equally subscribe to, the one and the other, and no religious disputes or bickerings are ever heard in the United States. We believe, therefore, either that Mr. de Roos must have been dozing, or that his attention had been diverted from the pulpit by the dress and beauty of the ladies,' when he supposed he heard from a fashionable preacher' at Washington, the blasphemous nonsense which he details at p. 26 of his Narrative. He tells us, that Mr. Adams and Mr. Rush formed a part of the congregation. We have a better opinion of their taste and feeling, than to suppose they would sit patiently to listen to such trash. Mr. de Roos's ears must have deceived him; or, at worst, his superior' preacher must have been some noisy quack, enjoying the brief summer of resort and applause which such people sometimes meet with elsewhere than in North America.


The little encouragement that is held out, with a few exceptions, for young men intended for the learned professions, especially as ministers of religion, is one of the main causes why the colleges, or universities as they call them, of the United States, are in such low repute. The clerical function appears, indeed, to be thought but lightly of among them; we have more than once met with young gentlemen in coloured clothes in society here, who, we were told, had had the cure of churches or chapels in the United States; and who, it was added, would, or would not, re-assume the garb and character of clergymen on their return, exactly as might happen to suit their interests or inclinations. While this state of things continues, the clerical profession cannot attain the proper measure of respectability. The bench is as low as it possibly can be, and the bar not much higher. Mr. Adam, indeed, complains that the state of their judicature requires amendment. 'The executive,' he says, ' and still more the judiciary department, are yet, in a great measure, confined to their primitive organization, and not adequate to the wants of a still growing community.' Those students who are destined for the medical profession, remain the longest at the colleges, but our German tells us that speculation in land or commerce is so common, and the thirst for money-making so universal, that boys who are sent to the colleges are generally withdrawn by their friends by the time they have acquired little more than the rudiments of a classical education. The young Americans whose accomplishments attract notice, will generally be found to have studied either in Britain or Germany. All this will be cured in time. He admits there is no want of free-schools, to which the farmers send their children, and that reading and writing are acquirements so universally spread over the Union, that whenever one meets

with a person ignorant of them, he may be set down as an emigrant Irishman or a descendant of a Frenchman. Well-selected libraries are found in every town; our principal reviews and magazines are regularly reprinted; and of late they have some respectably-conducted periodical works of their own. Newspapers are read by every class of society; they comprehend everything that is passing in all the states of the Union. Their number is immense :

Upwards of one thousand,' says our anonymous author, are now printed in the Union; Pennsylvania alone has one hundred and fifty. There is hardly a county as far as the falls of Ohio, which has not at least one public paper. The poorest man is thus enabled to keep a newspaper, the cost of which does not exceed three dollars (thirteen shillings) a year, as there is no stamp-duty attached ;'

and the postage within each state is not more than a halfpenny, and without it about three farthings.

We are glad to find, from Mr. de Roos, that an English gentleman is everywhere sure of a friendly reception from the citizens of the eastern and southern states. We learn the same from the four gentlemen mentioned in the early part of this article, who were delighted with the attentions they invariably experienced. This is as it ought to be. Mr. de Roos is pleased with most things-above all, as might be looked for in a young lieutenant fresh from the sea, with the ladies. The streets of New York he says are well-lighted; and crowds of well-dressed people parade the avenues of trees on each side, to enjoy the cool breezes of the evening; but the City Hotel and everything belonging to it was execrable. A table-d'hôte, with one hundred and fifty people sitting down at it; floors without carpets; beds without curtains; a rag for a towel; no glasses, mug, nor cup in the bed-room; half-a-dozen beds in one room, and men sleeping in couples in each bed; these are the disagreeables of New York. Baltimore, he says, is the prettiest city in the United States; not so large as Philadelphia or New York, but in neatness, cleanliness, and regularity of building, far surpassing them; the ladies more beautiful, their taste in dress better, and quite Parisian. But we are warned to stop, not deeming it necessary to follow our Lieutenant into Canada, nor to say one word as to the rotten ships he found on Lake Ontario, which the two nations built at the cost almost of their own weight in gold; the great expense of which, and the dreadful slaughter which unnecessarily took place on those waters, may be the means, it is to be hoped, of deterring both from ever building another ship of war on this or any other of the lakes: we say unnecessarily, because neither the United States, nor the Canadas, are to be attacked or defended


« PreviousContinue »