« ZurückWeiter »
tion, some for the purpose of extending their inquiries as to the subjects described, and others to offer, by their hospi. tality, some return for the pleasure they professed to have received, I was brought into personal and intimate communion with the very best portion of the community, whether tested by the standards of learning, morality, manners, influence, or wealth ; and nothing could exceed the frankness and kindness with which all their resources of information were placed at my disposal.
The interest which I had been known to take in England in the cause of temperance, education, the condition of sea. men, the improvement of the working classes, unfettered commerce, and universal peace, occasioned very early applications to be made to me by the various philanthropic societies, with which the United States happily abound, to take a part in the proceedings of their public meetings, to examine the working of their several institutions, and to offer my unreserved opinion as to their merits or defects. This of course gave me as frequent opportunities to examine the condition of society among the middle and inferior classes as my Lectures afforded me of mixing with the higher; and, taking both together, I may safely affirm that my Lectures were heard and read by not less than a million of persons during my stay in America ; from the elite of whom I re. ceived the most cordial attention, in private as well as in public; and in assisting the various philanthropic objects enumerated there could be hardly less than a million more, by whom my addresses at their public meetings were heard and read in every part of the Union, from Maine to Louisiana, and from the Atlantic shore to the regions beyond the Mississippi.
If the mingling so intimately with all classes in the cities and towns be regarded as an advantage, the extensive range of my track over the surface of the interior of the country was scarcely less so. This embraced, it is believed, a greater number of states and territories than had ever before been traversed, and a more thorough examination of each than had yet been made by any single traveller, European or American; my journeys having carried me through ev. ery state and territory in the Union except two, and these the least settled and least interesting in every point of view, namely, the State of Arkansas and the Territory of Florida. We were, indeed, close on the borders of each; but one was uninviting from the unhealthiness of its climate in the season at which we were near it, and the other was inaccessible jealous in matters of national concern, but the deliberate conviction of some of the leading public writers of their own country, against which no such objection can be raised.
It will be inferred from this that my views of American institutions and manners are not always of the most favourable kind : and this I am ready to avow. I visited the country neither predisposed to admire nor condemn; but most sincerely desirous of seeing the actual condition of things, and most firmly resolved to describe them as they appeared to me, whether for good or for evil. To suppose that I may not in some cases have received imperfect impressions, and in others have formed erroneous conclusions, would be to suppose a freedom from the ordinary frailty and fallibility of mortals. To such an exemption I hope I should be the last to make any claim. But this, at least, I can assert with confidence, that I have always endeavoured to investigate carefully the facts placed within my reach; that I have been quite as anxious to form correct deductions from these when ascertained; and never having indulged the national antipathy towards foreigners which
has always seemed so offensive to me in the writings of too many of my own countrymen, I am not conscious of having been influ. enced by such a feeling in any censures which I may have felt it right to express. From the peculiarly quick sensitiveness of the American people to the censures of foreigners, and of English writers above all others, I have no doubt I shall be condemned by many of the party journals in that country for some of the observations which I felt it my duty to make on subjects connected with their institutions and manners; while, on the other hand, I expect as little justice from the party journals of my own country, who will condemn me perhaps as fiercely for the eulogies I feel bound to bestow on the manifold advantages enjoyed by the people of the United States over most of the countries of the Old World. Between these two extremes I shall, however, hope to find, in the moderate and impartial judgment of those who love truth wherever it is to be found, and who think it as much a duty to condemn what is evil as to praise what is good, a sufficient counterbalance to the severity of the criticisms on both sides of the Atlantic which I am prepared to expect. On one other topic I may venture to say a word or two
I in explanation. Throughout the United States the complaint is almost universal, that English travellers especially have abused the hospitality of some and betrayed the con.
DEPARTURE FROM ENGLAND:
fidence of others, by making public what was never intended or thought likely to be so exposed, and much bitterness of disappointment and anger of feeling has been occasioned thereby. There is, unfortunately, too much of truth in the accusation, though the English are not more in fault in this betrayal of confidence and abuse of hospitality than some American travellers who have visited and described Eng. land. But in both it is no doubt an offence that deserves to be punished with public censure; first, for its injustice and ingratitude ; and next, because it has a tendency to lessen the disposition of even the most generous and highminded in each country to extend their hospitality and attentions to the citizens of the other. I hope and believe that I have avoided this evil; I am sure, at least, that I have ear. nestly endeavoured to do so; and remembering, as I shall
i always be prompt and proud to do, the many warm and af. fectionate friendships I had the happiness to form among the American people, I should feel the deepest regret if any. thing to which I gave publicity respecting their country or themselves should weaken our reciprocal regard, or render my name and memory less revered among them or their children than it has hitherto had the honour and good for. tune to be.
Departure from England.- Arrival at New-York.--Address to the American Public is.
sued on Landing.- Different Courses of Lectures delivered in the City.-Attendance at Public Meetings for Benevolent Objects.- New York State Temperance Society. New-York Peace Society.-Meeting on the Subject of Public Education. -NewYork City Tract Society. - Total Abstinence Society.-Ladies Meeting for the Or. phan Asylum.-Meeting of the Friends of Sailors' Homes.- Visit to one of the Es. tablishments of this Institution.-Admirable Arrangement for the Comforts of Seamen.--Political Excursion to Newark with the Hon. Daniel Webster.–Visit to Poll. ing places at the Time of Election. --Legal and Clerical Parties.- Intellectual Soirées.
It was on the 7th of September, 1837, that we left London for New York. The packet-ship in which we had en
gaged cabins was the President, Captain Chadwick; and our party consisted of Mrs. Buckingham, my youngest son, then about twelve years of age, and myself. We were accompanied to the ship by the other members of our family and friends, and the prospect of so long a separation as that which we contemplated made our adieus more than usually painful.
During our tedious passage down the British Channel, the sight of the often-seen and well-remembered “white cliffs of Albion” excited recollections of the joy with which I hailed them on my last return from exile, that contrasted powerfully with the opposite emotions with which I now beheld them fading from my veiw ; and this found vent in some effusions, which sufficiently indicate the frame of mind in which they were penned.
There was nothing of sufficient interest or novelty in the sea-voyage across the Atlantic, nothing peculiar in the ship or her equipment, nothing even in the
number or character of our fellow-passengers, to require any special notice; and, except in the enjoyment of domestic society and books, so full of delight everywhere, but especially when cut off from the world in the comparative solitude of the ocean, there was nothing beyond the common incidents or pleasures of an ordinary sea-voyage.
Our passage was of more than usual length, occupying forty-three days, the general average of outward voyages not exceeding thirty days. We had, however, a great preve alence of contrary winds, and much boisterous and unpleasant weather, though the season of the year is one in which this is not very common.
It was on the 19th of October that we first saw the American coast, a part of Long Island, to the eastward of NewYork; and soon after receiving on board a pilot, we made all sail with a fine breeze for the entrance of the harbour by Sandy Hook, which we reached early in the afternoon. From thence we proceeded up through the Narrows to. wards the city, and anchored off the Battery about five o'clock.
It is difficult to speak without an air of exaggeration of the beauties of this short trip from the entrance of the harbour to the anchorage-ground. They were, however, so numerous and so enchanting, that my only regret was at the rapidity with which we passed by the several objects that succeeded each other. The time of the year was undoubtedly favourable, and added much to the splendour of the scene, in the rich autumnal tints with which the foliage on all the surrounding hills was crowned; and the time of day was equally advantageous, as it was just before the full glow of a western sunset. The Narrows, formed by the nearly approaching cliffs of Staten Island on the west and Long Island on the east, is one of the most strikingly interesting
See Appendix, No. I. and II.
ARRIVAL AT NEW-YORK.
straits of entrance that can be conceived, to the more ex. panded harbour into which it opens; and its beauty is much increased by the number of little villas scattered over the surface of the hills on either side, contrasting their almost snowy whiteness with the rich greens, and yellows, and scar. lets, and browns of the autumnal foliage in which them are imbosomed.
As we advanced upward the variety of the scenery presented continual charms, and the first sight of the city of New-York, with the lofty spires of its numerous churches rising from the interior; the tall masts of its crowded fleets fringing the outline of the entire mass of houses, while distinctive signals were waving from the greater number of the mastheads; added to ships of war forming the squadron now about to sail on an exploring expedition; the opening views of the East River, Long Island, and Brooklyn, which lie to the right of New York, as you look towards it from the south, and the still greater expanse of the noble Hudson River and the opposite city of Jersey, which are seen to the left hand or on the west, produced a coup d'eil which few seaports could parallel, and none that I have ever enter. ed could surpass.
Soon after anchoring we took leave of vu floating residence, and landing at the Battery, we were taken to one of the principal hotels in the lower part of the Broadway, called the Mansion House, or Bunker's, where we found accommodation for the night; but being unable to make ar. rangements for our permanent stay there for want of room, we took up our quarters at the adjoining house, which was what is called a private boarding-house, and here for the present we made our home.
As we remained in New York for several months, and as I availed myself of every opportunity that presented itself during that period to see whatever the city contained, and to mingle as much as possible with the various classes of its inhabitants, I shall endeavour to condense my description of the whole into a general and continuous picture, embracing all those details which occupied many different days in collecting, and most of which required and received that subsequent revision which time and re-examination can alone secure.
Before entering on this, however, I may offer the follow. ing short notice of my own labours, as those which were most instrumental in bringing me in contact with the most intelligent and respectable of the inhabitants, and leading to