Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

rance.

please to take notice, l eschew old castles, grand cathedrals, and collections of pictures, the price of which would beggar a nation; neither will I take pains to dilate upon the Tower, the Monument, Westminster Bridge, or Westminster Abbey. All these, I presume, are rather familiar to you, having been described upwards of six thousand times : if you are not acquainted with them before this, I shall leave you to the blessings of igno

At your request I will, from time to time, attempt to sketch for your amusement the present situation and future prospects of this renowned country, such as they have appeared to me from a careful study, and pretty extensive opportunities for observation. What I have seen, and the conclusions drawn from experience, I will communicate as well as I can; what I know nothing of, I will say nothing about, believing it to be more honest to appear ignorant, than resort to hearsay or misrepresentation. I shall not 6 set down aught in malice," but most assuredly I shall “ nothing extenuate.;?? for, .certainly, my dear country, and toclicy counfrymer Lave no debts of civility or forbearance to pay to England or to Englishmen. The nairodal pride of this people appears rather founched on a harsh and arrogant contempt for others, than aconsgiousness produced by internal:coliviclion and their standard of moral and intellectual excellence seems fixed by the simple expedient of placing every other nation as low as possible in the scale of humanity. They are still exactly what one of their own writers described them more than a hundred years ago :

" No panegyric needs his praise record,

An Euglishman ne'er wants bis own good word ;
And to illustrate first his own good name,
He never fails his neighbour to defame."

By

Your true-born Englishman, raised and nurtured in the hotbed of homebred conceit, and pampered with his own praises, seems of opinion that a man cannot love his country, without hating and abusing every other. There are few, if any, nations which John Bull has not wofully bespattered with his pen; and when he could not run them through the body with his sword, has fairly knocked them on the head with his great inkhorn, which he always carries at his buttonhole. this means he has brought himself to a pretty pass, and fortified his self-sufficiency at the price of the open or secret hatred of almost every nation in the world. Neither is there any hope of his mending his manners, for he seems to grow worse and worse, as he grows older, insomuch that had he been an old woman, he would most likely long ere this have been presented by a grand jury of nations, as a common scold.

Previous to this happy age of Holy Leagues, in which the kings of the world

have conspired against the people of the world, John Bull vented a principal portion of his spleen against the Pope and the Frenchmen. But for the present little while, the cock and the lion repose together most lovingly, and mutual antipathies have yielded for a moment to mutual fears, not of each other, but of a certain beast of burthen, called the People, which has lately awakened to a sense of insult and oppression. Lord Peter, Martin, and Jack, have also shaken hands, and are as thick as three pickpock

One might hail this phenomenon as the forerunner of universal toleration, did it not appear too certain, that it is nothing more than another Holy Alliance, more effectually to repress the struggles of freedom. This truce with France and the other nations of Europe, will last till some one of them make a diversion in our favour, by

ets,

coming athwart John's interest in some way or other, when he will most likely turn upon it again, and make himself amends for his short forbearance, by a great spring-tide of gall.

In the mean time, this old fellow, who seems to have succeeded to the ill nature of all the various nations of Europe, by whom he has been, from time to time, overrun and conquered, being, as it would appear, greatly at a loss for somebody to abuse, has turned upon the people of the United States, and hired all the scribblers in the land to bespatter them. He was always growling and snarling at us like a cur, who quarrels with another for having a better bone than himself; but lately it has been ten times worse than ever, insomuch, that the world begins to suspect that he has never forgotten or forgiven the various injuries he has done us from time to time. At first, this furious antipathy to the Americans was put down to the score of contempt. Lately, however, it is supposed to have a more reputable origin ; and Mr. Thomas Campbell's “Friend” insists it is a compliment to our growing importance in the world, which, it seems, entitles us to the honour of a considerable portion of English scurrility. It may be so; but for my part, I can dispense with my share of the compliment, and not be the more humble for it in my own opinion. True, it is pretty well understood that John's tongue is no scandal; but after all, it is the intention that makes the offence; and it is only great philosophers, like Socrates and ******** that can bear the tongue of Xantippe without being a little ruffled in the tender pin-feathers.

People that assume a great superiority over their neighbours, and speak ill of them on all occasions, get very little for their pains, except a habit of arrogant self-sufficiency that poorly supplies the place of other men's love and respect. They also are sure to invite a severe, and not altogether impartial scrutiny; and if their claims be not enentirely unquestionable, they will sooner or later be dragged from their self-asserted superiority, and placed even below the level of their just pretensions. Americans who have hitherto visited this England, and attempted a picture, have generally indulged their early habits of acquiescing in the superiority of every thing here, animate and inanimate, moral, political, and intellectual. Instead of viewing things as they really were, they too often substituted their early fancies for sober realities, and gave to their countrymen

a poetical, rather than a true delineation of England. Those, especially, who wrote with a view to publishing their observations, seem to have stood more in awe of the British critics than the Lord of Truth; and, I apprehend, not unfrequently sacrificed their honest impressions to purchase, if not praise, at least toleration, on this side of the water. Hence, they have contributed to the continuance of a delusion which they ought to have chased from the minds of their countrymen; a deJusion which equally tends to nourish a degrading feeling of inferiority on our part, and an offensive arrogance on the part of this people.

The English are great jokers, but they are the worst people in the world to bear a joke. They pretend to despise us and our opinions, but they cannot endure we should despise them in turn. You can scarcely have an idea how they winced under Mr. Walsh's excellent “ Appeal," which, in truth, has had a much better effect bere than all the miserable adulation lavished upon England and her institutions by all our statesmen, orators, historians, poets, and patriots. It has done more than all our acquiescence,

or poor attempts at conciliating the favour of fashionable Reviewers. It cut the deeper too, as coming from a man who was acknowledged abroad and at home, as one of the ablest writers. I assure you it was meat and drink, washing and lodging to me, to witness John Bull's astonishment at seeing his mighty reviewers taken by the beard. He rubbed his eyes like one just awakened from a delightful dream, and ran about asking every body if he was quite so bad as some people thought him. The work was also excessively relished abroad, particularly in France, where it was extensively circulated; for the truth is, Mr. Bull is no great favourite, notwithstanding his disinterested exertions for the liberties of Europe. He is apt to confer his favours with such a confounded ill grace, that people who are obliged to accept them, are more sensible of his arrogance, than of his benefits. The nations of Europe, for this reason, always laugh in their sleeves whenever the Americans get the better of him in any manner whatever.

Be this as it may, my dear brother, it seems to me that our admiration of English government, English institutions, English genius, and English every thing else, will eventually harness us in the trammels of a servile imitation, that will not only fetter the genius of America, but lead to the cominission of political errors, fatal in the end to our freedom and happiness. Perhaps one of the most effectual means of shaking this intellectual domination, would be to satisfy our good people that all Englishmen are neither Shakspeares and Miltons in poetry, nor Lockes and Bacons in philosophy, nor Newtons in science ; that the general standard of intellect, acquirements, and virtue, is not higher here than in other civilized nations; and that the present race, whatever their forefathers may have been, have passed away, if it ever were

« ZurückWeiter »