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Hallam's Constitutional History of England.
were its worst faults. But in no English writer who makes the slightest pretensions to morality and religion, have we seen the abominable doctrine so openly maintained, that the end justifies the means, and that conspiracy, treason, and rebellion, are to be treated as questions of expediency, laudable if they succeed, and only imprudent if they are undertaken without a sufficient likelihood of success!
• Unto thee,
Let thine own times like an old story be,'
is the advice which Donne gives to him who would derive wisdom from the course of passing events. A writer of contemporary history could take no better motto. Mr. Hallam has proceeded upon a system precisely the reverse of this; and carried into the history of the past, not merely the maxims of his own age, as infallible laws by which all former actions are to be tried, but the spirit and the feeling of the party to which he has attached himself, its acrimony and its arrogance, its injustice and its ill-temper.
ART. VIII.1. Personal Narrative of Travels in the United States and Canada, in 1826, illustrated by plates, with Remarks on the Present State of the American Navy. By Lieutenant the Honourable Fred. Fitzgerald de Roos, Royal Navy. London. 1827. 8vo.
2. North America and the United States as they are. London. Svo. 1827.
THE Honourable Frederick Fitzgerald de Roos is evidently a very young man, and, of course, but little experienced as a writer; yet we are willing to hail his modest volume as a pledge for something of a higher cast when next he sends to press the result of any of his peregrinations. Some of our fastidious brethren, we understand, have been rather hard upon him for publishing a book at all, from such slender materials as, they say, could by possibility be collected in the course of a month's tour, of which month a whole week was passed on the sea; but if the book itself be good, and found to convey facts not known before, or to correct what was but imperfectly known, we ought, in common courtesy, to look at the shortness of time in no other light than as a proof of the activity and industry of the traveller-more particularly as we are not aware that any of his statements have been refuted.
In the super-abundance of English travellers through the United States, such as the Fowlers, the Fearons, and the Fauxes,
whose observations and statements, though meant to be complimentary, leave an impression which is anything but favourable to the general aspect of the country itself, or to its inhabitants, we are still in want of a clear, expanded, and intelligent view of this great and growing republic from the pen of a gentleman -of one capable of examining into the character of men and things, with an enlightened and unprejudiced mind. We had hoped that this hiatus would be filled up by some one of the four gentlemen of rank and admitted talent, who some two years ago crossed the Atlantic, and traversed the greater part of the United States, for the express purpose, as we have understood, of satisfying themselves on the spot, as to the manners and character of the people; their civil, religious, and moral institutions; the state and resources of the country; the internal improvements by canals and roads; the state of the navy; the national feeling towards this country, which has generally been considered as any thing but friendly; and, in short, on all such matters as could interest the moralist, the philosopher, the political economist, and the statesman.
The want which we have been lamenting is certainly not supplied by Mr. de Roos; but we have the best-founded hope that it soon will be by that intelligent and scientific naval officer, shrewd observer, and very pleasing writer, Captain Basil Hall, who, we understand, proceeded some time ago into the United States, for the purpose, as the black man said of Captain Tuckey, 'to take walk, and make book ;'—and a good book, we do not hesitate to say, he will make on his return. We have only to wish that the flattering reception, which it is said he has everywhere met with in that country, and the extraordinary manner in which he has been feted, may not have had an influence (and what amiable man is unlikely to be influenced by kind attentions?) in causing our agreeable captain to see things couleur de rose. In the meantime, we shall endeavour to supply a few sketches of detached subjects, relating chiefly to points on which neither Mr. de Roos nor the anonymous gentleman who professes to delineate North America and the United States as they are,' have afforded us much information.
With regard to the author of the latter work, we collect, from his peculiar idiom, and certain hints which he has dropped, that he is one of those Germans whose ancestors emigrated, in great numbers, from the Palatinate in 1710, and frequently in large bodies subsequent to that period; who, in
The Honourable Mr. Stanley, the Honourable Mr. Wortley, Mr. Denison, and Mr. fact,
fact, still form, as it were, a distinct race, more particularly in Pennsylvania; and who are thus described by their countryman :
The majority of these honest people, though living amongst Anglo-Americans, for the second and third generation, can neither read nor write the English language. Passive under a kind of selfsatisfied ignorance which never consents to learn more than their forefathers, and adhering to their axiom, never to become Irish (thus they designate the Anglo-Americans who take the revenge by nicknaming them the Dutch), they are contented with their own German idiom. This they know sufficiently to enable them to spell one chapter of the Bible on a Sabbath-day: this book and the Baltimore Almanac constitute their library. If any of them take in a newspaper, it is a German one. These German productions are the poorest things imaginable; the style, the diction, the printing, the paper, are all beneath censure.'-pp. 94, 95.
We must premise that this German work abounds in personality, and is, for the most part, offensively personal to those who hold or have lately held, offices of state; and though the author knows something of America, we pay very little deference to any of his statements or opinions.
The United States of North America, looking at them 'as they are,' may be considered as a prodigy, to which we should in vain seek for any parallel in the history of nations-an infant in years, a giant in size and strength, and in intellect an adult: yet this precocious adolescence is neither unnatural, nor even difficult to be accounted for. The people who first conceived the idea of plantations in North America were Englishmen, of the highest and most enlightened characters, whose adventurous companions, under the fostering care of an anxious parent, after the disasters of a few years, rose suddenly, like the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus, into full-grown men; not however armed, like these, with weapons for their own destruction, but with the strength, vigour, and intelligence of the parent state. Such a race of men were well calculated to overcome all difficulties; and many and serious were the difficulties they had to conquer, before they obtained, from the rightful owners, possession of a country, equal, in many respects, and superior in some, to that which sent them forth. What they now are, let Mr. President Adams tell :
Since the period of thirty-six years (the date of the first census), a population of four millions has multiplied to twelve; a territory bounded by the Mississipi, has been extended from sea to sea; new States have been admitted to the Union, in numbers nearly equal to those of the first Confederation; Treaties of Peace, Amity, and Commerce, have been concluded with the principal Dominions of the Earth; the people of other Nations, inhabitants of regions acquired, not by conquest, but by compact, have been united with us in the participation of our rights
and duties, of our burdens and blessings; the forest has fallen by the axe of our woodsmen; the soil has been made to teem by the tillage of our farmers; our commerce has whitened every ocean; the dominion of man over physical nature has been extended by the invention of our artists; Liberty and Law have marched hand in hand; all the purposes of human association have been accomplished as effectively, as under any other Government on the globe; and at a cost little exceeding, in a whole generation, the expenditure of other Nations in a single year.'— Inaugural address, 1825.
This picture will, perhaps, be thought a little too high coloured, when examined soberly, and somewhat more in detail-as we mean to consider it; and first, with regard to the country itself. It extends along a line of sea-coast on the eastern side of the Alleghany mountains, the part first occupied, from the parallel of 24° 20′ N. to 49° N., and reaches in longitude from 67° W. to 135° West; but its western boundary on the Pacific is contracted to a few degrees of latitude, lying between the Mexican territory and our possessions, to a considerable part of the latter of which the Americans are pleased to set up a claim,—a claim, not likely, however, to be soon admitted.
Taking the extent of territory comprehended within the united provinces and their dependencies, as stated by the Americans themselves, it is in mean length 2500 and in mean breadth 830 miles, constituting an area of 2,076,416 square miles, or 1,328,896,000 acres; or, to compare it with an object of the same kind, more generally known, it is equal in surface nearly to all Europe. The natural features of this stupendous territory are on a scale of corresponding grandeur. Immense plains skirted by interminable forests-mountains surpassed only on the sister continent of South America-rivers of the first magnitude stretching their innumerable branches in all directions, imparting luxuriant verdure to the valleys through which they flow-lakes that are, in fact, mighty seas of fresh water-make up the outline of this magnificent country. The soil, of course, is found in every variety of quality, and the extremes of the latitude show that the climate is calculated for the products of the torrid as well as those of the temperate region. That the climate, in many places, is not congenial with the human constitution, can arise only from the uncleared and undrained state of the land in those parts; and such partial evil will necessarily decrease with the increasing density of the population.
For a long time the occupation of this extensive country was limited to the old English colonies lying on this side of the Alleghany mountains, which run north and south, parallel, or nearly so, to the coast of the Atlantic. They consisted of what
were called at the period of their independence, the Thirteen United States,' which, by the addition of Maine and Vermont since that time became fifteen. The number has progressively increased by the admission into the union of nine others to the westward of the Alleghany; namely, Kentucky, Ohio, Tenessee, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, and Louisiana; and to these they have lately annexed the territories of Michigan, Arkansas, and Columbia, which, however, have not yet been incorporated in the federal union.
The increase of population has more than kept pace with the increase of territory. By a census taken in 1790, it was found to be 3,929,326; in 1800, it had increased to 5,305,666; in 1810, to 7,239,903; and in 1820, it had reached 9,638,226: and of these, 1,531,436 were negro slaves; of which 1,145,500 belonged to the five southern provinces. Of the total population in 1820, the date of the last census, the amount in the fifteen old provinces was 7,387,723; in the new ones behind the mountains, 2,250,503. It appears from the same census, that the number of slaves in the whole union is, to the number of free people, nearly as one to six; and further, from the results we have stated of the census taken at intervals of ten years, that the ratio of increase proceeds very regularly at about three per cent. per annum; or, in other words, that the population has been doubling itself in somewhat less than twenty-five years. The Americans reckon, and we think they may fairly do so, that at the commencement of 1827, the population might be stated at eleven millions; and that in the year 1850 it will have amounted to twenty-two millions of souls. It is stated, that the proportion of those employed in agriculture to those employed in manufactures, is as twenty to three, and to those in commerce as twenty-two to one. In the New England states, in Virginia, and the Carolinas, the white population is chiefly, almost purely, British. In Pennsylvania, and the middle states, it is mixed with Germans and Irish; in New York a great part of the blood is Dutch; and in Louisiana the French predominate.
A republican dominion of this extent, to say nothing of the mixed character of those who compose it, is an anomaly in the history of governments; its mere existence being so contrary to all elder experience, its permanency, as an united government, for any great length of time, has become a matter for speculation, and is considered by many as exceedingly doubtful. The confederacy, it is well known, was on the very verge of being dissolved, when, at the conclusion of the late general war, from a generous feeling, and, we must say, an heroic spirit of forgiveness, England held out favourable terms of peace; what England might at that time