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hood) passes her comprehension. There is some minor garnish of Lord! Lord! Mercy me's, and quothas,' almost as much out of the common way. If we are asked, where can she have picked this up? Our first conjecture would be-probably from a too early and indiscriminate companionship with the old English drama. The grossness which disgraces many of our Elizabethan plays can mislead nobody. But the most feminine characters appear in them with a degree of freedom, which is worn so gracefully and innocently, that its inconsistency with our present manners may be more easily overlooked. In the next place, the far greater part of the promiscuous society into which an actress is thrown by her profession, is, of course, quite indifferent to our arbitrary distinctions, between the talk which is to charm us on the stage and to shock us off it. A young person placed within the capricious influence of these causes, will be getting out of bounds before she is aware. She must constantly want reminding there are differences, look you.' If she should fall in with professors of the gaie science of vive la bagatelle, who seek to make of her a sort of Gresset's Vert vert for their amusement, the simplicity and vivacity of their unconscious pupil are the very elements of their success. It is true that we never heard of Miss Kemble talking as Miss Kemble here and there has written. However, once satisfy her that she is wrong, and her censors need not anticipate a prolonged resistance, either from the defects of education or the peremptoriness of self-will. A girl, who gave up waltzing with males, at a moment, in compliance with the scruples of a clergyman of New York, may be expected to part as readily with bits of slang, where the chances of misconstruction are much greater, and the temptation considerably less. But really we ought to stop. We are entering into suggestions and explanations infinitely more serious than the nature of the case requires. The paragraphs to which the supposed objection fairly applies are very few in number; and the alteration of a word or two to some more quiet and pretty behaved expression, would set every thing right. In what we have said, we have assumed that it is desirable that women should continue to be women in the most characteristic of all attractions, in the purity and delicacy of the female mind. But the more important the object, the more necessary is it that it should be gone about in the right manner. There are freedoms, of which Desdemona says, where virtue is these are most virtuous.' In this respect, good breeding stands upon equal grounds with virtue. It is a bad sign to be over fastidious. Without knowing more of the matter, we should not conclude that Mrs Montague was less of a lady for having once in a way told Charles Fox, that she did not care' three skips of
a louse' for him. We say the same of the equivalent étourderies of Mrs Butler. A lady of the old school-successor and more than successor to Mrs Montague's authority-once repeated to us a list of expressions, from the use of which ladies had been excluded during her lifetime; and added her apprehension that, if things went on so, the time must come, when English men and English women would be speaking different languages. The choice Latin of Cornelia and the Roman matrons, did not derive its peculiar refinement from the principle, on which Swift defined a nice man to be a man of nasty ideas. The English nation was once as distinguished in its real life as in its drama for the variety of its characters and its humours. There can be no doubt but that society has lost in its picturesqueness from the habit of passing its rolling stone constantly over us, and attempting to keep our minds as flat, smooth, and uniform as our lawns. People cannot be made as like each other as fashion expects them to be, but by destroying the vital principle, and treating man not as a growth, but as a manufacture. For our own part, therefore, we feel obliged to Mrs Butler for refusing to be put into the mould. The anger of our good cousins over the water would be still more ridiculous than the sensitiveness of our purists. We shall always be forward to denounce (Americans themselves not more so) spiteful one-sided exaggerations-splenetic attempts to depreciate their institutions or their people-more especially the childishness of making institutions answerable for matters of fact, which properly belong to other causes. The caricatures of Mrs Trollope and of Captain Basil Hall were much more disagreeable to us than the assumption and arrogance of Mr Cooper. But this is not enough of favour! No small portion of the American population regard advocates of our complexion as little better than enemies in disguise. They reject every thing as an insult which stops short of unqualified panegyric. What may be the value of Mrs Butler's opinions on America, is itself a matter of opinion. Sensible persons will have regard to the subject of which she may be speaking at the time. She says she knows nothing about politics. We believe her. Nevertheless, she lampoons the English Whigs; lauds the American institutions for things they have no merit in; and opines about the tendency of America to monarchy-about the necessary modifications of the Roman Catholic religion under a republic-and about the peculiar congeniality of Unitarianism with the character of New England, as peremptorily as if her knowledge of politics entitled her to have an opinion of her own. Her decisions concerning actors, scenery (out of doors' scenery we mean), literature, and society, are much more likely to be correct. But let her judgments be what they may-right or wrong-they
occupy a small space. She appears principally as a witness; mentioning the particular facts which fell within her personal experience, and communicating the impression which the whole of what she saw and heard made upon her mind. Are there any marks of want of understanding for this purpose? Did she carry out with her the evil eye-observing the world before her in a mocking spirit? Or is the honesty of her revised descriptions open to suspicion? On these points, it is easy to show that the Americans must be exacting and quarrelsome indeed, who shall conceive that they have any just reason for complaint. Her book, it should be remembered, is no history of America. She expressly declares in the preface, that it does not pretend to be so. It is simply the journal of her twelvemonths' professional sojourn in some of the principal commercial towns, with the addition of a few later notes.
On this part of the case, a few passages will be decisive with regard to the general spirit in which she has written. The following extract consists of two paragraphs. In the first, she is expressing her feelings at the moment of looking down from its mountains over the Hudson; in the second, she has recorded her graver reflections after a three years' residence.
I thought of my distant home; that handful of earth thrown upon the wide waters, whose genius has led the kingdoms of the world— whose children have become the possessors of this new hemisphere. I rejoiced to think that when England shall be, as all things must be, fallen into the devouring past, her language will still be spoken among these glorious hills, her name revered, her memory cherished, her fame preserved here, in this far world beyond the seas, this country of her children's adoption. Loving and honouring my country as I do, I cannot look upon America with any feeling of hostility. I not only hear the voice of England in the language of this people, but I recognise in all their best qualities, their industry, their honesty, their sturdy independ ence of spirit, the very witnesses of their origin-they are English; no other people in the world would have licked us as they did; nor any other people in the world built up, upon the ground they won, so sound, and strong, and fair an edifice.'
Is this the language of a hostile temper? The first thing that a national caricaturist seeks to misrepresent is the condition of the body of the people. Not only is Mrs Butler sensible that a greater degree of comfort is enjoyed by the population at large in the non-slaving states than by the same class in the Old World; but she attributes their well-being to their democracy, with as much ignorance of the real nature of the case as their novelist, Cooper, could desire. Take her sketch of the pleasure grounds in the neighbourhood of New York.
'The walks along the river and through the woods, the steamers crossing from the city, were absolutely thronged with a cheerful, well-dressed population, abroad merely for the purpose of pleasure and exercise. Journeymen, labourers, handicraftsmen, trades-people, with their families, bearing all in their dress and looks evident signs of well-being and contentment, were all flocking from their confined avocations, into the pure air, the bright sunshine, and beautiful shade of this lovely place. I do not know any spectacle which could give a foreigner, especially an Englishman, a better illustration of that peculiar excellence of the American government-the freedom and happiness of the lower classes. Neither is it to be said that this was a holyday, or an occasion of peculiar festivity—it was a common week-day-such as our miserable manufacturing population spends from sunrise to sundown, in confined, incessant, unhealthy toil to earn at its conclusion, the inadequate reward of health and happiness so wasted. The contrast struck me forcibly-it rejoiced my heart; it surely was an object of contemplation, that any one who had a heart must have rejoiced in.'
In one of her notes she says,
This country is in one respect blessed above all others, and above all others deserving of blessing. There are no poor-I say there are none, there need be none; none here need lift up the despairing voice of hopeless and helpless want towards that Heaven which hears when men will not. Thrice blessed is this country, for no such crying evil exists in its bosom; no such moral reproach, no such political rottenness. If we have any faith in the excellence of mercy and benevolence, we must believe that this alone will secure the blessing of Providence on this country.'
It is impossible to read this kindly and benevolent nonsense without wishing to be informed what are the moral means and political machinery by which America brings about the blessed result of plenty of employment at good wages. The fair enthu siast may be assured that, on this point at least, the continuance of the blessing of Providence upon America, depends, not upon any such indefinite notions as were floating in her mind, but, upon the proportion between the supply of labour and the remunerating demand for it. The worse, however, her political economy on this occasion, the less plausibility is there in presuming the existence of undue prejudices against a country, in whose favour her blunders are committed.
The next thing in which national unfairness generally betrays itself, is in the colour given to estimates of the general character of a people. But Mrs Butler is apparently quite as ready to do full justice to all that she has admired or liked in them, as to speak her mind on what was disagreeable to her.
The following passage contains some of her proofs of their honesty :
A farmer who is in the habit of calling at our house with eggs, poul
try, &c., being questioned as to whether the eggs were new-laid, replied, without an instant's hesitation, "no, not the very fresh ones, we eat all those ourselves." On returning home from the play one night, I could not find my slippers any where, and, after some useless searching, performed my toilet for bed without them. The next morning, on enquiring of my maid if she knew any thing of them, she replied with perfect equanimity, that having walked home through the snow, and got her feet extremely wet, she had put them on, and forgotten to restore them to their place before my return. Nobody, I think, will doubt, that an English farmer and an English servant might sell stale eggs and use their mistress's slippers; but I think it highly doubtful, that either fact would have been acknowledged with such perfect honesty any where but here.'
From her account of them, they are, substantially and in grain, one of the best bred people on the face of the earth. The particular forms and habits of European refinement may be often missed; but a sentiment of universal good-will is widely spread among them, which is a far better thing. The standard of fashionable manners is for ever changing. The generation which has gone before is usually the laughing-stock of the generation which comes after. But a desire to accommodate and to please is the sterling element and sole ultimate condition of all good-breeding. The
demeanour of men towards women in the streets is infinitely more courteous here than with us; women can walk, too, with perfect safety, by themselves, either in New York, Philadel phia, or Boston; on board the steam-boats no person sits down to table until the ladies are accommodated with seats; and I have myself in church benefited by the civility of men who have left their pew, and stood during the whole service, in or'der to afford me room.'
She expressly warns foreigners against concluding that the leading fashionables of New York and Philadelphia represent the best spirits of the place. She tells them that they will find at Boston something better still-real good society; amenity and accomplishments in the Southern States; and widely scattered over the Union, a large portion of country gentry, using that term in the best sense in which it was once used in England.'
They are humane. They avoid giving unnecessary pain; not merely in the case of human beings, but in that of our fellowcreatures; using that comprehensive word as our Creator will expect it to be used-the coloured population, we fear, alone excepted. It is a circumstance,' she says, which deserves ' notice, for it bespeaks general character. I have not seen, during a two years' residence in this country, a single instance of brutality towards animals, such as one is compelled to witness hourly in the street of any English town.'