Page images
PDF
EPUB

anxious for the welfare of the masses, upon whose well-being rests the permanent greatness and prosperity of all classes in all nations.

He is no hired book-maker: he did not go to the United States to write a work, and, when he got there, to run through the country at a railroad rate, noting down some supposed peculiarities of dialect and manners, all of which, or nearly all of which, exist in one or other of the counties of Great Britain; and, on his return home, lay his book before the public, at the same time proving to the well-informed that he was as ignorant of the true state of that nation as when he first embarked upon his “ travels.”

Mr. Brothers was long resident in the United States, and for some years was an active politician--not for place or distinction, for he did not seek either; but because he thought that their system of government, notwithstanding the palpable defects which, in carrying it out, frequently exhibited themselves, was the only one upon which the general liberty and well-being of the people of all nations could be secured. He, however, found out his mis. take, as, by the way, almost every other well-informed Englishman who has settled in that country has done; and, for the sake of good government in general, he has laid the result of his experience before the world.

Mr. Brothers's book is, emphatically speaking, a book of facts. It was not his object to present himself before the world in the regular, conventional style of modern writers; and hence the absence in his work of that formality of arrangement, &c., which constitutes the only merit, if merit it can be called, of too many authors.

If there ever were a country in which, from its great natural resources, the fertility and almost immeasurable extent of its lands, poverty ought to be unknown to the labouring population, that country is the United States of North America. Yet, in this very country, the poverty and misery of these classes, as the author has shown from indisputable authorities—are as great as, indeed, greater than in the densely-populated European nations. If, indeed, he had not shown this--if he had only proved

that the republics of North America, commonly called the United States, were not better governed than the kingdoms of Europe, he would have proved sufficient for his purpose, namely, the folly of the working classes of this country in seeking to better their condition by organic changes in the government, and by assimilating it to that of our descendants on the other side of the Atlantic. Nor is this folly confined alone to the working classes : it might be easily proved, if it were necessary, that wealthy Whigs, ay, and even wealthy Tories too, encourage, either directly or indirectly, the people of this country to approve of and to admire the government of the United States of North Americama government, if government it can be called, the principles of which, if brought into action in this country, would, in a very few years, deprive them of all their hereditary distinctions, and render their estates the common prey of relentless usurers, unprincipled speculators, and demagogue politicians.

We will not, however, in this Preface, anticipate the contents of the work itself ; a work which, we have no hesitation in saying, contains more facts-indisputable facts-exhibitory of the fallacy of what is called “self-government ” than has ever been published.

Before concluding these prefatory remarks, we ought, perhaps, to apologize for a few errors which have crept into a part of the work, in consequence of the illness of the editor, and of the author's unavoidable absence. They are not, however, of much importance, with the exception of one relative to banking profits, which will be found corrected in the errata.

N.B. Copies of the work referred to in the Author's letter “ On the Cruelty of the Discipline of the State Prisons of Pennsylvania” are deposited in the British Museum, and in the principal libraries of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool.

Jan., 1840.

INTRODUCTORY LETTER,

ON THE

GENERAL STATE OF THE .UNION.

TO WILLIAM GREATHEED LEWIS, ESQ.

Southam, Warwickshire, July 8th, 1839. MY DEAR SIR,

'I trust the subject, on which I am about to address you, will be of sufficient importance to claim your attention, and induce you to render me your assistance in superintending my work through the press. It is no other than that of laying before you the result of my long and searching inquiries after the Goddess with which, in our young days, you and I were enamoured. I well recollect the first time of our meeting; we were then just grown up—both of us villagers—both from the county of Warwick. The similarity of our political opinions caused us at once to become warmly attached to each other, and we soon made up our minds to go to the land of promise. We, however, were windbound at Liverpool for several weeks, until our exchequer became nearly exhausted ; and we, for that time, postponed our trip to America, and separated, never to meet again for a great number of years. You turned to scholastic and literary pursuits; I became a manufacturer, married, and settled in my native county; but I never could extinguish my desire to see the far-famed republic, and at length emigrated to the United States. I saw many things in America that I did not expect to see, and that did not square with the ideas I had formed from the various accounts I had heard and read. However, I attended to my business, paid but little attention to politics, and, for the first five or six years that I was there, had no great reason to complain : after this, however, a system of corruption in the States' governments, as well as in the government of the United States, began to develop itself in such a manner as to arouse my attention, though previously disposed to quietly acquiesce in things that were wrong, upon the ground that there is no such thing as perfection in earthly governments. I therefore pertinaciously held to my favourite system. I could

B

and, if

not be persuaded that, however wrong things might go for a time, that all would right itself in a country where “ the great principles of selfgovernment were recognised and acted upon."

But, my dear Sir, I am now, most reluctantly, obliged to acknowledge the fallacy of self-government, believing that it has no existence in the nature of things. I have read all that has been written on this subject by Paine, Jefferson, and all the popular writers of our day; and, as far as my ability extends," I have deeply considered their doctrines. Indeed, it was Paine that first wrought upon my youthful understanding,

you will permit me, I will tell you the manner in which it was dene: it will have a tendency to show what trifling accidents turn us about, and lead us into different paths to those we first pursued, in the commencement of our passage through this transitory life.

I had an occasien, when not more than fifteen years of age, to go to Birmingham, and was requested to take a letter to a gardener, at a gentleman's seat near that place. I found him in a house situated within a large garden, enclosed by a high brick wall, forming a world of itself. It was early in the spring, so that I did not see his paradise to the best advantage; but I saw the trees arranged; every branch spread, adjusted, secured, and prepared to receive the mellowing influence of the ruling power which was expected to finish the work, and cover those walls with clusters of grapes, peaches, apricots, plumbs, and fruit of every kind, that care and the climate could bring to perfection. Of these trees he gave me a full description : he was old enough to be my grandfather, but he did not think it a waste of time to talk with and instruct a rustic boy. The green-houses were full of everything that were usually found in those charming places: these, together with the sensible conversation of the gardener, afforded pleasures that were entirely new to me. When the time came for my departure he accompanied me a mile or two, and, as we walked along, he freely gave me his excellent advice on many subjects; he warned me to shun the dangerous practice that was then getting so common, of drinking spirituous liquors, the consequences of which he showed so clearly, that I resolved to resist any temptation of that kind that should ever come in my way, and till this hour I have observed that resolution; though I do not claim any merit for forbearance, because I never liked spirituous liquor, and therefore I made no sacrifice. I only refrained from forcing myself to do that which would have been disagreeable to me; while I have seen boys, who, considering it manly to drink spirits, have forced it down against their taste, and, with practice, have become habitual drunkards.

My new friend, at parting, took me by the hand, and addressed me, as nearly as I can remember, in these words : “You are,” said he, “entering into the world, of the good and evil of which you have but little

« PreviousContinue »