Page images

in the enlightened pages of the Examiner and the Black Dwarf; and beyond these he does not appear to have looked.

[ocr errors]

With the unlimited liberty of conscience, as far as regards religious opinions, Mr. Fearon seems quite charmed. There is no state-religion, and no government prosecution of individuals for conscience-sake,'-as in England, Mr. Fearon would gladly lead his readers to conclude. We fear, indeed, that there is very little religion of any kind in the greater portion of the United StatesVirginia, the birth-place of the enlightened Jefferson,' allows no chaplain to officiate in her state legislature; and most of the other states, as we learn from Mr. Bristed, have declared it to be unconstitutional to refer to the providence of God in any of their public acts. The chaplain of the Franklin, American ship of war, is an English clergyman. To obtain his appointment, he was obliged to appear before the Secretary of State (we believe Mr. Monroe). Being asked to what sect he belonged, he hesitated in giving an answer. Oh,' said the Secretary, I perceive you belong to no sect; you will, therefore, answer our purpose very well.'

The religious duties of the Presbyterians and Episcopalians, who are very numerous in New York, seem to be performed without one single spark of devotion.' They go, Mr. Fearon says, to particular churches, because they are frequented by fashionable company, or they are acquainted with the preachers, or their great grand-mother went there before the revolution, or (which is the weightiest reason of all) because their interest will be promoted by their so doing.'

As for the countless sects, they differ essentially from the English sectaries, in being more solemnly bigoted, more intolerant, and more ignorant of the Scriptures. Their freedom from habits of thinking seems to emanate from the cold indifference of their constitutional character; and their attaching no importance to investigation. There is also another feature in the religious national character, which will be considered by different men in opposite points of view. I do not discover those distinctive marks which are called forth in England by sectarianism. There is not the aristocracy of the establishment, the sourness of the presbyterian, or the sanctified melancholy of the methodist. A cold uniform bigotry seems to pervade all parties; equally inaccessible to argument, opposed to investigation, and, I fear, indifferent about truth as it is, even the proud pharisaical quaker appears under a more chilling and more freezing atmosphere in this new world. Can it be possible, that the non-existence of religious oppression has lessened religious knowledge, and made men superstitiously dependent upon outward form instead of internal purity?

Certainly not:-religious persecution may lead to bigotry, but can never promote true devotion. The evil in North America has a deeper root, the total absence of early religious instruction— Train up a child in the way he should go,' was the precept of


one who had deeply studied the human heart. It was well said by Archbishop Secker to a lady who boasted that she followed Rousseau's plan in preventing her children from reading religious books till they were ten or twelve years of age, and could comprehend them- Madam, if you don't put something into your children's heads before that age, the Devil will.'

In his perambulations through New York, to discover what trades and professions were likely to succeed, our traveller found 'that lawyers and medical practitioners were as common there as paupers are in England.' A gentleman, seeing his friend walking in Broadway, called out Doctor!' and immediately sixteen persons turned round to answer to the name.'-This is an old jokebut it may do. The story, however, 'is still more characteristic,' he says, of ' lawyers. At almost every private door, cellar, or boarding-house, a tin plate is displayed, bearing the inscription Attorney at Law.'Perhaps,' adds our author, we may date the frequency of litigation to the intricacy of the profession, which is bottomed on English practice:'-perhaps it may be found in the overbearing and litigious temper of democracy. But Mr. Fearon has another reason for the great number of legal friends.'' A learned education opens the door to them for an appointment; and, by the way, Americans are great place-hunters.' Is it possible!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Fearon is in the habit of advancing rather hastily general assertions, of the accuracy of which he can scarcely be accounted a competent judge; such as that- at New York every industrious man can get employment'—' that the absence of irremediable distress is indisputable,' &c.-It happens, however, that, in the very year he collects his information, such was the number of indigent poor, destitute of all the first necessaries of life-food, clothing, lodging and fuel-that' it was not possible,' Mr. Bristed says, for any city in Europe-for London, for Paris, for Dublin itself-even at that awful hour of universal distress and visitation, to exhibit a greater proportional number of wretched objects, sunk to the lowest pitch of barren sorrow and destitution, more loathsome moral deformity of infancy, youth, manhood and old age, than were exposed to the astonished view of the various committees in their rounds of inquiry through the city of New York.' Nothing of all this, nor of the increasing poor rates, nor of the thousands of starving Irish sent to Nova Scotia while he was there, engaged the attention of Mr. Fearon for an instant—if it did, he has thought fit to suppress all mention of it.

He reports however that the rents of houses are enormously high. A house and shop equal in size and situation to those esteemed the best in Whitechapel, Fore-street and the Surrey-side of Blackfriars, would be 3201. to 350l. a year;' and 'to those in

1 3


[ocr errors]

Oxford street, Bishopsgate within, the best parts of Holborn and Gracechurch street, would be 400l. to 600l. per annum. Two houses in the Lombard street of New York were let by public auction for 2,5877. 10s. per annum. 'The common necessaries of life, except lodging and clothing, are cheaper than in England; but every thing like comfort (if any thing exists that is applicable to the word) must be purchased at a much dearer rate.' The general impression which this state of things made on the mind of Mr. Fearon will appear from the summing up of his First and Second Reports.

'The lawyer and the doctor will not succeed. An orthodox minister' (there is probably some wit here, but we do not comprehend it) would do so. The proficient in the fine arts will find little encouragement. The literary man must starve. The tutors' posts are pre-occupied. The shop-keeper may do as well, but not better than in London-unless he be a man of superior talent and large capital :-The farmer (Mr. Cobbett says) must labour hard, and be but scantily remunerated. The clerk and shopman will get but little more than their board and lodging. Mechanics, whose trades are of the first necessity, will do well: those not such, or who understand only the cotton, linen, woollen, glass, earthenware, silk and stocking manufactures, cannot obtain employment. The labouring man will do well; particularly if he have a wife and child-' ren who are capable of contributing, not merely to the consuming, but to the earning also of the common stock.'-p. 89.

Such a labourer, we apprehend, has no necessity to cross the Atlantic in order to do well:'-he will do well anywhere.

[ocr errors]

The enthusiasm of liberty led Mr. Fearon about eighteen miles out of his road to pay a visit to the 'celebrated Mr. Cobbett' on Long-Island. By the way, we suspect that he uses this word for notorious, in its worst sense, or we should not hear of the celebrated Commodore Rogers, the celebrated M'Nevin, and the celebrated ruffian just mentioned. Calling at a tavern in this garden of America' (Long Island) to get some dinner, I observed,' he says, the great public room without table or chair, with a bar railed off like a prison; and the inhabitant being tall, thin, yellow, cold, suspicious and silent, I did not venture to make known my wants. At the next house, a Tavern and Hotel,' he besought the landlady for something to eat, meekly observing he was not particular, and should be glad of any thing the house afforded.' She walked on towards the bar, without once looking at him, muttering, "I guess we have got no feed for strangers; we do not practise those things at this house, I guess." Thus re

pulsed, Mr. Fearon gets into the stage for Wiggins's Inn, and on the way indemnifies himself for the humility of his air and tone to the lady of the tavern, by commencing a spirited conversation with a fellow-passenger, on what he is pleased to call the murder of the American prisoners at Dartmoor,' and


which, with his usual rancour towards his own countrymen, he does not fail to stigmatize as a disgraceful transaction,' though it i is perfectly obvious that he was shamefully ignorant of every circumstance relating to that unfortunate affair. The American gentleman, who did know the nature of the transaction, with a liberality which appears to have startled Mr. Fearon, 'refused (he says) to censure in this instance the conduct of the British. He stated that there was a great deal to be said on both sides'—and that "Lord Castlereagh and the English cabinet were great men, who acted with good intentions for the welfare of their country.' We wish we could ascribe such good intentions' to Mr. Fearon, or give him the credit of ever admitting that much might be said on both sides.' We should not then find him, whenever England is concerned, venting his ignorant sneers or indulging his spiteful calumnies, at the expense of decency and truth. With Commodore Rogers he had the assurance to talk of the 'disgraceful conduct of Admiral Cockburn, at Havre de Grace,' insensible to the rebuke which even that officer gave him. Nor is this the only instance where this maligner of his country's honour has ignorantly and insolently dared to traduce the character of one of the most able, enterprising, intelligent and humane officers in his Majesty's naval service.

From the crimes of the British officers Mr. Fearon seeks relief in the virtues of Mr. Cobbett. He alights near his house, and it is most painful to contemplate the appalling gloom which oppresses his spirits as he thinks of his melancholy situation. We know no parallel to such sinking of the heart, except that which Mr. Hobhouse declares he felt at hearing of the victory of the English at Waterloo. My feelings,' (Mr. Fearon says, p. 64.) in walking along the path which led to the residence of this celebrated man, are difficult to describe. The idea of a person selfbanished-leading an isolated life in a foreign land—a path rarely trod-fences in ruin the gate broken-the house mouldering to decay'

O', 'tis so moving, we can read no more!

There is, however, an inaccuracy in this sombre delineation. Had Mr. Fearon condescended to learn any thing about Cobbett that was not taught in Cobbett's Register,' he might have known that this celebrated man' was no otherwise self-banished' than those of his party so justly described by Mr. Bristed as defrauding the jails and the gallows by a precipitate flight.' The' celebrated' Cobbett fled from his creditors.-That he should do this is perfectly natural; the thing to be admired is that such a man should have creditors to flee from!-Had he staid at Liverpool another tide, he would have been brought back, and consigned to Newgate or the King's Bench for the remainder of his.



life. The good Genius of England prevailed, and he escaped; leaving behind him debts to the amount of six and thirty thousand pounds!* In Long Island he can do no mischief:- Measter's Yorkshire too.' We have mentioned this circumstance solely out of regard to our traveller's wounded feelings, which, we hope, will be somewhat relieved by finding that this celebrated man' was not self-banished.'

[ocr errors]


It is good to contrast the manner in which Mr. Fearon crouches before this sculking vagabond, this triple-turned' renegade, with that in which he bristles up against all that is dignified and venerable in his own country: it is still better to observe that his base servility is not without its due reward. Cobbett has published an answer to this part of Mr. Fearon's work,† in which he denies (in a strain of coarse and vulgar obloquy) the whole of the conversation stated to have passed between him and the author, whom he belabours without mercy. I took the blade (he says) for a decent tailor, my son William for a shopkeeper's clerk, and Mrs. Churcher (the help) for a slippery young man,' (a thief, we presume,) or, at best, for an exciseman;' and Mrs. Churcher makes an affidavit to the same purpose, which is regularly dated, and filed.

We take no interest in the dispute between these strenuous advocates of liberty and equality, nor, we believe, do any of our readers. In justice to Mr. Fearon, however, we may add, that in a question between him and Cobbett, no man who has ever heard the name of the latter will hesitate a moment on which side the right lies. We think Mr. Fearon incapable of advancing an untruth; whereas falsehood is known to be the essential part of his antagonist's character. Meanwhile Mr. Fearon may derive some profit from the severe castigation which he has received. He

may insult the army, the navy, the administration of his country (as he constantly does) with perfect impunity: he may vilify every national institution, however high or holy, and every noble character, however eminent for worth or talent; but let him beware

-t, 4,000l.

Mr. T-n-o,

Mr. R

*We copy a part of them from an authentic list now before us. (mortgagee of the Botley estates,) 16,000l. Sir F. B4,000l. Messrs. T. and F. (stationers,) 5,500l. T. B- -n, 2,000l. Mr. L -r, 1,300l. Executors of Mr. B- -e, 900l. Mr. P -s, 4501. Mr. W- -e, 500l. Messrs. H. T. and M- --x, (printers,) 500l. Mr. S- (printer,) 1001. Sundry poor shopkeepers and others at Botley, 4001, We could go farther-but this perhaps may suffice to shew Mr. Fearon that the celebrated Mr. Cobbett had other motives than his own good pleasure for taking to his heels.


It must be very consolatory to his creditors to listen to the NEWGATE ETHICS which this unprincipled miscreant is in the weekly habit of promulgating. I hold it' (he says, in bis letter to Mr. Tipper) to he perfectly just' (no doubt) that I should never, in any way whatever, give up one single farthing of my future earnings to the payment of my debts in England.'

† See his Register of March 16, 1819.


« PreviousContinue »