« PreviousContinue »
an English farmer's wife, after crossing the sea, and travelling to the Illinois with the consciousness of having expended a third of their substance to purchase, as yet, nothing but sufferings; for such persons to boil their pot in the gypsy-fashion, to have a mere board to eat on, to drink whiskey or pure water, to sit and sleep under a shed far inferior to their English cow-pens, to have a mill at twenty miles distance, an apothecary's shop at a hundred, and a doctor no where; these, my dear Sir,' he affectionately exclaims, are not, to such people, "every-day evils of life.""
'The man of small fortune, who cares little about politics, to whom the comforts of England are perhaps in some degree essential, but who wishes to curtail his expenditure, would not act wisely by emigrating to America. Indeed, should such a man make the attempt, he would return as expeditiously as did a family who arrived at New York in the Pacific, on the 25th March, with the intention of continuing, but who took a passage back in the same vessel the following week ;-they went to America in the cabin, they departed from it in the steerage.' p. 447.
And how many thousands would follow their example, if, having expended their little all on a passage in the steerage,' they had not left themselves without the means of return! Mr. Fearon thus sums up the result of his observations.
In going to America then, I would say generally, the emigrant must expect to find-not an economical or cleanly people; not a social or generous people; not a people of enlarged ideas; not a people of
riage to walking on foot, was not without a cause: not satisfied with the vast profits of so good a farm, he turned soap-boiler, by which he lost eight or ten thousand pounds. His landlord is said to have composed the following epigram on his fortune:—
Had you ta'en less delight in political writing,
You'd have paid me my rent,
And besides-wash'd your hands of the soap
Soap-boiling is not the only speculation of friend Morris which has turned out ill. He appears to have tried to do something in the female line, and to have taken out a young lady with his family, as a venture. This fair creature, soon after their arrival at the Wabash, asserted her natural claim to liberty, and revolted to Mr. Flower, who, having left his wife in England, very considerately took her to his bed ad interim. Mr. Birkbeck was very unaccountably nettled at this arrangement; and the friends now glare at each other across the swamp like two angry comets denouncing war and ruin.'
* This live-carriage, by the way, forms one of the most profitable branches of American commerce, and fully accounts for the zeal and profusion with which hand-bills containing Encouragement to Emigrants,' are printed and dispersed at every corner, together with lists of the publications of Sir Richard Philips and Dr. Senate. Mr. Fearon paid forty guineas for his passage (he was one of twenty) exclusive of wine, &c.' and the poor creatures in the steerage (of whom there were thirteen) twelve pounds each, and had to find themselves in every thing but water.'-p. 3. So that the Washington cleared, by passengers alone, in the homeward voyage, nearly a thousand pounds. A trifling per centage should probably be deducted from the amount for the agency of the Monthly Magazine, and one or two Sunday papers.
liberal opinions, or towards whom you can express your thoughts "free as air;" not a people friendly to the advocates of liberty in Europe; not a people who understand liberty from investigation and from principle; not a people who comprehend the meaning of the words "honour" and " generosity." On the other hand, he will find a country possessed of the most enlightened civil and political advantages! a people reaping the full reward of their own labours, a people not paying tythes, and not subjected to heavy taxation without representation; a people with a small national debt; a people without spies and informers; a people without an enormous standing army.'--p. 441.
If this estimate be correct, why, it will naturally be asked, are not Mr. Fearon and the nine-and-thirty families who employed him, those men of upright and conscientious minds, to whose happiness civil and religious liberty is essential,' already in the country around which their most endeared political opinions are entwined'? Solely on the principle of loss and gain. If rent and clothing and provisions had been low, and wages and profits high, the friends of civil and religious liberty' would long ere this have taken their flight; but finding that their pecuniary condition would not thereby be improved, they have saving wisdom enough to remain in that country which their agent has vilified with no sparing hand.
The reader of Mr. Fearon's book cannot avoid being struck with the marked distinction uniformly drawn between the government and the people of America, the former of which is, on every occasion, most offensively bepraised at the expense of the latter, including even those who are in the immediate exercise of the functions of that government. We hear over and over again, that it is an easy, cheap, and reasonable government; and yet all the materials of it, all the members of the several departments of it, are accused of ignorance, vulgarity, brutality, and corruption. In one place the author is told, and believes, that almost every civil office in the state is bought and sold as commonly as the poor oppressed men of colour are in the neighbouring states, or as seats in the English House of Commons.' (p. 133.) He hears of jobs and peculations' at another (p. 15.); of bargaining for offices at a third (325.); and that the election of the President is a matter of juggle and intrigue.' Mr. Hulme (the friend of Cobbett) told him that the latter had declared that during the several years which he resided near the Treasury in London, he did not witness so much bribery, corruption, and place-hunting as he had seen in one week in Pennsylvania; and that the members of the legislature were engaged in little except smoking, drinking and gambling.' In all these opinions Mr. Hulme cordially
joined’! (p. 298.); and Mr. Fearon himself tells us that he became acquainted with facts in Washington which no man could have induced him to believe without personal observation.' Yet, after all this, and more—after repeated declarations that every election in America, from the President downwards, is carried by bribery, corruption or intrigue,- by a strange perversity of intellect, he dares to put such practices in competition with the administration of justice in England, and to call the government of America an enlightened and reasonable government !
A word more as to this cheapness, of which Mr. Fearon so frequently reminds his readers, and by which he means, we suppose, if he has any meaning at all, the low salaries of the public functionaries, and the moderate rate of taxation : they get a President, for instance, he says, at the rate of £5625 a year, which is found to procure able men, who have really talent and mind at their own disposal. Indeed he has made the notable discovery that
the statesman of America is perhaps of a superior race to those of Europe,' —none of your regularly trained' or 'family-born great men.' Of what materials then do these incomparable statesmen consist ? for there is not a class of citizens throughout the United States that Mr. Fearon has spared—the answer is, of lawyers, the class which of all others he has loaded with the greatest share of his vituperation.
We doubt not that in England, as well as in America, we might have lawyers equally cheap. We might engage the splendid talents of Dr. Watson, for the foreign, and his learned colleague, Mr. Preston, for the home department, on still easier terms; and we might perhaps hire a sovereign, who would not scruple to ride down to the Parliament-house, booted and spurred; and hang the bridle of his horse on the railing, while he delivered his speech from the throne. But what would the nation gain by this? Would she sustain a more dignified character abroad? or would her safety, honour, and welfare be increased at home? Would the Russells, the Cavendishes, and the other great nobles and proprietors of the land,—would the manufacturer, the shop-keeper, and the mechanic consider their lives, their liberties, and their property more secure under a government thus cheaply administered, than, as it now stands, at an expense probably to each individual of about tenpence a year ? "To mete out a meagre subsistence to the public servants of a country,' Mr. Bristed says, and to cal
( culate, to a single dollar, the exact amount of bodily and mental labour, for which a given salary is to be equivalent, is a theoretic illusion and a practical evil : in consequence of this marvellous improvement in the system of political economy,
there is not a sufficient stipend allowed to any American public officer, whether executive, or judicial, or ministerial, or naval, or military, to enable him to support the decent exterior of a gentleman.' And a very sensible writer, · The Federalist,' in his answer to a scurrilous publication by an Irishman of the name of Carey, justly observes that when the government of a country falls into the hands of demagogues and partizans, and men of low habits, loose principles and depraved understandings, as well as hearts, gain influence and ascendency; the public taste becomes vitiated, the public morals contaminated, the public welfare entirely disregarded, and individual interest, and individual agrandizement, the only objects of the governmental solicitude.?
We more than suspect that this cheap government of the United States is, after all, of as little advantage to the individuals of the community, as to the national'honor and national welfare : where indeed is the national advantage of a cheap government, the members of which can help themselves to what they please? or the individual benefit where every thing else is dear? If (as Mr. Fearon assures us) 150 per cent. is paid for lodging more than in England, and nearly as much for all the necessaries of life-if a coat costs eight guineas, a great coat eleven, a pair of indifferent boots from forty to fifty shillings, a pair of shoes half as much, and a hat forty shillings, what is saved by a cheap government,' and 'moderate taxation'? May we not conclude that Mr. Fearon was correctly told that 'the. Americans, in proportion to their means, were more heavily taxed than the people of England'? -p. 64. And might he not have discovered this, without being told, from his own experience? I was astonished,' (he says) at the numerous lots of land, which are sold at auction in all the States for non-payment of taxes. I have seen lists in the newspapers, and at the taverns, which could not contain less in each, than fourteen hundred names of defaulters, whose property was to be transferred to the highest bidder:'-' and the last published lists of insolvents in New York alone contained upwards of four hundred names.'- p. 209.
We here close our strictures. Before, however, we dismiss the subject, we must beg our readers to recollect that the views of America which have been presented to them in the present Number, were not taken by unfriendly hands, or by persons prejudiced, however lightly, in favour of this country. Mr. Bristed, whose work we first examined, is an Englishman, it is true, but, one that has neither part nor portion among us; he is, in fact, an enthusiast for the glory of the United States, which he founds on the ruin of Great Britain, an event that he appears to contemplate with
sufficient complacency. Mr. Fearon, the author before us, is possessed with a kind of patriophobia, an instinctive dread of all the institutions, civil and religious, of his native land, and fierce and vehement against his sovereign, and all who are put in authority under him.' It is evident, therefore, that whatever deductions may be called for on the score of partiality, will take nothing from the hideousness of the picture.
We could have wished to part with Mr. Fearon on better terms. Cobbett calls him a young chap;—(this, by the way, ill agrees with his old friendship for his Majesty,')—there might, therefore, be some chance of his improvement, were it not that his prejudices, which all point one way, are rooted in the profoundest ignorance. One valuable quality, indeed, Mr. Fearon possesses, and it is this which, in despite of numerous defects, renders his book one of the most interesting and amusing that ever came before us. He is a lover of truth, and, so far as he discerns it, is ready to set it forth. We cannot recollect an instance, during the whole of our progress through his voluminous work, in which a suspicion of his veracity as to what he saw and heard crossed our minds,
Amusement, however, is not all that these “ Sketches' supply ; they are pregnant with information of the most valuable kind to every one who meditates a removal to America. The author wished, he says—be even laboured to force himself to speak favourably' of what he saw in that country ; but his sincerity overpowered his prejudices, and he perpetually bewails the ungrateful truths which the monitions of conscience will not allow him to suppress.–Our readers have seen children anxiously watching the successive extinction of sparks in a sheet of burnt paper. This infant play is the serious employment of Mr. Fearon: he has placed before his fancy the plane of the United States more thickly studded with moral and political virtues than the galaxy with stars; and the fretful disquietude, the terror with which he witnesses the disappearance of every luminary, in succession, as his eye is directed to it, forms not the least entertaining part of his adventures.
He is evidently a man of very limited faculties. He cannot compare, por reason from what he sees to what is immediately connected with it. To enable him to judge, every object must pass, individually, before him. When one ridiculous prejudice has been subdued by personal conviction, he never appears to entertain the slightest suspicion that he can possibly be the dupe of another; nor to abate one jot of confidence in his own sagacity. Hence he is in a state of perpetual childhood. His total want of knowledge is sufficiently, apparent; and his principles