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S. G. & E. L. ELBERT 



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P«estltit*!ii% ELLA SMITE ELBERT »88 

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DURING THE YEARS 1818, 1819, AND 1820. 



But mark the judgment of experienced Time, 
Tutor of Nations ! Akenside. 


128 Broadway. 




BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the eleventh day of July, in the forty- 
sixth year of the Independence of the United States of America, 

(L. S.) E. Bliss and E. White, of the said District, have deposited in this 
office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, 

in the words and figures following, to wit : 

" Views of society and manners in America ; in a 3eries of letters from 
u that country to a friend in England, during the years 1818, 1819, and 1820. 
u By an Englishwoman. From the first London edition, with additions and 
u corrections by the author. But mark the judgment of experienced Time, 
u Tutor of Nations ! Akenside." 

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, 
" An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, 
Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during 
the time therein mentioned." And also to an Act, entitled, " An Act, sup- 
plementary to an Act, entitled, an Act for the encouragement of Learning, 
by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and pro- 
prietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending 
the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching histo- 
rical and other prints." 

Clerk of the Southern District of JVeic-York. 

Printed by J. Kingsland & Co. 
84 Maiden-lane. 





The following letters form only a part of a more 
extensive and desultory correspondence: occa- 
sional allusions will, therefore, be found to letters 
that have been suppressed, as interesting only to 
the friend to whom they were written. 




Although I am uncertain how far the sentiments 
contained in this little volume may be in unison 
with yours, I cannot resist that impulse of the 
heart which induces me to inscribe its pages to 

Viewing, as I did, your adopted country with 
the eyes of a foreigner, I may have been some- 
times hasty, and, therefore, mistaken in my judg- 
ments. Though I do not apprehend that my in- 
accuracies can extend to facts of any importance, 
it is possible that a citizen of America may detect 
slight errors which the foreign reader cannot be 
aware of, and which the author herself could 
not wholly guard against, however authentic the 
sources whence she drew her information. 

Where, in the following letters, I may have ex- 
pressed opinions at variance with yours, I am 


persuaded that you will view them with candour ; 
and that, notwithstanding the defects you may find 
in this little work, you will pardon my seizing this 
opportunity of openly expressing the high respect 
I feel for your character, and my grateful remem- 
brance of the many proofs of friendship with which 
vou have honoured me. 

Permit me to subscribe myself, 
My dear sir, 

Most respectfully and 
Affectionately, yours, 


London y 20//i April, 1821. 


Voyage. — Iceberg. — Ship's crew. — Bay of New-York. — 
Arrival in the city. ... Page 1 

Boarding-house in New-York. — General appearance of the 
city and its environs. > - - - 11 

Manners of the working classes. — Anecdotes, kc. - 16 

Appearance and manners of the young women. — Style of 
society. — Reception of foreigners. — General Bernard. — 
Foreign writers. — Mr. Fearon. - 23 

Visit to the city of Philadelphia. — Remarks on the Friends. — 
Laws and Institutions of William Penn. — Penal code. — 
Dr. Rush. — Abolition of the slave-trade. — Emancipation of 
the slaves in the Northern States. — Condition of the negro 
in the Northern States. - - - 35 

Reference to Lieutenant Hall. — Advice to tourists. — Appear- 
ance of the city of Philadelphia. — Style of Architecture. — 
State-house. — Remarks on the conduct of the first American 
Congress. — Anecdotes relating to that period. — Peculiari- 
ties in the political character of the people of Pennsylva- 
nia. — Internal government of the States. - 58 

Society of Philadelphia. — Anecdote of a Prussian officer. — 



Anecdote of Mr. Jefferson. — Chevalier Correa de Serra. — 
Mr. Garnett. ... - Page 86 

Visit to Joseph Buonaparte. — General observations. — Ame- 
rican country gentleman. 99 


Passage up the River Hudson. — Account of the Academy at 
West Point. — Pass of the Highlands. — Arnold's treachery. 
— Albany and its environs. - - 108 

Departure for the Falls of Niagara. — Mode of travelling. — 
Description of the country. — Canandaigua. - J 25 

Genesee. — Visit to Mr. Wadsworth. — American farmer. — 
Settling of the new territory. — Forest scenery. - 134 

Indian village. — Observations on the Indians. — Conduct of 
the American government towards them. - 147 

Departure from Genesee. — Falls of the Genesee river. — 
Singular bridge. — American inns. — Opening of the Post 
bag. — Journey to Lewiston. — 7 Cataract of Niagara. 160 

Lake Erie. — Water scenery of America. — Massacre on the 
River Raisin. — Naval engagement on Lake Erie. — Mr. 
Birkbeck. - - - - 181 

Upper Canada. — Mr. Gourlay. — Poor emigrants. — Lake 
Ontario. — Descent of the St. Lawrence. — Montreal and 
Lower Canada. - - - 196 


Lake Champlain. — Battle of Pittsburgh. — Burning of the 
Phenix steamboat. - - - Page 209 

Town of Burlington. — Character and history of the State of 
Vermont. ... - - 220 

Direction of American genius. — Founders of the American 
Republics. — Establishment of the Federal government. 228 

On the Federal administrations. — Mr. Jefferson. — Causes of 
the last war. — Regulations of the navy and merchantmen. — 
Effects of these on the sailor's character. — Anecdote. — 
Defence of the country. — How conducted by the people. — 
Army of the West. — Policy of the New-England States. — 
Effect of the war on the national character. - 243 

Unanimity of sentiment throughout the nation. — National 
government. — Federal constitution. - - 264 

Character and interests of the different sections of the confe- 
deracy, and their influence on the floor of Congress. — 
New-England. — Final extinction of the Federal party. — 
Central States. — New-York and Pennsylvania. — Southern 
States. — Policy and influence of Virginia. — Western States. 
— Manufactures. — Powers of Congress respecting black 
slavery. — Formation and government of Territories. — 
Generous policy of the Western States. — Character of the 
first settlers. — Shepherds and hunters of the Border. — 
Anecdote of Lafitte. — Various ties which cement the union 
of the States. ----- 276 


Unrestrained liberty of the press. — Elections. — Effect of po- 
litical writings. — Newspapers. — Congressional debates. — 
Deportment of the members in Congress. Page 298 


Education. — New-England. — Public Seminaries. — Discipline 
of schools. — Condition of women. - - 306 

Religion. — Temper of the different sects. — Anecdotes. 318 

Account of Colonel Huger. — Observations on the climate, 
&c. ------ 325 

Philadelphia Market. — Deportment of the citizens. — Mode 
of guiding and breaking horses. — Hints to an emigrant. — 
Consequences of bringing foreign servants to America. — 
Character of servants in America. — German redemptioners. 
— Manner in which the importation of the peasants of the 
European continent is conducted. — Reply to the Quarterly 
Review. — Descent of the Delaware. — Letter of Count de 
Survillier (Joseph Buonaparte). — Rencontre with English 
travellers. 336 

Baltimore. — Yellow Fever at Fell's Point. — Appearance of 
the city. — Miscellaneous. ... 352 

Washington. — The capitol. — Hall of the representatives. — 
Senate chamber. — The president. — Virginia slavery. — 
Conclusion. ----- 369 





New- York, September, 1818. 

The report of our safety, as well as of the kind welcome 
with which we were greeted on landing, by several fami- 
lies in this city, is now, I trust, far on its way towards you. 
I wrote too rapidly, and with a head too giddy, (you know 
what sort of a head one brings out of a ship.) to enter into 
much detail upon the few and dull events of our voyage. 
We saw spouting whales, and sharks, and porpoises, and 
all sea-monsters, in plenty ; for the breezes were mild, and 
the ocean and heaven so fair and smiling, as might well 
woo all the hideous tribes of Tethys from their dark ca- 
verns. But the only sight worth noticing was a large ice- 
berg, in latitude 43, towards the most southern extremity 
of the Newfoundland bank. This, for the month of Au- 
gust, was an unusual object in such a latitude 5 nor shall 
I easily forget the moment of singular excitement which 
it occasioned to the captain of the vessel, myself, and 
another passenger. Light northeasterly winds had pre- 
vailed throughout the day ; so light, indeed, that the island 
which had first been descried in the direct line of our 



course an hour .after noon, lay but some ten miles astern 
of us an hour after sunset. We were leaning over one 
of the hatchways, in careless conversation, and the eyes 
of the Captain were cast accidentally upon the iceberg, 
which now (the short twilight having died away) appear- 
ed a black three-pointed rock, upon the clear blue of the 
horizon. A sudden exclamation from Captain Staunton 
caused me and my fellow passenger to start on our feet, 
and gaze as he directed. A bright flame blazed upon the 
highest point of the distant rock. None of us spoke ; we 
all held our breath, and each wrought out for himself, after 
his own manner, some tale of hideous suffering. "A few 
beings, or, it might be, one solitary wretch, had here sur- 
vived his companions, and clung to this isle of frost, to 
expire more slowly, under the united horrors of cold, hun- 
ger, and despair. A pile had been collected from the 
disjointed planks of the foundered vessel, which was now 
kindled, when the first shades of evening afforded a hope 
that some eye from the receding vessel would catch the 
signal." All this passed through our minds at one glance 
of thought. The Captain had turned quickly to give or- 
ders for tacking about and lowering a boat that should 
pot off to the rock, when suddenly a bright star peered 
above the crystal, and hung distinct, and clear, over the 
distant pinnacle, which still, for a while, quivered beneath 
its receding rays. It was some minutes before we could 
smile at this sudden and simple explanation of an appear- 
ance which had, a moment before, so highly wrought up 
our interest and curiosity. 

It is usual to complain much of the discomforts of a 
ship, — and I grant that they are numerous; but to those 
who are not disabled by sickness or nervous fears, I think 
a voyage is not without its pleasures, and certainly not 
without interest. Our fellow passengers, mostly Ameri- 
cans, were cheerful, obliging, and conversable ; the ship 
excellent ; her captain a weather-beaten veteran, a kind 


hearted as well as experienced sailor, who looked not 
merely after the safety of his ship, but the comfort of every 
living being on board of her. A moralizer might have 
apostrophized capricious fortune, when he heard this old 
seaman recount the many times he had ploughed the 
Atlantic, and thank God that he had weathered every 
gale, without ever losing (to use the sailor's phrase) a 
single spar. I have conversed with sailors not half the 
age of this good captain of the Amity, who had never 
made a voyage without losing a spar, and holding their 
lives in jeopardy into the bargain. But is it not thus on 
the varied sea of life ? Some adventurers set forth in youth 
and hope, and brave gales and storms, and scud by rocks 
and shallows with light and easy hearts, and moor at last 
peacefully in the haven of old age, wrinkled indeed by 
time, but unscathed by misfortune ; while others, blown 
about at the mercy of the elements, their helm broken and 
their rigging torn, run foul of every quicksand, and die a 
thousand deaths ere they die the last. 

I observed much and often upon the quietness as well as 
the matchless activity of the crew. No scolding on the part 
of the Captain, nor sulky looks on that of the men. By 
the former, authority was exercised with kindness, and 
(a sure consequence of this) obedience was, by the latter, 
yielded with good humour and alertness. The ship, indeed, 
was well named The Amity, for I never heard a dispute 
on board of her, save, indeed, one night, when I was the 
unwilling auditor of an argument in the adjoining cabin, 
which gradually waxed to a wrangle, between a young 
Scotchman, firm in the belief of grace and predestination, 
an older Englishman, as firm in the non-belief of both 
articles, and an American, who, without agreeing with 
either, seemed to keep the peace between both. In this 
good office he probably succeeded, as, in the middle of a 
nicely drawn distinction, on the part of the Englishman, 
between foreknowing and foredecreeing, I fell asleep, and 


waked to no other noise than the creaking of timber and 
lashing of the waves. 

It is worthy of remark, that every man of the crew, from 
the old veteran to the young sailor-boy, could read and 
write, and, I believe I might almost say, every man could 
converse with you upon the history of his country, its laws, 
its present condition, and its future prospects. When our 
ship lay sleeping on the waters in a lazy calm, I often 
whiled away an hour in conversing with one or other of 
these sons of Neptune, as he sat piecing a torn sail, or 
mending a rope, and I am sure that I never came from 
the conversation without having gained some useful infor- 
mation, nor without having conceived a higher idea of the 
country to which the man whom I had conversed with 

To one who has only viewed the great deep in contem- 
plative ease and security from its shores, there is some- 
thing pleasingly exciting in being borne triumphantly over 
its bosom, and in witnessing how the wonderful creature 
man struggles with the elements, holding on his adven- 
turous course for days and weeks without doubt or fear, 
marking his progress over the trackless waste with uner- 
ring certainty, and directing his eye yet more steadily to 
the far-distant port than points his guiding needle to the 
pole. Forgive me the idle observation, that I never fully 
appreciated the perseverance, as well as the adventure, of 
the daring Columbus, until I found myself watching the 
sun sink and rise, in and from the eternal waters, day af- 
ter day and week after week. How extraordinary was 
the mind which could calculate with such certainty upon 
the existence of an unknown world ! How daring the spi- 
rit which could throw itself upon the mercy of a furious 
and unexplored ocean, hitherto deemed impassable and 
interminable ! How perfect the self-possession which re- 
mained unshaken, not merely amid the strife of the ele- 
ments, but the warring passions — the alternate rage, and 


fear, and despair of the ignorant and superstitious crew, 
who stood a united host against one man. But what a 
man ! Alone supported by his own powerful mind amidst 
the perils of the deep, the horrors of a mutiny, and the 
heart-sickness produced by hope delayed, when sun after 
sun discovered the same watery waste — the same un- 
changing horizon of sky and sea ; when night after night 
bred thoughts, more and yet more anxious, and danger 
still more imminent, the apprehension of which it had 
been defeat or death to betray ! How much the human 
race is indebted to this great mind is still, perhaps, un- 
known. The world which a hero discovered, and which 
bigots and robbers for a season polluted with crimes, has 
also been the refuge of the poor and the persecuted of 
every tongue and every clime ; and now exhibits, in its 
northern section, a well organized nation, in all the vi- 
gour and pride of youth and freedom ; in its southern, a 
spirited people, awaking from ignorance and resenting 
oppression, asserting their rights as men and citizens, 
and laying the foundation of commonwealths, which the 
next generation may see established in power, rich in 
resources, enlightened with knowledge, and fenced by 
the bulwarks of just laws, wise institutions, and generous 
patriotisms, against the efforts of foreign enemies, or the 
machinations of domestic traitors. 

It was not without emotion that, on the evening of the 
30th day from that on which we had cleared out of the 
Mersey, we heard the cry of "Land," and, straining 
our eyes in the direction of the setting sun, saw the 
heights of Neversink slowly rise from the waters, oppo- 
sing a black screen to the crimson glories of the evening 

You will but too well remember the striking position 
of New- York to require that I should describe it. The 
magnificent bay, whose broad and silver waters, sprin- 
kled with islands, are so finely closed by the heights of 



the Narrows, which, jutting forward with a fine sweep- 
ing bend, give a circular form to the immense basin 
which receives the waters of the Hudson — this magnifi- 
cent bay is grand and beautiful as when you admired it 
some twenty years since ; only that it is. perhaps, more 
thickly studded with silver-winged vessels, from the light 
sharp-keeled boat through all the varieties of shape and 
size, to the proud three-masted ship, setting and lowering 
its sails to or from the thousand ports of distant Europe, 
or yet more distant Asia. 

Every thing in the neighbourhood of this city exhibits 
the appearance of life and cheerfulness. The purity of 
the air, the brilliancy of the unspotted heavens, the 
crowd of moving vessels, shooting in various directions, 
up and down, and across the bay and the far-stretching 
Hudson, and the forest of masts crowded round the 
quays and wharfs at the entrance of the East River. 
There is something in all this, — in the very air you 
breathe, and the fair and moving scene that you rest 
your eye upon, which exhilarates the spirits, and makes 
you in good humour with life and your fellow creatures. 
We approached these shores under a fervid sun ; but the 
air, though of a higher temperature than I had ever be- 
fore experienced, was so entirely free of vapour, that I 
thought it was for the first time in my life th^t I had 
drawn a clear breath. I was no longer sensibfe of any 
weakness of the lungs, nor have I as yet been reminded 
of this infirmity. 

Probably a great proportion of the neat white houses 
that every where peep out from clumps of young trees 
along the picturesque shores of the surrounding waters, 
have started up since you left this country. As we first 
slowly entered the New- York bay, with a breeze so 
light as just to save a calm, it was with pleasure that I 
observed the number of smiling dwellings that studded 
the shores of Staten and Long Islands. Here was seen 


no great proprietor, his mighty domains stretching in 
silent and solitary grandeur for uninterrupted miles, but 
thousands of little villas or thriving farms, bespeaking the 
residence of the easy citizen or tiller of the soil. I should 
not omit another circumstance which I noticed, as evin- 
cing the easy condition of the people of this young coun- 
try. While our ship slowly moved through the still 
waters, pointing her course to the city, which just ap- 
peared upon the distant edge of the bright sheet of silver 
which opened before us as we cleared the Narrows, 
numberless little boats, well manned with active rowers, 
darted from the different shores, and. severally mooring 
along-side of our lazy vessel, with the cry of AH well c l a 
dialogue ensued, commencing with friendly congratula- 
tions, between the crews of the boats and the various 
inhabitants of the ship. On one side, queries respecting 
the length of the voyage, the weather, the winds, and the 
latest news from Europe ; on the other, the health of the 
city, the nature of the season, of the harvest, the arrival 
and departure of vessels, and a thousand nameless trifles 
interesting to men returning from a distance to their na- 
tive shores. At the close of the dialogue, one or other of 
the boatmen would carelessly ask if any of the passen- 
gers wished to be landed; but the request was always 
made in a manner which expressed a willingness to ren- 
der a civility rather than a desire to obtain employment. 
These boats" had something picturesque as well as 
foreign in their appearance. Built unusually long and 
sharp in the keel, they shot through the bright waters 
with a celerity that almost startled the eye. Their 
rowers, tall, slender, but of uncommon nerve and agility, 
were all cleanly dressed in the light clothing suited to a 
warm climate ; their large white shirt-collars unbuttoned 
and thrown back on their shoulders, and light hats of 
straw or cane, with broad brims, shading their sun- 
burnt faces. These faces were uncommonly intelligent. 


Piercing gray eyes, glancing from beneath even and pro- 
jecting brows, features generally regular, and complexions 
which, burnt to a deep brown, were somewhat strangely 
contrasted with the delicate whiteness of the clothing. I 
made yet another observation upon these natives. They 
all spoke good English, with a good voice and accent ; I 
had before observed the same of the crew of the Amity. 

Approaching the city at sunset, I shall not soon forget 
the impression which its gay appearance made upon me. 
Passing slowly round its southern point, (formed by the 
confluence of the Hudson with what is called the East 
River, though it seems more properly an arm of the sea,) 
we admired, at our leisure, the striking panorama which 
encircled us. Immediately in our front, the Battery, 
with its little fort and its public walks, diversified with 
trees, impending over the water, numberless well-dressed 
figures gliding through the foliage, or standing to admire 
our nearing vessel. In the back ground, the neatly- 
painted houses, receding into distance ; the spiry tops of 
poplars, peering above the roofs, and marking the line of 
the streets. The city, gradually enlarging from the Bat- 
tery, as from the apex of a triangle, the eye followed, on 
one side, the broad channel of the Hudson, and the pic- 
turesque coast of Jersey, at first sprinkled with villages 
and little villas, whose white walls just glanoed in the 
distance through thick beds of trees, and afterwards ri- 
sing into abrupt precipices, now crowned with wood, and 
now jutting forward in bare walls of rock. To the right, 
the more winding waters of the East River, bounded on 
one side by the wooded heights of Brooklyn and the 
varied shores of Long-Island, and, on the other, by 
quays and warehouses, scarce discernible through the 
forest of masts that were crowded as far as the eye could 
reach. Behind us stretched the broad expanse of the 
bay, whose islets, crowned with turreted forts, their co- 
lours streaming from their flag-staffs, seemed to slumber 


on the still and glowing waters, in dark or sunny spots, 
as they variously caught or shunned the gaze of the sink- 
ing sun. It was a glorious scene ; and we almost caught 
the enthusiasm of our companions, who, as they hailed 
their native city, pronounced it the fairest in the world. 

When our ship neared the quays, there was some bus- 
tle, occasioned by the moving crowd of vessels that inter- 
vened between us and the shore, and many active tars 
sprang from the yards and rigging of the surrounding ships 
to assist in clearing our passage. But neither then, nor 
when we finally touched the land, were we boarded by 
any needy supplicants imploring work for the love of cha- 
rity, or charity for the love of Heaven. There was, how- 
ever, no lack of good offices from the busy citizens on the 
quay- One laid planks to assist the passengers in their 
descent from the vessel ; another lent a hand to stay their 
unsteady feet, while some busied themselves in taking 
charge of their bundles and portmanteaus, and many 
strange tongues and faces spoke and smiled a good wel- 
come to the city. There was in the look and air of these 
men, though clad in working-jackets, something which told 
that they were rendering civilities, not services ; and that 
a kind thank ye was all that should be tendered in return. 
Arriving at a boarding-house which had been recom- 
mended to us, we were very kindly welcomed by a spright- 
ly intelligent young woman, the sister of the more staid 
and elderly matron of the house. The heat continued 
with little abatement after sunset, and every window and 
door of the house was open. While seated, refreshing 
ourselves with tea and fruit, and conversing with our live- 
ly hostess, a sound, which had filled our ears from the first 
moment that we left behind us the bustle of the wharfs, 
now completely fixed our attention. I remembered your 
account of the din of the frogs, and of your consequent sur- 
prise thereat, in ascending the Delaware. But the sound 
we heard did not at all answer to our preconceived no- 



tions of a frog concert. Tic-a-te-tic, tic-a-te-tac, was cried 
as it were by a thousand unseen voices. At first we half 
suspected the sound had its existence in our fancy — a 
kind memorial, perhaps, bestowed at parting by the giddy 
ship. Gradually, however, I began to esteem these chat- 
terers breathing realities, and, losing the thread of our gay- 
hearted entertainer's discourse, I found myself repeating 
tic-a-te-tic, tic-a-te-tac, " I suppose they must be frogs." 
The word caught the lady's ear. " Frogs ! Where ?" 
" Nay ; indeed I know not, but somewhere assuredly." 
" Not here," said the lady. " No !" said I. " Pray, 
then, what is the noise ?" " Noise ! I hear none." If 
my companion had not here come to my assistance, I 
should have had serious apprehensions for the sanity of 
my organs. Backed, however, by her support, I insisted 
that there certainly was a noise, and to my ears a most 
uncommon one. Our good-humoured hostess listened 
again, " I hear nothing, unless it be the catty-dids." 
" The catty-dids ! and who, or what are they ?" You 
will probably recognise them for old acquaintances, though 
I do not remember your mentioning them among the thou- 
sand-tongued insects of this land.* This whimsical cry, 
with the shorter note of the little tree-frog, the chirp of 
crickets, and the whiz and boom of a thousand other fly- 
ing creatures, creates, at this season, to the ear of a 
stranger, a noise truly astounding. We are now, how- 
ever, tolerably familiarized to the sound, and I doubt not 
may soon be able to say to a wondering stranger, like the 
young American, I hear nothing. 

* I have since had one of these insects in my hand. In size it is larger 
than the ordinary grasshopper, and in colour of a much more vivid green- 
Tt is perfectly harmless, and is altogether a most " delicate creature." 





New-fork, October, 181S. 

We have removed from our former residence, to a more 
private boarding-house at the head of Broadway ; a gay 
street that you will remember, though it has now stretch- 
ed itself over twice the length of earth that it occupied 
when you traversed it. This, ljouse has been filled with a 
rapid succession of inmates since we first entered it, and 
whenever we are not engaged abroad, we find a very 
pleasing society at the public table. The social mode of 
living here adopted in the hotels and boarding-houses, 
offers great advantages to foreigners, who may be desi- 
rous of mixing easily with the natives, and of observing 
the tone of the national manners. During the few days 
that we have lived in this house, we have met with a 
greater variety of individuals from all parts of the Union, 
than we could have done in as many months by visiting 
in half the private houses of the city. Families from the 
Eastern States, and gentlemen from the south and west, 
have successively appeared, and departed, and left with 
us many invitations to their various dwellings — so warm- 
ly uttered, that the heart could not doubt their sincerity. 
We were peculiarly struck by the polished manners of 
one or two natives of Carolina, and by the independent 
air, softened by republican simplicity, of some of the ad- 
venturous settlers from the infant, west. We gleaned 

12 Trew-tfORKi 

from these intelligent strangers many curious facts, tend- 
ing to illustrate the amazing advance of this country, 
which imparts to it the character of a player's stage, 
where both the actors and the scenery are shifted as fast 
as you can turn your eye. One gentleman, in the prime 
of manhood, told me, that he knew the vast tract which 
now forms the flourishing state of Ohio, when it contain- 
ed no inhabitant, save the wild hunter and his prey. 
Making lately the same journey, through which he had 
toiled 20 years ago through one vast, unbroken forest, he 
found smiling landscapes, sprinkled with thriving settle- 
ments, villages and even towns, and a people living un- 
der an organized government, and well administered 
laws. " I had heard of all this," said my informer, " and 
knew that it all was so ; but when I saw it with my own 
eyes, I felt as a man might be supposed to feel, who should 
wake from a sleep of some .centuries' duration, and find 
the earth covered with states and empires of which he 
had never heard the name." 

Many changes have taken place in this city and 
island since you knew them. Streets upon streets have 
been added to the former, and much draining and level- 
ing (of this last I incline to think too much) has been, 
and is still carrying on in, ana about it. The citizens of 
Paris were wont to call the narrow streets of their old ca- 
pital rues aristocrates, and very justly, since pedestrians 
had to make their way through them at the hazard of 
their lives. In opposition to this, the streets here might 
widi justice be termed rues democrates. Not content 
with broad pavements, carefully protected from the en- 
croachment of wheels by a sill of considerable elevation, 
the little inequalities of the ground are being removed with 
much trouble and expense. I have frequently admired 
the ingenuity with which a new, or rather an additional 
foundation is introduced beneath a brick house of very to- 
lerable solidity, so as to preserve to it the superiority it 


had hitherto asserted over the passing causeway. But I 
have not yet had the opportunity of observing a house 
upon its travels. I am told, however, that the curiosity 
is still to be seen, though probably very rarely, as the 
now universal use of brick, in almost all the chief cities 
of the States, as well as the improved style of architecture 
in the wooden tenements, still prevalent in the country, 
must have rendered the method of travelling in domo, and 
shifting the neighbourhood, without disturbing the house- 
hold gods, considerably less feasible. My confidence in 
the veracity of a friend has been occasionally put to the 
proof, when he has pointed out to me, in the outskirts of 
the city, a house that had undergone a transportation of a 
quarter of a mile to arrange itself in the line of the street, 
and which stood a very secure looking tenement of two 
floors, with brick chimneys, and walls of very substantial 
frame work. 

Notwithstanding the pleasant, opulent, and airy ap- 
pearance of the city, a European might be led to remark, 
that, if nature has done every thing for it, art, in the way 
of ornament, has as yet done little. Except the City- 
Hall, there is not a public building worth noticing ; but it 
presents what is far better — streets of private dwellings, 
often elegant, and always comfortable. Turn where you 
will, successful industry seems to have fixed her abode. 
No dark alleys, whose confined and noisome atmosphere 
marks the presence of a dense and suffering population ; 
no hovels, in ruined garrets, or dank and gloomy 
cellars, crowd the wretched victims of vice and disease, 
whom penury drives to despair, ere she opens to them the 

I shall not fatigue you with particular accounts of the 
excursions we have made into the surrounding country. 
We surveyed with pleasure the thriving farms of Long- 
Island, and those of the neighbouring state of Jersey. 
The country is every where pleasingly diversified ; gentle 

1 i NEW-YORK. 

hills, sinking into extensive valleys, watered by clear ri- 
vers, their banks sprinkled with neat white dwellings, 
usually low and broad roofed, shaded by projecting piaz- 
zas, and very generally by enormous weeping willows. 
These exotics seem to take wonderfully to the soil and 
climate, and are much cultivated, in the more immediate 
neighbourhood of houses, as well on account of their ra- 
pid growth, as from the massiveness of their foliage, and 
from their being the earliest trees to bud, and the latest to 
cast their leaves. I could not so well approve of the 
equally universal culture of the Lombardy poplar, a tree 
that has no one good quality to recommend it, for the ra- 
pidity of its growth can hardly be accounted one, since 
we can only observe upon it, in the words of the old pro- 
verb, that ill weeds gro?v apace. One is the more dispo- 
sed to quarrel with this vile stranger, from the uncommon 
beauty of all the native trees. Nor might the neglect of 
the more noble sons of the forest find apology in* the slug- 
gishness of their growth. In this soil and climate, vege- 
tation is so powerful, that a very few years may find you 
seated under the oak that your hands have planted. 

There are some veiy lovely, though few very lordly 
dwellings scattered along the shores of this island. You 
will remember how picturesque these shores are ; the one 
washed by the magnificent waters of the Hudson, and the 
other by that arm of the sea styled the East River, which 
runs round the head of Long Island. I know not if you 
ever navigated this curious channel. The whirlpools of 
Hell-Gate are at high water, with good pilotage, passed by 
sailing vessels without much hazard, and by steamboats 
without any hazard, in almost all states of the tide ; those 
huge leviathans pointing their way steadily through the 
narrow channels which wind among the whirling eddies 
that boil on either hand, styled respectively the greater 
and lesser pots. During the revolutionary war, a large 
British frigate, richly laden with specie, seeking to attain 


the city unobserved by the American force, attempted this 
intricate passage without the guidance of an experienced 
pilot; suddenly assailed by one of the many powerful 
currents which run, with irresistible force, in all directions, 
it was sucked into the largest of these caldrons, and, in 
all its pride and gallant trim, engulfed in a moment. 

The summer residences of some gentlemen of the city 
command a fine prospect of these convulsed and resound- 
ing waters, and form pleasing objects when seen from the 
channel. It is singular, in wandering through this island, 
to reflect that there is scarce a tree in it older than the 
independence of the country. A friend pointed out to me 
some half dozen veterans that, by some strange chance, 
had escaped the axe of the British soldier, and now over- 
look the land which freedom has regenerated.* When 
you look on the young thickets, and thriving trees and 
saplings not yet grown to maturity, which shade the neigh- 
bouring villas, and fringe the shores, and think that, young 
as they are, they are old as the country — old as the 
date of its national existence, you find yourself strangely 
wondering at the wealth and energy that surround you ; 
and, recalling the rapid strides which these States have 
made, in less than half a century, from unknown colo- 
nies to a vast and powerful empire, you cannot help in- 
voking the name of Liberty, under whose auspices all has 
been effected. 

* The British, hemmed in by the Americans in their last fastness, the city 
and island of New-York, suffered much distress from want of fuel. They 
had so completely cleared the island from one end to the other, that, at the 
time of its evacuation, there was not a stick to be found upon it, except the 
few trees mentioned in the text. 




New-York, November, 1818. 

You will marvel, perhaps, that I have not observed upon 
the rudeness and incivility of what are termed with us 
the lower or poorer classes, but which I know not very 
well how to designate here, since there seem to be 
neither poor nor uneducated. As yet my experience 
would dispose me to dissent from those travellers in the 
United States who complain, in our newspapers and jour- 
nals, of being elbowed in the streets, and scowled at in 
the houses, and made uncomfortable every where. I 
have not as yet found even the servants, a race of beings 
peculiarly quarrelled with by our grumbletonians, either 
morose or impertinent. They do not, indeed, read your 
wishes in your eyes, but I have never found them un- 
willing to answer them, and that in an obliging manner, 
when expressed by your tongue. The only exception 
to this which has as yet come, not within my observa- 
tion, but to my knowledge, is the following: — A young 
British officer, in his way to or from Canada, was lately 
lodged in a boarding-house, in this city. The first morn- 
ing after his arrival, he came from his apartment with a 
face considerably discomfited and wrathful ; and seeking 
the lady of the house, informed her that her servant was 
a very insolent fellow. The sum of the story that could 
be gleaned from the indignant gentleman was, that, when 


roused in the morning, the servant had not brought him 
warm water. " I called the fellow, and asked him, how 
he thought I was to shave myself; upon which he turned 
on his heel, and never afterwards made his appearance." 
The lady expressed much concern at the intelligence, 
adding that she had never found the man insolent, nor 
received complaints of him before, but that certainly, if 
he had changed his manners, she would part with him 
instantly ; and thereupon called the delinquent before 
her. In the presence of his accuser, she then began the 
lecture you may suppose. The man listened in solemn 
silence, and to the lady's final emphatic inquiry, " John, 
why did you not bring warm water to the gentleman ?" 
replied, " Because I am not accustomed to answer to the 
name of d — nd rascal ;" and then, with philosophic com- 
posure, John left the room. I need not state, that it 
appeared upon inquiry, that the demand of the military 
gentleman v had been prefaced by this sonorous title, in 
style thus, " You d — nd rascal ! how do you think I am 
to shave myself ?" 

A few days after my arrival in the city, I had recourse 
to rather a whimsical mode of trying the temper of the ci- 
tizens. I was bound alone and on foot to the house of a 
friend in a distant part of the city, and I must confess that 
I was in no difficulty as to the line of my route. Meeting 
however a man w 7 hom, from his appearance, I judged to 
be a mason, I accosted him with " Friend ! can you di- 
rect me to such a street ?" He paused, and facing about, 
patiently explained the advance, in the straight line that I 
was to make, with all the turnings that I was to follow 
afterwards. " But I guess you are strange to the city. I 
have nothing very pressing on hand, and can see you on 
your way." * With all due acknowledgements, I declined 
the offer as unnecessary. Pursuing my walk a little fur- 
ther, I overtook a woman who was about to cross the 
street. She had the air, I thought, of a servant, and the 



apparently well-stocked basket of provisions that she car- 
ried, seemed to say, that she was returning from the mar- 
ket. I addressed her with the same query I had before 
put to the mason, and she, turning round, with words and 
signs, replied as he had done; then checking herself, 
"But perhaps you are a stranger!" "And a foreigner 
too," said I. " Why then — wait a moment." And 
crossing the pavement, and placing her basket upon the 
broad stone step leading into a shop, " I will walk with 
you to the head of the next street, where I can better point 
your way." " But the basket ?" said I, eyeing it over 
my shoulder, where it stood on the step. " What harm 
should come to it ? It will stand there." " Will it ?" said 
I ; " 'tis an honest city then." " Honest enough for that," 
said she. I suffered the good woman to accompany me 
to the spot she proposed, for I own that I was curious to 
prove whether the basket would stand as quietly as its 
owner reckoned upon. We proceeded accordingly, and, 
reaching the angle of the street, my kind informer repeated 
her directions, and exchanged with me a " good morning." 
I waited to trace her back with my eye through the crowd 
of moving passengers, and soon saw her in the distance 
crossing the street with her basket on her arm. You will 
think that I had practised sufficiently on the good nature 
of the public, but I made yet another trial of it. I stept 
into a small but decent-looking shop. A man, the only 
person in it, was seated at his ease behind the counter, 
reading the newspaper. To my query of " Can you di- 
rect me?" &c. he rose, and coming to the door, ran 
through the necessary instructions. " But, stop ! I have 
somewhere a map of the city." He sought and found it, 
and spreading it on the counter, traced upon it my route. 
I thanked him, and departed ; and was disposed, from the 
experiments of the morning, to pronounce the city quite 
as civil as any city in England, and perhaps a little more 
honest ; for, pondering upon the basket. I could not but 


suspect that it would scarcely have stood as quietly upon 
an English pavement, or, what I judged was undoubted, a 
woman with her five senses would never have thought of 
placing it there. 

It is truly interesting to listen to an intelligent Ameri- 
can when he speaks of the condition and resources of his 
country ; and this, not merely when you find him in the 
more polished circles of society, but when toiling for his 
subsistence with the saw or spade in his hand. I have 
never yet conversed with the man who could not inform 
you upon any fact regarding the past history and existing 
institutions of his nation, with all the readiness and accu- 
racy with which a schoolboy, fresh from his studies, might 
reply to your queries upon the laws of Lycurgus or the 
twenty-seven years' war of the Peloponnesus. 

Putting some questions a few days since to a farmer 
whom I met in a steamboat, I could not help remarking 
to him, when, in reply to my questions, he had run through 
the geography, soil, climate, &,c. of his vast country, just 
as if its map had been stretched before him, with the cata- 
logue of all its exports and imports, that he seemed as in- 
timately acquainted with the produce and practicabilities 
of the United States, as he could be with those of his own 

The manner in which an American husbandman or 
mechanic connects himself with his chief magistrates and 
legislators, and seems in his discourse to take part in all 
their measures, and decide on their wisdom or error, is apt 
at first to make a stranger smile. He soon, however, 
learns to smile at his own ignorance, which could see any 
presumption in a man's pronouncing upon the fitness of 
legislators whose character he has studied, or in taking to 
himself the credit or discredit of their measures, when he 
has exercised a free voice in their election, or in judging 
of a question which he perfectly understands, or, at least, 
which he has leisurely considered. I have observed, that 


it is usual for an American, in speaking of political mat- 
ters, to say our president does so and so; we passed, or 
shall bring forward, such a bill in Congress ; we took such 
and such measures with a view, &c. To speak in short 
from my present confined observations, I should say that 
it were impossible for a people to be more completely 
identified with their government, than are the Americans. 
In considering it, they seem to feel, it is ours; we created 
it, and we support it ; it exists for our protection and ser- 
vice ; it lives bij the breath of our mouths, and, ichile it an- 
swers the ends for which we decreed it, so long shall it stand, 
and nought shall prevail against it. If I may trust the re- 
port of all my American friends and acquaintances, con- 
firmed by my own limited observation, there appear to be 
few remains of those party animosities which divided the 
community at the close of the revolutionary struggle, and 
the effects of which you found so unpleasing during your 
short residence in this country. It says much for the good 
sense of the people, and the wisdom of their institutions, 
that one generation should have outlived all the tempest 
of passion and bitterness of party, occasioned by the clash 
of interests and opinions in a great national revolution. 

Some weeks since, crossing the North River in one of 
the fast-sailing sloops which crowd in such multitudes 
upon these waters, I observed a man at one end of the 
little vessel, who first attracted my attention by his inte- 
resting appearance. He was well dressed in the plain 
garb of a working farmer. His silvered hairs and deeply 
lined countenance told that he was approaching the last 
resting-place of all human travellers, while his unbent 
figure and mild aspect told, also, that he w r as approach- 
ing it without anxiety. Entering into conversation with 
him. I learnt that he was a Jersey fanner, who remem- 
bered the Declaration of Independence, and had drawn 
a sword in its support. He recollected the first appear- 
ance of " Common Sense," and the electric shock that it 


produced throughout the country. He could recall the 
various circumstances of the war, and all the hopes, and 
fears, and rejoicings of the people. — "All," to use his 
own words, "as if it were yesterday." " I have lived," 
he continued, " to see my country established in her 
rights ; to see her trebled in population ; and quit of par- 
ty jealousies, and factions, and I think," said the old 
man smiling, "that I have now lived enough." I felt 
somewhat affected by his parting salutation. His> dis- 
course had very naturally fixed my attention, which he, 
perhaps as naturally, had observed with pleasure. When 
the boat touched the shore, " You seem," he said, " to be 
a foreigner ; I wish you may soon become a citizen, for I 
think that you are worthy to be a citizen of our country." 
The old patriot meant this for a compliment ; as such I 
received it, and as such, I assure you, I felt it. 

It was with much interest that I visited, some evenings 
since, the little villa of which you once were an inmate. 
We turned down the little lane, wild and rocky as when 
you traversed it, and reached the gate just as the sun 
was sinking behind the heights of the Jersey shore. I 
thought that you had gazed on the same object from the 
same spot — I cannot describe how dreary and sad — how 
fraught with painful recollections the scene was to me ; 
and, had I been alone, 1 could have sat down, notwith- 
standing the keen searching air of a November evening, 
and moralized with Jacques for good an hour and a quar- 
ter. You know the spot ; but it doubtless lives in your 
memory as inhabited by kind friends, and breathing, with- 
in and without, warmth, comfort, beauty, and hospitality. 
We found it desolate and deserted ; the house, without a 
tenant, gradually falling into disrepair ; the fences broken 
down, the trees and shrubs all growing wild, while the 
thick falling leaves that strewed the ground, and rustled 
beneath our feet — the season and even the hour, all 
wooed one on to sickly thoughts, and pressed on the heart 


the conviction of the slenderness of that link which holds 
us to this changing world, to its good or ill, its joys or sor- 

I would finish this letter with a more cheerful paragraph, 
were not the ship that is to bear it to you about to sail. 
Autumn still lingers with us, or rather we are at present 
thrown back into July by the Indian summer. Farewell. 






New- York, February, 1819. 

My letters have as yet chiefly spoken of our more inti- 
mate friends ; and have said little of the general style of 
society in this city. I feel that a stranger ought to be 
slow in pronouncing an opinion upon these matters, and 
indeed the rigours of the winter (though unusually mild this 
year) have for some time past made me rather a close 

Though the objects around me have now lost the fresh- 
ness of novelty, they have by no means lost that air of 
cheerfulness and gayety which I noticed in my first letters. 
The skies, though they have exchanged their fervours for 
biting frosts, have not lost their splendours, nor are the 
pavements trod by figures less airy, now that they are 
glittering with snows. Broadway, the chosen resort of 
the young and the gay, in these cold bright mornings, 
seems one moving crowd of painted butterflies. I some- 
times tremble for the pretty creatures (and very pretty 
they are) as they flutter along through the biting air in 
dress more suited to an Italian winter than to one which, 
notwithstanding the favourable season, approaches nearer 
to that of Norway. In spite of this thoughtlessness, the 
catch-cold does not seem to be the same national disease 
that the Frenchman found it in England. This is the 


more remarkable, as consumption is very frequent, and 
may be generally traced to some foolish frolic, such as re- 
turning from a ball in an open sleigh, or walking upon 
snow in thin slippers. 

I believe I have before remarked upon the beauty of the 
young women ; I might almost say girls, for their beauty 
is commonly on the wane at five and twenty. Before that 
age, their complexions are generally lovely ; the red and 
white so delicately tempered on their cheeks, as if no rude 
wind had ever fanned them ; their features small and re- 
gular, as if moulded by fairy fingers ; and countenances so 
gay and smiling, as if no anxious thoughts had ever 
clouded the young soul within. It is a pity that the en- 
vious sun should so soon steal the rose and lily from their 
cheeks, and perhaps it is also a pity that the cares of a 
family should so soon check the thoughtless gayety of their 
hearts, and teach them that mortal life is no dream of 
changing pleasures, but one of anxieties and cheating 
hopes. The advantages attending early marriages are so 
substantial, and the countiy in which they are practicable, 
is in a condition of such enviable prosperity, w r hether we 
regard its morals or its happiness, that I almost blush to 
notice the objections which, as an idle observer, one might 
find in a circumstance resulting from so happy an order 
of things. The American youth of both sexes are, for the 
most part, married ere they are two-and-twenty ; and in- 
deed it is usual to see a girl of eighteen a wife and a mo- 
ther. It might doubtless, ere this, be possible, if not to 
fix them in habits of study, at least to store their minds 
with useful and general knowledge, and to fit them to be 
not merely the parents but the judicious guides of their 
children. Men have necessarily, in all countries, greater 
facilities than women for the acquirement of knowledge, 
and particularly for its acquirement in that best of all 
schools, the world. I mean not the world of fashion, but 
the" world of varied society, where youth loses its presump- 


tion, and prejudice its obstinacy, and where self-knowledge 
is best acquired, from the mind being forced to measure 
itself with other minds, and thus to discover the shallow- 
ness of its knowledge, and the groundlessness of its opi- 
nions. In this country, where eveiy man is called to study 
the national institutions, and to examine, not merely into 
the measures but the principles of government, the very 
laws become his teachers ; and in the exercise of his 
rights and duties as a citizen, he becomes more or less a 
politician and a philosopher. His education, therefore, 
goes on through life; and though he should never become 
versed in abstract science or ornamental literature, his 
stock of useful knowledge increases daily, his judgment 
is continually exercised, and his mind gradually fixed in 
habits of observation and reflection. Hitherto the educa- 
tion of women has been but slightly attended to ; married 
without knowing any thing of life but its amusements, and 
then quickly immersed in household affairs and the rearing 
of children, they command but few of those opportunities 
by which their husbands are daily improving in sound 
sense and varied information. The wonderful advance 
which this nation has made, not only in wealth and 
strength, but in mental cultivation, within the last twenty 
years, may yet be doubly accelerated when the education 
of the women shall be equally a national concern wdth 
that of the other sex ; and when they shall thus learn, not 
merely to enjoy, but to appreciate those peculiar blessings 
which seem already to mark their country for the happiest 
in the world. The number of the schools and colleges 
established throughout the Union for the education of boys 
is truly surprising. 

Your late distinguished friend, Dr. Rush of Philadel- 
phia, remarks, in his paper, On the Mode of Education 
proper in a Republic, "I am sensible that our women 
must concur in all our plans of education for young men, 
or no laws will ever render them effectual. To qualify 



our women for tins purpose, they should not only be in- 
structed in the usual branches of female education, but 
should be taught the principles of government and liberty ; 
and the obligations of patriotism should be inculcated 
upon them." At present it appears to me that the Ame- 
rican women are as deficient upon some of these heads 
as the men are practised. They love their country, and 
are proud of it because it is their country ; their husbands 
love and are proud of it, because it is free and well go- 
verned. Perhaps when the patriotism of both shall rest 
on motives equally enlightened, the national character will 
be yet more marked than it is at present. A new race, 
nurtured under the watchful eye of judicious mothers, and 
from them imbibing, in tender youth, the feelings of gene- 
rous liberty and ardent patriotism, may evince in their 
maturity an elevation of sentiment which now to prognos- 
ticate of any nation on the earth might be accounted the 
dream of an idle theorist or vain believer in the perfecti- 
bility of his species. I ought to apologize for this digres- 
sion ; but before I leave the subject into which I have 
wandered, I should observe, that much attention is now 
paid to advance the education of women to that of the 
men, and for this end public schools are rapidly establish- 
ing in various parts of the Union, on the most liberal terms. 
The manners of the women strike me as peculiarly 
marked by sweetness, artlessness, and liveliness : there is 
about them, at least in my eyes, a certain untaught grace 
and gayety of the heart, equally removed from the studied 
English coldness and indifference, and the no less studied 
French vivacity and mannerism. They enter very early 
into society ; far too early, indeed, to be consistent with a 
becoming attention to the cultivation of their minds. I am, 
however, acquainted with striking exceptions to this ge- 
neral practice. There are some mothers in this city, who 
anxiously preside over the education of their daughters, 
and are yet more desirous of storing their minds with so- 



iid information, than of decking them with personal ac- 
complishments. I hope, and am induced to believe, that, 
in the next generation such individuals will be no longer 
conspicuous among the mass of their fellow citizens. This 
might be too much to hope in old, slow-moving Europe, 
but one generation here sees marvellous revolutions. The 
society, I mean by this, that which is collected into large 
evening assemblies, is almost exclusively composed of the 
unmarried young. A crowded room is in this way a 
pretty scene for a quiet observer to look into for half an 
hour ; but if he have survived the buoyant spirits of first 
youth, he will then find it better to walk home again. I 
ought not to omit a remark, not merely upon the elegance 
of the dress of these young gay creatures, but what is far 
better, on its modesty. It may be sometimes more showy 
and costly than is wise or befitting in the daughters of a 
republic, but it never mocks at decency, as does that of 
our English ladies, who truly have often put me to the 
blush for their sex and their nation. The fashions here 
are copied from the French ; but I am told by those that 
are knowing in such matters, that they are not very 
changeable, and that it is judged, if not more wise, (for 
this, I fear, seldom sways with youth,) at least more be- 
coming to wear the waist and shoulders where nature 
placed them, than to raise them this month to the ears, 
and sink them the next to the length of our grandmothers. 
The dances too, (and these young women, as far as my 
judgment may go with you for any thing, dance with 
much lightness, grace, and gay-heartedness,) the dances 
are also French, chiefly quadrilles ; certainly prettier to 
look at than the interminable country-dance, whose ap- 
palling column seems to picture out some vague image of 
space and time which the imagination cannot see the end 
of. The young men do not, in general, appear to me to 
equal in grace their fair companions ; nor, indeed, in ge- 
neral ease of manner and address. In accosting a stran- 




ger, they often assume a solemnity of countenance that is 
at first rather appalling. They seem to look as if waiting 
until you should " open your mouth in wisdom," or as if 
gathering their strength to open theirs in the same manner. 
I have more than once, upon such an occasion, hastened 
to collect my startled wits, expecting to be posed and 
shamed by some profound inquiry into the history of the 
past, or the probable events of the future. I could ill con- 
vey to you the sudden relief I have then experienced on 
hearing some query upon the news of the day, or as to 
my general opinion of Lord Byron's poetry. It is not 
from the young men in an idle drawing-room that a stran* 
ger should draw his picture of an American. He must 
look at these youths when stamped with manhood, when 
they have been called upon to exercise their rights as ci- 
tizens, and have not merely studied the history and condi- 
tion of their country, but are thoroughly imbued with the 
principles of its government, and with that philosophy 
which their liberal institutions are so well calculated to 

The youth of both sexes here enjoy a freedom of inter- 
course unknown in the older and more formal nations of 
Europe. They dance, sing, walk, and " run in sleighs" to- 
gether, by sunshine and moonshine, without the occur- 
rence or even the apprehension of any impropriety. In 
this bountiful country, marriages are seldom dreaded as 
imprudent, and therefore no care is taken to prevent the 
contracting of early engagements. It is curious to see 
how soon these laughing maidens are metamorphosed into 
fond wives and attentive mothers ; and these giddy youths 
into industrious citizens and thinking politicians. 

Marriages are usually solemnized in the paternal man- 
sion of the bride, in which the young couple continue to 
reside for six or twelve months. It is seldom that the 
young woman brings with her any dowry, or that the hus- 
band has much to begin the world with save a gay heart 


and good hopes ; which even should he fail in his profes- 
sion as lawyer, or physician, or merchant, are not extin- 
guished, for he has still the wide field of bounteous nature 
open before him, and can set forth with the wife of his bo- 
som and the children of his love, to seek treasures in the 
wilderness ! 

It is very customary in this, and I am told in other ci- 
ties, to breed up young men to the bar, not always with 
an idea of their following the profession for a livelihood, 
but because, if they discover talents and ambition, it is 
considered as the best introduction to political life. 

Mr. Wells, and Mr. Emmett, whose history is in his 
name, are considered at he head of the New- York bar. 
In the mild manners, in the urbanity and benevolence of 
Mr. Emmett's character, one might be at a loss to con- 
ceive where oppression found its victim. Is it in his 
powerful talents and generous sentiments that we must 
seek the explanation ? There are other well known 
Irish names in this city. 

Were it worth while to vindicate this nation from a 
charge, the absurdity of which I am almost tempted to 
think must be apparent to those who have advanced it. 
that there is an illiberal prejudice against the employment 
of foreign talent, I could from my own observation posi- 
tively attest the contrary. The well employed hours of 
Mr. Emmett, and his highly respected abilities and cha- 
racter, might alone set the charge at defiance. The suc- 
cess of Dr. M'Neven as a physician, and his situation as 
Professor in the College, and the eagerness with which his 
society is sought by travellers from all parts of the Union, 
might be quoted as another refutation. But, indeed, it 
were idle to run through the various instances in which a 
naturalized citizen has risen to eminence in his profession, 
and commanded consideration from the people of his 
adopted country. Perhaps where this complaint has been 
made it has originated in disappointed vanity. It is true 


that this people have a provoking soundness of judgment, 
and rate men and things according to their net value. 
They have a straight-forward common sense about them, 
that will set nothing down to name or condition : they 
weigh the man against the trapping of his vanity ; and if 
they find him wanting, will leave him to walk on his way. 
I am proud to rank among my friends and acquaintances 
many individuals who generously ascribe to the liberality 
of their adopted country the honourable success which 
has here followed the exercise of their talents. Many of 
these I have named to you in my earlier letters, and you 
know how much I am indebted to their friendship, and 
how warmly I return it. 

There is yet another foreigner that I am tempted to in- 
troduce to you — General Bernard ; a native of France, 
and one of the earliest and most distinguished scholars of 
the Polytechnic school. His manners, simple, and mo- 
dest as those of a sage, frank and independent as those of 
a soldier ; his principles, talents, varied knowledge, and 
profound science, such as do honour to his school and his 
nation. After the battle of Waterloo, (in which he re- 
ceived six wounds at Napoleon's side,) and the return of 
Louis, he resigned his commission, and retired to private 
life with his family. The king twice solicited his service, 
but he replied, that having been aide-de-camp to the Ex- 
emperor, and honoured with his intimacy, he could not 
enter into the service of the reigning family without draw- 
ing upon himself the suspicion that, in conduct as well as 
opinion, he was guided by interest. His conduct as an 
officer, and skill as an engineer, were so well known and 
acknowledged throughout Europe, that he received invi- 
tations from two other courts, Bavaria and Holland, both 
of which he successively declined, urging the same rea- 
sons that he had pleaded to the French monarch. He 
remained retired in his chateau, and would have remained 
there still, but for the vexation and inconvenience which 


the underlings of the court knew how to bring to the fire- 
sides of the suspected foes of legitimacy. " If they would 
have let me sit in my chimney-corner sans me dire mot, 
I should have been content to sit there still." " Voila, 
mes amis ; vous etes les maitres ; c*est votre tour. Eh bien ! 
jouez, dansez, triomphez, et laissez moi dormir ; maisils ne 
voulaient pas," Even England will occasionally afford 
us examples of petty knaves and busy bodies, who, to at- 
tract the attention of those in power, will inform them- 
selves of the actions, or, if there be nothing tangible there, 
of the opinions of their neighbours, and evince their own 
zeal by denouncing the supposed disaffection of others. 
General Bernard could not submit to the official visits of 
the petty magistrates and cures of a village, or to those of 
the under gentlemen of the police of Paris ; and though, 
upon application, the high authorities disavowed any 
" art or part" in such vexatious proceedings, a disciple of 
Carnot, and aide-de-camp of the ci-devant emperor, was 
too fair game to receive the shield of their protection. He 
was teased and teased till his patience became exhausted, 
when he addressed himself to the government of the Uni- 
ted States, and made a tender of his services. They 
were accepted with every expression of respect and sa- 
tisfaction, and he was placed immediately in the corps of 
engineers, with the same rank that he held in the army of 
France. The United States are believed to have received 
in him an inestimable treasure. Since the last war, it has 
been a great object with the Congress to fortify the Ame- 
rican coasts and lines, to be prepared, in the event of any 
future hostilities with foreign powers, against such sur- 
prises as once lost the infant capital, and threatened the 
destruction of New-Orleans. General Bernard has re- 
ceived instructions to take a survey of the country, and 
draw up a report of what he shall consider requisite to 
complete the plan of precautionary defence, either on the 
coasts, or on the Canadian, Indian, and Spanish frontiers 


He has already examined the southern lines, and pro- 
ceeds this year to the lakes. The cheerfulness with 
which this soldier, broken down as he is by military ser- 
vice, undergoes the fatigues of such hard duty, — travel- 
ling in all ways and in all climates, through all the varie- 
ties of forest, swamp, or savanna ; and the pleasure and 
pride which he expresses in being permitted to employ his 
time and talents in the service of the republic, is truly 
gratifying to contemplate. It is not from General Ber- 
nard that you will hear complaints of the illiberality of 
this government, or the inhospitality of this people ; nor is 
it of such foreigners, as this soldier and gentleman, that 
the Americans will express themselves with coldness or 
disrespect. I often heard them name him with admira- 
tion, and acknowledge themselves as proud that their 
country should be the chosen abode of such a character, 
as he on his part acknowledges himself in being devoted 
to its service. 

Considering the spleen that for the most part besets men 
in foreign countries, not merely his own nation, but man- 
kind at large is indebted to the individual who has curio- 
sity and good humour enough to travel among strangers 
with his eyes in his head, and«his heart in his hand ; but how 
much more highly are they indebted to him who, to curiosi- 
ty and good humour, unites every gift of the understand- 
ing, possesses all the wide range of knowledge, and in- 
spires a foreign nation not only with respect for his own 
high merits, but for the country which gave him birth. — 
Would a few more such individuals as General Bernard 
visit this republic, more would be done towards setting 
the seal of amity between the two hemispheres, than was 
effected by the treaty of Ghent, or than could be effected 
by any treaty by official authorities. It is governments 
that make war, and the same governments that make 
peace ; but the peace they make is only a cessation of 
hostilities by fleets and armies ; they do not make friends, 


and I know not how it is that they contrive that the people 
under them shall never make friends either. In this coun- 
try, however, you will remember that the government is 
identified with the people, — it is their free voice and their 
efficient will ; and to offend the one is to outrage the 
other. In the minds of no European people, therefore, can 
the abuses of malignity, or the misrepresentations of igno- 
rance, rankle more deeply than in those of the Americans. 
They cannot say the misrepresentations made of our cha- 
racter and our laws have been drawn upon us by the 
acts of a government in which we had no share ; on the 
contrary, they are ready to exclaim, " The vast Atlantic 
" separates us from Europe — from its clashing interests, 
" its strifes, and its ambitions. In peace, we have esta- 
" blished our laws ; in the spirit of liberty and good will 
" to man, we have framed our constitution. The arms of 
* : our country have been open to the unfortunate of every 
£i nation on the earth. The stranger comes to us, and we 
t: receive him, not as a stranger, but a brother. He sits 
" down among us a fellow citizen, and in peace and se- 
" curity gathers the fruits of his industry, professes his opi- 
" nions, and leaves a free inheritance to his children." 
If the American thus speaks, who shall gainsay him. If 
he thus speaks, where is the generous European, the fair, 
the honourable man that will not acknowledge that he 
speaks justly, and that will not blush, if any of his country- 
men have been found among the traducers of his nation ? 

These observations have been drawn from me by a 
passage in your last letter. Had you not alluded to the 
little volume that lately found its way hither, neither 
should I. The credit that your letter and the letters of 
other trans- Atlantic friends lead me to think that Mr. 
Fearon has found in England, could alone have induced 
me to advert to him. 

When a friend put this little book in my hand, and told 
me with a smile to study his nation, I glanced at a few 



pages here and there, and smiled too. " It is to be re- 
gretted," said my friend, " that our country is visited by 
so many travellers of this description, and so few of any 
other kind. We are a young people, and therefore per- 
haps despised ; we are a people fast growing in strength 
and prosperity, and therefore perhaps envied. We have 
doubtless errors ; I never yet saw the nation that had them 
not ; but it is equally certain that we have many virtues. 
\n enemy will see only the former ; the friend who would 
wisely point out both, ''nothing extenuating, nor setting 
down aught in malice? would do as kindly by us, as ho- 
nourably by himself. Will no such man ever come from 
your country ?" " I often lament," he again observed, 
" that we should be visited only by the poor or the busy, 
the prejudiced or the illiterate of the English nation. 
Their reports are received for lack of better, and form the 
texts from which the European journalists draw their re- 
ports of our character and our institutions. 

" All this were very ridiculous, if it were not very mis- 
chievous. Cutting words cut deep ; and I fear that we 
are human enough to feel ourselves gradually estranged 
from a nation that was once our own, and for which we 
so long cherished an affection, that I am sure would have 
grown with our growth, and strengthened with our 
strength, had not the 'pen yet more than the sword de- 
stroyed it." 

I have given you my friend's observations rather more 
in the form of a harangue than they were delivered, but 
I saw no reason for breaking them to introduce my own, 
which were not half so well worded, or so much to the 








Philadelphia, May, 1819. 

The rapidity of our motions since our arrival in this city, 
and the kind attentions of those families to whom our 
New- York and Jersey friends had supplied us with letters, 
and of others who, without the receipt of such credentials, 
sought us in our charactef of strangers and foreigners, has 
left me little leisure, — not for remembering my friends in 
the old world, but for affording them written proofs of re- 

I had been led to expect that the citizens of Philadel- 
phia were less practised in courtesy to strangers than those 
of New- York. Our experience does not confirm the re- 
mark. We have only to bear testimony to their civility. 
There is at first something cold and precise in the general 
air and manner of the people, particularly so when com- 
pared to the cheerfulness and open-heartedness of the 
natives of New- York ; perhaps too we unfairly contrasted 
them with those of the amiable circle we had left on the 
shores of the Rariton or at * * * * Pennsylvania. This 
coldness of exterior, however, wears off in a great mea- 
sure upon further acquaintance, and, what may still re- 


main, you set down to the ruling spirit, and philanthropic 
father of the city, and respect it accordingly. 

Though we have found some quietism in the society, 
we have found less absolute quakerism than we expected ; 
and I own that I at first felt something like disappoint- 
ment, when, on looking round a room, I saw not one 
drab-coloured son of Penn in it. It is very true that a man 
is none the better for wearing a brown coat, but I have a 
notion that he is sometimes the better for being a Friend. 
There is no ridicule that has ever given more offence to 
my better feelings, than that which is often so thought- 
lessly directed against the society of the Friends. I ob- 
ject to the term quakers, a name which they do not ac- 
knowledge themselves, and which was affixed to them in 
derision by those who could perceive their peculiarities of 
phrase and demeanour, but were unable to appreciate the 
unpresuming virtues which distinguished them yet more 
from every Christian sect and society of men on the face 
of the earth. 

The children of the peaceful and benignant William 
Penn have not only inherited tie fashion of their patri- 
arch's garments, but his simple manners, his active phi- 
lanthropy, his mild forbearance, his pure and persevering 
charity, thinking no evil and taking no praise. 

The annals of the human race present us with no name 
more dear, at once to humanity and to liberty, than that 
of Penn. He united every great and every gentle virtue. 
His intrepidity*withstood the frowns of power ; his chris- 
tian philosophy was superior to the lures of ambition ; and 
while his fortitude resisted persecution, his candour and 
gentle benevolence never sentenced the opinions of others. 
His religion was without dogmatism, his virtue without 
austerity ; he was tolerant among bigots, inflexible before 
tyrants, patient with the factious, humane towards the 
criminal, fair and just with the savage as with the civilized 
man. Proud indeed may the republic be which had such 


a man for its founder, and whose history has so generally 
done honour to his name ; and justly venerable, justly en- 
titled to the respect and love of mankind, is the fraternity 
of which that man was a member, (one may almost say 
the founder,) and which has followed up his deeds of mercy 
by others not less beautiful, tempering the rigours of justice 
to the offender, relieving the sick and the destitute, and 
even the criminal in the prison-house ; teaching virtue to 
the profligate, practising humanity to the hard-hearted, 
cherishing the unconscious lunatic, bearing with his im- 
patience, soothing his despair, and calming his frenzy. 

We may idly speculate indeed upon the silence and 
quietism that might pervade this now bustling world, were 
all its varied tribes and sects resolved into one society of 
Friends. The pulse of human life might then, it is true, 
beat feebly, and we might all live and die without greatly 
sinning or suffering, but without exercising half those 
energies, bodily and mental, which the conflict of human 
passions now calls into existence. Whether this were 
well or ill for us, it matters not to dream upon ; there is 
as little chance of our all turning Friends, as of our all 
turning angels ; but filled, as this earth is, with noise and 
contention, it is sweet to 'contemplate those sons and 
daughters of peace walking unruffled through the " mad- 
dened crowd," their thoughts turned to mercy and un- 
ostentatious charity. 

It was with much pleasure that I found upon inquiry, 
that many whose dress and phraseology are unmarked by 
any peculiarity, are yet attached to the society, and are 
proud to rank themselves among its members, and to 
trace back their short line of ancestry to the first peaceful 
settlers of the soil. 

The society has here very wisely relaxed some of its 
rules. It is no longer necessary for its members to fore- 
go innocent amusements, or any honest profession ; nor 
considered as an important form to use the second person 


singular rather than the plural, or to prefer drab-cloth or 
pearl-coloured silk. The same regard to their morals and 
fair dealings is still preserved ; they must be honest mem- 
bers of the community, and then may wear what gar- 
ments they please. There is, however, much indulgence 
practised towards the follies, and even the errors of youth. 
A wild young man is privately reprimanded, and much 
time allowed him to gain wisdom and reclaim his habits, 
before he is expelled the society. Expulsion, therefore, 
is regarded as a serious blot upon a man's character, even 
by those of other persuasions, as it is known to be resort- 
ed to in cases of obstinate vice, or convicted fraudulency. 
It is no doubt wise, that, as the community advances in 
wealth, and in that refinement which follows wealth, this 
truly virtuous society should dispense with some of its 
less important regulations, which, in a simple age, with- 
out being unsuited to the condition of its members, tended 
to confirm them in sober habits, and to keep their thoughts 
estranged from ostentatious display and idle diversions. 
Did it not in some degree shape itself to the times, its sons 
would gradually cease to shape themselves to it, and this 
school of genuine christian philosophy would be forsaken, 
as was that of the unbending stoics when increasing 
knowledge rendered its rules irksome and even ridiculous. 
Applauding the good sense and liberality of this society, so 
superior in this to many other religious associations, in 
whose members a jealous attachment to the external 
forms has too often survived that of the internal principles, 
I cannot help observing, that not only has it secured to it- 
self permanency by this wise temper, but has made a bet- 
ter stand against the advance of luxury than it could have 
done by a more obstinate resistance. Upon closer in- 
spection, you discover in this moral and well-ordered city, 
i <U\\ nicer attention to neatness and simplicity of dress, 
and quietness of demeanour, in the members of this con- 
gregation, than in those of any other. The young girls^ 


indeed, are often in feathers and flowers, and this absolute- 
ly in the meeting-house, but it is not unusual to throw 
them off, as years kill vanity by killing beauty ; and even 
in spite of them, you somehow or other, by the air of the 
more posee matron of the house, or the more reserved ad- 
dress of the whole family, and sometimes by the addi- 
tional help of portraits on the walls, in round-eared caps 
and starched handkerchiefs, can distinguish the abode of 
the children of peace and good works from those of other 

I have no peculiar fancy for the fashions of our ances- 
tors ; absurd indeed as our own often are, they are on the 
whole in better taste. I should not wish to see a whole 
people in the garb of the Friends, but I have sometimes 
thought, that I should like to see the daughters of these 
republics clad in that simplicity which is so appropriate a 
beauty in all that meets tiie eye and the ear in a young 
democracy. Let me, however, observe of the young wo- 
men here, as I before observed of those of New- York, 
that, though they may be decked in the flaunting silks of 
France and the Indies, their dress is always arranged with 
womanly modesty ; the bosom never forgets its screen, nor 
are the ankles and arms exposed to court every idle gaze, 
and bring into discredit the morals of the nation. You 
will think me perhaps old-fashioned before my time, but I 
cannot help judging in part of national, as well as of in- 
dividual character, by the general fashion of the garments. 
It is difficult to take cold manners and haughty reserve 
as sureties for pure minds, but when the dress is arranged 
with decency and simplicity, we feel disposed to give wo- 
men credit for modesty and good sense. I cannot as yet 
accord the latter quality to the young Americans, but I 
do give them full credit for native innocence of heart. 
which prevents their gayety from ever overstepping decen 
cy ; and though we should sometimes smile at their vani- 
ty, leaves us no room to blush for their immodest v« 


It were needless to recount to you the many wise laws 
and humane institutions for which this country is indebted 
to the Friends. Penn was one of those rare spirits who 
learned mercy in the courts of oppression. At a time 
when the Catholic persecuted the Protestant, or the Pro- 
testant the Catholic, as one or the other party obtained 
the ascendant, — when the reformed Church, after having 
fought the battle for conscience sake, denied that conscience 
to others for which she had bled herself, and enforced 
cruel statutes against every dissenter from her doctrines or 
her forms, the mild, but intrepid Penn, not only asserted 
his own right to freedom of opinion, but claimed it also 
for mankind. Having joined himself to an obscure and 
persecuted sect, who professed peace, and followed good 
works in a world of strife and hard-hearted bigotry, he 
confronted, with the energy of insulted virtue and out- 
raged freedom, the tribunal of injustice* ; having borne im- 
prisonments, fines and insults, and endured all that could 
rouse indignant or revengeful feelings in the breast of man, 
this benevolent, and truly christian philosopher, devoted 
his time and his fortune to procure a haven of rest, not 
merely for his persecuted brethren, but for the persecuted 
, of every sect and clime. A colony of these unfortunates 
were planted by his hand in the wilderness of the new 
world, and here did he frame a government for the support 
of power, that should be in reverence with the people, and 
to secure the people from the abuse of power, and declare 

* The spirited address of William Penn to a London Jury can never be for- 
gotten by Englishmen. Being brought to trial at the Old Bailey, for having 
spoken in public according to the rules of his sect, the Jury, after listening to 
his own magnanimous defence, gave in a verdict Guilty only of speaking in 
Grace Church Street. This was pronounced to be no verdict, and the Jury, 
with threats from the Bench, were commanded to revise the sentence ; when 
Penn cried aloud to them, Ye are Englishmen! mind your privileges ! give 
not away your right J The Jury, equally high-minded with the prisoner, hav- 
ing endured confinement during the night, without food or fire, pronounced in 
Court next morning a verdict of JYot Guilty. Upon this ihey were lined forty 
marks each, and commanded to prison with the accused. 


that none acknowledging one God, and living peaceably in 
society, should be molested for his opinions, or compelled to 
frequent or maintain any ministry whatsoever. This doc- 
trine of religious as well as civil liberty was never abjured 
by the colonists, and formed a striking contrast to the 
bigotry of the puritans of New-England, and the Luther- 
ans of Virginia. Penn had not, it is true, the merit of be- 
ing the first to establish the right of religious equality. 
This honour is due to Leonard Calvert, the Roman Catho- 
lic who, in 1634, near half a century before the establish- 
ment of Penn's settlement on the Delaware, had pro- 
claimed the same principles in his infant province of Ma- 
ryland. But the wise decree of this father of Maryland 
was broken down by the authority of the mother country, 
first, during the triumph of puritanism under Cromwell, 
and again, after that of Lutheranism under William, when 
protestant episcopacy was established by law in a pro- 
vince whose principal inhabitants were Catholics. Thus, 
the infant Pennsylvania stood conspicuous among the colo- 
nies as the haven of rest for the persecuted for conscience 
sake. The Calvinist could fly to New-England, the Lu- 
theran to Virginia, but to the woods of Pennsylvania, men 
of every sect could fly ; and, at the time of the revolution, 
this state was one of the few which, in new modelling 
her code, had not to abrogate former intolerant decrees 
against religious liberty, or to annihilate the privileges of 
some pre-eminent church. 

To William Penn also humanity is indebted for the first 
enactment of that beautiful penal code which is now the 
admiration of all enlightened political economists through- 
out the world. In retaining the punishment of death even 
for the murderer, his mild spirit seems rather to have is- 
sued the sentence of " blood for blood" in conformity to 
the divine law, as given in the old testament, than from 
the argued conviction of its propriety. The code of this 
humane legislator was cancelled by the authority of go- 



vernment. as were the tolerant enactments of the liberal 
minded Calvert. After the revolution, by the strenuous 
exertions of many philanthropic citizens, among whom 
were chiefly conspicuous the venerable Franklin. William 
Bradford, Caleb Lowndes, and Dr. Rush, the abrogated 
code of the father of Pennsylvania again superseded the 
bloody statutes of England. You are doubtless well ac- 
quainted with the pamphlets of Dr. Rush upon this sub- 
ject. I remember to have seen one in which he ably 
canvasses the justice and policy of punishing even mur- 
der by death. He endeavours, I think, to explain away 
the scriptural texts, in obedience to which Penn had 
adopted his sentence; how far this may be possible, I 
know not, but it does not appear important. The law of 
Moses is not the law of Christians, nor the law of nations ; 
and if we dispense with it in other cases, we may be al- 
lowed to do so in this. 

Thus, in her penal code, as before in her religious liber- 
ty, the republic of Pennsylvania set an example of human- 
ity and wisdom to her sister states 5 nor were they slow- 
in following it. This mild code has now abolished the 
punishment of death throughout the Union for all crimes, 
the highest degree of murder excepted, (that is, where it 
is proved to have been premeditated and malignantly wil- 
ful,) and also all public and corporal punishments, other- 
wise than by imprisonments and labour justly apportioned 
to the habits and strength of the prisoner.* The wishes 
of your honoured friend, Dr. Rush, and of other philan- 
thropists, have not yet been carried into effect as regards 

* This code must be understood as modified in some of the southern States 
with regard to slaves. Piracy, which comes under the jurisdiction of the 
United States, has hitherto been subjected to the punishment of death. A 
law of Congress has now remitted the sentence to confinement in the peni- 
tentiary, except in cases of peculiar flagrancy. An overt act of treason, (for 
which no man has ever suffered,) and the being taken on the high seas in the 
smuggled traffic of slaves, are the other offences capitally penal by law of 
the United States. 


the abolition of the punishment of death in this last case of 
malignant murder. In considering the atrocity of the 
crime, we feel that no punishment can reach its deserts : 
but even with this view, it may be questioned whether 
that of death be wisely chosen. Solitary imprisonment 
is proved by experience to be a sentence more dreadful 
and more dreaded than death. In the prisons of these 
States, it has subdued the most hardened profligates, and 
inflicted mental agonies which they would gladly have 
exchanged for the transitory horrors of the scaffold. It 
is not therefore in mercy to the criminal, but to the com- 
munity, that the change can be proposed. The chief 
purpose of judicial punishments is said to be example. 1 
know not how far the legislature should be guided by this 
principle 5 but is it not undoubted, that he must be careful 
that the example, that is, the effect produced by the sen- 
tence of the judge and suffering of the offender on the 
mind of the spectator, shall be pure and decided ? must 
he not be watchful that no pity for the criminal shall be 
roused to weaken our horror of the crime? — that our 
moral indignation shall not be turned aside by an appeal 
to our nervous sensibility ? Executions, where they are 
frequent, have been found to render the mind callous to 
the last moral sufferings of the offender ; and thus to leave 
with it no effect but what is decidedly vicious. To fami- 
liarize the human eye to blood is to render savage the hu- 
man heart. An English multitude of men, women, and 
children, crowd round the scaffold of the murderer or the 
thief with gaping curiosity, as did the French, during the 
bloody tragedies of Robespierre, round that of the innocent 
citizen, or the intrepid sage, eager only to have their sym- 
pathy awakened, or perhaps eager only to see how the 
hapless wretch will meet his fate. On the other hand, 
where executions are rare, they as naturally excite un- 
mixed horror; the atrocity of the crime and of the crimi- 
nal are lost in this one overpowering sensation ; he whom 

4i Penal codl. 

the heart cursed, and at whose bight the blood ran cold, 
is changed in a moment to an object of compassion ; his 
deeds of darkness are forgotten when his life's blood is 
poured at our feet ; — the murderer in our eyes is no longer 
the lifeless wretch, it is the hired executioner. Can the 
law be wise which thus trifles with our moral feelings ? 
and that it does so, we need not look to the speculations 
of philanthropists. I have the testimony of many citizens 
of these republics for asserting, that when executions, 
rare and far between, as they are in this happy country, 
occur, they have no other effect than to excite amazement 
and horror at the suffering, and commiseration for the 
sufferer. Nay, so much is this the case, that the execu- 
tion of a pirate, convicted of the most atrocious crimes, 
has, upon one or two occasions, assumed the appearance 
of a martyrdom ; multitudes crowding to gaze upon him, 
as led from the prison, with all the respect that th& citi- 
zens of Rome might have seen a victorious general enter 
their gates under the honours of an ovation. The crimi- 
nal himself has caught the enthusiasm of the hour, and 
ascended the scaffold with the majesty of Kemble in 
Coriolanus, seeking the hearth of his enemy j the scene 
closing with a funeral procession, and all the solemnities 
of Christian interment. A judicial execution, thus trans- 
formed into a heroic tragedy, is sometimes like a farce ; 
but can it be otherwise in a country where the human eye 
is unused to the sight of human suffering ? The fault is 
not in the people, but in the law — I correct myself; the 
law being here made by the people, the fault is with them. 
It is time it should be corrected. 

I must observe, that it does not seem to be the terror of 
example that is here sought by the infliction of this worst 
sentence of law ; and I am led to believe, that it is per- 
mitted to remain on the statute-book from the persuasion, 
that justice, considered in the abstract, demands, for the 
highest degree of malignant murder, " blood for blood." 


But this principle of retribution cannot however demand, 
that an injurious effect should be produced on the feelings 
of the community ; nor can it require that, to any human 
being, should be delegated the office of executioner, — an 
office which no human being should ever be called upon, 
which no man should ever be allowed, to exercise. Rarely, 
indeed, is this officer of death in requisition in these bene- 
volent republics ; the importance of human life is here ac- 
knowledged ; the dignity of man felt and understood. Law 
may not lightly molest him, nor justice, except for the last 
outrage, attach his life. It is not for the sake of the crimi- 
nal, but of the community, that I mingle my wishes with 
those of the American philanthropists who would blot 
from their code the penalty of death. 

To the society of Friends also is humanity indebted for 
a continued opposition to the odious traffic in the African 
race ; for unwearying efforts to effect its abolition, which 
no clamour, no ridicule, no heart-sickening delays and 
disappointments could relax, until they were crowned with 
success. It is pleasing to see these simple and unpre- 
suming friends of man raising their voice in either hemi- 
sphere against the most atrocious of all the sins that de- 
face the annals of modern history. All the American co- 
lonies may lay claim to the honour, not merely of having 
yielded, with marked unwillingness and tardiness, to the 
example of Europeans who sought the coasts of wretch- 
ed Africa for human objects of barter, but to the con- 
straining edicts of the mother country, which made the 
new hemisphere the mart for the wretched victims of her 
avarice. The early laws of the New-England colonists 
upon this subject, reflect a glory upon those infant people 
of which their descendants may well be proud. The 
struggle of their intrepid Houses of Assembly against the 
supreme authority of England, to prevent, in the very in- 
fancy of this odious traffic, the importation of slaves into 
their provinces, appears with no less honour in their annals. 


than does their subsequent struggle for national indepen- 

In Pennsylvania, the society of Friends were united in 
opposition to the African trade from their first settlement 
in the province ; and, had they constituted the majority 
of the population, (which their own liberal institutions 
tended to prevent,) it is probable that the European tra- 
ders would have found the implanting black slavery on 
the banks of the Delaware impracticable. It must be re- 
membered, however, that the will of the mother country 
was upon this matter imperative ; and that a positive pro- 
hibitory statute, on the part of Pennsylvania, would have 
been treated in like manner with those of Massachusetts. 
Her restrictive regulations, however, were numerous ; nor 
r ;ould the eager cupidity of the foreign traders ever create 
a certain market for the enslaved Africans to the North of 
Maryland. It is a striking fact, and one greatly in favour 
of religious as well as civil liberty, (if in this age of the 
w r orld either needed the support of argument,) that in 
those provinces where the home authority w r as insufficient 
to establish one privileged church, this traffic was held in 
odium from its very commencement. Religion, there in- 
grafted in the heart, instantly bred scruples as to its legal- 
ity, humanity, and policy, while in the distant European 
empires, living under proud hierarchies, and in the neigh- 
bouring colonies in which the Church of England had 
been by law established, the human mind was more slow 
to acknowledge the crime. It is not to be doubted, that the 
difference of climate, between the southern and northern 
provinces of British America, contributed yet more than 
the differing standard of conscientious scruple among the 
colonists, to produce a more marked reluctance to the 
trade in the one than the other ; yet we cannot peruse the 
colonial histories of these states without counting for some- 
thing the varying influence of religion in those districts 
where its principles were ingrafted in willing mi?ids, and 


those where its forms were established by compulsory 

The low and marshy lands stretching along the coasts 
and great rivers of the south, tainting the warm atmo- 
sphere, and generating diseases fatal to a white popula- 
tion, held out too alluring a temptation for the employ- 
ment of the African, to whose constitution the climate 
was less fatal, for the offers of the trader to be resisted by 
the young settlers;* but let it not be forgotten, that the 
slave-holding Virginia, while yet a colony, revolted at the 
crime to which she had been allured. Her energetic ap- 
peal to the throne, to release her from the inundation of 
domestic slavery, which was forced upon her, is grateful 
to the human heart to read ; and the deaf ear which was 
turned to her prayer is what the friends of that throne will 
not wish to remember. The history of African slavery 
is at once the disgrace and honour of America ; the dis- 
grace she shares in common with the whole civilized 
world — the honour is all her own. Surrounded by every 
temptation which could seduce her to the crime, at first 
courted and then awed into compliance, she openly re- 
probated it when all the nations of the earth were silent, 
and dared, even in her weak infancy, to brave the anger 
of a powerful empire in behalf of the wretched slave who 
was thrown upon her shores. She was the first country 
to abolish the trade ; first by the laws of her separate 
states, among which Virginia led the way, and secondly 
by the law of her federal government. More than a do- 
zen years before the abolition of the trade by the British 
parliament, it was abolished in America by act of Con- 
gress. There is surely something to admire — something 
grand, as well as beautiful, in the effect of liberty on the 

* It is highly creditable to the infant Georgia, that she, for several year?, 
successfully resisted, by an imperative law, the introduction of slaves int< 
her province. 


human heart. This Congress was composed, in great 
part, of representatives from slave-holding states, them- 
selves slave holders. Had the British abolition waited un- 
til the West India planters should have voted for the mea- 
sure, when would it have passed ? I intend no invidious 
comparison. There were found among the West India 
planters, some few illustrious exceptions to the crowd of 
opposers to the abolition. If the exceptions among Ame- 
ricans were found in the opposition, and the crowd on the 
side of mercy and wise policy, we must ascribe it to the 
more liberal institutions under which they lived. 

Canvassed as the question of the African trade has now- 
been, until it is not only set at rest for ever, but that men 
wonder how its legality and humanity could ever be a 
question, it may be difficult for us fully to appreciate the 
merits of the infant American colonies, who, more than a 
century before the attention of Europe was seriously turn- 
ed to the consideration of this crying outrage, were en- 
gaged in passing statutes to prohibit it. To obtain the 
sanction of the government to any law of abolition, was, 
however, found impossible by any of the provinces, until 
the era of the revolution, when their governments spoke the 
will of their people. Then, one after another, the assem- 
blies rendered penal a crime which they had so long de- 
nounced ; and where circumstances permitted the speedy 
application of the remedy, fixed the year of emancipation 
for their negro bondsmen. Where, as was the case to the 
north of the Susquehanna, the slave population w r as incon- 
siderable, this was effected with little, or at least with 
temporary, inconvenience. To the south, where it is 
numerous, and as it were ingrafted in the soil, the evil yet 
needs years of patience, the more perfect understanding 
of the mischief to the master, or the more universal feel- 
ing of the injustice to the slave ; the more absolute con- 
viction of the necessity of a remedy, or the more clear 
insight into the mode in which it should he applied, ere 


this foul blot can be effaced from that portion of this great 
Union, and the whole of these confederated republics 
aspire, in their political, and consequently in their moral, 
character, to a glorious equality. 

It is not for a young and inexperienced foreigner to 
suggest remedies for an evil which has engaged the atten- 
tion of native philanthropists and statesmen, and hitherto 
baffled their efforts, though not relaxed their exertions. 
Those who, removed in distant countries, know only of 
these southern republics, that they are disgraced with black 
slavery, without reflecting upon the manner, and the era 
in which that curse was introduced, without inquiring into 
the exertions that may have been made towards alle- 
viating the misery of the negro, or finally achieving his 
emancipation, without considering the difficulties that 
must impede so great a measure in its progress — the 
doubts and fears that must be endured, the interest that 
must be sacrificed, the consequences that must be braved 
— those who do not know, and calmly weigh these cir- 
cumstances, are, I apprehend, not impartial judges of the 
merits or demerits of the American planters ; nor, though 
they should be among the most generous deplorers of the 
evil, would they perhaps be the wisest devisers of its re- 
medy. There is indeed, in the history of African slavery, 
something so revolting, that we may well pardon any in- 
temperance of feeling, which, in breathing the energy of 
virtuous indignation, forgets the measure of justice, and 
visits too heavily the crime upon those who may suffer its 
continuance both with regret and alarm. That this is 
more peculiarly the case with the majority of the white 
population of Virginia, cannot be doubted by any candid 
mind. We need not trust to their opinion, as expressed 
in private conversation, we have but to peruse the history 
of their country, the various statutes enacted by their 
colonial legislators, their unavailing petitions to the throne, 

their enumeration of the forced continuant of the African 



trade, among the list of grievances which warranted their 
dismemberment from the British empire ; and we shall 
see how very early they deplored the evil, and how ar- 
dently they sought to crush it in the germ. The first 

senably of their independent republic, amid all the dis- 
traction of war and revolution, prohibited the traffic for 
ever, and almost every session of their subsequent assem- 
blies affords some proof, that the public mind is ever turned 
towards the calamity with a view to its alleviation or re- 
moval. The most enlightened part of the community 
appear, indeed, to think these terms synonymous, and that 
no half measures can meliorate the condition of the slave 
or of the master. Every publication that I have seen on 
the subject, and even the very laws, first trying, and then 
repealing as inefficient or mischievous, regulations which 
went not to the root of the evil, seem to point to emanci- 
pation as the final, and only remedy. 

A plan of colonization has, for many years, been prose- 
cuted with vigour. The friends and supporters of the so- 
cieties organized for this purpose, even carry their views 
so far, as to propose the removal of such a proportion of 
the slave population, as shall render practicable the eman- 
cipation of the remainder ; it is obvious, however, that, 
before such a system can be productive of any national 
benefit, it must be made a national concern. The report 
of the committee, appointed by the first Virginia assembly 
after the revolution, to revise the laws of the common- 
wealth, contains an amendment by which it was propo- 
sed to educate the whole black population at the public ex- 
pense ; and then to send them forth in vessels equipped 
with arms, implements of husbandry, &c, to the coast of 
Africa or elsewhere, extending to them the protection of 
the republic, until they should be established as a nation. 
After much discussion this was abandoned, either from 
want of funds, or a deficiency of persevering benevolence. 
Some at present have devised the scheme of appropriating 


to this purpose the money arising from the sale of the na- 
tional lancfe. From various circumstances, I am led to 
think that this measure is neither visionary nor impracti- 
cable, especially as it finds supporters among the slave- 
holders of the South.* 

I have not as yet replied to your inquiry, and that of 
your friend, concerning the appearance of the black popu- 
lation in those districts of these northern republics which 
we have hitherto visited. I hope you did not suspect me 
of having thrown your questions aside ; I have been slow 
to answer, only because I was unwilling to pronounce 

It has appeared to me, so far as my observations and 
inquiries may authorize an opinion, that, in no one particu- 
lar, has the American character been more unfairly re- 
presented, than as regards the treatment and condition of 
the negro. The feelings of a European, when he lands 
in one of these northern cities, are, I have observed, of a 
mixed and somewhat contradictory nature. When he 
sees a crowd of black faces assembled at the corner of a 
street, or descries the sable cheeks and clumsy features 
of a negro girl under a pink silk bonnet, the sight offends 
him from its ugliness, and an immediate distaste at the 
country, defaced by a mixture of so novel and unseemly 
a population, takes possession of his mind. It is from 
foreigners, themselves professing an unwillingness, or even 
an absolute disgust at being served by black hands, that 
I have heard complaints of the prejudice entertained to- 
wards them on the part of Americans.f So little of this 

* A motion for this purpose was made in Congress, during the last session, 
by Mr. Meigs, of New-York. It was proposed to purchase the slaves from 
their owners at a regulated price, to fit them out for the colony established 
on the coast of Africa, and to extend to them the protection of the republic 
in the manner formerly proposed by Virginia. 

t It was with surprise, that I heard this illiberal disgust expressed, by word 
and gesture, with peculiar vehemence,, by foreign women, and these often 


prejudice have I observed anions; this people, that recoi 
iecting how very lately it was that the black citizens were 
their slaves. I was for some time absolutely at a loss to 
understand how there was not more. I believe, how- 
ever, that the very cause which I had expected to operate 
in an opposite manner, explains the gentleness of their 
feelings towards these their freed bondsmen. So much 
had been said and written in favour of the unhappy Afri- 
can, he had been so long held up to their view as the ob- 
ject of compassion, the slave-trade ha3 been for so many 
years carried on in absolute defiance of the laws of their 
colonial assemblies, that the majority may be supposed to 
have been gradually disposed to befriend them in the spi- 
rit of political opposition, as well as from the gentler dic- 
tates of human pity. There is yet another cause which, 
in the northern republics, interests the public feeling in be- 
half of the African ; — it is his condition in the old repub- 
lics of the south. The compassion felt in England for 
the degradation of the black population in her islands, 
cannot necessarily equal that which is here felt for those 
who are kept in bondage within the bosom of their own 
America. The strict bond of union which unites the in- 
terests of the numerous states, seems as it were to ap- 
proximate the most distant inhabitants of this vast empire 
to each other. The blot which defaces a portion of the 
Union is felt as reflecting disgrace upon the whole. The 
shame and the sorrow which the consideration of the 
southern slavery keeps alive throughout the great north- 
ern and free western states, in quickening their desire to 
hurry forward the day of its termination, awaken often a 
bitterness of feeling, perhaps unjust and unwise, towards 
the unfortunate masters of more unfortunate slaves. 
Much do the southern planters merit of their country for 
their energetic patriotism in the hour of danger. Well 
have they often fought the battle in the senate and the 
field, when trans- Atlantic power has threatened the 


rights and lives of America's citizens ! If they are yet 
cursed with an institution, at once a misfortune and a dis- 
grace, from which their more fortunate brethren are re- 
lieved, let these trace it less to superior humanity or jus- 
tice, than to those happier circumstances which encoura- 
ged them at first to resist the evil, and enabled them af- 
terwards to correct it. The counsel, and perhaps ulti- 
mately the assistance, of the great and numerous north- 
ern and western states, may in time be useful in relieving 
their sister states from this crime and calamity ; — if the 
former be given with temper, and the latter yielded with 
unpretending generosity. 

I apprehend that the friend of humanity may consider 
with much satisfaction the condition of the negro in the 
great northern portion of this Union. Every where are 
schools open for his instruction. In small towns, he will 
find him taught by the same master, and attending the 
same church with the white population. Would it not be 
more wise to rejoice in this visible decay of prejudice, than 
to dwell on what remains, and which still ranges the black 
and white children on different forms in the school-room, 
or the place of worship ? In cities, the Africans have 
churches as well as preachers of their own, a fact from 
which we can only draw a satisfactory proof of their rapid 
advance in situation and knowledge. A European has 
learned, perhaps before he lands on these shores, that black 
and white servants sit down to meat at different tables ; and 
should he find the fact substantiated in the first hotel in 
which he takes up his lodging, he marks it in his memoran- 
dum book with a note of admiration, and follows it up with 
some reflection upon the liberal opinions that prevail under 
democracy. Did he reflect upon the history of this country, 
and the history of the African in every country, and did 
he consult his own feelings, which, I believe, seldom ac- 
knowledge — I do not say an equality, but a similarity of 
race between the negro and himself, he would perhaps 


find little in the circumstance to argue the existence of 
any peculiar illiberality in the sentiments of this people. 
That wise institutions will do much towards improving 
both the physical condition and moral feelings of men, I 
am ready to admit, but I do not believe that they can 
perfect either. It seems to me, however, that such an 
expectation must have been formed by those who are 
surprised to find in this community an unwillingness to as- 
sociate with the negro as with an equal. Nature has 
stamped a mark upon the unhappy African which, though 
the more cultivated and liberal will account an acciden- 
tal distinction, the vulgar will regard as a symbol of in- 
feriority. Had not the European of a less humane age 
degraded the African below the human standard, and laid 
the benumbing hand of oppression on his intellect, it is 
doubtful whether the least enlightened of us should ever 
have seen any thing in a sable skin but a whim of nature, 
or attributed the ignorance and slavishness of the African 
tribes on their own soil to any other causes than those 
which variously operate on the human race in all the dif- 
fering climates and countries of the globe. As it is, an 
invidious comparison has often been drawn between the 
black man and the white, which, considering the actual 
condition of the former, is perhaps neither wise nor hu- 
mane. In these northern republics, where alone such a 
comparison could be instituted with any seeming plausibili- 
ty, a thousand hidden causes conspire to retain the African 
in a lower scale of being than that of the American. The 
latter looks around him upon a world of his creation, up- 
on a race of men, his brethren and equals, who, like him, 
acknowledge no superior but the one great Being who 
blessed the exertions of their heroic ancestors, and to 
whom their hearts rise in grateful adoration for the bless- 
ings showered on their country. What great and invigo- 
rating thoughts are here which are unknown to the sons 
of slaves ! It was but yesterday, that they were " hewers 


of wood and drawers of water" in the land which yields 
them their subsistence ; for the very rights with which they 
are now endowed, (and of which their minds can, as yet, 
scarcely feel the value or understand the meaning,) for 
these very rights, for all they know, and all that they en- 
joy, they are indebted to the repenting justice of masters* 
This repentance, however complete, cannot obliterate in 
a moment the wrongs of years ; cannot transform an ab- 
ject slave into a virtuous citizen ; cannot banish from his 
mind that he lately trembled at the frown of those who 
are now his equals, nor banish from the minds of these, 
that it was only by the law of their own lips that he 
ceased to be the tool of their will. It requires no deep 
insight into the secrets of human nature to read the con- 
sequences of this state of things. There must inevitably 
exist a barrier between the American and the negro, simi- 
lar to that which separates the higher from the poorer and 
less polished classes of society in Europe. The black and 
the white man are a distinct race; and the distinction is. 
as yet, no less marked in the internal than the exter- 
nal man. How far a nearer approach in thought, feeling, 
and moral character, in future generations, may tend to 
remove the barrier, it is not easy to judge. I must ob- 
serve that, considering the inferior grade in society that 
the African as yet holds ; and considering also the frac- 
tion that he constitutes in the sum of the population, it 
speaks honourably for the morals of the American com- 
munity, that the two races continue so distinctly marked. 
Notwithstanding the inferior estimation in which the 
blacks are held, not so much on account of complexion 
and feature, as from the greater laxity of their morals, they 
may be more properly said to constitute a distinct than a 
degraded race. They are equally under the protection of 
mild and impartial laws ; possess, in general, the same po- 
litical rights with the mass of the community ; are more 
peculiarly the objects of humane consideration with the 


benevolent and ilio religious, and are enabled, from the 
very condition of the country, to procure a subsistence, in 
spite of their indolence and thoughtless forgetfulness of the 
morrow. Though neither a frugal, nor, compared with the 
American population, a moral people, they are singularly 
cheerful and good-humoured, and are bound in close ties 
of social intercourse with each other. They are every- 
where immoderately fond of dancing, and, when assem- 
bled for that purpose in the room of a country tavern, or 
in the hall or kitchen of some one of their employers, ex- 
hibit a show of finery which might amaze Harlequin him- 
self. It is always thus that man emerging from the savage 
or the slavish state, seizes on the indulgences and the tin- 
sel of luxury, before he discovers the value of those higher 
enjoyments, derived from the acquirement of knowledge 
and the cultivation of refined and elevated sentiment. In 
spite of the many disadvantages under which the African 
has hitherto laboured, instances are not wanting where he 
has risen to considerable wealth ;and respectability, par- 
ticularly, I believe, in the New-England states. Nothing 
indeed is here necessary but his own exertions to raise 
him in the scale of being. His political rights must in 
time awaken in him political ambition, in which he has as 
yet been usually found deficient. In some of the states, 
the blacks now frequently exercise their right of suffrage ; 
and it is a curious fact, that in Massachusetts some black 
votes were given so long back as the election for the gene- 
ral Convention, appointed to digest the plan of the Fede- 
ral Government. In some of the northern states, the 
right of suffrage is still witheld from the negro ; and with 
seeming reason, for he is evidently, as yet, but ill fitted to 
exercise it.* 

■ Where the negro holds the right of suftYage ; I do not believe the law ex- 
cludes him from any public office of the state ; the qualifications demanded 
are, of course, such as he is not likely to be found possessed of. This and 
custom operate sufficiently to insure his exclusion 


I have wandered into more general observations than I 
had intended at the commencement of this letter, but, as 
they rose naturally out of a subject upon which you have 
expressed some curiosity, I hope they will not appear al- 
together misplaced. 









Philadelphia, May, 1819. 

I shall not fatigue you with the enumeration and de- 
scription of the public edifices and institutions of this city. 
Innumerable travellers, however unwilling to see beauty 
and good order in the moral and political frame of Ameri- 
can society, bear ample testimony to the peaceable virtues 
and active benevolence of the people of Philadelphia.* 

I refer you to Lieutenant Hall f for an accurate and 
interesting description of the state-prison, an object which 
must attract the attention of every foreigner. Let me, by- 

* Mr. Fearon indeed says, " Although the eyes and ears of a stranger are 
not insulted in the openness of noon-day with evidence of hardened profliga- 
cy, I have nevertheless reason to believe in its existence to a very great ex- 
tent." Whoever this Mr. Fearon may be, or whatever may have been his mo- 
tive for travelling through the United States, it is not by such vague insinua- 
tions that the character of the moral and truly Christian city of Philadelphia 
can be brought into discredit either in America or Europe. It had been wise, 
however, if this writer had always kept to these general terms, and not ven- 
tured upon false facts. 

t Travels in Canada and the United States, by Lieutenant Hall r 14th Light 


the-bye, distinguish from the mass of travellers who have 
disfigured this country, that intelligent officer ; not that I 
am always disposed to think or feel with him in his obser- 
vations upon this nation ; I incline to think that he has not 
always done justice either to their character or their man- 
ners. The same objects often appear so differently to two 
different pair of eyes, though both should be equally intent 
upon seeing them as they are, that one might readily be 
tempted to turn Pyrrhonist, and call in doubt, not only the 
sanity of one's judgment, but the evidence of one's senses. 
The fact is, that though we should even be disburdened of 
national and individual prejudice, there will yet remain in 
our constitutional temper, or certain fortuitous circumstan- 
ces of wind or weather, a dull companion, exhausted spi- 
rits, wearied limbs, or some one of the thousand nameless 
accidents to whose influence we frail mortals are so mi- 
serably subjected, enough to jaundice our eye-sight and 
pervert our feelings. A traveller is, of all men, most at 
the mercy of these nameless trifles ; it is a pity however, 
that nations should be laid at their mercy too, or rather at 
the mercy of a jaded traveller's distempered mind. 
Would it not be a good rule, that when a tourist sits down 
with pen and paper before him to pass judgment upon the 
world around him, he should first ask himself a few ques- 
tions : " Am I in good health and good humour ? in a 
comfortable room and an easy chair ? at peace with my- 
self and all men about me?" I have a notion that some 
such short catechism would save volumes of misstated 
facts and misrepresented characters, and keep the peace 
not only between man and man, but nation and nation, in 
a manner undesired by statesmen, and undreamed of by 
philosophers. I mean not exactly to apply this to Lieu- 
tenant Hall, whose remarks in general do as much honour 
to his heart as his head ; it strikes me only that he has 
sometimes judged hastily, or perhaps I think so because I 
incline to judge differently. 


I have mentioned with how much pleasure I found 
your name remembered in some house of this city ; of 
course, more particularly in that of the family of the late 
Dr. Rush. I much regret that this venerable philan- 
thropist should have sunk beneath the weight of years 
before our visit to this countiy. It makes even the young 
pause to ruminate on the swift wings of time, when they 
find the path of life forsaken by those whom the heart has 
been taught to venerate. There would, indeed, be much 
in this city to mark the lapse of years, were not this some- 
what checked by the reflection that years, in their effects, 
count for ages in this young and vigorous world. Wash- 
ington, Hamilton, Gates, and all the older veterans of the 
Revolution, who yet trod the stage when you surveyed it, 
are all gathered to their fathers ; and though their names 
are still fresh in men's mouths, could they now look up 
from their graves, they might scarcely know their own 

It is curious to picture the Philadelphia into which the 
young Franklin threw himself, friendless and pennyless, 
to seek his fortune, and the Philadelphia that now is — 
we may say, too, the Philadelphia that he left it, when he 
sunk, full of years and honour, into the grave. From a 
small provincial town, without public libraries or institu- 
tions of any kind, he lived to see it not only the thriving, 
populous, and well-endowed capital of an independent 
state, but the seat of a government, the novelty of whose 
principles fixed the eyes of the whole civilized world. It 
has now all the appearance of a wealthy and beautiful me- 
tropolis, though it has lost the interest which it possessed 
to you as the seat and centre of political life. Not merely 
has it ceased to be the seat of the great central government, 
as it was when you knew it, but even of that of the Penn- 
sylvania republic. The Legislature now meets in Lan- 
caster, about 60 miles west from hence, but this also has 
already grown out of the centre of the fast-spreading ch> 


cle of population ; and, by an act of the Assembly, the 
capital is ordained to travel yet farther west to Harris- 
burgh, on the east branch of the Susquehanna. This 
town, the definitive seat of the Pennsylvania state-go- 
vernment, is, I am informed, laid out with great care, 
much on the same plan as Philadelphia, and promises, in 
the grandeur of its public buildings, to outstrip the parent 

I never walked through the streets of any city with so 
much satisfaction as those of Philadelphia. The neatness 
and cleanliness of all animate and inanimate things, houses, 
pavements, and citizens, is not to be surpassed. It has not, 
indeed, the commanding position of New- York, which 
gives to that city an air of beauty and grandeur very im- 
posing to a stranger, but it has more the appearance of a 
finished and long-established metropolis. I am not sure 
that the streets have not too many right angles and straight 
lines to be altogether pleasing to the eye, but they have 
so much the air of cheerfulness, cleanliness, and comfort, 
that it would be quite absurd to find fault with them. The 
side pavements are regularly washed every morning by 
the domestics of each house, a piece of out-door house- 
wifery, by the way, which must be somewhat mischievous 
to the ladies' thin slippers, but which adds much to the 
fair appearance, and, I doubt not, to the good health of 
the city. The brick walls, as well as frame- work of the 
houses, are painted yearly. The doors are usually white, 
and kept delicately clean, which, together with the broad 
slabs of white marble spread before them, and the trees, 
now gay with their first leaves, which, with some inter- 
vals, line the pavements, give an air of cheerfulness and 
elegance to the principal streets quite unknown to the 
black and crowded cities of Europe. The plan laid out 
by William Penn, which has been generally followed, 
was very early swerved from in one important particular. 
Instead of leaving a sloping bank of verdure rising gra- 


dually from the river, which would have left the city open 
to the view of its magnificent waters, as well as to whole- 
some and refreshing breezes, it is choked up with wharfs 
and ugly ruinous-looking buildings, the nest of infection 
during the heats of summer* Fortunately these are of 
wood, and must soon run their time; when, though it 
should be found impossible to restore the original plan of 
the beneficent founder, it is to be presumed that some im- 
provements will be effected. To do without wharfs and 
warehouses Penn himself might, in these days, allow to 
be out of the question ; but I think that he would recom- 
mend their being built of a more pure as well as more 
durable material than wood. Any thing which favours 
the collection of filth and vegetable matter, which the in- 
terstices between the rafts and frames of the projecting 
quays must now certainly do, should carefully be avoided 
beneath so fervid a sun as here shines during the summer 
months. The crowd of ugly buildings, and altogether 
the negligence of this confused corner of the city, forms 
a strange contrast to the regular beauty which opens to 
the eye the moment you emerge from it. The orderly 
and cleanly citizens of Philadelphia must, indeed, look to 
it and amend it altogether, or assuredly the demon of yel- 
low fever will occasionally knock at their doors. 

The public buildings are all remarkable for neatness, 
and some for pure and classic elegance. Another 
bank is about to be built on as simple a model as the 
Pennsylvania, I trust the citizens will never swerve from 
the pure style of architecture to which they seem at pre- 
sent to have attached themselves ; above all, I trust they 
will never attempt the Gothic, a failure in which, being a 
failure in the sublime, is of all failures the worst. The 
Academy of Arts contains a small, but well-chosen col- 
lection of pictures, among which I have regarded with 
st pleasure two modern pieces — an exquisite Niobe 
by Rehberg, and a masterly scriptural piece by the Ame- 


ncan artist Allston, It is truly surprising how prolific 
this young country has already been in painters. West, 
Leslie, Coppely, Trumbull, and Allston, are names 
known and respected in both hemispheres. The last- 
mentioned artist seems destined to rise to peculiar emi- 
nence. There is a genius in his conception, an ease in 
his execution, and a truth in his colouring, which stamp 
him for a master in his art. He is now in Boston, and it 
is said, has patriotically pledged himself to try his fortune 
in his own country. 

The state-house, state-house no longer in any thing 
but name, is an interesting object to a stranger, and, 
doubtless, a sacred shrine in the eyes of Americans. I 
know not but that I was a little offended to find stuffed 
birds, and beasts, and mammoth skeletons filling the place 
of senators and sages. It had been in better taste, per- 
haps, to turn the upper rooms of this empty sanctuary into 
a library, instead of a museum of natural curiosities or a 
mausoleum of dead monsters.* I might have judged that 
the citizens felt less respect for this venerable building 
than had been pleasing to me, had not every friend or ac- 
quaintance that ever passed it with me, paused before it 
to make some observation. " Those are the windows of 
the room in which our first Congress sat." " There was 
signed the declaration of our independence." " From 
those steps the declaration of independence was read in 
the ears of the people." Ay ! and deeply must it have 
thrilled to their hearts. 'Tis a fine moment to recall ; 
one that swells the bosom, and makes us proud of our 

Who can consider, without deep and affecting sym- 
pathy, that little assembled senate, who, in the name of 
a young and unskilled people, there set at defiance the 
power of a mighty empire, — not rashly and ignorantly. 
but advisedly and calmly, — having weighed their own 

■ The lower rooms are more appropriately occupied by the courts of law. 


weakness as well as their adversary's strength, — feeling 
the heavy responsibility 'that rested on their decision, — 
calculating the consequences of attempt and failure, and 
then, with a full conviction of all the mighty odds against 
them, "having counted the cost of the contest, and finding 
nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery" solemnly appeal- 
ing to the supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude o/"their 
intentions, and pledging to each other " their lives, their 
fortunes, and their sacred honour," ranging themselves and 
their infant nation under the banners of liberty, denoun- 
cing their oppressors enemies in war, in peace friends, I 
know not, in the whole page of human history, any thing 
more truly grand and morally sublime than the conduct 
of the American Congress throughout that unequal contest, 
upon which hung not the liberties of one people but those 
of mankind. How admirable was the moderation which 
marked their earlier deliberations ; the calmness which 
they opposed to ministerial haughtiness, the firmness they 
opposed to ministerial obstinacy, tempering vigour with 
prudence, and inflexible principle with respectful submis- 
sion ! How admirable their dignity when called upon 
finally to decide between unconditional submission, or 
resistance by force ! With what stoical composure they 
made the noble choice, and, having made it, with what 
unshrinking fortitude they met all the vicissitudes of for- 
tune, — the ebb and flow of the tide of war, the discontent 
of the factious, the fears of the timid, the despondency 
even of the high-minded, never cast down by repeated 
misfortunes, nor too much elated by momentary success. 
When the houseless people were scattered before their 
invaders, when the army unpaid, unclothed, vainly sought 
assistance from the commander, and he vainly sought it 
in the exhausted treasury, when the sword fell from their 
fainting hands, and the blank of despair seemed falling on 
their hearts, still did these patriots weather the storm, still 
did thev find confidence in their just cause, and. with their 


eyes upon the pole-star of liberty, did they steady the 
helm of the reeling vessel of the infant state, ride out tri- 
umphantly the storm of war and revolution, and gain the 
glorious haven, from which their thoughts had never 

The annals of every nation can supply us with some 
brilliant characters who stand superior to the sordid pas- 
sions which sway the minds of ordinary men, and but too 
often dictate the feelings of national communities. But 
how seldom is it, that, in the most energetic pages of 
history, we find a body of men uniting all the qualities of 
sages and heroes, — cautious in their deliberations, firm 
and united in their measures, pure in their feelings, beyond 
suspicion in their conduct. 

To the unbending spirit and perfect rectitude of the 
Congress, was mainly owing the salvation of the Ame- 
rican people, not merely from foreign conquest, but from 
intestine broils. To their little senate-room, amid all the 
changes of war, did the eyes of the people ever turn in 
hope and confidence. Were their little armies defeated, 
were their heroic generals fighting in retreat, w r ere their 
cities taken, were their houses in flames, was their com- 
merce destroyed, was their gold and their credit gone ; 
they still looked to that high-minded assembly, whose 
counsels, they were satisfied, were ever framed with good 
intention, and whose energies were ever employed to 
relieve the sufferings that they could not prevent. 

It is interesting to imagine, what must have been the 
earnest thoughts of those modern Romans throughout that 
trying contest ; — what their anxieties, and, finally, what 
the flood of joy that must have poured on their hearts, 
when the tidings reached them, that the last great victory 
was achieved. There is a little anecdote, recorded in 
the history of that period, which seems, in a manner, to 
set this before us. The old door-keeper of the house of 
Congress, when the news suddenly reached him of the 



surrender of Cornwallis, dropt on the instant dead. The 
feelings of this poor veteran, too intense for his feeble age, 
seem to image well those of the members of that assem- 
bly, upon which he had been so faithful an attendant. 

In the history of the American Revolution, I know not 
which is most admirable, — the integrity of the Congress, 
or the confidence of the people in their integrity. The 
first was so pure, that throughout that distracted period, 
which might so well have furnished temptation to the self- 
ish or the ambitious, we find not one member of that mag- 
nanimous assembly even suspected of peculation, or of 
a desire of personal aggrandizement ; and the latter was 
so entire, that, during the worst days of that stormy period, 
the public suffering was never charged to any wilful mis- 
management on the part of the government ; not even 
when its faith was violated, by the gradual depreciation and 
final extinction of a paper currency, which had been issued 
without funds, and which ceased to circulate, with scarce 
the shadow of a prospect being held out for its future re- 
demption. " The demise of one king, (says Ramsay, in 
his succinct, but classical history of his country,) and the 
coronation of a lawful successor, have often excited greater 
commotions in royal governments than took place in the 
United States on the sudden extinction of the whole cur- 
rent money. The people saw the necessity which com- 
pelled their rulers to act in the manner they had done ; 
and being well convinced that the good of their country 
was their object, quietly submitted to measures, which, 
under other circumstances, would scarcely have been ex- 
piated by the lives and fortunes of their authors." 

That a government, framed in all the distraction of re- 
volution, — a powerful enemy on the very shores, the 
emissaries of that enemy in the very heart of the country, 
the Indians on one side their allies, and the ocean on the 
other possessed by their fleets, that, at such a time, a go- 
vernment so hastily organized, unpractised in those powers 


ii was called upon to exercise, with armies untrained, un- 
fed, unclothed, and without a treasury to meet the de- 
mands that assailed them on every side, the commerce of 
the country suddenly destroyed, the harvests laid waste, 
not a guinea in the whole country, except in the hands of 
the enemy, — that at such a time, and under such circum- 
stances, the public confidence should have been preserved, 
argues a degree of moderation on the part of the govern- 
ment, and of good sense, and devoted feeling on that of 
the people, as perhaps in the history of ancient or mo- 
dern times was never equalled, and certainly has never 
been surpassed. 

In the history of the dispute which first involved the 
liberty, and latterly the very existence of the young Ame- 
rica, it is worthy of remark, that the prudence of her Con- 
gress was always equal to their intrepidity, and their in- 
trepidity to their prudence. Like a cautious general, they 
advanced slowly, but never yielded an inch of the ground 
they had once assumed. At first called together by the 
voice of their fellow citizens, without consent, or rather in 
very despite of existing authorities, the legality of whose 
title remained unquestioned, they calmly took in review 
the colonial grievances, and petitioned their redress upon 
those constitutional grounds, acknowledged by the distant 
monarchy of which they professed themselves, as they, in 
truth, then appear to have been, loyal and affectionate 
subjects. Without assuming power to enact laws, they 
passed resolutions, to the sacred observance of which, un- 
til redress of the enumerated grievances should be obtain- 
ed, they bound themselves by the ties of honour and pa- 
triotism. That these simple ties should have proved suf- 
ficient to hold together the people of numerous and distant 
provinces, who had heretofore been often divided by jea- 
lousies and clashing interests, and to give an effect to the 
recommendations of private individuals as absolute as 
could have followed upon the flat of an established despot, 


affords a beautiful evidence of the readiness with which 
national obedience is yielded when the hearts of a people 
are with their rulers. These laws, but too often found 
imaginary, were then sufficient at once to supersede the 
authority of existing law, and to triumph over the vulgar 
passions of humanity. They were stronger than man's 
avarice and woman's vanity ; set at nought poverty and 
suffering, and transformed a nation of industrious citizens 
into one of patriot soldiers and high-minded heroes. The 
state of the public feeling is well expressed by the unpre- 
tending historian I have before quoted. " From what- 
ever cause it proceeded, it is certain that a disposition to 
do, to suffer, and to accommodate, spread from breast to 
breaJt, and from colony to colony, beyond the reach of 
human calculation. It seemed as though one mind in- 
spired the whole. The merchants put far behind them 
the gains of trade, and cheerfully submitted to a total stop- 
page of business, in obedience to the recommendations of 
men invested with no legislative powers. The cultiva- 
tors of the soil with unanimity assented to the determina- 
tion that the hard-earned produce of their farms should 
remain unshipped, although, in case of a free exportation, 
many would have been eager to have purchased it from 
them at advanced prices. The sons and daughters of ease 
renounced imported conveniences, and voluntarily en- 
gaged to eat, drink, and wear only such articles as their 
country afforded. These sacrifices were made, not from 
the pressure of present distress, but on the generous prin- 
ciple of sympathy with an invaded sister colony, and the 
prudent policy of guarding against a precedent which 
might, on a future day, operate against their liberties." 

" This season of universal distress exhibited a striking 
proof how practicable it is for mankind to sacrifice ease, 
pleasure, and interest, when the mind is strongly excited 
by its passions. In the midst of their sufferings, cheer- 
fulness appeared in the face of all the people. They 


counted every thing cheap in comparison with liberty, 
and readily gave up whatever tended to endanger it. A 
noble strain of generosity and mutual support was ge- 
nerally excited. A great and powerful diffusion of public 
spirit took place. The animation of the times raised the 
actors in these scenes above themselves, and excited them 
to deeds of self-denial, which the interested prudence of 
calmer seasons can scarcely credit." 

But though empowered by their fellow citizens to think 
and to act for them, at a time, too, when the public feel- 
ing was wrought to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, the 
members of this virtuous assembly never exceeded the 
necessity of the occasion. They kept in view the in- 
terests and honour of the community, but held their pas- 
sions in check. So long as the most distant prospect 
remained to them of obtaining the acknowledgment of 
their country's rights, they preserved the language and 
character of British subjects. 

In their second meeting, while they issued their coun- 
sels to their fellow citizens to persevere in repelling force 
by force, and entered with them into active preparations 
for defensive war, they respectfully petitioned the distant 
throne, that these preparations might be rendered unne- 
cessary. The manly style in which they apostrophized 
the mother country was calculated as well to soothe 
her pride as to convince her reason. Having stated the 
grievances which provoked their resistance, they declared 
" that, notwithstanding their sufferings, they retained too 
high a regard for the kingdom from which they derived 
their origin, to request such a reconciliation as might be 
inconsistent with her dignity and welfare." The con- 
tempt thrown upon these remonstrances, and, it is said, 
the contemptuous language addressed to their venerable 
Franklin, did yet more to turn the minds of the people 
from their parent country than did even the sword which 
she pointed at their throats. However this may be, these 


united griefs rapidly prepared the public mind for the re- 
ception of the numerous energetic pamphlets which began 
to advocate the national disunion of the colonics from the 
British empire. The circulation and effect of the well- 
known "Common Sense" were instantaneous as those 
of the electric fluid. Thousands were convinced by its 
homely reasoning, but more were carried away by the 
passion of feeling, which it wrought to the highest pitch 
of human enthusiasm. Then followed the declaration of 
independence. The wishes of the people had preceded 
the act of their rulers, and the style of that act affixed yet 
a new seal of confirmation to their wishes. The simple 
exposition of moral and political truths with which it 
opens elevated still higher the already sublimed tone of 
the public sentiment; the energetic enumeration of the 
national wrongs, opposed as in contrast to these great laws 
of nature, kindled anew the national indignation ; the so- 
lemn appeal to the great Author of Being, and the sacred 
pledge of " lives," " fortunes," " and honour," with which it 
closes, roused all the devotion of human hearts and manly 
minds ; and, assuredly, never was it roused in a better or 
a nobler cause. It was not the cause of Americans only, 
it was the cause of the very people whose injustice they 
opposed ; it was the cause of every people on the earth ; 
of the whole great family of human kind. Well might 
that high-minded patriot and statesman, the English 
Chatham, exclaim in the British parliament, in the 
face of the British minister, " I rejoice that America 
has resisted!" Well might he observe, that " three mil- 
lions of fellow creatures, so lost to every sense of virtue, 
as tamely to give up their liberties, would befit instru- 
ments to make slaves of the rest" Had America basely sub- 
mitted to the encroachments of ministerial parliaments, 
soon would that same parliament have tried encroach- 
ments upon the liberties of England ; or had the infant 
America been overwhelmed by the armies poured upon 


her shores, with the buried liberties of her people, without 
farther efforts on the part of their rulers, her victors had 
buried for ever their own national virtue, and honour, and 
character. Then, indeed, had we read this moral upon 

H faded brow, 
Nations, like men who others' rights invade, 
Shall doubly rue the havoc they have made, 
And, in a brother's liberties o'erthrown, 
Shall weep to find that they have wreck'd their own." 

Thoughts of a Recluse. 

Considering the common frailties of human nature, we 
might well be at a loss to account for the uniform recti- 
tude of the first rulers of these infant republics ; but the 
secret is thus simply explained by Ramsay. " The pub- 
lic voice elevated none to a seat in that august assembly 
but such as, in addition to considerable abilities, possessed 
that ascendency over the minds of their fellow citizens 
which can neither be acquired by birth, nor purchased by 

The occasional weakness of the central government, 
during the revolutionary struggle was as much owing to 
the unwillingness of its members to assume too much, as 
to the difficulty of exacting obedience, or of procuring 
that unanimity of measures (which can alone render the 
greatest national struggles effective) throughout the ex- 
tent of the vast and thinly peopled territory which was 
every where assailed by invading legions. The vigilant 
patriotism of the Congress was as uniformly exerted to 
protect the civil as the national liberties of their country ; 
for the former they began the struggle, and, when neces- 
sity compelled them to prosecute it for the latter, they 
never for a moment lost sight of the one nor the other. 
They seem to have ever held before them that page of the 
history of their English ancestors, when having risen 
against the tyranny of a monarch, the people fell beneath 


that of a soldiery. These indeed are the Scylla and Cha- 
rybdis between which it is so difficult for a nation to steer 
during the storm of political commotions: it was here 
that the vessel of the state was wrecked in England at the 
era of the commonwealth ; it was here that it was 
wrecked in France at that of the Revolution. If it be 
not impossible, it is at least incalculably difficult to esta- 
blish the liberties of a country on a solid foundation by- 
means of a vigorous army; it is, indeed, the most efficient 
weapon wherewith to combat tyranny, but it is a two- 
edged one ; it forces open the temple to liberty, but stabs 
her as she ascends her throne. The earlier Congress may 
perhaps be judged to have carried their scrupulous pre- 
caution too far ; to have exerted, if I may so express my- 
self, too paternal a dominion for a season of such exigen- 
cy ; to have calculated too much upon that moral force 
which they saw so powerfully exerted around them ; to 
have deemed, in short, the self-impelled energy of the 
country to have been sufficient to spurn the invaders from 
her shores. That their first calculation was erroneous is 
undoubted, and the experience of a second campaign in- 
duced them to adopt more vigorous measures ; but their 
vigour was ever so tempered with prudence, their ardour 
for speedy relief from foreign violence so balanced by the 
dread of nerving too strongly the hands of internal power, 
that they have frequently been censured for too excessive 
a moderation, for dreaming, in short, upon abstract rights, 
while the very existence of the nation was at stake. The 
more reflecting, especially among Americans, who may 
be allowed to be the best judges of a scene in which they 
or their fathers were the actors, are wont to ascribe to the 
revolutionary Congress a wisdom as practical as it was 
beautiful. They were not dreaming upon abstract prin- 
ciples; they were guarding the actual rights and pre- 
serving the morals of the community. They judged it 
a lesser evil that the war should be somewhat protracted. 


than that the seeds of political evil should be ingrafted on 
the soil. They accounted it impossible to make slaves of 
a people who were determined to be free, and the result 
proved that they judged wisely. The Fabian shield em- 
ployed by their wise general in his military conduct was 
spread by themselves over the civil government. Their 
aim was to do nothing that might afterwards require to be 
undone; a rule the steady adherence to which imparts 
more lasting strength to a government than any which 
has ever been devised. It must farther be observed, that 
the powers of Congress were at this season by no means 
clearly defined ; and had they incautiously stretched them 
too far, they might have roused opposition, and so divided 
the community. As it was, they held it united ; indeed, 
the unanimity of sentiment which prevailed throughout 
this scattered community during that grievous and pro- 
tracted w T arfare, is perhaps not the least striking feature 
in the character of the times. No jealousy of the govern- 
ment, none of the commander, ever mingled its leaven 
with the patriotism of the people ; both indeed were so 
pure*, it was impossible to doubt them ; and this it was 
that blunted the swords of the enemy, and before which 
their experienced and well-provisioned armies fell one 
after another, as the ripe leaves of the forest before the 
invisible breezes of heaven. 

I must here recall to you that singular evidence of the 
devotion of the national feeling, afforded, I think, in the 
seventh year of the war, after the revolt of the Pennsyl- 
vania line. You will remember the hard sufferings which 
produced the mutiny. Fainting under the united hard- 
ships of military duty, and deficient food and clothing, 
they withdrew from the body of the army, demanding that 
which their officers had not to give, the immediate supply 
of their necessities. To awe them into obedience, Gen. 
Wayne presented his pistols ; they pointed their bayonets 
at his breast. " We love and respect you, but if you £re. 



you are a dead man. We are not going io the enemy ; 
but are determined on obtaining our just rights." They 
withdrew in good order, with their arms and field-pieces, 
to a neighbouring town, committed no devastations, but 
obstinately persisted in their demands. Congress dis- 
patched some of its members to the mutineers, but before 
these arrived, emissaries from the enemy appeared among 
them. Unconditional terms were offered; gold, prefer- 
ment, and the immediate cover and assistance of a body 
of royal troops, already on their march towards them. 
Their reply was the instant seizure of their evil tempters, 
whom they sent immediately under a guard from their 
own body to the same general who had pointed his pistols 
at their lives. At the appearance of the Congress' com- 
missioners, their grievances were stated and redressed ; 
but when President Reed offered them a hundred guineas 
from his private purse, as a reward for their fidelity in 
having surrendered the spies, the sturdy patriots refused 
them. " We have done a duty we owed our country, 
and neither desire nor will receive any reward, but the 
approbation of that country for which we have so often 
bled."* A country peopled by such men might be over- 
run, but could not be subdued. This conviction support- 
ed the Congress in the most trying emergencies ; they 
ever preserved equal hopes, and asserted the same claims, 
whether their fellow citizens were victorious* or defeated. 
They seem to have foreseen this consequence from defeat, 
a new ardour in the cause of liberty ; and most truly were 
their expectations answered. The national spirit ever 
rose highest in the moment of adversity ; the greater the 
pressure, the more vigorous the rebound ; the longer the 

* Among these soldiers were some naturalized citizens, natives of Ireland, 
a country which has sent forth many an able hand and head to the Ameri- 
can wilderness; many, too, of high birth, but whom political or religious 
persecution has made aliens and foreigners. 


blessings of peace and independence were withheld, the 
fiercer was the desire for their possession. 

I shall perhaps weary you with these reflections upon 
past events. They are so glorious, however, that the 
mind has pleasure in recurring to them. Such actions 
inculcate lessons beyond all that the schools can teach ; 
which charm the dull monotony of ordinary life, refute 
the misanthrope, and encourage the hopes of good men. 
It is true, that great excitement, that is, perhaps, great 
crimes, are necessary to call into being great virtues. 
The world is happier, therefore, when these are left in 
embryo; but it is good to have proof that the seeds are 
there, lest we should sometimes doubt it. You will say, 
perhaps, that, according to this calculation, the balance 
is even : but it is not. As the shadow of a giant will 
hide the littleness of a multitude of dwarfs, so will the 
dignity of a hero outweigh the meanness of a host of com- 
mon men. What child, in reading of the torments of 
Regulus, does not so triumph in the proud constancy of 
the Roman, as to forget with him the cruelty of his ene- 
mies ? In reading the answer of the member of Congress, 
when tempted to betray his country, " Tell the King of 
England, I am not worth buying ; but that, such as I am, 
he is not rich enough to do it," who does not, in the in- 
dignant scorn of the patriot, forget the littleness of those 
spirits who doubted his virtue ? In contemplating the suf- 
ferings of those who endured in a noble cause, we have a 
secret assurance that the magnanimous mind had that 
within itself which the oppressor never dreamed of. In 
considering Henry Laurens in his prison, when we hear 
him spurning the offers of liberty and ministerial favour, 
and braving the last threats of power rather than demand 
of his son a moment's relaxation from his duty, we forget 
that we are reading of a man bowed down with infirmi- 
ties, and feel that his spirit rose then yet more proudly in 
his narrow prison than it did when, in the strange revolu- 


tion of human affairs, he was called forth to mediate a 
peace between his enemies and his victorious countrymen* 
You may not be acquainted with the anecdote to which 
I allude ; it is one among a thousand recorded of the in- 
trepid assertors of American independence. 

Henry Laurens, a gentleman of property and high con- 
sideration in this his native country, was deputed by Con- 
gress, in the latter years of the war, to negotiate a treaty 
between the United States of America and those of Hol- 
land. He was captured on his passage, and thrown into 
a close and grievous imprisonment in the Tower of Lon- 
don. Many propositions were there made to him, which 
were repelled with indignation. At length, news being 
received that his eldest son (a youth of such uncommon 
talents, exalted sentiments, and prepossessing manners 
and appearance, that a romantic interest is still attached 
to his name) had been appointed the special minister of 
Congress to the French court, and was there urging the 
suit of his country with winning eloquence, the father was 
requested to write to his son, and persuade his return 
to America ; it being farther hinted, that, as he was 
held prisoner in the light of a rebel, his life should depend 
upon compliance. " My son is of age," replied the 
heroic father of a heroic son, " and has a will of his own. 
I know him to be a man of honour. He loves me dearly, 
and would lay down his life to save mine, but I am sure 
that he would not sacrifice his honour to save my life, and 
I applaud him." This veteran was not many months 
after released, with a request from Lord Shelburne that 
he would pass to the continent, and assist in negotiating a 
peace between Great Britain, and the free United States 
of America and France their ally.* 

* Colonel Laurens, his interesting son, having executed his commission in 
France, returned to resume his place in the army. He was killed in tht 
very last days of the war, in an insignificant skirmish, just when the liberties 
of his country were decided. 


It is a singular, and perhaps a somewhat inexplicable 
circumstance, that the state of Pennsylvania, colonized 
by the most peaceable set of men that the earth could 
well furnish, has been the seat of more political contention 
than any other of the Union. It is true, that the primitive 
Society of Friends made, but for a short term of years, a 
majority in the province, yet the explanation of the fact 
cannot well be found in any peculiar turbulence of dispo- 
sition in the people. Whether it was that their earlier 
legislators were less skilled in the science of govern- 
ment than those of the other provinces, or whether it 
was owing to accidental causes not now easy to trace, 
we find them disputing in the first page of their colonial 
history with their governors and deputy-governors, even 
with their friend and parent William Penn himself. A 
people seldom, perhaps never, complain without good 
cause, and the candid mind of Penn seems to have ad- 
mitted this truth. He frequently new-modelled the con- 
stitution which the colonists had first received from his 
hands, and the alterations appear to have been amend- 
ments; but whenever he delegated the power he had 
preserved to himself, as proprietor of the infant province, 
it appears to have been abused. So true is it that irre- 
sponsible authority can never be lodged in the hands of any 
individual, however good or wise, without risk to the 
peace of a community. It is possible, indeed, that a 
people may govern themselves ill, (though it is always 
probable that they will understand their own interests 
better than others can for them,) but the having them- 
selves to blame for the misfortunes that befall them, and 
possessing the power to work their remedy at pleasure, 
will at least save much public tumult, by shortening the 
term of their ill humour. The political disputants, how- 
ever, until the era of the Revolution, employed no keener 
weapons than the tongue and the pen, and, with the ex- 
ception of occasional wrangles with a neighbouring pro- 


vince touching the boundary line, in which the proprietors 
were more concerned than the people, their quarrel 
seems always to have regarded the vital liberties of the 

I have alluded to the political history of this common- 
wealth, because there are in it some peculiarities. Its 
people appear to have been singularly jealous of their li- 
berties, and at the same time to have been slower to dis- 
cover the best mode of securing them, than those of their 
sister states. Though the intention of their first legisla- 
tor was to ' ; frame a government for the support of power^ 
that should be in reverence with the people, and to se- 
cure the people from the abuse of power," neither he nor 
his immediate successors could effect this most desirable 
object. The convention called by the people at the time 
of the Revolution, could not fail of better success, since 
there was no longer any compromise to make with the in- 
terests of any one man, or set of men, or with the enact- 
ments of a distant government. As the people were now 
their own lawgivers, whatever they decreed amiss could 
be forthwith amended, and from that time we find no po- 
litical disputes in this or the other republics, but those of 
a day. 

Several of the states have called subsequent conven- 
tions to amend the constitutions then adopted, and in 
many these alterations have been important. 

The old thirteen states, with the exception of two, ac- 
knowledged, in their original constitutions, two branches of 
legislature, a house of representatives and a senate. Penn- 
sylvania and Georgia decreed but one. It appeared to them 
that, as no distinction of ranks had existence in the Ameri- 
can commonwealths, it would not be easy to create two 
bouses of representatives who should differ in any thing 
the one from the other, and consequently, that they w T ould 
only be parts of the same body legislating in different 
rooms. I have been informed that Franklin was at first 



among the advisers of this more simple mode of legisla- 
tion, but that he was, after a short experiment, convinced 
that it had its disadvantages. The people were convin- 
ced of the same, and, in a few years, Pennsylvania and 
Georgia adopted a senate in the manner of their sister 
states. Although the two houses are chosen by the same 
electors, and may be thus said to be the same body divi- 
ded into two parts, yet as the discussions on any bill take 
place successively, more time is allowed for deliberation.* 
Experience has taught communities, that though, upon 
some rare emergencies, decision and dispatch may further 
measures important to the public weal, as a general rule 
it is better to make laws too slowly than too hastily. Penn- 
sylvania seems, indeed, to have been aware of this ; and, 
in order to provide against any precipitancy in her legisla- 
tive proceedings, she adopted an expedient quite peculiar 
to herself, and which was more in the spirit of the old de- 
mocracies of Greece than those of modern times. In 
place of a senate, she first enacted that the opinion of the 
people at large should be taken upon every question 
brought forward by their representatives. To effect this, 
every bill was published after its second reading in the 
house, and time allowed for the body politic of the state 
to submit their opinions to their servants in council. One 
can hardly imagine a mode of legislation more trouble- 
some than this. It was, of course, soon abandoned, to- 
gether with a counsel of censors, whose duty it had been 
to sit in periodical judgment upon the whole government 
of the state, legislative and executive, and to report ac- 
cordingly. After the revolution, the lapse of a few years, 
and the trial of a few experiments calmed the spirit of 
controversy which had so long beset this people. Their 

* An attempt is made in some few of the states to constitute a difference 
between the two houses, by requiring- a higher rate of property to qualify a 
senator than a representative; many also require the senators to bo older 
than the members of the other house. 


rights being now fairly established and guarded beyond 
the possibility of invasion, party animosities have subsi- 
ded, and the wheel of government, moved by the united 
impetus of the whole people, turns noiseless and unimpe- 
ded, watched by all, and suspected by none. 

The constitutions of all these different confederated re- 
publics differ in little the one from the other. The legis- 
lative power is vested in a general assembly, consisting 
of a senate and house of representatives ;* the executive 
in a governor, or in a governor with the assistance, or 
perhaps it were more correct to say, the impediment of a 
council. This impediment, at first adopted by all the 
original thirteen states, has been abolished by several, and 
has not been adopted by those which have been subse- 
quently added to the Union.! A majority, however, of 
the old thirteen states retain this check upon the will of 
their chief magistrate. Considering the short term of his 
authority, and the slender powers with which he is vested, 
many regard this check as unnecessary, some think it 
mischievous, as it tends to retard the operations of govern- 
ment, while others think it salutary on that very account. 
Perhaps the truth is, that it is very unimportant. This 
will more clearly appear, if we consider the supreme au- 
thority of the legislative branch of the government, which 
is, in fact, the people speaking and acting distinctly and 
definitively in the person of their representatives. The 
governor does, indeed, possess a veto upon the decision 
of the two houses ; but his veto is not decisive ; he must, 
within a given time return the bill, stating the grounds of 
his dissent ; when the question is debated anew, and two- 
thirds of both houses are then required to give the effect 
of a law ; but as this majority can impart to it that effect 
without the signature of the governor, it is, of course, rare- 

* With the single exception of Vermont, she has hitherto held to the system 
first adopted by Pennsylvania and Geoigia, and legislates without a seriatc- 
t Also with the exception of Vermont. 


3y refused ; I know not, indeed, that the case ever occurs ; 
it is clear that it can only occur where the voices of the 
legislators are pretty equally divided, and, consequently, 
when the wisdom of the proposed law may be supposed 
to be more than usually doubtful. That the door should 
then be left open for its reconsideration must surely be ac- 
counted wise ; and we must farther suppose that the exe- 
cutive could never adopt the extraordinary measure of 
withholding its consent, but on a question of vital im- 
portance, as well as of doubtful merits. By the English 
constitution, a veto is granted to the monarch, and this 
without a second appeal to the legislative authority. If 
this veto is never exerted, it is evidently because the royal 
influence can previously affect the legislative decision, 
and thus virtually speak the will of the monarch, without 
the too apparent and irritating opposition of his voice to 
that of the nation. Whatever power the executive here 
possesses, it is direct ; its influence is nothing ; it must 
simply approve or dissent. The governor is as powerless 
to affect the voices of the assembly as any other individual 
in the commonwealth ; they are all powerful on the other 
hand to affect his, or, as we have seen, can render it nu- 
gatory. The powers of the governor vary somewhat in 
the different states ; and it is, perhaps, singular, that in 
Pennsylvania, where there has ever existed an excessive 
jealousy of the executive, its powers are greater than in 
other states. The governor is unshackled by a council, 
holds his office for three years, and is trusted with the dis- 
posal of many public offices, which, according to the con- 
stitution of most of the other republics, are voted by the 
joint ballot of both houses of assembly. 

One might amuse one's self by imagining that the citi- 
zens of this state were so constitutionally disputatious as 
to be unwilling to forego all opportunity for wrangling. 
By throwing upon their chief magistrate the choice oP 
judges, mayors, recorders, &c. they reserve to themselves 



the possibility of quarrelling with him. This seems to be 
a fashionable amusement, as it is also in the state of New- 
York, where the appointment to- some of the chief publiG 
offices is also vested in the governor, though with the con- 
currence of a council. The bickering that this gives rise 
to in the public prints may be very entertaining to those 
engaged in it, but lookers-on may be allowed to think it 
very ridiculous, and altogether unworthy of the dignity of 
these two important republics. 

All public offices, whether in the disposal of the gover- 
nor or the legislature, or the people, are held only on good 
behaviour, and are, not excepting the governor, liable to 
impeachment in the house of assembly. The concur- 
rence of two-thirds of the representatives is necessary to 
pass sentence, which extends only to removal from office 
and disqualification to hold thereafter " any place of ho- 
nour, trust, or profit, under the state." 

It is always provided, that no person holding any office 
under the state, or the United States, shall be a mem- 
ber of either house of assembly ; a regulation of vital 
importance, and without which it is impossible to rely 
upon the purity of the representative system. The ser- 
vant of the people must be in the pay of no other man, or 
set of men, or his interests may be at issue with his duty. 
Pluralities, indeed, are prohibited in every branch of 
American government, and all the authorities under it. 
This, of course, imparts to it a vigour and clean-handed- 
ness which no other regulations could insure.* 

The house of representatives may generally be said to 
be the more popular branch of the legislature : its mem- 

* A curious instance of political vigilance occurred lately in New-York"*: 
A postmaster in that state was removed from office, because he was found to 
be a mail contractor. The postmaster-general in Washington, assigning as a 
reason for his dismissal, that the postmaster was the check over the irregu- 
larity of the contractor, and that, if the same man held both situations, no 
security could be considered as given to the public for the proper fulfilment of 
the duties of either. 


bers are chosen annually!, by the whole free male citi- 
zens of the state. This may be said to be the case 
throughout the Union, except in two or three of the old 
republics of the south. The mode of election employed 
in the choice of senators varies a little in the different 
states ; in many the term of service extends but to one 
year, in others to three, four, or, as in Maryland, to five 
years ; but we cannot exactly calculate the varying po- 
pularity of the senatorial elections by the greater or less 
frequency of their occurrence ; this is effected by the 
greater or less extension of the right of suffrage ; greater 
qualifications by some constitutions being required to en- 
title a citizen to vote for a senator than a representative ; 
by others these are declared to be equal, though the pe- 
riod of election should occur more frequently in the one 
case than the other. In Virginia, the governor, represent- 
atives, and senators, are chosen annually, and yet her 
constitution is the least democratic of any state in the 
Union. In the eastern, central, and western states, all 
the elections are thoroughly popular. In Virginia and 
the Carolinas the suffrage needs farther extension before 
they can be said to legislate truly upon American princi- 

The most admirable contrivance in the frame of these 
governments is, the provision made in all for their altera- 
tion and amendment. The convention is at once the 
foundation and corner-stone in the beautiful structure of 
American government ; by its means the constitution of 
the state is shaped to the wishes of the people as easily 
and silently as its laws ; it is at once the safeguard of 
the public rights, and the keeper of the public peace. The 
rights of this community rest not on charters or ancient 
usages, but on immutable principles, which every head 

t Excepting in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Illinois, where the election? 
occur every second year. 


and heart is taught to understand and to feel. There is 
here no refining upon the meaning of words, no opposing 
of records to reason, no appealing from the wisdom of the 
present to that of the past : the wisdom of to-day is often 
the ignorance of to-morrow ; what in one age is truth, in 
another is prejudice *, what is humanity becomes cruelty ; 
what justice, injustice ; what liberty, slavery ; and almost 
what virtue, wickedness, and happiness, misery. All 
things are by comparison ; the man of this generation, 
with views and feeling adapted to earlier ages, is cramp- 
ed in a sphere of action which those before him found 
commensurate to their powers and their ambition. If 
law oppose barriers, his spirit is checked, but not quelled. 
The flood of knowledge gathers strength, and the mound 
is swept away with a sudden fury, which shakes the very 
foundations of society, and spreads a momentary ruin 
over the wide field of civilized life. Power and liberty, 
existing in the same state, must be at eternal war ; it is 
only where one or other rules singly and undisputed, that 
the public peace can be preserved ; in the one case by the 
free exercise of all the human energies, in the other by 
their extinction. 

It has often been asserted by the advocates of despot- 
ism, that the elements of liberty are wild and intractable. 
The position is most true, where they are found in an at- 
mosphere uncongenial to their nature, where they have to 
contend with other elements, with which they can never 
amalgamate, and which wage with them unceasing war- 
fare. It is common to point our attention to the repub- 
lics of ancient time, and to tell us that free Rome was 
split into factions and civil wars : without enumerating 
the many causes found in the distinction of ranks, the jea- 
lousy existing between the various orders of society, the 
powerful armies with their ambitious leaders, which com- 
bined to throw society into chaos, we have only to refer 
to the ignorance of the doctrine of representation : this 


doctrine, so simple when once revealed, forms the whole 
science of a free government ; this it is which gives to mo- 
dern liberty a character foreign to that which she bore in 
ancient times; this it is which has made freedom and 
peace shake hands, and which renders the reign of the 
one coeval with that of the other. 

The representative system, invented, or rather by a 
train of fortuitous circumstances brought into practice in 
England, has been carried to perfection in America ; by 
it the body of the people rule in every thing ; by it they 
establish their constitutions ; by it they legislate according 
to the constitutions established; and by it again they 
amend their constitutions, according to the gradual ad- 
vance of the public mind in political wisdom. Thus, 
though the form of government should in some cases be 
found deficient, yet as the door is ever left open to im- 
provement, in system it may always be pronounced to be 
perfect. " Quelle republiche che, se le non hanno Pordine 
perfetto hanno preso il principio buono e atto a diventare 
migliore, possono, per la occorrenza delli accidenti diven- 
tare perfette."* 

Considering how greatly the humanmind is ennobled by 
liberty, and how rapidly it becomes humanized when the 
book of knowledge is thrown open to its inspection, there 
is no calculating the progress of a people in virtue as 
well as power, whose successive generations shall be bred 
up under benign laws and liberal institutions. Who does 
not sympathize with the playful wish of the benign sage 
and devoted patriot Franklin, who, when he saw a little 
fly escape from a bottle in which it had been imprisoned, 
exclaimed, " I wish I could be corked up as you have been, 
and let out a hundred years hence, just to see how my dear 
America is going on .?" 

* Machiavelli sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio. 





Philadelphia, May, 1819. 

I must not leave this city without observing somewhat 
more distinctly than I have as yet done, upon the gene- 
ral character of the society. 

It is difficult to make observations upon the inhabitants 
of a particular district that shall not more or less apply to 
the nation at large. This is the case in all countries, but 
more particularly in these democracies. The universal 
spread of useful and practical knowledge, the exercise 
of great political rights, the ease, and, comparatively, the 
equality of condition, give to this people a character pe- 
culiar to themselves. The man of leisure, who is usually 
for the most part the man of pleasure, may, indeed, find 
himself somewhat alone in this country. Every hand is 
occupied, and every head is thinking, not only of the active 
business of human life, (which usually sits lighter upon 
this people than many others,) but of matters touching the 
general weal of a vast empire. Each man being one of 
a sovereign people, is not only a politician, but a legisla- 
tor — a partner, in short, in the grand concern of the 
state : and this not a sleeping partner, but one engaged 


in narrowly inspecting its operations, balancing its ac- 
counts, guarding its authority, and judging of its interests. 
A people so engaged, are not those with whom a lounger 
might find it agreeable to associate: he seeks amuse- 
ment, and he finds business ; careless wit, and he finds 
sense ; plain, strait-forward, sober sense. The Ameri- 
cans are very good talkers, and admirable listeners ; un- 
derstand perfectly the exchange of knowledge, for which 
they employ conversation, and employ it solely. They 
have a surprising stock of information, but this runs little 
into the precincts of imagination ; facts form the ground- 
work of their discourse. They are accustomed to rest 
their opinions on the results of experience, rather than on 
ingenious theories and abstract reasonings ; and are al- 
ways wont to overturn the one, by a simple appeal to the 
other. They have much general knowledge, but are best 
read in philosophy, history, political economy, and the 
general science of government. The world, however, 
is the book which they consider most attentively, and 
make a general practice of turning over the page of every 
man's mind that comes across them ; they do this very 
quietly, and very civilly, and with the understanding that 
you are at perfect liberty to do the same by theirs. They 
are entirely without mauvaise honte, and are equally free 
from effrontery and officiousness. The constant exercise 
of the reasoning powers gives to their character and man- 
ners a mildness, plainness, and unchanging suavity, such 
as are often remarked in Europe in men devoted to the 
abstract sciences. Wonderfully patient and candid in 
argument, close reasoners, acute observers, and original 
thinkers. They understand little the play of words, or, 
as the French more distinctly express it, badinage. 
When an American, indeed, is pressed into this by some 
more trifling European, or by some lively woman of his 
own nation, I have sometimes thought of a quaker striking 
into a Highland reel. This people have nothing of the 


poet in them, nor of the bel esprit, and I think are apt to 
be tiresome, if they attempt to be either. It is but fair, 
however, to observe, that they very seldom do attempt 
this, at least after they are five- and- twenty. On the other 
hand, they are well-informed and liberal philosophers, 
who can give you, in half an hour, more solid instruction 
and enlightened views, than you could receive from the 
first corps literaire or diplomatique of Europe by listening 
to them for a whole evening. It is said that every man 
has his forte, and so, perhaps, has every nation ; that of 
the American is clearly good sense : this sterling quality 
is the current coin of the country, and it is curious to see 
how immediately it tries the metal of other minds. In 
truth, I know no people who sooner make you sensible 
of your own ignorance. In conversing even with a plain 
farmer, it has seemed to me, that I had been nothing but 
a foolish trifler all my life, running after painted butterflies, 
while he, like the ant, had been laying up winter stores of 
solid mental food, useful at all times, and in all exi- 

I must also remark of this people, that they possess an 
uninterrupted cheerfulness of mind, and an imperturbable 
evenness of temper, and, moreover, a great share of dry 
humour, which is the weapon they usually employ when 
assailed by impertinence or troublesome folly of any kind. 
I have witnessed many amusing instances of this ; and 
you will find some true specimens in the writings of 
Franklin, whose humour was truly of native growth. 

A story occurs to me at this moment, which, though it 
perhaps owed something to the manner in which I heard 
it, may at least serve as an example of the national trait 
to which I have here alluded. A Prussian officer, who 
some while since landed in New- York, in his way to Ve- 
nezuela, having taken up his lodgings at a hotel in Eroad- 
way, found himself in company with two British officers, 
and an American gentleman, who was quietly seated in 


the recess of a window, reading the Washington Gazette. 
The Prussian understood not a word of English, but ob- 
served that the two foreigners, in conversing with each 
other, eternally used the word Yankee. As they leaned 
out of an open window which looked into Broadway, he 
heard them repeat it again and again, and seemingly ap- 
ply it to every citizen that passed before them. " Yan- 
kee ! Yankee !" at length exclaimed the Prussian ; 
" Que veut dire ce Yankee ?" and turned, wondering, to 
the gentleman who sat apparently inattentive to what 
was passing. " Je vous dirai, monsieur," said the Ame- 
rican, gravely looking up from his paper ; " cela veut dire, 
un homme d'une sagesse parfaite, d'un talent extreme, 
jouissant des biens de la fortune, et de la consideration 
publique." " En un mot, un sage et un homme distingue." 
" Precisement." " Mais, monsieur, que la republique est 
riche en sages et en hommes distingues !" " Ces mes- 
sieurs nous font Phonneur de le croire," bowing to the of- 

You may smile to hear that the Prussian took the ex- 
planation in sober seriousness, (though you will readily 
believe that our two countrymen were too petrified to offer 
it a contradiction,) and failed not in employing the word 
to comment upon the superabundance of hommes distin- 
gues to be found in the city, as well as upon the force of 
the language, which knew how to convey so many ideas 
in one word. It was long before I could understand the 
drift of the Prussian's discourse ; when at length I had 
drawn the above story from him, and that the mystery 
stood explained, the joke seemed almost to good to put 
an end to. As I saw, however, that it was his fixed in- 
tention to apply the word in its new meaning to every 
citizen to whom he meant to do honour, and that, in case 
of an interview with the President himself, he would in- 
fallibly, in some flourish of politeness, denominate him 



Chef des Yankees, I thought it better to restore the word 
to its old reading.* 

As I have commenced story-telling, I must subjoin an 

anecdote of Mr. , or as he is more simply styled, 

Thomas Jefferson, which I received a few days since from 
a gentleman of this city, and which struck me as not on- 
ly characteristic of that philosopher, but somewhat also 
of this nation generally. 

It was the object of Mr. Jefferson to preserve, in every 
trifle, that simplicity which he deemed the most appro- 
priate characteristic of a republic. At his entrance into 
the presidency, he found himself a little troubled with the 
trifling etiquette which the foreign ambassadors, and more 
especially their ladies, were essaying to establish in his 
own drawing room 5 and, apprehending that the wives 
and daughters of his official brethren might catch the con- 
tagion, he let pass no opportunity of giving it his discoun- 
tenance. He wisely judged, that in this matter, as in 
most others, example was better than precept, and set 
about new-ordering the manners of the city, much in the 
manner that Franklin might have taken. Did he go to 
make a morning visit, he rode without a servant, tied his 
horse to the gate, and walked in as plain Thomas Jeffer- 
son. Did all the different legations come to dine with 
him, he received them with indiscriminating polite- 
ness, and that simple dignity for which he is eminently 
distinguished ; conversing with and welcoming all, he 
left the company to arrange themselves at his taWe, of 

" Ferhaps the original derivation of the word Yankee is not generally 
known in England. It is the Indian corruption of English, Yenglees, Yan- 
gles, Yankles, and finally Yankee. In the United States, the nick-name is on- 
ly jocularly applied to the citizens of New-England, whose early settlers 
were thus denominated by the savages. The Pennsylvanians are known 
among the Indians by the name of Quekels, being a corruption of Quakers ; 
the Virginians by that of Long Knives, I believe from the bloody wars in 
which they were continually engaged with the first adventurous settlers of 
that mother of the Union. 


which he so did the honours, as to spread ease and cheer- 
fulness around it, and to make his guests in good humour 
with themselves and each other ; the wife of the Spanish 
Minister, however, upon returning home, began to ponder 
upon the events of the evening : she had been seated be- 
low the lady of , my informant forgot which am- 
bassador, but one whom she judged of inferior import- 
ance to her liege lord. His most Catholic Majesty had 
been insulted, she declared, in her person ; for was not 
an insult offered to the wife always offered to the hus- 
band ; and as in this case an insult offered to the husband 
was offered to the King of Spain — Euclid himself must 
have concluded with Q. E. D. The next morning the 
Don could do no less than summon a council, consisting 
of his most chosen friends among the diplomatic corps. 
The case was stated, and their opinions severally taken. 
One ventured to apologize for the President, on the ground 
of his ignorance as a republican of the rules of etiquette. 
To this it was replied, that the dignity of his most Catho- 
lic Majesty was not to be laid at the mercy of every man 
who might call himself a republican. The lady particu- 
larly insisted that satisfaction must be given. It was sug- 
gested, that the best way would be for Spain's representa- 
tive to go and ask it. The divan broke up, and one of 
its members went to advise the President of the matter in 
agitation. Some hours after, Mr. Jefferson, while, occu- 
pied in his library, was informed that the Spanish minis 
ter was in an adjoining appartment; he called imme-' 
diately for his boots, and putting one on, and holding the 
other in his hand, proceeded to the room. Having half 
opened the door, he issued orders to the servant behind 
him, touching his horse, and then advancing, and drawing 
on as he did so his remaining boot, welcomed his visitor 
with his wonted amenity. " Pray be seated ; be seated ; 
no ceremony here, my good sir. Very glad to see you ;" 
and then, without regarding the disconcerted air of the 


astonished representative of Spain and the Indies, enter- 
ed with his wonted ease into general conversation, oppo- 
sing the gentleman to the minister, and the unaffected 
majesty of the philosopher to the frozen haughtiness o 
the diplomatist. The combat was soon decided. The 
Spaniard departed, and reported to his lady and diploma- 
tic friends that, when they went to the house of the Ame- 
rican President, they must leave the dignity of their mas- 
ters at home. 

I have already observed upon the quietism still discerni- 
ble in this city ; there is, however, much gayety among 
the young people, and much social intercourse among 
those of maturer age. Here, as elsewhere, I observe a 
distinct line drawn between the young and the old ; no- 
thing, indeed, can be more opposite than their characters ; 
the former all life and animation, carolling like young larks 
in the spring ; the latter mild, composed, and devoted, — 
the women to domestic duties, and the men to affairs do- 
mestic and public. Some foreigner has said, that in Eu- 
rope there is pleasure without happiness, and in America 
happiness without pleasure. Something here is doubtless 
sacrificed to the point of the sentence ; I rather incline to 
think, that pleasure is equally found in the two hemi- 
spheres, but that in the one she resides with youth, and in 
the other with mature age. In France, for instance, a wo- 
man has scarcely an acknowledged existence until some 
Monsieur has placed a ring on her finger ; here, with her, 
the joy of life is in its spring. Truly it is a pretty sight to 
see these laughing creatures moving and speaking with a 
grace that art never taught, and might in vain seek to imi- 
tate. I know not if pleasure be a divinity that should be 
greatly worshipped ; perhaps her spirit intoxicates for a 
moment to leave the mind vacant afterwards, and the le- 
gislator might do wisely who should leave her out of the 
national pantheon ; but if the goddess is to be sought at 
all. it seems more in the order of nature that it should be 


when youth and health are mantling on the cheek ; frolic 
may then find excuse in the quick blood, and Heraclitus 
himself be won to laugh at it with good humour. The 
thoughtless girl throws away precious moments, but the 
thoughtless woman neglects important duties ; and she too 
pursues only the shadow of a shade ; witness the faded 
cheeks and jaded spirits of a London female rake of thirty 
or forty. The American girl, evanescent as her joy may 
be, yet finds joy, pure and heart-felt, which older wisdom 
might almost envy. 

" Bless'd hour of childhood ! then, and then alone, 
Dance we the revels close round Pleasure's throne, 
Quaff the bright nectar from her fountain springs, 
And laugh beneath the rainbow of her wings, 
Oh ! time of promise, hope and innocence, 
Of trust, and love, and happy ignorance ! 
Whose every dream is Heaven, in whose fair joy 
Experience yet has thrown no black alloy ; 
Whose pain, when fiercest, lacks the venom'd pang 
Which to maturer ill doth oft belong, 
When mute and cold, we weep departed bliss, 
And Hope expires on broken Happiness." 

Thoughts of a Recluse. 

This last catastrophe, however, seems seldom to hap- 
pen here ; love at an early age gives place to domestic 
affection, and pleasure to domestic comfort ; the sober hap- 
piness of married life is here found in perfection. Let the 
idler smile at this ; it is assuredly the best of heaven's 
gifts to man. 

But talking of youth and youth's folly, I must not forget 
to report to you a sight, which I doubt if you will believe 
I saw ; I did, however, and that in broad daylight, and in 
Chesnut-street, Philadelphia. This is the fashionable pro- 
menade, as Broadway is in New- York ; and the figures 
are equally gay and elegant in both. Walking one morn- 
ing with a friend, a knot of young men approached, whose 
air and dress were so strangely foreign to those of the ci- 


tizens of the country, that I at first doubted, if I was not 
transported by some fairy's incantation into New Bond- 
street or the boulevards. No lounger there, no gay Pa- 
risian beau, fresh from the fencing master, could have 
worn waists more slender, or looked more like fashion's 
non-descripts. " Who are those foreigners ?" I asked. 
" They are natives," replied my companion laughing ; 
: ' but the fools are rare ; and I hope, for the sake of the 
character of our city, will remain so." 

There are here some circles of very choice society. 
There is one lady particularly who appears to assemble 
all the talent of the city in her drawing-room ; and of this, 
by-the-bye, no inconsiderable portion is in herself. I have 
seldom met a lady who possessed more high gifts, or em- 
ployed them more unostentatiously ; and yet, while the 
life of the evening circle, her mornings are exclusively de- 
voted to the education of a numerous family, who cannot 
fail to grow up under such tuition worthy of their country 
and their name. 

We met yesterday at her house a character well known 
and highly respected throughout this country ; the Portu- 
guese minister, Correa de Serra. Mr. Brackenridge of 
Baltimore, in dedicating to him his little work on Louisi- 
ana, has pronounced him to be " one of the most enlighten- 
ed foreigners that has ever visited the United States." 
The observations with which he follows up this compli- 
ment are so similar to what I have universally heard ap- 
plied to this amiable philosopher by the citizens of this 
country, that I am tempted to quote them. " Your amiable 
simplicity of manners restores to us our Franklin. In every 
part of our country which you have visited, (and you have 
nearly seen it all,) your society has been as acceptable to 
the unlettered farmer as to the learned philosopher. The 
liberal and friendly manner in which you are accustomed 
to view every thing in these states, the partiality which 
you feel for their welfare, the profound maxims upon eve- 


ry subject which, like the disciples of Socrates, we trea- 
sure up from your lips, entitle us to claim you as one of 
the fathers of our country." After such testimonies from 
those who can boast an intimate personal acquaintance 
with this distinguished European, the observations of a 
stranger w T ere a very impertinent addition. I can only say, 
that as a stranger, I was much struck by the unpretending 
simplicity and modesty of one to whom unvarying report 
ascribes so many high gifts, vast acquirements, and pro- 
found sciences. The kindness with which he spoke of 
this nation, the admiration that he expressed of its cha- 
racter, and of those institutions which he observed had 
formed that character, and w T ere still forming it, inspired 
me, in a short conversation, with an equal admiration of 
the enlightened foreigner who felt so generously. As he 
walked home with me from the party, (for your character 
is not here fastened to a coach, as Brydone found his was 
in Sicily,) I chanced to observe upon the brilliancy of the 
skies, which, I said, as a native of a moist and northern 
climate, had not yet lost to me the charm of novelty. 
He mildly replied, " And on what country should the sun 
and stars shine brightly, if not on this ? Light is every 
where, and is each day growing brighter and spreading 
farther." " Are you not afraid," I asked, encouraged by 
the suavity of the venerable sage to forget the vast dis- 
tance between his mind and years and my own, " Are 
you not afraid, as the representative of royalty, of loving 
these republics too well ?" He retorted playfully. " As 
the courtly Melville adjudged Elizabeth ihe fairest wo- 
man in England, and Mary the fairest in Scotland, so I 
deem this the fairest republic, and Portugal, of course, the 
fairest monarchy." It was impossible to hold an hour's 
conversation with this philosopher, and not revert to the 
condition and future prospects of the country which gave 
him birth. When I pondered on these, it was with pain 
that I marked the furrows on his brow. Has such a man 


been born in vain for his country ? Is he there too far be- 
fore his generation, and must he sleep with his fathers, 
before the light which has burst in full effulgence upon 
his mind, shall gleam one faint ray upon those of his coun- 

It is surely a proud reflection for this people, that, in 
the very infancy of their existence as a nation, they should 
attract the attention of foreign statesmen and sages, and 
that their country should not only be the refuge of the 
persecuted, but often freely chosen as the abode of the 
philosopher. America need not complain ; if she is con- 
demned by the ignorant and the prejudiced, she is ap- 
plauded by those whose applause is honour ; by those too 
who have closely considered her character, and whose 
matured and candid judgment enables them to decide up- 
on its merits. A people who have the voices of a Correa, 
a Bernard, and a Garnett, may laugh in good humour at 
an Ashe or a Fearon. 

The name of Garnett has often appeared in my letters. 
I hesitate to depict a character which would defy an 
abler hand than mine ; those who have seen the original, 
would find any transcript of it an unmeaning daub ; those 
who have seen it not, would deem that the painter drew 
from an over-wrought imagination. I may have already 
mentioned, that he was a native of England, and known 
in early life in that country, as he has since been known in 
this, for every gift and every acquirement that can ennoble 
or adorn the human mind. To the world he is best known 
as a man of science ; but the more deep researches which 
have engrossed him as a mathematician, astronomer, 

* When, after my return to Europe, the tidings of the Revolution in Portu- 
gal first reached me, my thoughts reverted to the Chevalier Correa. Should 
these insignificant pages ever accidentally attract his eye, he will neverrecall, 
that he once deigned to throw away an idle hour in conversing with their wri- 
ter ; but she is proud to remember it ; nor was it without deep emotion, that 
at one moment she pictured the thoughts and feelings of that benevolent and 
enlightened friend of human kind. 


and mechanic, form but a fraction in the sum of his rich 
and varied knowledge. It were idle to recount the men- 
tal powers and accomplishments of this venerable sage ; 
the difficulty would be to imagine one that he does not 
possess. Never was a mind more rich in treasures 5 
never a heart more overflowing with benevolence ; never 
a soul more ardent in the love of liberty, and of all that is 
great and excellent. Were it possible to enumerate the 
noble endowments of this philosopher, there would still 
be that in his manners and appearance which would 
mock description ; a simplicity, and withal, a winning 
grace, that charms alike childhood, youth, and age ; 
which makes ignorance at ease in his presence, and gives 
him the air of a disciple, while uttering the words of wis- 
dom. The countenance whose beauty in its younger 
days fixed the eyes of Lavater, and was the image from 
which he drew the portrait of benevolence, might yet pic- 
ture the same virtue to the same master. Never, indeed, 
were jewels shrined in a nobler casket; never did good- 
ness beam more beautifully from the eye, or thought sit 
in more majesty on the forehead; never did wisdom 
breathe more mildly and playfully from the lips ; never 
were such transcendent powers — such vast and univer- 
sal acquirements worn with such modesty and sweetness. 
How poor are words to speak the charm that hangs about 
this son of science and of nature ! To tell how each ac- 
cent sinks from the ear upon the heart ; how his know- 
ledge instructs, his fancy charms, his playful, sparkling, 
careless wit enlivens ! The moments passed in his pre- 
sence are counted by sands of gold, and are treasured up 
in the memory for the mind and the heart to recur to, 
whenever their better powers and feelings may need re- 
freshing. Should the contemplation of human weakness 
and wickedness ever make us call in doubt, for a moment, 
the high destinies of our nature, it is by recalling the 
image of such a sage as this — of such a philosopher of 


the world and friend of man, that our confidence • in hu- 
man virtue may be restored, our philanthropy quickened, 
and every generous hope and aim be revived and exerted 
with new ardour.* 

* This venerable philosopher and philanthropist is now numbered with 
the dead ; but eight and forty hours after the writer of these pages parted 
from him, and almost before she was out of sight of the American shores, he 
was a corpse. He suddenly fell asleep, full of years, and in full possession 
of all his great powers, without a struggle or a groan, on the night of the 
11th of May, 1820, at his farm, in New-Jersey. To have known this amia- 
ble sage, and to have been honoured with some share in his esteem, will 
ever be- among the proudest recollections of my life, though it is now also 
one of the most painful. I beg to apologize to those in either hemisphere 
who knew this amiable and highly gifted man, for this poor tribute to his 
memory. In no way am I worthy to be the recorder of his virtues, unless 
the reverence, and almost filial affection that I bore to huu, may seem to af- 
ford me a title. 

Lest I should appear, in this instance, to have swerved from the rule 
which every writer of any delicacy will observe — that of abstaining from 
any remarks, which may tend to attract the public attention to his pri- 
vate friends, I must observe, that the distinguished and acknowledged place 
that Mr. Gainett held in the world of science, had rendered him, in some 
measure, a public character. He is now, too, lost to that world and to his 
friends ; had it not been so, this humble testimony of one who feels herself 
better for having known him, and which must prove so insufficient to add 
any thing to his fame, would never have appeared to pain his modesty. 





Pennsylvania,, June, 1819. 

I have not much leisure to recount the particulars of our 
peregrinations; nor perhaps would they greatly interest you. 
In travelling I find it convenient to bear in mind that the 
ground has been trodden before, and that, in detailing the 
appearance and population of towns and districts, I should 
only write what others have already written, to whose jour- 
nals, should you be curious on these matters, you can refer* 

It may amuse you somewhat more to receive the ac- 
count of our visit to Joseph Buonaparte. 

Some days since, joined by the friends in whose house 
we are now inmates, we filled a carriage and light wag- 
gon, called a Dearborn*, struck across to the Delaware, 
and then took boat to Bordentown, on the Jersey shore. 

A friend of our polite Philadelphia acquaintance j 

here joined our party, and we walked forwards to the re- 
sidence of the Ex-King. It is a pretty villa, commanding 
a fine prospect of the river ; the soil around it is unpro- 
ductive ; but a step removed from the pine-barren ; the 
pines, however, worthless as they may be, clothe the 
banks pleasantly enough, and, altogether, the place is 
cheerful and pretty. Entering upon the lawn, we found 

* From the American General of that name ; to whom the farmer and! 
country gentleman are under infinite obligations for its invention 


the choice shrubs of the American forest, magnolias, kal- 
mias, &.c. planted tastefully under the higher trees which 
skirted, and here and there shadowed, the green carpet 
upon which the white mansion stood. Advancing, we 
were now faced at all corners by gods and goddesses in 
naked, — I cannot say majesty, for they were, for the most 
part, clumsy enough. The late General Moreau, a few 
years since, according to the strange revolutions of war- 
stricken Europe, a peaceful resident in this very neigh- 
bourhood, and who recrossed the Atlantic to seek his 
death in the same battle which sent here, as an exile, 
the brother of the French Emperor, — this general in the 
same Parisian taste, left behind him a host of Pagan dei- 
ties of a similar description, with a whole tribe of dogs and 
lions to boot, some of which I have seen scattered up and 
down through the surrounding farms. Two of these 
dumb Cerberuses are sitting at this moment on either side 
of a neighbouring gentleman's door, and the children of 
the family use them as hobby-horses. Truly, the amuse- 
ment of the child has often less folly in it than that of the 
man ; the child rides the hobby, while the hobby too of- 
ten rides the man ; and then, if ambition be the hobby he 
chooses, the man rides down his fellow creatures. Hap- 
py the country where, without iron laws, all men are a 
check upon each other ! I thought this when I entered 
the house of the brother of Napoleon. 

Until the entrance of the count, who was superintending 
the additions yet making to the house, we employed our- 
selves in considering the paintings and Canovas, of which 
last we found a small but interesting collection. It con- 
sists chiefly of busts of the different members of the Buo- 
naparte family. The similar and classic outline prevail- 
ing in all is striking, and has truly something imperial in 
it. As these were the first works of this Italian Phidias 
that I had met with, I regarded them with much curiosity. 
There are two small pieces of most exquisite workman 


ship — a naked infant, (the little King of Rome,) lying on 
a cushion, which yields to the pressure of one of the feet 
with a truth that mocks the marble. I remember a child 
in the same attitude in a much prized Rubens, from which 
my first thought was that the sculptor had caught his idea ; 
but, studying the same nature, genius is often original 
when vulgar criticism suspects the contrary ; the same 
thought has been elicited from minds that never had com- 
munication, and this not once, but repeated times. There 
was another yet more lovely figure of a girl caressing a 
greyhound. What softness and delicacy wrought out of 
such rude materials ! It is presumptuous for one so little 
skilled to venture upon the remark, yet I have always felt 
my eye offended by the too glaring whiteness of modern 
sculpture ; perhaps the mellowing hand of time is as ne- 
cessary for the marble as the canvass. Turning to look 
at David's portrait of Napoleon crossing the Alps, I was 
greatly disappointed with the expression of the young 
soldier •, the horse has far more spirit than the rider, who 
sits carelessly on his. steed, a handsome beardless boy, 
pointing his legions up the beetling crags as though they 
were some easy steps into a drawing room. Such, at 
least, was my impression. Count Survillier (he wears this 
title, perhaps, to save the awkV irdness of Mr. Buona- 
parte) soon came to us from his workmen, in an old coat, 
from which he had barely shaken off the mortar, and, — 
a sign of the true gentleman, — made no apologies. His 
air, figure, and address, have the character of the English 
country gentleman — open, unaffected, and independent, 
but perhaps combining more mildness and suavity. 
Were it not that his figure is too thick-set, I should per- 
haps say, that he had still more the character of an Ame- 
rican, in whom, I think, the last enumerated qualities of 
mildness and suavity are oftener found than in our coun- 
trymen. His face is fine, and bears so close a resem- 
blance to that of his more distinguished brother, that it 

102 visit to 

was difficult at the first glance to decide which of the 
busts in the apartment were of him, and which of Napo- 
leon. The expression of the one, however, is much more 
benignant ; it is indeed exceedingly pleasing, and prepares 
you for the amiable sentiments which appear in his dis- 
course. The plainness and urbanity of his manners for 
the first few moments suspended pleasure in surprise ; and 
even afterwards, when, smiling at myself, I thought, And 
what did I expect to see ? I could not still help, ever and 
anon, acknowledging that I had not looked to see exactly 
the man I saw. I felt most strangely the contrast be- 
tween the thoughts that were fast travelling through my 
brain, of battles and chances, ambition and intrigues, 
crowns and sceptres, — the whole great drama of the 
brother's life passing before me, — I felt most strangely 
the contrast between these thoughts and the man I was 
conversing with. He discoursed easily on various to- 
pics, but always with much quietness and modesty. 
He did and said little in the French manner, though 
he always spoke the language, understanding English, 
he said, but imperfectly, and not speaking it at all. He 
expressed a curiosity to become acquainted with our liv- 
ing poets ; but complained that he found them difficult, 
and inquired if there was not often a greater obscurity 
of style than in that of our older authors: I found he 
meant those of Queen Anne's reign. In speaking of the 
members of his family, he carefully avoided titles ; it 
was mon frere Napoleon, ma scew Hortense, &c. He 
walked us round his improvements in-doors and out. 
When I observed upon the amusement he seemed to find 
in beautifying his little villa, he replied, that he was hap- 
pier in it than he had ever found himself in more bustling 
scenes. He gathered a wild flower, and, in presenting it 
to me, carelessly drew a comparison between its minute 
beauties and the pleasures of private life ; contrasting 
those of ambition and power with the more gaudy flowers 


of the parterre, which look better at a distance than upon 
a nearer approach. He said this so naturally, with a 
manner so simple, and accent so mild, that it was impos- 
sible to see in it attempt at display of any kind. Under- 
standing that I was a foreigner, he hoped ihat I was as 
much pleased with the country as he was ; observed that 
it was a countiy for the many, and not for the few ; which 
gave freedom to all and power to none, in which happi- 
ness might better be found than any other, and in which 
he was well pleased that his lot was now cast. 

The character of this exile seems to be much marked 
for humanity and benevolence. He is peculiarly atten- 
tive to sufferers of his own nation — I mean of France ; 
is careful to provide work for the poorer emigrants ; and 
to others, affords lodging, and often money to a conside- 
rable amount. His kindness has, of course, been im- 
posed upon, in some cases so flagrantly that he is now 
learning circumspection, though he does not suffer his hu- 
manity to be chilled. This I learned from his American 
neighbours. I left Count Survillier, satisfied that nature 
had formed him for the character he now wears, and that 
fortune had rather spited him in making him the brother 
of the ambitious Napoleon. 

In reviewing the singular destinies of this family, there 
is one acknowledgement that is forced from our candour ; 
it is that, considering the power that circumstance threw 
into their hands, they wrested it to less monstrous pur- 
poses than has often been done by similarly spoiled chil- 
dren of fortune. We may indeed exclaim, in.consider- 
ing the mad career of Europe's conqueror, 

" Ah ! how did'st thou o'erleap the goal of Fame ! 
Had'st tbou but propp'd expiring Freedom's head, 
And to her feet again the nations led ; 
Had'st thou, in lieu of War's blood-dropping sword, 
Seiz'd her white wand, and given forth her word ; 
Bid the mad tumult of the nations cease, 
And loud from realm to realm cried Liberty and Peace !'" 

Thoughts of a Recluse. 


But it is easier to be a philosopher in the closet than in 
the tented field ; and, in reality, the real philosopher 
shrinks even from the trial of his virtue. Had Napoleon 
been such, the destinies of Europe would never have been 
laid at his mercy. As a soldier of fortune, he fought his 
way to distinction. That the young ambition which first 
fixed on him the eyes of men, should have died at the. 
most brilliant moment of his career, had been little less 
than miraculous ; as it was, all was in the common order 
of vulgar humanity ; he dared all things for a throne ; he 
gained it, and then dared all things to throw splendour 
around it. It was false splendour, you will say. True ; 
but it was false glory that allured him to the throne. The 
mind that coveted the one must necessarily have desired 
the other. Instead of quarreling with successful ambi- 
tion, it might be more rational, as Well as more useful, to 
upbraid the nations that stoop to its insolence. If despots 
sometimes make slaves, it is no less true that slaves make 
despots ; if men value not their own liberties, are they 
to expect that others will for them ? they may find those 
that will fight their battles, but not those that will guard 
their rights. Heroes are more rare than warriors ; thou- 
sands are born who can master others, but scarce one in 
a generation who can master himself. The fallen tyrant 
has been a good schoolmaster to the nations of Europe ; 
may they profit by the lesson. 

You will, perhaps, at first be scarcely disposed to ad- 
mit the surmise, that it is easier to speculate upon the fu- 
ture destinies of Europe in this hemisphere than the other. 
It is not only that vehenjent jealousies and vacillating par- 
ties distract the attention of the more near observer, and 
prevent him from calmly considering the ultimate tendency 
of those great principles which, though now more or less 
every where acknowledged, are found to clash with the 
prevalent interests of the moment ; it is not only that the 
noise of the combatants is lost in the distance, whilst the 


petty actors in the shifting scene dwindle into air, leaving 
only apparent the colossal stage itself, and the general 
purport of the great drama which it exhibits ; it is not only 
this, but that the various revolutions which have con- 
vulsed the European continent, have thrown into Ame- 
rica a motley crowd of statesmen, soldiers, and politicians, 
who can here repeat the result of their experience without 
risk, and consequently without reserve. This continent 
seems at present to be the great side-scene into which the 
chief actors of Europe make their exits, and from which, 
in the revolutions of human destiny, they may perhaps 
again be called to make their entrances* 

It was observed, I think in the English House of Com- 
mons, by a generous opposer of the Alien Act, that the 
present league subsisting between the great European 
potentates, had realized the appalling picture drawn by 
the masterly pen of Gibbon, when the proscribed sought 
to fly the power of Rome, and found her every where. 
The parallel, however, is not perfect ; since there are now 
two hemispheres, while formerly there was but one. Be- 
yond the waters of the Atlantic, the proscribed of every 
nation, whatever be their merits or demerits, now find a 
leuce, wherein, though they should bring that with them 
which may poison happiness, they may at least enjoy se- 
curity. Perhaps I am sanguine ; but judging from the 
sentiments of the foreigners with whom I have chanced to 
engage in conversation, I feel disposed to augur well of 
many nations which are now little considered. The 
march of the human mind is rapid as silent, and many 
circumstances conspire to accelerate its progress. The 
very existence of this country teaches volumes; even 
those who have never considered its history, and w T ho seek 
it from necessity, merely as a haven of rest, or as a field of 
mercantile speculation, when they look around them upon 
a cheerful, intelligent, peaceful, well-ordered community, 
are led to examine the secret spring which impels and re- 



gulates its political machinery. Men are here brought to 
think who never thought before, and who then bear with 
them to distant climes the result of their observations. A 
spark dropt from the torch of liberty will always spread, 
and spread until it bursts into flame. 

It is a useful curiosity which impels us to engage in con- 
versation with a foreigner ; however circumscribed his 
mind, however scanty his stock of information, he is sure 
to know many things which we cannot know. It is 
curious also to hear his observations upon the men and 
things that surround him ; even should he see them 
through the medium of local or national prejudices, his 
remarks may be at least amusing, if not instructive ; 
though it is probable, indeed, that they will be the latter 
also ; for, in detecting the prejudices of others, we are 
often led to detect our own. It is always with peculiar 
curiosity that I listen to the remarks of Europeans upon 
the institutions of this country, and the appearance of its 
population, often so strangely, and sometimes so painfully 
contrasted with those of their native soil. An Irishman 
exclaims, "Ah! it is a fine, country 1 " and sighs as he 
thinks of his own island. A Frenchman observes, " Mais 
comme tout va doucement et sagement ."' And a Swede, 
whom I chanced to cross some w r eeks since, closed some 
fervent ejaculations with "Ah! ice cannot conshieve de 
vantages of disk peeplishes ;" or, as he afterwards more 
intelligibly expressed it in French, " Nous autres Euro- 
peens nous ne sgaurions congevoir le bonheur de ce peuple 
sans en etre temoins." 

I have already, in a former letter, introduced you to the 
family, to whose kindness and hospitality we are here so 
much indebted. I know not that I have as yet met with 
a more amiable specimen of the American country gen- 
tleman than we have found in this house ; his children 
and infant grandchildren look up to him with that respect 
and affection which ever bear the most beautiful testimo- 


ny to a parent's character. In his earlier, I can hardly 
say more vigorous years, he carries his accumulating lus- 
tres with so much ease and dignity, he took a part in po- 
Jitical life. On retiring from the senate, he was employed 
in diplomacy on the continent of Europe, from whence 
he returned to pass the remainder of his days on his farm 
in Pennsylvania. I should like those, whose fancy pic- 
tures to them the American farmer as a half-civilized sa- 
vage, to see this veteran's mild aspect, but unbent and 
majestic carriage ; to see him rendering attentions of the 
kindest and most finished politeness to all around him ; in 
manner and sentiment invariably the gentleman, the kind 
and considerate father, companion, and friend. 



demy at west point. pass of the highlands. 

Arnold's treachery. — Albany and its environs. 

Albany, July, 1819. 

1 he hasty letter I addressed to you from Connecticut, 
will have explained to you my unusual silence, and re- 
lieved you from any apprehension that it might be occa- 
sioned by a broken neck ; but in truth you are rather un- 
conscionable in epistolary demands. You had no man- 
ner of title to look for a letter by the Martha, "and yet I 
thank you that you did look for it. It tells me that your 
thoughts are as often on this side the ocean as mine are on 

We have just made the passage up the magnificent 
Hudson (160 miles) from New- York to this city, which 
has indeed but one, though that no unimportant title to so 
grand a name, in being the capital of the state. It is 
probable, however, that the government will soon have 
to travel in search of the centre of the republic in like 
manner w 7 ith that of Pennsylvania. Albany indeed seems 
to stand as in expectation of her falling honours, for 
though there are some well-finished streets and many 
commodious and elegant private dwellings, the general 
appearance of the town is old and shabby. 

You will not care to trace with me the beautiful course 
of this river. The features of nature, so unspeakably 


lovely to contemplate, are often tiresome in description. 
A few observations upon the military academy at West 
Point will perhaps interest you more than a sketch of the 
rocks and woody precipices upon which it stands. This 
interesting academy, which flourishes under the eye of 
the Central Government, was established in 1802. Its 
first organization was devolved by Congress upon the late 
General Williams, whose talents and unremitting indus- 
try did honour to himself and to his country which em- 
ployed them. The average number of youths educated 
at West Point varies from 230 to 250 ; 336 dollars are 
expended yearly upon each cadet, and the support of the 
establishment is rated by the government at the sum of 
115,000 dollars per annum. The branches of education 
taught at the academy are similar to those taught at 
Woolwich and the Polytechnic school of Paris. About 
one thousand youths from all the sections of the Union 
have here received a liberal and scientific education. A 
few of these now fill respectable posts in the corps of en- 
gineers, artillery, and other branches of the little army, 
amounting to a few thousands, which, scattered through 
this vast empire, are actively employed in the erection and 
conservation of forts, the protection of the Indian fron- 
tier, drawing of boundary lines, roads, &c. By far the 
greater number, however, retire from this little military 
fortress to the shade of private life, as peaceful cultivators 
of the soil, from whence some have been called by the 
voices of their fellow citizens to fill important civil offices ; 
and all would be found ready, at the first call of the Re- 
public, to rush foremost for her defence. 

It is judged by this government, ever liberal in all that 
touches the real welfare and dignity of the nation, that 
military knowledge can never be idly bestowed upon a 
citizen, who, whatever be his condition or calling, must 
always form one of the civic militia ; and, looking to the 
event, always possible, and therefore always to be provi- 


ded against, of attack from foreign powers, it is perhaps 
the wisest of all conceivable precautions to scatter thus 
the seeds of military science among the peaceful popula- 
tion. It is true, that these may never be required to put 
forth their fruits. These infant soldiers may live and die 
as peaceful tillers of the soil ; but it is well to know that 
the trump of defensive war could summon skilled heads 
as well as devoted hearts to the field. This establish- 
ment has yet in it the seeds of more good. These youths, 
natives of different states, gathered from the north, south, 
east, and west of this vast confederacy, and here trained 
together for the defence of the great whole, under the fos- 
tering and liberal care of the government of that whole, 
necessarily forget all those paltry jealousies and selfish in- 
terests which once went nigh to split these great repub- 
lics, and to break down the last and noblest bulwark of 
freedom erected on this earth. Scattered again to the 
four winds of heaven, these sons of the republic bear with 
them the generous principles here imbibed, to breathe 
them perhaps in the senate, if not to support them in the 
field ; and to hand them down to future generations 
through the minds of their children. " The most inte- 
resting and important consequences," I quote the words 
addressed to me by an enlightened American officer, 
General Swift, to whom I have often been obliged for 
many particulars regarding the condition of this country, 
and to whose politeness I am chiefly indebted for my in- 
formation respecting this establishment. " The most in- 
teresting and important consequences which I have no- 
ticed as resulting from an education at West Point, are a 
zealous attachment to the political institutions of the na- 
tion, a devotion to country, an ardent love of liberty." 
This last, indeed, I have observed in the mind of an Ame- 
rican to be synonymous with the love of the other two. 
In this country the government is the very palladium of 
liberty ; her throne is at Washington ; upheld there by 


the united force of the whole people, she throws back 
light and heat upon her children and defenders. Gene- 
rally speaking, all those connected with, or forming a part 
of the Central Government, engaged in its service, or in 
any manner placed under its more immediate direction 
or protection, are peculiarly distinguished for elevated 
sentiment, a high tone of national feeling, an ardent en- 
thusiasm, not merely for American liberties, but for the 
liberties of mankind. 

The officers attached to the establishment being distin- 
guished both as men of science and ardent patriots, and com- 
bining also the mildness and frankness of manner peculiar 
to the American gentleman, are well fitted to tutor the 
opinions and feelings of youth. Under their tuition they 
can acquire no sentiments that are not patriotic and ge- 
nerous ; their minds in early infancy imbibe simple, but 
sublime truths, invigorating principles, and all the pride 
and the energy which go to form free men. It is fine to 
see how soon the boy learns within the walls of this 
academy, a knowledge of his own high destinies as the 
child of a republic. Our venerable friend ***** late- 
ly procured admission for his little grandson. " I thought 
myself," said he, " among a crowd of young Spartans, 
and found my own little fellow, after a few weeks, look- 
ing and speaking as proudly as any one of them." 

Among the most promising scholars, there are at pre- 
sent two Indians, the sons of chiefs. In the second class, 
at a late examination, they carried away several of the 
prizes. There was an instance of the same kind some 
years since, but, ere the boy reached his sixteenth year, 
he left his diagrams, (as a young geometrician he had 
been one of great promise,) ran to the woods, and fore- 
went all other ambition for that of excelling in the chase. 
An officer of the establishment, from whom I had this, 
added, that he had little doubt the two now with them 
would follow the same example. The account that I 


have received of the unconquerable wildness of the young 
savages, who, at different times, have been educated in 
the various colleges of these states, have sometimes 
brought to my recollection the experiments of a philoso- 
phic old housekeeper, in Devonshire, who was bent upon 
domesticating a brood of partridges. I remember well 
how she took me, then a child, into her poultry yard, and 
dilated upon the untameable dispositions of these wild 
fowl, of which she had possessed herself of a brood for the 
third or fourth time. " I have reared them now from the 
egg, and yet two ran away yesterday ; and if I had not put 
the other rogues under a hen-coop, they would have been 
off this morning." I know not how the partridges learn- 
ed, in the old dame's poultry yard, to connect happiness 
with hedges and corn-fields ; but it is easy to see how the 
young Indian should, in all places, and under all circum- 
stances, learn to connect it with the wilderness and the 
wild deer. 

You will understand, from what I have said upon this 
military academy, that the object of the government, un- 
der whose eye, and at whose expense it is conducted and 
maintained, is not to rear a band of regulars. The youth 
are in no way under obligations to enter into the service 
of the Republic, nor indeed, supposing them so disposed, 
would it often be in the power of the government to grati- 
fy the desire. The slender force which is maintained at 
the national expense, and which is barely sufficient for 
the hard duties in which it is engaged, (consisting, as I 
have stated, in the inspection and erection of public 
works.) admits but of few openings to such as might be 
ambitious of so arduous a service. It is intended, indeed, 
to provide a body of men, whose education shall fit them 
ably to fill the chief posts in this little band, and which has 
thus a surety of being directed by ability : but as I have 
stated, a further and more important object is kept in 
view, namely, that of scattering throughout the Union men* 


imbued not merely with liberal principles, but attached to 
scientific pursuits. The course of study in West Point 
chiefly differs from that of other colleges, in so far as it 
leans rather more to the sciences, and follows up those 
essential to the soldier in command, more particularly the 

There is little fear, in these pacific states, of any por« 
tion of the citizens acquiring a taste for military glory. 
The strength of the country can never be put forth but in 
defence. The very institutions make against any other 
warfare ; the sentiments of the people, inspired by these 
institutions, make against the same ; all here breathes of 
peace, as well as freedom. American freedom, founded 
upon the broad basis of the rights of man, is friendly to 
the freedom of all nations ; it looks not with jealousy up- 
on the improving condition of foreign states ; it will — it 
never can attack but when attacked, or grossly insulted ; 
but even in the last case, excepting indeed on the ocean, 
war here must still be defensive. The army is the people, 
and the people must be at home. The enemy must in- 
vade, before it can be engaged, and then no American 
need fear the issue. A town may be pillaged, a farm 
may be burnt, a few acres of cultivated land be laid 
waste, and then the aggressors must find their ships, or be 
overwhelmed by accumulating multitudes. Foreign po- 
liticians, who, speculating upon the prospects of tliis na- 
tion, augur foi it a career simitar to that other empires, — 
inoffensive, because feeble in infancy, asp ring and vio- 
lent in maturing strength, and then hurried into rum by 
the reaction which ever returns upon aggression, have, I 
apprehend, but little considered its position and character. 
No nation, in the whole history of the known world, ever 
stood in a situation at all similar to this; none ever started 
in the career so equipt to run it v/eli. It has no ambitious 
rulers, no distinguished classes, who might find it their 
interest to turn aside the public attention, by means of 



foreign wars, from the too narrow inspection of their aims 
or privileges ; no colonies ; no foreign possessions, requi- 
ring the guard of armed forces, or nourishing unjust ambi- 

What country before was ever rid of so many evils ? 
Without adverting to monarchies, let us consider the old 
republics. What points of comparison may we find be- 
tween Rome and the United States 1 Rome had an arro- 
gant and artful nobility, whose policy it was to foster the 
military mania of the people ; to employ them in conquests 
abroad, lest they should aspire to dominion at home. The 
consequence was inevitable : the army gradually became 
the paramount order in the state, fell back upon their em- 
ployers, and swallowed the privileges of the nobility, with 
every right of the people that the nobility had not swal- 
lowed before them. 

In considering the history of modern Europe, we ever 
find the rulers rather than the people lighting up the first 
flame of war, and madly prosecuting it beyond what the 
strength of the nation can support. It may be urged, that 
an unreasonable war has often been a national one. The 
fact is undoubted ; but we must take into the account the 
arts first employed by the rulers to rouse the popular feel- 
ing ; or, supposing it roused without their assistance, the 
arts invariably employed to keep it alive. Pride and pas- 
sion may hurry a people into momentary error, but, if 
left to themselves, time will bring reflection, and reflec- 
tion, reason. The people here are left to themselves 5 
they are their own rulers, their own defenders, their own 
champions ; should they judge hastily, they can retract 
their decision ; should they act unwisely, they can desist 
from error. But there is yet a more important considera- 
tion — they are their own teachers ; not only can none shut 
the book of knowledge against them, but, by an impera- 
tive law, is it laid open before them. Every child is as 


fairly entitled to a plain, but efficient education, as is eve- 
ry man to a voice in the choice of his rulers. Knowledge, 
which is the bugbear of tyranny, is, to liberty, the sus- 
taining staff of life. To enlighten the mind of the Ameri- 
can citizen is, therefore, a matter of national importance. 
In his minority he is, in a manner, the ward of the ruling 
generation ; his education is not left to chance ; schools 
are every where open for him at the public expence, where 
he may learn to study those rights which he is afterwards 
called upon to exercise. In this union of knowledge with 
liberty lies the strength of America. The rights that she 
possesses, she perfectly understands. Her blessings she 
not only enjoys, but knows to trace to their true sources. 
To suppose, therefore, that she can ever idly fling them 
away, is to suppose her smitten with sudden madness. 
Whatever may be the career of this nation, it must at 
least be singular ; it cannot be calculated by the experi- 
ence of the past. 

It is impossible to enter, for the first time, the romantic 
pass of the Highlands, and to rest the eye upon the inte- 
resting academy of West Point, perched upon one of the 
highest and most rugged pinnacles, without recalling the 
traditionary and historical remembrances of the place. 
In earlier ages this was the region of superstitious terror 
to the Indian, and even the European hunter. The groans 
of imaginary spirits changed in time into the shrill pipe of 
war, and now it is only the mimic drum of the academy 
that rings among the caverns and precipices, through which 
the Hudson rolls his deep and confined waters. 

It was in the fastness of West Point that, in the mo- 
ment of his country's worst distress, the traitor Arnold 
planned his scheme of treachery. There is a moral that 
breathes from the tale, and that is thus pointed out by the 
historian ; u i( enforces the policy of conferring high trusts 
upon men of clean hands, and of withholding all public con- 
fidence from those who are subjected to the dominion of plea- 

116 Arnold's i'klachert. 

sur .'* It is common to separate a man's public from his 
private character : the distinction is more than dangerous, 
it is morally atrocious. It is possible, indeed, that a rapa- 
cious soldier, or an unprincipled minister, may display, in 
domestic life, some pleasing qualities; and it is also pos- 
sible thai a man. notoriously licentious and unprincipled in 
private, may preserve a tolerably lair and consistent poli- 
tical character ; but this is a chance that none have a 
right to reckon upon ; and on the whole it is to be regret- 
ted when this chance occurs. It tends to corrupt the 
public morals ; to lead men of weak heads and strong 
passions to wear their unblushing vices openly, and even 
to make them a passport to distinction. It is probable 
that the example of Arnold served as a useful warning to 
the people of these states, and tended to encourage them 
in the practice of scrutinizing the secret conduct of those 
citizens whom they promote to offices of public trust. 

It is somewhat remarkable, that the licentious and un- 
principled Arnold should have been a native of Connecti- 
cut, a state, as Ramsay observes. " remarkable for the 
purity of its morals, for its republican principles and pa- 
triotism." This ought be wrested into an evidence that 
early education does little towards forming the character 

the man ; but there is a -pecies of restraint, which, if 
suddenly removed, may leave the passions more untamed 
than if no bridle at all had been ever laid upon them. It 
i- not unlikely that the young Arnold was bred up by vir- 
tuous, but narrow-minded puritans, whose doctrines were 
hammered into the head, rather than breathed into the 
heart, and which, afterwards uprooted dining a stormy 
intercourse with the world, left no moral feelings to stem 
the flood of temptation. It was well written by a philo- 
sopher. On a<: dispute jamais sur la vertu.parce quelle vient 
de Dieu, on se querelle sur Its opinions qui moment des 
Ms* The Americans are. for the most part, aware of 


this truth ; even the citizens of Connecticut and New- 
England are gradually coming round to the opinion. 

It is a proud and gratifying reflection, that an arduous 
revolutionary struggle of eight years' duration brought to 
light but one such character as Arnold. This single ex- 
ception was, indeed, a most atrocious one. Born and 
bred among a simple and moral race, embarking the first 
and the boldest in the noblest cause in which a patriot 
could engage, pouring his blood for years freely, and, to 
appearance, ungrudgingly, for a country who acknow- 
ledged his services with a gratitude and generosity such as 
might have melted the heart of a savage, and repaid them 
with a confidence which might have flattered the most 
selfish ambition ; that a man so situated, so held by every 
tie that might seem calculated, not only to induce, but to 
constrain fidelity, should, in the very last years of the 
war, have sold himself for a bribe, and plotted the de- 
struction of the patriotic army which he had so often led 
to victory ; and that, after his treason had been baffled 
he should have served under the standard which he had 
so often and so boldly defied, laying waste the country of 
his nativity, and plundering and butchering the people 
who had so often forgiven his offences, and repaid his ser- 
vices with gold, hardly and yet willingly wrung from then- 
exhausted fortunes ; truly there is in this a hardened de- 
pravity, an atrocious licentiousness, which, to muse upon, 
makes the blood run cold. The spot on the beach was 
pointed out to me, where the traitor met the unfortunate 
young Andre, so unfit to be a party in the scheme of 
wickedness. It seems as if fortune had found a pleasure 
in opposing every contrast that could set off to worst ad- 
vantage the villany of Arnold. The very spy, despatched 
by the enemy, proved too artless to sustain the character 
that was thrust upon him. To portray the feelings of 
these two men, of characters so opposite, met together in 
treasonous conference, in the dead of night, upon the wild 

118 Arnold's treachery. 

and desolate shores of this vast river, might furnish a sub- 
ject for the painter or the dramatist. The little shallop, 
moored upon the beach, which has landed the young 
Andre ; the sloop of war, waiting to assist his retreat, 
sleeping in the distance on the waters ; the out-posts of 
the American army just visible on the tops of the frown- 
ing precipices ; from which, with hasty and unequal steps, 
listening to every breeze, and startling at his own shadow, 
the traitor steals to his appointment. The soldiers meet -, 
and each looks round as apprehending listeners in the 
savage solitude; one trembling with the sense of his 
own iniquity, fearing lest the winds should bear to the lit- 
tle band of patriots, then confiding in his honour, the pur- 
pose of their treacherous commander ; the other ashamed 
of the part in which he is engaged — his honoura- 
ble feelings as a man revolting against the obedience 
he yields as a soldier to the instructions of his general. 
How repugnant to a generous nature, a conference held 
in darkness and disguise, with a cold and calculating vil- 
lain, who stipulates the price for which he will sell his 
unsuspecting countrymen and companions in arms, the 
voice of whose sentinels, perhaps, swells at intervals on 
the ear ! 

The interview was prolonged until the dawn threatened 
them with detection. The young Englishman was forced 
to remain in concealment until the shades of another 
night should favour his escape. Arnold, having secreted 
his companion, returned to his post, to face, without a 
blush, the heroes he had sold. 

The romantic position held by this detachment of the 
patriot army, increases, if possible, the interest of the mo- 
ment : it was posted in a fastness, if not impregnable, yet 
such as gave to a handful of men a superiority over thou- 
sands ; it stretched along the tops of two ridges, broken 
into abrupt precipices, sinking on one side into woods and 
morasses, and on the other shelving precipitously into the 

Arnold's treachery. 119 

deep Hudson, whose channel it here securely shut against 
the enemy. Perched like an eagle in his eyrie, the little 
army looked down securely on its foes. It had many 
distresses to bear, — hunger and nakedness, with all 
their train of evils; but these it bore cheerfully, uncon- 
scious of the fiend who had found his way into this little 
Thermopylae of America, and who, in marking out to his 
assailants its strength and weakness, forgot not the mise- 
ries of its defenders, which, perhaps, in his calculation, 
reduced their number to a cypher. There is something 
greatly affecting, if we suffer ourselves to picture the se- 
curity of this little band, seeking forgetfulness of their suf- 
ferings in sleep, while their commander was stealing forth 
to barter them for gold. The confidence reposed by the 
pure minded Washington in the honour of this veteran 
soldier, is not less affecting. When he solicited the com- 
mand of this important post, (as it soon appeared, for the 
express purpose of selling it to the enemy,) some ventured 
to whisper doubts of his fidelity, probably from the know- 
ledge of his debts, as well as the strong suspicion of his 
having embezzled the public money, and entered into dis- 
graceful contracts and speculations ; but the American 
commander, recollecting the long list of services rendered 
by Arnold to his country, and feeling in himself all the 
honour of a soldier and a man, generously resented the 
suspicions cast on one whose valour and truth seemed to 
have been so tried, and frankly accorded the request pre- 
ferred to him. Had this treasonable scheme succeeded, 
it is painful to calculate the consequences to the country 
and the cause. West Point was, perhaps, the post of 
most importance throughout the whole of the Union. It 
commanded the navigation of the Hudson, secured the 
communication of all the states one with another, and pro- 
tected the whole interior of the country. The enemy, 
already in possession of New- York, would have com- 
manded this great river from its mouth to its head, have 


pierced directly to the lakes, and established a line of 
communication with Canada. The eastern states, thus 
cut off from the southern, and assailed on one side from 
the sea, and on the other by land, would have been com- 
pletely surrounded, and must inevitably have been over- 
run, as the Carolinas had lately been by the army under 
Cornwallis. Not the least calamitous of the effects that 
would have accrued from the loss of West Point, had 
been the blow given to the public confidence by so nefarious 
a treachery. The people might have seen in every officer 
another Arnold, and the soldier have attributed every sub- 
sequent disaster to the treason of their commanders. Nor 
must we overlook in the account, the despair and rage of 
the little army, unsuspiciously devoted to slaughter by 
their own leader, and mingling with their dying groans 
the curses of righteous, but impotent indignation. From 
these calamities America was spared ; and the traveller, 
in visiting this romantic pass, recurs to the tale of Arnold 
as to that of some demoniac hero of a wild drama. 

You remember the circumstances of the closing scene. 
Andre found his retreat by water cut off, and, in disguise, 
took his way to New- York by land. Challenged, within 
a few miles of his own army, by three Americans of the 
New- York militia, he, unpractised in deceit, incautiously 
betrayed himself. Discovering his error, he offered gold, 
with any terms they might farther insist upon ; but he 
had no longer to treat with an Arnold ; he, and the pa- 
pers found upon him, detailing all the particulars of the 
intended treachery, were delivered by his captors to their 
colonel ; and the life of this young officer was forfeited to 
the law. After his seizure, the first object ;f the disin- 
terested Andre was to convey a warning to Arnold : this 
the latter unfortunately received in time to effect hi? es- 
cape. Having joined the British, the traitor well Filed 
up the measure )f his iaio^iity : intimately acquainted 
with all ♦ he distresses of those he had forsaken, he expo- 

Arnold's treachery. 121 

sed their weakness to the enemy he had joined, and ima- 
gined that he knew how to practise on it, by holding 
out offers, calculated at once to tempt their ambition and 
cupidity, and to subdue their spirit, already broken down 
by famine, sickness, and every suffering which can afflict 
humanity ; but there is a strength in man which an Ar- 
nold cannot dream of; there is that virtue which the 
Romans, in their language, finely made synonymous with 
force ; and, truly, that courage which has its seat only in 
the nerves, and which the man shares but in common 
with the brutes, is no more to be compared in lasting 
heat and energy with the heroism of mind, than is the 
parhelion to the sun. The promises of Arnold were im- 
potent as his threats. The fainting soldiers, whom he 
had sought to betray, were nerved by indignation with 
new valour. The country, every where reduced to the 
lowest ebb of calamity, gathered confidence from the very 
circumstance which seemed calculated to annihilate it ; 
not a man deserted his post ; his very sufferings became 
a source of pride, and often of jest ; to be half naked and 
half starving were spoken of as marks by which to know 
a patriot. Thus it is that man, inspired by the noble spi- 
rit of independence, rises above himself, stands superior to 
fortune, and discovers the divine image beneath all the 
weakness and pains of mortality. 

We linger here from day to day, unwilling to leave the 
kind and cheerful circle who administer so pleasingly to 
us the laws of hospitality ; it is time, however, to remem- 
ber that we have yet a long journey to make, and must 
determine to set forward so soon as the skies shall resume 
their wonted serenity. This has been a season of uncom- 
mon heat, and along the whole line of the coast, one of 

uncommon drought. At , in Jersey, during the latter 

days of July, the mercury twice rose, in a northern expo- 
sure, to a hundred ; and for many days successively, when 
the sun was at his meridian, varied from 90 to 96. Some 

m IS 


local causes might there have influenced the atmosphere* 
as [ found its temperature had been some degrees lower 
m other places, but every where it had been unusually 
high. In many parts, where the soil was light, the herb- 
age had totally disappeared, and plants, of considerable 
size and strength, were drooping, and occasionally quite 
bereft of leaves. In ascending the Hudson, we had no 
sooner passed the Highlands, than our eyes fell upon car- 
pets of massy verdure, and woods, whose foliage was 
fresh as if daily washed by showers. We could have 
imagined ourselves in a second spring, but for the tropical 
heat which followed us ; and which was only broken two 
days since by the grandest and longest thunder-storm 
that I ever witnessed. The sun has not yet pierced the 
clouds ; his doing so will be the signal for our departure. 
I have found this extreme heat much less oppressive than 
I could have believed possible ; indeed, I will confess, 
under hazard of your thinking me fit to live with the 
giants under mount iEtna, that I have enjoyed it exceed- 
ingly. I find a purity and elasticity in the air that ex- 
hilarates my spirits, even while I am half melted by its 
fervour. It may strike you as singular, if you never made 
or heard the observation, that the constitution is, in gene- 
ral, not immediately sensible to the extremes of climate. 
It is often remarked here, that a stranger, from a more 
southern latitude, feels the severity of a first winter less 
than the natives, though he should feel the second more ; 
and, in like manner, that one from a temperate climate is, 
for some years, less relaxed by the summer heats, than 
those who have regularly been exposed to them. This 
last seems to admit of an easy explanation ; but I know 
not how wise physicians will account for the former ; if 
they cannot explain the fact, they will, perhaps, dispute 
it, and far be it from me to provoke their wrath by insist- 
ing upon it. 

In this neighbourhood nature presents many beautiful. 


and some grand features ; chief among these, is the well- 
known cataract of the Mohawk ; whose waters precipi 
tate themselves over a fine w 7 all of rock just before the} 
unite with those of the Hudson. Its height is stated va 
riously; perhaps sixty feet is nearest the mark; its im 
mense breadth is by some accounted a disadvantage ; 1 
imagine this to be the true source of its grandeur, partial 
larly as there is nothing in the surrounding scenery to as- 
sist the effect. For us, however, circumstances combined 
to throw charms around the spot, when beneath an Ita- 
lian sky, and on a carpet of verdure which fairy feet might 
have sought to print their magic rings, we stretched our- 
selves with * * * * under the shade of a spreading tree, 
and cast our eyes upon the foaming Cohoez, whose dash 
and roar seemed to cool the fervid air. A group of smi- 
ling handmaids meantime spread a repast which an epi- 
cure might have envied. The scene, the air, the laugh- 
ing heavens, and the cheerful companions, have graven 
the place on my memory as one of those " sunny spots" 
which chequer with gold the shadowy path of human 

There are several very pleasing falls of water to be 
found in the hills of the surrounding country, and though 
in grandeur that of the Mohawk stands pre-eminent, in 
beauty some may more than rival it. I have frequently 
been surprised, in the small section of this vast country 
that I have visited, to find, upon a more close examina- 
tion, wild and romantic features in a landscape whose out- 
line wore a character of mild beauty or dull uniformity ; 
rocky glens, clothed with shaggy wood, and traversed by 
brawling streams, broken into cascades, are not unfre- 
quently found in hills, rising gently out of vast and swampy 
plains, or skirting valleys, watered by placid rivers, whose 
banks of alluvial soil are rich with golden harvests. The 
broken course of America's rivulets and rivers has, I be- 
.lieve. among other appearances, led the scientific to sup- 


pose this a world of later formation than the other.. 1 was 
once much startled by the eager refutation which this hy- 
pothesis received from an American naturalist, no less re- 
markable for the simplicity of his character, than for his 
enthusiasm in his chosen pursuits. Chancing to put a 
modest query to the philosopher upon the results of his re- 
searches into the age of his native continent, I quickly 
perceived, that to question her antiquity, were as though 
you should question her excellence, and you will believe, 
that I bowed out of the subject, (for I had never presumed 
to make it an argument,) with all possible politeness and 





Car.andaigua, August, 1819. 


What is there in life more pleasing than to set forward 
on a journey with a light heart, a fine sun in the heavens 
above you, and the earth breathing freshness and fra- 
grance after summer rain ? Let us take into the account 
the parting good wishes of friendship, recommending you 
to a kind fortune, and auguring pleasant roads, pleasant 
skies, and pleasant every thing. A preux Chevalier, in 
olden time, setting forth in a new suit of armour, buckled 
on by the hand of a princess, to seek adventure through 
the wide world, might be a more important personage 
than the peaceful traveller of these generations, who goes 
to seek waterfalls instead of giants, and to look at men 
instead of killing them ; but I doubt if he was in any way 
happier, or felt one jot more exquisitely the pride and 
enjoyment of life, health, vigor, and liberty. These are 
the moments perhaps, which, in the evening of life, when 
seated in an easy arm-chair, we may rouse our drowsy 
senses by recurring to ; and, like old veterans counting 
their honourable scratches, and all their " hair-breadth 
'scapes in the imminent deadly breach," pour into the 
ears of some curly-pated urchin our marvellous adven- 
tures upon the back of a mule, or in the heart of a stage- 
wagon, with a summary of all the bruises and the broken 


bones, either received, or that might have been received, 
by riding in or tumbling out of it. Should I live to grow 
garrulous in this way, our journey hither may afford a 
tolerable account of bruises, though it is now a subject of 
congratulation with me, whatever it may be then, that 
there must remain a total deficit under the head of frac- 

If our journey was rough, it was at least very cheerful ; 
the weather beautiful, and our companions good humour- 
ed, intelligent, and accommodating. I know not whether 
to recommend the stage-coach or wagon, (for you are 
sometimes put into the one and sometimes into the other,) 
as the best mode of travelling. This must depend upon 
the temper of the traveller. If he want to see people as 
well as things — to hear intelligent remarks upon the 
country and its inhabitants, and to understand the rapid 
changes that each year brings forth, and if he be of an 
easy temper, not incommoded with trifles, nor caring to 
take, nor understanding to give offence, liking the inter- 
change of little civilities with strangers, and pleased to 
make an acquaintance, though it should be but one of 
an hour, with a kind-hearted fellow creature, and if too 
he can bear a few jolts — not a few, and can suffer to be 
driven sometimes too quickly over a rough road, and some- 
times too slowly over a smooth one, — then let him, 
by all means, fill a corner in the post-coach or stage- 
wagon according to the varying grade in civilization 
held by the American diligence. But if the traveller be 
a lounger, running away from time, or a landscape-paint- 
ing tourist with a sketch-book and portable crayons, or 
any thing of a soi-disant philosophe, bringing with him a 
previous knowledge of the unseen country he is about to 
traverse, having itemed in his closet the character, with 
the sum of its population, and in his knowledge of how 
every thing ought to be, knowing exactly how eveiy thing 
is, — or, if he be of an unsociable humour, easily put out 


of his way, or as the phrase is, a very particular gentle- 
man — then he will hire or purchase his own dearborn or 
light wagon, and travel solus cum solo with his own horse, 
or, as it may be, with some old associate who has no hu- 
mours of his own, or whose humours are known by re- 
peated experience to be of the exact same fashion with 
his companion's. In some countries you may, as it is 
called, travel post, but in these states it is seldom that you 
have this at your option, unless you travel with a phalanx 
capable of peopling a whole caravan ; eight persons will 
be sufficient for this, the driver always making the ninth ; 
seated three in a row. 

In this journey, as I have often found before, the better 
half of our entertainment was afforded by the intelligence 
of our companions. It was our good fortune on leaving 
Albany to find ourselves seated immediately by a gentle- 
man and his lady returning from Washington to this their 
residence. He was a native of Scotland, but came to this 
country in his earty youth, followed the profession of the 
law, settled himself many years since in affluence on his 
farm, (which seems rather to furnish his amusement than 
his business,) married into a family that had emigrated 
from New-England, and settled down in the neighbour- 
hood, and lives surrounded not only by all the comforts, 
but the luxuries of life* We were variously joined and 
abandoned by citizens of differing appearance and profes- 
sions, country gentlemen, lawyers, members of congress, 
naval officers, farmers, mechanics, &c. There were two 
characteristics in which these our fellow travellers gene- 
rally, more or less, resembled each other, — good humour 
and intelligence. Wherever chance has as yet thrown 
me into a public conveyance in this country, I have met 
with more of these, the best articles of exchange that I 
am acquainted with, than I ever remember to have found 

Our second day's journey was long and fatiguing, but 


withal very interesting ; the weather delightful, and the 
scenery pleasing. The road bore every where heavy 
marks of the flagellations inflicted by the recent storms. 
Tt seemed often as if not only the rain but the lightning 
had torn up the ground, and scooped out the soil, now on 
this side, and now T on that; into which holes, first the 
right w r heel of our vehicle, and anon the left making a 
sudden plump, did all but spill us out on the highway. 
To do justice to ourselves, w T e bore the bruises that were 
in this manner most plentifully inflicted, with very tolera- 
ble stoicism and unbroken good humour. 

Gaining the banks of the Mohawk, we traced its course 
for sixty miles, which, between the lower cataract of the 
Cohoez and the upper falls, flows placidly through a 
country finely varied, rich with cultivation, and sprinkled 
with neat and broad-roofed cottages and villas, shadowed 
with trees, and backed with an undulating line of hills, 
now advancing and narrowing the strath, and then rece- 
ding and leaving vistas into opening glades, down which 
the tributaries of the Mohawk pour their waters. Massy 
woods every where crown and usually clothe these ridges ; 
but indeed, as yet, there are few districts throughout 
this vast country where the forest, or some remnants of 
it, stand not within the horizon. 

The valley of the Mohawk is chiefly peopled by old 
Dutch settlers ; a primitive race, who retain for genera- 
tions the character, customs, and often the language of 
their ancient country. Of all European emigrants, the 
Dutch and the German invariably thrive the best, locate 
themselves, as the phrase is here, with wonderful sagacity, 
and this being once done, is done for ever. Great must be 
the penury from which this harmless people fly, w r ho are 
thus attached to the ways of their fathers, and who, once re- 
moved to a land yielding sustenance to the swart hand of 
industry, plant so peacefully their penates, and root them- 
selves so fixedly in the soil. As a settler next best to 


the German, thrives the Scot ; the Frenchman is given 
to turn hunter ; the Irishman, drunkard, and the English- 
man, speculator. Amusement rules the first, pleasure 
ruins the second, and self-sufficient obstinacy drives head- 
long the third. There are many exceptions, doubtless, to 
this rule ; and the number of these increases daily, — and 
for this reason it is a higher class that is at present emi- 
grating. I speak now more particularly of England. It 
is men of substance, possessed in clear property of from 
five hundred to five thousand pounds, who now attempt 
the passage of the Atlantic. I know of thirteen families 
who lately arrived in these states from the Thames, not 
one of which is possessed of less than the former sum, 
and some of more than the latter. I fear that the policy 
of England's rulers is cutting away the sinews of the 
state. Why are her yeomen disappearing from the soil, 
dwindling into paupers, or flying as exiles ? Tithes, taxes, 
and poor-rates — these things must be looked into, or her 
population will gradually approach to that of Spain, 
beggars and princes ; the shaft of the fair column reft 

Something less than twenty miles below Utica, the 
river makes a sharp angle, in the manner of the Hudson 
at West Point, running into a cleft or gap, forced in pri- 
meval times, with dreadful convulsion, through the ridge 
along the base of which it afterwards so peacefully winds. 
The Mohawk assumes here much the character of Loch 
Katrine at the Trosachs ; the beetling crags, and rocks 
in ruin hurled, and shaggy wood, grooved in the dark cre- 
vices, and little coves, where the still clear water stirs 
not the leaf that has dropped upon its bosom. But there 
is no Ben-Venue and Ben- Ann to guard the magic pass ; 
nor lady with her fairy skiff, nor is the fancy here entitled 
to image her ; it may, however, if it be sportively in- 
clined, picture out the wild Indian paddling his canoe, or 
springing from rock to rock, swift as the deer he pursues. 



It is evident that the water once occupied the whole 
breadth of the ravine, when it must have boiled and ed- 
died with somewhat more tumultous passions than it 
shows at present. The huge misshapen blocks that now 
rise peacefully out of the flood, beetle over the head of 
the passenger, or, standing in the line of his rough path, 
force him variously to wheel to right or left, bear on their 
sides the marks of the ancient fury of the subdued ele- 
ment, which, now having sunk its channel, leaves room 
for the road to scramble an intricate way by its side. 
When about to issue from the chasm, you open upon the 
Lesser Falls, so called in contrast to the greater cataract 
at the mouth of the river. It is a wild scene, and helps 
the fancy to image out the uproar that must in former 
ages have raged in the depths of the pass below. How 
astounding it is to trace in the vast works of nature the 
operations of time ; so mighty, and yet so slow, silent, 
and unseen ! The whole known history of man reaches 
not back to the date of some crevice in a mountain ; each 
fathom, worn by a river in his rocky bed, speaks of untold 
generations, swept from the earth, and lost from her re- 
cords. How grand is the solemn march of nature still 
advancing without check, or stop, or threat of hindrance I 
Ages are to her as moments, and all the known course- 
of time a span. 

We reached Utica very tolerably fagged, and bruised 
as I could not wish an enemy. A day's rest well re- 
cruited us, however, and gave us time to examine this 
wonderful little town, scarce twenty years old. An inn- 
keeper here, at whose door fifteen stages stop daily, car- 
ried, eighteen years since, the solitary and weekly mail 
in his coat pocket, from hence to Albany. This new- 
born Utica already aspires to be the capital of the state, 
and in a few years it probably will be so, though Albany 
is by no means willing to yield the honor, nor New- York 
the convenience, of having the seat of government in her 


neighbourhood ; but the young western counties are such 
stout and imperious children, that it will soon be found 
necessary to consult their interests. 

The importance of Utica will soon be increased by the 
opening of the great canal, destined here to join the Mo- 
hawk. We swerved the next day from our direct route 
for the purpose of looking at this work, now in considera- 
ble progress, and which, in its consequences, is truly 
grand, affording a water high- way from the heart of this 
great continent to the ocean ; commencing at Lake Erie. 
it finds a level, with but little circuit, to the Mohawk ; 
at the Lesser Falls are some considerable locks ; others 
will be required at the mouth of the river, where the 
Hudson opens his broad way to the Atlantic. It is 
thought that four or five years will now fully complete 
this work. The most troublesome opposition it has en- 
countered, is in the vast Onondaga swamp, and not a 
few of the workmen have fallen a sacrifice to its pestilen- 
tial atmosphere. 

Leaving Utica, the country begins to assume a rough 
appearance ; stumps and girdled trees encumbering the 
inclosures ; log-houses scattered here and there ; the cul- 
tivation rarely extending more than half a mile, nor usual- 
ly so much, on either hand ; when the forest, whose face is 
usually rendered hideous to the eye of the traveller by a skirt- 
ing line of girdled trees, half standing, half falling, stretches 
its vast, unbroken shade over plain, and hill, and dale : 
disappearing only with the horizon. Frequently, how- 
ever, gaining a rising ground (and the face of the country 
is always more or less undulating) you can distinguish 
gaps, sometimes long and broad, in the deep verdure, 
which tell that the axe and the plough are waging war 
with the wilderness. Owing to some disputed claims in 
the tenure of the lands, cultivation has made less progress 
here than it has farther west, as we found on approaching 
the Skneneatalas, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, and Ca- 


nandaigua lakes. Having passed the flourishing town of 
Auburn, we found the country much more open ; well- 
finished houses, and thriving villages, appearing conti- 
nually. The fifth day from that of our departure from 
Albany brought us to this village, where our kind fellow 
travellers insisted on becoming our hosts. The villages 
at the head of the different lakes I have enumerated above, 
are all thriving, cheerful, and generally beautiful ; but 
Canandaigua, I think, bears away the palm. The land 
has been disposed of in lots of forty acres each, one being 
the breadth, running in lines diverging on either hand 
from the main road. The houses are all delicately paint* 
ed ; their windows with green Venetian blinds, peeping 
gaily through fine young trees, or standing forward more 
exposed on their little lawns, green and fresh as those of 
England. Smiling gardens, orchards laden with fruit — 
quinces, apples, plums, peaches, &c. and fields, rich in 
golden grain, stretch behind each of these lovely villas \ 
the church with its white steeple rising in the midst, over- 
looking this land of enchantment. 

The increase of population, the encroachment of culti- 
vation on the wilderness, the birth of settlements, and 
their growth into towns, surpasses belief, till one has been 
an eye-witness of the miracle, or conversed on the spot 
with those who have been so. It is wonderfully cheer- 
ing to find yourself in a country which tells only of im- 
provement. What other land is there that points not the 
imagination back to better days, contrasting present de- 
cay with departed strength, or that, even in its struggles 
to hold a forward career, is not checked at every step by 
some physical or political hindrance ? 

I think it was one of the sons of Constantine, I am sure 
that it was one of his successors, who, returning from a 
visit to Rome, said, that he had learned one thing there, 
" that men died in that queen of cities as they did else- 
where." It might require more, perhaps, to remind a 


stranger of the mortality of his species in th£se states, 
than it did in old Rome. All here wears so much the 
gloss of novelty — all around you breathes so much of the 
life and energy of youth, that a wanderer from the an- 
tique habitations of time-worn Europe might look around, 
and deem that man here held a new charter of existence ; 
that time had folded his wings, and the sister thrown 
away the shears. 





Genesee, August, 1819, 

Taking a kind farewell of our hospitable friends in 
Canandaigua, we struck into the forest, and by a cross 
road, helter skelter over stumps and logs, rattled in a 
clumsy conveyance to this thriving settlement on the 
banks of the Genesee. The road, though rough, was not 
wholly without its interest ; at first, opening prospects of 
hills and vallies, where sometimes the white walls of a 
young settlement glanced in the sun, relieving the bound- 
less " continuity of shade ;" and then bordered occasion- 
ally with corn-fields and young orchards of peach and 
apple, groaning beneath their weight of riches. The 
withered trees of the forest stood indeed among them ; 
but though these should mar beauty, they give a charac- 
ter to the scene that speaks to the heart, if not to the eye. 
We were received with a warm welcome by Mr. and 
Mrs. Wadsworth, a name you are already acquainted 
with. The American gentleman receives his guest in the 
true style of old patriarchal hospitality — with open hand 
at the gate ; and leads you over the threshold with smi- 
ling greetings, that say more than a thousand words. 
There is about him an urbanity, and a politeness, breath- 
ing from the heart, which courts and cities never teach. 


Nothing seems to be disarranged by your presence, and 
yet all is ordered for your convenience and amusement ; 
you find yourself, in a few minutes, one of the family ; 
frankness and friendliness draw forth the same feelings 
from you ; you are domesticated at the hearth and the 
board, and depart at last with heart overflowing, as from 
some home, endeared by habit, and sacred association. 

This house stands pleasantly on the gentle declivity of 
a hill, commanding a fine prospect of the Genesee Flats 
(beautiful prairie land bordering the river,) and the rising 
grounds, covered with dark forests, bounding them. Some 
scattered groups of young locust trees spread their chequer- 
ed shade upon the lawn ; down which, as seated beneath 
the porch, or in the hall, with its wide open doors, the eye 
glances, first over a champaign country, speckled with 
flocks and herds, and golden harvests ; and then over pri- 
meval woods, where the Indian chases the wild deer. To 
the right stretches a scattered village of neat white houses, 
that have just started into being ; from the bosom of which 
rises the spire of a little chapel, flashing against the sun ; 
behind, barns, stables, and out houses ; and to the right a 
spacious and well-replenished garden, with orchard after 
orchard, laden with all the varieties of apple, pear, and 

. Mr. Wads worth is the patriarch of the Genesee district. 
He is a native of New-England, in whose earliest history 
the name appears frequently and honourably. It is 
scarcely nineteen years since this gentleman, with his 
brother, Col. Wads worth, pierced into these forests, then 
inhabited only by the savage and his prey. The rich and 
open lands here stretching along the river, fixed their at- 
tention, and having purchased a considerable tract of land 
from the Indian proprietors, they settled themselves down 
among them. The first six years were years of fearful 
hardship ; every autumn brought fevers, intermitting and 
bilious, and this too in a wilderness where no comforts nor 


conveniences could be procured. Their constitutions, 
however, hardened by early temperance, weathered this 
trying season. Other settlers gradually joined them, and 
now a smiling village is at their door, rich farms rising 
every where out of the forest, and a pure and healthy at- 
mosphere ever surrounding them. Mrs. Wadsworth tells 
me, that her numerous family have never been afflicted 
with sickness of any kind, nor do we hear of any in the 
surrounding neighbourhood. 

I have not yet seen more thriving or beautiful young set- 
tlements than those now surrounding me. Mr. Wads- 
worth is considered as one of the richest proprietors in the 
state; and well has he acquired his wealth, and gene- 
rously does he employ it. Like one of the patriarchs of 
old, he looks round upon Ins flocks and herds, luxuriant 
pastures, and rich fields of grain, bounteous heaven ever 
adding to his store, and feels that, under its blessings, all 
is the reward of his own industry, the work, as it were, of 
his creation. It is truly a grateful sight to see the wilder- 
ness thus transformed into beauty; to see the human 
species absolved from oppression, and, with it, absolved 
from misery, extending their dominion, not unjustly over 
their fellow creatures, but over the peaceful earth, and 
leaving to their posterity the well-earned fruits of their 
industry, and, what is better, the pure example of time 
well employed. In truth it cheers the spirits, and does 
the heart good to see these things. 

Sometimes, indeed, I cannot help contrasting the con- 
dition of the American with that of the English farmer ; 
no tithes, no grinding taxes, no bribes received or offered 
by electioneering candidates or their agents ; no anxious 
fears as to the destiny of his children, and their future estab- 
lishment in life. Plenty at the board ; good horses in 
the stable ; an open door, a friendly welcome, light spirits, 
and easy toil ; such is what you find with the American 
fanner. In England — 


" There is a tale the traveller can read 
Who, on oldTyber's banks, hath check'd his steed, 
And paus'd, and mus'd, and wept upon the wreck 
Of what was Rome." 

You will tell me, perhaps, that I now see the old world 
in contrast with the new ; that this is comparing age to 
youth, a comparison that is either unfair or childish. But 
is it with nations as with individuals ? Have they no se- 
cond youth ? .We have seldom seen that they have ; but 
few in their old age have shown such vigour as England. 
Has she not enough to work her own regeneration ? I 
wish it too well not to believe it. 

" Oh England ! well I love thee ; oft recall 
Thy pleasant fields ; thy hills' soft sloping fall : 
Thy woods of massy shade and cool retreat ; 
Thy rivers in their sedges murmuring sweet, 
Where once, with tender feet, I wont to stray, 
Muttering my childish rhymings by the way ; 
And pouring plenteous sighs, I knew not why, 
And dropping soft tears from my musing eye. — 
Yes ! much I love thee ; — turn not then away 
As tho' thou heardst a heartless alien's lay. 
Childhood and dreaming youth flew o'er this head 
Ere from thy pleasant lawns the wanderer fled ; 
And tho' maturer years have mark'd her brow, 
And somewhat chill'd perchance her feelings now, 
Still does her stricken heart beat warm for thee, 
Much does it wish thee great, — much does it wish thee free. 

Thoughts of a Recluse. 

Forgive me this quotation. It expresses my feelings 
at the moment. I need not say moment ; for they force 
themselves upon me very often. 

It were difficult, perhaps, to conceive man placed in a 
more enviable position than he is as a cultivator of the soil 
in these states. Agriculture here assumes her most cheer- 
ful aspect, and (some Europeans might smile doubtingly, 
but it is true) all her ancient classic dignity, a^ when Rome 



summoned her consuls from the plough. I have seen 
those who have raised their voice in the senate of their 
country, and whose hands have fought her battles, walking 
beside the team, and minutely directing every operation 
of husbandry, with the soil upon their garments, and their 
countenances bronzed by the meridian sun. And how 
proudly does such a man tread his paternal fields ! his 
ample domains improving under his hand ; his garners 
full to overflowing ; his table replenished with guests, and 
with a numerous offspring, whose nerves are braced by 
exercise, and their minds invigorated by liberty. It was 
finely answered by an American citizen to a European 
who, looking around him, exclaimed, " Yes ; this is all 
well. You have all the vulgar and the substantial, but I 
look in vain for the ornamental. Where are your ruins 
and your poetry V " There are our ruins," replied the 
republican, pointing to a revolutionary soldier who was 
turning up the glebe ; and then, extending his hand over 
the plain that stretched before them, smiling with luxu- 
riant farms and little villas, peeping out from beds of 
trees, " there is our poetry." 

It is not always, indeed, that the farmer may aspire to 
affluence, as some of our more ignorant emigrants sup- 
pose. I have seen small proprietors in this country, 
whose life was one continued scene of unbroken toil, and 
whose exertions procured little more to themselves and 
their families, than common necessaries and indispensa- 
ble comforts ; these, however, they may always procure, 
and sometimes by shifting the scene of their industry, may 
ensure more abundant returns. But here again there are 
often positive evils that must be placed in the balance 
against positive good. The hardy citizen, who migrates 
from the more sterile districts of New-England to the vir- 
gin lands of the West, has to encounter fatigues, and but 
too frequently unwholesome vapours to which even his 
vigorous constitution may fall a sacrifice. It is wonder- 


ful to see how cheerfully these physical evils are braved, 
and often how well and speedily they are surmounted ; 
but still, with many, a hard-earned competence with 
health will balance against the chance of greater abun- 
dance, purchased by years of sickness, or perhaps by a 
broken constitution. 

We should, however, but ill appreciate the causes 
which pour the tide of emigration from the east to the 
west, if we considered avarice as giving the sole impetus. 
It is not a mere calculation of dollars and cents, or a 
thousand bushels of corn placed against a hundred, which 
alone sways the mind of the adventurous settler. 

The position of this country, its boundless territory, its 
varied soils and climates, its free institutions, and, favoured 
by these circumstances, the rapid increase of its popula- 
tion, — all combine to generate in this people a spirit of 
daring enterprise, as well as of proud independence. 
They spurn at little hindrances in narrow room, and pre- 
fer great difficulties in a wide horizon. In flying to the 
wilderness, they fly a thousand constraints which society 
must always impose, even under the fairest laws. They 
have here no longer to justle with the crowd ; their war is 
only with nature ; their evils, therefore, are chiefly physical, 
and the comforts they may forego, are amply compensa- 
ted by the frets and cares from which they may be re- 
leased. It is curious to consider the effect which this re- 
lease from moral ills seems to have upon the constitution. 
Those who safely weather out the first hard seasoning, or 
who, from choosing their ground more judiciously, escape 
with but very little, are often found to live to an unusual 
age. It is a singular fact, that the citizens of the new- 
states are often remarkable for uncommon longevity, and 
universally for uncommon stature. This cannot be ac- 
counted for by supposing that they are more exposed to 
air and exercise *, the American farmer is this universal- 
ly ; and though universally the average of his stature is 


above that of Europeans, it were, perhaps, more just to 
ascribe this varying standard of bodily vigour to the less 
or greater pressure of mental solicitude.* 

Were the human mind less sensible to the charms of 
novelty and liberty, the settlement of the new country 
might be left only to the necessitous. As it is, men of 
property, and gentlemen accustomed to all the refinements 
of society, are found among the first occupiers of the wil- 
derness. When Mr. Wadsworth settled in this district, 
he formed the advanced guard of civilization ; a vast 
tract of forest stretched behind him, through which he 
cleared a passage for the necessary implements of hus- 
bandry, with considerable toil and difficulty. The tide 
of human life has now flowed up to him, and is rapidly 
sweeping onward in all directions. 

In the deep verdure of the forest, stretching beyond the 
open lands that border the river, the eye discerns specks 
of a browner hue, which mark where the new settler has 
commenced his work of peaceful industry. It was with 
much surprise, that, in a late excursion, we suddenly 
opened upon a flourishing little village that has started up 
in a couple of years, or little more, in the bosom of the 
forest, a few miles higher up the river. 

It was ie w - arck evening when we reached the settle- 
ment ; and then, turning again among the trees, and ma- 
king a short ascent by a road roughly paved with logs, 
suddenly found ourselves on a lawn, in front of a spacious 

* I perceive that Lieutenant Hall has admitted, among the causes to which 
he ascribes the gigantic stature of the members from the western states, 
whom he observed in Washington, " the absence of mental irritation." The 
other causes which he enumerates, " plentiful, but simple food, a healthy cli- 
mate, constant exercise in the open air," might better account for the differing 
stature between Europeans and Americans generally, than between the Ame- 
ricans of the old and new territory. The climate of the eastern and central 
states, though it should not vie in beauty, must, for some years to come, in 
salubrity, with that of the western districts. The people of these states gene- 
rally are well but simply fed, and continually exercised. The difference, if 
any, can scarcely be sufficient to affect the bodily organs. 


and elegant dwelling. We had already made acquaint- 
ance with its hospitable owner, who, with his wife and 
daughter, had during the day joined our cavalcade in the 

Mr. Hopkinson followed successfully for many years 
the profession of law in the city of New- York. His en- 
terprise and good taste seemed equal to his opulence. 
The neighbouring village has grown up under his eye ; 
his house, both within and without, wears the character 
of convenience and elegance. The manner in which he 
has cleared the forest in the immediate neighbourhood of 
his dwelling, is peculiarly admirable. In general, the 
settler cuts to right and left with unsparing fury, anxious 
only to clear the giant weeds which obstruct the light, 
and choke his respiration. It is a natural impulse, per- 
haps, which leads him thus unthinkingly to lay bare his 
cabin to the heavens ; but some may doubt if it be very 
wise, and all will agree, that it is in very bad taste. I 
know not if the observation has been made by others, but 
it has often occurred to me, that the gap made by the set- 
tler in the dense mass of the forest, must serve as a sort 
of funnel, by which the hot rays of the sun must draw up 
the noxious vapours from the surrounding shades. Were 
he to place his cabin under shelter, and commence his 
chief operations at a little distance, I have a notion that 
his family would both enjoy more comfort and better 
health. I have sometimes put a query upon this subject 
to a farmer, who has invariably assured me, that any sin- 
gle tree, if deprived of the support of its neighbours, 
would infallibly be blown down. This seemed probable 
enough, but as the assurance was generally accompanied 
by some reflections upon the uselessness of the long weeds, 
I felt by no means satisfied that they had ever had fair 
play. I was convinced of this, when, in the neighbour* 
hood of Canandaigua,' we found a New-England farmer, 
whose house was surrounded by a fine grove of young 


hickory, which had been cleared out with care, and stood 
in perfect health and security. 

Mr. Hopkinson has tried the experiment on a larger 
scale, and cleared the forest around his dwelling in such 
a manner as to give to it the air of a magnificent park. 
It is surprising to see how soon these giants have thrown 
down their branches, rejoicing in the air and light sudden- 
ly opened to them. When first exposed, they have the 
appearance of enormous ship-masts, their smooth, silvery 
stems, towering to the skies, sustaining on their heads a 
circular canopy of verdure, like the umbrella of a Brog- 
dignag. There is one peculiarity that characterizes the 
American forest, which is wonderfully favourable to the 
ornamental clearer $ it is the general absence of brush, 
and the fine smooth carpet of verdure spread by the hand 
of nature over the surface of the soil.* It is doubtless 
necessary, in this operation, to proceed with much cau- 
tion, and to consult the nature of the soil as well as of 
the tree you intend to preserve. A fence from the north- 
west must usually be indispensable. Every thing seems 
to have favoured Mr. Hopkinson's improvements ; and 
we should have been well pleased, had time permitted us 
to have surveyed them more at leisure. 

Entering the house, the shade of its broad piazzas and 
Venetian blinds, through which the evening breeze play- 
ed sweetly, refreshed us much after the fatigues and heats 
of the day. From the windows the eye glanced down 
the hill, through vistas tastefully opened in the dease 
shade, upon the rich valley, watered by the river, and 
the undulating lands which lay beyond 5 the last rays of 
the sinking sun flashed upon the white walls of the little 

* May not this be the cause, which, by affording facilities to the hunter, 
served to arrest the aborigines of North America in the savage state ? The 
woods of the southern continent are represented as impeded by luxuriant 
and impervious vegetation. Man, thus shut out* from the covert, and driven 
to seek the open plains and valleys, was there naturally lured to the pasto- 
ral and agricultural life. 


town of Genesee, perched upon the distant horizon, and 
shed a flood of glory upon the wide world of primeval 
forest that stretched around. 

While refreshing ourselves with a variety of delicious 
fruit, and, for myself, looking round in wondering admi- 
ration at this house of enchantment, for truly, containing, 
as it did, every convenience and luxury that art could 
afford, and planted down thus in the bosom of the wil- 
derness, it seemed like nothing else than some palace of 
the genii, — while thus gazing and admiring, a pleasing 
young woman entered, the wife of a neighbouring settler. 
She prolonged her stay until the sun had bade good night, 
and then, requesting us to look in upon her in her log- 
house before our departure, remounted her horse, disap- 
peared in the forest, and gained her home seven miles 
distant, more by the sagacity of the steed than any twink- 
ling of the stars. 

We made her a visit next day. The dwelling, though 
small, and every way inconvenient, as one might have 
imagined, to those accustomed to all the comforts of a 
city life, (for this gentleman is an emigrant from Boston, 
Massachusetts,) was rather of larger dimensions than the 
ordinary log-house, being divided into a room and kitchen, 
and having a sleeping apartment above. With all these 
extras, however, the dwelling was comfortless enough 
for a five years' residence ; yet its owners seemed con- 
tented in it, putting off from year to year the building of 
a better, and finding in this narrow and ill-finished tene- 
ment in the wilderness, that contentment which many live 
and die without finding in a palace. 

Returning from this excursion, we again traversed the 
open prairie that here stretches along the water-course, 
and forms the richest portion of Mr. Wadsworth's mag- 
nificent property. We often paused to admire the giant 
trees, scattered tastefully here and there by the hand of 
nature ; their enormous trunks, rooted in alluvial soil. 


pointing up their stems into mid air, like the columns of 
some Gothic minster, and then flinging abroad their migh- 
ty arms, from which the graceful foliage dropping down- 
wards, opposed, in beautiful contrast, the rich verdure 
with the clean and polished bark. The finest trees that 
I had ever before seen, had been dwarfs, if placed beside 
these mighty giants. 

The art of ornamental planting has, as yet, been little 
cultivated in these states. The native forest is generally 
in sight ; and, as the human eye is prone to rest with 
pleasure on what is uncommon, an American usually 
considers an open plain as nature's most beautiful feature. 
The settler's first desire is to have a clear view of the 
heavens ; when his patch of ground is completely naked, 
he tells you, that it looks handsome. As the dense shade 
of the forest recedes, a tree, in his mind, becomes less as- 
sociated with wolves and bears, swamps and agues ; and 
gradually he conceives the desire that some sheltering 
boughs were spread between his roof and the scorching 
rays of July's sun. His object now is to plant the tree 
that will grow the fastest ; and, consequently, the finest 
sons of the forest are seldom those that he patronises. In 
the older districts of the Union that I have visited, espe- 
cially in Pennsylvania, I have admired trees of a very 
noble character, surrounding the dwelling of the farmer, 
or dropped through his fields as a shelter for the cattle. 

Of the American oak, there are upwards of thirty va- 
rieties ; almost as many of the walnut ; several of the elm, 
which is a tree of very uncommon majesty. The syca- 
more of the Ohio, which can receive half a regiment of 
soldiers within its trunk, seems to realize the wildest fa- 
bles of marvel-loving travellers. The maple and the 
hickory are also remarkable ; the former for its elegance, 
and the latter for the rich colour of its foliage ; the ash ; 
the white pine, rising in pre-eminent grandeur ; the scent- 
breathing cedar ; the graceful acacia ; the wild cherry, 


with its beautiful fruit clustered on the stalk like currants ; 
and, among the flowering trees, the sweet locust, breath- 
ing the breath of violets ; the catalpa, with its umbrageous 
leaves, and luxuriant blossoms ; the majestic tulip, point- 
ing up his clean and unencumbered shaft, and throwing 
down his branches heavy with polished foliage and mil- 
lions of flowers. Indeed the varieties of the native trees 
are almost endless ; and when cultivated with care, and 
arranged with taste, may even surpass in majesty the 
woodland tribe of England. 

It has struck me that the American trees (I speak of 
them when reared for ornament, or dropped by the hand 
of nature with more taste perhaps than art could rival,) 
have a character which might be termed one of simple 
majesty, while those of England are remarkable for a ro- 
mantic or even savage grandeur. The gnarled oak, his 
boughs covered with lichens, thrust forth horizontally but 
grotesquely, stands beneath the watery skies of England, 
a hardy veteran, nerved to brave the elements, and op- 
posing his broad and shaggy forehead to the storm, as 
reckless of its fury, and indifferent alike to the smiles and 
the frowns of heaven. Vegetation here being much more 
rapid, the American tree puts forth longer shoots, spring- 
ing upwards to the sun, with a stem straight, smooth, and 
silvery, and flinging forth his sweeping branches to wave 
with every gust. This perhaps applies more peculiarly 
to the elm, a tree of singular grace and beauty, but an- 
swers, more or less, to all the nobler sons of the forest. 
In general, the wood of this country is of superior stature 
to that of our island, but is charged with fewer branches, 
or more properly speaking, twigs. Under an oak in Eng- 
land, you can barely see the winter's heaven ; here, when 
stripped of its foliage, the most rugged tree would afford 
no shelter. There is, in short, less wood, or rather it 
shoots upwards more in straight lines ; the foliage is magni- 
ficent, and wonderfully varied in its shades. You will 



remember the glories of the autumnal tints : their richness 
defies the pen or the pencil. 

The character of the American forest, you are, perhaps, 
familiar with : springing out of a virgin soil, and struggling 
upwards to catch the sun's glance, the stems are frequent- 
ly of enormous stature; and, from the dryness of the at- 
mosphere, wholly free from moss and lichen. I have al- 
ready noticed the absence of brush, and the caipet of ver- 
dure that covers the soil ; where this is firm and diy, no- 
thing can be more pleasing than to wander among these 
primeval shades ; — at least those will think so whose 
eyes are not palled with their eternal contemplation. 
When the first gloom of evening M deepens the horror of 
the woods," it is finely impressive to thread their dark 
mazes, and greatly interesting when the night closes in to 
catch the glimmer of some settler's fire, and, as you ap- 
proach, to see its rays streaming across your path from his 
cabin door. 

During the summer nights, a log hut often presents a 
very singular appearance. It is not unusual, when the 
hot months set in, to clear away the mud which stops the 
interstices between the logs, as they are raised horizontal- 
ly upon each other, so as to allow a free passage to the 
external air. In the darkness of the forest, the light 
streaming through these crevices, gives to the cabin the 
appearance of being either illuminated or on fire. A 
painter might then often pause to consider the family 
group assembled in the little dwelling : the father resting 
after the day's fatigues — his prattling urchins around him, 
while the busy matron prepares the evening meal. In- 
sensible were the heart that could pass without emotion 
this little scene of human industry and human happiness. 
The cotter's evening light is interesting every where ; but 
doubly so when it shines in a world of solitude such as 




Genesee, August, 1819. 

Some days since we made two of a large party to the 
high banks of the Genesee, and in our return visited an 
Indian village. The huts were scattered wildly over a 
little hill jutting forward from the forest, and commanding 
a magnificent prospect down the course of the river. 

These Indians had more of the character of the lords of 
-the wilderness than any I had yet seen ; but even these 
are a wasting remnant that must soon disappear with the 
receding forest. Notwithstanding their frequent and 
friendly intercourse with their white neighbours, they 
keep their language pure, and their manners and habits 
with but little variation. The richness of the soil, or the 
beauty of the spot, seems to have attached them to the 
neighbourhood, as they refuse to sell iheir patrimony, 
though every year makes the game more shy, and, conse- 
quently, the business of the hunter more doubtful and toil- 

The falling greatness of this people, disappearing from the 
face of their native soil, at first strikes mournfully on the ima- 
gination ; but such regrets are scarcely rational. The sa- 
vage, with all his virtues, and he has some virtues, is still a 
savage, nobler, doubtless, than many who boast themselves 


civilized beings ; nobler far than any race of slaves who hug 
their chains while they sit in proud contemplation of days 
of glory that have set in night ; but still holding a lower 
place in creation than men who, to the proud spirit of in- 
dependence, unite the softer feelings that spring only with- 
in the pale of civilized life. The increase and spread of 
the white population at the expense of the red, is, as it 
were, the triumph of peace over violence ; it is Minerva's 
olive bearing the palm from Neptune's steed. 

Not that the aborigines of this fine country have never 
had to complain of wrong and violence, offered by the in- 
vaders of the soil. The Indian, as he looks mournfully 
upon the scattered remnant of his once powerful tribe, 
recounts a long list of injuries, received by his ancestors 
from those strangers whom they were at first willing to re- 
ceive as friends and brothers. Though he should acknow- 
. ledge, that the right by which the early settlers were will- 
ing to hold a portion of their territory, was that of pur- 
chase, he may justly complain, that the sale had little in 
it of fair reciprocity, which was often rather compelled 
than proposed. The first contracts, indeed, w 7 ere peace- 
ful ; entered into with tolerable fairness on the one side, 
and with willingness on the other ; but it was not in human 
nature, that the native inhabitants should long view with- 
out jealousy the growing strength of new comers, whose 
knowledge, and cultivation of the peaceful arts, secured 
a ratio of increase to their population so far beyond that 
of the wild aborigines ; and whose hardihood, scarce in- 
ferior to that of the savage, marked them as such danger- 
ous antagonists. Actuated by this jealousy, the massacre 
of the various colonies, thinly scattered along the shores 
of the Atlantic, was often attempted ; and, had these sa- 
vage measures been taken in concert by the different 
tribes and nations, the extermination of the obnoxious in- 
truders must have been effected. Hostile feelings, so na- 
turally aroused on the one side, were soon as naturally 


aroused on the other. In these earlier acts of aggression, 
were we to allow nothing to the jealous passions, com- 
mon to the Indians as men, and to the wild passions, pe- 
culiar to them as savages, we might, perhaps, find more 
cause to charge the natives with cruelty and treachery, 
than the European settlers with injustice. 

In considering the sufferings of those hardy adventurers, 
we are filled with astonishment, as well as pity and admi- 
ration. How powerful the charm of independence to re- 
concile man to such a course of hardship ; to lead him 
forth from the pale of civilized life, to seek his subsistence 
among wolves, and bears, and savages ; now exposed to 
Siberian rigours, and then to African heats ; enduring fa- 
mine, and breathing unwholesome exhalations ; lighting 
his nightly fire to ward off the attack of the wild beast, 
and apprehending from every thicket the winged arrow of 
the Indian ! Well may we look to find a proud and vi- 
gorous nation in the descendants of such hardy proge- 

The attacks of the Indians usually ended to their dis- 
advantage ; weakened their numbers, and forced them to 
make concessions. By each succeeding treaty, the bounda- 
ries receded ; and, as the new people gained in strength 
what the natives lost, the latter became as much exposed 
to European rapacity, as the former had ever been to In- 
dian cruelty.- The contention for mastery between the 
French and English, which, had the natives been united 
in their councils, might possibly have afforded them the 
opportunity of ^crushing both, only hurried forward their 
own ruin. The subsequent policy of the British govern- 
ment, so magnificently denounced by the generous Chat- 
ham, which, during her struggle with the revolted colonies, 
raised the war-whoop of their savage neighbours, was the 
cause of additional ruin to the native tribes; whose num- 
bers were always thinned, whatever might be the issue of 
iheir incursion?. 


After the establishment of American independence, the 
Indians soon felt the effect of the wise and humane sys- 
tem of policy, adopted by the federal government. The 
treaties entered into with the natives, have never been vio- 
lated by her sanction or connivance, while she has fre- 
quently exerted her influence to preserve, or to make 
peace between contending tribes. She has sought to pro- 
tect them from the impositions of traders and land jobbers, 
and to lure them to the cultivation of the peaceful arts. 
Among the most useful of the government regulations, are 
those which deprive individuals of the power of entering 
into land contracts with the Indians, and which exclude 
spiritous liquors and fire-arms from the bartering trade 
prosecuted on the western borders. It is to be wished, 
that the Canada government would equally enforce the 
latter regulation. Intoxication has proved a yet worse 
scourge to the wild natives, than the small pox. It not 
only whets their ferocity, but hurries them into the worst 
vices, and consequently the worst diseases. "While blan- 
kets, wearing apparel, implements of husbandly, peltry, 
&,c, are the American articles of barter for the game and 
furs of the Indian hunters, those of the traders of the 
northwest are chiefly spiritous liquors, and fire-arms. 
This secures to them the preference in the Indian market, 
where more furs will be given for a keg of whiskey, or a 
musket, than for a whole bale of woollen goods. But 
this is a short-sighted policy. Tlie northern tribes, armed 
with muskets, and intoxicated with liquor, go to war with 
each other, or else with the more southern tribes ; which 
last they have, in many cases, almost, if not altogether, 
exterminated. The intrigues of European traders, and 
the species of goods exchanged by them with the savages, 
have, of late years, done more towards the extermination 
of the aborigines, by war and disease, than has even the 
rapid spread and increase of the white population, by the 
felling of the forest, and destruction of the game. The 


last cause operates only on the borders ; but the others are 
felt to the Pacific, and the icy barrier of the north. The 
Indians are now disappearing from the face of the earth, 
by the silent, but sure operation of corruption and misery : 
wherever the Canadian trader pierces, he carries poison 
with him, and thus is at once working the destruction of 
the native hunters, and of the rich trade which he prose- 
cutes with them. 

The Americans are the only people who can ultimate- 
ly benefit by the destruction of the tribes, and therefore it 
is highly to the credit of their government to have placed 
the trade under such regulations as are calculated to pro- 
mote the interest of the aborigines. The restrictive laws 
upon the Indian trade are carefully enforced. Govern- 
ment agents, with fixed salaries, are stationed in the line 
of forts protecting the western frontier, to whom appeals 
can always be made by the Indians. Under the eye of 
these agents, trading establishments are conducted, in 
which a fair and stated price is laid upon the American 
articles of barter. This has the effect of constraining the 
private traders to honesty ; who, of course, will find no 
market, if they do not sell on equal terms with the govern- 
ment establishments. The price fixed by the government, 
places on the prime cost what is sufficient to defray the 
expenses of the establishment, which is conducted on the 
strictest principles of American economy. 

The humane policy of the American government in 
this matter, may be supposed to have had in view the 
protection of the white settlements on the frontier, as well 
as of the native tribes. The fact is, however, that the 
introduction of distilled spirits and fire-arms among the 
latter occasions them rather to make war upon each other, 
than upon the distant whites. A quarrel in their feasts 
produces murder, and this is seldom expiated but by 
the blood of the aggressor, and of his tribe. Some of the 
savage incursions on the western frontier have originated 


in disputes between a white and a red hunter ; but such 
quarrels have easily been healed by the intervention of 
the federal government. The cruel Indian wars, which 
have occasionally desolated the frontier, massacreing 
whole families of women, children, and infants at the 
breast, have been invariably produced by the machina- 
tions of Florida, or Canadian traders, or of European 
emissaries. The policy of America upon these occasions 
has proved rather humane than interested. Her friendly 
Indians, more peaceful, and less trained in the use of the 
musket, have proved feeble allies ; and often, by drawing 
upon her for protection from their ferocious neighbours, 
have turned the tide of their enemies' fury upon her 

There are, in many of the states, some sorry remnants 
of the aborigines, settled down as cultivators of the soil : 
and yet this character can hardly be applied to them, so 
little skill, or, what is the same thing, so little interest do 
they exhibit in pursuits so opposed to the habits of their 

In the sale of territory, made at different times by the 
native tribes to the states, and now to the national Con- 
gress, some reservations of particular tracts have been 
stipulated for by the original proprietors. As the white 
population flows up to these districts, the game, of course, 
takes flight, and the wilder hunters take flight with it. 
The Indians are then frequently disposed to move off in 
a phalanx, and to make a final sale of their landed pro- 
perty. Frequently, however, by the humane intervention 
of the legislature, or of philanthropic individuals, the more 
peaceful, which, with the savage, usually signifies the 
more lazy, are induced to remain, and gradually to fore- 
go the occupation of the chase for that of husbandry. 
Thus it is, that, in the vast field of the white population, 
now stretched from the Atlantic to the Missouri, we find 


some little specks of the red Indian, scattered like the 
splinters of a wreck upon the surface of the ocean. 

The issue of these experiments has invariably been 
such as to stamp them with benevolence, rather than wis- 
dom. It is, indeed, truly melancholy to see what slender 
success has hitherto attended all the attempts, whether 
on the part of the legislature, societies or individuals, to 
improve the condition of these half-civilized natives. 
Filth and sloth are in their cabins ; sometimes supersti- 
tion, but very rarely knowledge in their minds. With 
scarcely an exception, the Indian, on emerging from the 
savage state, sinks, instead of rising in the scale of being. 
There are two principal causes to which, perhaps, this 
may be attributed ; first, that the nobler the spirit, the 
more attached is it to its race, and to what it conceives to 
be the dignity of that race. Such fly the approach of ci- 
vilization, and bury themselves deeper in the forest, iden- 
tifying happiness with liberty, and liberty with the wide 
earth's range. Thus it is only the more tame and worth- 
less who are submitted to the experiments of the humane 
or the curious. 

But there is another cause which has operated gene- 
rally to prevent the approach of the Indian habits to those 
of the whites, they have been each too violently opposed 
to the other. Had the red man been less savage, or the 
white man less civilized, each would have yielded a little 
to the other, and the habits of the two people, and gra- 
dually the two people themselves have, in some measure, 
assimilated and amalgamated.* In the southern conti- 

^It may seem strange after this to conjecture, that, had the North- Ameri- 
can continent been colonized entirely by French, this would have happened. 
That people, though in a relish for many of the ornamental arts, seemingl v 
further advanced in mental cultivation than their English neighbours, yet 
from their inferior acquaintance with the science of government, and from 
their being less practised in the exercise of steady industry, there has always 
been a less gap between them and the wild hunter, than between the latter 
and the English. The French have always lived on more friertdly terms 



nent, we see that the haughty and cruel Spaniard often 
condescended to mix his blood with that of his conquered 
vassals ; and it is probable, that many of the early ad- 
venturers consulted their pride, as well as their interest, 
in uniting themselves to the daughters of tributary or 
slaughtered Incas. It is this mixed race, remarkable no 
less for their intelligence than their high spirit, who are 
now working out the deliverance of their country from 
the odious thraldom of Spain, and who are destined, per- 
haps, in the course of a few generations, to rival, in 
strength and civilization, the proudest empires of the old 

The marriage of Rolfe, a companion of the heroic fa- 
ther of Virginia, with the amiable Pocahontas, is almost 
the only instance on record of a legal engagement con- 
tracted by the early settlers with the women of this coun- 
try. From the moral habits and religious principles of 
the former, it is probable, that illicit intercourse was very 
rarely indulged in ; where this might occur, the offspring 
would, of necessity (as well as by the Indian customs) 
remain with the mother, and become incorporated with 
her tribe. The aborigines having remained in statu quo, 
or, if any thing, retrograded in the scale of being, while 
the new population has been making farther advances in 
civilization, it is little surprising that an instance is hardly 
to be found of a mixture between the two races. 

To account for the untameable spirit of the wild Indian, 
or the seemingly unimprovable dispositions of the half-do- 
mesticated Indian, it is not necessary that we should 
imagine any distinctions implanted by nature between the 
red and the white. The savage is not brought within the 

with the natives than either the English or the Anglo-American. Many 
wild Indians have a mixture of French blood in their veins ; and, in the mi- 
serable remains of the old French settlements in the western territory, is 
found a mongrel population, but little removed from the half-civilized sa- 


pale of civilized life in a day. nor a year, nor a generation : 
ages are required to mould him by imperceptible degrees, 
as the water smooths the rock over which it flows ; the hand 
of nature must work, not that of art ; it is circumstance, 
not precept, that must operate on his mind, and lead him, 
unknown to himself, to submit to constraints, and to yield 
to the sway of feelings which his ancestors would have 
spurned. There is a charm in the hunter's life to which 
even the civilized man is not insensible ; it speaks at once 
to the imagination, is felt in the nerves and the spirits, sets 
fate at defiance, cancels the list of the moral ills, and in 
the very increase of the physical, braces the frame to bear, 
and the spirit to mock at them. It would need wiser 
teachers than were easily found to uproot the associations 
that are fixed in his mind, to break the habits that form a 
part of his existence, and that have given the bent to his 
character ; but, even if such teachers could be found, they 
must go to the savage, not bring the savage to them ; they 
must not place him in a world whose feelings and habits 
are as far removed from his, as the east from the west ; 
whose virtues he cannot understand, but whose vices he 
will certainly imitate. 

It has been remarked, that there is no instance of any 
Indian youth, who has been educated in the colleges of 
these states, having risen to distinction, or assumed a 
place in civilized society. We must bear in mind, first, 
that not one in a thousand of any race whatsoever is 
gifted by nature so as to become distinguished. Experi- 
ments of this kind have hitherto been few, and we must 
draw many blanks in a lottery before we can draw a prize. 
Secondly, it may be supposed that the prouder spirits, who 
are usually the stronger intellects, have been those who 
spurned the restraint imposed by habits and laws foreign to 
those of their race, and who fled from the refinements of 
strangers to the savage woods, and the savage ways of 
their fathers. Where is the young mind of vigour and 


enthusiasm that is not curious to trace the character of 
those who gave it being, and is not prone to ascribe to 
it something noble and singularly excellent ? They who 
have known the feelings of an orphan, when in a house 
and country foreign to his race, how he yearns to hear of 
those who nursed his infancy, but whose voice and fea- 
tures are lost to his memory ; how he muses on them in 
solitude, calls upon their names in moments of distress, 
and idly fancies that fortune could never have wrung from 
him a tear, had they lived to cherish and protect him ; 
they whose fate it has been to know such feelings, will 
easily conceive how the young Indian, alone among 
strangers, must look wistfully to the wilderness, where his 
tribe tread the haunts of their fathers, free as the winds, 
and wild as the game they pursue. I know not if the cir- 
cumstances of my own early life have tended to make me 
sympathize peculiarly with such a situation, but the posi- 
tion of the Indian youth, as an alien and an orphan, 
among his American guardians and play-mates, strikes 
me as singularly affecting. 

If we look to those feeble remnants of the aborigines, 
who, here and there, have settled down in the states, under 
protection of their laws, and marvel to see them dwindling 
away from the face of the soil, a prey to the pestilence of 
intemperance and sloth, in spite of all the efforts to reclaim 
them, we may, perhaps, without calling in doubt the judi- 
ciousness of these efforts, perceive that they are counteract- 
ed by circumstances beyond the control either of the legis- 
lature, or of individuals. It is invariably seen that the sa- 
vage, when removed into the centre of a civilized world, ac- 
quires a taste for the coarser indulgences that he finds within 
his reach, before he can be taught to engage in irksome em- 
ployments that promise only moderate and future good. 
Industry and temperance are virtues of calculation, and 
the savage is unused to calculate. When removed from 
the forest, the Indian has lost his accustomed incentives to 


exertion, those more hidden ones that surrounded him he 
does not see, or, if pointed out to him, does not feel. His 
old virtues are no longer in demand, and a length of years 
were requisite to lead him to adopt new ones. Ere this 
season comes, his slender and decreasing numbers will 
probably be reduced to a cypher. In passing lately 
through the Oneida settlement, we saw many cabins de- 
serted, and the inhabitants, who still haunted the remain- 
der, dragging on a drowsy existence, painfully contrasted 
with the life and vigour of the white population that is flow- 
ing past them. In many parts of the old states, such settle- 
ments have totally disappeared, so gradually and silently, 
that none can tell when or how. 

I cannot help remarking, however, upon a circumstance 
which may be supposed to have considerably impeded the 
exertions of the humanizers of the Indian. Religion has 
been too generally employed as the first agent. A prac- 
tical philosopher were the best tutor in this case. The 
more beautiful, not to say the more abstruse the religion, 
the more should the mind be prepared to receive it. The 
untutored ears of the Indians are assailed by teachers of all 
kinds. The Friends and Moravians are undoubtedly the 
best, and their exertions are sometimes partially repaid, 
and even when unsuccessful, humanity is still their debtor. 
But there are sects which this world shares in com- 
mon with the old, who, considered by themselves, are 
harmless, and so far as intention goes, virtuous, but at- 
tending to the effect they work upon others, the weak and 
the ignorant, are as mischievous members as a communi- 
ty can well be troubled with. 

It is strange, in this nation of practical philosophers, to 
find, here and there, a society of the wildest fanatics, and 
a perambulating teacher, compared to whom the wild- 
est followers of Wesley or Whitfield were rational. — 
These strange expounders of the simple lessons of Christ 
are ever most zealously employed in doubly confounding 


understandings already bewildered ; in making the igno- 
rant foolish, and the foolish insane. Their more frequent 
victims are the poor blacks, who are sometimes seen as- 
sembled in crowds round one of these teachers, groaning 
and gesticulating like Pythia on the tripod. Their success 
on the whole is but indifferent among the Indians ; where 
they fail to persuade, they probably disgust, or perhaps 
only astonish ; and though these last are the best of the 
three consequences, it were doubtless as well that they 
were secured from all. 

I suspect that the doctrines, or, more properly, absurdi- 
ties of these wild fanatics, are what chiefly arrest the 
mental advance of the negro in these northern states, and 
form one of the minor causes which prevent that of the 
savage. Among the ignorant, one fool can work more 
harm than twenty wise men can work good ; though in- 
deed with the Indian, it is doubtful whether the wise men, 
if left to themselves, could work much. It seems that 
the fate of the aborigines of this magnificent country is go- 
verned by immutable laws, which no efforts of man can 
turn aside. They appear destined to dwindle away with 
the forests that shelter them, and soon to exist only in 
traditionary lore, or in the wild tale of some wild genius. 

Though it is of necessity singularly difficult to obtain 
any accurate knowledge of a people wholly unacquainted 
with the arts, and possessed of no other means of retailing 
the most important national revolutions than that of oral 
tradition, yet the persevering labours of some American 
citizens and literary societies, as well as of some eminent 
European travellers, have done much towards elucidating 
the past as well as present condition of the native tribes. 
The philosophical society of Philadelphia has more parti- 
cularly collected much valuable information.* 

* The observations of the amiable missionary John Heckevvelder upon the 
history, manners, and customs of the Six Nations, Delawares, Mohicans, &.c, 
lately published at the request of that society, are peculiarly interesting. 


It is certainly greatly desirable that some just know- 
ledge of the aborigines, so fast disappearing from the earth, 
should rapidly be obtained. Europeans in general, may 
peruse with little curiosity the legends of a people with 
whom they or their ancestors were never placed in con- 
tact ; but with Americans they must ever possess a national 
interest, the romance of which will gradually increase 
with their increasing antiquity. 

I hope I do not send you in this letter too serious a dis- 
sertation. 1 sometimes fear lest I answer your questions, 
and those of * * * * with too much detail, and at other 
times with too little. You must allow something occa- 
sionally to my more slender stock of information upon one 
subject than another, and something also to the humour of 
the moment. Farewell. 

Perhaps he may be accounted somewhat partial to his wild associates, but 
his statements are made with so much simplicity, that it is impossible not to 
receive them as accurate. This distinguished missionary is attached to the 
Moravian establishment of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. The Moravians have 
peculiarly distinguished themselves, not merely by their zeal in the religious 
conversion of the savages, but by their patient and judicious exertious to lead 
them to the cultivation of the peaceful arts. 







Niagara, September, 1819. 

We left Genesee on a lovely morning, that breathed the 
first freshness of autumn ; our conveyance one of those 
light wagons universal in these states ; many a kind part- 
ing glance we threw back upon the fair valley, and on the 
roofs which sheltered so much worth, and seemingly so 
much happiness. 

Our route, after some miles, crossed the great western 
road, and traced the course of the Genesee to within 
four miles of its discharge into Ontario. Here the river 
makes three considerable falls. At the head of the first 
stands the flourishing young town of Rochester, and at 
the head of the third one of minor fame, hight Carthage. 

A singular fate seems to pursue the latter colony. A 
farmer w T ith whom I fell into conversation, informed me 
that it had first assumed the more modest appellation of 
Clyde, from the resemblance that some travelled settler 
had discovered between the neighbouring fall of the Ge- 
nesee and that of the Clyde at Stone Byres ; which re- 
semblance, by-the-bye, allowing for the superior dimen- 
sions of the American river, is striking enough. After 
some time the new occupants received information that 
there existed an older settlement of that name in the same 


county ; and, to rectify the confusion that this occasioned 
in the post-office, the Scots changed themselves into Pu- 
nicians ; but now, delenda est Carthago ; it is discovered 
that there are two more infant Carthages, claiming the 
right of primogeniture. 

There is, it must be confessed, the strangest confusion 
of names in the western counties of this state that inge- 
nuity could well imagine. In one district, you' have all the 
poets from Homer to Pope, nay, for aught I know, they 
come down to Byron ; in another, you have a collection 
of Roman heroes ; in a third, all the mighty cities of the 
world, from the great Assyrian empire downwards ; and, 
scattered among this classic confusion, relics of the Indian 
vocabulary, which, I must observe, are often not the least 
elegant, and are indisputably always the most appropriate. 

For the Roman heroes, bad, good, and indifferent, who 
in one district are scattered so plentifully, the new popu- 
lation is indebted to a land-surveyor, and a classical die- 
tionary. Being requested, in parcelling out the lots, to 
affix a name to them, the worthy citizen, more practised 
in mensuration than baptism, shortly found his ingenuity 
baffled, and in despair had recourse to the pages of Lem- 

There is something rather amusing in finding Cato or 
Regulus typified by a cluster of wooden houses ; nor, per- 
haps, are the old worthies so much disgraced as some in- 
dignant scholars might imagine. 

I met with one name on my route which somewhat 
surprised me, and which struck me as yet more inappro- 
priate than the sonorous titles of antiquity, nor was I ilk 
pleased to learn that it had occasioned some demur among 
the settlers. I thought that I had left Waterloo, on the 
other side of the Atlantic, in the streets, bridges, waltzes, 
ribands, hotels, and fly-coaches of Great Britain and Ire- 
land. When objections were made to the founder of the 



little town flourishing under this appellation, the story 
goes, that he called to his aid the stream of water which 
turned the wheel of his mill, gravely affirming, that he 
had that in his eye ; and not the battle in his thoughts, 
when he christened the settlement. " The name speaks 
for itself," said he, with a humourous gravity peculiar to 
his native district of New-England — " lFatcr-\oo." If 
the name did not speak for itself, it was impossible not to 
let him speak for it; and so his neighbours turned away 
laughing, and the title of Waterloo stands more undis- 
puted than that of poor Carthage. 

The falls of the Genesee are well worth going fifty miles 
out of your way to look at. The first is a noble cascade 
of ninety feet. Seen from the bottom, (to get to which 
we had to traverse a marsh and a score of mill-streams,) 
I have since thought is a sort of miniature of Niagara ; — 
but this is wofully comparing small things to great. It is, 
however, a lovely sheet of water, and truly grand when 
you have not seen the wonder of nature that is now roar- 
ing in my ears. I believe w r e should have enjoyed the 
scene more, if the swamp, and the slime, and the mud. 
had not suggested rattlesnakes to the fancy of my com- 
panion. The apprehension was every way groundless ; 
at least we saw no rattlesnakes ; and these reptiles, when 
seen, I believe are seldom seen in mud, but among rocks 
moist with clear water. 

The second fall is inconsiderable compared to that 
either above or below. The third, though not upwards of 
eighty feet, is the most picturesque of the whole. The 
effect is, at present, singularly heightened by a stupen- 
dous bridge, thrown across the chasm, just below the basin 
of the fall, in the manner of that over the Wear at Sun- 
derland. The chord of the arch, as I was informed, is 
upwards of 300 feet ; the perpendicular, from the centre 
to the river, 250. We were desirous of viewing it from 
the bottom of the chasm ; but to do this it seemed neces- 


oary io go two miles farther down the river to seek a boat, 
which even then, we were assured, it would be but a 
chance if we found. To descend to this spot and wait 
t his chance, daylight would hardly have served us. To 
see what we could, we scrambled a fourth of the way 
down, first by means of the wood- work of the bridge, and 
then by advancing cautiously along the shelving edge of 
the precipice, resting our weight on one hand, until we 
reached an acute angle, formed by the roots of a blasted 
pine, which afforded us a narrow footing, while the bro- 
ken stem yielded us support. 

Having assumed this position, which, had we duly con- 
sidered we should perhaps not have ventured upon, we 
gazed up and down with a sensation of terror, that I do 
not remember to have felt in an equal degree more than 
once in my life. Beneath us, on either hand, the preci- 
pice now shelved perpendicularly, or rather we were pro- 
jected over it, so* that a pebble would have dropped into 
the gulf of water below\ To the left, we looked upon 
the falling river ; beneath us, was the basin, broad, deep, 
and finely circular ; opposite, the precipice answering to 
that we stood upon ; on our right was the bridge, suspend- 
ed as it were in mid air. We were on a level with the 
spring of the arch, and I shuddered to observe that, on the 
opposite side, projecting over the precipice, the beams 
which sustained it seemed to rest on a hair's breadth. 
Tracing also the semicircle with my eye, I perceived that 
it was considerably strained, about 20 feet on the same 
side from the centre. Afterwards, on crossing the bridge, 
we found several heavy logs placed over the spot to pre- 
vent the springing of the arch. You cannot conceive the 
horror with which we gazed upwards on its tremendous 
span. After a while, it appeared as if in motion ; and the 
impulse was irresistible which led us to shut our eyes, and 
shrink as in expectation of being crushed beneath its 
weight. I cannot yet recall this moment without shudder- 


ing. Our sight swimming ; our ears filled with the stun- 
ning roar of the river, the smoke of whose waters rose even 
to this dizzy height ; while the thin coating of soil which 
covered the rock, and had once afforded a scanty nourish- 
ment to the blasted tree which sustained us, seemed to 
shake beneath our feet. At the time I judged this to be 
the work of busy fancy. To restore our confused senses, 
and save ourselves from losing balance, which had been 
the loss of life, we grasped the old pine with considerable 
energy, and it was at last, with trembling knees, and eyes 
steadily fixed upon our footsteps, neither daring to look 
up nor down, that we regained the height from which we 
had descended. Having regained it, I thought we never 
looked more like fools in our lives. 

Crossing the bridge, (which brought us down not quite 
to the level we had sought by a more perilous descent on 
the other side,) we walked round upon a fine carpet of 
verdure, kept always fresh by the spray from the basin 
beneath, till we stood above the brink of the fall, and near- 
ly facing the arch. While making this circuit, we again 
shuddered, perceiving, for the first time, that the point we 
had descended to on the opposite side, had a concealed 
peril more imminent than those which had so forcibly 
affected our imagination. The earth beneath the old 
pine, being completely excavated, and apparently only 
held together by one of its roots. A young man„who 
the next day became our fellow traveller, told me that he 
had seen us take this position with such alarm, that his 
blood ran cold for many minutes after we left it ; adding, 
that he had observed the earth crumble beneath our 
weight, and strike in the water below. I know not if his 
fancy had been as busy as ours in exaggerating our perils, 
but I will confess that they were sufficient to startle me 
from sleep twenty times during the ensuing night in all 
the horrors of tumbling down precipices, and falling 
through bridges in the manner of the sons of men, as seeii 


in the vision of Mirza. I have heard it said that the art 
of swimming has lost more lives than it has saved ; per- 
haps the art of clambering has done the same. 

The flourishing town of Rochester, thus strikingly situa- 
ted, is seven years old, — that is to say, seven years ago, 
the planks of which its neat white houses are built, were 
growing in an unbroken forest. It now contains upwards 
of two hundred houses, well laid out in broad streets ; 
shops, furnished with all the necessaries, and with many 
that may be accounted the luxuries of life ; several good 
inns, or taverns, as they are universally styled in these 
states. We were very well, and very civilly treated in 
one of them; but, indeed, I have never yet met with any 
incivility, though occasionally with that sort of indiffer- 
ence which foreigners, accustomed to the obsequiousness 
of European service, sometimes mistake for it. 

In the country, especially, service, however well paid 
for, is a favour received. Every man is a farmer and a 
proprietor; few therefore can be procured to work for 
hire, and these must generally be brought from a distance. 
Country gentlemen complain much of this difficulty. 
Most things, however, have their good and their evil. I 
have remarked that the American gentry are possessed 
of much more personal activity than is common in other 
countries. They acquire, as children, the habit of doing 
for themselves what others require to be done for them ; 
and are, besides, saved from the sin of insolence, which is 
often so early fixed in the young mind. Some foreigners 
will tell you, that insolence here is with the poor. Each 
must speak from his own experience. I have never met 
with any ; though I will confess, that if I did, it would 
offend me less than the insolence offered by the rich to the 
poor has done elsewhere. But insolence forms no cha- 
racteristic of the American, whatever be his condition in 
life. I verily believe that you might travel from the Ca- 
nada frontier to the gulf of Mexico^ or from the Atlantic 


to the Missouri, and never receive from a native bom 
citizen a rude word, it being understood always that you 
never give one. 

On arriving at a tavern in this country, you excite no 
kind of sensation, come how you will. The master of the 
house bids you good-da} 7 , and you walk in ; breakfast, 
dinner, and supper, are prepared at stated times, to which 
you must generally contrive to accommodate. There are 
seldom more hands than enough to despatch the necessary 
work ; you are not therefore beset by half-a-dozen menials, 
imagining your wants, before you know them yourself; 
make them known, however, and, if they be rational, 
they are generally answered with tolerable readiness, and 
I have invariably found with perfect civility. One thing 
I must notice, that you are never any where charged for 
attendance. The servant is not yours but the inn- 
keeper's ; no demands are made upon you except by the 
latter ; this saves much trouble, and indeed is absolutely 
necessary in a house where the servant's labour is com- 
monly too valuable to be laid at the mercy of every 
whimsical traveller ; but this arrangement originates in 
another cause, the republican habits and feelings of the 
community. I honour the pride w r hich makes a man un- 
willing to sell his personal service to a fellow creature ; 
to come and go at the beck of another, — is it not natural 
that there should be some unwillingness to do this ? It is 
the last trade to which an American, man or woman, has 
recourse ; still some must be driven to it, particularly of 
the latter sex ; but she always assumes with you the 
manner of an equal. I have never, in this country, hired 
the attendance of any but native Americans ; and never 
have met with an uncivil word ; but I could perceive that 
neither would one have been taken ; honest, trusty, and 
proud, such is the American in service ; there is a cha- 
racter here which all who can appreciate it, will respect. 

At Rochester we dismissed our waeon: and the fol- 


lowing morning, between three and four o'clock, once 
again seated in the regular stage, struck westward to the 
Niagara river. It was not, I assure you, without some 
silent alarm, that, on leaving Rochester, we crossed by 
starlight the tremendous bridge, for the purpose of opening 
the mail at Carthage. 

The mode in which the contents of the post bag are 
usually distributed through the less populous districts, had 
often before amused me. I remember, when taking a 
cross cut in a queer sort of a caravan, bound for some 
settlement on the southern shore of Lake Erie, observing, 
with no small surprise, the operations of our charioteer ; 
a paper flung to the right hand, and anon a paper flung 
to the left, where no sight or sound bespoke the presence 
of human beings. I asked if the bears were curious of 
news ; upon which I was informed, that there was a set- 
tler in the neighbourhood, who ought to have been on the 
lookout, or some of his children for him. " But when I 
don't find them ready, I throw the paper under a tree : 
and I warrant you they'll look sharp enough to find it ; 
they're always curious of news in these wild parts;" and 
curious enough they seemed, for not a cabin did we pass 
that a newspaper was not flung from the hand of this en- 
lightener of the wilderness. Occasionally making a halt 
at some solitary dwelling, the post bag and its guardian 
descended together, when, if the assistance of the farmer, 
who here acted as postmaster, could be obtained, the 
whole contents of the mail were discharged upon the 
ground, and all hands and eyes being put in requisition, 
such letters as might be addressed to the surrounding dis- 
trict, were scrambled out from the heap ; which, being 
then again scrambled together, was once more shaken in- 
to the leathern receptacle, and thrown into the wagon ; 
but it sometimes happened, that the settler was from 
home. On one occasion, I remember, neither man, wo- 
man, nor child, was to be found ; the stage-driver whis- 


tied and hallooed, walked into the dwelling, and through 
the dwelling, sprang the fence, traversed the field of maize, 
and shouted into the wood ; but all to no purpose. Hav- 
ing resumed his station, and set his horses in motion, I 
inquired how the letters were to find their destination, 
seeing that we were carrying them along with us, heaven 
knew where ? " Oh ! they'll keep in the country any 
how ; it is likely indeed, they may go down the Ohio, and 
make a short tour of the states ; this has happened some- 
times ; but it is a chance but they get to Washington at 
last ; and then they'll commence a straight course anew, 
and be safe here again this day twelvemonth may be, or 
two years at farthest.' 1 

At Carthage we found the postmaster, very natural]) 
fast asleep ; after much clatter against his door and 
wooden walls, he made his appearance with a candle, 
and according to custom, the whole contents of the mail 
were discharged upon the floor. The poor Carthaginian 
rubbed his eyes, as he took up one letter after another 
from the heap before him ; but his dreams seemed still 
upon him. " Not a letter can I see," he exclaimed, as 
he again rubbed his eyes, and snuffed his candle. " Friend, 
lend me your eyes, or you may just take the whole load 
away with you." " I am none of the best at decypher- 
ing handwriting," replied the driver. t; Why then I 
must call my wife, for she is as sharp as a needle." The 
wife was called, and, in gown and cap, soon made her 
appearance ; the candle and the papers placed in the 
middle, wife, husband, and driver, set about decyphering 
the hieroglyphics ; but that the wife had the character of 
being as sharp as a needle, I should have augured ill of 
the labours of this triumvirate. Whether right or wrong, 
however, the selection was soon made, and the budget 
once again committed to the wagon. 

The road between this and Lewiston is chiefly re- 
markable from its being, such as it is. the work of nature : 


a bed of gravel was discovered to run almost in a direct 
line, its breadth seldom greater than that of the road to 
the Niagara river, commencing four miles from the Gene- 
see. Between Utica and the lesser Falls of the Mohawk, 
the great western road strikes into a shorter ridge of the 
same description, but which there crosses a deep valley, 
while here it is scarce raised above the vegetable soil it 
traverses : for forty miles this natural highway, formerly 
the confining boundary of the waters of Ontario, remains 
unbroken, save now and then where it gives passage to 
some muddy creek, the sluggish drain of the vast swamps 
whose noxious exhalations breed fevers, intermitting and 
bilious, during the autumnal months, in the new and 
scanty population. Five years since there was but one 
log house between Rochester and Lewiston. A citizen 
who got into the stage during the morning for a dozen 
miles, and who united the professions of doctor and farmer, 
and painter also, if I understood right, told me that he had 
five-and-thirty patients within the stretch of one mile. 
This may convey to you some idea at once of the rapid set- 
tling of the country, and the physical evils that the first oc- 
cupiers of the soil have to encounter. We did not enter 
a house in which there were less than two of the family 
either in bed, or looking as if they ought to be there. The 
autumn is always the trying season, and the prolonged 
and extreme heats of the summer months have this 
year doubled its usual fatality. These evils, dreadful 
while they last, are, however, but temporary ; as the axe 
and the drain advance into the forest, the maParia re- 
cedes. It would recede more rapidly, as well as more 
certainly, if the new settlers would contrive to do with- 
out, or at least with fewer mills. The collection of the 
waters from the creeks and the swamps, soon brought by 
the action of a powerful sun to a state of putrefaction, in- 
creases tenfold the deadly air already spread by nature. 

I could not pass one of these reservoirs of disease without 



a siokness at the heart ; and this was not a little increased 
when a young fanner was assisted by his father into the 
wagon, seemingly in the last stage of decline. As I 
placed the poor creature in the seat least uneasy of the 
comfortless vehicle, and arranged a buffalo skin with the 
addition of a great coat behind his back, he told me he 
was recovering from the intermitting fever, and going to 
seek change of air at the house of a neighbour, twenty 
miles distant. The family had migrated from New-Eng- 
land some two years since, and had been perfectly healthy 
until the late erection of a mill in the close neighbourhood 
of their dwelling. After a stage of fifteen miles, he left us 
to be rattled over a causeway of logs that struck off into 
the forest at a right angle from the road, and which might 
have shattered limbs less feeble than those of this living 
spectre. "God help thee over it!" said I inwardly, as 
the poor youth was lifted half fainting into a wagon. 

Forty miles from Lewiston, the ridge is broken for a 
considerable extent ; and the log causeway, through a 
deep swamp that fills up the deficiency, is only to be cross- 
ed on foot. Fatigued and bruised as we by this time 
were, it was no easy matter to clamber over these cruel 
miles, which, though few, seemed eternal. We might 
have broken this heavy journey, for there were numerous 
dwellings which a sign, swinging upon a pole before the 
doors, designated as taverns ; and occasionally, in the 
young settlements, which, in the earlier section of our 
route, already flourished under the name of towns, and 
the appearance of villages, these travellers rests were, all 
things considered, of very tolerable appearance. But we 
were anxious A,o relieve our eyes from the sight of squalid 
laces, and our ears from the eternal sound of ague and 
fever, which we trusted to do on emerging from these 

For the first forty miles, the road was, with some inter- 
missions, bordered by a line of cultivation ; or, where the 


plough had not absolutely turned up the soil, the axe was 
waging war with the trees. To this succeeded a stretch 
of forest ; relieved at long intervals by the settler's rugged 
patch, smoking with burning timber, and encumbered with 
blackened logs. 

A log road, or causeway, as it is denominated, is very 
grievous to the limbs ; and when it traverses a dense and 
swampy forest, is not very cheering to the eyes ; nor al- 
ways is the travelling greatly more agreeable when, in 
lieu of the trunks of trees, you are dragged over their roots, 
and a soil scooped into holes. Storms had been busy here 
also ; immense trees had been torn up from their beds, 
and the road, never in its best days over smooth and de- 
licate, cut and channelled into sevenfold ruggedness and 
deformity. And yet, had it been a healthier season, these 
heavy miles would not have been altogether without their 
interest. There was, indeed, neither rock, nor dale, nor 
hill, nor pleasant valley ; nothing but the settlers cabim 
and now and then a growing village, backed by the rag- 
ged forest. But had health here dwelt with industry, the 
eye might have found beauty even in this monotonous 
landscape ; as it was, all seemed sad and cheerless in this 
young world ; the stroke of the axe fell mournfully on the 
ear, when the hand that lifted it seemed unnerved by past 
or approaching sickness ; the cabin told nothing of the stir 
of human life ; one solitary figure was sometimes the only 
moving creature within its walls. I shall not soon forget 
the aspect of a young family who were scattered over a 
little knoll, jutting forward from the forest into the waters 
of a creek that came sluggishly winding through the 
shades. A group of urchins, some sitting, some stand- 
ing, were gathered, possibly to observe our approaching 
vehicle ; the gaze of their lustreless eyes, and the hue of 
their sallow cheeks, haunted me for many hours after- 

The settlers' fires have now scared away the wolves 


and bears, who, not five years since, held undisputed do- 
minion in these unbroken shades ; as many more, and the 
noxious vapours may be dispersed also : it is possible, 
however, that the low tracts in the neighbourhood of the 
great northwestern waters may never be wholly free from 
autumnal sickness. We started twice or thrice in the fo- 
rest a solitary deer ; and once put a whole herd in motion. 
The wild creatures glanced at us from the covert ; and, 
bounding over a little rivulet, were soon lost in the depths 
of the forest. 

The moon was up ere the dull level which we had so 
long traversed, was varied by the appearance of the ridge 
which is afterwards torn open by the Niagara. We ran 
along its bas'e for some miles, on a smooth and firm road, 
which would have relieved our tired limbs, had they not 
now T been too tired to be relieved by any thing. The 
chills of an autumnal night succeeding to a day of sum- 
mer heat, had yet farther increased our discomfort when 
we entered the frontier village of Lewiston. 

Alighting at a little tavern, we found the only public 
apartment sufficiently occupied, and accordingly made 
bold to enter a small room ; which, by the cheering blaze 
of an oak fire, we discovered to be the kitchen, and, for 
the time being, the peculiar residence of the family of the 
house. An unusual inundation of travellers had thrown 
all into confusion. The busy matron, nursing an infant 
with one arm, and cooking with the other, seemed work- 
ed out of strength, and almost out of temper. A tribe of 
young urchins, kept from their rest by the unusual stir, 
were lying half asleep •, some on the floor, and some upon a 
bed, which filled a third of the apartment. We were suf- 
fered to establish ourselves by the fire : and having relieved 
the troubled hostess from her chief encumbrance, she re- 
covered good humour, and presently prepared our supper. 
While rocking the infant, it was with pleasure that I ob- 
served its healthy cheeks, and those of the drowsy imps 


scattered around. It was unnecessary to be told that 
we were now on healthy ground. There had, the mo- 
ther said, been some fever in the neighbourhood ; but the 
cases were few. The season probably will be a trying 
one every where. 

In the night, when all was still, I heard the first rum- 
bling of the cataract. Wakeful from over fatigue, rather 
than from any discomfort in the lodging, I rose more than 
once to listen to a sound which the dullest ears could not 
catch for the first time without emotion. Opening the 
window, the low, hoarse thunder distinctly broke the si- 
lence of the night : when, at intervals, it swelled more 
full and deep, you will believe, that I held my breath to 
listen ; they were solemn moments. 

This mighty cataract is no longer one of nature's secret 
mysteries ; thousands now make their pilgrimage to it, not 

" Lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and caves of death," 

but over a broad highway ; none of the smoothest, it is 
true, but quite bereft of all difficulty or danger. This in 
time may somewhat lessen the awe with which this scene 
of grandeur is approached ; and even now we were not 
sorry to have opened upon it by a road rather more sa- 
vage and less frequented than that usually chosen. 

Next morning we set off in a little wagon, under a glo- 
rious sun, and a refreshing breeze. Seven miles of a 
pleasant road which ran up the ridge we had observed 
the preceding night, brought us to the cataract. In the 
way we alighted to look down from a broad platform of 
rock, on the edge of the precipice, at a fine bend of the 
river. From hence the blue expanse of Ontario bounded a 
third of the horizon ; fort Niagara on the American shore ; 
fort George on the Canadian, guarding the mouth of the 
river, where it opens into the lake ; the banks, rising as they 
approached us, finely wooded, and winding, now hiding 


and now revealing the majestic waters of the channel. 
Never shall I forget the moment when, throwing down 
my eyes, I first beheld the deep, slow, solemn tide, clear 
as crystal, and green as the ocean, sweeping through its 
channel of rocks with a sullen dignity of motion and 
sound, far beyond all that I had heard, or could ever have 
conceived. You saw and felt immediately that it was 
no river you beheld, but an imprisoned sea ; for such in- ' 
deed are the lakes of these regions. The velocity of the 
waters, after the leap, until they issue from the chasm at 
Queenston, flowing over a rough and shelving bed, must 
actually be great ; but, from their vast depth they move 
with an apparent majesty, that seems to temper their ve- 
hemence, rolling onwards in heavy volumes, and with a 
hollow sound, as if labouring and groaning with their own 
weight. I can convey to you no idea of the solemnity of 
this moving ocean. Our eyes followed its waves until 
they ached with gazing ; and had not our little guide and 
wagoner startled us, by hurling a fragment of rock from 
the precipice, I know not when we should have awaken- 
ed from our dream. 

A mile farther, we caught a first and partial glimpse of 
the cataract, on which the opposing sun flashed for a mo- 
ment, as on a silvery screen that hung suspended in the sky. 
It disappeared again behind the forest, all save the white 
cloud that rose far up into the air, and marked the spot 
from whence the thunder came. We now pressed for- 
ward with increasing impatience, and after a few miles 
reaching a small inn, we left our rude equipage, and has- 
tened in the direction that was pointed to us. 

Two foot-bridges have latterly been thrown, by daring 
and dexterous hands, from island to island, across the 
American side of the channel, some hundred feet above 
the brink of the fall ; gaining in this maner the great island 
which divides the cataract into two unequal parts, we 
made its circuit at our leisure. From its lower point, we 


obtained partial and imperfect views of the falling river ; 
from the higher, we commanded a fine prospect of the up- 
per channel. Nothing here denotes the dreadful commo- 
tion so soon about to take place ; the thunder, indeed, is 
behind you, and the rapids are rolling and dashing on 
either hand ; but before, the vast river comes sweeping 
down its broad and smooth waters between banks low 
and gentle as those of the Thames. Returning, we again 
stood long on the bridges, gazing on the rapids that rolled 
above and beneath us ; the waters of the deepest sea- 
green, crested with silver, shooting under our feet with the 
velocity of lightning, till, reaching the brink, the vast waves 
seemed to pause, as if gathering their strength for the tre- 
mendous plunge. Formerly it was not unusual for the 
more adventurous traveller to drop down to the island in 
a well manned and well guided boat. This was done by 
keeping between the currents, as they rush on either side 
of the island, thus leaving a narrow stream, which flows 
gently to its point, and has to the eye, contrasted with the 
rapidity of the tide, where to right and left the water is 
sucked to the Falls, the appearance of a strong back cur- 

It is but an inconsiderable portion of this imprisoned 
sea which flows on the American side; but even this 
were sufficient to fix the eye in admiration. Descending 
the ladder (now easy steps,) and approaching to the foot 
of this lesser Fall, we were driven away blinded, breath- 
less, and smarting, the wind being high and blowing right 
against us. A young gentleman, who incautiously ven- 
tured a few steps farther, was thrown upon his back, and 
I had some apprehension, from the nature of the ground 
upon which he fell, was seriously hurt ; he escaped, how- 
ever, from the blast, upon hands and knees, with a few 
slight bruises. Turning a corner of the rock (where, de- 
scending less precipitously, it is wooded to the bottom) 
to recover our breath, and wring the water from our hair 


and clothes, we saw, on lifting our eyes, a corner of the 
summit of this graceful division of the cataract hanging 
above the projecting mass of trees, as it were in mid air, 
like the snowy top of a mountain. Above, the dazzling 
white of the shivered water was thrown into contrast with 
the deep blue of the unspotted heavens ; below, with the 
living green of the summer foliage, fresh and sparkling in 
the eternal shower of the rising and falling spray. The 
wind, which, for the space of an hour, blew with some fu- 
ry, rushing down with the river, flung showers of spray 
from the crest of the fall. The sun's rays glancing on 
these big drops, and sometimes on feathery streams 
thrown fantastically from the main body of the water, 
transformed them into silvery stars, or beams of light ; 
while the graceful rainbow, now arching over our heads, 
and now circling in the vapour at our feet, still flew before 
us as we moved. The greater division of the cataract 
was here concealed from our sight by the dense volumes 
of vapour which the wind drove with Fury across the im- 
mense basin directly towards us; sometimes indeed a 
veering gust parted for a moment the thick clouds, and 
partially revealed the heavy columns, that seemed more 
like fixed pillars of moving emerald than living sheets of 
water. Here, seating ourselves at the brink of this trou- 
bled ocean, beneath the gaze of the sun, we had the full 
advantage of a vapour bath ; the fervid rays drying our 
garments one moment, and a blast from the basin drench- 
ing them the next. The wind at length having somewhat 
abated, and the ferryman being willing to attempt the pas- 
sage, we here crossed in a little boat to the Canada side. 
The nervous arm of a single rower stemmed this heavy 
current, just below the basin of the Falls, and yet in the 
whirl occasioned by them; the stormy northwest at this 
moment chafing the waters yet more. Blinded as we 
were by the columns of vapour which were driven upon 
us. we lost the panoramic view of the cataract, which, in 


calmer hours, or with other winds, may be seen in this 
passage. The angry waters, and the angry winds toge- 
ther, drove us farther down the channel than was quite 
agreeable, seeing that a few roods more, and our shallop 
must have been whirled into breakers, from which ten 
such arms as those of its skilful conductor could not have 
redeemed it. 

Being landed two-thirds of a mile below the cataract, a 
scramble, at first very intricate, through, and over, and 
under huge masses of rock, which occasionally seemed to 
deny all passage, and among which our guide often disap- 
peared from our wandering eyes, placed us at the foot of 
the ladder by which the traveller descends on the Canada 
side. From hence a rough walk along a shelving ledge of 
loose stones brought us to the cavern formed by the pro- 
jection of the ledge over which the water rolls, and which 
is known by the name of the Table Rock. 

The gloom of this vast cavern, the whirlwind that ever 
plays in it, the deafening roar, the vast abyss of convulsed 
waters beneath you. the falling columns that hang over your 
head, all strike, not upon the ears and eyes only, but upon 
the heart. For the first few moments, the sublime is 
wrought to the terrible. This position, indisputably the 
finest, is no longer one of safety. A part of the Table 
Rock fell last year, and in that still remaining, the eye 
traces an alarming fissure, from the very summit of the 
projecting ledge over which the water rolls ; so that the 
ceiling of this dark cavern seems rent from the precipice, 
and whatever be its hold, it is evidently fast yielding to 
the pressure of the water. You cannot look up to this 
crevice, and down upon the enormous masses which late- 
ly fell, with a shock mistaken by the neighbouring inhabit- 
ants for that of an earthquake, without shrinking at the 
dreadful possibility which might crush you beneath ruins, 
vet more enormous than those which lie at your feet. 

The cavern formed by the projection of this rock, ex 




lends some feet behind the water, and, could yon breathe^ ! 
to stand behind the edge of the sheet were perfeejiy easy; 
I have seen those who have told me they have u^Fso : 
for myself, when I descended within a few paces y this 
dark recess, I was obliged to hurry back some yards to 
draw breath. Mine to be sure are not the best of lungs, 
but theirs must be little short of miraculous, that can play- 
in the wind and foam that gush from the hidden depths oi 
this watery cave. It is probable, however, that the late 
fracture of the rock has considerably narrowed this recess ; 
and thus increased the force of the blast that meets the 

From this spot, (beneath the Table Rock,) you feeh 
more than from any other, the height of the cataract, and 
the weight of its waters. It seems a tumbling ocean ; 
and you yourself what a helpless atom amid these vast 
and eternal workings of gigantic nature ! The wind had 
now abated, and what was better, we were now under 
the lee, and could admire its sport with the vapour, in- 
stead of being blinded by it. From the enormous basin 
into which the waters precipitate themselves in a clear 
leap of 1 40 feet, the clouds of smoke rose in white vo- 
lumes, like the round-headed clouds you have sometimes 
seen in the evening horizon of a summer sky, and then 
shot up in pointed pinnacles, like the ice of mountain gla- 
eieres. Caught by the wind, it was now borne down the 
channel, then, re-collecting its strength, the tremulous 
vapour again sought the upper air, till, broken and dis- 
persed in the blue serene, it spread against it the only sil- 
very veil which spotted the pure azure. In the centre of 
the Fall, where the water is the heaviest, it takes the 
leap in an unbroken mass of the deepest green, and in 
many places reaches the bottom in crystal columns of the 
same hue, till they meet the snow-white foam that heaves 
and rolls convulsedly in the enormous basin. But for the 
deafening roar, the darkness and the stormy whirlwind in 


which we stood, I could have fancied these massy vo- 
lumes the walls of some fairy palace — living emeralds 
chased in silver. Never surely did nature throw toge- 
ther so fantastically so much beauty with such terrific 
grandeur. Nor let me pass without notice the lovely 
rainbow that, at this moment, hung over the opposing di- 
vision of the cataract as parted by the island, embracing 
the whole breadth in its span. Midway of this silvery 
screen of shivered water, stretched a broad belt of bla- 
zing gold and crimson, into which the rainbow dropped 
its hues, and seemed to have based its arch. Different 
from all other scenes of nature that have come under mv 
observation, the cataract of Niagara is seen to most ad- 
vantage under a powerful and opposing sun : the hues 
assumed by the vapour are then by far the most varied 
and brilliant ; and of the beauty of these hues, I can give 
you no idea. The gloom of the cavern (for I speak always 
as if under the Table Rock) needs no assistance from 
the shade of evening ; and the terrible grandeur of the 
whole is not felt the less for being distinctly seen. We 
now ascended the precipice on the Canada side, and 
having taken a long gaze from the Table Rock, soughgi 
dry clothes and refreshment at a neighbouring inn. 

We have again visited this wonder of nature in our re- 
turn from lake Erie ; and have now gazed upon it in all 
lights, and at all hours, — under the rising, meridian, and 
setting sun, and under the pale moon when 

" Riding in her highest noon." 

The edge of the Table Rock is not approached without 
terror at the latter hour. The fairy hues are now all 
gone ; excepting indeed, the rainbow, which, the ghost of 
what it was, now spans a dark impervious abyss. ' The 
rays of the sweet planet but feebly pierce the chill dense 
vapour that clogs the atmosphere ; they only kiss, and 
coldly kiss, the waters at the brink, and faintly show the 


upper half of the columns, now black as ebony, plunging 
into a storm-tossed sea of murky clouds, whose depth 
and boundaries are alike unseen. It is the storm of the 
elements in chaos. The shivering mortal stands on the 
brink, like the startled fiend 

" On tlic bare outside of this world. 
" Uncertain which, in ocean or in air. 

" La bnja campagna 
•• Treino si forte, che dello spavento 
La mente di sudore ancormi bajrnn.' 






Erie, September, 1819. 

It is a pleasant drive from Ontario to Lake Erie along 
the banks of the magnificent Niagara. There is some- 
thing truly sublime in the water scenery of America ; her 
lakes, spreading into inland seas, their vast, deep, and 
pure waters, reflecting back the azure of heavens, un- 
tainted with a cloud ; her rivers, collecting the waters of 
hills and plains interminable, rolling their massy volumes 
for thousands of miles, now broken into cataracts to which 
the noblest cascades of the old hemisphere are those of 
rivulets, and then sweeping down their broad channels to 
the far-off ocean the treasures of a world. The lakes and 
rivers of this continent seem to despise all foreign auxi- 
liaries of nature or art, and trust to their own unassisted 
majesty to produce effect upon the eye and the mind ; 
without alpine mountains or moss-grown ruins, they strike 
the spectator with awe. Extent, weight, depth — it is 
by these intrinsic qualities that they affect him ; their 
character is one of simple grandeur ; you stand upon their 
brink, or traverse their bosom, or gaze upon their rolling 
rapids and tumbling cataracts, and acknowledge at once 
their power and immensity, and your own insignificance 


and imbecility. Occasionally you meet with exceptions 
to this rale. I recall at this moment the beautiful shores 
of the Passaic '; its graceful cascades, its walls of rock, 
shelving into a glassy peaceful flood, its wooded hills, and 
rich and varied landscapes, all spread beneath a sky of 
glowing sapphires; a scene for Claude to gaze upon. 
These northwestern waters, however, have nothing of 
this character ; you find them bedded in vast level plains, 
bordered only by sable forests, from which the stroke of 
the axe has but just startled the panther and the savage. 

The Niagara and northwestern frontier still exhibit 
some faint traces of the war ; the villages and towns have 
indeed sprung up like the Phenix from her ashes 5 yet it 
is to be wished, for the sake of humanity, that their vigour 
and elasticity had not been so proved. 

The burning of Newark, on the part of the Americans, 
was the act of an individual, disclaimed instantly on the 
part of the government, and reprobated by the American 
public. The governor of Canada expressed himself sa- 
tisfied with the explanation given, and it had been well 
if the sy stem of warfare had been then changed. 

It might have been conjectured that, in the burning of 
Newark, some blind vengeance was intended for the 
massacre at Frenchtown, had it not appeared that it ori- 
ginated in a mistake of orders, and had it not been so 
honourably disclaimed by the government. General 
M'Clure was dismissed instantly from the service, and 
covered with opprobrium by his fellow citizens, who re- 
fused to admit a mistake of orders as an apology for an 
act of inhumanity. 

The honour of a government may often be committed 
by officers acting under its name, yet contrary to its wishes 
and instructions. Inquiry and condemnation may then 
avert disgrace ; but if, in lieu of these, favour and reward 
be accorded to the offenders, their employers are justly 
chargeable with all their crimes. These observations natu- 


rally occur to the traveller as he approaches the north- 
western frontier. 

We must turn our eyes from the river Raisin. Would 
to Heaven that we could find, not an excuse, for that 
were impossible, but some palliation of the horrors perpe- 
trated on this spot ! It were well to commit the tale to 
oblivion, were it not for the warning that breathes from 
it, and which must never be forgotten by the British peo- 
ple. Many of their most generous statesmen had repro- 
bated the practice of associating the Indian tribes with 
the British soldiers. If there be yet in England an apolo- 
gist for a military league between savage hordes and 
civilized nations, let him visit the shores of this river ; the 
blood that here cries up from the earth, not of soldiers 
slain in battle, but of wounded prisoners surrendered upon 
terms, and trusting in British faith, will convince him, 
though he should have heard unmoved the thunders of a 

A small detachment, composed of the choicest sons of 
Kentucky, many of them allied to the most distinguished 
families in the state, had advanced to the little village of 
Frenchtown, situated between the rapids and Detroit, on 
the strait which pours the waters of the great northwest- 
ern lakes into Erie. The object to be effected was to 
guard the inhabitants from an advanced party of the 
enemy, peculiarly dreaded because half composed of 
Indians ; the attempt was one of difficulty and hazard. 
This little band of volunteers however, with infinite brave- 
ry, had dislodged and driven back the enemy ; and be- 
ing joined by General Winchester, from whose main body 
they had been detached, threw up a rude breastwork 
and entrenched, seven hundred and fifty strong, against 
fifteen hundred or upwards, headed by Colonel Proctor 
and two Indian warriors. After some furious sallies, in 
which General Winchester was made prisoner, the Ame- 
ricans were exhorted to surrender. They had lost nearly 


a third of their little number, when the flag of truce, which 
had been twice returned, was received with a message 
from Colonel Proctor, that, unless they immediately sur- 
rendered, they and the village must be delivered to the 
fury of the savages. They at length capitulated upon 
honourable terms, securing the safety of the village, the 
care of the wounded, the burying of the dead, and the pro- 
tection of the prisoners. How were these engagements 
fulfilled ? — The British commander marched off his 
troops, gave his prisoners in charge to the savages, and 
left them, with the wounded and the dying, to be toma- 
hawked and roasted at the stake.* Did not the thunders of 
the English government strike this English officer? Was he 
thanked at home as he was in Montreal for his bravery and 
humanity ? I trust that the English government was not 

* I do not repeat all the atrocities of the scene to which I have alluded in 
the text, as they would be too shocking to the feelings both of the reader 
and the writer ; but there is one circumstance which I will not omit. The 
American General Winchester, who had been taken prisoner in the sally, 
was made the betrayer of his own men. Being told by Colonel, now I be- 
lieve General Proctor, that instant surrender could alone secure them from 
being given up to the savages, and the village to the flames, he was induced 
to send himself a flag of truce, urging them to accede to the terms proposed. 
Who shall paint the feelings of that officer when he found himself rendered 
an accomplice in the complicated treachery and cruelty ! There were some 
British officers who", on this occasion, felt and acted as they ought in the cause 
of humanity and the honour of their country; Major Muir, Captains Curtis 
and Aikens, the Rev. Mr. Parrow, and Dr. Bowen, though they may not have 
received any mark of public approbation from their government, are secure 
of the esteem of the English as they possess that of the American people. 
The virtuous M'Intosh will ever live in the remembrance of the latter ; this 
gentleman spared no exertions to redeem the lives of the unfortunate and de- 
serted captives ; he tracked the Indians for miles through the forests ; and 
purchased, at a high price, such of the naked and fainting Americans as the 
savages, weary of slaughter, had spared, to inflict on them more lingering 

When this gentleman some time afterwards visited the United States, his 
benevolence was amply repaid ; his entrance into Baltimore and New-Or- 
leans had the appearance of a triumph : the whole population crowded to 
gaze upon him- and every honour was rendered to him that enthusiasm could 


found so callous to the honour of a nation that has ever 
laid claim to the character of generosity, as to let pass 
without investigation the horrors of that day, still less to 
reward with promotion the officer under whose eye they 
were perpetrated !* However this may be, they did not 
altogether pass without punishment. The fate of war, at 
the opening of the next campaign, threw into the hands 
of the friends and relatives of these unfortunate men, the 
very enemies who had betrayed them. With a refine- 
ment of cruelty that must have tortured the inmost souls 
of their prisoners, they forbore even to upbraid them by a 
look, and lodged them in their towns and private dwell- 
ings with the minutest and most fastidious attention to 
their convenience.! Lord Castlereagh, you may remem- 
ber, in answer to some remarks made in the House of 
Commons upon the humanity of the Americans to their 
prisoners, ascribed it to fear* It would be little surpri- 
sing, if that Irish nobleman felt himself interested in con- 
founding the words courage and cruelty. The English 
people, however, are not accustomed to account them 
synonymous ; and should it be decreed that they and the 
Anglo-Americans, so formed by nature to be friends and 
brothers, are ever again to meet as enemies, may their 
voice be loudly heard, and may it prevent the Indian toma- 
hawk from being farther associated with the British sword. 
In Europe, little is known of the horrors of Indian war- 

* A large portion of the Canadian community retrieved the honour of the 
colonial character, and expressed their amazement and indignation at the 
thanks bestowed by their governor, and the rewards conferred by the home 
authorities, upon the officer who had thus dared to disgrace his profession 
and his nation. 

t Among those who expired at Frenchtown, were gentlemen and senators 
of Kentucky, members of congress, &lc, for of such citizens were the volun- 
teers of the western army composed. One individual was a near relative of 
the celebrated orator and statesman Mr. Clay, and almost all were allied to 
the most distinguished families in his state, or in that of Ohio. The whole po- 
pulation of Kentucky went into mourning, and their weeds were scarcely 
thrown aside, when they received their captive enemies into their houses 



fare. To hunt down a people with blood-hounds would 
be nothing to it. His war-whoop is the yell of fiends ; age, 
sex, infirmity. — the savage knows no distinction ; nor is 
it death alone, but death, aggravated by tortures and in- 
fernal honors, that madden the wretched victim before 
despatching him. The only excuse ever forged for Col. 
Proctor, was that he had it not in his power to interfere ; 
that to have checked the ferocity of his savage allies, had 
been to risk the loss of their friendship and future co-ope- 
ration. Such an argument, without screening him, well 
exposes the atrocity of employing, in civilized warfare, 
such coadjutors. Were it possible to enumerate the 
number of helpless individuals, of women and infants, who 
have expired in tortures under the hands of savages in 
league with European governments, it is not impossible but 
that their employers might shudder. Let us hope that 
the last of these outrages has been committed, and that 
America, henceforward, is to find in her English brethren 
warm-hearted friends, or high-minded foes. 

I turn with pleasure from the dreadful recollections 
awakened by the name of Frenchtown. The broad in- 
land sea, now spread before me, recalls an action of a 
very different character. The naval battle fought upon 
these fine waters, was equally honourable to the combat- 
ants of either nation. It was the generous fighting the 
generous. The praise accorded by the English officer to 
the heroism of his adversary, had as much of greatness 
in it, as had his adversary's victory. War, when thus 
conducted, is stripped of half its horrors ; nay, it has in it 
something noble when we find it calling forth the greatest 
energies with the best feelings of our nature. 

Those who estimate the importance of a naval combat 
by the size of the ships engaged, may pass over with lit- 
tle interest that of lake Erie. And yet the fleet that here 
met in desperate rencounter, must be accounted of con- 
siderable force and size, when we remember that it floated 


upon a fresh water sea. The ships on lake Ontario were 
equal, and latterly superior, in size to the proudest frigates 
that ever floated on the Atlantic. The bed of those 
magnificent waters, deepening gradually to the centre,, 
like the crater of some exhausted volcano, admits of the 
freest navigation ; that of lake Erie, on the contrary, is 
broken by shallows, presenting an intricate chart, even 
to tl^^ne steamboat which now navigates these wa- 
ters. (§& 

Nine vessels, mounting together fifty-four guns, were 
here opposed by the Americans to six larger vessels, 
mounting in all sixty-three guns. You are possibly not 
acquainted with the circumstance which decided the en- 

Commodore Perry (then Captain) having contended 
for two hours with two vessels of equal force, and the 
wind preventing any of his squadron from making to his 
assistance, he determined to abandon the vessel which he 
could no longer manage. Rolling her flag round his arm, 
he sprang into her boat, and thus, standing upright, and 
waving his sword triumphantly, while the balls rattled in 
showers round his head, passed through the midst of the 
enemy. The English commander is said to have uttered 
a shout of admiration as his young and proud adversary 
passed unhurt through his fire. Having gained the 
largest vessel ©f his little fleet, he bore down again upon 
the enemy, and cutting through their line, for some mi- 
nutes engaged four of their flotilla alone and simultane- 
ously. The wind gradually enabling the rest of the squad- 
ron to support their commander, the 'struggle was decided ; 
when, to this desperate contest, succeeded those kind and 
generous greetings which the brave know how to ex- 
change with the brave. The noble-minded Captain 
Barclay, a veteran sailor, who had lost an arm in the bat- 
tle of Trafalgar, took pride in declaring publicly, " that 
the conduct of Commodore Perry towards himself, the 


other captive officers and men, had been alone sufficient 
to have immortalized him." I dwell on this splendid en- 
gagement with pleasure. It tended not to widen, but to 
heal the breach between two nations who should never 
be at war, or if at war, should contend for mastery, not 
by the mere exertion of brute force, but by the display of 
all those more generous virtues which, as they can alone 
immortalize conquest, so can they also impart honour to 
defeat.* \ 

In recalling the events of the border war between Ca- 
nada and the United States, there is one singular fact 
which forces itself on the mind, and which is fraught with 
an important lesson. When on the offensive, the Ame- 
• ricans were usually defeated ; when on the defensive, as 
usually successful. Herein lies the virtue of militia as 
opposed to regular troops ; and it is this too w T hich gives 
so peculiar an interest to both the wars in which the young 
America has been engaged. I know that in England, 
generally speaking, little attention was paid to the events 
of a contest which, to her, was a sort of by-play, while 
occupied in a deeper game, upon which she had staked 
her all. It is probable indeed, that one half of the nation 
scarce remembered that they were at war with their 
young rivals in the new world, until they found their ships, 
one by one, swept from the seas by a people they had 
scarce deigned to consider as holding the place of an in- 
dependent nation. They then looked round and grew 
angry. This, if not very wise, was perhaps very natural 5 

* Commodore Perry, who appears to have united every quality that goes 
to the forming of a hero — bravery, magnanimity, ardent patriotism, disin- 
terested generosity, unassuming modesty and gentleness, died at Angostura 
of the yellow fever about the period of the date of this letter. He had sailed 
on a mission from his government to that of the Patriots. When the tidings 
of his premature death reached AVashington, the members of the two houses 
of Congress went into mourning; an honour that is never paid, but to the 
most respected and distinguished sons of the republic. A provision also was 
\oted to bis widow, and liis children taken under the national guardianship. 


and those who mortified the pride of the most powerful 
of the then existing European empires, may well excuse 
if they excited her indignation. But it is time that this 
jealousy should subside. The more thinking and the 
more generous will now consider, with much interest, the 
little history of that struggle which established America's 
independence, fixed and elevated her national character, 
and gave her an opportunity of displaying those energies 
and virtues which liberty had secretly nourished in the 
breasts of her people. She may justly be proud of the 
late contest ; it did honour to her head and her heart ; 
she fought a second time for independence and existence, 
and, as all must do who fight for these, she conquered. 

Settlements are fast springing up on the forested shores 
of lake Erie. The situation is wonderfully advantageous 
to the farmer. I have already spoken of the canal, so 
far in progress, which is about to open a free water-car- 
riage from these waters to the Eastern Atlantic. Ano- 
ther, of only a few miles extent, is in contemplation, 
which, by connecting them with the Alleghany, one of the 
main sources of the Ohio, will perfect the line of communi- 
cation with the gulf of Mexico, an extent of 3,400 miles. 

It is impossible to consider without admiration the inland 
navigation of this magnificent country. From this fine 
basin, north and west, you open into lakes and rivers 
which, not many years hence, will pour into it the pro- 
duce of human labour from states now in embryo ; to 
the northeast, these accumulated waters seek their way 
to the Atlantic, through the broad channel of the St. 
Lawrence ; to the southeast, they are about to commu- 
nicate with the same ocean by the magnificent Hudson ; 
to the south and west, stretch the vast waters of the Mis- 
sissippi with his million of tributaries. There is some- 
thing unspeakably sublime in the vast extent of earthly 
domain that here opens to the mind's eye ; and truly sub- 
lime is its contemplation, when we consider the life and 



energy with winch it is fast teeming. An industrious and 
enlightened people, laying in the wilderness the founda- 
tions of commonwealth after commonwealth, based on 
justice and the immutable rights of man ! What heart so 
cold as to contemplate this unmoved ! 

The other morning, wandering from the little village 
which afforded us lodging, I had gained, by a swampy 
thicket, the beach of the lake. Admiring the first blaze 
of the sun, which flashed over the waters, and tinged the 
crest of the waves that rippled its azure surface, and broke 
on i\m pebbled beach, fresh and sounding as those of the 
ocean, I came suddenly upon a solitary figure, seated on 
a little rock that lay at the edge of the water; — it was 
an Indian : his tomahawk rested upon his shoulder ; his 
moccasins ornamented with the stained quills of the por- 
cupine, and his hat grotesquely and tawdrily decked with 
feathers and strips of tin : the countenance had much in 
it of dignity and savage grandeur : the cheek-bones were 
not so high, nor the face so flat as is usual with the Indian 
physiognomy ; not that it was handsome ; wind and wea- 
ther-beaten, its copper hue, deepened by the gaze of some 
forty suns, a scar under the left eye, its character might 
rather have been denominated hideous. He suffered my 

ze, as is usual with his race, without turning his head. 
I know not whether he was musing upon the fallen 
'ngth of }i\< tribe, and on the days when his fathers 
pursued- their game through unbroken forests and desert 
prairies, where now are smiling hamlets and waving fields 
of grain : I could at the moment have mused on these for 
iiim : and sighed that even this conquest of the peaceful 
over the savage arts, should have been made at the ex~ 
pense of his wild race. But, in fact, how singular, and. 
for the well-being of man, how glorious the change, which 
has turned these vast haunts of panthers, wolves, and sa- 
vages, into the abode of industry, and the sure asylum of 
the oppressed. What a noble edifice has here been raised 


for hunted Liberty to dwell in securely ! It is impossible 
to tread the soil of America, and not bless it ; impossible 
to consider her growing wealth and strength without re- 

We felt no small desire to strike south from Erie to 
Pittsburgh, and view with our own eyes the growing 
wonders of the western territory ; but our plans having 
been previously arranged for the descent of the St. Law- 
rence, we retrace our course to Ontario. 

You have expressed, in your late letters, some curiosity 
regarding the condition of Mr. Birkbeck's settlement in 
the Illinois; adding that the report has prevailed, that 
those spirited emigrants had been at first too sanguine, 
and had too little foreseen the difficulties which the most 
fortunate settler must encounter. This report, I believe, 
to have originated with Mr. Cobbet, who thought proper 
to pronounce upon the condition of the farmer in the Illi- 
nois in his own dwelling upon Long-Island. Feeling an 
interest in the success of our countrymen in the west, I 
have been at some pains to inform myself as to their ac- 
tual condition. The following statement is chiefly taken 
from the letters of two American gentlemen of our ac- 
quaintance who have just visited the settlement : they 
inform me, that its situation possesses all those positive 
advantages stated by Mr. Birkbeck ; that the worst diffi- 
culties have been surmounted, and that these have always 
been fewer than what are frequently encountered in a 
new country. 

The village of Albion, the "centre of the settlement, con- 
tains at present thirty habitations, in which are found a 
bricklayer, a carpenter, a wheelright, a cooper, and a 
blacksmith ; a well supplied shop, a little library, an inn, 
a chapel, and a post office, where the mail regularly ar- 
rives twice a week. Being situated on a ridge, between 
the greater and little Wabash, it is, from its elevated po- 
sition, and from its bein^ some miles removed from the 


rivers, peculiarly dry and healthy. The prairie in which 
it stands, is described as exquisitely beautiful ; lawns of 
unchanging verdure, spreading over hills and dales, scat- 
tered with islands of luxuriant trees, dropped by the hand 
of nature with a taste that art could not rival — all this 
spread beneath a sky of glowing and unspotted sapphires. 
" The most beautiful parks of England," my friend ob- 
serves, "would afford a most imperfect comparison.' 7 
The soil is abundantly fruitful, and, of course, has an 
advantage over the heavy-timbered lands, which can 
scarcely be cleared for less than from twelve to fifteen 
dollars per acre ; while the Illinois farmer may in general 
clear his for less than five, and then enter upon a much 
more convenient mode of tillage. The objection that is 
too frequently found to the beautiful prairies of the Illinois, 
is the deficiency of springs and streams for mill-seats. 
This is attended with inconvenience to the settler, though 
his health will find in it advantage. The nearest naviga- 
ble river to Albion is the Wabash, eight miles distant ; 
the nearest running stream, that is not liable to fail at 
midsummer, the Bonpaw, four miles distant. The stock 
water in ponds for cattle, our correspondent judged, was 
liable to run dry in a few weeks ; and the settlement ap- 
prehended some temporary inconvenience from the cir- 
cumstance. The finest water is eveiy where to be raised 
from twenty to twenty-five or thirty feet from the surface ; 
these wells never fail, but are of course troublesome to 
work in a new settlement.* 

The settlement of Albion must undoubtedly possess 
some peculiar attractions for an English emigrant, pro- 

* The same objection, " the want of fountains and running streams," is 
stated by Mr. Brackenridge as existing in the prairies of the Missouri ; and, 
I have been informed, is generally applicable to all the prairie lands of the 
western territory, when removed from the immediate neighbourhood of the 
«reat water. Mr. Brackenridge states the depth of the wells in the Missourr 
at the same rate as that stated above for those of the Illinois 


mising him, as it does, the society of his own countrymen, 
an actual or ideal advantage to which he is seldom insen- 
sible. Generally speaking, however, it may ultimately 
be as well for him as for the community to which he at- 
taches himself, that he should become speedily incorpo- 
rated with the people of the soil. It is not every man 
who is gifted with the vigorous intellect and liberal senti- 
ments of Mr. Birkbeck ; many emigrants bring with 
them prejudices and predilections which can only be rub- 
bed away by a free intercourse with the natives of the 
country. By sitting down at once among them, they will 
more readily acquire an accurate knowledge of their po- 
litical institutions, and learn to estimate the high privileges 
which these impart to them ; and thus, attaching them- 
selves to their adopted country, not from mere sordid mo- 
tives of interest, but also from feeling and principle, be- 
come, not only naturalized, but nationalized. I have met 
with but too many in this country who have not advanced 
beyond the former. I must observe also, that the Euro- 
pean farmer and mechanic are usually far behind the 
American in general and practical knowledge, as well as 
enterprise. You find in the working farmer of these 
states, a store of information, a dexterity in all the ma- 
nual arts, and often a high tone of national feeling, to 
which you will hardly find a parallel among the same 
class elsewhere. His advice and assistance, always free- 
ly given to those who seek it, will be found of infinite ser- 
vice to a stranger ; it will often save him from many rash 
speculations, at the same time that it will dispose him to 
see things in their true light, and to open his eyes -and 
heart to all the substantial advantages that surround him. 
It is amusing to observe the self-importance with which 
the European emigrant often arrives in these states. The 
Frenchman imagines, that he is to new-model the civic 
militia, or, at the least, the whole war department in the 
city of Washington : the Englishman, that he is to efTec* 



a revolution in agriculture by introducing the cultivation 
of the turnip and the planting of hedge rows ; the Scotch- 
man, that he is to double the national produce by turning 
out the women to work in the fields; and even the poor 
German conceives, that he is to give new sinews to the 
btate, heighten the flavour of the Kentucky tobacco, and 
expand the souls of the citizens who smoke it.* 

France and Ireland, the former from her political revo- 
lutions, and the latter from her misfortunes, have sent, 
among the crowd of poorer emigrants, many accomplish- 
ed and liberal-minded gentlemen, who have assumed a 
high place in this community ; but, till very lately, Fede- 
ral America has seen few of our countrymen except the 
vulgar and the illiterate. The exceptions to this rule, 
however, are now multiplying yearly ; this will conse- 
quently make this nation better known, and therefore 
more esteemed in our island. A friend to the latter can 
perhaps hardly rejoice in this ; to see England drained of 
her best citizens may justly excite the grief of her patriots, 
and the jealousy of her rulers ; and yet what would the 
latter have ; should these Hampdens stay, it might be to 
ct push" them " from their stools," as their fathers did their 

* The German self-importance has lately been mott amusingly set forth in 
the work of a M. Von Fnrstenwarther, entitled, Tke German in America. 
His observations, written after three months' residence in the United State.-, 
with scarcely a smattering of the English language, arc truly entertaining. T 
cannot forbear quoting a sentence. " If the Americans are justly proud of 
their civil freedom, and oi' their freedom in thinking, printing and speaking - , 
and in the social life, they still know not that higher freedom of the soul 
which is to be found only in Europe ; — and, I say it boldly, 7nost abundantly 
in Germany." I am indebted for all the acquaintance that I possess with 
this curious production to a paper in the North American Review. This 
work, conducted by Professor Everett, of the University of Cambridge, Bos- 
ton, may be read with almost equal interest in either hemisphere. I pretend 
not to be able to appreciate all its merits ; but those who are not qualified to 
do justice to its profound learning, must still admire its just and candid criti- 
cism, delivered with gentlemanly forbearance ; its elegant diction, liberal 
views, and sound philosophy. 


predecessors : they depart, and the mighty are left to sil 
in state until their 4t stools" shall break down beneath 
them. It is idle for travellers to deface this Hesperia ; 
they may deceive the many ignorant, and a few wise, but 
what then ? Are the poor made richer, and the dissatis- 
fied more content. The farmer complains that he sows 
and reaps for others ; that the clergy, the state, and the 
parish, carry off the produce, and leave him the gleanings. 
" It is not thus," he observes, " in America." He is an- 
swered that, in America, ' : he will not meet with even an * 
approach to simplicity and honesty of mind f that " a non- 
intercourse act seems to have passed against the sciences* 
morals, and literature ;" that " in Philadelphia the colour 
of the young females is produced by art :" and that " every 
man in the United States thinks himself arrived at perfec- 
tion."* Now were. all this nonsense true, what answer 
were it to the observation of the farmer ? He objects to 
tithes, taxes, and poor rates ; and he is told of sciences and 
morals, and paint upon ladies' faces. I laugh, but truly 
there is more cause to sigh. Are the English yeomen 
kept to their sacred hearths only by such gossiping as 
this? Must they be frightened to stay at home with 
scarecrows that a child might laugh at ? Truly the peo- 
ple who are thus cozened, are more insulted than the peo- 
ple who are thus libelled. Could the graves yield up their 
dead, how would the sturdy patriots of England's better 
days look upon these things ? 

* See Fearon's Sketches of America. 






Montreal; September, 1819. 

I shall send you a few details respecting our route along 
the Canada frontier ; both because* I find little leisure 
for making notes, and because I can impart little that is 
new. • 

I was surprised to find much discontent prevailing 
among the poorer settlers in Upper Canada : I could not 
always understand the grounds of their complaint, but 
they seemed to consider Mr. Gourlay as having well ex- 
plained them. Mr. Gourlay, you would see, was prose- 
cuted, and his pamphlets declared libels : not having read 
them, I cannot pronounce upon either their merits or de- 
merits ; but they certainty appear to have spoken the sen- 
timents of the poorer settlers, whose cause he had abetted 
against the more powerful land-holders, land-surveyors, 
and government agents. One ground of complaint, if 
just, should certainly be attended to, and might, one would 
think, without much difficulty, — that the emigrants are 
often sent so far into the interior, and at so great a dis- 
tance one from another, as to be exposed to insurmounta- 
ble difficulties and labour. The case of one poor but 
intelligent settler, as stated to me by himself, moved in no 
small degree my compassion. 


The sufferings from which these poor creatures fly — 
I will take for instance the starving paupers of Ireland, 
who throng here without a farthing in their hands, and 
scarce a rag upon their backs, — the sufferings of these 
poor creatures, humanity might hope were ended when 
thrown upon these shores ; but too often they are in- 
creased tenfold : First come the horrors of the voyage ; 
ill-fed, ill-clothed, and not unfrequently crowded together 
as if on board a prison-ship, it is not uncommon for a 
fourth, and even a third of the live cargo to be swept off 
by disease during this mid-passage. I have sometimes 
thought, if the societies for the suppression of vice would 
employ some part of their funds in fitting out these poor 
creatures in clean and well regulated ships, under the 
charge of honest and humane captains, and in furnishing 
them with the means of subsistence in these distant co- 
lonies, until they can be settled upon the lands, — I have 
thought that they would render more substantial service 
to their fellow creatures, than the best they may have 
rendered at present. You will conceive the sufferings of 
a troop of half-clad paupers, turned adrift in this Siberia, 
as it often happens, at the close of autumn ; the delays, 
perhaps unavoidable, which occur after their landing, be- 
fore they are sent to their station in the howling wilder- 
ness, kill some, and break the spirit of others. Many 
are humanely sheltered by Canadian proprietors, not a 
few find their way to the United States, and are thrown 
upon the charity of the city of New- York. After fear- 
ful hardships, some rear at last their cabin of logs in the 
savage forest ; polar winds and snows, dreary solitudes, 
agues, and all the train of evils and privations which 
must be found in a Canadian desert, — surely it needs 
not the art of man to increase the settler's troubles. 

It is curious to see how patient men are of physical 
sufferings when endured voluntarily, and when they have 
it not in their power to charge them upon their rulers, 


On the southern shores of lake Ontario, heaven knows, 
we found sickness sufficient to have broken down the 
stoutest spirits ; and yet there we never heard a com- 
plaint. On its northern shores, we found discontent every 
where; perhaps it was often unjust; but it is in human 
nature to charge our calamities upon others whenever a 
pretext is afforded us. The only sure way to keep the 
peace, therefore, is to remove all pretext. This being 
done in the United States, a man shivers in the ague, 
swallows his remedies, recovers or dies, without having 
quarrelled with any one, save perhaps with his apothe- 

How strangely do statesmen employ money ! Hun- 
dreds of thousands lodged in frigates larger than ever 
fought at Trafalgar, — in naval and military stores, bat- 
teries, martello towers. — Where ? Upon the shores of 
the Canadian Siberia. To do what ? To protect wolves 
and bears from a more speedy dislodgement from frozen 
deserts, which would little repay the trouble of invading ; 
and some few thousands of a people, scattered along an 
endless line of forest, from the infection of republican prin- 
ciples. What a magnificent idea does this convey of the 
wealth of that Country which could thus ship treasures 
across the Atlantic to be flung into the wilderness ! How 
flourishing must be her condition ! how full, to overflowing, 
her coffers ! Surely her people must be princes ; her mer- 
chants, kings ; and her kings, the Incas of Peru !* But 
whereto tends all this ? Will it answer the purpose, with- 
out asking whether the purpose be worth answering ? 
il An army of opinions can pierce where an army of sol- 

* Lieutenant Hall states the disbursements at Kingston during the war at 
" £1000 per diem j" the expense of the frigate St. Lawrence at £300,000. 
I was informed by a gentleman long resident in Canada, that the ships of 
war sent from England in frame to be employed on Lake Ontario, were all 
supplied with stills; " Do the people of London take this lake for a strip of 
the ocean," exdaLned the Canadians, " that they send us a machine to 
freshen its waters ?" 


diers cannot." A people learn to grumble, and then 
what becomes of troops, frigates, batteries, and martello 
towers ? The petty squabbles which agitate a colony, 
are like those which split the ears in a country town. 
Let those who listen, understand ; there are those, how- 
ever, whose business it is to listen ; and such might pos- 
sibly find the prevention of abuses a surer, as well as a 
cheaper, way of securing their authority, than the erec- 
tion and maintenance of garrisons and all the et ceieras 
attached to them. If the Canadas are not the most ex- 
pensive of the British colonies, are they not the most use- 
less ? One would think so to look at them. 

Two immense steamboats, from four to five hundred 
tons' burden, now navigate Ontario, in lieu of the mighty 
ships of war, that sleep peacefully in their harbours 011 
either shore. The American has every possible con- 
venience, as is common with all these floating hotels, 
found on the waters of the United States ; the Canadian 
(probably from having been established for the transporta- 
tion of soldiers, stores and goods of various kinds, rather 
than for the service of passengers) is dirty and ill attend- 
ed. There is now also a fine steamboat, of a smaller size, 
plying between Kingston and Prescott, a flourishing vil- 
lage in the neighbourhood of the rapids ; and another will 
soon be launched upon the Lake St. Francis, when the 
navigation of the river will be yet farther facilitated. 

We preferred to take our way with more leisure and 
less convenience than w r ould have been afforded by a 
steamboat passage ; a curiosity, perhaps, ill repaid at the 
expense of much fatigue, and, for myself, with a slight fe- 
ver, that, however, did not prove the maladie du pays. 
We found the intermitting or lake fever, as it is styled in 
the country, prevailing very generally, especially along 
the shores of the St. Lawrence. I cannot advise a travel- 
ler to choose the autumn for the descent of this river. 
The wintry chills and heavy fogs of the night, succeeding 

"200 CANADA. 

to the scorching heats of the day, and this in an open bat- 
teau, are what few constitutions can undergo with impu- 
nity. The varieties of climate endured in the space of 
twenty-four hours on these northern waters, and in the un- 
cleared districts in their neighbourhood, during this sea- 
son; surpass all you can have an idea of, and are what I 
certainly should not choose to experience a second time. 

At Kingston we took to the water in a well manned 
batteau, which brought us in four days and the better 
part of three nights, (for we were seldom tempted by the 
nature of our accommodations to rest more than a few 
hours,) to La Chine, seven miles above Montreal. 

There is something impressive in the savage monotony 
of the Canadian frontier. The vast river, the black ce- 
dars which line its shores, and crown its rocky islands : 
the settler's cabin peering out of the shades, and here and 
there a little village, and a line of cultivation breaking 
upon the desert ; add to this the profound silence, broken 
only by the discordant voices of your Canadian boatmen, 
as they hail some distant solitary canoe, or rise and fall in 
harsh cadence to the paddle and the oar. There is little 
in such scenery to talk or write about ; yet it has its effect 
on the mind. Salvator might sometimes "find a subject, 
when the night closes upon these black solitudes, and the 
Canadian boatman kindles his fire on the bare granite, 
while, below, the waters sleep in sullen calm, and above, 
the dark boughs of a scathed cedar flicker with the flame. 

The rapids present a singular scene, especially when 
you are in the midst of them. The breakers dashing 
to right and left, the big green billows crested with foam 
tossing your bark at their mercy, and driving it onwards 
with the speed of light. You here find the Niagara in all 
his grandeur. 

It is a beautiful little drive from La Chine to Montreal, 
though you make it not in the most elegant, but that were 
a small matter, were it a more secure vehicle '. the tack- 

CANADA. 20 1 

ling (for it could not be called harness) of our steed gave 
way once, and a fellow traveller absolutely came to the 
ground twice, " mats ce riest pas toujours ainsi^ as our 
charioteer assured us. But though it should be always 
the same, the traveller's neck is but little endangered ; for 
though the tottering caleche is mounted sufficiently high, 
the Canadian steed moves sufficiently slow, so that if you 
fall far, you will fall gently. 

It is a pleasant relief to the eye, tired with the contem- 
plation of dreary forests, and wide watery wastes, when 
the fair seigniory of Montreal suddenly opens before you. 
Rich and undulating lands sprinkled with villas, and 
bounded on one hand by wooded heights, and on the other 
by the grey city ; its tin roofs and spires then blazing in 
the setting sun : the vast river, chafed by hidden rocks 
into sounding and foaming rapids, and anon spreading his 
waters into a broad sheet of molten gold, speckled with 
islands, batteaux and shipping : the distant shore^ with its 
dark line of forest, broken by little villages, penciled on 
the glowing sky, and far off, two solitary mountains, rai- 
sing their blue heads in the vermil glories of the horizon, 
like sapphires chased in rubies. Along the road, French 
faces, with all the harshness of feature and good humour 
of expression peculiar to the national physiognomy, look- 
ed and gossiped from door and window, orchard and 
meadow ; a passing salutation easily winning a smile and 
courteous obeisance. We were for some miles escorted 
on our way by the good-humoured and loquacious pilot, 
whose songs had for so many days measured time to the 
stroke of his paddle. I yet hear his reiterated parting 
benedictions, and see the wild grimaces with which they 
were accompanied. 

The population of Lower is strangely contrasted with 
that of Upper Canada ; nor do they appear to know much 
concerning each other. In one thing only are they said 
to be agreed, — in a thorough detestation of their repufo- 

"202 CANADA. 

lican neighbours. In Upper Canada, however, so far as 
my observations went, I did not find that this hostile feel- 
ing was much shared by the poorer settlers. In either 
colony where the hostility exists, it is very easily account- 
ed for : in one, by the jealousy of the power and wealth 
of the republic ; and in the other by the influence of the 

In ignorance and infatuated superstition, the Canadian 
remains in statu quo, as when he first migrated from his 
native France. Guarded from the earthquake by British 
protection, the shock of the revolution was in no degree, 
however small, felt here ; the priest continues to hood- 
wink and fleece the people, and the people to pamper and 
worship the priest, just as in the good old times. You 
may learn some curious particulars here concerning the 
policy of the London cabinet, as connected with that of 
Rome. Among other things, a request has lately been 
preferred to the Pope, that he will raise the bishopric of 
Quebec into an arch-bishopric 5 and the prelate of this 
Canadian diocess is now about to embark for Italy, to re- 
ceive from the hands of his Holiness this addition to his 
honours. The people, mean while, are exhorted to re- 
member, in their prayers, the pious prince who, though 
ruling in a land of heretics, bears thus in remembrance 
the servants of the most High. The Priests have in their 
hands some of the best lands in the country, and claim, 
of course, some fruit-offerings from their spiritual children. 
Conceiving the security of the tenure to lie in the igno- 
rance of the people, they enforce every prohibition calcu- 
lated to preserve it entire ; such as marrying with here- 
tics, reading any book without the permission of the con 
fessor, and learning the English language. The proxi- 
mity of the States and their growing power, and, worse than 
all, their institutions civil and religious, are naturally 
looked upon by these shepherds of the flock with suspi- 
cion and terror. As the union of Canada to the repub- 

CANADA. 203 

lie would of necessity pave the way to their downfall 5 
interest binds fast their loyalty to the ruling powers ; these 
again, equally jealous of the states, and aware of the pre- 
cariousness of the tenure by which they hold these colo- 
nies, pay much deference to the men who hold the keys 
of the people's minds. Thus goes the world ! and yet 
with the Canadian peasant it would seem to go very hap- 
pily : he eats his crust, or shares it with the passenger 
right cheerily ; his loyalty, transferred from king Louis 
to king George, sits equally light on his light spirits. As 
to the government, if he shares it not, as little does he feel 
it. Too poor to be oppressed, too ignorant to be discon- 
tented, he invokes his saint, obeys his priest, smokes his 
pipe, and sings an old ballad ; while shrewder heads and 
duller spirits enact laws which he never hears of, and toil 
after gains which he contrives to do without. 

There is said generally to be no very friendly under- 
standing between the old French and the new English 
population ; the latter being given to laugh at the super- 
stition of the former, and resenting the supremacy of 
Catholic over Lutheran episcopacy. The government, 
however, leaves " protestant ascendency" to make its 
way here as it can, which, unbacked by law, makes its 
way very slowly. These national and religious jealousies 
have occasionally produced bickerings, and even political 

Before the breaking out of the late war, an attack w T as 
made in an English Quebec journal upon the political 
and religious tenets, habits, and manners of the Canadian 
population, which provoked hostility, not merely in a 
French opposition paper, under the name of Le Canadien, 
but a party under the name of Democrat : this last name 
was probably bestowed without being merited, as it has of- 
ten been elsewhere. The parties, however, warmed in the 
dispute, until the Governor and House of Assembly made 
war on each other, as well as on the newspaper editors ; 

204 CANADA. 

vexatious measures were had recourse to ; the opposition 
press was forcibly put down, arbitrary acts passed, and 
imprisonments, without reason assigned, or trial follow- 
ing, inflicted by the executive on the more contumacious 
members of the Assembly, and others of the disaffected. 
The wealthier and more educated Canadians, who con- 
ducted this opposition, were guided, apparently, by poli- 
tical views and patriotic motives ; but it never appeared 
that they were otherwise hostile to the English interest 
than as they conceived it to be unjustly opposed to that of 
their own people. This ferment was at its height under 
the administration of Sir James Craig, between the years 
1808 and 1811. Upon the arrival of Sir George Prevost, 
a bill extraordinary For the better preservation of his Ma- 
jestifs Government being defeated by the obstinate resist- 
ance of the House of Assembly, a milder course of ad- 
ministration was adopted. The public mind being thus 
somewhat soothed, upon the opening of hostilities, in the 
year following, between the United States and Creat Bri- 
tain, no unwillingness appeared on the part of the legisla- 
ture to meet the wishes of the executive ; and as for the 
peasantry, the nation represented by their spiritual fa- 
thers as the enemies of God, were the enemies of the 
Canadians. Perhaps the Governor was more cautious 
of putting to the proof the fidelity of the colonists than 
was necessary. The peasants had never understood the 
quarrel of their representatives ; and the latter, even sup- 
posing their views to have gone farther than appeared, 
were too conscious of their weakness to venture upon a 
disclosure of them. The war evidently soon became na- 
tional, and the militia would willingly have done more 
than was demanded. Antipathy towards the heretical 
Americans was as powerful an incentive to loyalty as 
could have been a love to the British : this last it will ne- 
ver be easy to excite. Independent of national and reli- 

CANADA. 205 

gious prejudices, the presence of a haughty soldiery is not 
calculated to lull jealousies to sleep. 

As respects the ignorance of the Canadians, with the 
peasantry it is probably with justice called absolute ; but 
that the House of Assembly should, as is generally asserted 
by the Anti-Canadian English, be composed of men who 
know neither to read nor write, can hardly be received 
as a fair statement. Some such instances may occur ; but 
a body of men who have frequently made a stand for im- 
portant rights, and in the persons of some of its members, 
endured arbitrary imprisonments, for conscientious and 
constitutional opposition to the dictum of the Governor, 
and Legislative Council, — that such men should invaria- 
bly be a crowd of illiterate peasants, is not easy of belief. 

The government of the Canadas consists of a Governor 
appointed by the crown ; a Legislative Council, composed 
in Upper Canada of seven members, and in the Lower 
or French Canada of fifteen ; these are appointed by the 
Governor, and nominated for life : a Lower House of As- 
sembly whose members are chosen by the Freeholders in 
either province, the elections occurring every four years. 
In Lower Canada the French forming the majority of the 
population, are able to combat, in the House of Assem- 
bly, the power of the English Executive and Legislative 
Council, which virtually forms a part of the former. It is 
easy to see with what candour this House will be judged 
of by the party it opposes. It is doubtful whether it would 
be more praised were it more enlightened. 

You will ask, perhaps, whether some pains is not taken 
to amalgamate the old with the new population, or to 
break down the strongest national distinction by the 
establishment of English schools. I have stated that the 
priests are no ways desirous of enlightening their commu- 
nicants. To resist the authority of these spiritual pastors 
were not very politic on the part of the temporal powers, 
and perhaps it is considered as equally the interest of both 

206 CANADA. 

to leave the Canadian to sing his song, and tell his Ave 
Mary in the language of his fathers. It is curious to com- 
pare the stationary position of the French Canada with 
the progress of the French Louisiana. Not sixteen years 
since this vast territory was ceded to the United States, 
and already its people are nationalized. Not held as a 
military possession, but taken into the confederate repub- 
lics as an independent state, it feels its existence, and has 
learned to prize the importance that it enjoys. A popu- 
lation as simple and ignorant as that of French Canada, 
has been transformed, in the course of one generation, into 
a people comparatively enlightened. Superstition is fast 
losing its hold on their minds ; the rising youth are edu- 
cated in village schools established throughout the country, 
even in the least populous districts ; distinctions of man- 
ners, feelings, and language between the old and new 
population, are gradually disappearing ; and in the course 
of a few generations they will be mingled into one. In- 
stead of expensive colonies, the acquisitions of America 
are thus turned into wealthy states, additions to her power 
and her riches. She quarters no soldiers to awe them into 
obedience, but imparts to them the right of self-government? 
and admits them to her alliance. How strangely con- 
trasted to this is the position of these provinces ; expensive 
appendages to a distant empire ; military depots, in short, 
into which England throws her armed legions, to awe the 
peaceful population of the neighbouring republic. 

Is there not some erroneous calculation here ? By op- 
posing an armed frontier to America, is she not con- 
strained to nourish more or less of a military spirit ? 
Remove it, and were she not deprived of all incentives 
to martial ardour ? Would not her institutions, essentially 
peaceful, then operate more perfectly than at present, 
to prevent the exertion of her strength to the injury of 
other nations ? Leave her alone, and she might go to 
p : as it is, she is forced to keep her eyes open, and 

, CANADA. 207 

though her sword be sheathed, to wear it always at her 
side. Some say she is ambitious of conquest ; and that 
her invasion of Canada, both during the revolutionary and 
the late war, proves it. She was certainly ambitious of 
dislodging an armed enemy, and of turning hostile fortifi- 
cations into inoffensive villages. Had she obtained pos- 
session of the Canadas, — what then ? She would have 
said to them as she said to Louisiana, — Govern your- 
selves. Her own fortifications had then been removed, 
instead of being strengthened as they now are, to keep 
pace with those of her neighbours. For her, it may pro- 
bably be as well that she has an enemy skirmishing at her 
doors. Peaceful as she is, it serves to keep alive her spirit, 
which might otherwise relax too much. It makes her 
weigh her strength and feel it : this may be useful, seeing 
that her institutions, and the policy necessarily resulting 
from them, prevent her exerting it without provocation. 
But this effect, it may be presumed, is not that intend- 
ed by her enemies. They surely do not expend their 
treasures with an eye to her advantage. If their object 
were to increase her energy, and keep alive her national 
feeling, could they take surer means than by pointing can- 
non at her gates. " Delenda est Carthago" should not be 
the motto of the Republic. The rivalship of hers with 
European power, on this Siberian frontier, is a wholesome 
and spiritualizing stimulus, corrective of the soporific other- 
wise administered by her security and prosperity. To 
interrupt these were now probably impossible, though the 
whole of Europe should league against them ; but it is as 
well perhaps, that America should not feel this, for, were 
she to feel it, might not her security and prosperity be 
then once more endangered ? 

I fear that I have written a dull letter ; but perhaps I 
do this always. Should you, however, find me yet more 
dull than usual, consider the hard travelling that I have 
undergone, and the drowsiness of convalescence, whinh 

208 CANADA. 

still hangs about me ; consider this, and be merciful in 
your judgment. A few excursions into the surrounding 
country have finished our Canadian travels. The icy 
winds of the equinox, and some remaining weakness, 
scolding me into prudence, we sacrifice our visit to Que- 
bec, and strike south for the States. 





Pittsburgh, Lake Champlain, Sept. 1819. 

The shores of this beautiful lake are classic ground to 
the American, and perhaps to all those who love liberty, 
and triumph in the struggles for it. For myself, I have 
listened with much interest to the various stories attached 
to the different villages and ruined forts that line these 

The Americans, rich and poor, gentlemen and mecha- 
nics, have all the particulars of their short, but eventful 
history treasured in their minds, with an accuracy which, 
at first, cannot fail to surprise a foreigner. A citizen . 
chosen at random, may generally serve you for a Cicerone 
any where and every where throughout these states ; nor 
is he ever better pleased than when satisfying the curiosity 
of a stranger upon the subject of his country. He does 
this, too, with so much intelligence and good nature, and 
knows so well to discriminate between what is interesting, 
and what is tiresome, that you usually come from the 
conference more awake than when you engaged in it. 

The little town and pleasant bay of Plattsburgh is point- 
ed out with peculiar satisfaction to those who show a 
willingness to sympathize in the brave defence of an in- 
vaded people, fighting for all that lifc has of best and 


dearest — honour and liberty, property, and the domestic 

At the commencement of hostilities, in the year 1812, 
the American policy had been to seek the enemy in his 
own garrisons. It was believed that the Canadas would 
have been willing to raise the flag of independence, and 
join the federal Union, and rashly judged, that raw militia 
or volunteer troops might be sufficient to drive veteran regu- 
lars from their posts. The attempt was daring, and, if suc- 
cessful, would doubtless have best secured the country from 
invasion ; and, by cutting off the enemy from communica- 
tion with the Indians, have screened the scattered settle- 
ments on the western frontier from the cruel war with 
which they were threatened. That success, however, 
should have been calculated upon, proves only that igno- 
rance is always rash ; and most profoundly ignorant of the 
science of war must the republic have been, after thirty 
years of profound peace, without owning either an army 
or a navy, or knowing more of military discipline than 
could be found in the organization and harmless exercise, 
of a peaceful militia. The unsuccessful campaign in the 
Canadas, w r as not altogether unproductive of advantage 
to the republic. It served to make apparent her weak- 
ness, while the subsequent campaigns equally made ap- 
parent her strength. In offensive land-operations she first 
saw her citizens repulsed ; when facing, on their own soil, 
the best- trained soldiers in the world, she afterwards saw 
them successful. There is a useful lesson here to her and 
to all other nations. 

The stand made at Plattsburgh was as spirited as it was 
important. An army of veterans, from the school of the 
Duke of Wellington, having entered the St. Lawrence, 
was suddenly marched by Sir George Prevost into the 
state of New- York. Had this army succeeded in obtain- 
ing command of Lake Champlain, and the line of forts 
running southward, a simultaneous attack was to be 


-made from the sea on the city of New-York, when, the 
command <of the Hudson being secured, the eastern states 
would have been cut off from the rest of the Union. You 
will perceive the plan to be the same as that traced for 
General Burgoyne ; but, perhaps, then with more chance 
of success than in the present instance : much, however, 
seemed to favour the undertaking. In the first place, an 
attack from this quarter was at the time unexpected: for 
many miles beyond the frontier, the population was thin- 
ly scattered through forests and hills ; the army was busi- 
ly engaged in remote parts of the Union ; and an attack 
upon the city of New- York being apprehended, the mili- 
tia of the state had been chiefly drawn towards the coast. 
Fifteen hundred regulars, principally composed of raw 
recruits and invalids, was the only force in readiness, 
when the British troops took possession of the little town 
of Champlain within the American frontier. 

The scattered militia of the vicinity was instantly sum- 
moned, and all hands set to work to throw up fortifica- 
tions, and to prepare a fleet to engage that of the enemy. 
The exertions made during these anxious days are al- 
most incredible : night and day the axe and the hammer 
were at work. 

Let me remark here the peculiar fitness of the Ameri- 
can population for such exertions. Every man, or nearly 
every man, in these states, knows to handle the axe, 
the hammer, the plane, all the mechanic's tools, in short ; 
besides the musket, to the use of which he is not only re- 
gularly trained as a man, but practised as a boy. 

The enemy soon advanced up the shores of the lake to 
the river Saranac, at the mouth of which stands the vil- 
lage of Plattsburgh, backed and flanked by the forest, 
whose dark interminable line it sweetly breaks with its 
neat and cheerful dwellings, overlooking the silver bosom 
of a circular bay, which receives the waters of the river. 
Continual skirmishes now took place between the enemy 


and flying parties of militia, seven hundred of which soon 
collected from the surrounding: forests. The state of Ver- 
mont, which lines the opposite shores of the lake, then 
poured forth her mountaineers. Scattered through a 
mountainous country, it might have been thought difficult 
to collect the scanty population : but the cry of invasion 
echoed from hill to hill, from village to village ; some 
caught their horses from the plough, others ran off on foot, 
leaving their herds in the pastures, and scarce exchanging 
a parting blessing with their wives and mothers as they 
handed to them their muskets. 

" From the' grey |irc, vhose trembling hand 
Could hardly buckle on his brand. 
To the raw boy, whose shaft and bow 
Were ye< scarce terror to the crow, 
Each valley, each sequester d glen. 
IMuster'd his little horde of men, 
That met. as torrents from the height, 
In highland dale their streams unite ; 
Still gathering as they pour along, 
A voice more loud, a tide more strong ' 

Their guns on their shoulders, a powder-flask at their 
sides, sometimes a ration in their pockets, crowd after 
crowd poured into Burlington, and all, as a friend who had 
witnessed the scene, described it to me, " came at a run, 
whether on their own legs or their horses." 

The beautiful little town of Burlington covers the breast 
of a hill on the opposite shore, and somewhat higher up 
the lake than Plattsburgh. Here every boat and canoe 
was in requisition.; troop after troop hurried to the shore, 
and as the scattered crowds poured into Plattsburgh, they 
collected in lines on the Saranac to resist the passage of 
the enemy, or struck into the woods, with orders to harass 
.their rear. 

The fleet was now 7 equipped ; and, when that of the 
i my appeared in sight, moored in line across the en- 
nee of the bav. With such breathless alacrity had the 


Americans prepared to meet this encounter, that one of 
the vessels which then entered into action, had been built 
and equipped in the space of a fortnight ; eighteen days 
previous to the engagement, the timber of which it was 
constructed, had been actually growing in the forest upon 
the shores of the lake. 

The British flotilla, under the command of Captain 
Downie, mounted ninety-five guns, and upwards of a 
thousand men ; the American, under Commodore M'Do- 
nough, eighty-six guns, and nearly eight hundred men. 
The first exchange of cannon between the fleets was the 
signal of the armies on land. A desperate contest ensued. 
The British, with daring bravery, twice attempted to 
force the bridges, and twice were driven back ; then, filing 
up the river, a detachment attempted to ford ; but here a 
volley of musketry suddenly assailed them from the woods, 
and forced them to retreat, with loss. 

The issue of the day was felt by both parties to depend 
upon the naval engagement then raging in the sight of 
both armies. Many an anxious glance was cast upon 
the waters by those stationed near the shore. For two 
hours the conflict remained doubtful ; the vessels on 
either side were stript of their sails and rigging ; stag- 
gering and reeling hulks, they still gave and received the 
shocks which threatened to submerge them. The vessel 
of the American Commodore was twice on fire ; her can- 
non dismounted, and her sides leaking *, the enemy was 
in the same condition. The battle for a moment seemed 
a drawn one, when both attempted a manoeuvre which was 
to decide the day. With infinite difficulty, the American 
ship veered about ; the enemy attempted the same in 
vain y a fresh fire poured upon her, and she struck. A 
shout then awoke upon the shore ; and ringing along the 
American lines, swelled for a moment above the roar of 
the battle. For a short space the British efforts relaxed ; 
but then, as if nerved rather than dismayed by misfortune, 


the experienced veterans stood their ground, and continued 
the fight until darkness constrained its suspension. 

The little town of Burlington, during these busy hours, 
displayed a far different, but not less interesting scene ; 
all occupation was interrupted ; the anxious inhabitants, 
lining the heights, and straining their eyes and ears to 
catch some signal that might speak the fate of a combat 
upon which so much depended. The distant firing and 
smoke told when the fleets were engaged. The minutes 
and tiie hours dragged on heavily ; hopes and fears alter- 
nately prevailing ; when, at length, the cannonading sud- 
denly ceased ; but still, with the help of the telescope, no- 
thing could be distinguished across the vast w T aters, save 
that the last wreath of smoke had died away, and that 
life, honour, and property, were lost or saved. 

Not a sound was heard, the citizens looked at each 
other without speaking ; women and children wandered 
along the beach, with many of the men of Vermont, who 
had continued to drop in during the day, but found no 
means of crossing the lake. Every boat was on the other 
shore, and all were still too busy there to ferry over tidings 
of the naval combat. The evening fell, and still no mo- 
ving speck appeared upon the waters. A dark night, hea- 
vy with fogs, closed in, and some with saddened hearts 
slowly sought their homes ; while others still lingered, 
hearkening to every breath, pacing to and fro distractedly, 
and wildly imagining all the probable and possible causes 
which might occasion this suspense. Were they defeat- 
ed — some would have taken to the boats; were they 
successful — some would have burned to bring the tidings. 
— At eleven at night, a shout broke in the darkness from 
the waters. It was one of triumph. — Was it from friends 
or enemies ? Again it broke louder; it was recognized 
and re-echoed by the listeners on the beach, swelled up 
the hill, and " Victory ! victory 1" rang through the vil- 
lage* I could not describe the scene as it v/as described 


to me ; but you will suppose how the blood eddied from 
the heart ; how young and old ran about frantic ; how 
they laughed, wept, and sang, and wept again. — In half 
an hour, the little town was in a blaze of light. 

The brunt of the battle was now over ; but it still re- 
mained doubtful, whether the invaders would attempt to 
push forward, in despite of the loss of their fleet, and of 
the opposing ranks of militia, now doubly inspirited by 
patriotism and good fortune. At daybreak the next 
morning, were found only the sick, the wounded, and the 
dead, with the military stores and munitions of war. The 
siege had been raised during the night ; and the baggage 
and artillery having been sent back, the army were alrea- 
dy some miles on their way towards the frontier. The 
skirmishing that harassed their retreat, thinned their num- 
bers less than the sudden desertion of five hundred men, 
who threw down their muskets, and sprang into the 
woods. A few of these sons of Mars are now thriving 
farmers in the state of Vermont ; others fared, with more 
or less success, according to their industry and morals. 

Sir George Prevost was much blamed, both in Canada 
and at home, for this precipitate retreat. That he might 
have forced the American works is admitted by the Ame- 
ricans themselves ; indeed, from their hasty and imperfect 
construction, it is wonderful how they were made to stand 
the siege as they did. But what advantage would have 
been gained by strewing the earth with dead to break 
down a breastwork of planks, to retire or surrender after 
wards ? Without the co-operation of a fleet, with ex- 
hausted and dispirited troops, to have forced a passage 
through woods, and over roads of logs, contending for eve- 
ry step with thickening crowds — not of soldiers, but of 
fathers, husbands, citizens, standing on their own soil, and 
inspired with every feeling that can raise men above them- 
selves, — surely the commander judged wisely and hu- 
manely who preferred retreat to certain destruction. " It 


might have been a day later," was the observation of an 
American officer; " but the enemy must have retreated, 
or surrendered, or been cut to pieces by degrees." 

There is in militia a moral force, which, in moments of 
great exigency, is more than a match for trained skill and 
hardy experience. Defeat, which dispirits the best vete- 
ran regulars fighting in a foreign land for the point of ho- 
nour, or the prospect of booty, invigorates national militia 
contending on their own soil for all that is dearest to the 
human heart. Contrast for a moment the exterior of the 
hostile bands who here engaged. A line of plain citizens, 
their dusky garments breathing of home, opposed to flaring 
uniforms speaking only of the trade of w T ar ; — the heart 
acknowledges the difference between such armies. 

It is customary in the more wealthy cities, and occasion- 
ally even elsewhere, for some of the militia companies to 
provide themselves with uniforms ; and though this proves 
a generous spirit on the part of the citizens, I have never 
looked upon these well-clad regiments in exercise with 
the same interest with which I invariably regard those 
clad in the every-day garments of domestic life. You need 
to be told that the other are militia ; nothing remains to 
be said here. I remember well observing, for the first 
time, a troop of citizens going through military exercise ; 
the blacksmith from his forge ; the mechanic, his coat 
marked with saw-dust ; the farmer with the soil yet upon 
his hands. " What think you of our soldiers ?" said a 
friend smiling. Think ! — I know not what I thought ; 
but I know, that I secretly brushed a tear from my eye. 

I feel tempted to pass another idle half hour in detailing 
to you a story of a different character, and which, though 
it will never be placed on record, is not less worthy of be- 
ing so than the victory of M'Donough. 

One of the finest steamboats ever built in the United 
States lately ran upon this inland sea, and was destroyed, 
ten days since, by fire, in a manner truly terrible. The 


captain of the vessel had fallen sick, and entrusted its ma- 
nagement to his son, a young man just turned of one-and- 
tvventy. Making for St. John's with upwards of forty 
passengers, they encountered the equinoctial gale which 
blew with violence right ahead. The fine vessel, how- 
ever, encountered it bravely, and dashed onwards through 
the storm, until an hour after midnight, she had gained the 
broadest part of the lake. Some careless mortal, who had 
been to seek his supper in the pantry, left a candle burn- 
ing on a shelf, which, after some time, caught another 
which was ranged above. 

The passengers were asleep, or at least quiet in their 
births, when a man at the engine perceived, in some dark 
recess of the vessel, an unusual light. Approaching the 
spot, he heard the crackling of fire, and found the door of 
the pantry a glowing and tremulous wall of embers. He 
had scarcely time to turn himself, ere he was enveloped in 
flames ; rushing past them, he attempted to burst into the 
ladies' apartment by a small door which opened into trie 
interior of the vessel : it was locked on the inside, and the 
noise of the storm seemed to drown all his cries and blows. 
Hurrying upon the deck, he gave the alarm to the cap- 
tain, and flew to the women's cabin. Ere he leaped down 
the stairs, the flames had burst through the inner door, and 
had already seized upon the curtains of the bed next to it. 
You may conceive the scene which followed. 

In the mean time the young captain roused his crew 
and his male passengers, warning the pilot to make for the 
nearest island. Summoning his men around him, and 
stating to them that all the lives on board could not be 
saved in the boats, he asked their consent to save the pas- 
sengers, and to take death with him. All acquiesced 
unanimously ; and hastened to let down the boats. While 
thus engaged, the flames burst through the decks, and 
shrouded the pilot, the mast, and the chimney, in a co- 
lumn of flames. The helmsman, however, held to the 



wheel, until his limb#were scorched and his clothes half 
consumed upon his back. The unttsual heat round the 
boiler gave a redoubled impetus to the engine. The ves- 
sel dashed madly through the waters, until she was within 
a few roods of land. The boats were down, and the 
captain and his men held the shrieking women and chil- 
dren in their arms, when the helm gave way, and the ves- 
sel, turning from the wind, flew backwards, whirling 
round and round from the shore. None could approach 
to stop the engine ; its fury, however, soon spent itself, 
and left the flaming wreck to the mercy only of the winds 
and waves. With dreadful struggles, the naked passen- 
gers got into the boats, and received the women and 
children from the hands of the captain and the crew, who. 
while the flames whirled over their heads, refused the 
solicitations to enter the overburdened barks, and pushed 
them offfiom the fire which had nearly caught their sides. 
It was now discovered that one woman and a youth of 
sixteen had been forgotten. Hurrying them to the wind- 
ward of the flames, the youth was bound to a plank, and 
a skilful swimmer of the crew leapt with him into the 
lake. The captain, holding the frantic woman in his 
arms, stood upon the edge of the scorching and crackling 
wreck, until he saw the last of his companions provided 
with a spar, and committed ;<o the waters ; then, throw- 
ing from him with one arm a table which he had before 
secured for the purpose, and with the other grasping his 
charge, he sprang into the waves. The poor woman, 
mad with terror, seized his throat as he placed and held 
her upon the table ; forced to disengage himself, she was 
borne away by the waves ; he tried to follow, and saw 
her for the last time, clinging to a burning mass of the 
vessel. One last shriek, and the poor creature was 
whelmed in flood and fire. Swimming round the blazing 
bulk, and calling aloud to such of his companions as might 
within hearing, to keep near it, he watched for the fall- 


ing of a spar. He seized one while yet on fire, and, 
quenching it, continued to float round the wreck, deem- 
ing that the light might be a signal, should the boats be 
able to return ; but these had to row, heavily laden, six 
miles through a mountainous sea. It was long before 
they could make the land, and that, leaving their helpless 
freight naked on the shore of a desert island, in the dark 
and tempestuous night, they turned to seek the drowning 

The day broke while they were labouring against the 
roaring elements, seeking in vain the extinguished beacon 
that was to guide their search; at length a blackened 
atom appeared upon the top of a wave ; stretched upon 
it was a human figure. It was, I rejoice to say, the young 
captain — senseless, but the generous soul not quite de- 
parted. He is alive and doing well. One other of these 
devoted men was picked up late in the morning, and won- 
drously restored to life, after having been eight hours 
swimming and floating on the water. Seven perished. 

The citizens of Burlington hastened with clothing and 
provisions to the sufferers on the island ; took them to their 
homes ; and nursed them with affectionate solicitude. 

The blackened wreck of the Phenix is now lying, in the 
midst of the lake, -upon a reef of rocks, to which it was 
drifted bv the storm. 






Burlington, State of Vermont. 
October, 1819. 


Ascending the waters of Lake Champlain, the shores 
assume a wilder and more mountainous character. The 
site of the nourishing town of Burlington is one of singu- 
lar beauty ; the neatness and elegance of the white houses 
ascending rapidly from the shore, interspersed with trees, 
and arranged with that symmetry which characterizes the 
young villages of these states, the sweet bay, and, bejtond, 
the open waters of the lake, bounded by a range of moun- 
tains, behind which, when our eyes first rested on them, 
the sun was sinking in golden splendour ; — it was a fairy 
scene, when his flaming disk, which might have dazzled 
eagles, dropt behind the purple screen, blazing on the still 
broad lake, on the windows and the white walls of the 
lovely village, and on the silver sails of the sloops and 
shipping, gliding noiselessly through the gleaming waters. 
Not forty years since, and the ground now occupied by 
this beautiful town and a population of two thousand 
souls, was a desert, frequented only by bears and pan- 
thers. The American verb to progress (though some of 
my friends in this country deny that it is an Americanism) 
is certainly not without its apology ; even a foreigner 
must acknowledge, that the new kind of advancement 


which greets his eye in this country, seems to demand a 
new word to portray it. 

The young town of Burlington, is graced with a col- 
lege, which was founded in the year 1791, and lias lately 
received considerable additions. The state of Vermont, 
in which it stands, whose population may be somewhat 
less than 300,000, contrives to support two establishments 
of this description ; and, perhaps, in no part of the Union is 
greater attention paid to the education of youth. 

The territory passing under the name of Vermont is in- 
tersected, from north to south, by a range of mountains, 
covered with ever-green forests, from which the name of 
the country. This Alpine ridge, rising occasionally to 
three and four thousand feet, nearly fills up the breadth 
of the state ; but is every where scooped into glens and 
valleys, plentifully intersected with streams and rivers, 
flowing, to the eastward, into the beautiful Connecticut, 
and, to the west, into the magnificent Champlain. The 
gigantic forests of white pine, spruce, cedar, and other 
evergreens, which clothe to the top the billowy sides of 
the mountains, mingle occasionally their deep verdure 
with the oak, elm, beech, maple, &c. that shadow the val- 
leys. This world of forest is intersected by tracts of open 
pasture, while the luxuriant lands that border the water 
courses are fast exchanging their primeval woods for the 
treasures of agriculture. The most populous town in the 
state contains less than three thousand souls ; the inhabit- 
ants, agricultural or grazing farmers, being scattered 
through the valleys and hills, or collected in small villages 
on the banks of the lakes and rivers. 

In scrupulous regard to the education of her citizens, in 
the thorough democracy of her institutions, in her simple 
morals and hardy industry, Vermont is a characteristic 
daughter of New-England. She stands conspicuous, 
however, among her sister states for her patriotic spirit ; 
her services have alwavs been rendered to the nation un- 

222 lTE of Vermont- 

sparingly, nor could she ever be charged with separating 
her interests from those of the confederacy. 

During the revolutionary struggle, her scanty popula- 
lation, thinly scattered along the borders of ( rivers and 
streams, in mountains and forests, were signally generous 
and disinterested. The short history of this spirited re- 
public is not without a peculiar interest, and is very highly 
honourable to the character of her people. 

During her colonial existence, she was engaged in a 
dispute with the neighbouring provinces, involving all 
those great principles which afterwards formed the basis of 
the quarrel between the colonies and the mother country. 
Under the administration of Great Britain, in conse- 
quence of various contradictory acts, passed at different 
periods, and under different reigns, the Vermont lands 
were claimed by the two adjoining provinces of New- 
Hampshire and New- York. Most of the early settlers 
held their possessions under the patent granted to the 
former, when the latter asserted a prior claim, and essay- 
ed to constrain the ejection of the proprietors. The pro- 
clamation of the royal Governor of New- York was an- 
swered by a proclamation of the royal Governor of New- 
Hampshire; the matter being referred to the home au- 
thority, a verdict was pronounced in favour of New- York 
against the wishes and claims of the Vermontese ; but 
this imperial verdict was as little respected by the hardy 
mountaineers as had been the proclamation of the go- 
vernor. "The gods of the valleys," cried the spirited 
Ethan Allen, " are not gods of the hills." An opposition 
was instantly organized, and the New-York claims and 
jurisdiction so set at defiance, that a civil war had very 
nearly ensued. The ground assumed by this infant colo- 
ny was the right of a people to self-government, and ac- 
cordingly she established her own in defiance of the 
threats of New- York and her governor. But a greater 
cause soon fixed the attention of this high-minded people. 


In the very heat of their contention with the New- York- 
claimants and legislature, the quarrel broke out between 
the British government and the American people. From 
this quarrel the mountaineers of Vermont might easily 
have excused themselves. Far removed from the sea. 
without commerce, untaxed and ungoverned, the arbitra- 
ry measures of the English ministry clashed with no im- 
mediate interests of theirs, and, heated as they were in 
other disputes, might have been supposed little calculated 
to excite their opposition by wounding their pride ; but. 
superior to all selfish considerations, their own quarrel 
was lost in that of the community. The news of the bat- 
tle of Lexington had no sooner reached them, than we 
find Ethan Allen, at the head of a troop of Verm 
mountaineers, surprising the important post of Ticom 
roga. Summoning the surrender of the fort in the dead 
of night, " In whose name V' said the astonished and irri- 
tated commander. " In the name of the great Jehovah 
and the continental congress,''' replied the patriot. This 
continental congress contained no representatives of the 
people of Vermont; it had not pronounced upon the jus- 
tice or injustice of the claims preferred against them, nor 
acknowledged the independent jurisdiction which they 
had established ; but it was an assembly gathered under 
<he wings of freedom ; it asserted for others those rights 
which the Vermontese had asserted for themselves: — 
without hesitation therefore, without waiting to be solicit- 
ed, or essaying to make stipulations, voluntarily and un- 
conditionally these champions of the rights of man forsook 
their ploughshares and their pruninghooks, recommended 
their women and children to the protection of heaven, and 
went forth to fight the battles of their brethren. 

After the declaration of independence, the Vermontese 
appealed to the congress as to the supreme government, de- 
manding to be admitted into the confederacy as an inde- 
pendent state. They grounded their plea upon the same 


great principles by which the other states had justified 
their resistance to Great Britain ; — the right of a people 
to institute their own government, and the invalidity of all 
contracts uncemented by a mutual agreement between 
the parties. New- York, on the other hand, could appeal 
only to royal grants and deeds legally rather than justly 
executed. The feelings of the congress were well dis- 
posed towards the Vermont cause ; but New- York was 
too important an ally to be decided against rashly ; 
judgment therefore was deferred until the two states 
should come to agreement between themselves, or until 
more peaceful days should bring leisure to the congress to 
examine into all the bearings of the question. Thus 
thrown out of the pale of the Union, it was imagined by 
the enemy, that Vermont might easily be won from the 
common cause. She was now promised high privileges, 
and an individual existence as a royal province ; but this 
generous republic was not to be so bought from honour : 
firm in her resistance to New- York, she was as true to 
the cause of America ; her handful of freemen asserted 
their own rights, and sustained those of their brethren 
throughout that trying contest. At its close, and when 
the national independence was finally established, the dis- 
pute with her sister state was amicably adjusted ; and she 
then voluntarily joined herself as a fourteenth state to the 
thirteen original confederated republics whose cause she 
had so zealously and magnanimously made her own. 

In consequence of her resistance to the jurisdiction of 
New- York, Vermont had asserted and enjoyed an inde- 
pendent existence several years before the dismemberment 
of the colonial provinces from Great Britain ; but the con- 
stitution, as it now stands, was not finally arranged until 
the year 1793. 

The plan of government is among the most simple of 
any to be found in the Union. The legislative depart- 
ment is composed of one house, whose members are 


chosen by the whole male population of the state. In this 
mountainous district, peopled by a race of simple agricul- 
turists, the science of legislation may be supposed to pre- 
sent few questions of difficulty ; nor has it been found 
necessary to impede the process of law-making by forcing 
a projected statute to pass through two ordeals. You find 
in the constitution of Vermont another peculiarity which 
marks a people Argus-eyed to their liberties. In the other 
republics, the people have thought it sufficient to preserve 
to themselves the power of summoning a convention, to 
alter or amend their plan of government whenever the) 
may judge it expedient ; but the Vermontese, as if unwill- 
ing to trust to their own vigilance, have decreed the stated 
election of a Council of Censors, to be convened for one 
year at the end of every seven years, whose business it is 
to examine whether the constitution has been preserved 
inviolate ; " whether the legislative or executive branches of 
government have performed their duty as guardians of the 
people, or assumed to themselves, or exercised other or 
greater powers than they are entitled to by the constitution;" 
to take in review, in short, every public act, with the 
whole course of administration pursued since the last 
meeting of the censors. If any acts appear to them to 
have been unconstitutional, their business is to refer them 
to the legislative assembly then sitting, stating the grounds 
of their objection, and recommending a revisal of the same. 
They are farther empowered to judge of the propriety of 
revising the existing constitution ; and should any article 
appear defective, or not clearly denned, to promulgate the 
articles objected to, and the amendments proposed, which, 
being considered and approved by the people, other dele- 
gates are appointed to decree the same in convention, 
according to the instructions received from their consti- 

The assembly now meets in the little town of Montpe- 
lier, situated in a secluded valley in the centre of the state. 



Having gained the centre, the seat of government is now 
probably fixed. It is a strange novelty in the eyes of a 
European to find legislators assembled in a humble and 
lonely village to discuss affairs of state. How strangely 
has liberty been libelled ! Behold her in the mountains of 
Vermont, animating a people, who, at the first sound of 
oppression, would rise like lions from their lair, but who, 
in the free exercise of undisputed rights, and, walking erect 
among their hills with a spirit untamed, and thought un- 
shackled, live on a life of peace and industry, unharming 
and unharmed, proud as the noble in feudal seigniory, and 
peaceful as the flocks which graze upon their mountains ! 

The men of Vermont are familiarly known by the name 
of Green-mountain boys ; a name which they themselves 
are proud of, and which, I have remarked, is spoken with 
much complacency, and not unfrequently with a tone of 
admiration or affection, by the citizens of the neighbour- 
ing states. 

Before leaving Vermont, I would observe, that the 
Scotch emigrant would probably find it peculiarly suited 
to his habits and constitution. A healthy climate, a hilly 
country, affording either pasture or arable land, — the fru- 
gal, hardy, and industrious Scotch farmer might here find 
himself at home, or rather in a home somewhat improved. 
There are many valuable tracts unreclaimed in the lower 
valleys, and much land of moderate value on the sides of 
the mountains. Our sons of the mist might here see their 
Grampians and Cheviots swelling out of a better soil, and 
smiling under a purer heaven. They would find too a 
race, of industry and intelligence equal or superior to their 
own, and animated with a spirit of independence that they 
might imbibe with advantage. * 

European emigrants are, perhaps, given to roam too far 
into the interior of this continent. The older states have 

*" There i? one Scotch settlement in Vermont in a very flourishing condi- 
•i«n, and I Ltiieve. stragglers continue occasionally to join it. 


still sufficient of vacant lands to settle down multitudes, 
and, as I have before remarked, men have usually many 
things to learn when they arrive in this country. The 
American enters the western wilderness skilled to van- 
quish all difficulties ; and understanding to train his chil- 
dren in the love of their country, founded upon a know- 
ledge of its history, and an appreciation of its institutions, 
he is fitted to form the advanced guard of civilivation ; 
the foreigner, in general, will be better placed in the main 
body, where he may himself receive instructions, and im- 
bibe feelings suited to his newly assumed character as a 
citizen of a republic. 





























Whitehouse, New-Jersey, Dec. 1S11*. 

I regret that the circumstances which constrained us 

to cut short our journey through the eastern states, have 

also prevented me, for some time past, from writing with 

my usual pui 
* # * 

•* * * 

With this short summary, you must allow me to pass 
over the remainder of our tour, and come at once to the 
subject of your letter, now before me. I will do my best 
to reply to * * * 7 s inquiries, not pretending, however, 
to give a better solution of them than I apprehend others 
may have given before. 

It has been common of late years to summon the lite- 
rature of America to the European bar, and to pass a 
verdict against American wit and American science. 
More liberal foreigners, in alluding to the paucity of 
standing American works in prose or rhyme, are wont to 
ascribe it to the infant state of society in this country : 
others read this explanation, I incline to think at least, 
without affixing a just meaning to the words. Is it not 
commonly received in England, that the American nation 
is in a sort of middle state between barbarism and refine- 
ment ? I remember, that, on coming to this country, I had 


myself but a very confused notion of the people that I 
was to find in it ; sometimes they had been depicted to 
me as a tribe of wild colts, chewing the bit just put into 
their mouths, and fretting under the curb of law, care- 
lessly administered, and yet too strict withal for their un- 
tamed spirits ; at other times I understood them to be a 
race of shrewd artificers, speculating merchants, and 
plodding farmers, with just enough of manners to growl 
an answer when questioned, and enough of learning to 
read a newspaper, drive a hard bargain, keep accounts, 
and reason phlegmatically upon the advantages of free 
trade and popular government. These portraits appeared 
to me to have few features of resemblance ; the one 
seemed nearly to image out a Dutchman, and the other 
a wild Arab. To conceive the two characters combined 
were not very possible ; I looked at both, and could make 
nothing of either. 

The history of this people seemed to declare that they 
were brave, high-minded, and animated with the soul of 
liberty ; their institutions, that they were enlightened ; 
their laws, that they were humane ; and their policy, that 
they were peaceful, and kept good faith ; but I was told 
that they were none of these. Judge a man by Ms works, 
it is said ; but to judge a nation by its works was no adage. 
and, I was taught, was quite ridiculous. To judge a na- 
tion by the reports of its enemies, however, seemed equally 
ridiculous ; so I determined not to judge at all, but to land in 
the country without knowing any thing about it, and wait 
until it should speak for itself. The impressions that I have 
received, I have occasionally attempted to impart to you ; 
they were such at first as greatly to surprise me, for it is 
scarcely possible to keep the mind unbiassed by current 
reports, however contradictory their nature, and however 
intent we may be to let them pass unheeded. • 

There is little here that bespeaks the infancy of socie- 
ty in the sense that foreigners usually suppose it applica- 


ble ; the simple morals, more equalized fortunes, and 
more domestic habits and attachments, generally found in 
this country, as compared with Europe, doubtless bespeak 
a nation young in luxury, but do they bespeak a nation 
young in knowledge ? It would say little for knowledge 
were this the case. 

It is true that authorship is not yet a trade in this coun- 
try ; perhaps for the poor it is a poor trade every where ; 
and could men do better, they might seldom take to it as 
a profession ; but, however this may be, many causes 
have operated hitherto, and some perhaps may always 
continue to operate, to prevent American genius from 
showing itself in w r orks of imagination, or of arduous lite- 
rary labour. As yet, we must remember, that the coun- 
try itself is not half a century old. The generation is 
barely passed away whose energies were engrossed by a 
struggle for existence. To the harassing war of the re- 
volution, succeeded the labours of establishing the national 
government, and of reorganizing that of the several 
states ; and it must be remembered that, in America, nei- 
ther war nor legislation is the occupation of a body of 
men, but of the whole community ; it occupies every head 
and every heart, rouses the w T hole energy, and absorbs 
the whole genius of the nation. 

The establishment of the Federal Government was not 
the w r ork of a day; even after its conception and adoption. 
a thousand clashing opinions were to be combated. The 
war of the pen succeeded to that of the sword, and the 
shock of political parties to that of hostile armies ; the 
struggle continued through the whole of that administra 
tion denominated Federal* After the election of Mr. 
Jefferson, it revived for a moment with redoubled vio- 
lence ; and though this was but the flickering of the flame 
in the socket, it engaged the attention of the whole peo- 
ple, and continued to do so until the breaking out of the 
second war ; which, in its progress, cemented all parties. 


and, in its issuer Established the national independence, 
and perfected the civil union. It is but four yfi^BJftere- 
fore, that the public mind has been at rest; na^Hjlsbnly 
so long that the United States can tbi said to have enjoy- 
ed an acknowledged national existence. 

It was the last war, so little regarded in Europe, but so 
all-important to America, that fixed the character of this 
country, and raised it to the place which it now holds 
among the nations of the world. Am I mistaken in the 
belief tnat Europeans, (and I speak here of the best in- 
formed,) have hitherto paid but little attention to the in- 
ternal history of the United States ? When engaged in 
the revolutionary struggle, they were regarded with a mo- 
mentary sympathy ; the fate of mankind hung upon the 
contest ; it was tyranny's armed legions opposed to liber- 
ty's untrained, but consecrated band ; and the enlightened 
patriot of every clime felt, that the issue was to decide the 
future destinies of the world. The battle being fought, 
this young and distant nation again seemed to shrink into 
insignificance ; the whirlwind had now turned upon Eu- 
rope, and all her thinking heads were employed in poising 
state against state, empire against empire, or one tyrant 
against another tyrant ; while America, removed from the 
uproar, w T as binding up her wounds, and arranging her 
disturbed household. The people of Europe had soon 
well nigh forgotten her existence ; and their governors 
only occasionally remembered her, to tell her that she 
was not worth regarding. Her ships were robbed upon 
the seas, and insulted in the ports, and from these at 
length shut out. She remonstrated to be laughed at ; she 
resented the insults, and at last challenged the aggressors, 
and was stared at. The ministry which had dared her 
to the quarrel, drew carelessly a million from their trea- 
sury, dispatched some detachments from their fleets and 
armies, and sat down in quiet expectation, that the Ame- 
rican republics were once again to be transformed into 


British colonies. A few more generous politicians occa- 
sionally threw a glance across the ocean, curious to see 
how tMHerculean infant would once again cope with 
the matured strength of a full-grown empire, and were 
perhaps scarcely less surprised than the cabinet of St. 
James's by the issue of the rencontre. 

If * * * * will study the history of this country, he 
will find it teeming with business. America was not asleep 
during the thirty years that Europe had forgotten her ; she 
was actively employed in her education; — irr framing 
and trying systems of government ; in eradicating preju- 
dices; in vanquishing internal enemies; in replenishing 
her treasury ; in liquidating her debts ; in amending her 
laws ; in correcting her policy ; in fitting herself to enjoy 
that liberty which she had purchased with her blood ; — 
in founding seminaries of learning; in facilitating the 
spread of knowledge ; — to say nothing of the revival of 
commerce ; the reclaiming of wilderness after wilderness ; 
the facilitating of internal navigation ; the doubling and 
tripling of a population trained to exercise the rights of 
freemen, and to respect institutions adopted by the voice 
of their country. Such have been the occupations of 
America. She bears the works of her genius about her ; 
we must not seek them in volumes piled on the shelves of 
a library. All her knowledge is put forth in action ; lives 
in her institutions, in her laws ; speaks in her senate ; acts 
in her cabinet ; breathes even from the walls of her cities, 
and the sides of her ships. Look on all she has done, on 
that which she is ; count the sum of her years ; and then 
pronounce sentence on her genius. Her politicians are not 
ingenious theorists, but practical statesmen ; her soldiers 
have not been conquerors, but patriots ; her philosophers 
not wise reasoners, but wise legislators. Their country 
has been and is their field of action ; every able head and 
nervous arm is pressed into its service. The foreign 
world hears nothing of their exploits, and reads none of 


their lucubrations ; but their country reaps the fruits of 
their wisdom, and feels the aid of their service ; and it is 
in the wealth, the strength, the peace, the prosperity, the 
good government, and the well administered law T s of that 
country that we must discover and admire their energy 
and genius. 

In Europe we are apt to estimate the general cultiva- 
tion of a people by the greater or less number of their 
literary characters. Even in that hemisphere, it is, per- 
haps, an unfair way of judging. No one w r ould dispute 
that France is greatly advanced in knowledge since the 
era of the revolution, and yet her literary fame from that 
period has been at a stand. The reason is obvious — 
that her genius was called from the closet into the senate 
and the field; her historians and poets were suddenly 
changed into soldiers and politicians ; her peaceful men 
of letters became active citizens, known in their genera- 
tion by their virtues or their crimes. Instead of tragedies, 
sonnets, and tomes of philosophy, they manufactured laws, 
or marshalled armies ; opposed tyrants, or fell their vic- 
tims, or played the tyrant themselves. Engaged in the 
war of politics, a nation is little likely to be visited by the 
muses ; they are loungers, who love quiet, and sing in the 
shade ; they come not upon the field until the battle is long 
over ; and, before they celebrate the actions of the dead, 
the moss has grown upon their graves. The battle is 
now over in America, but it is no more than over ; and it 
is doubtful, perhaps, whether her popular government 
must not always have something too bustling in it for the 
" gentle nine." A youth, conscious of talents, here, sees 
the broad way to distinction open before him ; the highest 
honours of the republic seem to tempt his ambition, and 
the first wish of his heart is to be a statesman. This se- 
cures able servants to the commonwealth, and quickens 
the energy and intelligence of the whole people ; but it 
causes all their talent to be put forth in the business of 



the day, and thus rather tends to impart dignity to the 
country, than to procure immortality to individuals. 
Those Americans who have been known in Europe as 
authors, have been better known in their own country as 
active citizens of the republic ; nor does my memory at 
this moment furnish me with more than two exceptions to 
this rule.* The able political writers of the revolution, 
and of the busy years succeeding it, were all soldiers or 
statesmen, who with difficulty snatched a moment from 
the active duties which their country devolved upon them, 
to enlighten their fellow citizens upon points of vital na- 
tional importance. Barlow, known only in England as 
the author of the Columbiad, was a diplomatist, and an 
able political writer. The venerable Dwight was here 
held in honour, not as the author of " The Conquest of 
Canaan," but as the patron of learning ; the assiduous 
instructor of youth, and a popular and energetic writer of 
the day. I could in the same way designate many living 
characters whose masterly abilities have been felt in the 
cabinets of Europe, and which here are felt in every de- 
partment of the civil government, and in all the civic pro- 
fessions. These men, who, in other countries, would 
have enlarged the field of the national literature, here 
quicken the pulse of the national prosperity ; eloquent in 
the senate, able in the cabinet, they fill the highest offices 
of the republic, and are repaid for their arduous and un- 
ceasing labours, by the esteem of their fellow citizens, 
and the growing strength of their country. 

No nation has, perhaps, ever produced, in the same 
term of years, more high-minded patriots and able states- 
men than the American. Who laid the foundation of 
these republics ? Not robbers and bandits, as some of our 

* Brown, the author of the well-known novels, Arthur Mervyn, the Ventri- 
loquist, he. and Mr. Washington Irving. When the latter left his country to 
visit Europe, he was too young to have been known in any other character 
than that of an author. The elegant work of this gentleman, entitled " The 
Sketch-Book," i<? equally admired on both sides of the Atlantic. 


ministerial journals would persuade their readers, but the 
wisest citizens of the wisest country then existing on the 
globe. The father of Virginia was an English hero, who 
might adorn a tale of chivalry ; a knight errant, who hunt- 
ed honour through the world, and came at last, in the pure 
love of liberty and daring adventure, to found a colony in 
the American wilderness.* The fathers of Maryland 
were sages and philanthropists, who placed freedom of 
conscience before the privileges of birth, or the enjoyments 
of luxury, — English noblemen, whose birth was their 
poorest distinction, who taught religious and political 
equality in an age when both were unknown, and raised 
an asylum in this distant world for the persecuted of every 
sect and every clime.f The fathers of New-England 
were the Hampdens of Britain, who came to enjoy liber* 
ty, and serve their austere God, among savage beasts, and 
yet more savage men, bearing all things rather than the 
frowns of tyranny, and the jurisdiction of hierarchs. 
Among them were men of erudition and of opinions be- 
fore their age. The venerable Roger Williams, (an ad- 
vocate of religious as well as civil liberty,) promulgated 
principles which were afterwards abetted by Milton and 
Locke. { Oglethorpe, the father of Georgia, united the 

* Captain John Smith. 

t George and Cecil ius Calvert, the Lords Baltimore, and Leonard Calvert, 
brother of Cecilius. This distinguished family was attached to the church 
of Rome. While all the European nations, and, more or less, the other Ame- 
rican colonists, were harassing each other for their differing opinions, a Ro- 
man Catholic promulgated the doctrine, not of religious toleration, but reli- 
gious equality. The Puritans, under the reign of Cromwell, first disturbed 
the peace of the infant Maryland ; but it was not till after the English revo- 
lution, that her wise and philanthropic institutions were broken down by a 
royal decree. William the Third finally annihilated Catholic ascendancy in 
England, and established Protestant ascendancy in Ireland and Maryland : 
1688 was a happy year for only one portion of the British empire. 

t A comparison between the Rhode-Island Charter and the Constitution 
presented to Carolina by Locke, would lead us to pronounce Roger Williams 
a more sapient legislator than his more distinguished disciplo 


characters of a soldier, a legislator, a statesman, and a 
philanthropist. In his youth, he learned the art of war 
from Prince Eugene ; in his maturer years he supported, 
in the British parliament, the interests of his country, and 
the claims of humanity. He was the leader of 

u the generous band, 
Who, touched with human wo, redressive searched 
Into the horrors of the gloomy jail* 

Thomson's Winter, line 350. 

Pennsylvania wears the name of her sage. In fact 
there is not one of the colonies whose foundations were 
not laid by the hands of freemen, and men wise in their 
generations. The political revolutions t)f England con- 
tinued to throw into them many of her best and bravest 
citizens ; many too of gentle birth and refined manners. 
The edict of Nantz sent to them some of the most en- 
lightened and virtuous sons of Erance; similar edicts, 
many of the noblest sons of Ireland. From the loins of 
such exiles proceeded the heroes of the revolution. Un- 
til the very period of the quarrel which raised America to 
the rank of an independent nation, many of England's 
most distinguished families came to establish their penates 
in the New World, either from a spirit of adventure, or 
attracted by the superior beauty of the climate and the 
frank and hospitable character of the people. We find, 

* In the forty-fifth year of his age, General Oglethorpe placed himself at 
the head of a crowd of poor sufferers, and embarked for the American wil- 
derness. Having by his wisdom and valour, secured the first settlers from 
intesiine commotions and foreign enemies, he returned to England. At the 
breaking out of the revolutionary war, the command of the British army was 
tendered to him, as to the eldest officer in the service, i( I will undertake the 
business without a man or ship of war," was the reply of the veteran to the 
minister, « provided you will authorize me to assure the colonists on my arri- 
val among them, that you will do them justice." The infant Georgia was ani- 
mated with the soul of her founder ; her handful of patriots (the whole popu- 
lation was within fifty thousand) joined the league, and unfurled the standard 
of independence. The venerable Oglethorpe saw the colony that he had 
planted, raised into a free republic, heard the independence of America ac- 
-knowledge*!, and died at the advawed age of niaty-six. 


among others, the representative of the noble house of 
Fairfax foregoing the baronial honours of his native land 
for the liberty and simplicity of America ; laying down his 
title, and establishing himself in patriarchal magnificence 
in Virginia; abetting, in his old age, the cause of liberty ; 
and wearing the simple and freely bestowed dignities of a 
republic, in lieu of the proud titles of an aristocracy.* 

But while America was thus sought by enlightened in- 
dividuals, the parliamentary speeches and pamphlets of 
the time show how little was known by the English com- 
munity of the character and condition of the colonists. 
Because the government had chosen at one time to make 
Virginia a Botany Bay, an insult which tended not a lit— 
lie to prepare her for the revolution, the country of Frank- 
lin, Washington, Pal rick Henry, Jefferson, Schuyler, Gates, 
Greene, Allen, Dickenson, Laurens, Livingston, Hamil- 
ton, Jay, Rush, Adams, Rittenhouse, Madison, Monroe, 
and a thousand other high-minded gentlemen, soldiers, 
orators, sages, and statesmen, was accounted a hive of 
pickpockets and illiterate hinds! Never was a national 
revolution conducted by greater men ; by men more mag- 
nanimous, more self-devoted, and more maturely wise : 
and these men, too, were not self-elected, nor raised by 
chance to pilot the vessel of the state ; they were called by 
the free voices of their fellow citizens to fill the various 
posts most suited to their genius. The people were as 
discriminating as their servants were able ; not an illiterate 
multitude, hurried by a few popular orators or generous 
heroes into actions above themselves; they were a well- 
informed and a well-organized community, animated with 

* See Wood's Scotch Peerage for a short but interesting account of Thomas 
Ike sixlh Lord Fairfax. The present representative of this noble house also 
prefers the character of an American citizen to that of an English nobleman 
There might be as much calculation in this as philosophy, for after all, it is pre- 
ferring a sceptre to a coronet. The American citizen has no superior, and is, 
one of a race of sovereigns ; the European Baron has; mapy superiors, and 
is one of a race of subjects. 


the feeling of liberty, but understanding the duties of citi- 
zens, and the nature and end of civil government. 

As colonies, the American states had, for the most 
part, lived under constitutions as essentially democratic 
as those of the present day ; the chief difference was, that 
they were engaged in continual struggles to support them* 
In their first infancy, their future destiny was little fore- 
seen : the patents, carelessly granted to the early settlers 
of New-England, involved rights which the arbitrary 
monarchs who signed them had never dreamed of; but of 
this remissness they very speedily repented. 

The colonial history of America would be alone suffi- 
cient to stamp the character of the Stuart kings : not 
content with torturing the consciences and outraging the 
rights of the English people in their own island, we find 
them hunting the patriots whom their tyranny had made 
exiles, even in the howling wilderness of the new world ; 
as if determined that a freeman should not live on the 
whole surface of the globe. One might pause to smile at 
the contradictory acts of Charles II., at once a thought- 
less voluptuary and a rapacious tyrant, had they sport- 
ed with matters of less value than the rights and happi- 
ness of mankind. This spoiled child of power careless- 
ly set his hand to the noblest charters ever accorded by a 
king to a people, and then waged an eternal war with the 
peaceful and far distant handful of freemen who deter- 
mined to abide by them.* The hard contest in which the 
young colonies were unceasingly engaged with the succes- 
sive monarchs and varying administrations of the mother 
country, sharpened the wits of their people. Occasional- 
ly their charters were broken down by force ; but never 
was a fraction of their liberties yielded up by themselves, 
or stolen from them without their knowledge : they strug- 

* The present of a curious ring from Winthrop, the enlightened father of 
"Massachusetts, is said to have won the royal signature to the democratic char 
ter of Connecticut 


gled and bled for every right which fell ; to die by the hands 
of others rather than by their own was the early motto of 
this people ; nor, perhaps, could one have been imagined 
more calculated to render them invincible. 

What is most worthy of admiration in the history of 
America, is not merely the spirit of liberty which has ever 
animated her people, but their perfect acquaintance with 
the science of government, which has ever saved that 
spirit from preying on itself. The sages who laid the 
foundation of her greatness, possessed at once the pride 
of freemen, and the knowledge of English freemen ; in 
building the edifice, they knew how to lay the foundation 5 
in preserving untouched the rights of each individual, 
they knew how to prevent his attacking those of his neigh- 
bour : they brought with them the experience of the best 
governed nation then existing ; and, having felt in their 
own persons the errors inherent in that constitution, which 
had enlightened, but only partly protected them, they 
knew what to shun as well as what to imitate in the new 
models which they here cast, leisurely and sagely, in a 
new and remote world. Thus possessed from the begin- 
ning of free institutions, or else continually occupied In 
procuring or defending them, the colonies were well pre- 
pared to assume the character of independent states. 
There was less of an experiment in this than their ene- 
mies supposed.* Nothing, indeed, can explain the obsti- 
nacy of the English ministry at the commencement of 
the revolutionary struggle, but the supposition, that they 

* Mr. Burke, who seems to have possessed a more thorough acquaintance 
with the institutions and character of the colonists than any other British 
statesman, insisted much on " the form of their provincial legislative assem- 
blies," when tracing the consequences likely to result from the oppressive 
acts of the parliament. " Their governments," observed this orator, " arc 
popula. in a high degree ; some are merely popular ; in all, the popular re- 
presentative is the most weighty ; and this share of the people, in their ordi- 
nary government, never fails to inspire them with lofty sentiments, and with 
a strong aversion from whatever tends to deprive them of their chief im- 

210 Establishment of the 

were wholly ignorant of the history of the people to whom 
they were opposed. May I be forgiven the observation, 
that the inquiries of * * * * have led me into the be- 
lief, that some candid and well-informed English gentle- 
men of the present day, have almost as little acquaint- 
ance with it as had Lord North. 

Respecting the revolution itself, the interest of its mili- 
tary history is such as to fix the attention of the most 
thoughtless readers ; but in this, foreigners sometimes ap- 
pear to imagine, was expended the whole virtue of Ame- 
rica. That a country which could put forth so much ener- 
gy, magnanimity, and wisdom, as appeared in that strug- 
gle, should suddenly lose a claim to all these qualities, 
would be no less surprising than humiliating. If we 
glance at the civil history of' these republics since the era 
of their independence, do we find no traces of the same 
character ? Were we to consider only the national in- 
stitutions, the mild and impartial laws, the full establish- 
ment of the rights of conscience, the multiplication of 
schools and colleges to an extent unknown in any other 
country of the world, and all those improvements in every 
branch of internal policy which have placed this people 
in their present state of peace and unrivaHed prosperity, 
we must allow them to be not only wise to their inte- 
rests, but alive to the pleas of humanity ; but there are 
not wanting instances of a yet more liberal policy. 

How seldom is it that, history affords us the example of 
a voluntary sacrifice on the part of separate communities 
to further the common good! It appears to me that the 
short history of America furnishes us with more exam- 
ples of this kind, than that of any other nation, ancient 
or modern. Throughout the war of the revolution, and 
for some years preceding it, the public feeling may be said 
to have been unusually excited. At such times, men, 
and societies of men, are equal to actions beyond the 
strength of their virtue at cooler moments. Passing on, 


therefore, to the peace of 1783 ; we find a number of in- 
dependent republics gradually reconciling their separate 
and clashing interests ; each yielding something to pro- 
mote the advantage of all, and sinking the pride of indi- 
vidual sovereignty in that of the united whole. The re- 
marks made by Ramsay on the adoption of the federal 
constitution are so apposite that I cannot resist quoting 

" The adoption of this constitution was a triumph of 
" virtue and good sense over the vices and follies of hu- 
" man nature ; in some respects, the merit of it is greater 
" than that of the declaration of independence. The 
" worst of men can be urged on to make a spirited resist- 
" ance to invasion of their rights ; but higher grades of 
" virtue are requisite to induce freemen, in the possession 
" of a limited sovereignty, voluntarily to surrender a por- 
" tion of their natural liberties ; to impose on themselves 
" those restraints of good government which bridle the 
" ferocity of man, compel him to respect the claims of 
" others, and to submit his rights and his wrongs to be 
" decided upon by the voices of his fellow citizens. The 
" instances of nations which have vindicated their liberty 
" by the sword, *are many ; of those which have made a 
" good use of their liberty when acquired, are compara- 
" tively few." 

Nor did the liberality of these republics evince itself 
onlyin the adoption of the general government ; we find 
some making voluntary concessions of vast territories, 
that they might be devoted to national purposes ; others 
releasing part of their own people from existing engage- 
ments, and leaving them to consult their wishes and con- 
venience by forming themselves into new communities. 

Should we contrast this policy with that employed by 
other nations, we might hastily pronounce this people to 
be singularly free from the ordinary passions of humanity : 
but. no; they are only singularly enlightened in the art of 


government : they have learned that there is no strength 
without union ; no union without good fellowship ; and 
no good fellowship without fair dealing : and having 
learned this, they are only singularly fortunate in being 
able to reduce their knowledge to practice. 

With these loose observations, I must conclude this let- 
ter. When leisure permits me, I will endeavour to reply 
to your inquiries upon the present state of parties and 
tone of the public feeling. To make this intelligible, it 
may be necessary to take a hasty review of the national 
administration since the establishment of the federal go- 











New-York, January, 1820. 

The history of the Federal party, which, after a short 
reign and a struggle of some years, drew its last breath in 
the Hartford Convention, is now chiefly worth recalling as 
an evidence of the ease with which the machinery of this 
government is moved. A complete revolution of parties 
effected by the quiet exertion of a free elective franchise. 
is a novelty in the history of nations. That extreme of 
liberty from which so much mischief has been foretold by 
those who, in argument, were wont to confound the Ame- 
rican with the Greek democracies, (two forms of govern- 
ment, having as much in common as those of China and 
England,) was here proved to be the safeguard of the 
public peace. What temptation have men to employ the 
sword who can effect what they want by a word ? There 
must be a power to resist ere violence can be attempted 
this power is wanting in America- 


Party names are seldom significant of party principles : 
but. perhaps, no names were ever less so than those of 
Federal and Anti-federal, as once known in this country ; 
the absurdity of the latter was soon tacitly acknowledged 
even by their opponents ; and with this tacit acknowledg- 
ment ended their own power. When the Federal stood 
opposed to the iDemocrat, it was the government opposed 
to the people — the shadow against the substance. 

It is not my intention to enter into a dull exposition of 
parties now extinct ; I would only remark that, in the 
gradual decay of the Federal opposition, we may trace 
the gradual formation of a national character. I remem- 
ber an observation you once repeated to me as having 
been made by one of the enlightened veterans of the re- 
volution. " I want our people to be neither French nor 
English, Federals nor Democrats ; — / want them to be 
Americans." And Americans they now are. The pre- 
sent generation have grown up under their own national 
institutions ; these are now sacred in their eyes, not from 
the mere beauty of those principles of abstract justice 
upon which they are founded, but from the tried experi- 
ence of their wisdom ; they now understand all the move- 
ments of the sublime but simple machinery of their go- 
vernment ; they have learned not to fear either its strength 
or its weakness ; both have been proved. If danger 
threatens the state, it can rouse the whole energy of the 
nation ; if it encroaches on the liberties of that nation, it 
is stopped with a touch. 

The establishment of the Federal Constitution was an 
era in the history of man. It was an experiment never 
before made ; and one upon which the liberties of a nation, 
perhaps of a world, depended. It was natural, therefore, 
that all should regard it with anxiety, and some be doubt- 
ful of its results. While the people were yet apprehen- 
sive lest they might have delegated too much power to the 
new government, it was most singularly fortunate that the 


man existed whose integrity was no less tried than his 
name was popular. How various soever the clashing in. 
terests and opinions of the day, the name of the first pre- 
sident was always a rallying point of union ; even those 
most inimical to the administration, bore testimony to the 
virtues of Washington ; and perhaps nothing speaks bet- 
ter for the hearts and heads of the American people, 
than the unanimous re-election of that venerable patriot, 
at the same time that the ranks of the opposition to the 
measures of the government were daily thickening. 

This opposition, as you may remember, was mainly 
pointed at the system of finance introduced by the secre- 
tary Hamilton. The measures of that able statesman 
restored the credit of the nation, revived commerce, invi- 
gorated agriculture, and created a revenue. Some thought, 
however, that they did too much ; tending so to strengthen 
the government, as to make it approximate in some mea- 
sure to that of England. However idle these fears may 
now seem, they were natural at the time ; having just set 
the engine of government at work, the people were startled 
at its power, and could scarcely believe that their breath, 
which had set it in motion, could check it as instanta- 

It is possible that some desire existed on the part of the 
earlier administrations to strain to the utmost the powers 
delegated to them ; there seemed even to be a necessity 
for this ; the political machine had been so shaken during 
the protracted war of the revolution, that it demanded 
nervous as well as skilful hands to arrange all its parts, 
and set all its wheels in play. The vigour of Hamilton 
and the prudence of Washington seemed well to balance 
each other ; they established an efficient government at 
home, and commanded respect from abroad. Whatever 
might be the political opinions of the former, whether 
purely republican, or leaning, as was suspected, towards 
aristocracy, it was soon universally acknowledged, that 


his measures had promoted the prosperity and lasting inte- 
rests of his country. We may observe, indeed, that there 
is one peculiar excellence in the American constitution — 
that while an able statesman has it in his power to pro- 
mote the public good, he must ever find it difficult to work 
public mischief; he cannot work for himself, or for a part 
of the community, he must work for the whole, or give up 
working at all. This was made apparent at the ejection 
of the federal party under the administration of Mr. 

The federal, or, to speak more properly, the high go- 
vernment party, comprised many pure patriots and able 
statesmen. Their errors were those of judgment, we may 
say of education. They were born under a different sys- 
tem of things from that which arose out of the revolution 
which they had assisted to guide. Some lingering preju- 
dices might naturally cling to the minds, and influence the 
feelings of men who, in their youth, had looked with ad- 
miration to the political experience, as well as the science, 
of Europe. It needed to be a philosopher as well as a 
statesman, to foresee how, out of the simple elements of a 
fair representative government, order might grow out of 
chaos, and a people guide themselves, evenly and calmly, 
without the check of any controlling power, other than 
that administered by the collision of their own interests 
balanced against each other. 

To these leading statesmen, whose public services had 
been such as to insure the respect, and consequently the 
voices of their fellow citizens, even while their opinions 
were understood to be in some things at variance with 
those of the majority, a party gradually attached them- 
selves, by no means inconsiderable in numbers, and pos- 
sessing the influence of superior wealth. This influence, 
however, was more apparent than real, and probably ef- 
fected the ruin of the party which admitted its support. 

The American revolution, though conducted with an 


unanimity unexampled in the history of nations, was not 
wholly without enemies, declared as well as secret. The 
state of New- York, particularly, was encumbered with a 
powerful band of Tories ; who, enjoying under the British 
government high patronage, and places of trust and emo- 
lument, and, in many cases, possessing hereditary pro- 
perty, were little disposed to transfer their loyalty from 
George III. to their fellow citizens, until circumstances 
should render it necessary. These circumstances occur- 
red ; and to make the best of a bad case, they forthwith 
attached themselves to the existing powers, and ranging 
themselves on the side of the new administration, declared 
themselves sworn friends of the new constitution. This 
reminds me of the game played in England, and indeed 
of the game played by the Tories every where ; they are 
at all times, and in all places, the exclusively loyal, and 
their opposers, enemies, not to the measures of govern- 
ment, but to government itself. The game here, however, 
was innocent enough ; it was the rattling of the dice while 
no stake could be betted on the throw. In the quiet exer- 
cise of their powers, the sovereign people set all things 
to rights. The majority without doors is here always the 
majority within. The democratic party gained the as- 
cendant, and Mr. Jefferson, the framer of the declaration 
of independence, the friend and disciple of Franklin, the 
able statesman and warm patriot, the enlightened philo- 
sopher, and generous friend of the human race, stood the 
chief magistrate of the republic. 

Mr. Jefferson affords a splendid elucidation of a remark 
contained in my last letter, — that the literary strength of 
America is absorbed in the business of the state. In early 
life, we find this distinguished philosopher and elegant 
scholar called from his library into the senate, and from 
that moment engaged in the service, and finally charged 
with the highest offices of the commonwealth. Had he 
been born in Europe, he would have added new treasures 


to the store of science, and bequeathed to posterity the 
researches and generous conceptions of his well-stored 
and original mind, not in hasty " notes," but in tomes com- 
piled at ease, and framed with that nerve and classic sim- 
plicity which mark the " Declaration" of his country's 
" independence." Born in America, 

" The post of honour is a public station;" 

to this therefore was he called; and from it he retires, 
covered with years and honours, to reflect upon a life well 
spent, and on the happiness of a people whose prosperity 
he did so much to promote. The fruits of his wisdom are 
in the laws of his country, and that country itself will be 
Ms monur lent. 

The elections which raised Mr. Jefferson to the chief 
magistracy, brought with them a change both of men and 
measures. The most rigid economy was carried into eve- 
ry department of government ; some useless offices were 
done away ; the slender army was farther reduced, ob- 
noxious acts, passed by the former congress, repealed, 
and the American constitution administered in all its sim- 
plicity and purity. 

Of course so complete a revolution of parties could not 
take place without some commotion ; the anger of the 
fallen minority vented itself in a paper war; some sound- 
ed the tocsin to the religious, declaring the president a 
deist ; others, to the friends of good government, declaring 
him an anarchist. This truly wise statesman turned a 
deaf ear to the clamour ; aware that a government, whose 
every act is done in the light of day, whose members 
dwell among their fellow citizens, in whose ears all their 
words are spoken, and in whose sight all their measures 
are conducted, has nothing to fear, save from its own mis- 

It is curious to see the governments of Europe encir- 
cled with armed legions, and yet trembling at every squib 


cast upon them by an unarmed multitude, while that of 
America, standing naked in the midst of an armed nation, 
counts the breath of slander like the whisper of the wind, 
and seeks no other way of refuting it than by steadily pur- 
suing the path of duty, and consulting, in all its measures, 
the vital interests of the community. 

The policy of Mr. Jefferson, and that of his venerable 
successor, Mr. Madison, was so truly enlightened and 
magnanimous, as to form an era in the history of their 
country. The violence of the fallen party vented itself in 
the most scurrilous abuse that ever disgraced the free 
press of a free country ; it did more, — it essayed even to 
raise the standard of open rebellion to that government of 
which it had professed itself the peculiar friend and stay.* 
The former administration had had recourse to libel laws 
and legal prosecutions to repress the vehemence of politi- 
cal hostility ; but these chief magistrates, with a dignity 
becoming their character and station, passed unheeded 
every opprobrium cast upon them ; leaving it to the good 
sense of the nation, whose unbought voices had placed 
them at its head, to blunt the steel of calumny, and defeat 
the machinations of disappointed politicians and ambitious 
incendiaries. . This policy was in the true spirit of the 
American constitution, and the result proved that it was 
in the true spirit of philosophy and good sense. 

The unrestrained clamours of the slender minority, 
which waxed louder in proportion as it. waxed weaker, 
betrayed the foreign enemy into a belief that the pillars of 
the Union were shaken. If they were so, it undoubtedly 

* Can any thing - expose better the absurdity of party names than the hos- 
tility of tbe Federalists to Mr. Madison, and the nation who declared him 
its president ? Mr. Madison, who had been the chief assistant in the establish- 
ment of the Federal constitution, who first moved for the convention which 
digested it, and was himself one of the sages who laboured in its formation ! 
Thus is it in England; the whigs, who procured the constitution of their 
country, and whose whole efforts have been put forth for its protection, are 
branded as its enemies. 



took the best method of refixing them in their places, 
when it offered assistance in the work of pulling them 
asunder. The foreign enemies of America have often done 
more than her internal friends to school her into reason. 
The obstinacy of one English ministry forced her into in- 
dependence ; the intrigues of another forced her into union ; 
one taught her to look to her rights ; another to her in- 
terests, and her wounded honour; both together have 
made her a nation. 

This republic has also been fortunate in having excited 
the hostility of all the European governments generally. 
Had France continued to favour her as steadily as Eng- 
land to maltreat her, she might have admitted idle predi- 
lections into her councils, and perhaps have taken part 
in the mad warfare that has so lately ceased to devastate 
Europe from one end to the other. 

The neutrality, so wisely maintained by Washington, 
with the contending powers of Europe, had at first met 
with a vehement opposition in every part of the Union. 
France, Fayette, and Liberty, were names that spoke to 
the heart of every American ; and had not the Gallican re- 
public been so soon disgraced by crimes and follies, even the 
influence of Washington might have proved insufficient to 
prevent his country from taking part with a people who 
had so lately bled in their cause. The subsequent policy 
of France rendered her nearly as obnoxious as her adver- 
sary. Between the British orders in council and the 
French imperial decrees, there was little to choose ; Ame- 
rica was bandied to and fro, like a shuttlecock, between 
the contending empires ; and if one struck less hard than 
the other, it was not that her intentions were less hostile, 
but that her hand was less vigorous. 

There was, however, an insult offered by one of the 
parties which turned the balance against her yet more de- 
cidedly than the forcible interruption of American trade. 
It was the impressment of American seamen. In con- 


sideling the long forbearance of this government, we 
scarcely know whether to admire or to smile at it •, to ad- 
mire, if we look at its good faith, its good cause, and its 
just and firm arguments ; and to smile, if we consider these 
as pleaded in European cabinets. May this republic 
never barter her simplicity for the cunning policy of older 
states ! 

It were painful to review the circumstance which pro- 
voked the young America to throw down the gauntlet a 
second time to the most powerful empire in the world. 
When she did so, the odds seemed scarcely less against 
her than when she first ranged herself under the standard 
of Liberty ; if she had increased in strength, so had her 
enemy : her progress, too, had been all in the arts of 
peace, while that of her enemy had been all in the 
science of war. The veterans of the revolution slept with 
their fathers, or were disabled by years ; an immense ter- 
ritory, its former extent more than doubled, its coasts and 
lines unfortified, and harbouring in its population some 
secret enemies, and many lukewarm friends,* was sud- 
denly laid open to the incursions of veteran troops, and 
tribes of savage Indians, and the descent of fleets which 
had hitherto ruled the ocean without a rival ; all that she 
could oppose to these was an infant navy, whose bravery 
and skill had been proved in a short but desperate conflict 
with the pirates of the Mediterranean, a good cause, and 
a good spirit; ''''free trade and sailors' rights" It was a 
war of defence, not of aggression ; a war entered into by 
a nation whose citizens had been torn from under their 
flag, and that flag insulted on every sea and in every port. 

The aggressions which roused the republic were such 
as singularly to fire the spirit of her seamen. I have 
the authority of many of her distinguished citizens for 

■ During the war, the liberality of the republic seemed to recoil upon her- 
self ; strangers, and, in some cases, naturalized citizens, received the ene- 
my's gold, and spied out the weakness of the land that sheltered them 


stating, that there was scarcely a vessel in her navy 
which did not contain one or more men who had escaped 
to their country with infinite perils, after constrained ser- 
vice of two, four, and even seven years 3 duration on board 
British ships of war. To this union of personal, or profes- 
sional, with national wrongs, I have commonly heard as- 
cribed the superhuman bravery which animated their 

There are, however, other causes to be found in the re- 
gulations of American vessels, alone sufficient to account 
for the spirit of the navy. Not a man walks the decks 
but with a free will. The sailor's here is a voluntary en- 
gagement, which binds him only for three years; and 
which, in removing him from the shores of his coun- 
try, does not remove him from the shield of its laws. On 
board a United States' ship, no offender can be punished 
at the mere option of a superior officer ; for small offences, 
the sailor may be subjected to a slight punishment by the 
watch present at the time of the offence ; for greater mis- 
demeanors, he cannot be so much as tried on board the 
vessel in which they are committed ; his trial must stand 
over until an impartial court can be found, either in the 
United States' territories, or a United States' ship. His 
commander can then only put him upon trial, and his 
companions become witnesses for or against him. It re- 
quires little acquaintance with our nature to see how the 
exemption from arbitrary law and corporal punishments, 
which, in this country, are in no case allowed, whether in 
the army, navy, or elsewhere, must tend to elevate the 
character. Assertion, which so often usurps the place of 

* A friend of the author's saw, not long since, the American Scaevola in 
his own country, who, after the declaration of war on the part of the republic, 
struck off his hand with a hatchet, and presented it to the British commander, 
into whose vessel he had been pressed some months before, told him, that, 
if that was deemed insufficient to disable him from the service of his country's 
enemies, and to purchase his liberty, he had a hand still to strike off afoot. 


argument, tells us in Europe, that brutal coercion is ne- 
cessary to produce naval discipline. The navy of Ame- 
rica affords to this a simple confutation. A case of mu- 
tiny in it is unknown, desertion as little. The ships evince 
the perfection of cleanliness, discipline, activity, and 
valour. Their crews, it is true, are formed of a higher class 
than are found in the vessels of any other nation ; men of 
decent parentage and education, free and proud citizens 
of a country, at whose expense, if poor, they have been 
taught to read her history and understand her laws, with 
all the rights that these impart to them. These crews, 
also, are furnished by volunteers from merchantmen placed 
under regulations unknown, I believe, to the merchant- 
men of any other nation, and which afford an easy ex- 
planation of that intelligence, dexterity, and good order, 
which astonish all foreigners who tread, for the first time, 
the deck of an American trader. 

Before a vessel can clear out of port, a list is taken by 
certain officers, salaried for the purpose, of every living 
creature on board of her, passengers and men. The name, 
age, &,c. of the latter are preserved, and the captain is 
held responsible for every life thus registered. However 
long the vessel may be absent, at whatever country or 
countries she may touch, her captain is bound for the sup- 
port of his men on sea and land, and, on his return, must: 
either produce them, or bring with him vouchers, attested 
by the American consul, stationed in the foreign port to 
which he has traded, that those not produced are dead or 
absent by their own will. Should the captain break his 
engagements, or treat any man with capricious severity, 
he can be placet! on trial by the aggrieved party, in the 
first American port the vessel enters ; all those on board 
of the vessel, being summoned as witnesses.* These re- 

* Among the minor regulations are those which provide the quantity and 
quality of the ship stores, and apportion the rations of tho men. The captain 


gulations, enforced with the utmost strictness, place the 
men, as it were, under the tutelage of the captain, obli- 
ging him, at the same time, to be a fair and gentle guar- 
dian. While in foreign ports, an American captain 
hedges in his crew like a schoolmaster entrusted with the 
charge of other men's children ; well knowing, that if any 
secret mischief should befall them, the republic will not 
rest satisfied, unless it be made apparent how and when 
it occurred.* In this manner, an unusual security is given 

is farther required to have on board a box of approved medicines, and to un- 
derstand, in ordinary cases, to administer them. 

* An American captain, well known to the author as a man of singular 
intelligence, integrity, and humanity, once lost, off the shores of Lima, his 
black cook, who suddenly fell down dead while handing to his master a cup 
of coffee when alone writing in the cabin. A young sailor-boy, who had en- 
tered with the cook, and then passed into an adjoining cabin, heard the fall, 
and ran to the spot, at the call of his master. The latter summoning his men, 
after trying, in vain, all the remedies that occurred to him, noted the death 
on the log-book, with a clear statement of the manner in which it had occur- 
red, giving the same statement to his men, corroborated, so far as was possi- 
ble, by the testimony of the boy. There was, at the time, no trade between 
the republic and Lima, and the vessel in question had only put in to water. 
There being, therefore, no consul to appeal to, the captain, with some trou- 
ble and expense, procured and brought on board a Spanish doctor. Showing 
him the dead, the American requested him, in the best Spanish he could com- 
mand, (a language he had learned in his youth, during a short residence in 
South America,) to open the body, and note down in the log-book, in the pre- 
sence of the ship's crew, of what the negro had died. Sangrado stared, 
shook his head, and gravely pronounced, that the body before him was dead. 
No explanations or entreaties could draw forth any other answer. Had the 
Spaniard possessed more surgery and penmanship, it is doubtful whether he 
could have been made to understand the case before him, or brought to com- 
ply with the requisitions. As it was, he ran away. The captain then had 
recourse to a convent of priests, and, by a bribe of fifty dollars, got them 
to bury his cook, after the Romish fashion, in his presence, and to attest, in 
writing, that they had done so. Returning to New-York, he stated the mat- 
ter, and produced his log-book, and attestations of the Spanish priests. But, 
though a known and respected citizen, with good connections in the city, his 
word was not taken as sufficient. All the ship's crew were examined sepa- 
rately, and the depositions compared with each other, before the captain was 
absolved. The captain, in conversation with the author, gave her part of 
thi« story to elucidate the ignorance of the old Spaniards in South America 


for the lives and morals of the sailor, and a dignity im- 
parted to the profession which often allures the sons of the 
most respectable citizens to serve before the mast. It is 
not uncommon even for naval officers to make their first 
apprenticeship as sailor-boys in merchantmen ; and, from 
what I have stated, you will perceive, that this may here 
be done without degradation. 

This discipline, practised on board the merchantmen, 
and not, as was supposed in England, the desertion of 
British sailors, was the magic spell which called into be- 
ing the spirited navy of the republic. A British deserter 
was never (knowingly at least) employed throughout the 
war. It was absolutely forbidden by law, as well from 
motives of humanity, as to avoid disputes with the enemy. 
An anecdote occurs to me which well evinces the strict, 
and even fastidious regard that was had to this rule. 

The frigate President (Commodore Decatur) had re- 
received damage in clearing out of port, and was in a 
leaking state, when she captured one of the enemy's 
squadron. The capture was left a wreck, and the pri- 
soners taken on board the President not in a much better 
condition. The enemy's squadron in pursuit, and the 
ship foundering, one of two evils was in the option of the 
Americans ; of course they preferred the drowning, and 
determined to make what sail they could for their coun- 
try ; it seemed hard, however, to condemn those whose 
honour was not engaged in the affair to drown with them ; 
delay was dangerous, but British ground not being far off, 
the commodore determined first to make for it, and put 
out the prisoners. 

There chanced among the strangers to be an Irishman, 
a thorough Paddy in every thing. Captain Rodgers. the 
sailing-master, hearing a noise before the mast, went to 
inquire into the cause, and found the Irishman drunk, and 

but, as it struck her as curious on other accounts, she drew from him the par- 
ticulars here given 


quarrelling with Iiis companions. The captain took him 
by the shoulders, and locked him up below. An hour or 
two afterwards, he went to seek his prisoner, and, finding 
him sobered, restored him to liberty, warning him, in fu- 
ture, to abstain from whiskey and swearing. The good 
promises of Paddy were not put to a long trial. The 
ship neared the shore of Nova Scotia, and the prisoners 
were put off in the boats, with provisions, and directions 
to make their way along the beach to a neighbouring 
town. Captain Rodgers, perambulating the deck while 
the boats were making for the land, descried a figure 
shunning his eye, and dodging him behind the masts. 
<; Why, Paddy!" cried the captain, " is that you ?" " Ay, 
if it plase your honour, just to let me drown with you" 
The captain explained, that this termination was more 
inevitable than he was, perhaps, aware of, and ordered 
him kindly into the return-boat. The Irishman was ob- 
stinate ; if the ship was leaky, he argued, more need of 
hands to work the pumps ; and if the enemy should over- 
take them, still the more hands the better ; and, as for 
himself, he pledged his word to fight like the devil. " Yes, 
and then be hanged to the yard-arm, Paddy, when you're 
taken prisoner ; no, my good fellow, you must e'en to the 
shore." He was forced by the men into the boat; a few 
minutes afterwards, a shout from the water attracted, the 
attention of the captain. Paddy was in the sea, swim- 
ming back to the ship, and the boat rowing after him. — 
" My heart never so smote me in my life," said Captain 
Rodgers, when he told me the story, " as it did when I 
refused him admittance, and saw him forcibly carried to 
the shore ; I, for one, would have let him drown with us ; 
but the enemy was in our rear, his tongue would have 
declared him a deserter, and at any rate we should have 
broken through our laws*"* 

■ The President was overtaken by the squadron and captured. It is pro- 
bable that this must have happened at all events ; but the generosity of the 
chivalrous Decatur, in landing his prisoners, ensured the catastrophe 


To return from these digressions. A vigorous navy 
was soon formed ; an army was not so easy. The first 
difficulty was the sudden defalcation of the revenue, 
which, for many years past, had been wholly dependent 
upon a prosperous commerce. Internal taxation is sel- 
dom popular any where, but least of all in a democracy ; 
and here its rulers appear to have been unwilling to have 
had recourse to measures which might have checked the 
enthusiasm of the nation. They have been blamed for 
this, but, perhaps, unwisely. In considering the consti- 
tuent elements of this singular republic, one is led to 
think, that there was more foresight than rashness in 
leaving her to rouse herself pretty much after her own 

When hostilities commenced, the American navy com- 
prised ten frigates and a hundred and odd gunboats, and 
the army thirty-five thousand men, hastily organized, and 
officered, with few exceptions, by men knowing about as 
much of military science as those they were appointed to 
command. It was natural, that careless observers should 
smile or tremble, according to their humour, at such an 
outset. But those acquainted with the character and 
hidden resources of the republic, could well foresee how 
one would draw forth the other. A few months, and the 
trees of her forests floated on the ocean, manned with 
hearts of flame worthy of their cause and their English 
ancestry. The exertions of the great maritime cities, as 
well as of individuals, greatly assisted those of the go- 
vernment. As the war advanced, privateers, matchless 
as sailers, and manned with spirited citizens, who forsook 
their usual occupations and civic professions, swarmed 
in every sea. These privateers, though private property, 
were ranked in the national navy, and placed under the 
same regulations. 

In the land service, the people had to serve a longer 
apprenticeship. To fill the ranks of a regular army was 



found impracticable. Although the citizen was asked 
only to enlist for two years, and this with high pay, it was 
scarcely possible to fill up a regiment. Volunteers were 
to be had in multitudes, and militia was ready every 
where ; but to fight for hire is here held in a contempt and 
abhorrence, which no inducements can vanquish. The 
government doubled the pay — still with no better suc- 
cess. It was necessary, therefore, to trust the defence of 
the country pretty much to the citizens themselves. They 
conducted it, as might be expected, with a great deal of 
folly, a great deal of rashness, and a great deal of he- 

A raw militia makes a curious army ; — sometimes 
brave to desperation, sometimes cowardly as a flock of 
geese, and in both cases wilful as a troop of schoolboys. 
It is impossible to help smiling at some of the occurren- 
ces in the first campaign. An unpleasing order from the 
general, a popular officer superseded in the command, a 

march of unusual fatigue, and — every man to his tents, 
Oh Israeli At one time we find the general going one 

way, and the troops, or more properly the multitude, ab- 
solutely going the other. Orders, entreaties — all alike 
in vain ; the horsemen wheeling right-about in the wilder- 
ness, and trotting away home, with their angry officer, no 
longer at their head, but their heels, bringing up the rear.* 
At another time, we find troops and general at a sudden 
stand for want of the common munitions of war ; their 
swords and pistols being still in Philadelphia, while they 
themselves were at the northern frontier. 

But with all this deficiency of discipline, conduct and 
skill, even the first opening of the war, affords instances 
of spirited and successful bravery. Indeed the fault 
usually lay more in want of skill, than want of valour ; 

* During a harassing warfare with the Indians, in the Indiana and Illinois 
wilderness, General Harrison could presume no farther than to make propo 
sitions to his Kentucky volunteers ; and closed the expedition wkh a polite 
request., that he might be permitted to dictate their course to them just for 
nnt dav % 


and it is truly wonderful to consider, how rapidly the 
high-spirited and wilful multitude were tamed, or rather 
tamed themselves into subordination. 

Throughout the contest, the young states of the west 
furnished the most generous assistance to the confedera- 
cy. Nursed under the wings of republican liberty, re- 
moved from the luxuries of cities, and exposed to conti- 
nual harass from their savage neighbours, the aborigines, 
their character is very peculiarly marked for ardour, dis- 
interested patriotism, determined courage, and a certain 
chivalrous spirit of enterprise and generosity, which per- 
haps has not its equal on the globe. The indignities of- 
fered to the nation had roused the pride of this people for 
some years previous to the declaration of war. Kentucky 
particularly had organized ten regiments of volunteers, 
comprising upwards of five thousand men, and at the first 
opening of hostilities, the enthusiasm of this common- 
wealth was wrought so high, that the authority of the exe- 
cutive seemed necessary to prevent the whole male po- 
pulation of the state from turning out as soldiers. The 
women shared the patriotism of the men, vying with each 
other in repressing their tears, and actually buckling on 
the swords and cartridges, and arming the hands of their 
sons and husbands. The neighbouring state of Ohio, the 
infant territory (now state) of Indiana, and indeed the 
whole western region, was animated with the same spirit. 
To the more organized regiments, furnished by these 
states, the wanderers of the frontier joined themselves al- 
most to a man. Trained from their infancy to the use of 
the rifle, and all the perils of a hunter's life ; — marksmen 
who, in hitting a bird on the wing, can say with the ad- 
venturous bowman to Philip of Macedon, To the right 
eye ; horsemen who can ride untired through swamp and 
forest, swimming rivers and leaping bogs, like the old 
moss-troopers of the Scotch borders ; the inhabitants of 
the western frontier were peculiarly fitted to cany through 

260 \RI\I* OF THE WEST. 

with spirit the harassing war with which their country was 

To the west of the Alleghanies, to draft the militia 
had been a work "of supererogation ; all the demands 
of the republic were answered, and more than answer- 
ed by volunteers. In fearlessness and enterprise this 
army of patriots was unrivalled, but discipline was only 
to be learned in the school of adversity. It is doubt- 
ful indeed, whether they ever completely acquired it, in 
the sense understood by military men. It was rather a 
sympathy of feeling than submission to authority, that pro- 
duced concert of action ; it was enthusiasm supplying the 
place of skill ; or intuitive genius that of experience. We 
find a handful of youths, whose leader had numbered but 
twenty years, putting to flight a band of veteran troops 
and practised Indian warriors, flushed with victory, and 
tenfold the number of their stripling adversaries. But 
they had pledged their lives to redeem the honour of the 
republic, tarnished in the preceding campaign ; and more- 
over to avenge the death of their friends and relatives, 
slaughtered by the savage allies of their opponents.* It 
is worthy of notice, that the employment of Indians in the 

* This young- hero, no less distinguished for his tender humanity than his 
romantic valour, had been entrusted with the defence of a fort, commanding 
one of the rivers that fall into lake Erie. His general, receiving intimation 
that a strong party of the enemy was about to invest it, despatched orders to 
the little garrison to destroy the works, and make good a retreat. Young 
Crogh an, knowing the importance of the post he occupied, and, recalling 
with his companions their sacred engagement, determined to disobey orders, 
and wait the enemy. A more desperate stand was, perhaps, never made. 
The solemn obligation which bound these devoted youths, and thp steady 
composure with which they took their measures, preserves them from the 
charge of rashness. Provided as they were with no other weapons than 
their muskets and one piece of ordnance, and surrounded on all sides bv 
gunboats, veteran soldiers, and yelling savages, their victory seems little less 
than miraculous ; it was, however, complete ; and led the way in that train 
of successes which followed on the western and northern frontier ending in 
♦he battle of Piattsbunrh. 


British service has always had a different effect from that 
^intended. It does not strike terror, but rather whets the 
valour of those opposed to such relentless adversaries. 
After the massacre at the river Raisin, noticed in a for- 
mer letter, the tide of victory turned in favour of the Ame- 

The spirit of the southern and middle states was little 
less ardent than that of the west ; but had it been other- 
wise, the descents made on their shores by the enemies' 
ships, the sack of villages, which, scattered along a coast 
of two thousand miles extent, it was often impossible to 
guard, and finally the burning of the infant capital, had 
been sufficient to rouse the energy displayed at Baltimore 
and New-Orleans. 

However mortifying at the moment, the conflagration 
of the seat of government was, perhaps, productive of 
more lasting benefit to the republic than any one of its 
most splendid victories. There was one quarter of this 
great confederacy which had hitherto exhibited a lamenta- 
ble deficiency of patriotism. 

The conduct of some of the New-England states at the 
opening of the contest, is not very easy to explain. That 
Massachusetts, who thirty years before had led the van 
in the army of patriots, whose cause too it was that her 
sister states so generously advocated, that she should 
suddenly so forget her former self, as to stand by, a sullen 
spectator of a conflict which involved the honour and na- 
tional existence of the great republic, of which till now 
she had formed so distinguished a member, seems at once 
the most extraordinary and lamentable dereliction of prin- 
ciple to be found in the annals of nations ! She appears to 
have been made the dupe of a party whose name, until 
this time, had been respected even by the nation from 
whom it stood aloof, and then to have been angry because 
others saw this, and laughed at her Gullibility. 

Among the first Federals, there were men no less re* 


spectable for their virtues than their talents ; but these 
had gradually fallen off from the minority, to mingle 
themselves with the bulk of the nation, leaving only the 
old tories and some disappointed politicians, to disgrace a 
title which patriots had worn, and under its specious mask 
to attempt the ruin of their country. In this, fortunately, 
they failed ; but may the lesson prove a warning not to 
Massachusetts only, but to each and all of these confede- 
rated states ! 

I have already had occasion to observe upon the change 
wrought by the last war in the condition of the republic ; 
it not only settled its place among the nations, but ce- 
mented its internal union ; even those who from party ill 
humour, had refused their concurrence with the measures 
of government, and their sympathy in the feelings of their 
fellow citizens, were gradually warmed by the enthusiasm 
that surrounded them, or by the pressure of common dan- 
ger forced to make common cause. At the close of the 
contest, one general feeling pervaded the whole great 
Union. The name of a party once respectable, but now 
disgraced by itself, became universally odious ; and its 
members, to rise from the contempt into which they had 
fallen, Tound it advisable to declare their own conversion 
to the principles of popular government and federal union. 

It may now be said, that the party once misnamed Fe- 
deral has ceased to exist. There is indeed a difference 
of political character, or, what will express it better, a va- 
rying intensity of republican feeling discernible in the dif- 
ferent component parts of this great Union ; but all are 
now equally devoted to the national institutions, and in 
all difference of opinion, admit the necessity of the mi- 
nority yielding to the majority. And, what is yet more 
important, these differences of opinion do not hinge upon 
the merits or demerits of foreign nations, French or Eng- 
lish, Dutch or Portuguese. The wish of your venerable 
friend is now realized : — his countrymen are Americans, 


Genet may now make the tour of the states, and Henry 
of New-England, with infinite safety to the peace of their 
citizens ; and even Massachusetts herself would now blush 
at the name of the Hartford Convention.* 

* Genet is, or was at least when the Author was last in Albany, a peace- 
able and obscure citizen of the state of New- York. It is curious in a demo- 
cracy, to sec how soon the factious sink into insignificance. Aaron Burr was 
pointed out to me in the Mayor's court at New- York, an old man whom none 
cast an eye upon except an idle stranger. In Europe, the bustling dema- 
gogue is sent to prison, or to the scafibld, and metamorphosed into a martyr ; 
in America, he is left to walk at large, and soon no one thinks about him. 





New- York, January, 1820 

There is at present no appearance of any regular and 
standing minority in the nation, or consequently in the 
house of congress ; it is no longer a dispute how the na- 
tion is to be governed ; the sovereignty is avowedly and 
practically with the people, who have agreed to exercise 
that sovereignty in no other way than by representatives, 
bound to obey the instructions of their electors. If they 
do not obey their instructions, they are thrown aside and 
others put in their place. An opposition on the part of 
the governors to the governed, would here only be ab- 
surd ; they are the servants of the people, not their mas- 
ters ; vested with just as much power as their employers 
see good to charge them with, and constrained to exer- 
cise that power, not after their own fancy, but after that 
of the nation.* 

* The representative will, of course, sometimes find a struggle within him 
between his own conviction and the expressed wishes of his electors, and 
sometimes conscientiously abide by the former. I remember the case of a 
distinguished member from the west of Pennsylvania, (Mr. Baldwin,) who 
once voted in decided opposition to his received instructions. At his return 
home, he was summoned to give an explanation or apology, under risk of 
being thrown out. The member replied, that, at the time of his vote, he had 
expressed his regret that his opinion differed from that of his electors ; but 


The government of the United Spates has been deno- 
minated weak ; but that only by those who are accus- 
tomed to consider a government as arrayed against a 
people. It is quite another thing here ; the government 
acts with the people ; is part of the people 5 is in short 
the people themselves* It is easy to see, that such a go- 
vernment must be the strongest in the world for all the 
purposes for which governments are ostensibly organized 
The advocates of arbitrary power tell us that men are 
bad, and therefore unfit to govern themselves ; but if they 
are bad, it is clear that they are still more unfit to govern 
each other. When rulers are gifted with the perfection 
of goodness and infallibility of judgment, it may be ra- 
tional to leave the interests of men at their mercy. Here 
it is supposed that rulers are swayed by all the vulgar pas- 
sions of humanity ; care is therefore taken to bridle them, 
or rather it is contrived, that they shall be made to work 
for the advantage instead of the mischief of the commu- 
nity. If a man be ambitious, he can only rise to import- 
ance by .advocating the interests of others ; the moment 
that he ostensibly opposes his own to those of his fellow 
citizens, he must throw up the game. 

It is not very apparent that public virtue is peculiarly 
requisite for the preservation of political equality ; envy 
might suffice for this ; You shall not be greater than L 
Political equality is, perhaps, yet more indispensable to 
preserve public virtue, than public virtue to preserve it 5 

that he should be unworthy of the distinguished office he held, and of the 
public confidence which he had for so many years enjoyed, if he could apo- 
logize for having voted according to the decision of his judgment; that his 
fellow citizens were perfectly right to transfer their voices to the man who 
might more thoroughly agree with them in sentiment than m this case he had 
done ; that for himself, he could only promise to consider every question 
attentively and candidly, to weigh duly the wishes of his constituents, but 
never to vote in decided opposition to his own opinion. His fellow citizens 
received his declaration with applause, and, as his whole political life had been 
in unison with their sentiments, they took this one instance of dissent as ail 
additional proof of his integrity, and unanimously re-elected him, 




wherever an exclusive principle is admitted, baleful pas- 
sions are excited ; divide a community into classes, and 
insolence is entailed upon the higher, servility or envy, 
and often both united, upon the lower. 

In all other republics, ancient or modern, there has 
been a leaven of aristocracy. America fortunately had, 
in her first youth, virtue sufficient to repel the introduc- 
tion of hereditary honours. This was virtue as well 
as knowledge, when she had to resist not only the exam- 
ple of all the nations of the earth, but the persuasions, 
and even the authority of her acknowledged sovereigns. 
Had she received this taint in her infancy, it is probable 
that no subsequent exertions could have wiped it away ; 
her republics would at this moment have been provinces 
of the British empire, or if not this, her citizens would 
have been caballing among themselves like the patricians 
and plebeians of ancient Rome, or those of more modern 

" Le gravi e naturali inimizie che sono tra gli' uomini 
popolari e nobili, causate dal voler questi comandare, e 
quelli non ubbidire, sono cagioni di tutti i mali che nasco- 
no nelle citta." If the disturbances of the Florentine re- 
public warranted this assertion of its philosophic historian, 
the peace of the American republic tends to confirm it. 
Liberty is here secure, because it is equally the portion of 
all. The state is liable to no convulsions, because there 
is nowhere any usurpations to maintain, while every in- 
dividual has an equal sovereignty to lose.f No king will 

* The Stuart kings were peculiarly anxious to break down the democratic 
spirit of New-England, by the creation of a nobility J temptations were held 
out to the wealthier proprietors by the royal governors, to assume to them- 
selves the style of Barons. The grants of land in tail male, frequent in the 
southern colonies, and in New-York, had probably the same end in view. 
These hereditary proprietors were the Tories of the revolution ; among 
them, of course, there were signal and magnanimous exceptions. 

t A grievous exception to this rule is found in the black slavery of the com- 
monwealths of the south. May the wisdom of the masters preserve them 


voluntarily lay down his sceptre, and in a democracy all 
men are kings. 

It is singular to look round upon a country where the 
dreams of sages, smiled at as Utopian, seem distinctly 
realized ; a people voluntarily submitting to laws of their 
own imposing, with arms in their hands respecting the 
voice of a government which their breath created, and 
which their breath could in a moment destroy ! There is 
something truly grand in this moral restraint, freely im* 
posed by a community on itself. 

I do not wonder that Europeans refuse credence to those 
who report truly of the condition of these commonwealths. 
That a nation of independent sovereigns should be a na- 
tion of all others the most orderly, and the most united, 
may well pass the understandings of men accustomed to 
the rule of the sword. It may be questioned, whether 
the institutions of America could with propriety be trans- 
planted to Europe. The attempt failed in France, and 
the same causes may produce the same failure elsewhere 5 
but surely it is proposed to force the same attempt else- 
where. I laid down my pen to look through a file of Lon- 
don papers. I need not say with what feelings I threw 
them aside, when I state that their columns record the 
history of the sixteenth of August. The English peo- 
ple trampled and cut down by a soldiery ! Saville, Whit- 
bread, and Romilly, are well in their graves. 

Back a government with an army, and the liberties left 
with a people are no longer held of right, but held as a 
matter of grace and favour. Here this is not only under- 
stood in theory, but in practice. The people keep the 
sword in their own hands, and leave their rulers without 

from that " revolution of the wheel of fortune" contemplated by their vene- 
rable philanthropist Mr. Jefferson, as " among possible events," or " proba- 
ble by supernatural interference !" The heart of the by-stander will ac- 
knowledge with him, that " the Almighty has no attribute that can take side 
with them in such a contest." 


any ; they are thus fhe guardians of their own rights, and 
the enforcers of their own laws.* 

I suppose you tolerably familiar with the constitution 
of the United States, and * * * * also, though he seems 
somewhat to miscalculate the strength of the bond it im- 
poses upon the Union. The Articles of Confederation, 
hastily adopted at the revolution, did in truth only act 
upon the States, not upon individuals. Under those, the 
general congress (which then consisted of only one house) 
could neither raise men nor levy taxes but through the 
medium of the legislatures of the different republics. The 
people of each state regulated their trade by their own 
government instead of that of the united confederacy ; col- 
lected their quota of the army or the revenue, in what- 
ever manner they thought proper, and pronounced even 
upon the propriety of the quota demanded. This was 
productive of much confusion in time of war, and yet more 
in time of peace. When the Federal Constitution super- 
seded these articles, the people parted with no new 
powers, but transferred some of those, before delegated to 
their representatives in their own houses of assembly, to 
their representatives in the general congress. 

The general government was now without appeal, and 
was exercised, not upon the legislatures of the different 
states, but upon the people themselves, who were then 
first gathered into one great family, legislating in congress 
without regard to their sectional position, at the same time 
that the landmarks of their different republics remained 

* There was once (I do not recollect the time) an attempt of the felons in 
the Philadelphia gaol to break prison. They had succeeded in gaining the 
outer court before the alarm was given. The citizens of the neighbourhood 
seized their muskets, and ran to the spot ; some dexterously gained Use top 
of the wall, surrounding the court in which the conspirators were at war with 
their gaolers and their prison gates. The muskets pointed at their lives', of 
course the first summons produced order, and sent back the obstreperous con- 
• victs to their cells. Are not such citizens as good keepers of the peace as a 
troop of horse ? 


unmoved. The central or national government regulates 
commerce, imposes and levies taxes, coins money, esta- 
blishes post-offices, and post-roads, declares war, may 
raise armies, maintain a navy, call forth the militia, direct 
its discipline, and exercise authority over it when called 
into the service of the United States. Its powers in short 
extend to all matters connected with the common de- 
fence and general welfare of the confederacy ; and these 
powers being clearly defined, it may make laws necessary 
and proper for rendering them effective. For the just ad- 
ministration of these powers, it is directly responsible to 
the people, so that while it is incalculably stronger than it 
was formerly, it may be said in some ways also to be 
weaker. The articles of confederation seemed to leave a 
possibility to the government assembled under them, of 
exerting undue influence over the nation through the le- 
gislatures of the different states. It is now possessed 
singly of direct power ; to exert influence is impracti- 

The two houses of legislature in which these great 
powers are vested, represent, in one, the population of the 
whole Union ; in the other, the different republics into 
which the Union is divided. Perhaps the hall of the re- 
presentatives may be said to speak the feelings of the na- 
tion, and the senate to balance the local interests of the 
different sections of its vast territory ; a member in the 
former house represents forty thousand souls, two members 
in the latter represent a state, whatever be its size or 
population ; it follows therefore, that no law can be enact- 
ed without a majority of the states, as well as of the peo- 
ple, which must always secure a very large majority of 
the nation to every measure. In a country where the 
people govern themselves, this is highly important. 

But this representation of the people by their local po- 
sition-as well as their number, has yet other saluta^ effects. 
It balances duly the different interests into which all civi 


lizecfcommunities must more or less be divided; but which, 
in a territory so vast as that of America, may perhaps be 
arranged more geographically, if I may use the expression, 
than can be the case in less extensive countries. The 
western states, fast growing in wealth and strength, will 
soon have an exclusive and powerful interest to support 
in agriculture and manufactures. Should the sum of 
their population outweigh that of the Atlantic states, the 
commercial interest might be overlooked in the national 
assembly ; and at present the population of these states, 
exceeding that of the younger section of the Union, its in- 
terests might be forgotten, so as to generate ill will in those 
rising republics. The mode of representation adopted 
in the senate, seems to obviate this danger ; and I he ad- 
vantage resulting from it will probably be more and more 
apparent, according as the inland states become more 
and more vigorous. 

Perhaps the English and the Anglo-Americans are the 
only nations who know how to draw an accurate line be- 
tween the legislative, executive, and judicial departments 
of government. In the former, the distinctions are tho- 
roughly understood; in the latter, perfectly reduced to 
practice. In England, the legislative and executive 
are nominally separate, but actually conjoined, when a 
majority of the house of legislature is within purchase of 
the crown, and the cabinet ministers have a direct voice 
upon every question in debate. Here, not only is the 
president himself positively excluded from both houses of 
congress, but every person holding an office, or in any 
manner employed under the authority of the government.* 

* The president of the United States is never seen within the walls of tjje 
capitol, except on the day of his inauguration. Should he ever be present at any 
debate, it could only be as a citizen among the audience ; but even this would 
be considered an impropriety, and of course never occurs. I do not remem- 
ber to have been questioned by any individual, since my return to England, 
upon the subject of the American constitution, and officers of government, 
who has not confounded the president of the United States with the president 


I had occasion to observe in a former letter, that this dis- 
tinction between the different departments of government 
is equally preserved by the constitutions of the state, as 
by that of the United States ; " to the end," as it is ex- 
pressed in the Massachusetts' declaration of rights, " that 
it may be a government of laws, and not of men" 

The election of president is managed with some inge- 
nuity, so as to unite the two modes of representation found 
in the senate and the representatives. It was necessary 
to guard, first against the too great influence of a state 
more populous than her neighbours, who might have com- 
manded the choice of the chief magistrate, had his nomi- 
nation been left solely to the mass of the population with- 
out regard to its position ; and secondly, against a junction 
of states more peculiarly united by interests, or near neigh- 
bourhood ; which might have enabled one portion of the 
Union to command an equally unfair advantage, were the 
point decided by the vote of the states. How far the union 
of these two modes of representation is effected, or how 
far it is possible to effect it, I am not adequate to] judge.* 

The powers of the President are great, but are always 
under the check of the legislature. He appoints ambas- 
sadors, consuls, judges of the supreme court, and other of- 
ficers of the United States ; but this only w T ith the appro- 

of the senate. This has sometimes recalled to me the mistake of a well 
known political economist in London, who (as I was told in Washington,) 
once addressed a letter, apparently intended for Mr. Madison, To the Presi- 
dent of Congress. I understand that a similar error is to be found in a 
published work of Mr. Jeremy Bentham. 

* Some amendments in the presidential elections have been made by sub« 
sequent conventions since the first establishment of the Federal Constitution, 
but directed (I believe solely) to enforce the necessity of voting distinctly for 
a vice-president as well as a president. The inferior office fell originally to 
the second candidate on the list. Upon one occasion the votes being equal, 
it was thought proper to avoid all confusion in future, by specifying the per- 
son voted for as vice-president from the person voted for as president. 

Some more important amendments have lately been proposed, and I be r 
lieve submitted to the people. 


bation oi the senate, unless both houses of congress shall 
see good, in times which may demand peculiar despatch 
and decision, to vest him with discretionary power- He 
can make treaties, but only with the advice and concur- 
rence of two-thirds of the senate. His signature renders 
valid an act of the legislature; but, if refused, a majority 
of two-thirds of both Houses gives to it the effect of a law 
without his concurrence. He may convene the congress 
during its adjournment, upon extraordinary emergencies, 
but cannot disperse it any time : only, should the two 
houses dispute as to the time of adjournment, he is the 
arbiter between them. He is commander in chief of the 
army and navy, and of the militia, when called into the 
service of the nation by law of congress ; in which case 
the authority of the President supersedes that of the go- 
vernors of the different states, who are commanders in 
chief of then' militia. 

The powers lodged with the President have been by 
some judged too great, and by some too little ; but at pre- 
sent, I believe, few think them either one or the other. A 
chief magistrate, whose reign is only for four years, and 
who stands liable to impeachment for malveisation, might, 
perhaps, be trusted with the gift of public offices held only 
upon good behaviour, without much risk of the preroga- 
tive being abused. By making his will, however, subser- 
vient to a branch of the legislature, a double security is 
given for the impartiality of appointments, much petty 
wrangling for public offices prevented, and the President 
relieved from painful responsibility. 

The judicial power of the United States is vested in 
a supreme court held at Washington. This court of law 
is, perhaps, not the least beautiful contrivance in the sin- 
gular frame of this government. It holds together the links 
of the federal union, keeps the peace between republic 
and republic, and again between all these different com- 
ponent parts, and the great centre to which they are all 


bound. It settles all controversies between the different 
states, or between the citizens of one state and the go- 
vernment or citizens of another ; also all controversies 
between individuals and the general government, and be- 
tween the citizens of the United States, and " foreign 
states, citizens, or subjects." In fine, its powers " ex- 
tend to all cases in law and equity" arising under the 
federal constitution, or the laws passed by the govern- 
ment acting under that constitution ; to all treaties made 
by the national government ; " to all cases of admiralty 
and maritime jurisdiction ;" and " to all cases affecting 
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls." 

We find, in the writings and speeches of some of the 
early federal statesmen, frequent parallels drawn between 
the American and the English government. The paral- 
lels are necessarily very loose. What the one is in prac- 
tice, the other is partly in theory, and here ends the com- 
parison. The constitution of the United States, is formed 
upon the model of those of the different states of which 
the United States is composed, but furnishes its adminis- 
trators with other and more extended powers ; not clash- 
ing with or superseding those exercised by the state go- 
vernments, but directed to different ends. Like the mo- 
tions of the planetary system, each republic revolves upon 
her own axis, but moves in unison with the others ; exert- 
ing her own centrifugal force, and yielding to the power 
which holds her in the magic circle of the confederacy. 

The singular position of this government as the centre 
of a mass of republics, strengthening and multiplying every 
lustre that rolls by, gives to it a character of its own, and 
one as wonderful as it is grand. I cannot speak the effect 
that its minute consideration produces on the mind : it is 
such as the spectator feels when he contemplates for the 
first time a steam-engine of the great Watt : its powers, 
as simple as they are sublime, playing evenly, and noise- 
lessly, and irresistibly ; and then, when the mind is startled 



at the consideration of its energy, and the vast world which 
it regulates and pervades, comes the reflection, that the 
hand of the workman can check it in a moment of time ! 
I must again direct your attention to that feature in 
American government, which distinguishes it so peculiar- 
ly from that of all other countries : it can neither add to 
nor take away from its own powers, and yet it can always 
be so moulded as to reflect the image of the public mind. 
In Europe, a constitution is often a vague word : one says 
it is this ; another says it is that ; and a third searches for 
it, and declares it is nowhere. A constitution means some- 
times ancient customs; sometimes ancient charters; some- 
times the acts of government themselves, framed in ac- 
cordance, or in open contradiction to those charters; some- 
times it means things as they are, at another time things 
as they were : eveiy man talks of it, understands it in his 
own manner, and perhaps can explain it in no manner at 
all. Here the constitution is in the hands of all the peo- 
ple : they give it to their representatives, and say, There 
is your guide : we judge of its fitness to direct your proceed- 
ings, as we do of your fitness to legislate by it : if upon trial 
you conceive it to be defective, state your objections, and we 
shall decide upon their reasonableness. The representative 
here can neither alter the manner of his election nor 
enlarge his powers when elected. The people do not 
petition for rights, but bestow authority upon their rulers : 
experience shows how much authority will suffice ; if 
more than sufficient has been imparted, the overplus is 
retracted ; if less than sufficient, what the exigency de- 
mands is bestowed. Proposals for alterations or additions 
to the constitution originate in congress ; a vote of two- 
thirds of both houses being requisite for the same. The 
amendments thus proposed are submitted to the people, 
who, if they approve, summon conventions in their differ- 
ent states •, the assent of three fourths of these conventions 


then carries the proposition, and affixes it as a new article 
to the constitution. 

I have, at your request, touched upon a subject much 
beyond my powers to do justice to. The most ordinary 
mind is attracted to the consideration of the political ma- 
chine that is here in play : the simplicity and sublimity of 
its movements impress it solemnly ; it reverts with admi- 
ration to the genius that conceived it -, and considers with 
delight the peace that it secures, and the happiness that 
it distributes. 










New-York, February, 1820. 

Looking to the general plan of the central government, 
it will be seen with what extreme nicety the different in- 
terests of the multitudinous parts of this great confede- 
racy are balanced, or employed as checks one upon 
the other. In the course of years these interests may be 
somewhat more distinctly marked than they are at pre- 
sent; some have even thought that they may be more 
strongly opposed. This appears more than doubtful : but 
even admitting the supposition, we cannot calculate the 
probable effects of this without counting for something the 
gradual strengthening of the national union by the mix- 
ture of the people, the marriages and friendships con- 
tracted between the inhabitants of the different states, the 


tide of emigration, which shifts the population of one to 
the other, the course of prosperity enjoyed under a go- 
vernment more and more endeared as time more and more 
tries its wisdom, and imparts sanctity to its name. The 
time was, when none, or but few of these sacred bonds 
existed, and still a friendly sympathy was not wanting 
among the different and uncemented communities scat- 
tered along the shores of the Atlantic. 

During their colonial existence, the inhabitants of these 
states had but little intercourse with each other. Vast 
forests separated often the scanty population of the infant 
provinces. Varying climate and religion influenced also 
their customs and character ; but still, however, parted by 
trackless wastes, how little connected soever by the ties 
of private friendship, they had always two things in com- 
mon, — language, and a fierce spirit of liberty ; which 
sufficed to bind with a sure though invisible chain all the 
members of the scattered American family. The strength 
of this chain has seldom been fully appreciated by the 
enemies of America : they expected to break it even du- 
ring the war of the Revolution ; and were certain that it 
would of itself give way when the high-toned sentiment kept 
alive by a struggle for independence should subside, or 
when the pressure of common danger being removed, the 
necessity of cordial co-operation should not be equally ap- 
parent : experience has hitherto happily disproved these 
calculations. The advantages of a vigorous, and the 
blessings of a beneficent government, directing the ener- 
gies and presiding over the welfare of the great whole, 
has been more and more felt and understood, while the 
influence of just laws, and still more the improved inter- 
course of the states one with another, have broken down 
prejudices, and, in a great measure, obliterated distinc- 
tions of character among the different quarters of the re- 

The portion of the Union that has most generally pre- 


served her ancient moral distinction is New-England. 
The reason may be found in the rigidity of her early re- 
ligious creed, and in the greater separation of her people 
from the rest of the nation. Strictly moral, well educated, 
industrious, and intelligent, but shrewd, cautious, and, as 
their neighbours say, at least, peculiarly long-sighted to 
their interests, the citizens of New-England are the Scotch 
of America. Like them they are inhabitants of a com- 
paratively poor country, and send forth legions of hardy 
adventurers to push their fortunes in richer climes : there 
is this difference, however, that the Scotchman traverses 
the world, and gathers stores to spend them afterwards 
in his own barren hills, while the New-Englander carries 
his penates with him, and plants a colony on the shores 
of the Ohio, with no less satisfaction than he would have 
done on those of the Connecticut. 

The nursery of back-woodsmen, New-England, sends 
forth thousands, and of course takes in few, so that her 
citizens are less exposed to the visitation of foreigners, 
and even to mixture with the people of other states, than 
is usual with their more southern neighbours. This has, 
perhaps, its advantages and disadvantages : it preserves 
to them all the virtues of a simple state of society, but 
with these also some of its prejudices : it serves to en- 
trench them against luxury, but imparts to them some- 
thing of a provincial character. Zealously attached to 
their own institutions, they have sometimes coldly es- 
poused those of the nation. The federal opposition chief- 
ly proceeded from this quarter of the Union. 

The political conduct of New-England subsequent to 
the establishment of the federal government sunk her a 
little for some years in the esteem of the nation. The 
narrowness of her policy was charged to some peculiar 
selfishness of character in her people ; but their conduct 
during the revolutionary struggle redeems them from this 
charge, and leads us to ascribe their errors to defect of 


judgment rather than to obliquity of principle. Since the 
war the liberal party, ever numerous, has gained the as- 
cendant; and consequently the eastern states are re- 
suming that place in the national councils which they 
originally held. It is difficult now to find a Federalist, 
absolutely so called. A certain soreness upon some po- 
litical topics, a coldness of manner in pronouncing the 
name of Jefferson, and, I have observed, of Franklin, is 
what may sometimes enable you to detect a ci-devant 
member of the fallen party.* 

New- York and Pennsylvania may perhaps be consi- 
dered as the most influential states of the Union. The 
elegant expression lately employed by Mr. Clay, in ren- 
dering his tribute to the important services of the latter, 
may with propriety be applied to both. They arc " the 
keystones of the federal arch." Their rich and extensive 
territories seem to comprise all the interests into which 
the Union is divided. Commerce, agriculture and manu- 
factures, are all powerfully represented by them on the 
floor of congress. Their western division has much in 
common with the Mississippi states, and their eastern 
with those of the Atlantic. Their population stands con- 
spicuous for national enterprise and enlightened policy, 
whether as regards the internal arrangement of their own 
republics, or their share in the federal councils. These 
powerful states return no less than fifty members to con- 
gress, being more than a fourth of the whole body.f In 

* The secret hostility borne by some of the federal party towards the de- 
parted Franklin is rather amusing. This benign sage, whose last efforts 
were spent in fixing the wheels of the federal government, and who sunk be- 
neath the weight of years and honours before the struggle of the two parties 
commenced, might be supposed to have had it little in his power to give um- 
brage to either. The reverence in which his name was ever held by the de- 
mocratic party, who were the children of his school, explains the enigma. 

■f There are at present in the hall of representatives 195 members, and 
three or four delegates. The delegates are sent by territories, and have no 


proportion as the western states increase, this preponder- 
ance will be taken from them ; in the mean time, how- 
ever, it is in no case exerted to the prejudice of the gene- 
ral interests of the Union. 

Whether it be from their wealth, or their more central 
position, affording them the advantage of a free inter- 
course with the citizens of all the states of the Union, as 
well as foreigners from all parts of the world, the people 
of Pennsylvania and New- York, but more particularly of 
the latter, have acquired a liberality of sentiment which 
imparts dignity to their public measures. They raise ex- 
tensive funds, not only for the general education of their 
citizens, (which is equally the case elsewhere,) the found- 
ing of libraries, and seminaries of learning, but in the 
clearing of rivers, making roads and canals, and promo- 
ting other works of extensive utility, which might do ho- 
nour to the richest empires of Europe. The progress of 
the New- York state during the last thirty years is truly 
astonishing. Within this period, her population has more 
than quadrupled, and the value of property more than 
doubled : she has subdued the forest from Hudson to Erie 
and the Canadian frontier, and is now perfecting the na- 
vigation of all her great waters, and connecting them with 
each other. 

The national revenue being chiefly drawn from the 
customs, is greatly dependent upon the commercial spirit 
of New- York. Her great seaport has sometimes fur- 
nished one-fourth of the revenue of the United States. 
The late war of necessity fell very heavily upon her ma- 
ritime capital. But while her commerce was ruined, she 
showed no disposition to injure the common cause by se- 
parating her interests from those of the confederacy. 
Her opposition in Congress was greatly in the minority to 
her national support ; and, war being once declared, the 
opposition passed over to the side of the majority. The 
conduct of Mr. Rufus King, the venerable leader of the 


federal party in the senate, is worthy of being recorded 
in the annals of his country. He had opposed the de- 
claration of war simply from an apprehension that the re- 
public was unequal to cope with her adversary ; but find- 
ing her determined to brave all hazards rather than sub- 
mit to degradation, he instantly seceded from his party, 
pronouncing it to be the duty of every patriot to assist his 
country with heart and hand in weathering the storm, and 
volunteered to throw into the treasuiy a part of his pri- 
vate fortune, which he stated to be greater than his ne- 

No state in the Union can point to a longer line of pub- 
lic services than Virginia : she wrung the first alarum of 
the Revolution by the mouth of her Patrick Henry ; she 
led the army of patriots in the person of her Washington : 
she issued the declaration of independence from the pen 
of her Jefferson ; she bound the first link of the federal 
union by the hand of her Madison ; — she has given to 
the republic four of the purest patriots and wisest states- 
men that ever steered the vessel of a state. 

The policy of this mother of the Union has always been 
peculiarly magnanimous. She set the example to her 
sister states in those cessions of territory which have sq 
richly endowed the general government, and out of which 
have arisen such a host of young republics. The cession 
made by Virginia comprises the present states of Ohio, In- 
diana, and Illinois, with the territory of Michigan. For 
the thousandth part of such an empire as was here be- 
stowed in free gift, men have deluged the earth with blood. 
We find the liberality of Virginia yet farther evinced in 
her conduct towards a neighbouring state, first peopled by 

I had this anecdote from a senator of congress ; one, too, I must observe, 
usually opposed to Mr. King in politics, who is still ranked among- the least 
democratic party in the senate. Such a patriot is a true relic of the veteran 
federal band of the Revolution, aud may well command the respect of thosr 
who differ, as well as of those who agree with him in opinion. 



her citizens, and subject to her laws. The manner in which 
she released Kentucky from her jurisdiction, pointing out 
the inconveniences arising to her people from their re- 
moteness from the \ kginia capital, and encouraging her 
to erect an independent government, affords a beautiful 
example of national generosity. 

The public spirit of Virginia has invariably been felt in 
the national councils, and consequently has procured to 
her a weight of influence more than proportionate to the 
numerical strength of her representation in congress. 
There has latterly been a partial hue and cry in the north- 
ern division of the Union, on the subject of the Virginia 
influence. I can only say. in the words of a Vermont 
farmer, who accidentally closed in conversation with me 
upon affairs of state, " Whatever be the influence of Vir- 
ginia, she seems to use it well, for we surely go on very 
thrivingly ; besides that, I see no way in which she could 
exercise it but by coinciding with the feelings of the ma- 
jority." The words Virginia influence, you will perceive 
to mean (so far as they mean any thing) the accident 
which has drawn from her commonwealth four out of the 
live presidents who have guided the councils of federal 


I know nothing which places the national character in 
a fairer point of view than the issue of the presidential 
elections. We find local prejudices and even party feel- 
ings laid aside, and the people of this multitude of com- 
monwealths fixing their eyes on the most distinguished 
servant of the state, and rendering the noblest tribute to 
his virtues that a patriot can receive, or a country can be- 
stow. All the chief magistrates of the republic have been 
veterans of the Revolution, and distinguished no less for 
their private virtues than their public services. It was 
thought that, as Virginia had already given three presi- 

* The late unanimous re-election of Colonel Monroe proves that the good 
farmer of Vermout, quoted in the text, spoke the sentiments of his nation. 


dents to the republic, a strong opposition would have 
been made to Colonel Monroe. So far from this being 
the case, no president (Washington excepted) was ever 
more unanimously chosen ; and his name is spoken with 
respect, and even affection, from Maine to Missouri. 

The dignified position taken by Virginia in the national 
councils, has placed her at the head of t he republics of the 
south ; whose policy, it may be remarked, has uniformly 
been liberal and patriotic ; and, on all essential points, in 
accordance with that of the central and western states. 
Whatever be the effect of black slavery upon the moral 
character of the southern population, and that upon the 
mass it must be deadly mischievous there can be no ques- 
tion, it has never been felt in the national senate. Per- 
haps the arrangement has been prudent, or at least fortu- 
nate, which has somewhat tempered the democracy of 
American government in the south Atlantic states. By 
the existing constitution of Virginia, and the states south 
of her, the qualifications required of a representative throw 
the legislative power into the hands of the more wealthy 
planters : a race of men no less distinguished for the polish 
of their manners and education than for liberal sentiments 
and general philanthropy. They are usually well travel- 
led in their own country and in Europe, possess enough 
wealth to be hospitable, and seldom sufficient to be luxu- 
rious, and are thus, by education and condition, raised 
above the degrading influence which the possession of ar- 
bitrary power has on the human mind and the human 
heart. To the slight leaven of aristocracy, therefore, 
thrown into the institutions of Virginia and the Carolinas, 
we may, perhaps, attribute, in part, their generous and 
amiable bearing in the national councils; we must not 
omit, however, the meliorating effect produced by the 
spread of education, and the effect of liberal institutions 
on the white population generally. Even before the close 
jf the revolutionary war. Mr- Jefferson thought " a change 


already perceptible;" and we have a substantial proof that 
the change traced by that philosopher in the character of 
his fellow citizens was not imaginary, the first act of the 
Virginia legislature being the abolition of the slave-trade. 
May she now set an example to her neighbouring states, 
as she then did to the world, by combatting steadfastly 
the difficulties which her own fears or selfish interests ma\ 
throw in the way of emancipation! 

But the quarter of the republic to which the eye of a 
stranger turns with most curiosity, is the vast region to 
the west of the Alleghanies. The character of these re- 
publics is necessarily as unique as their position, and their 
influence is already powerful upon the floor of congress. 

In glancing at their geographical position, the foreigner 
might hastily be led to consider them as growing rivals 
rather than friendly supporters of the Atlantic states. It 
will be found, however, that they are at present powerful 
cementers of the union, and that the feelings and interests 
are such as to draw together the north and south divisions 
of the confederacy. 

The new canals will probably draw off the produce of 
the western counties of New- York to the Atlantic ; still,, 
however, a portion will find its w 7 ay down the western wa- 
ters, as their navigation shall be perfected from Erie to 
_\ew-Orleans. At all events, this route will continue to 
be preferred by the western counties of Pennsylvania, 
shortly destined to be the seat, if they are not so already, 
of flourishing manufactures. The advance made in this 
branch of industry, during the last war, and for some years 
previously, has received some checks since the peace, but 
appears likely soon to proceed with redoubled energy. 

It may be worth observing, that there is something in 
the character of the American population, as w T ell as in 
the diverse products of the soil, which seems favourable 
to the growth of manufactures. I do not allude merely 
to their mechanical ingenuity, which has shown itself in 

OHIO. 285 

so many important inventions and improvements in ship- 
building, bridges, steamboat navigation, implements of 
husbandry and machinery of all kinds, but to that proud 
feeling of independence, which disinclines them from 
many species of labour resorted to by Europeans. There 
are some farther peculiarities in the condition and charac- 
ter of the scattered population of the west, which render- 
ed the birth of manufactures simultaneous with that of 
agriculture. In planting himself in the bosom of the wil- 
derness, the settler is often entirely dependant upon his 
own industry for every article of food and raiment. While 
he wields the axe, and turns up the soil, his wife plies the 
needle and the spinning-wheel, and his children draw su- 
gar from the maple, and work at the loom. The finely 
watered state of Ohio affords so easy an egress for its in- 
ternal produce, that could a sure market have been found, 
it seems little likely that it w 7 ould have attempted for many 
years any great establishments of domestic manufactures. 
But the policy of foreign countries threw so many checks 
in the way of the agriculturist, and so completely suspend- 
ed commerce, that the new stimulus given to human in- 
dustry was felt in the most remote corners of the Union. 

The instantaneous effect produced by the commercial 
regulations of Europe, it seems almost impossible to cre- 
dit ; cotton-mills and fulling-mills, distilleries, and manu- 
factories of every description, sprung, as it were, out of the 
earth ; in city, town, village, and even on the forested 
shores of the western waters. The young Ohio, for in- 
stance, which had existed but eight years, in 1811 poured 
down the western waters woollen, flaxen, and cotton 
goods, of admirable but coarse texture, spiritous liquors, 
sugars, &c, to the value of two millions of dollars. 

The wonderful aptitude of the Americans for labour of 
every species, however removed, seemingly, from their 
accustomed habits, is easily explained, if we consider, 
fust, the mental energy inspired by their free institutions, 

286 uiiio. 

and, secondly, their general and practical education. An 
American youth is usually trained to hit a mark with the 
certainty of an old English cross-bowman ; to swim with 
that dexterity which procured for the young Franklin in 
London the name of the American aquatic ; to handle a 
musket like a soldier, the mechanic's tools like a carpen- 
ter, the husbandman's like a farmer, and, not very unfre- 
quently, the needle and scissors like a village taylor. I 
have taken Ohio as an instance ; but the people of the 
western region universally were in the habit of making in 
their own families the cotton and woollen garments in 
which they were clad. This prepared them for that new 
direction of national industry which the policy of foreign 
countries rendered indispensable. 

The ports being again thrown open by the peace, many 
of the young manufactures began to decline ; many, how- 
ever, have kept their place from their intrinsic excellence, 
(more especially the coarse cotton and woollen fabrics,) 
in spite of the imprudent trade which has glutted the mar- 
ket with foreign goods, and ended by ruining half the for- 
tunes of the great commercial cities. Things seem now 
to be finding thejj; level ; and the citizens are discovering 
that mercantile speculation is a ruinous game, when the 
raw produce of the country is not taken in kind for the 
wrought fabrics of Europe : perhaps Europe may find this 
ti losing game, too : but of this I am not learned enough 
f o speak. 

_ The inhabitants of the west have seen with peculiar 
lissatisfaction the decay of their manufacturing establish- 
ments. It is not only that they have been driven back 
upon agriculturej without finding a sufficient market for 
their produce ; but (what you may perhaps smile at) those 
simple but proud republicans are by no means pleased to 
see their good homespun forsaken by their daughters for 
the muslin and silks of France and the Indies. Many 
make positive resistance to c o unbecoming a dereliction 



v)f principle and good taste, and hold stanchly to the 
practice of clothing every member of' their family in arti- 
cles of domestic manufacture. Many gentlemen of pro- 
perty are in the habit of making, on their own estates, 
every single article of clothing and household furniture : 
young women of cultivated education, and elegant accom- 
plishments, are found dressed in plain cotton garments ; 
and men presiding in the senate-house of their country in 
. woollen clothes, woven and fashioned by the hands of 
their own domestics, or even by those of their children. 

The reviving ascendency of the manufacturing over the 
commercial interest creates a strong community of feeling 
between the northern and western sections of the Union.* 
Pittsburg, the young Manchester of the United States, 
must always have the character of a western city, and 
its maritime port be New-Orleans. Corinth was not 
more truly the eye of Greece than is Pittsburg of Ameri- 
ca. Pennsylvania, in which it stands, uniting perfectly 
the characters of an Atlantic and a western state, is truly 
the keystone of the federal arch. But if the new states 
are thus linked with the north, they have also some feel- 
ings in common with the south, and thus, drawing two 
ways, seem to consolidate that confederacy which Euro- 
peans have sometimes prophesied they would break. In the 
first place, Kentucky and Tennessee, the oldest members 
of this young family, have not only been peopled from 
Virginia and the Carolinas. but originally made part of 
those states. Generously released from their jurisdiction, 
they still retain a marked affection for their parents ; and 
have, too, a community of evil with them, as well as of 
origin, in the form of black slavery. It is not unlikely, 
that the mixture of slaveholding and non-slaveholding 

* The author some weeks subsequent to the date of this letter heard the 
whole of the representation of New-York, as well as of Pennsylvania and 
Jersey, advocate upon the floor of congress the manufacturing as opposed 
to the trading- interest. 


states to the west of the Allcglianics, helps to balance the 
interests between the northern and southern sections of 
the Union on the floor of congress. 

I must here refute a strange assertion, which I have 
seen in I know not how T many foreign journals, namely, 
that the United States' government is chargeable with the 
diffusion of black slavery.* Every act that this govern- 
ment has ever passed regarding it has tended to its sup- 
pression; but the extent and nature of its jurisdiction are 
probably misunderstood by those who charge upon it the 
black slavery of Kentucky or Louisiana ; and they must 
be ignorant of its acts who omit to ascribe to it the merit 
of having saved from this curse every republic which has 
grown up under its jurisdiction. 

When first torn from the British empire, we have seen 
that every corner of the then peopled America was smit- 
ten with this plague. Now not one half is, although by 
the acquisition of Louisiana an immense foreign addition 
has been made to the evil. It was not until the adoption 
of the federal constitution, that the congress possessed any 
power to legislate upon the subject of the slave-trade. 

* One of the most extravagant blunders of this kind I lately found in INHveu 
sie's History of America; a work comprising 1 much valuable topographical and 
statistical information upon the subject of the United States : but containing 
a compilation of the most contradictory and positively ludicrous portrait;; 
of their moral character (to those at least who have any personal acquaint 
ance with it) that has yet come under my eye. The passage I allude to i> 
the following : " Negro slavery has spread its baleful effects over a great 
part of the Union. Some writers, particularly Englishmen, who would wish 
to represent the states as a second Arcadia, have offered an apology for this 
detestable practice, by contending, that it formed a part of the policy ofthr 
colonial system ; but this excuse does not apply to the new states; for tin 
congress has resigned the inhabitants of these vast regions to its demoralizing 
effects." Now were this all that stood between the United States and a 
second Arcadia, they would be much nearer a terrestrial paradise than I had 
imagined. Not a single o'ne of the new states that has grown up under the 
jurisdiction of the congress but has been positively and absolutely saved by 
its laws from slavery in any shape or form whatsoever. It would save some 
mistakes if authors would read thclaws of fofeisrn countries before they writ*- 
about thorn. 



The abolition laws passed before that period were passed 
by the states in their individual capacity, and could not 
be enforced beyond their own respective territories. The 
powers vested by the new constitution in the general 
government enabled it to enforce the cessation of the 
trade throughout the Union, but gave it no control over the 
domestic slavery wherever existing. The emancipation 
already effected in eight of the thirteen original states has 
been effected in each by the acts of its own legislature. 

There are at present twenty-two republics in the con- 
federacy ; of these, twelve have been rendered free to black 
and white ; the remaining ten continue to be more or less 
defaced by negro slavery. Of these five are old states, 
and the other five either parted from these or formed out 
of the acquired territory of French Louisiana. Thus, — 
Kentucky was raised into an independent state by mutual 
agreement between herself and Virginia, of which she 
originally formed a part. Tennessee, by mutual agree- 
ment between herself and Carolina, to which she was 
originally attached. Mississippi was surrendered to the 
general government by Georgia, to be raised when old 
enough into an independent state ; but with a stipulation 
that to the citizens of Georgia should be continued the 
privilege of migrating into it with their slaves. Louisiana 
proper, formed out of a small portion of the vast territory 
ceded under that name, came into the possession of the 
United States with the united evils of black slavery in its 
most hideous form, and the slave-trade prosecuted with 
relentless barbarity. The latter crime was instantly ar- 
rested ; and, under the improving influence of mild laws 
and mental instruction, the horrors of slavery have been 
greatly alleviated.* 

* Travellers afflicted with the anti-American mania are fond of drawing 
their portrait of tlie national character in New-Orleans. This is much the same 
as if we should draw that of the English in Guadaloupe or St. Lucie. Such 
tourists may now have an opportunity of sketching - the American character 
among- the Spaniards of Florida. 




Iii all these cases the federal government has been 
powerless to effect the eradication of slavery. It has. 
however, been all powerful to prevent its introduction in 
such territories as have been placed under its control. 

Ohio was the first state formed from the commence- 
ment upon American principles. It was planted by the 
hand of congress, in the vast region ceded by Virginia to 
the northwest of the river Ohio. In the formation of a 
new state out of the national waste lands, its government is 
entrusted to the congress of the United States, who mark 
its boundaries, nominate its public officers and defray the 
expenses of its government, until its population amounts 
to sixty thousand souls; when it is entitled to summon a 
convention, establish its own constitution, enter upon the 
administration and expenses of its own government, and 
take its place in the confederacy as an independent re- 

In 1787, the congress passed an act, establishing a 
temporary government for the infant population settled on 
the lands of Ohio 5 and the government then established 

The Missouri question, which so greatly agitated the nation and the senate 
last winter, turned solely upon what were the powers of congress to legislate 
for the territory in question. Missouri was colonized by slave-holding French 
when the territory was ceded to the United States by a treaty securing to the 
inhabitants their property, including slaves. Emancipation, therefore, was 
not within the power of congress. The question was, whether it possessed the 
right of preventing the citizens of other states from migrating into Missouri 
willi their slaves. The error seems to have been the having omitted to pass 
this prohibitory law before the period when Missouri assumed the place of a 
state. Congress, after months of anxious deliberation, came to a compro- 
mise which seemed the only one in their power. A law was passed pre- 
venting the possibility of the formation of any other slave-holding state in 
the French Louisianian territory, and the slavery of Missouri was placed 
under every restriction, which the previous treaty and the constitution would 

* Several territories have passed to the condition of states before they com- 
prised the population demanded by law. Illinois, for instance, having pre- 
ferred a request to congress that she might be permitted to assume the reins 
of her own government, was allowed to join the confederacy with a popular 
tion of less than 40,000. 


has served as the model of that of all the territories that 
have since been formed in the vacant wilderness. The 
act then passed contained a clause which operated upon 
the whole national territory to the northwest of the Ohio. 
By this, "slavery and involuntary servitude" was posi- 
tively excluded from this region, by a law of the general 
government. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, have 
already sprung up in the bosom of this desert ; the three 
first independent states, and the latter about to pass from 
her days of tutelage to assume the same character. 

It is deserving of observation, that for the passing of this 
law a unanimous vote of the states was necessary, ac- 
cording to the old articles of confederation then in force. 
By a unanimous vote it was passed ; not a dissentient 
voice being raised by Virginia, who had ceded the territo- 
ry in question, nor by the other states of the south, who 
thus voluntarily deprived their slave-holding citizens of the 
right of migrating into it.* 

Thus saved from the disgraceful and ruinous contagion 
of African servitude, this young family of republics have 
started in their career with a vigour and a purity of cha- 
racter that has not an equal in the history of the world. 
Ohio, which twenty-five years since was a vacant wilder- 
ness, now contains half a million of inhabitants, and returns 
six representatives to the national congress. In the other 
and younger members of the western family, the ratio of 
increase is similar. It is curious to consider, that the ad- 

* In observing upon the policy of the southern states generally, it would be 
ungenerous to pass without notice, that their representatives in congress have 
been among the most strenuous enforcers of the last penalties of the law, 
against those convicted of the surreptitious introduction of slaves into the 
southern ports. The close neighbourhood of Cuba and the Spanish Floridas 
affords great facilities for this atrocious smuggling. The navy of the United 
States is actively employed in intercepting this stolen traffic, not only on tlu? 
American but the African coasts : and agents are stationed in Africa to re- 
ceive the stolen negroes, returned in the safe keeping of the republic to their 
native country. In all these measures, the members from the south have not 
only invariably concurred, but some of the most important have originated 
with them. 


venturous settler is yet alive, who felled the first tree to 
the west of the Alleghanies. The log hut of Daniel Boon 
is now on the wild shores of the Missouri, a host of firmly 
established republics stretching betwixt him and the ha- 
bitation of his boyhood. 

It is plain that in the course of a few generations, the 
most populous and powerful division of the American fa* 
mily will be watered by the Mississippi, not the Atlantic. 
From the character of their infancy we may prophesy, 
that the growing preponderance of the western republics 
will redound to the national honour, and will draw more 
closely the social league, which binds together the great 
American family. 

Bred up under the eye, and fostered by the care of the 
federal government, they have attached themselves to the 
national institutions with a devotion of feeling unknown 
in the older parts of the republic. Their patriotism has 
all the ardour, and their policy all the ingenuousness of 
youth. I have already had occasion to observe upon the 
enthusiasm with which they asserted the liberties and 
honour of their country during the last war. Their spirit 
throughout that contest was truly chivalrous. The anec- 
dotes recorded not only of the valour, but of the romantic 
generosity of the western army of volunteers, might grace 
the noblest page of the revolutionary history. Nor have 
the people of the west shown themselves less generous in 
the senate than the field. In the hall of the representa- 
tives, they are invariably on the side of what is most ho- 
nourable and high minded. Even should they err, you 
feel that you would rather err with them than be wise with 
more long-headed or more cold-hearted politicians. 

In considering America generally, one finds a charac- 
ter in her foreign to Europe, — something which there 
would be accounted visionary ; a liberality of sentiment, 
and a nationality of feeling, not founded upon the mere ac- 
cident of birth, but upon the appreciation of that civil liber- 


ty to which she owes all her greatness and happiness. It 
is to be expected, however, that in the democracies of the 
west, these distinctions will be yet more peculiarly marked. 

It seems to be a vulgar belief in Europe, that the Ame- 
rican wilderness is usually settled by the worst members 
of the community. The friend I write to is well aware 
that it is generally by the best. The love of liberty, which 
the emigrant bears with him from the shores of the Con- 
necticut, the Hudson, or Potomac, is exalted and refined 
in the calm and seclusion of nature's primeval woods, and 
boundless prairies. Some reckless spirits, spurning all 
law and social order, must doubtless mingle with the 
more virtuous crowd; but these rarely settle down as 
farmers. They start ahead of the advanced guard of 
civilization, and form a wandering troop of hunters, ap- 
proximating in life and, sometimes, in character to the 
Indians, their associates. At other times they assume the 
occupation of shepherds, driving on their cattle from pas- 
ture to pasture, according as fancy leads them on from 
one fair prairie to another still fairer, or according as the 
approaching tide of population threatens to encroach upon 
their solitude and their wild dominion. 

You may, however, find among these borderers many 
rare characters, who, like their veteran leader Daniel 
Boon, depose none of the social virtues in their Arab life. 
" The frontier," observes Mr. Brackenridge, a gentleman 
who has an intimate acquaintance with the people of 
whom he writes ; " the frontier is certainly the refuge of 
many worthless and abandoned characters, but it is also 
the choice of many of the noblest souls. It seems wisely 
ordered, that in the part which is weakest, where the 
force of laws is scarcely felt, there should be found the 
greatest sum of real courage, and of disinterested virtue. 
Few young men w-ho have migrated to the frontier are 
without merit. From the firm conviction of its future 
importance, generous and enterprising youth, the virtuous. 


unfortunate, and those of moderate patrimony, repair to it, 
that they may grow up with the country, and form establish- 
ments for themselves and families. Hence in this territo- 
ry there are many sterling characters. Among others I 
mention, with pleasure, that brave and adventurous North- 
Carolinian, who makes so distinguished a figure in the 
history of Kentucky, the venerable Colonel Boon. This 
respectable old man, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, re- 
sides on Salt river, up the Missouri. He is surrounded 
by about forty families, who respect him as a father, and 
who live under a kind of patriarchal government, ruled 
by his advice and example. They are not necessitous 
persons, who have fled for their crimes or misfortunes, 
like those that gathered unto David in the cave of Adul- 
lum : they all live well, and possess the necessaries and 
comforts of life as they could wish. They retired through 
choice. Perhaps they acted wisely in placing themselves 
at a distance from the deceit and turbulence of the world. 
They enjoy an uninterrupted quiet, and a real comfort in 
their little society, beyond the sphere of that larger society 
where government is necessary. Here they are truly 
free ; exempt from the vexing duties and impositions even 
of the best governments, they are neither assailed by 
the madness of ambition, nor tortured by the poison of 
party spirit. Is not this one of the most powerful incen- 
tives which impels the Anglo-American to bury himself 
in the midst of the wilderness I"* 

The borderers universally took an active part in the 
war, and were eminently useful in repelling the incur- 

* The lord of the wilderness, Daniel Boon, though his eye is now somewhat 
dimmed, and his limbs enfeebled by a long life of adventure, can still hit the 
wild fowl on the wing with that dexterity which in his earlier years excited 
the envy of Indian hunters ; and he now looks upon the " famous river" Mis- 
souri with feelings scarce less ardent than when he surveyed with clearer 
vision "the famous river Ohio." The grave of this worshipper of nature, 
wild adventure, and unrestrained liberty, will be visited by the feebler chil- 
dren of future generations with such awe as the Greeks might regard those t>. 


?ions of the Indians. Not even the most lawless but was 
found ready to pour his life blood for the republic. 

A curious instance of the strange mixture of magnanimi- 
ty and ferocity often found even among the demi-savages of 
the borders was afforded, during that contest, by the Loui- 
sianian Lafitte. Some years previous to the war, this des- 
perado had placed himself at the head of a band of out- 
laws from all nations under heaven, and fixed his abode 
upon the top of an impregnable rock, to the southwest of 
the mouth of the Mississippi. Under the colours of the 
South American patriots, they pirated at pleasure every 
vessel that came in their way, and smuggled their booty 
up the secret creeks of the Mississippi with a dexterity 
that baffled all the limbs of the law. The depredations 
of these outlaws, or, as they styled themselves, Barrita- 
riajis, (from Barrita, their island,) becoming at length in- 
tolerable, the United States' government despatched an 
armed force against their little Tripoli. The establish- 
ment was broken up, and the pirates dispersed. No 
sooner, however, had the fleet fairly disappeared, than 
Lafitte again collected his outlaws, and took possession of 
his rock. The attention of the congress being now diverted 
by the war, he scoured the gulf at his pleasure, and so 
tormented the coasting traders, that Governor Clairborne 
©f Louisiana set a price on his head. 

This daring outlaw, thus confronted with the American 
government, appeared likely to promote the designs of its 
enemies. He was known to possess the clue to all the 
secret windings and entrances of the many-mouthed Mis- 
sissippi ; and in the projected attack upon New-Orleans 
it was deemed expedient to secure his assistance. 

The British officer then heading the forces landed at 

their earlier demi-gods. The mind of this singular man seems best portray- 
ed by his own simple words. " No populous city, with all the varieties of 
commerce and stately structure, could afford so much pleasure to my mind o> 
the beauties of nature that I find here.'' 


Pensacola for the invasion of Louisiana, opened a treaty 
with the Barritarian, to whom he offered such rewards as 
were best calculated to tempt his cupidity and flatter his 
ambition. The outlaw affected to relish tiie proposal ; 

but, having artfully drawn from Colonel N the 

plan of his intended attack, he spurned his offers with the 
most contemptuous disdain, and instantly despatched one 
of his most trusty corsairs to the governor who had pro- 
scribed his life, advising him of the intentions of the ene- 
my, and volunteering the aid of his little band, on the 
single condition that an amnesty should be granted for 
their* past offences. Governor Clairborne, though touch- 
ed by this proof of magnanimity, hesitated to close with 
the offer. The corsair kept himself hi readiness for the 
expected summons, and continued to spy and report the 
motions of the enemy. As danger became more urgent, 
and the steady generosity of the outlaw more assured, 
Governor Clairborne granted to him and his followers 
life and pardon, and called them to the defence of the 
city. They obeyed with alacrity, and served with a va- 
lour, fidelity, and good conduct, not surpassed by the best 
volunteers of the republic* 

I have given but a rude sketch of the great divisions of 
this republic : a subject of this kind admits not of much 
precision ; or. at any rate, my pencil is not skilled enough 
to handle it ably. I wish you to observe, however, that 
the birth of the new states has tended to consolidate the. 
Union ; and that their growing importance is likely to be 
felt in the same manner ; contrary to the calculations of 
long-sighted politicians, who foretold that as the integral 
parts of this great political structure should strengthen 
and multiply, the cement which held them together would 

* The restless Lafitte again hoisted the flag- of Carthagena ; to follow, 
however, a more regular mode of warfare than that with which he commen- 
ced his career. I believe he has rendered some signal services to the patriot 


crumble away ; and that as the interests of the extended 
community should become more various, it would be dis- 
tracted with more party animosities. 

The fact is, that every sapient prophecy with regard to 
America has been disproved. We were forewarned that 
she was too free, and her liberty has proved her security ; 
too peaceable, and she has been found sufficient for her 
defence ; too large, and her size has insured her union. 
These numerous republics, scattered through so wide a 
range of territory, embracing all the climates, and con- 
taining all the various products of the earth, seem des- 
tined, in the course of years, to form a world within 
themselves, independent alike of the treasures and the 
industry of all the other sections of the globe. Each year 
they are learning, more and more, to look to each other 
for all the various articles of food and raiment ; while the 
third great human necessity — defence, they have been 
from infancy practised to furnish in common. The bonds 
of union, indeed, are more numerous and intimate than 
can be easily conceived by foreigners. A people who 
have bled together for liberty, who equally appreciate 
and equally enjoy that liberty which their own blood or 
that of their fathers has purchased ; who feel, too, that the 
liberty which they love has found her last asylum on their 
shores ; such a people are bound together by ties of amity 
and citizenship far beyond what is usual in national com- 







Ncw-Ydrk, February, 1820 

The Americans are certainly a calm, rational, civil, and 
well behaved people ; not given to quarrel or to call each 
other names ; and yet if you were to look at their news- 
papers you would think them a parcel of Hessian soldiers. 
An unrestricted press appears to be the safety-valve of 
their free constitution ; and they seem to understand this ; 
for they rio more regard all the noise and sputter that it 
occasions, than the roaring of the vapour on board their 

Were a foreigner, immediately upon landing, to take 
up a newspaper, (especially if he should chance to land 
just before an election,) he might suppose that the whole 
political machine was about to fall to pieces, and that he 
had just come in time to be crushed in its ruins. But if 
he should not look at a newspaper, he might walk through 
the streets on the very day of election, and never find out 
that it was going on, unless, indeed, it should happen to 
him as it happened to me, to see a crowd collected round 
a pole surmounted by a cap of liberty, and men walking 
in at one door of a house, and walking out at another. 
Should he then ask a friend hurrying past him, " What is 


going on there ?" he may receive for answer, " The elec- 
tion of representatives : walk on : I am just going to give 
in my vote, and I will overtake you." 

It might seem strange, that the sovereign people should 
judge proper to exercise the right of abusing the rulers of 
their choice; a right which they certainly do exercise 
without mercy ; but when we consider, that in this de- 
mocracy there is generally a yielding of a minority to a 
majority, the case seems quite easy of explanation. Be- 
sides, after a man has assisted in the choice of his repre- 
sentative, he may take offence at him. It of course then 
follows, that he will tell him so ; and that he will tell his fel- 
low citizens the same, and that he will endeavour to eke 
out his philippic with the aid of all the epithets in the dic- 
tionary. Now, though this practice of vilifying the freely 
chosen officers of the republic is not very reputable to the 
community, it evidently brings its own cure with it. Pub- 
lic opinion, after all, is the best, and, indeed, the only ef- 
ficient censor of the press : in this country it is found all* 
sufficient ; while in other countries, fines, imprisonments r 
and executions, are had recourse to in vain. 

The public prints were never more outrageous than af- 
ter the discomfiture of the federal party in 1 805 ; and 
never did the shafts of slander fall more harmless than on 
those wise rulers to whom the people had transferred their 
confidence. The speech of Mr. Jefferson, after his se- 
cond inauguration, contains some observations of so gene- 
ral an application, that I am tempted to direct your atten- 
tion to them. 

" During this course of administration, and in order to 
" disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled 
" against us, charged with whatever its licentiousness 
" could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution, so 
' important to freedom and science, are deeply to be re- 
,; gretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness, 
;c and to sap its safety. They might, perhaps, have been 


corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved to 
and provided by the laws of the several states against 
falsehood and defamation ; but public duties more ur- 
gent press on the time of the servants of the public, and 
the offenders have therefore been left to find their pu- 
nishment in the public indignation. 
" Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an expe 
riment should be fairly and fully made whether freedom 
of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the 
propagation and protection of truth ; whether a govern- 
ment, conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitu- 
tion, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it 
would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can 
be written down by falsehood and defamation. The 
experiment has been made : you have witnessed the re- 
sult. Our fellow citizens have looked on cool and col- 
lected. They saw the latent source from which these 
outrages proceeded. They gathered around their pub- 
lic functionaries ; and when the constitution called them 
to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their ver- 
dict, honourable to those who had served them, and con- 
solatory to the friends of man, who believe that he may 
and ought to be trusted with the control of his own af- 
fairs. No inference is here intended that the laws pro- 
vided by the states, against false and defamatory publi- 
cations, should not be enforced. He who has leisure 
renders service to the public morals, and public tran- 
quillity, in reforming these abuses by the salutary coer- 
cions of the law. But the experiment is noted to prove, 
that, since truth and reason have maintained their 
ground, against false opinions in league with false facts, 
the press calls for few legal restraints. The public 
judgment will correct false reasoning and opinion, upon 
a full hearing of all parties, and no other definite line 
can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the 
press, and its demoralizing licentiousness." 


Never was there a country in which a demagogue had 
less in his power than in this. The citizen here learns to 
think for himself. His very pride as a sovereign revolts 
from a blind surrender of his judgment to those who may 
be willing to set up as his teachers. He looks to facts ; con- 
siders the conduct of his public functionaries, and pro- 
nounces accordingly. Sedition here may safely ring her 
larum ; no man regards it. The eyes of the people are 
fixed upon the wheel of government ; and so long as it 
moves fairly and steadily, the servants that guide it are 
supported by the national suffrage. 

But if the declamation of the press passes unregarded, 
its sound reasoning, supported by facts, exerts a sway be- 
yond all that is known in Europe. Here there is no mob. 
An orator or a writer must make his way to the feelings 
of the American people through their reason. They 
must think with him before they will feel with him ; but, 
when once they do both, there is nothing to prevent their 
acting with him. It was thus that the effect of " Common 
Sense" on the public mind produced an effect upon the 
public councils. It unfurled the standard of independ- 
ence. Prior to this the eloquent Patrick Henry had 
roused the soul of Virginia, and put arms in her hand ; 
Dickenson, by the most admirable train of reasoning, had 
led the people to calculate the inevitable results of the 
acts of the British parliament, and strengthened them in 
that spirit of resistance which redeemed the liberties of 
mankind. Throughout the revolutionary struggle not a 
pamphlet, not a fable, not a ballad, but had its influence 
on the feelings, and thus on the affairs of the nation. 

The writings of the great and good Franklin, the Socra- 
tes of modern times, the father of independent America, and 
the oracle of those philosophic statesmen whom the public 
voice has fixed at the helm, since the first election of Mr. 
Jefferson, exert to this day their holy influence on the na- 
tional character, and, consequently, on the national coun- 


cils. You cannot enter the house of a farmer, or the log hut 
of a settler, that you will not find the writings of this sage 
upon the shelf. His apophthegms and parables are gra- 
ven upon the memory of childhood ; " his life written by 
himself" is the pocket manual of the youth when he en- 
ters into the world ; his divine precepts (for such they 
truly are) of justice, humanity, forbearance, industry, 
economy, simplicity, philanthropy, and liberty, regulate 
the administration of many a patriotic statesman, and the 
life of many a virtuous citizen. 

The nervous and classical papers of " The Federalist" 
greatly furthered the adoption and peaceable establish- 
ment of the federal constitution ; many other writings 
had a similar tendency. The resolutions passed by the 
legislature of Virginia, in 1799, framed by Mr. Jefferson 
and Mr. Madison, declaring the congress to have ex- 
ceeded the powers delegated to it, fixed the attention of 
the whole nation ; and for this reason, that the declaration 
was supported by facts which had already occupied the 
public mind, and which proved the truth of the charge. 
" The Olive Branch ; or Faults on both Sides," the work 
of Mr. Carey, a respectable bookseller, and patriotic citi- 
zen in Philadelphia, is said to have produced the greatest 
sensation of any political treatise since the appearance of 
" Common Sense." Its ostensible object was to cement 
the two old parties, democratic and federal ; but its enu- 
meration of their mutual faults made out so much heavier 
a catalogue against the latter, as was little calculated to 
subdue it by kindness. The work rather assisted the de- 
struction of the malcontents by covering them with con- 
fusion 5 perhaps, too, by provoking them to acts of greater 
intemperance, and thus forcing them to work out their 
own ruin. However this may be, the ability and utility 
of " The Olive Branch" were acknowledged and felt by 
the nation : it ran through thirteen large editions with the 


speed of light, and was in the hands of every citizen of 
the republic. 

It would be impossible for a country to be more com- 
pletely deluged with newspapers than is this ; they are 
to be had not only in the English but in the French and 
Dutch languages, and some will probably soon appear in 
the Spanish. It is here not the amusement but the duty 
of every man to know what his public functionaries are 
doing : he has first to look after the conduct of the gene- 
ral government, and, secondly, after that of his own state 
legislature. But besides this, he must also know what is 
passing in all the different states of the Union : as the 
number of these states has now multiplied to twenty-two, 
besides others in embryo, there is abundance of home 
politics to swell the pages of a newspaper ; then come 
the politics of Europe, which, by-the-bye, are, I think, 
often better understood here than on your side of the At- 
lantic. Another, and a more interesting subject to Ame- 
ricans, is found in the affairs of their brethren of the 
south. Many generous citizens of this republic have 
embarked their lives and fortunes in a cause which bears 
so strong a parallel to that for which they or their fathers 
bled on their own soil. Several friendly missions have 
been despatched from this government to those of the 
southern republics, the account of which you will, I thinks 
read with much interest.* 

But, independent of politics, these multitudinous ga- 
zettes and journals are made to contain a wondrous mis- 
cellany of information ; there is not a conceivable topitf 

* The English reader will find a most able and interesting account of the 
Buenos Ayres republic in a work entitled Voyage to South America, performed 
by Order of the American Government, in the Years 1817 and 1818, in the 
Frigate Congress. By H. M. Brackenridge, Esq., Secretary to the Mission. 
A highly interesting account of the aiTairs of Mexico, will be found in the 
work of William Davis Robinson of Philadelphia, entitled Memoirs of the 
Mexican Revolution, including a Narrative of tht Expedition of General 
Xavier Minn. 



in the whole range of human knowledge that they do not 
treat of in some way or other ; not unfrequently, I must 
observe, with considerable ability, while the facts that 
they contain, and the general principles that they advocate, 
are often highly serviceable to the community. The par- 
ty rancour which occasionally defaces their columns, ap- 
pears, as I have said, to be more ludicrous than mischie- 
vous ; at any rate, it is clearly an evil which comes in the 
train of liberty, and which, for the sake of the good com- 
pany it keeps, the republic may well be content to. bear 

As you will have remarked in the congressional de- 
bates, this scurrility never finds its way into the senate. 
The language of the representatives of the nation, how- 
ever warm be the argument, is invariably decorous and 
gentlemanly. Even during the hottest period of that po- 
litical strife which agitated the nation and the senate du- 
ring the struggles of the democratic and federal parties, 
there is but one instance on record where the decorum of 
the house was openly violated. It was, to be sure, an 
outrageous exception : one member gave another the lie ; 
upon which he was felled by his adversary to the ground, 
and both were expelled. 

The tone assumed in the debates of congress has for 
many years been worthy of the Roman senate in its best 
days ; nor is the oratory and sound reasoning displayed in 
them less remarkable than the temper which is invariably 
preserved. I believe this moderation, so different from 
what is found in the English house of commons, may be 
explained by considering that here there are no^ regular 
majorities and minorities. It is a fair combat of opinions ; 
not principle standing opposed to power. As those who 
differ from each other to-day may be found in the same 
majority to-morrow, it' is seldom that personal animosity 
is mingled with political opposition ; the broad principles, 
too, of justice, and the rights of man, which are so etcr- 


nally appealed to in the hall of the representatives, are 
calculated to impart dignity to the national politics. The 
vessel of the state has to be navigated through the broad 
ocean of liberty, not through the tortuous canal of politi- 
cal expediency. The soul of the statesman expands over 
the vast prospect before him ; the generous principles 
which form his weapons of attack and defence dispose 
him to wage an honourable and chivalrous combat with 
his adversary ; he presses him home, indeed attacks him 
on all sides, and occasionally thunders down his blows 
with all the fever of impatient enthusiasm ; but he does 
not permit himself to seek any unfair advantage, by at- 
tempting to vilify his adversary, which could only injure 
his own cause, or mar the honour of his triumph. 

We may further observe, that personal invective is not 
likely to be tolerated in an assembly composed of men all 
equally proud and equally free. The political institutions 
doubtless give the key to this peculiarity, which so often 
excites the surprise of foreigners, accustomed in Europe 
to look for noise and confusion in the courts of liberty. 






New- York, March, 1820 

The education of youth, which may be said to form the 
basis of American government, is in every state of the 
Union made a national concern. Upon this subject, 
therefore, the observations that apply to one may be con- 
sidered as, more or less, applying to all. The portion of 
this wide spread community, that paid the earliest and 
most anxious attention to the instruction of its citizens, was 
New-England. This probably originated in the greater 
democracy of her colonial institutions. Liberty and know- 
ledge ever go hand in hand. 

If the national policy of some of the New-England 
states has been occasionally censurable, the internal ar- 
rangement of all amply redeems her character. There is 
not a more truly virtuous community in the world than 
that to be found in the democracies of the east. The 
beauty of their villages, the neatness and cleanliness of 
their houses, the simplicity of their manners, the sinceri- 
ty of their religion, despoiled in a great measure of its for- 
mer Calvinistic austerity, their domestic habits, pure 
morals and well administered laws, must command the 
admiration and respect of every stranger. I was forcibly 
struck in Connecticut with the appearance of the children, 
neatly dressed, with their sachels on their arms, and their 
faces blooming with health and cheerfulness, dropping 
their courtesy to the passenger as they trooped to school. 


The obeisance thus made is not. rendered to station but to 
age. Like the young Spartans, the youth are taught to 
salute respectfully their superiors in years ; and the artless- 
ness and modesty with which the intelligent young crea- 
tures reply to the stranger's queries, might give pleasure 
to Lycurgus himself. 

The state of Connecticut has appropriated a fund of a 
million and a half of dollars to the support of public 
schools. In Vermont, a certain portion of land has been 
laid off in every township, whose proceeds are devoted to 
the same purpose. In the other states, every township 
taxes itself to such amount as is necessary to defray 
the expense of schools, which teach reading, writing, and 
arithmetic, to the whole population. In larger towns, 
these schools teach geography and the rudiments of Latin. 
These establishments, supported at the common expense, 
are open to the whole youth, male and female, of the 
country. Other seminaries of a higher order are also 
maintained in the more populous districts ; half the ex- 
pense being discharged by appropriated funds, and the 
remainder by a small charge laid on the scholar. The 
instruction here given fits the youth for the state colleges ; 
of which there is one or more in every state. The uni- 
versity of Cambridge, in Massachusetts, is the oldest, and, 
I believe, the most distinguished establishment of the kind 
existing in the Union. 

Perhaps the number of colleges, founded in this wide- 
spread family of republics, may not, in general, be fa- 
vourable to the growth of distinguished universities. It 
best answers, however, the object intended, which is not 
to raise a few very learned citizens, but a well-informed 
and liberal-minded community. 

The number of universities in the United States now 
amounts to forty-eight. The most remarkable of these 
are, Harvard University, at Cambridge, near Boston, 
founded in the year 1698 5 Yale College, at New-Haven. 


Connecticut, founded in 1701. Nassau Hall, at Prince- 
ton, New-Jersey, founded in 1738; Columbia College, 
in the city of New -York, founded in 1754; Dartmouth 
College, in New-Hampshire, founded in 1 769 ; and Wil- 
liam and Mary College, in Virginia, founded in 1791. 
Many of the colleges of the Union are amply endowed 
by the legislatures of the states to which they belong. 
Those of the new states are munificently provided for by 
the laws of Congress, which devote extensive tracts of 
the national lands for their support. In Ohio, for instance, 
about the one thirty-sixth part of the whole territory of 
that rich state is granted for this purpose ; and so distri- 
buted as to produce the greatest effect. In some of the 
states more lately formed, as in that of Illinois, the dona- 
tions are still more liberal. Numerous and well- endowed 
as are the establishments for the education of youth in the 
Atlantic states, they will, in less than a century from 
this time, appear diminutive when compared with those 
of the west. I had occasion in a former letter to advert 
to the academy at West- Point, instituted for the purpose 
of diffusing correct military information throughout the 

It is unnecessary that I should enter into a particular 
detail of the internal regulations of all the different states 
relative to the national instruction. The child of every 
citizen, male or female, white or black, is entitled, by 
right, to a plain education ; and funds sufficient to defray 
the expense of his instruction are raised either from public 
lands appropriated to the purpose, or by taxes sometimes 
imposed by the legislature, and sometimes by the different 
townships. But, notwithstanding the universality of these 
regulations, it must sometimes happen, from the more 
scattered population in some districts, and in others from 
the occasional patches of a foreign population, that know- 
ledge is more unequally spread. The Germans of Penn- 
sylvania and the Dutch of New- York are, here and 


there, in full possession of the temple of ignorance ; and 
three or four generations have, in some cases, proved in- 
sufficient to root out their predilection for the leaden deity 
so long worshipped within its walls. German schools 
have, however, done much towards the overthrow of the 
idol ; and it may be anticipated, that even German obsti- 
nacy will at last be brought to exchange the Dutch al- 
phabet for that of the country. There is something inex- 
plicable in national character, eveiy where so distinctly 
marked. A dozen years, and the French of Louisiana 
are cementing themselves with their new fellow citizens, 
and rearing up their children, more or less, in the lan- 
guage of the nation ; while the Dutch of Communie-paw, 
on the shores of the New- York Bay, have taken a cen- 
tury to learn half a dozen English words, and to acquire 
the fifth part of a new idea. 

If we must seek the explanation of national manners 
in national institutions and early education, all the cha- 
racteristics of the American admit of an easy explana- 
tion. The foreigner is at first surprised to find in the or- 
dinary citizen that intelligence and those sentiments which 
he had been accustomed to seek in the writings of philo- 
sophers, and the conversation of the most enlightened. 
The better half of our education in the old world consists 
of unlearning : we have to unlearn when we come from 
the nursery, to unlearn again when we come from the 
school, and often to continue unlearning through life, and 
to quit the scene at last without having rid ourselves of 
half the false notions which had been implanted in our 
young minds. All this trouble is saved here. The im- 
pressions received in childhood are few and simple, as are 
all the elements of just knowledge. Whatever ideas may 
be acquired are learned from the page of truth, and em- 
brace principles often unknown to the most finished scho- 
lar of Europe. Nor is the manner in which education is 
here conducted without its influence in forming the cha- 


racter. I feel disposed at least to ascribe to it that mild 
friendliness of demeanour which distinguishes the Ame- 
rican. It is violence that begets violence, and gentle- 
ness, gentleness. I have frequently heard it stated by 
West-Indians, that a slave invariably makes the hardest 
slave-driver. In English schools it is well known that the 
worst used fag becomes, in his turn, the most cruel ty- 
rant ; and in a British ship of war it will often be found 
that the merciless disciplinarian has learned his harshness 
in the school of suffering. The American, in his infancy, 
manhood, or age, never feels the hand of oppression. 
Violence is positively forbidden in the schools, in the pri- 
sons, on shipboard, in the army ; — every where, in short, 
where authority is exercised, it must be exercised with- 
out appeal to the argument of a blow. 

Not long since a master was dismissed from a public 
school, in a neighbouring state, for having struck a boy. 
The little fellow was transformed in a moment from a 
culprit to an accuser. " Do you dare to strike me ? you 
are my teacher, but not my tyrant." The school-room 
made common cause in a moment : the fact was inquired 
into, and the master dismissed. No apology for the pu- 
nishment was sought in the nature of the offence which 
might have provoked it. As my informer observed, " it 
was thought, that the man who could not master his own 
passions was unfit to control the passions of others ; be- 
sides, that he had infringed the rules of the school, and 
forfeited the respect of his scholars." By this early ex- 
emption from arbitrary power, the boy acquires feelings 
and habits which abide with him through life. He feels 
his own importance as a human and a thinking being ; 
and learns to regard violence as equally degrading to him 
who exercises it, and to him who submits to it. You will 
perceive how the seeds of pride and gentleness are thus 
likely to spring up together in the same mind. In the 
proper union and tempering of these two qualities were 


perhaps, found the perfection of national as well as of 
individual character. 

In the education of women, New-England seems hi- 
therto to have been peculiarly liberal. The ladies of the 
eastern states are frequently possessed of the most solid 
acquirements, the modern and even the dead languages, 
and a wide scope of reading ; the consequence is, that 
their manners have the character of being more compo- 
sed than those of my gay young friends in this quarter. I 
have already stated, in one of my earlier letters, that the 
public attention is now every where turned to the im- 
provement of female education. In some states, colleges 
for girls are established under the eye of the legislature, 
in which are taught all those important branches of 
knowledge that your friend Dr. Rush conceived to be so 

In other countries it may seem of little consequence to 
inculcate upon the female mind "the principles of go- 
vernment, and the obligations of patriotism ;" but it was 
wisely foreseen by that venerable apostle of liberty, that 
in a country where a mother is charged with the forma- 
tion of an infant mind that is to be called in future to 
judge of the laws and support the liberties of a republic, 
the mother herself should well understand those laws, and 
estimate those liberties. Personal accomplishments and 
the more ornamental branches of knowledge should cer- 
tainly in America be made subordinate to solid informa- 
tion. This is perfectly the case with respect to the men ; 
as yet the women have been educated too much after the 
European manner. French, Italian, dancing, dm wing, 
engage the hours of the one sex, (and this but too com- 
monly in a lax and careless way,) while the more appro- 
priate studies of the other are philosophy, history, politi- 
cal economy, and the exact sciences ; it follows, conse- 
quently, that after the spirits of youth have somewhat 
subsided, the two sexes have less in common in their 


pursuits and turn of thinking than is desirable ; a woman of 
a powerful intellect will of course seize upon the new topics 
presented to her by the conversation of her husband. The 
less vigorous, or the more thoughtless mind, is not easily 
brought to forego trifling pursuits for those which occupy 
the stronger reason of its companion. 

I must remark, that in no particular is the liberal phi- 
losophy of the Americans more honourably evinced than 
in the place which is awarded to women. The prejudices 
still to be found in Europe, though now indeed somewhat 
antiquated, which would confine the female library to 
romances, poetry, and belles lettres, and female conver- 
sation to the last new publication, new bonnet, and pas 
seul, are entirely unknow r n here. The women are as- 
suming their place as thinking beings, not in despite of 
the men, but chiefly in consequence of their enlarged 
views and exertions as fathers and legislators. 

I may seem to be swerving a little from my subject ; 
but as I have adverted to the place accorded to women 
in one particular, I may as well now reply to your ques- 
tion regarding their general condition. It strikes me that 
it would be impossible for women to stand in higher esti- 
mation than they do here. The deference that is paid to 
them at all times and in all places has often occasioned 
me as much surprise as pleasure. 

In domestic life there is a tenderness on the part of the 
husband to his w r eaker helpmate, and this in all situations 
of life that I believe in no country is surpassed, and in 
few equalled. No cavaliere servente of a lady of fashion, 
no sighing lover, who has just penned a sonnet to his 
"mistress's eyebrow," ever rendered more delicate at- 
tentions to the idol of his fancy than I have seen rendered 
by an American farmer or mechanic, not to say gentle- 
man, to the companion of his life. The wife and daugh- 
ters of the labouring citizen are always found neatly 
dressed and occupied at home in household concerns : no 


field labour is ever imposed upon a woman ; and I believe 
that it would outrage the feelings of an American, what- 
ever be his station, should he see her engaged in any toil 
seemingly unsuited to her strength. In travelling, I have 
myself often met with a refinement of civility from men, 
whose exterior promised only the roughness of the me- 
chanic, or working farmer, that 1 should only have looked 
for from the polished gentleman. 

Perhaps the condition of women affords, in all countries, 
the best criterion by which to judge of the character of 
men. Where we find the weaker sex burdened with 
hard labour, we may ascribe to the stronger something of 
the savage ; and where we see the former deprived of free 
agency, we shall find in the latter much of the sensualist. 
i know not a circumstance which more clearly marks in 
England the retrograde movement of the national morals 
ihan the shackles now forged for the rising generation of 
women. Perhaps these are as yet more exclusively laid 
upon, what are termed, the highest class ; but I apprehend 
that thousands of our countrywomen in the middle ranks, 
whose mothers, or certainly whose grandmothers, could 
ride unattended from the Land's End to the border, and 
walk abroad alone, or with an unmarried friend of the 
other sex, armed with all the unsuspecting virtue of Eve 
before her fall; — I apprehend that the children and 
grandchildren of these nations are now condemned to 
walk in leading-strings from the cradle to the altar, if not 
to the grave, — taught to see in the other sex a race of 
seducers rather than protectors, and of masters rather than 
companions. Alas for the morals of a country when fe- 
male dignity is confounded with helplessness, and the 
guardianship of a woman's virtue transferred from herself 
to others ! If any should doubt the effect produced by the in- 
fringement of female liberty upon the female mind, let them 
consider the dress of the present generation of English 
women. This will sufficiently settle the question without 



a reference to the pages of the daily journals. Of the two 
extremes it is better to see a woman, as in Scotland, bent 
Over the glebe, mingling the sweat of her brow with that 
of her churlish husband or more churlish son, than to see 
her gradually sinking into the childish dependence of a 
Spanish donna. 

The liberty here enjoyed by the young women often 
occasions some surprise to foreigners ; who, contrasting 
it with the constraint imposed on the female youth of Pa- 
ris or London, are at a loss to reconcile the freedom of the 
national manners with the purity of the national morals : 
but confidence and innocence are twin sisters ; and should 
the x\merican women ever resign the guardianship of 
their own virtue, the lawyers of these democracies will 
probably find as good occupation in prosecuting suits for 
divorce as those of any of the monarchies of Europe.* 

I often lament, that in the rearing of women, so little 
attention should be commonly paid to the exercise of the 
bodily organs ; to invigorate the body is to invigorate the 
mind, and Heaven knows that the weaker sex have much 
cause to be rendered strong in both. In the happiest 
country then condition is sufficiently hard. Have they 
talents ? It is difficult to turn them to account. Ambi- 
tion ? The road to honourable distinction is shut against 
them. A vigorous intellect ? It is broken down by suf- 

* The law of divorce is one so little referred to in America that it never 
occurred to me to hear or inquire how it stood. In the state of Rhode- 
Island, however, there is a very singular regulation. As it was explained to 
me : — if a married couple shall give in to the civil magistrate a mutual de- 
claration, that they are desirous of separating, from (as the French would 
express it) incompatibilile, and shall then live entirely apart, but within the 
precincts of the state, for two full years, conducting themselves with proprie- 
ty during that period, they may obtain, upon application, a disannulment of 
the marriage contract. I was surprised to hear that few had ever sought the 
benefit of the act ; and that of those who had applied for it, some had broken 
the exacted stipulations before the expiration of the two years. Might it not 
tend to cement rather than weaken the marriage tie throughout the world, if 
eVery country had a Rhode-Island ? 


terings, bodily and mental. The lords of creation receive 
innumerable, incalculable advantage from the hand of 
nature ; and it must be admitted, that they every where 
take sufficient care to foster the advantages with which 
they are endowed. There is something so flattering to 
human vanity in the consciousness of superiority, that it is 
little surprising if men husband with jealousy that which 
nature has enabled them to usurp over the daughters of 
Eve. Love of power more frequently originates in vanity 
than pride, (two qualities, by the way, which are often 
confounded,) and is, consequently, yet more peculiarly 
the sin of little than of great minds. Now, an overwhelm- 
ing proportion of human minds appertain to the former 
class, and must be content to sooth their self-love by 
considering the weakness of others rather than their own 
strength. You will say, this is severe ; is it not true ? 
In what consists the greatness of a despot ? In his own 
intrinsic merits ? No ; in the degradation of the multi- 
tude who surround him. What feeds the vanity of a pa- 
trician ? The consciousness of any virtue that he inherits 
with his blood ? The list of his senseless progenitors would 
probably soon cease to command his respect if it did not 
enable him to command that of his fellow creatures. 
" But what," I hear you ask, " has this to do with the 
condition of women ? Do you mean to compare men col- 
lectively to the despot and the patrician ?" Why not ? 
The vanity of the despot and the patrician is fed by the 
folly of their fellow men, and so is that of their sex col- 
lectively soothed by the dependence of women : it pleases 
them better to find in their companion a fragile vine, cling- 
ing to their firm trunk for support ; than a vigorous tree 
with whose branches they may mingle theirs. I believe 
they sometimes repent of their choice when the vine has 
weighed the oak to the ground. It is difficult, in walking 
through the world, not to laugh at the consequences 
which, sooner or later, overtake men's follies; but when 


these are visited upon women I feel more disposed to sigh. 
Born to endure the worst afflictions of fortune, they are 
enervated in soul and body lest the storm should not visit 
them sufficiently rudely. Instead of essaying to counter- 
act the unequal law of nature, it seems the object of man 
to visit it upon his weaker helpmate more harshly ; it is 
well, however, that his folly recoils upon his own head ; 
and that the fate of the sexes is so entwined, that the dig- 
nity of the one must rise or fall with that of the other. 

In America much certainly is done to meliorate the 
condition of women ; and as their education shall become, 
more and more, the concern of the state, their character 
may aspire in each succeeding generation to a higher 
standard. The republic, I am persuaded, will be amply 
repaid for any trouble or expense that may be thus be- 
stowed. In her struggles for liberty, much of her virtue 
emanated from the wives and daughters of her senators 
and soldiers, and to preserve to her sons the energy of 
freemen and patriots, she must strengthen that energy in 
her daughters.* 

To invigorate the character, however, it is not sufficient 
to cultivate the mind. The body also must be trained to 
wholesome exercise, and the nerves braced to bear those 
extremes of climate which here threaten to enervate the 
more weakly frame. It is the union of bodily and men- 
tal vigour in the male population of America which im- 
parts to it that peculiar energy of character which in its 
first infancy drew forth so splendid a panegyric from the 
British orator : " What in the world is equal to it ?" ex- 
claimed Mr. Burke, " whilst we follow them (the colonists) 
among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them 
penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's 

* In the revolutionary war the enthusiasm of the women is acknowledged 
to have greatly assisted that of the men. In all successful struggles for li- 
berty I believe the same co-operation of the sexes will be found to fa 

ft ' «.- 


Bay and Davis' Streights, whilst we are looking for them 
beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced 
into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the 
antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the 
south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and 
romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is 
but a stage and resting place in the progress of their vic- 
torious industry ; nor is the equinoctial heat more dis- 
couraging to them than the accumulated winter of both 
the poles. We know that while some of them draw the 
line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others 
run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along 
the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their 
fisheries ; no climate that is not witness to their toils."*" 
Now, though it is by no means requisite that the Ame- 
rican women should emulate the men in the pursuit of the 
whale, the felling of the forest, or the shooting of wild 
turkeys, they might, with advantage, be taught in early 
youth to excel in the race, to hit a mark, to swim, and, in 
short, to use every exercise which could impart vigour to 
their frames and independence to their minds. But I 
have dwelt enough upon this subject, and you will, per- 
haps, apprehend that I am about to subjoin a Utopian 
plan of national education : no ; I leave this to the re- 
public herself; and, wishing all success to her endeavours, 
I bid you farewell. 

" Speech on conciliation with America. 




New-York, March, 1820. 

Yes, it is somewhat curious how travellers contradict 
each other. One says things are white, and another that 
they are black ; some write that the Americans have no 
religion, and others that they are a race of fanatics. One 
traveller tells us, that they are so immersed in the affairs 
of the republic as not to have a word to throw at a stran- 
ger, and another, that they never think about politics at 
all, and talk nonsense* eternally. * * * * may well 

* Compare Mr. Fearon and Lieutenant Hall upon this subject. It appears 
to me, however, that both are equally far from the truth. That the Ameri- 
cans never trouble themselves about the affairs of the nation, which is the 
assertion of the former, seems scarcely to merit refutation. That they are 
so immersed in them as to be " habitually serious and silent," surely found 
its way into the pages of the latter after an evening passed with some citizen, 
of whom nature had made an original. But if this observation, as applied to 
the men, appears strange, when applied to the women, it appears absolutely 
incomprehensible. I think this intelligent officer was looking at the Marquis 
d€ Chastellux, instead of the young women of New-York and Philadelphia* 
when he drew his portrait of them : — or, perhaps, it was that they mistook 
him far the Marquis. The licentious pen of the French nobleman knew how 
to traduce those who gave way to the innocent gayety of their hearts in his 
presence, as well as to ridicule those who had awed him by their reserve.* 
Perhaps the young women of America are now somewhat too suspicious of 
European cavaliers. I have often perceived that the entrance of a foreign 
traveller into a party has damped the hilarity of the evening. 

* See the travels of Bri?sot do WarvilV 


ask what he is to believe ; but he flatters me too much if 
he be willing to refer the matter to my decision. He may 
argue thus, however, for himself: if the Americans had 
no religion, it is to be presumed they would have no 
churches ; and if they were a race of fanatics, it is equally 
to be presumed that they would force people to go into 
them. We know that they have churches, and do not 
force people to go into them, nor force people to pay for 
them, and yet they are paid for, and filled. 

It is impossible to apply any general rule to so wide 
spread a community as this. Perhaps Selden's were the 
best : " Religion is like the fashion. One man wears his 
doublet slashed, another laced, another plain, but every 
man has a doublet. So every man has his religion. 
They differ about trimming." But we cannot subjoin 
another axiom of the same philosopher ; " Every religion 
is a getting religion." It gets nothing ; and so, whatever 
it be, it is sincere and harmless. 

Some contend that liberality is only indifference 5 per- 
haps, as a general rule, it may be so. Persecution un- 
doubtedly fans zeal, but such zeal as it is usually better 
to be without. I do not perceive any want of religion in 
America. There are sections of the country where some 
might think there is too much, at least that its temper 
is too stern and dogmatical. This has long been said of 
New-England, and, undoubtedly, the Puritan ancestry of 
her citizens is still discernible as well in the coldness of 
their manners, as in the rigidity of their creed. But it 
is wonderful how fast these distinctions are disappearing. 
An officer of the American Navy, a native of New-Eng- 
land, told me, that when a boy he had sooner dared to 
pick a neighbour's pocket on a Saturday, than to have 
smiled on a Sunday. " I have since travelled through 
all parts of the Union, and over a great part of the world, 
and have learned, consequently, that there are all ways 


of thinking ; and I find now that my fellow countrymen 
are learning the same." 

You will conceive how great is the change wrought in 
the religious temper of the Eastern States, when I men- 
tion, that the Unitarian faith has been latterly introduced, 
and, in some parts, has made such rapid progress as pro- 
mises, ere long, to supersede the doctrines of Calvin. 
There were, of course, some vehement pulpit fulmina- 
tions in Massachusetts when these mild teachers of mo- 
rals and simple Christianity first made their appearance. 
But, fortunately, Calvin could no longer burn Servetus, 
however much he might scold at him ; and, having scold- 
ed till he was tired, he laid down the " drum ecclesiastic," 
and left his gentle adversary to lead his flock to heaven 
after his own way. This affords, I believe, the only in- 
stance of war waged by American theologians since the 
days of the revolution. Polemics, indeed, is not a science, 
at all in fashion ; nor ever likely to be so. Where no law 
says what is orthodoxy, no man is entitled to say what is 
heresy ; or, if he should assume to himself the right, it is 
clear that he will only be laughed at. It required, how- 
ever, some years to satisfy the whole American communi- 
ty of this fact. Although few cared to contend for the 
doctrine of the Trinity with the vehemence of the Cal- 
vinists of Massachusetts, the Unitarians had still some 
prejudices to encounter in other parts of the Union. Phi- 
ladelphia, and even New- York, had their zealots as well 
as Boston. In the latter city, there were few, but per- 
haps more noisy on that very account. It is some years 
since, a Calvinistic preacher here exclaimed to the non- 
elect of his congregation, "Ha! ha! you think to gel. 
through the gates of heaven, by laying hold of my coat ; 
but I'll take care to hold up the skirts." Such an inti- 
mation, we may suppose, not much calculated to con- 
ciliate the vacillating heretics. The teacher who points 
the way to heaven through paths of peace, and by the 


candour and gentleness of his judgments, leads us to wor- 
ship with him a God of love and mercy, may easily draw 
into his fold the children of such a merciless fanatic. 

American religion, of whatever sect, (and it includes all 
the sects under heaven,) is of a quiet and unassuming cha- 
racter 5 no way disputatious, even when more doctrinal 
than the majority may think wise. I do not include the 
strolling methodists and shaking quakers, and sects with 
unutterable names and deranged imaginations, who are 
found in some odd corners of this wide world, beating 
time to the hymns of Mother Ann, and working out the 
millennium by abstaining from marriage.* 

The perfect cordiality of all the various religious fra- 
ternities might sometimes lead a stranger to consider their 
members as more indifferent to the faith they so quietly 
profess than they really are. There is undoubtedly a con- 
siderable body scattered through the community, who are 
attached to no establishment ; but as they never trouble 
their neighbours with their opinions, neither do their neigh- 
bours trouble them with theirs. The extent to which this 
liberality is carried, even by the most dogmatical of the 
churches, is now well evinced in New-England. In one 
or two of her theological colleges, the practice continued, 
till within some years, of inculcating one creed exclusive- 
ly under the protection of the legislature ; but the legisla- 
ture have now left teachers and students to themselves, 
and even Connecticut has finally done away the last 
shadow of the privileges of her congregationalists. It 
really does seem possible for fanaticism, or something very 
like it, and liberality to go together. It is not long since, 
in some of the New-England states, there was an edict in 

* The Shakers, as they are called, emigrated to America some forty years 
ago. Ann Lee, or Mother Ann, their spiritual leader, was a neice of the 
celebrated General Lee, who took so active a part in the war of the revolu- 
tion. She became deranged, as it is said, from family misfortunes ; fancied 
herself a second Virgin Mary, and found followers, as Joanna Southcote and 
Jemima Wilkinson did after her. 


322 religion* 

force, that no man should travel on a Sunday 5 and tire* 
while all men were eligible to the highest honours of the 
state, let them believe or disbelieve as little or as much as 
they might.* 

Alluding to this edict recalls to me the adventure of a 
Pennsylvania farmer, which, as it may elucidate the good 
humour with which this people yield to the whims of 
each other, I will repeat to you. 

The good farmer was bound on his way to Boston, 
and found himself within the precincts of Connecticut on 
a Sunday morning. Aware of the law of Calvin, but 
still being in haste to proceed, our traveller thought of 
shifting himself from the back of his steed into the mail 
which chanced to overtake him, and which, appertaining 
to the United States, was not under the law of Connecti- 
cut. The driver advised him to attach his steed to the 
back of the vehicle, thinking that when they should have 
passed through a certain town which lay before them, the 
honest farmer might remount in safety ; but, as ill luck 
would have it, the citizens were just stepping forth from 
their doors, on their way to church, when the graceless 
horse, with a saddle on his back, passed before them. 
Stopping at the inn, a citizen made up to the side of the 
vehicle, and civilly demanded if the horse was his ; and if 
he was aware that the sabbath was a day of rest, not on- 
ly by the law of God, but by the law of Connecticut. 
The Pennsylvanian as civilly replied, that the horse was 
his ; begged to return thanks in his name for the care 
shown to his ease and his morals ; and offered to surren- 
der the keeping of both until his return, to the individual 
who addressed him. " I will most willingly lodge the 

* The constitutions of two or three of the states require, that the chief offi- 
cers shall be Christians, or, at least, believe in a God ; but, as no religious 
test is enforced, the law is, in fact, a dead letter. By the constitution of every 
state in the Union, an affirmation is equal to an oath ; it is at the option of 
the asseverator either to invoke the name of God, or to affirm, under the 
pains and penalties of the law, in cases of breach of faith. 


horse in my stable, and his master in my house," return- 
ed the other ; u but the people will not see with pleasure 
the beast keeping the commandments, and the man 
breaking them." " Well, friend ; then beast and man 
shall keep them together. I will eat your dinner, and 
he shall eat your hay; and, to begin things properly, 
you shall show him to the stable, and his master to the 
church." The compact was funlled to the satisfaction of 
all parties ; the Pennsylvanian only allowing himself, 
through the day, gently to animadvert upon this abridg- 
ment of the liberties of the citizens of the United States, 
by the decree of the citizens of Connecticut, which might 
not al ways be as agreeable to them as, in this case, it was to 
him ; and departed the next morning, assuring his host that 
he should be happy to repay his hospitality to him or his 
friends, whenever either might choose to travel his way 
on a Sunday, or a Saturday, or any day of the seven. 

Some years afterwards, standing one Sunday morning 
at the gate of his own farm, in Pennsylvania, he percei- 
ved a man riding along the road, and driving before him 
a small flock of sheep. As^ he approached, our farmer 
recognized him for a neighbour of his ci-devant host in 
Connecticut. " Ah, friend ! that's an odd occupation you 
are following on a Sunday!" "True," replied the man 
of New-England, " and so I have chosen a by-road, that 
I may not offend the scrupulous." " Yes, friend ; but sup- 
posing you offend me ? and supposing, too, that the Penn- 
sylvania legislature should have passed a law which 
comes in force this day, that neither man nor beast shall 
travel on a Sunday ?" " Oh !" replied the other, " I have 
no intention to disobey your laws ; if that be the case, I 
will put up at the next town." " No, no ; you may just 
put up here. I will show your sheep to the stable, and, 
if you be willing, yourself to the church." This was 
done accordingly ; and the next morning the Pennsylva- 
nian, shaking hands with his Conned lent friend, begged 


him to inform his old acquaintance, when he should re- 
turn home, that the traveller and his horse had not for- 
gotten their sabbath-day's rest in his dwelling, and that, 
unbacked by a law of the legislature, they had equally 
enforced the law of God upon his neighbour and his neigh- 
bour's sheep. 

There is a curious spirit of opposition in the human 
mind. I see your papers full of anathemas against blas- 
phemous pamphlets. We have no such things here ; and 
why ? Because every man is free to write them ; and be- 
cause every man enjoys his ow T n opinion, without any ar- 
guing about the matter. Where religion never arms the 
hand of power, she is never obnoxious ; where she is 
seated modestly at the domestic hearth, whispering peace 
and immortal hope to infancy and age, she is always re- 
spected, even by those who may not themselves feel the 
force of her arguments. This is truly the case here ; and 
the world has my wish, and, I am sure, yours also, that it 
may be the case every where. 





New-Jersey, April, 1820. 

I am happy to have it in my power to reply to the ques- 
tion contained in the letter now before me, and this with- 
out any trouble, as I am so fortunate as to be intimately 
acquainted with some near relatives of the individual 
about whom you inquire. 

Colonel Huger is a native of South-Carolina, and the 
member of a family remarkable (so far at least as my 
acquaintance with it extends) for ardour of character and 
distinguished talents. He passed to London in his youth 
to complete his medical studies, and was thus engaged 
when the news reached him of the seizure and imprison- 
ment of General La Fayette, whom he had learned from 
his infancy to respect as the companion in arms of his fa- 
ther, and the champion of his country's liberties. He in- 
stantly conceived the project of devoting his time, and, if 
it should be necessary, his life, to effect the rescue of the 
illustrious captive. Having digested his scheme, and 
finding that a coadjutor would be necessary, he took into 
his confidence a young German, a companion of his stu- 
dies, and embarked with him for Holland. The story of 
the attempted rescue, as commonly told, is pretty accu- 
rate j the best that I remember to have seen, was in a num- 

i ft 


ber of the Annual Register. I suppose you are acquainted 
with the incidents which defeated the scheme, and gave 
back the rescued La Fayette to his prison, and made his 
generous deliverer also an inhabitant of the gloomy dun- 
geons of Olmutz. The sufferings of the young American, 
after the failure of the attempt, were cruelly severe ; 
alone, in a dank and stony cell, apprehensive for the safety, 
even for the life of La Fayette, uncertain as to the fate of 
his friend ; now cursing his own rashness, which had per- 
haps doubled the sufferings of him he came to rescue, and 
now the untoward chances which had defeated his attempt 
when so near success ; — this fever of the spirit soon fell 
on the blood, and, for three weeks, delirium rendered him 
insensible to the horrors of his dungeon. Without assist- 
ance of any kind that he can recollect, how the fever left 
him, he knows not ; the damps and confinement ill for- 
warded the recovery of his strength ; stretched on the 
stones, he sought to divert his mind by laying plans for his 
future life, if his prison-doors should ever be opened, but 
for his corpse. What is singular, he has followed out the 
mode of life he then amused himself with scheming. 

The first human sound that reached him was the cry of 
a child (for the keeper who supplied him with bread and 
water, made neither query nor reply.) " A child ! then 
there must be a woman, and where there is a woman, 
there may be compassion." So saying, he crawled to- 
wards the wall, at the top of which was the grate that 
admitted light, air, and all the inclemencies of the seasons; 
often he listened, watched, and called, till at last a wo- 
man's face* was stooped towards the grate; he tried 
French, which fortunately she could reply to. " You are 
a mother ;" such was the manner of his address, to re- 
move her scruples ; "I have a mother, for her sake have 
pity on her son !" After a good deal of pathetic entreaty, 
she promised to bring him back an answer to his inquiries, 
and to procure for him a German grammar. He learned 


that his friend was in a dungeon in the same fortress, and 
that La Fayette was in tolerable health, but in stricter 
confinement than ever. The grammar was squeezed 
through the bars, another book was afterwards procured, 
and thus he acquired a tolerable knowledge of German. 
After some time, he told his visiter, that his grammar had 
afforded him so much amusement, that if she could disco- 
ver the grate of his friend's prison, he wished she would 
covey it to him. Having in vain tried to make intelligible 
marks upon the paper, he made some with a piece of 
mortar, scraped from the wall, upon a black silk handker- 
chief that he took from his neck, and in which he folded 
the grammar; this, with a good deal of trouble, was 
squeezed again through the bars, and in a few days was 
returned, some words of English in reply having been 
scraped by his friend upon the cover, satisfying Huger as 
to his health. The grammar was his only amusement 
through the remaining months of his imprisonment, which 
were in all eight. The representations of Washington 
procured his release, after a trial where he pleaded his 
own cause in French : it was short, and simply, but elo- 
quently stated, that he and his friend had no accomplices, 
and no motives but those supplied by their own enthusi- 
asm ; that he had not sought to rescue a state-prisoner, 
but the friend of his father, of his country, and of mankind; 
to procure whose release, he would then willingly return 
to his dungeon, and to save whose life, he would joyfully 
give his own. Having concluded, the judge (whose 
German title I forget,) ordered him to leave the place 
within so many hours, and to be out of Germany within 
so many days; and, then, leaving his seat, and approach- 
ing him, he said, " Young man, you are chargeable with 
singular rashness, but I tell you, that, had I to search the 
world for a friend, from what I have heard this day, I 
would seek him in America." 

I may mention that the young prisoner came from his 


dungeon almost entirely bald, and that though the strength" 
of his constitution soon removed all the other effects of his 
unwholesome confinement, he never recovered his hair ; 
this, contrasted with the youth and animation of his coun- 
tenance, gave him for many years a very singular appear- 
ance. Returning to his country, misfortune seemed to 
follow him ; entering the house of his brother, a bow-win- 
dow from the upper story fell on his head ; for thirteen 
days he lay insensible, attended by his brother with ago- 
nized affection. What struck me as a fine instance of 
greatness of mind, when the surgeon, perceiving the skull 
to be injured, proposed trepanning, which he thought 
might save life, though without the hope of preserving the 
reason. " No," said his brother, " never shall he live to 
be so different from what he was. I know his soul, and 
choose for him in preferring death." He repaid his cares, 
however, by a perfect recovery, when his brother, who 
was possesed of a large property, entreated him to share 
his fortune ; this, however, he strenuously refused, and 
settled in Charleston as a physician. Some time after- 
wards, he became attached to a young woman of a re- 
spectable family in that city. Though rising into emi- 
nence in his profession, his income was as yet small, and 
she had nothing. In this state of things, he determined 
not to venture on marriage, until his increasing practice 
should enable him to support a family. These circum- 
stances coming to the knowledge of his brother, he in- 
stantly bestowed a fortune on the young woman ; and an 
obligation, thus delicately conferred, could not be objected 
to by her lover. They married, and Colonel Huger then 
determined to carry into effect the dreams which had 
amused his prison. He took his wife to a farm beyond 
the mountains, where he settled, and was soon the father 
of a fine boy. The child, when two years old, sickened, 
and his knowledge of physic satisfied him that he could 
not recover-, he reasoned like a philosopher with the 


doating mother, prepared her by degrees for her loss, re- 
presented the duty she owed to him, which should 
strengthen her to struggle with her grief, and submit to an 
irremediable evil. She listened, and had sufficient strength 
of mind to feel the weight of his words. She herself wrote 
the news of her loss to her father. " My husband has 
exhorted me to bear it as became your daughter and his 
wife, and he has imparted strength to me to do so ; but, 
oh ! what calamity is there for which his affection ought not 
to console me !" They were afterwards more fortunate pa- 
rents. Colonel Huger has been the tutor of his children, 
who obey his words as the young Spartans those of Ly- 
curgus. Trained to hardiness and independence, inspired 
by their father with sentiments of patriotism, and clad in 
garments woven by their own domestics, they exhibit, in 
their manners and character, that simplicity and ardour 
which form the true characteristics of the sons and daugh- 
ters of a republic. Nor is it only when excited by feel- 
ings of peculiar enthusiasm, or when called upon to per- 
form the duties of a husband, a father, and a citizen, that 
this distinguished individual has evinced the beauty of his 
character. He had an only sister, who, some years after 
his marriage, fell into a pitiable state of health ; change 
of air and travelling were recommended as the last reme- 
dies : his brother found it impossible to move at the time, 
and there was no other friend or relative on whom could 
be devolved the care of the invalid. Colonel Huger left 
his farm, came to Charleston, deposited his wife and in- 
fant children with his father-in-law, became the travelling 
companion and physician of his sister, and nearly a year 
after brought her back in a state of recovery, joined his 
family, and returned to his estate. 

During the war, when a descent of the enemy was ex- 
pected on some of the great cities of the south, and then 
on Savannah rather than New-Orleans, Colonel Huger 
repaired to the former. Assembling his children around 



him in the presence of their mother, he explained the duty 

which called him from them. " My country and your 

country calls me to its defence. I go with a willing heart, 

commending you and your mother to it and to heaven. 

Let me see that you, on your side, yield your father with 

willing hearts. Now embrace me, all of you, without a 

tear." He mounted his horse, and not a murmur was 

heard ; even the youngest tried to smile as their beloved 

parent rode away ; another proudly brushed the tear from 

his eye, and wished that he was old enough to defend his 

country. Are you not with the old Romans ? 


The winter has now finally disappeared, though indeed 
we had pronounced the same in March ; and the grass 
and I were lifting up our heads together, for we seem to 
be pretty equally dependant on the warm sun^when the 
demon of frost threw his iron sleets into the lap of spring, 
or I should rather write summer, for nature here steps at 
once from the " formless wild" to 

" Brightening fields of ether, fair disclos'd." 

This is a climate of extremes ; you are here always in 
heat or frost. The former you know I never object to, 
and as I equally dislike the latter, I should perhaps be 
an unfair reporter of both. The summer is glorious ; the re- 
splendent sun "shining on," for days and weeks successive- 
ly ; an air so pure, so light, and to me so genial, that I wake 
as it were to a new existence. I have seen those around 
me, however, often drooping beneath fervours which have 
given me life. By the month of August, the pale cheeks 
and slow movements of the American women, and even 
occasionally of the men. seem to demand the invigorating 
breezes of the Siberian winter to brace the nerves and 
quicken the current of the blood. The severe cold which 
succeeds to this extreme of heat, appears to have this 


effect, and seldom to produce, excepting upon such as 
may be affected with constitutional weakness of the lungs, 
any effect that is not decidedly beneficial. Most people 
will pronounce the autumn to be the pride of the Ameri- 
can year. It is indeed fraught with beauty to all the 
senses ; the brilliant hues then assumed by nature, from 
the dwarf sumac with his berries and leaves of vivid crim- 
son, up to the towering trees of the forest, twisting their 
branches in extreme and whimsical contrasts of gold, red, 
green, orange, russet, through all their varieties of shade ; 
the orchards too, then laden with treasures, and the fields 
heavy with the ripened maize ; the skies bright with all 
the summer's splendour, yet tempered with refreshing 
breezes ; the sun sinking to rest in (yimsons whose depth 
and warmth of hue the painter w$ruld not dare to imitate. 
This glorious season is, however, not the most wholesome, 
especially in the uncleared districts, as you know from my 
last year's letters. 

The winter ; — those whom it likes, may like it. The 
season has its beauty and its pleasures. Sparkling skies 
shining down upon sparkling snows, over which the light 
sleighs, peopled with the young and the gay, bound along 
to the chime of bells which the horses seem to bear well 
pleased. In country and city, this is the time of amuse- 
ment ; the young people will run twenty miles, through 
the biting air, to the house of a friend ; where all in a mo- 
ment is set astir ; carpets up, music playing, and youths 
and maidens, laughing and mingling in the mazy dance, 
the happiest creatures beneath the moon. Is it the bright 
climate, or the liberty that reigns every where, or is it the 
absence of poverty and the equal absence of extreme 
wealth, or is it all these things together that make this 
people so cheerful and gay hearted ? Whatever be the 
cause, ill befall the callous heart that could see their hap- 
piness without sympathy, though it should be unable to 
share it I 


The spring; — there is properly no spring-, there is a 
short struggle between winter and summer ; who some- 
times fight for the mastery with a good deal of obstinacy. 
We have lately seen a fierce combat between these two 
great sovereigns of the year. In the latter days of March, 
summer suddenly alighted on the snows in the full flush 
of July heat ; every window and door were flung open to 
welcome the stranger, and the trees were just bursting 
into leaf, when angry winter returned to the field, and 
poured down one of the most singular showers of sleet I 
ever witnessed. The water, freezing as it fell, cased 
every branch and twig in chrystal of an inch thick, so 
transparent that each bud appeared distinctly through it ; 
in some places, large trees gave way beneath the unusual 
burden, their heads absolutely touching the ground, until 
their trunks snapped in twain. Fortunately, there was 
no wind, or the devastation would have been dreadful ; 
it has been cruel enough as it is, boughs and branches 
every where strewing the ground, and stems shattered as 
if by lightning. 

I am not sure if, even in our island, the spring does not 
appear to more advantage in description than in reality. 
There are, indeed, some lovely days in England, when 
the lark carols, unseen, at the gates of heaven, and prim- 
roses and cowslips are just bursting out of the green- 
sward ; the April sun peeping sweetly forth from a flying 
cloud ; the earth and heaven all breathing freshness, and 
fragrance, and mild vernal airs. The beautiful valleys of 
Devonshire see many such days ; but the island generally 
sees but few, or at least there are so many fogs and biting 
winds which intervene betwixt them, that I for one, have 
always been w T ell pleased when 

" the turning spring 
Averts her blushful face. 


The close of the winter, for one may not term it the spring, 
is here decidedly the least agreeable season of the year. 
Siberian winds to-day, and Indian heats to-morrow, and 
then driving sleet the next day, and so on, from heat to 
cold, and cold to heat, until the last finally prevails, and 
all nature bursts into sudden life, as by the spell of a ma- 
gician. The first flush of the summer is truly delightful ; 
the instantaneous spring of vegetation, the multitude of 
blossoms, clothing orchard and forest, and the chirp and 
song of birds, all breaking forth at once, have an unspeak- 
ably cheering effect. The birds here are less numerous 
than in our island, but will, of course, multiply as cultiva- 
tion encroaches more and more on the forest. I do not 
think there is any songster that may compare with our 
lark, whose note breathes more of the upper spheres than 
any of earth's creatures. With this exception, the note 
of the American songsters may, I think, vie with ours. 
The Virginia nightingale, his feathers all crimson with fine 
black marks on his head, has a singularly melodious song ; 
the robin is more like our thrush, both as to size and note, 
and even colour, except that he has a red breast, from 
which, and perhaps also from his familiar habits, it is pro- 
bable that he obtained his name ; the mocking bird, who, 
besides imitating all others, bad, good, and indifferent, has 
a powerful and exquisite note of his own ; the blue bird, 
the red-headed woodpecker, a small yellow bird resem- 
bling the canary, are the others that occur to me as the 
most frequent. The humming bird, that fairy creature, 
half butterfly, half bird, does not make his appearance 
until midsummer. 

The observations that I can make upon the climate ap- 
ply of course but to a small portion of this vast world, 
which comprises all the climates of the earth ; with the 
exception perhaps of one — the gloomy. The Atlantic 
border of New-England is indeed liable, in the spring 
months, to fogs blown from off the Newfoundland bank ;. 


but these temporary visiters do not despoil the atmosphere 
of the general character of brilliancy which, summer and 
winter, it may be said more or less to possess from Maine 
to Missouri. The vividness of the light, which is at first 
painful to English, and even European eyes of whatever 
country, I could imagine had wrought an effect on the na- 
tional physiognomy. The Americans in general are re- 
markable for even brows, much projected over the eyes, 
which, small and piercing, usually glance from beneath 
them with singular intelligence and quickness of observa- 
tion. The climate of this continent, except where in- 
fluenced by local causes, seems to be peculiarly healthy, 
and highly favourable to the growth of the human figure ; 
other circumstances doubtless assist its effect ; a popula- 
tion free from poverty, and in consequence comparatively 
of vice, might perhaps attain to nature's full standard in 
an atmosphere less pure. The diseases of the country 
appear to be few and violent ; fevers, and other inflam- 
matory disorders, common during the first autumnal 
months ; the temperate habits of the people, however, pre- 
serve them in a great measure from these attacks, or mo- 
derate their violence. I imagine there are more instances 
of extraordinary longevity in these states, than you could 
find in any part of Europe. 

The Western States seem destined to be the paradise 
of America. The beauty of their climate is probably 
unrivalled, unless it be by that of some of the elevated 
plains of the southern continent. The influence of the 
mild breezes from the Mexican gulf, which blow with 
the steadiness of a trade wind up the great valley of the 
Mississippi, is felt even to the southern shore of lake Erie ; 
and affects the climate of some of the northwestern coun- 
ties of New- York. The explanation given by Volney 
of this phenomenon, is, in the highest degree, ingenious, 
and more than plausible, as it seems to be confirmed by 


the subsequent observations of other philosophers, and to 
be borne out by every fact that has been adduced.* 

Have I written enough about wind and weather ? For- 
give me for handling so dull a subject, and this too so su- 
perficially. The American climate has so many pecu- 
liarities, that to trace them to their causes, would afford a 
curious and interesting subject ; for this, however, I am 
totally inadequate. 

I send you a very careless reply to your last letter. A 
few week's patience, my dear friend, and I will answer 
your questions, to the best of my power at least, in per- 
son. Receive it as no small proof of anxious affection, 
that we lay aside all thoughts of crossing the Alleghanies ; 
and that, closing, for the present, our American travels 
with a visit to Washington, we shall embark in May for 
England. Does this look like return ; and do you now 
believe, that we shall keep good faith with you ? Fare- 

* The facts adduced by Volney, tend to demonstrate u that the southwest 
wind of the United States is nothing but the trade wind of the tropics turned 
out of its direction and modified, and that consequently the air of the west- 
ern country is the same as that of the gulf of Mexico, and previously of the 
West Indies, conveyed to Kentucky. From this datum, flows a simple and 
natural solution of the problem, which at first must have appeared perplex- 
ing, why the temperature of the western country is hotter by three degrees 
of latitude than that of the Atlantic coast, though only separated from it by 
the Alleghany mountains." — Volney's View of the Climate and Soil of the 
United Stales of America. If the southwest wind tempers, in the western 
country, the cold of the winter, it also tempers the heat of the summer. 
This does not seem to be clearly admitted by Volney ; but I have never ques- 
tioned any individual, familiar with the western territory, who did not con- 
cur in the statement. 










Philadelphia, April, 1820. 

Thus far on our way to Washington, having just left 
the Trenton steamboat for one bound to Baltimore, and 
now lying at the wharf at the foot of Market-street, sur- 
rounded by sloops and boats, filled with shad, a fine fish 
between our salmon and mackerel, just come into season, 
and which are now selling for a cent a piece. 

How strangely quiet is this Quaker city ! I am writing 
in this cabin scarce disturbed by a sound, except the tread 
of two men on the deck ; and yet the great market of the 
city, and the largest, perhaps, of any city in the states, is 
now holding not two hundred yards distant from this spot. 
We took a turn through it just now, and surely never was 
a crowd so orderly and quiet ! I know not if the fishwomen 
be all Quakers, but they certainly are few of them Billings- 


gates. And here I will observe what has struck me, not in 
Philadelphia only, over which the peaceable spirit of Penn 
may be supposed to hover, but in all the towns and cities 
of these republics that I have chanced to visit, — the or- 
derly behaviour of the citizens. You not only see no 
riots in the streets, but no brawls ; — none of that wran- 
gling, enforced by oath and fist, which some might hold 
as proofs of brutish ignorance, though a Windham might 
see in them the tongue and soul of valour. The absence 
of noise does not argue the absence of activity, any more 
than the absence of inhumanity argues that of courage. 
Jf any man doubt either position, let him visit these re- 
publics, and consider the character and habits of this peo- 
ple, together with their short, but interesting history. 

I observed in the carts and wagons standing in and 
around the market-place, the same well-fed, well-rubbed, 
healthy looking horses, that have so often attracted my 
attention throughout this country. Truly, I do not re- 
member to have seen a starved horse since I landed. The 
animals seem to share the influence of wholesome laws 
with their masters ; their influence reaching them through 
that which they exert more immediately upon the charac- 
ter, as well as the circumstances, of the proud lords of the 
creation. I say character as well as circumstances ; for 
though, when a man feeds his horse well, it may only 
argue, that he has wherewithal to procure provender ; 
when he uses him gently, and guides him with the voice 
instead of the whip, it shows that he has good sense or hu- 
manity ; good sense, if he consider his own ease, and hu- 
manity, if he consider that of the animal. It is a pretty 
thing to see a horse broke in this country ; it is done en- 
tirely by gentleness. A skilful rider, after much previous 
coaxing and leading, mounts the wild creature without 
whip or spur, and soothes him with the hand and the 
voice, or allows him to spend himself in the race, and 
brings him at last to obey the check of the rein, or the 



note of the voice, with the readiness of the steed of a Be- 
douin. The lesson, thus learned, is never forgotten; a 
word or a whistle sets the horse to his full speed, whether 
in the carriage, the dearborn, or the stage. In travelling, 
I remember but once to have seen a driver who ever did 
more than crack his whip in the air. This exception too 
was a European. 

jj- * * * * 7 S f r j enc ] s d finally determine upon passing 
to this country, let them by all means be advised against 
bringing servants with them. Foreign servants are here, 
without doubt, the worst ; they neither understand the 
work which the climate renders necessary, nor are willing 
to do the work which they did elsewhere. A few weeks 
— nay, not unfrequently, a few days, and they either be- 
come a useless charge to their employers, or, by making 
inordinate demands, and assuming airs of ridiculous im- 
portance, force their employers to dismiss them. You 
will easily conceive, how an uneducated mind is likely to 
misconstrue the nature of that equality which a democra- 
cy imparts to all men. Those bred up under it, can per- 
ceive and acknowledge the distinctions which education 
and condition place between the gentleman and the la- 
bourer ; but those just released from the aristocracies of 
Europe, finding themselves in a country where all men 
are placed, by the laws, on an exact level, conceive, natu- 
rally enough, that they are transformed from the servants 
of their employer into his companions ; and at one and the 
same moment lay aside obsequiousness, and array them- 
selves in insolence. I am not, however, prepared to say. 
that the complaints which I have heard from my country- 
men and countrywomen have been altogether just. It is 
probable, that in these household-quarrels, there are often 
faults on both sides ; the master and mistress preserving a 
tone which might be tolerated in Europe, but which their 
squires and handmaidens have here learned to resent ; 
and the servants, on the other hand, being too prone to 


exaggerate the offence offered, or too eager to seize the 
opportunity of paying off old scores, by returning imperti- 
nence in kind. If* * * *'s friends are quite sure of the 
dispositions of their domestics, and quite sure of their own, 
they may, perhaps, bring over their houshold with them 
without much hazard. I believe the plan seldom an- 
swers ; but there are exceptions to all rules. One thing 
they must come prepared for. The day after their arri- 
val, they will be styled Mr. and Mrs. * * * *. If they 
take no notice of this, things may go on smoothly, but if 
they ask why the epithets master and mistress are dropped, 
ten to one but they will receive for answer, that there are 
no masters and no servants in America ; that this is a free 
country : that all men are equal, &c. &c. ; the whole 
concluding with a toss of the head, and a sudden whisk 
out of the room. I have witnessed several amusing scenes 
of this description ; and some of my American friends 
have witnessed many more. 

The * * * * * 's are perhaps curious to know what 
servants they will find here. In the first place, they will 
find in the Atlantic cities, where servants must generally 
be sought, many Irish, and some British. These are, for 
the most part, stragglers from the crowd of emigrants 
poured into the St. Lawrence ; with some exceptions, the 
former are poor, dirty, and ignorant ; the latter discon- 
tented and insolent ; these, however, after a year or two, 
will sometimes recover their good humour and good man- 
ners, and become civil, though never again servile do- 
mestics. There is something about the Irishman, that 
every where seems to attract sympathy. Notwithstand- 
ing his thoughtless improvidence, his simplicity and warm- 
heartedness make him friends, even among this indus- 
trious nation. The many distinguished Irish characters 
settled in these states, of course interest themselves more 
peculiarly in the condition of their poor countrymen. 
The Hibernian societies of New- York and Philaclel- 


phia provide some with work, and support others ; these 
emigrants some times make tolerable journeymen and 
out-door labourers, but usually very indifferent household 

On the Atlantic border, to which, in the Northern 
States, the black population is chiefly confined, negroes 
are much employed in domestic service. Their faults are 
indolence, and an occasional tendency to intemperance 
and petty dishonesty. Those who employ negroes gene- 
rally find it better to employ them exclusively. The na- 
tive American, when he can be obtained, makes a va- 
luable domestic. Household service, as I have observed 
in a former letter, is not an employment that the citizens 
are fond of; but the very qualities which disincline them 
from it, make them the more trusty when engaged in it. 
The foreigner, however, must be careful not to rub their 
pride. No American will receive an insulting word. A 
common mode of resenting an imperious order, is to quit 
the house without waiting or even asking for a reckoning. 
The sensitiveness of the American pride is sometimes not 
a little curious and amusing. Some months since, we 
were surprised in New-York by a visit from a woman 
who had been our domestic the year before. We had 
parted with her, having no farther occasion for her service, 
and had seen her provided with another place before we 
left the city. It was not without pleasure, that I recog- 
nized our old acquaintance, as she entered neatly dressed, 
with a smiling countenance, which seemed also full of 
meaning. After some prefatory salutations, I began to 
inquire into her history since we parted. How had she 
liked her new situation ? " They were foreigners, Madam, 
that I went to after leaving you." " Well, Mary." — 
'* They had some strange ways, Madam." " The short 
is, Mary, that you did not like them." " Why no, Ma- 
dam. I left them the next morning." " That was some- 
what hasty.— They must have used you very ill." " They 


doubted my honesty," and she drew her head somewhat 
higher as she spoke. " Indeed !" " Yes ; the lady her- 
self locked away the plate, and even the silver spoons." 
I believe I smiled as I asked, " Was that all, Mary ?" 
" All !" A slight flush crossed her face, as she repeated 
the word ; then, hesitating a moment, she added in a 
quiet tone, " I am afraid you think I behaved oddly ; but 
I was not used to the sort of thing. The lady told me 
it was her practice. Why then, Madam," said I, " I think 
we are not assorted, I could not stay in a house where a 
doubt seemed to be cast upon my honesty ; and so I believe 
we had better part now." " And you did part ?" " Yes, 
Madam, I went away directly." I was glad to learn 
that the pride of the honest creature was never likely to 
be tried again. After a few circumlocutions and awk- 
ward looks, she told me that she was married to a kind 
husband and an industrious man. 

You will perceive, that a character of this description 
requires some management. Indeed the same may be 
said of servants in this country generally. A master or 
mistress of an imperious temper will be served veiy ill. 
It is a chance, indeed, if they will be served at all, and 
certainly by none but the most worthless, either of the 
blacks or of the poorest foreign emigrants, who may think 
it worth while to make a compromise between their pride 
and their cupidity, and who will probably revenge affronts 
by picking their masters' pockets. There is one mistake 
which foreigners are very apt to fall into ; that the blacks 
constitute a second etat ; possessing fewer privileges, and, 
consequently, less pride than the white community ; and 
who may, therefore, be treated de haut en bas with impu- 
nity. It is not occasionally without feelings of high re- 
sentment, that Europeans are made sensible of their error; 
and that they find the privileges of an American negro 
often surpassing theirs in their own country, and his pride 
equalling theirs in its most towering mood. This, indeed, 


is not a country for the imperious or the vain ; the man 
who can respect the pride of a fellow creature, in what- 
ever condition of life fortune may have thrown him, and 
who does not feel his consequence to depend upon the 
cap-in-hand service of inferiors, but rather finds his own 
dignity, as one of the human species, raised by the 

dignity assumed by others ; such a man may live here 
easily and comfortably, well attended, well esteemed, and 
civilly treated. 

There is another race of servants who are highly useful 
to the farmer and country gentleman ; these are the poor 
German and Swiss peasants, thrown into this country 
from Holland, chiefly by the port of Philadelphia. Penn- 
sylvania has been in great part peopled from Germany ; 
perhaps one third of the population are of German de- 
scent ; it is natural, therefore, that the stream of emigration 
from the banks of the Rhine should continue to pour into 
the same quarter. The regulations under which mer- 
chant vessels are placed in New-York, seem, indeed, to 
shut that port against it. Every captain who there lands 
a foreigner, is held responsible that he or she shall not be 
thrown as a charge upon the commonwealth. Should he 
be found in the character of a vagrant within the date of 
three years after his arrival, the captain who has landed 
him, becomes chargeable with his sustenance, and must 
pay a high fine to the state, to be appropriated to that 

The more wealthy Germans, and other philanthropic 
citizens of this state (Pennsylvania,) in keeping the port 
of Philadelphia open to the suffering poor of the European 
continent, have exerted themselves to place the trade (for 
their exportation is absolutely made a subject of trade in 
Holland) under such regulations as shall save this com- 
munity from an inundation of paupers, and the poor emi- 
grants themselves from breach of faith in the traders to 
whom they entrust their lives and liberties. The ships 


chiefly employed in this trade are Dutch, but the depress- 
ed state of commerce has thrown into it vessels of other 
nations, British, American, and others, from the ports of 
the Baltic. It was, of course, found somewhat difficult 
to bring foreign ships under the jurisdiction of the state 
laws. The first regulations were, in some cases, so 
shamefully evaded, that the national government took the 
subject under consideration, and passed a law which ex- 
tended to every port in the Union, and has been found 
thoroughly effective; at present, therefore, the trade is 
placed under the jurisdiction of the American congress, 
while the Pennsylvania legislature appoint officers to see 
that the contracts between the emigrants and the ship 
captains are faithfully fulfilled. A ship, of whatever na- 
tion, arriving in port peopled beyond a rate prescribed by 
law, is forfeited to the national government. The captain 
of every ship is bound to support his emigrants, or redemp- 
tioners, as they are styled, for one month after the date of 
their arrival in port ; after which he may add the charge 
of their support, as determined by law, to the debt of their 
passage. This debt, which is contracted in Holland, is 
paid according to the means of the emigrant. If he has 
money to defray his passage, and that of his family, he 
devotes it to this purpose ; but this is rarely the case ; 
sometimes he pays half or a third of the debt, and becomes 
bound to the captain for a term of service equivalent to 
the remainder, who is empowered to sell this indenture- 
ship to a resident citizen in Pennsylvania ; more frequent- 
ly he discharges the whole of the debt by the surrender of 
his liberty. Upon his arrival here, however, the laws 
effectually screen him from the results which might ac- 
crue from his own ignorance or rashness ; he, or rather 
the captain for him, cannot, under any circumstances, in- 
dent his person for a term longer than four years, nor can 
he be taken without his consent beyond the limits of 
the state of Pennsylvania. An officer is appointed and 


salaried by the Pennsylvania government, who inspects 
the redemptioners on their arrival, and witnesses and re- 
ports the agreement made between the captain and those 
who purchase their service. The purchasers must take 
the whole family, man, wife, and children, unless the re- 
demptioners themselves shall agree to the contrary ; the 
masters being also bound by the law to provide the chil- 
dren with schooling and clothing. There are some mi- 
nor regulations with which I am not accurately acquaint- 
ed. This service, you will perceive, is liable to be not a 
little expensive to the employers. Jt is attended, how- 
ever, with fewer risks than might be expected ; the 
Swiss and German peasants being, for the most part, sim- 
ple, honest, and industrious, and excellent servants in the 
farm and the dairy. This mode of indenture is so ser- 
viceable to these emigrants, that those who may have been 
able to defray their passage in money, usually bind them- 
selves to some American family for a couple of years, 
where they may be initiated in the language and habits 
of their new country. I have met with instances of this 
kind in Pennsylvania, and even in New- York and Jersey, 
into which states the emigrants had consented to pass. 
After the expiration of the term, the redemptioners .are 
often retained by their masters upon wages ; when, if 
they are frugal and ambitious, they may, in the course of 
time, la) 7 up sufficient to purchase a few acres, and enter 
on their own farm. 

It certainly cannot be expected that the American na- 
tion will submit to have their country turned into a lazar- 
house for the suffering poor of Europe, who, with poverty, 
but too often bring its accompaniments, indolence and 
vice. Those states, probably, act wisely who, by such 
regulations as I have mentioned as adopted by New- York, 
shut the door against them. That state, by-the-bye, re- 
ceives, as it is, more than she finds agreeable, by the way 
of Canada j and her community are put to no small in* 


convenience and expense for their provision. It is a com- 
mon belief in Europe, that her surplus population will be 
as great an advantage for America to gain as for her to 
lose. The argument would have some plausibility were 
not the surplus population of all countries generally the 
vicious population. There is not, however, the same ob- 
jections to that of the middle parts of the old continent, as 
to that which has sometimes flowed from France and the 
British islands. The starving emigrants of Switzerland 
and Germany are simple agriculturists and ignorant pea- 
sants, who here quietly devote themselves to the pursuits 
from which they have been driven in Europe, and instant- 
ly become harmless and industrious citizens. Their pre- 
judices, whatever they may be, are perfectly innocent, 
and of absolute vices they usually have none. The poor 
British but too often bring with them all the assumption 
and all the corruption of manufacturing towns and crowd- 
ed seaports ; too ignorant to be able to appreciate justly 
the advantages which this country affords, and too know- 
ing to be willing to learn.* Nor even supposing them to 
have good habits, which is seldom the case, are they fitted 
for the work they can obtain here. An Englishman, in 
general, can do but one thing, and an Irishman, but too 
frequently, can do nothing. I know many instances of 
their being employed from pure charity ; their wives and 
children supported in out-houses for weeks and even 
months together, a charge upon the benevolence of an 
American farmer or gentleman. But benevolence must 
have bounds, and the rulers of Europe can with little rea- 
son complain, if the republic lays an embargo upon the 
importation of their obstreperous mob and onerous pau- 
pers. The fact is, that those only are an acquisition to 

* The Welsh form an exception to this rule : their habits are found to bear 
much resemblance to those of the German peasantry, and, consequently, 
their service is equally valued in Pennsylvania. Cargoes of Welsh redemp- 
tioners frequently enter the Delaware. 



this continent who are a loss to the other, and melan- 
choly is the truth, that every ship which enters these 
ports brings some emigrants of this character. The heart 
of the English patriot may well sink within him, when he 
reflects upon this. Where will be the strength of his na- 
tion when it shall consist only of the over-rich and the 
starving poor ? Pharaoh's fat and lean kine, who ate up 
each other, is a true allegory. 

Before quitting the subject of the German emigration, 
I must, injustice to the benevolent community of Phila- 
delphia, advert to a writer who has been raised into con- 
sideration by the importance of his commentators. It 
was perhaps not possible, that the authors of a much read 
English journal should be able to detect the false state- 
ments of the English traveller they reviewed ; but before 
they confirmed them by a farther assertion of their own, 
it was natural to suppose, that they had accurately inves- 
tigated the subject upon which they wrote. There is 
something painful in seeing the virtues of a community 
perverted into, a source of reproach and calumny. That 
Philadelphia who has been amiable enough to keep her 
ports open to the starving sufferers of Europe, when other 
states have closed theirs, should have been fixed upon as 
an object of peculiar obloquy, is, perhaps, no less singular 
than revolting.* 

Mr. Fearon has given an account of a vessel in this 
port, calculated, from the seeming minuteness of its de- 
tails, to gain implicit credit. The ship Bubona, which he 
says he boarded, and describes as being overloaded with 
wretched Germans, he informs the English public, was an 
American, commanded by an American, and belonging 
to Americans. The Bubona, I regret to say, was a Bri- 
tish brig, from the port of Sunderland, navigated and com- 

* The port of Baltimore is also resorted to by redemptioners. I believe the 
regulations under which the trade is there placed, differ in little from those of 


manded by our countrymen, and having British owners : 
she was, moreover, one of the foreign vessels which the 
state laws of Pennsylvania being incompetent to control, 
occasioned the subject to be brought before the national 
congress, and procured the passing of those effective laws 
to which I have before alluded. I request you to commu- 
nicate these particulars to your friend * * * * *, who 
will judge from this specimen how far the " Sketches" of 
Mr. Fearon have been drawn by an accurate pencil. 
The ships employed in this trade (which, so far from 
meriting the term infamous, bestowed upon it by the re- 
viewer, is in its principle and its results essentially hu- 
mane) are, as I have before remarked, principally Dutch ; 
not English, as the instance of the Bubona, if it had been 
fairly stated by Mr. Fearon, might have led the British 
reader to suppose, nor American, as stated by the re- 
viewer. The slighest acquaintance with the strict regu- 
lations laid upon American vessels and their captains, 
would have prevented many of the misstatements which 
have appeared in English journals and travels. These 
regulations, carefully enforced, have raised the character 
of the American traders throughout Europe, and rendered 
the law, passed by the national congress, less necessary 
on account of their own vessels, than those of other na- 
tions.f ******* 

* ******** 

* ******** 

t The particulars given in the text were first received by the author from 
an English gentleman, long resident in Philadelphia, and were afterwards 
confirmed to her from many other sources equally authentic. The reader 
will find the same detailed more minutely in the eighteenth article of the 
twenty-seventh number, and the first article of the twenty-eighth number of 
the North American Review. That the English reviewer, to whom the author 
has adverted in the text, may be fully satisfied of the accuracy of her state- 
ment, she extracts from the Boston journal the attestation of a German no- 
bleman, despatched by the minister plenipotentiary of the King of the Nether- 
land?; in the German diet, to America, for the purpose of procuring farther 


Inquiring concerning Joseph Buonaparte in our way 
here, I learn that he is about to purchase or lease a house 
upon the Delaware, about ten miles below the ruins of 
his former residence. This neighbourhood has been en- 
deared to him by the friendly behaviour of the people upon 
the occasion of his late misfortune. You will probably 
have seen in the papers, though I should not have written it 
to you, that the mansion in which we saw him last sum- 
mer, was some months since burned to the ground. His 
Canovas were mostly saved, all indeed except three, 
but they were among the most valued ; his pictures also 
and many of his books ; still, however, the loss was con- 
siderable ; and if it be true, that this included some family 
papers of importance, perhaps irreparable. He entered 
his gates, returning from Philadelphia, just as the roof fell 
in : all the neighbourhood was collected, and men and 
women striving, at the hazard of their lives, to save his 
property from the flames ; he had himself to call them, 
and even to force them from the walls. The Count seems 
to have been somewhat amazed by the honesty of his re- 
publican neighbours ; and they, I am told, were no less 
amazed at his amazement. Possibly his letter of thanks 
appeared in your papers ; if not, I throw it into this 

encouragement for the reception of the poor Germans in Pennsylvania, and 
of examining into their condition in that country. In the very year and month 
that Mr. Fearon wrote his account of the ships engaged in this trade, this 
German ambassador wrote the following. 

u It is usually Dutch, but occasionally also American, Swedish, Russian, 
and English vessels which transport the emigrants to America. The ships 
made use of in this service are commonly of the worst quality, old and unsea- 
worthy, and the commanders sent in them ignorant, inexperienced, and bru- 
tal characters. The American ships are the best, and deserve the preference 
before the others : they sail quicker, the treatment is better, and the responsi- 
bility of the captains is greater." This will explain how the law, passed by the 
congress, was directed more against foreign than American vessels. 


Translation of a letter of the Count de Survilliers {Joseph 
Buonaparte) on the subject of the loss of his house by 
fre, to William Snowden, Esq., Judge and Justice of 
the Peace, Bordentoicn, 

Point Breeze, Jan. 8th, 1820. 


" You have shown so much interest for me since I have 
been in this country, and especially since the event of the 
4th instant, that I cannot doubt it will afford you plea- 
sure to make known to your fellow citizens, how much I 
feel all that they have done for me on that occasion. Ab- 
sent myself from my house, they collected by a sponta- 
neous impulse on the first appearance of the fire, which 
they combated with united courage and perseverance, 
and, when they found it was impossible to extinguish it, 
exerted themselves to save all that the flames had not de- 
stroyed before their arrival and mine. 

" All the furniture, statues, pictures, money, plate, gold, 
jewels, linen, books, and in short every thing that was not. 
consumed, has been most scrupulously delivered into the 
hands of the people of my house. In the night of the fire, 
and during the next day, there were brought to me, by 
labouring men, drawers in which I have found the pro- 
per quantity of pieces of money, and medals of gold, and 
valuable jewels, which might have been taken with im- 
punity. This event has proved to me how much the in- 
habitants of Bordentown appreciate the interest I have 
always felt for them ; and shows that men in general are 
good when they are not perverted in their youth by a bad 
education ; when they maintain their dignity as men, and 
feel that true greatness is in the soul, and depends upon 

" I cannot omit on this occasion to repeat what I have 
said so often, that the Americans are the most happy peo 


pie I have known ; still more happy, if they understand 
well their happiness. 
" I pray you not to doubt of my sincere regard. 
" Yours, &c. 
" Joseph Compte de Survilliers." 

While I have been writing, our vessel has made its 
way many miles down the Delaware ; pitch and toss, 
pitch and toss ! The wind has risen very suddenly, and 
now blows a hurricane. We are likely to have a 
rough passage. I must seek the deck and see who and 
what are our fellow passengers. A face peeped into 
the cabin just now that looked very English, and a 
sentence with the Lancashire accent, now sounding on 
the stairs, seems to sanction my reading of the physiog- 
nomy. There is a grey duffle cloak, too, that seems not 
in the fashion of this country. A propos to this cloak ; I 
must express my concern for the too frequent deficit of 
such an article in the wardrobe of an American lady : 
truly my teeth have chattered when I have seen in the 
streets of New- York in the month of January, when the 
mercury stood but few degrees above zero, troops of young 
women in such attire as might have suited Euphrosynes 
in the sweet days of May : no furs, no boots, no woollen 
hose, no, nor even woollen garb wore the delicate crea- 
tures ; but silks, and feathers, and slippers, as gay as the 
sparkling skies that shone above them, or the glistering 
snows they trod upon. But here is too serious trifling 
with youth and health ; and the prevalence of consump- 
tion proves the danger and the folly of this sacrifice of 
comfort to appearance. It is, doubtless, a cruel thing to 
bury a pretty ankle in a fur-lined boot or a stocking of 
worsted, and a well-turned throat and delicate waist in a 
coat with triple capes ; but I would fain put it to the good 
sense of my fair friends in this country, if it is not more 
cruel to be cramped with rheumatism, or tortured with 



tooth-ache, or sent out of the world in the very spring- 
time of youth by a painful and lingering disease. I would 
that Franklin were alive to read them a lesson upon the 
folly of sacrificing health and life upon the altar of fa- 
shion : he would say more to them in a pleasant fable of 
ten lines, than a wordy moralist or learned physician in a 
lecture of a thousand pages. But would they listen to 
an old sage any more than they would to me? Youth 
must buy its own experience ; and the wisdom of our fa- 
thers usually lies on the shelf till we have split on all the 
rocks from which it would have warned us. 





Baltimore, April, 1820. 

\\ e pushed along-side of the wharf between two and 
three in the morning, and so gently, that, but for the sud- 
den pause of the machinery, we slumbering passengers 
should have received no intimation of the circumstance. 
Ascending to the deck before sunrise, we encountered 
the last drops of a spring shower, the loud pattering of 
which we had heard for some time over our heads, and 
had apprehended in consequence a comfortless termina- 
tion to our journey ; but fiercer war, sooner peace, says a 
vulgar proverb, which, perhaps, you will call me vulgar 
for quoting 5 and a cloud which in our misty island takes 
a week or a month to dissolve itself, will perform the ope- 
ration here in a few minutes. I have seen rain in this 
country, and taken it on my shoulders, like the breaking 
of a water-spout. : great on such occasions is the bustle 
and hurry of the forlorn wights exposed to the elements. 
You will hear a horseman whistle to his steed, who, on 
his part, seems scarcely to wait the hint of his master, 
and see a saunterer collect his limbs, and set them to their 
full speed as though Death were behind him. I have of- 
ten in fancy rrmtrastcd such a scene with that which a 


street or highway presents in England when the heavens 
are weeping from sunrise to sunset. The quiescent tra- 
veller, with slouched hat, close-buttoned coat, and drip- 
ping umbrella, holding on his way with measured steps, 
and a face composed to patient endurance, neither ex- 
pecting compassion from the elements, nor seeking it from 
his fellow creatures. 

This city is singularly neat and pretty ; I will even say 
beautiful. It is possible, that in the first gaze I threw 
upon it, it owed something to the hour, the season, and 
the just fallen shower of sweet spring rain ; but what is 
there in life that owes not to time and circumstance the 
essence of its evil or its good ? We looked forth from 
our cabin in the still grey dawn, and paced awhile up and 
down the spacious deck of the lordly steamboat, to enjoy 
the scene, and the hour, to which the scene owed much. 
All yet was silent in .the city — silent as the unpierced 
forests of the west ; not a foot trod the quays, or was 
heard upon the pavements of the streets that branched 
from them ; not a figure was seen on the decks, or in the 
shrouds of the vessels that lay around us ; the very air 
was sleeping, and the shipping reposed on the waters of 
the little bay (formed here by an inlet of the Patapsco,) 
which lay motionless as the thin wreaths of vapour which 
hung above them. There is something strangely impress- 
ive in such a death of sound and motion in the very 
heart and centre of the haunts of men. A condensed 
population of thousands thus hushed to .repose, all their 
hopes, and fears, and sorrows, and ambitions, steeped in 
forgetful ness, unconscious and unapprehensive of the 
checks and the crosses, and the pains and the weariness 
which the big eventful day is to bring forth. If there is 
an hour in the twenty-four that disposes one more than 
another to moralize upon the fate and condition of man, 
it is that which follows upon the first peep of dawn. The 
silence of the earth and skies is yet mWe profound than 



at night's mid-noon, while the mind more forcibly con- 
trasts it with the busy hum and stir of life, that is so in- 
stantly about to succeed. Even in the dead solitudes of 
the American wilderness, I have felt the impressive still- 
ness of this hour : the black forests have stood more still, 
the vast waters have slept more profoundly, the mists lay 
more dense and unbroken, the work of nature seemed in- 
terrupted, her maternal e) r e closed, and her pulse stop- 

The projecting point, whose curve forms one side of the 
little harbour in which we were moored, lined with wharfs 
and quays, was the seat of the pestilence of which such 
fearful and exaggerated accounts were spread last au- 
tumn ; but the evil here, if less than report made it, was 
sufficiently alarming. The malignant nature of the dis- 
ease, the silent enlargement of the seat of its contagion, 
the suddenness of its seizure, the rapidity of its progress, 
and the loathsomeness of its last stage, which renders the 
wretched object sinking beneath its virulence, a sight of 
disgust even to the eye of affection, and the uncertainty 
which has hitherto existed (excepting in the unwholesome 
districts of the South Atlantic States, where its abode be- 
ing more or less continual, its nature is better understood, 
the imagination more familiarized with its terrors, and the 
constitution more proof against its poison;) the uncertain- 
ty which, excepting in these districts, has existed regard- 
ing the cause of its appearance, and the manner in which 
its progress might be arrested, all this well explains the 
terror which its very name excites in those cities, which 
have only been subjected to the visitation at long inter- 
vals, and where tradition hands down the tale of its for- 
mer ravages, and the horrors with which they were 

In this city, though the seat of contagion was of much 
greater extent than in that of New- work, yet its limits 
were equally defined. A line might have been drawn 


across the streets, on the verge of which you might stand 
with impunity, and beyond which it was death to pass. 
Had this line been drawn, and drawn too at the first ap- 
pearance of the disease, before time had been afforded it 
for the enlargement of its precincts, (for the infected at- 
mosphere slowly eating its way onwards, where it may be 
safe for you to breathe to-day, you may inhale poison to- 
morrow,) and had the inhabitants, both the sick and the 
well, been removed from the seat of contagion, as was 
done in New- York, and as I wrote you with perfect suc- 
cess, the fever would have died in the birth, instead of 
rankling and spreading as it did, until it was killed by the 
winter's frost. The mistaken notion which here, as in 
Boston, prevailed, that the poison had been brought in a 
vessel from the south, prevented this precaution, and pre- 
vented also any remedy being applied to the real cause of 
the evil. A cause so apparent, that nothing but the ob- 
stinacy incident to the adherence to a favourite system, 
could have blinded the people to its existence.* The nest 
of the fever here, as in New- York, lay in the stagnant 
waters of the wharfs ; into which the neighbouring inha- 
bitants are in the habit of throwing vegetables and other 
refuse. The intense and unusually prolonged heats of 
the summer could not fail to render them so many reser- 
voirs of putrefaction. These wharfs too, and many of the 
houses adjoining, have been raised upon forced ground, 
into which the water oozing, prepares against the hot 
months a rank bed, fatally propitious to the nurture of dis- 
ease, if not sufficient for its conception. It is to be hoped, 
that the possibility of inbred infection is now sufficiently 
established, to leave no doubt upon the minds of the inha- 
bitants of the northern cities, of the imperative necessity 
of rigid cleanliness, which can alone prevent the appear- 

* See No. 27th of the North American Review for some curious particulars 
of the malignant fever which appeared in Boston, N«w-York. and Baltimore.- 
during- the autumn of the year 1819. 


ance of yellow fever, in the event of a season of unusual 
and prolonged heat. That which, in a temperate cli- 
mate, might be accounted as finical nicety, may barely 
suffice to keep the atmosphere untainted in the low and 
more populous quarters of cities lying under a sun whose 
fervours will often raise the mercury to ninety and upwards 
for days successively. While the infected air was gradu- 
ally spreading along Fells Point, and the low streets in 
its immediate vicinity, the higher parts of the town were 
perfectly healthy ; and, though the sick were removed into 
it, no infection was there received ; nor, after the first wild 
alarm had subsided, was it so much as apprehended. 

We have met the summer in this city. In New- York, 
though the grass had hastily spread its first carpet, we left 
no appearance of leaves, except that, on the earlier trees, 
the buds were ready to burst. In Philadelphia I remark- 
ed some green specks on the branches ; but here it seem- 
ed like stepping into Fairy land, when, leaving the vessel, 
we turned into a clean broad street, lined with balsam 
poplars, the fragrance of whose young leaves, glistering 
with rain drops, perfumed the air. We proceeded with 
our new friends — but you know not who they are. I 
will" go through the ceremony of introduction. I wrote 
in my last letter of an English face and dufrle cloak. 
These might not seem to promise much ; and, as to the 
first, let alone the one in question, and some others 
whom I shall name, and some others of whom you 
are aware, though they, indeed, have ta'en so long the 
burning gaze of America's sun, as to have well nigh lost 
their native character. — but let alone these, and I must 
confess, however the confession might displease my coun- 
trymen, that an English face has seldom been a sight that 
has caused me much satisfaction on this side the At- 
lantic. Voltaire describes a travelling Milord; the pic- 
ture might suit here many a travelling Mr., and some 
lords too, for a few noble faces have at odd times been 



seen in this land of plain citizens ; and all were not like 
the unassuming, gentlemanly, enlightened Selkirk. Were 
I disposed to play upon words, I might say that the Eng- 
lish people are as ill represented here as they are at home. 
The ordinary travellers who honour this republican earth 
with the touch of their feet, are stragglers from Canada, 
who, besides coming and going from and to Europe by 
the way of New- York, as a more convenient port than 
Montreal or Quebec, will sometimes condescend so far as 
to yawn away a summer month or two, in spying out a 
few corners of the great nest of presumptuous democrats 
stretching south of them ; and who running through a few 
of their tow T ns and cities, sometimes without looking to 
the right hand or the left, and sometimes entering the 
open door, and seizing the open hand of America's kind 
citizen, that they may afterwards at their leisure, with 
better opportunity, jeer at the manners and traduce the 
character of the people whose hospitality they have shared. 
How is it that men can breathe the winds that have blown 
over the land of liberty, whose sacred shores even are 
within their sight, without inhaling something of the spirit 
of independence ? And how can they see that land, and 
contemplate the joyful scene of its prosperity, — its towns 
and cities springing as it were, out of the earth at the 
touch of a magician, — its active and industrious popula- 
tion, spreading over regions, boundless in extent, and in- 
exhaustible in fertility ; carrying into the desert, before 
untrodden, save by the foot of the savage or the beast of 
prey, the arts of peace, the lights of knowledge, and 
all the wealth and blessings of civilization : — how can 
they contemplate this, a sight as novel as it is beauti- 
ful, without feeling their hearts expand with joyful, and 
proud, and generous sympathy ? And yet our country- 
men will often travel from the Dan to the Beersheba 
of this republic, and contrive to shut their hearts from 
every generous feeling, and their understandings from 


every conviction ; finding, and so giving, nothing but 
vexation of spirit, and returning to the land of their fa- 
thers to traduce, in the name of the United States of 
America, the name of liberty, and in that of their people, 
the names of public virtue and of private happiness. But 
what a strange exordium this to the English face and the 
duffle cloak ! I know of nought that they have in common 
with the travellers to whom I have alluded. Things, 
however, are as often associated in our heads by contrast 
as by resemblance, and so in this case has it been with 
the English face and cloak, to which you shall now be in- 
troduced without farther digression or preamble. The 
owner of the face was — Who think you? A dozen 
guesses, and you have him not. Remember you, now 
some six-and-twenty years ago, to have seen in your 
house at ***** a young man of the name of Taylor ? 
I little expected in the vigorous and fresh looking stran- 
ger, who carried his years so lightly that I hesitated to 
write him under the head of fifty, an old acquaintance of 
my dearest friend. It was not till after much conversa- 
tion with him and his companions that I made this disco- 
very, which you may suppose did not weaken the bond 
that similarity of sentiment upon the subjects on which 
we had previously converged, had made between us. It 
will please you to hear, that this your old friend wears on 
through his manhood, the honourable feelings of his youth ; 
— no small, at least no common merit in old Europe, 
whose rulers so rarely fail to prove that the patriot has his 
price. His companions are a lady and gentleman from 
Lincolnshire, whose acquaintance is a source of so much 
pleasure to us, as to make us deeply regret, that fortune 
was not kind enough to throw us earlier together. Dur- 
ing our descent of the Delaware, we were too much tor- 
mented by the wind, which blew a heavy gale in our 
faces, to have any disposition for conversation ; but when, 
towards sunset, we exchanged water for land carriage. 


and found ourselves shut into the same vehicle with three 
English travellers, we began to examine their faces, and, 
liking their language, and they perhaps not disliking that 
of ours, dialogue commenced. 

There are few accidents in life more agreeable than 
those which, in a foreign land, bring together wanderers 
from the same native soil ; that is, when they are not of 
the class of Matthew Bramble, or Smelfungus, or * * * * *, 
&c. Reaching the Elk river, the winds had hushed to 
sleep, and the hour and our long journey might have seem- 
ed to warn us to follow the example ; but once more on 
board of a steamboat, upon whose deck we could now 
keep our feet without holding a fight for the privilege with 
the enraged household of iEolus ; we felt no disposition to 
separate until we had compared our sentiments, and ex- 
changed much of our information regarding the country in 
which we all met as wanderers. In Baltimore we felt 
no disposition to part, and they being also bound to Wash- 
ington, where they had passed the greater part of the win- 
ter, we made our arrangements for the day together, and 
first (to go back a few pages) we proceeded in company 
to take a hasty view of the city. 

Baltimore is not the least wonderful evidence of the 
amazing and almost inconceivable growth of this country. 
At the time of the revolution, but forty-five years since, 
this city, which now contains a population of sixty-five 
thousand, and has all the appearance of an opulent and 
beautiful metropolis, comprised some thirty houses o* 
painted or unpainted frame, with perhaps as many of logs 
scattered in their vicinity. If this does not confound 
your understanding, it has well nigh confounded mine. 
Dutchmen, or their descendants, were not the surveyors 
here as in New- York, where it is thought proper, when a 
street is planned, to shave the earth of every inequality, as 
though it were intended to preserve to the city the ap- 
pearance of having been transported ready made from 


Holland, in the manner of the house at Loretto, from Je- 
rusalem. Baltimore, on the contrary, is spread over three 
gentle hills ; the streets, without sharing the fatiguing re- 
gularity and unvarying similarity of those of Philadelphia, 
are equally clean, cheerful, and pleasingly ornamented 
with trees ; the poplar, which in the country is offensive, 
not merely to the eye, but to the understanding, being there 
destitute alike of beauty and utility, has a singularly pleas- 
ing effect in a city where its architectural form is in unison 
with the regularity and neatness which should every 
where prevail. I mean not, however, to prefer it to nobler 
trees, which, independent of superior beauty, have the 
farther advantage of healthy longevity, and are not afflict- 
ed with the troublesome blight that frequently renders the 
poplar alive with caterpillars, which sometimes despoil 
the branches in midsummer, and rain in offensive multi- 
tudes on the shoulders of passengers. To remove this in- 
convenience, the citizens of New- York have removed 
their poplars ; but I own that, notwithstanding my objec- 
tion to the caterpillars, I never saw one of the guilty pop- 
lars fall without regret ; the more so, because I saw no 
preparations made for supplying the vacancies with forest 
trees. I could wish that the householders in American 
towns would, on this matter, as on all others, remember 
the advice of Franklin, whose wise mind, embracing the 
infinitely little, as well as the infinitely great, considered 
no trifle below its notice that was connected with the 
comfort and well-being of man. 

You see here, as in Philadelphia, the same neat houses 
of well made and well painted brick ; the same delicately 
white doors, with their shining knockers and handles, and 
their steps of clean white marble, and windows with their 
green Venetian shutters. Considerable attention and ex- 
pense have also been bestowed upon the public edifices, 
which, however, are chiefly remarkable for neatness and 
convenience, seldom making pretensions to architectural 


beauty. Some buildings of a different character are now 
erecting, in a style which does honour to the taste and 
public spirit of the community ; I have heard, indeed, the 
citizens of Baltimore charged in this particular with undue 
extravagance. However this may be, we felt ourselves 
much indebted to them, when, heated with fatigue and 
want of rest, we suddenly came upon a spacious fountain, 
where the clear, cold water, gushing fresh from the spring, 
ran gurgling over a channelled floor of marble. In a 
neighbouring square, a clustered column of simple and 
pure architecture is raising to the memory of those who 
fell in the gallant defence of the city at the close of the 
late war; on the pedestal of the column is a blank stone, 
on which are simply engraved the names of the dead who 
are interred beneath. The thoughtless military leader, 
and the calculating politician, might smile at this enume- 
ration of some hundred names. We cannot better con- 
trast the feelings of such men, than with an anecdote 
which recurs to me at the moment. During the war, 
when a body of American militia had repulsed a party of 
invaders, and were pursuing them to their ships, the com- 
manding officer suddenly called them from the pursuit. 
A citizen, surprised and irritated at the order, seeing the 
possibilty of cutting off the retreat of the enemy, reproach- 
fully observed, that ere they could gain their boats, two 
thirds might be dead, or prisoners. " True," calmly re- 
plied the other, having first enforced the order for retreat ; 
" we might possibly, with the loss of a dozen men, have de- 
prived the enemy of some hundreds, but what would have 
been the dozen ? — sons, husbands, fathers, and useful citi- 
zens. And what would have been the hundreds ? — men 
fighting for hire. Which loss in the balance had weighed 
the heavier ?" 

When we read of the fall of the three hundred at 
Thermopylae, we feel something more than when we read 
of that of the legions of Varus in the wilds of Germany j 



and I own that I looked with deeper interest upon this 
memorial to a few private citizens, who fell in the defence 
of their domestic hearths, and whose corpses were washed 
by the tears of bereaved mothers, widows, and orphans, 
than I ever did upon the proudest monument erected to 
the thousands sacrificed to kingly ambition. And I doubt, 
if, in this sentiment, I am peculiar-, I doubt, I mean, if 
the costly monuments that adorn the empires of Europe, 
are regarded with the same deep and lasting interest by 
their people, as is this simple record by the citizens of 
America's republic. There, too often, the glory is mono- 
polized, and the honour awarded to the individual whose 
personal ambition, or whose talent, submitted to the am- 
bition of a master, leads unnumbered and unknown thou- 
sands to the field of slaughter ; and there places on his 
single brow the laurels steeped in the sweat and blood of 
the unheeded myriads, dead and dying, w 7 ho surrounded 
him. And is it to be believed that, when the first mad 
frenzy of the multitude has subsided, they will see in the 
proud trophies, marked with the name of a Napoleon or 
a Wellington, much to rouse their sympathy or even their 
pride ? The hero who lives in the hearts of a people, is 
not he who has achieved the most numerous and imposing 
conquests, who has wrought the most daring exploits, and 
seen the most costly memorials raised to his name ; it is 
he who has struggled for the existence or defence of his 
country, whose patience and energy w^ere exerted, not so 
much to destroy its foes as to shield its sons ; — he it is, 
whose cause being that of his nation, so also is his dignity 
and his fame. The chariots of the Caesars were followed 
by acclaiming multitudes, and their achievements live in 
the annals of their empire, but their names lived not in the 
hearts of the Romans, as did those of the Camillus and 
the Fabius, whose sword and whose shield were the sa- 
viours of the infant republic. We have seen the eagles 
of Napoleon overthrown, and have heard his name die on 


the lips of his people ; but the memorials of Washington 
are beyond the reach of fortune as of time : seated in the 
hearts of America's citizens, their number increases with 
every child that is born to the republic, and will be lasting 
as the nation whose independence he assisted to establish; 
and thus, in like manner, is it that this simple commemo- 
ration of a few private individuals excites more interest in 
the mind of the spectator than the proudest trophies raised 
to unknown thousands, who fell, they knew not where- 
fore, in a foreign land. 

It would be difficult to imagine a more interesting scene 
than was here exhibited during the engagement which 
this monument is raised to commemorate. If the burning 
of Washington excited the whole continent, it more pe- 
culiarly called forth the spirit, as well as the fears of Bal- 
timore, from whose heights was distinctly descried the 
glow diffused through the atmosphere by the flames of the 
capitol. An instantaneous attack was apprehended ; but 
of the short interval which unexpectedly elapsed before 
the enemy ascended the Chesapeake, not a moment was 
lost. The whole population of Baltimore laboured on the 
entrenchments, and in throwing up fortifications ; troops 
of volunteers poured in from the neighbouring states of 
Pennsylvania and Virginia ; and the most distinguished 
citizens of Maryland were found in the ranks of the bat- 
talions, collected round the city. The city itself, on the 
day and night of the engagement, was peopled only by 
women and infants. Every man, from the decrepid ve- 
teran to the boy whose arm could scarcely steady the 
musket, was without the walls, in the character of a sol- 
dier. The death of General Ross is ascribed to a beard- 
less youth, for whose hand the rifle which he pointed with 
unerring certainty was almost too heavy. War in this 
country assumes a character so different from that which 
it wears in Europe, that it is impossible to regard it with 
the same feelings. Who ran consider without interest an 


army of citizens just summoned from their domestic 
hearths ? the farmer, the lawyer, the merchant, the states- 
man, the private gentleman, converted into soldiers at the 
threshold of their own habitations for the defence of all 
that is most dear to men. Conceive, too, the position of 
this deserted city ; the hearts which here beat with agony 
during the day and night that the cannon roared in the 
very harbour, each thunder of which seemed to sound the 
knell of a father and a husband. It was an affecting 
scene, as described by those who witnessed it, when the 
enemy withdrew, and the citizens, returned to their 
anxious homes, bearing with them the silent few whose 
hearts were now cold amid the impatience and joy that 
surrounded them. The soldier falls unregarded on a 
foreign soil, his remains left, perhaps, to the bleaching 
elements, or thrown into a hasty grave by his weary and 
reckless comrades, or it may be by the very strangers 
whose lands he has invaded, whose laws he has trampled 
on, and whose brethren he has slain. Not so the citizen 
who falls on his native soil, amid his friends and relatives, 
by the hand of the invader raised against his country and 
himself. Here borne on the shoulders of his brethren, the 
father was brought to the house of his children, the son to 
that of his parent ; the tears of agony bedewed the corpse, 
the hand of affection straitened the limbs, and performed 
the last duties to the dead ; and when at length the sacred 
dust was consigned to its element, the assembled citizens 
formed the long line of the funeral procession, moving 
through silent streets, where the tumult of joy was hushed 
into the deep solemnity of mourning. 

War is styled a necessary evil. Most truly it is so in 
countries burthened with standing armies ; for if not em- 
ployed in making war upon each other abroad, some late 
occurrences in England show us, that they will attack 
their fellow citizens at home ; but could a miracle destroy 


all the regular troops of Europe, where then were " Othel- 
lo's occupation ?" 

** Curse on the crimson'd plumes, the banners flouting, 

The stirring clarion, the leader's shouting, 

The fair caparisons, the war-horse champing, 

The array'd legions pressing, rushing, tramping, 

The blazing falchions, crests that toss afar, 

The bold emprise, the spirit-rousing jar, 

The swelling paeans, thundering acclaim 

The death of glory, and the living fame, 

The sculptor's monument, the people's bays, 

The historian's narrative, the poet's lays ; 

Oh ! curse on all the splendour and the show, 

Which veileth o'er the fiendish hell below !" 

Thoughts of a Recluse. 

Threading the streets until we reached their extremity, 
we found ourselves at the foot of a little hill, sprinkled with 
trees, upon whose top is a noble column, raised to Wash- 
ington, of similar form but of larger dimensions, than that 
mentioned above. Ascending to it, we saw this beauti- 
ful little city spread at our feet ; its roofs and intermin- 
gling trees shining in the morning sun, the shipping riding 
in the basin, and crowded round the point ; while, in the 
distance, the vast waters of the Chesapeake, and more 
near those of its tributary rivers, gleamed in broad lines 
of silver through the dark extent of forested plains, that 
stretched beyond the more cultivated precincts of the 
young city. We made our return by a church that has 
been recently built by an extensive Unitarian congrega- 
tion ; and, being now fairly spent with fatigue, we rested 
on its steps, while one of our party ran to obtain the key 
of the clergyman, who was of his acquaintance. I do 
assure you, at that moment I marvelled at his activity ; 
what with a long walk, superadded to a long journey, 
and two sleepless nights, I felt amazingly disposed to 
make a pillow of the marble. And here I recall an anec- 
dote, told by himself of our friend *****-»*, At 


the close of a tour through Europe, he asked of his host 
in some German town, what was to be seen 1 Nothing. 
replied the host. Thank God I exclaimed the traveller. 
I was probably too dull to have this or any thing else in 
my head at the moment ; but I doubt not, that would any 
one have obligingly told me, that there was nothing to be 
seen in that chapel, I should in like manner have returned 
thanks. I did, however, open my eyes upon entering it, 
and have seldom seen any thing more simply elegant than 
the style of its interior. This beautiful church is close 
adjoining to that of a congregation of Roman Catholics, a 
circumstance that well exemplifies the liberality and 
Christian charity which is diffused among Christians of 
all persuasions throughout these democracies, and which 
has been bred and fostered by that perfect liberty of ac- 
tion and opinion, and those just laws, which, imparting 
equal rights and protection to the members of every church, 
teach the citizens that as they are all equal in the sight of 
earthly justice, so are they also in that of heaven. 

It is not without a feeling of respect that the eye turns 
upon the Roman Catholic church of Maryland ; which 
may be truly regarded as the most venerable in the world. 
Those who denounce Christians of the Romish persua- 
sion as bigotted persecutors, surely forget, that they gave 
the first example to the world of religious liberty. So 
true it is, that illiberality or its opposite must be ascribed 
rather to the character of the age or of the individual, than 
to the tenets of any particular church. 

I regret that we have not more time to bestow on this 
city, which is interesting not only from the amazing ra- 
pidity of its growth, its neatness and beauty, but from the 
character of its citizens — peculiarly marked for courtesy, 
as well as for high spirit and daring enterprise. To these 
last qualities, indeed, must be attributed all the wonderful 
creations of the place. It is thought, however, that Bal- 
timore, like a promising child, has somewhat outgrown 


her strength. The ratio of her increase diminishes great- 
ly, and it may perhaps be doubted, whether, in the fallen 
state of commerce, she will extend her present limits for 
many years. By-the-bye, I see it is common on your side 
of the Atlantic to confound the wealth of America with 
that of her merchants ; perhaps the depressed state of com- 
merce should rather be considered as an evidence of the 
growing prosperity of this people ; the fact being that they 
now make at home what they before received from 
abroad.* As the revenue is here drawn from the cus- 
toms, the treasury affords no standard by which to judge 
of the internal resources of the country. The wealth of 
this young republic is not locked up in her seaports, but is 
spread through a community to whom want and oppres- 
sion are unknown. The broken fortunes of her merchants 
may dim the splendour of her cities, but can subtract 
little from the aggregate of her strength, while the check 
that is thus given to luxury and extravagance can only 

* I believe, it is not generally known in this country, how completely some 
of the home fabrics have superseded the foreign in the American market. It 
is here supposed by many, that the higher price of labour must prevent com- 
petition with the manufactures of Europe ; but this drawback is balanced by 
other advantages ; provisions are cheap, the raw material of first rate quality 
is found in the country ; and there are no taxes. The blankets and broad- 
cloths, woven of the Merino wool, are not only in the average of superior qua- 
lity, but can often undersell in the market those of Europe. The same i3 the 
case with coarse cotton goods. I have seen cotton cloth, woven in New-York, at 
a cent per yard ; and in strength of fabric, that of Europe will bear no com- 
parison with it. The object here is to put as little of the raw material into the 
yard as possible ; there is not the same temptation to this in America. It 
may be observed also, that the employment of machinery now enabling wo- 
men to perform the work which formerly demanded the agency of men, there 
is much less difference in the price of labour, employed in some of the manu- 
factories, in Britain and America, than is here supposed. American women 
universally prefer employment in a cotton mill to domestic service, which they 
always feel to be a degradation. In accounting for any fact which, in Ame- 
rica, strikes the foreigner as singular, he must always seek part of its expla- 
nation in the national character, which, influenced by the political institution^ 
i^ there probably more peculiarly marked, than in any other country 


produce beneficial effects on the national character. It is 
thought that a new mode of taxation must shortly be 
adopted ; perhaps a well regulated tax upon property may 
supersede the present system. A very slight one would 
suffice to defray the expenses of this economical govern- 
ment, and have the advantage of yielding a certain re- 
turn ; whereas, at present, the revenue is continually fluc- 
tuating, and always threatens to leave the government 
aground in the very moment of extreme exigency. The 
danger and utter insufficiency of the present system was 
fully proved in the late war ; as it was not destroyed then, 
it will now in all probability find its own euthanasia ; un- 
less indeed Europe should correct her policy, of which I 
suppose there is little likelihood. It seems, however, that 
this sovereign people are determined to see their present 
system of finance die a natural death before they will have 
recourse to another. The Americans, it must be confessed, 
have some whims which seem peculiar to themselves ; of 
these, not the least singular is an inherent innate antipathy 
to tax-gatherers. Our good natured islanders will support 
legions of these itinerant gentlemen, and consent to sur- 
render at their request the very coat off their backs, and 
the bread out of their mouths ; but our transatlantic bre- 
thren will not so much as part with a shred of the one or 
a crumb of the other. — They will pay no taxes at all. 
What would the chancellor of the British Exchequer say 
to such obstinacy ? How would his collectors of the re- 
venue look around them in a country where their talents 
were in no request, and where even their right to existence 
was called in question ! 





Washington, April, 1820. 

I am this evening fairly exhausted with heat and fatigue, 
and in consequence have been forced to decline an invi- 
tation to a*party which promised us much pleasure, from 
the individuals whom I understand to have been assem- 
bled. I could not take the liberty with them that I shall 
with you, of being as dull as inclination or infirmity may 
dispose me ; and here I only assume the privilege which 
others have assumed before me, namely, of showing to 
a familiar friend a face that I might be ashamed to show 
to an indifferent world. 

The road from Baltimore hither, about forty miles, 
leads through an uninteresting and, for the most part, bar- 
ren district. On losing sight of the city, the traveller 
might think that he had lost sight of all the beauty and 
all the wealth of the state ; there are, however, in Mary- 
land, districts of great fertility, especially in the neigh- 
bourhood of the eastern waters. We observed some 
farms in good order and good cultivation ; and here, on 
the 1 9th of April, we saw rye full in the ear : we noticed 
also some hedge rows, which make a far more comfort- 
able appearance than wooden fences ; but these more in- 
teresting objects were unfrequent, and, tired of considering 
stunted trees, or wastes of exhausted land, (exhausted by 
the noxious weed tobacco, and left to be Reclaimed by a 



more needy generation,) we began to contemplate our fel- 
low travellers. Added to our party was an old veteran, 
who seemed to have passed the written age of man, and a 
younger native, who appeared to be cheerfully entering 
upon the world which the other was about to quit. We 
had proceeded some miles before either of our new com- 
panions addressed himself to any of our party ; from our 
conversation, they perceived us to be foreigners, and wait- 
ed to judge from the same to what class we belonged. I 
have observed that when the American stumbles upon a 
foreigner, he is wont, during a few moments, to take a 
quiet perusal of his physiognomy, and if opportunity per- 
mits, to remain the silent auditor of his remarks and com- 
ments, and thus to satisfy himself of the temper of the man, 
before he evinces any disposition to make him his compa- 
nion. If he likes his temper, he will then enter at once 
into the most easy and friendly intercourse, readily impart- 
ing his own information, and gratefully receiving that of 
the stranger in return ; and then I have frequently admired 
the deference with w T hich he listens to his opinions, however 
they may differ from his own, or militate against the in- 
stitutions of his country ; the good temper with which he 
receives his strictures upon the national character, and 
the candour with which he points out errors and flaws 
which may have escaped the observation of the foreigner. 
If he like not his temper, he will entrench himself in the 
most careless and quiet indifference, apparently regard- 
less of all that passes around him. It is only for an ob- 
serving eye to detect, in the unruffled countenance of 'the 
mute republican, the suppressed smile which forms his 
humorous, though unsuspected commentary, upon the 
conversation of his uncourteous companions. An anec- 
dote here recurs to me, as illustrative of this trait in the 
American character. 

In a public conveyance in this country, an English 
traveller was drawing comparisons between America and 


his native island. The houses were barns, compared to 
what they were in England; the public conveyances 
were wagons, compared to an English coach ; and so on, 
with all the conveniences and necessaries of life, the beef 
and the mutton, fish, flesh, and fowl. While he was 
speaking, a sudden storm gathered, and a loud peal of 
the awful thunder, which, in this fervid clime, so nobly 
shakes the concave, cracked over the zenith, and split the 
thread of the traveller's harangue. An American, who 
had hitherto sat silent and unnoticed in a corner of the 
vehicle, then leaned forwards, and gravely addressing the 
foreigner, " Sir, have you any better thunder than that in 
England V I do not say that all the citizens can turn 
aside the wrath of man by such a reply as our venerable 
friend ****** * 5 who once, in travelling, finding it 
necessary to expostulate with the keeper of a turnpike, 
and being in consequence greeted by the appellation of 
rascal, pleasantly retorted, " Your hand, friend I there are 
a pair of ?zs." But the species of humour which framed 
this reply, is here certainly a national characteristic ; and 
I doubt not, is of considerable service in keeping the 
peace among this proud community. 

We did not care to put to the test the philosophy of our 
fellow travellers, who soon joined in our conversation. 
The old veteran fought over again the battles of the revo- 
lution, and gave us many interesting anecdotes of that 
period. We learned that he was bound, for the first and 
last time, on a pilgrimage to the infant capital ; being de- 
sirous, he said, to see the city that bore the name of his 
old general, and to look upon the seat of government 
once before he died. The morning after our arrival, 
while ascending the steps of the capitol with several 
members of congress, we perceived the old soldier at an 
angle of this fine building, leaning on his staff, and look- 
ing down upon the young .Rome, for whose liberties he 
had bled, 


Those who, in visiting Washington, expect to find a 
city, will be somewhat surprised when they enter its pre- 
cincts, and look around in vain for the appearance of a 

The plan marked out for this metropolis the of empire, 
is gigantic, and the public buildings, whether in progress 
or design, bear all the stamp of grandeur. How many 
centuries shall pass away ere the clusters of little villages, 
now scattered over this plain, shall assume the form and 
magnificence of an imperial city ? Were the heart to form 
a prayer for this republic, would it not be that the term of 
her youth might be long protracted ? Which of her pa- 
triots can anticipate, without anxiety, the period when the 
road to the senate-house shall lead through streets adorn- 
ed with temples and palaces? and when the rulers of the 
republic, who now take their way on foot to the council 
chamber, in the fresh hour of morning, shall roll in cha- 
riots at mid noon, or perhaps midnight, through a sump- 
tuous metropolis, rich in arts and bankrupt in virtue ? Is 
such to be the destiny of this new-born empire ? Hea- 
ven avert it ! and I do more than hope that it is to be 
averted. At all events, you and I, my dear friend, shall 
long have been in our graves, ere the flush of youth and 
pride of liberty can forsake this favoured democracy. 

I envy not the man who can enter without emotion the 
noble, though still unfinished structure of the American 
capitol. Never shall I forget the feelings with which I 
first looked down from the gallery of the hall upon the as- 
sembled representatives of a free and sovereign nation. 
Is there, in the whole range of this peopled earth, a sight 
more sublime ? When the English friends who accompa- 
nied us first visited the congress, some months since, the 
words that struck their ear, as they entered the gallery, 
formed part of the prayer with which the business of the 
day opens : " May the rod of tyranny be broken in every 
nation of the earth /" Mrs. * * * * * * ? her husband 


told me, burst into tears. Were I curious to try the soul 
of a European, I should wish to see bim enter the house 
of the American congress. I defy a native of that con- 
tinent who has a soul, not to find it at that moment. Yes, 
my dear friend, while this edifice stands, liberty has an 
anchorage from which the congress of European autocrats 
cannot unmoor her. Truly I am grateful to this nation ; 
the study of their history and institutions, and the consi- 
deration of the peace and happiness which they enjoy, 
has thawed my heart, and filled it with hopes which I 
had not thought it could know again. After all, we are 
fortunately constituted : when we cease to feel for our- 
selves, we can better feel for others ; and the pleasure of 
sympathy, if it be not as intense, is perhaps more pure 
than that of enjoyment. 

We of course considered with much interest some of 
the more distinguished members, with whom we were 
previously only acquainted by report, or the public prints, 
and waited with some curiosity until they should take 
their turn in the debate. It happened to be one of pecu- 
liar animation, and occupied the house for ten successive 
days : the subject was supplied by the proposed altera- 
tions in the tariff; and what may seem singular, they 
found not a single opposer from the state, or even the city 
of New- York ; the opposition to the bill seemed to pro- 
ceed entirely from the southern planters, and some mem- 
bers from New-England. The representations from the 
central and western states were united to a man in flout- 
ing poor fallen commerce, whom they seemed to consider 
as no better than a professional gambler, who had fleeced 
the citizens of their morals as well as their money. In- 
deed, it would seem that men can seldom lose the one 
without the other ; and perhaps it is little surprising that 
the more ardent of this republican race should rejoice in 
the fall of a deity who, of late years, has reclined one arm 
on Plutus and the other on bankruptcy ; — her ruin, how- 


ever, seems sufficiently complete without any fubninat ions 
from the capitol. It is possible, however, that the proposed 
duties may act as a very fair tax upon wealth ; for as the 
more homely and essential manufactures can now stand 
their ground in the face of those introduced from abroad, 
the increase of the customs are chiefly calculated to raise 
the price of luxuries. I must say, I for one should not be 
sorry to see foreign silks give place to home-spun cottons 
in the wardrobes of the young women of the Atlantic 
cities; perhaps, when they are sold half a dollar a yard 
dearer, this change in the fashions may be effected. 

The bill was introduced by Mr. Baldwin, of Pennsyl- 
vania, a man of vigorous intellect, with a rough, but 
energetic delivery. The number of able speakers ex- 
ceeded my expectation, though I had been prepared to 
find it considerable : they struck me as generally remarka- 
ble for close, and lucid reasoning, and a plain, but gen- 
tlemanly and impressive diction. When Mr. Clay rose, I 
believe that some apprehension was mingled with our cu- 
riosity, for who has not learned from experience, that when 
expectation is much raised, it is usually disappointed ? 
The first words uttered by the Speaker of the House sa- 
tisfied us that no defect of manner was to break the charm 
of his eloquence. This distinguished statesman has, for 
many successive years, been called to preside in the 
House by an almost unanimous vote ; and, it is said, that 
no individual ever exercised in it a more powerful influ- 
ence. He seems, indeed, to unite all the qualities essen- 
tial to an orator ; animation, energy, high moral feeling, 
ardent patriotism, a sublime love of liberty, a rapid flow 
of ideas and of language, a happy vein of irony, an action 
at once vehement and dignified, and a voice full, sonorous, 
distinct, and flexible ; exquisitely adapted to all the varie- 
ties of passion or argument ; — without exception the most 
masterly voice that I ever remembered to have heard. It 
tilled the large and magnificent hall without any apparent 


effort on the part of the orator. In conversation, he is no 
less eloquent than in debate ; and no sooner does he kin- 
dle with his subject, than his voice and action betray the 
orator of the hall ; yet so unpremeditated is his language, 
that evert in a drawing-room, the orator never appears 
misplaced. From the perusal of his speeches, you may 
have formed some idea of the ardour of feeling and ex- 
pression which characterize this statesman ; but you must 
have heard one delivered to understand their effect in the 
national senate. 

The influence of a masterly orator in the American 
Congress would somewhat surprise the invulnerable and 
immoveable majorities of the British House of Commons. 
The check to this influence remains with the nation, 
whose wishes, upon important questions, must, of course, 
more or less affect the decision of their representatives. 
But the voice of the sovereign people is not altogether ab- 
solute, and by no means undisputed. If the people be 
proud, so also are their agents in congress ; and few are 
found who will passively surrender their right of judgment 
to their employers. Besides, the probability is, that their 
employers will only differ among themselves ; a circum 
stance which must leave their agents pretty much to the 
direction of their own reason. The power of an orator, 
therefore, if checked, is not destroyed by the responsibility 
of the members, as the sway exercised by the great west- 
ern statesman appears sufficiently to demonstrate. 

Mr. Clay has been understood to head a powerful op- 
position to some measures of the existing executive ; — an 
opposition chiefly, if not exclusively, directed against the 
policy pursued towards the rising democracies of the 
southern continent. It has been the aim of this ardent- 
statesman to extort a public acknowledgment of the inde- 
pendence and national existence of these infant republics 
during their struggle for liberty. The thunders of his elo- 
quence never sounded with more sublimity than on this 


occasion ; and could their influence have extended to the 
senate, might have triumphed over the cold neutrality so 
obstinately preserved by the American government. Per- 
haps the policy pursued by the government, has been the 
most wise, certainly the most prudent ; but it is difficult 
not to feel with the orator, who, spurning all calculations 
of interest or state policy, draws his arguments from the 
lips of generosity and liberty. It may be doubted, whether 
the neutrality assumed by the government has not in reality 
been impugned, as well by the supplies furnished to the 
patriots from some of the wealthy sea ports, as by the 
friendly intercourse carried on privately between the first 
official characters of Washington and Angostura. But 
the idea may well suggest itself to an American, that the 
vigorous navy of the republic could never have been more 
honourably employed, than in asserting the liberties of the 
southern continent ; and the unceasing importunity of the 
illustrious speaker of the house to extort an open avowal 
of friendship for the patriots must command the admira- 
tion of every generous mind.* 

Leaving the city to make a little excursion in Virginia, 
we missed the speeches of several distinguished members. 
We returned, however, to attend the close of the debate, 
which afforded us the opportunity of hearing Mr. Lowndes 
of Carolina. The close and deductive reasoning of this 
gentleman forms a striking contrast to the fervid oratory 
of Mr. Clay. They were opposed in the debate, and each 
possessed a manner most appropriate to his argument. 
Mr. Lowndes is singularly correct in his selection of lan- 
guage and turn of the phrase ; yet the syllables flow from 
his lips in an uninterrupted stream ; the best word al- 
ways falling into the right place, not merely without ef- 

* At the close of the session, in 1820, Mr. Clay had the satisfaction of see- 
ing his favourite measure carried through both houses ; and accredited mi- 
nisters appointed to the republics of Columbia and Buenos Ayres. 


fort, but seemingly without the consciousness of the 

We were surprised at the readiness with which even 
the youngest members took their share in the discussion. 
The error of these, indeed, seems that of speaking too 
much : to which may be added another — that of coining 
new words when old ones do not occur to them. The 
patience of the house with the more inexperienced or less 
gifted speakers is truly admirable; and, I must observe, 
that, in spite of some inelegance and much prolixity, they 
appear seldom unworthy of attention ; since sound rea- 
soning, liberal philosophy, and generous feeling, may ge- 
nerally be discovered through the mass of awkward words 
supplied by their vehemence. 

I have sometimes amused myself in the hall, by ima- 
gining how one of the marshalled troops of the British 
minister would look upon an assembly whose members, 
until the actual counting of the votes, are often ignorant 
of the issue of the most important questions. At one time, 
a member told me he expected the bill to be thrown out ; 
a few hours afterwards, his hopes were, that it would be 
carried ; again he despaired, again he hoped, and at last 
listened to the ayes and noes with as much incertitude as 
myself. During the division, the curiosity of the assembly 
seemed wrought to the highest pitch of impatience ; the 
seats were abandoned, and a humming and agitated 
crowd pressed round the chair, threatening with suffoca- 
tion both the clerk and the speaker. The sonorous voice 
of the latter, however, quelled the tempest instantaneous- 
ly, and produced a silence so profound, that the drop of a 
pin might have been heard upon the floor. Mr. Clay 
afterwards told me, that since he had presided in the 
house, he had never but once seen it equally agitated. 

The senate being occupied in ordinary business, we had 
no opportunity of judging of its oratory ; but being politely 
admitted on the floor, we admired the elegance of the 



chamber, and made ourselves acquainted with the persons 
of the senators, and the proceedings of the house, The 
debates of the chamber, as I am informed by some of its 
members, are conducted with less popular vehemence 
than those of the hall. I know not if it be the more ad- 
vanced age of the senators, or the smaller size of the as- 
sembly, which imparts to the deliberations their character 
of senatorial gravity. The age fixed by law for a member 
of the senate is thirty-five years ; and though one or two 
gentlemen in the chamber seem to have numbered little 
more than the lustres demanded, the majority of the as- 
sembly have the air of veteran statesmen, some of whom 
have occupied a seat in the house from its first organi- 

The congress have met this session in the capitol for the 
first time since the conflagration. The two wings of the 
building (the one occupied by the hall of the representa- 
tives and the other by the senate chamber and judiciary 
court) are restored to more than their original grandeur. 
The centre of the building is still incomplete, though pro- 
ceeding rapidly. Here is to be the inauguration hall, 
where the presidents will be installed, and the congress 
assemble, whenever circumstances may require a meeting 
of the two houses ; also the national library, which a na- 
tive of England now feels awkward at finding bestowed 
in a few small apartments ; at present it comprises little 
more than the collection supplied by Mr. Jefferson, but 
a stated sum being appropriated annually to its enlarge- 
ment, the spoliations of the war will soon, I trust, be ef- 
faced. These volumes, however, marked with the name 
of America's president and philosopher, will always con- 
stitute the most interesting portion of the national library. 
Beneath the central dome of the building are to be en- 

* The hall of the representatives also contains some grey-haired veterans. 
One ei;tleman was pointed out to me who had sat in the continental con- 
gress, and been regularly returned by his fellow citizens until the present day. 


tombed the remains of Washington ; the statue of the ve- 
nerable patriot now engages the chisel of Canova. 

This skeleton city affords few of the amusements of a 
metropolis. It seems however to possess the advantage 
of very choice society ; the resident families are of course 
few, but the unceasing influx and reflux of strangers from 
all parts of the country, affords an ample supply of new- 
faces to the evening drawing-rooms. To this continual 
intermixture with strangers and foreigners, is perhaps to 
be ascribed the peculiar courtesy and easy politeness 
which characterize the manners of the city. 

Although now sufficiently familiarized with the simple 
habits of this republican community, I still find myself 
occasionally wondering at the world which here surrounds 
us, and not unfrequently recall the words of an English 
correspondent addressed to me from this city. " I think 
it was Buonaparte who observed, that from the sublime to 
the ridiculous^ it was but one step. I have fully discovered 
the truth of this remark in America. When I first came 
here, I really found myself puzzled to decide as to many 
things, whether they were sublime or ridiculous. The 
simplicity of manners among the truly great people of this 
country might at first, by a casual observer, fresh from the 
glare and frippery of Europe, be termed ridiculous ; but I 
have now outlived this feeling, and can appreciate it as 
truly sublime" I perfectly acknowledged the influence 
of that moral sublime, so candidly admitted by my friend, 
when first addressed by the President of the United States. 
I meant to rise, or, rather, I afterwards felt that I ought 
to have risen : but when suddenly introduced to me by a 
senator, and that with the simple air of a private gentle- 
man, and the calmness of a sage, he opened conversation, 
my recollection for a moment left me, and I fixed my eyes 
upon the venerable character before me with a silent emo- 
tion which he, quietly continuing his discourse, seemed 
unconscious of having excited, and thus relieved me from 
the awkwardness of framing an apology for my absence. 


Colonel Monroe enjoys the felicity of having witnessed 
at his election the union of all parties, and of conciliating, 
during his administration, the esteem and confidence of 
the whole American nation. His illustrious predecessors 
having been placed in active political opposition to a 
strong, and once, a ruling party, of which they effected the 
overthrow and destruction, were exposed throughout their 
public career to the enmity of a discomfited minority, an 
enmity which, though their candour knew how to forgive, 
their virtues and high-minded forbearance were unable 
wholly to appease. The existing president came into of- 
fice at a moment of all others the most fortunate ; when 
the republic had just shaken hands with her foreign and 
internal enemies ; and it had been difficult to find a states- 
man more fitted, by the benevolence of his character and 
mild urbanity of his manners, to cement the civil concord, 
than he who was elected.* 

Would it not mortify some European diplomatists to 
find the mighty engine of government exposed to every 
eye as it is here ; — to behold the rulers of a nation legis- 
lating without mystery, and commanding respect by their 
talents and character, and the name of their office ? How 

* I feel tempted to quote a passage from the letter of an American friend ; 
who, after some observations upon the happy spirit of union pervading the 
United States, subjoins, " All unite in approving of Monroe's mild and pru- 
dent guidance. When he lately travelled through our vast extent of country, 
the marks of respect which he received from all parties and classes, must 
have been grateful to his heart. When he passed through our little town 
(and the same feeling prevailed every where,) each person was anxious to 
speak to the good president. The old men, who, like himself, had served in 
the revolutionary war, took pains to make themselves known to him as old 
soldiers. To them, he showed peculiar attention, and seemed to speak with 
pleasure, and even emotion, of the battles they had fought, and the anxieties 
they had felt in common. His arrival having been expected, many little pre- 
parations had been made ; those who had gardens had carefully preserved 
their finest fruit. — But these things will read idly in Europe. It is, perhaps, 
only to those who have been trained up in a republic, that such simple sacri 
fices of the heart speak more than wealth can buy, or power command." 


would the courtiers of C*rlt*n H**s* look upon the chief 
magistrate of a country who stands only as a man among 
men ; who walks forth without attendants, lives without 
state, greets his fellow citizens with open hand as his com- 
panions and equals ; seeks his relaxation from the la- 
bours of the cabinet at the domestic hearth ; snatches a 
moment from the hurry of public affairs to superintend 
the business of his farm, and defrays all the expenses 
of his high office with a stipend of 6000/. a year ! or how 
would they regard a secretary of state, who, with an in- 
come of little more than 1000/., toils from sunrise to sun- 
set, conspicuous only among his fellow citizens for abili- 
ties and science, and a modesty of character and simpli- 
city of manners and habits which might lead the fancy to 
recur to the early sages of Sparta or Rome ! 

And now, my dear friend, I approach the conclusion 
of the voluminous correspondence which I have address- 
ed to you from this country. You contrive to persuade 
me that the information I have collected has often pos- 
sessed for you the merit of novelty. I have, however, to 
regret, that my personal observation has been confined to 
a portion of this vast country, the whole of whose surface 
merits the study of a more discerning traveller than my- 
self. I own that, as regards the southern states, I have 
ever felt a secret reluctance to visit their territory. The 
sight of slavery is revolting every where, but to inhale the 
impure breath of its pestilence in the free winds of Ame- 
rica is odious beyond all that the imagination can con- 
ceive. I do not mean to indulge in idle declamation, ei- 
ther against the injustice of the masters, or upon the de- 
gradation of the slave. This is a subject upon which it is 
difficult to reason, because it is so easy to feel. The dif- 
ficulties that stand in the way of emancipation, I can per- 
ceive to be numerous; but should the masters content 
t hemselves with idly deploring the evil, instead of ;i set- 
ting their shoulder to the wheel," and actively working 


out its remedy, neither their courtesy in the drawing-room, 
their virtues in domestic life, nor even their public services 
in the senate and the field, will preserve the southern 
planters from the reprobation of their northern brethren, 
and the scorn of mankind. The Virginians are said to 
pride themselves upon the peculiar tenderness with which 
they visit the sceptre of authority upon their African vassals. 
As all those acquainted with the character of the Virginia 
planters, whether Americans or foreigners, appear to con- 
cur in bearing testimony to their humanity, it is probable 
that they are entitled to the praise which they claim. But 
in their position, justice should be held superior to huma- 
nity ; to break the chains would be more generous than to 
gild them ; and, whether we consider the interests of the 
master or the slave, decidedly more useful. It is true that 
this neither can nor ought to be done too hastily. To 
give liberty to a slave before he understands its value, is, 
perhaps, rather to impose a penalty than to bestow a 
blessing ; but it is not clear to me that the southern plant- 
ers are duly exerting themselves to prepare the way for 
that change in the condition of their black population 
which they profess to think not only desirable but inevi- 
table. From the conversation of some distinguished Vir- 
ginians, I cannot but apprehend that they suffer them- 
selves to be disheartened by the slender success which 
has hitherto attended the exertions of those philanthropists 
who have made the character and condition of the negro 
their study and care. " Look into the cabins of our free 
negroes," said an eminent individual, a native of Virginia, 
in conversing with me lately upon this subject ; " you will 
find there little to encourage the idea, that to impart the 
rights of freemen to our black population is to meliorate 
their condition, or to elevate their character." It is un- 
doubtedly true, that the free negroes of Maryland and 
Y irginia form the most wretched, and consequently the 
most vicious portion of the black population. The most 


casual observation is sufficient to satisfy a stranger of the 
truth of this statement. I have not seen a miserable 
half-clad negro in either state whom I have not found, 
upon inquiry, to be in possession of liberty. But what 
argument is to be adduced from this ? That to emanci- 
pate the African race would be to smite the land with a 
worse plague than that which defaces it already ? The 
history of the negro in the northern states will save us 
from so revolting a conclusion. To argue that he con- 
stitutes, even there, the least valuable portion of the 
population, will not affect the question. If his cha- 
racter be there improving, a fact which none will deny, 
we have sufficient data upon which to ground the be- 
lief, that he may, in time, be rendered a useful member 
of society, and that the vice and wretchedness which here 
dwell in the cabins of the emancipated negroes, may be 
traced, in part, to the mixture of freed men and slaves 
now observed in the black population. Were the whole 
race emancipated, their education would necessarily be- 
come a national object, the white population would be 
constrained to hire their service, and they themselves be 
under the necessity of selling it. At present, when re- 
stored, by some generous planter, to their birthright of 
liberty, the sons of x\frica forfeit the protection of a mas- 
ter without securing the guardianship of the law. To 
their untutored minds, the gift of freedom is only a release 
from labour. Poor, ignorant, and lazy, it is impossible 
that they should not soon be vicious. To exonerate her- 
self from the increasing weight of black pauperism. Vir- 
ginia has imposed a restriction upon the benevolence of her 
citizens, by a law which exacts of the citizen who eman- 
cipates his vassals, that he shall remove them without the 
precincts of the state ? In obedience to this law, Mr. 
Coles, a native of Virginia, and for some years secretary 
to Mr. Jefferson, lately removed a black colony into the 
state of Illinois. On the death of his father, this gentle- 


man found himself in possession of seventeen slaves, va- 
lued at from eight to nine thousand dollars. His proper- 
ty was small, but he hesitated not a moment to relinquish 
his claims upon his negro vassals. He purchased a tract 
of land near the settlement of Edwardsville, in Illinois, 
where he supplies his former bondsmen with employment, 
encouraging them to lay up their earnings until they shall 
have realized sufficient to enter upon their own farms. 
* * * ** spent some time at Edwardsville last summer, 
and often visited Mr. Coles' settlement. The liberated 
blacks spoke of their former master with tears of gratitude 
and affection, and two of them, who were hired as ser- 
vants by the family with whom * * * * resided, never 
omitted to pay a daily visit to Mr. Coles, anxiously in- 
quiring, if there was nothing they could do for him. I envy 
more the feelings of the man who hears that question than 
those of Csesar in the capitol. 

But why should this work of benevolence be left to the 
philanthropy of individuals ? The virtue of a Coles, how- 
ever beautiful in its nature, and wholesome in its effects 
upon the little circle within the sphere of its influence, can 
do little or nothing for the community. Why does not 
Virginia recur to the plan marked out by herself in the 
first year of her independence ? Has she not virtue* to 
execute what she had wisdom to conceive ? She has 
made so many noble sacrifices to humanity and patriotism, 
her history records so many acts of heroism and disinte- 
rested generosity, that I am willing to persuade myself 
she is equal to this also. Nor can she be so blind to the 
future as not to perceive the consequences w T ith which she 
is threatened, should she not take some active measures 
to eradicate the Egyptian plague which covers her soil. 
A. servile war is the least- of the evils which could befall 
her ; the ruin of her moral character, the decay of- her 
strength, the loss of her political importance ; vice, indo- 
lence, degradation ; these are the evils that will overtake 


her ; the Helots will sink into worse corruption, and the 
Spartans become Helots themselves. 

But I shall weary you with my commentaries upon an 
evil that is so far removed from your sight. Had you 
studied with me the history and character of the Ameri- 
can republic ; — did you see in her so many seeds of ex- 
cellence, so bright a, dawning of national glory, so fair a 
promise of a brilliant meridian day, as your friend ima- 
gines that she can discern, you would share all that re- 
gret, impatience, and anxiety, with which she regards 
every stain that rests upon her morals, every danger that 
threatens her peace. An awful responsibility has devol- 
ved on the American nation ; the liberties of mankind are 
entrusted to their guardianship ; the honour of freedom is 
identified with the honour of their republic ; the agents of 
tyranny are active in one hemisphere ; may the children 
of liberty be equally active in the other! May they re- 
turn with fresh ardour to the glorious work which they 
formerly encountered with so much success; — in one 
word, may they realize the conviction lately expressed to 
me by their venerable President, that " The day is not 
very far distant when a slave will not be found in 
America !" 




Yes ! I have left ye, regions of the sun ! 
Land of the free, I've bade thee my farewell i 
The reckless gale our proud ship driveth on, 
And thou art sunk beneath the billows' swell. 

Farewell to thee ! — Heaven's choicest blessings thine, 
Freedom, and her twin sister, holy Peace ; 
Ever upon thee may their influence shine, 
Strengthen thy strength, and hallow its increase ! 

Well hast thou chosen, in the day of youth, 
Spurning the sceptre of a kingly lord, 
And seating thee beneath the eye of Truth, 
To rule thee by her fair and simple word. 

Shame on the heartless, on the selfish wight, 
Can tread thy shore, and cast abroad his eye 
On thy vast regions, blest in freedom's light, 
In active, peaceful, happy industry ; — 

Can walk amid thy race of free-born men, 
Whose fathers broke the stubborn tyrant's rod, 
And taught the truth, none will unlearn again, 
That man hath no superior but his God. 

, Shame on the wretch can tread thy sacred shore, ) 
| And feel no generous thoughts expand his mind ; i 

Can speak thy name, and think thy story o'er, § 
^.Nor bless thee in the name of all mankind ! ' 

Ay, young America ! earth owes to thee, 
If now, through all her vast and varied climes, 
Aught better, nobler, 'mong her tribes she see, 
Than suffering slaves, and tyrants working crimes. 

Thy cry of freedom first poor Gallia heard, 

And shook her chains, and burst them at one bound ; 

Then all the tribes of mighty Andes stirr'd, 

Till e'en the slumbering Spaniard caught the sound, 


And when all earth shall hear the stunning call, 
And all her myriads range 'neath freedom's wings J 
When from her peoples the last chains shall fall, 
With the last iron sceptre of her kings- 
Then shall the nations turn their. eyes to thee ; 
To thee, America ! whose youthful mind. 
Had strength to brave the laws of tyranny, 
And point the way of truth to all mankind : 

Then shall they bless thy Congress, firmly great, 
Who made appeal to men and heaven's Lord, 
When they in solemn council fearless sat, 
Declar'd their nation's rights, and drew the sword : 

Then shall they write upon the door of fame 
Thy Franklin, the pure patriot and the sage, 
And Jefferson, and many a stainless name, 
Whose virtues live within thy history's page : 

Then shall they read, with sympathizing pride, 
How thy firm Washington the cause upstaid, 
With equal mind, did good or ill betide, 
Unaw'd by danger, or by faction sway'd. 

But hark! what clamour makes the battling wind i 
Ocean and heaven mix in wild uproar ; 
The raving deep in mountains rolls behind, 
And storm and tempest point our track before. 

Farewell ! Farewell ! Kindly I'll think on thee, 
Land of the West ! and so may'st thou retain, 
In some warm hearts, kind memory of me, 
A cheerless pilgrim oa life's stormy main. t 




Printed by J. Kingsland & Co, 
64 Pine-street. 




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