Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

REVIEW OF DUNCAN'S if our countrymen, impatient of the restraint in which they had been held during the late twenty years of warfare, had broken loose on the return of peace, and found one of their chiefest gratifications in exploring distant countries, examining what has been going on during the period of their exclusion, and communicating to us who remained at home, the result of their observations. America has certainly come in for its due share of notice in this way; and as that country has been visited for very different reasons, and with different objects in view, so the narratives that have been made concerning it have been exceedingly diversified and various. One of the principal objects of visiting the United States, has been to ascertain what facilities that extensive continent afforded for providing means of subsistence for the overgrown population of our own country, and what inducements it held forth for emigration. Accordingly those who have travelled it with this object in view, have restricted their reports, in a great measure, to the agricultural state of the country; the nature, qualities and productiveness of its soil-matics and Natural Philosophy in Yale the terms on which tracts of land may College, and was on his voyage to be obtained-the time and expence that England, with the view of forming an would be necessary to clear and cultivate acquaintance with the literati of Europe, it-and the sacrifices that must be made, examining the mode of communicating and the hardships endured, before the knowledge in our Universities, and obcomforts of life could be obtained by a taining such information as might ena new settler. With publications of this ble him to aid more fully the scientific cast we have rarely thought it worth character of his country, and promote while to trouble our readers; and had the usefulness and prosperity of his Mr. Duncan's volumes ranked under this own college. We are told by one of his class, we should have passed them by fellow-professors, that Mr. Fisher was unnoticed, as being quite alien to the the most extraordinary man of his years design of our Journal. But as the whom he had ever known. To his Author crossed the Atlantic with other wonderful scientific attainments, he objects in view than those to which we added the finish of classical and polite have adverted, so his publication is of a literature, derived from the best ancient different description. That which conas well as modern sources; his elegant stitutes the leading topic in his pages is taste embraced the fine arts in their MAN, in his moral and religious habits; extent and variety, and he was satisfied and, after all that has been published with nothing, even in the decorum and relating to America, its customs, man- accommodation of private life, which ners, state of society, seminaries of was not adapted to the same elevated learning, public institutions, &c. &c. standard. His death, which took place this work affords ample proof of what at the age of twenty-eight, was "the remained to be effected by an intelligent extinction of genius, of virtue, and of traveller, who visited the country with bright hopes." all his senses about him; with a mind sufficiently cultivated to examine and judge; and possessing sufficient impartiality to appreciate excellence wherever

he found it.

The places visited, and more par

TRAVELS IN AMERICA.

79 ticularly described by Mr. Duncan, are New York, Boston, New Haven, Yale College, Princeton, Philadelphia, Bal timore, Washington, Alexandria, Mount Vernon, River Hudson, Albany, Buffalo, Falls of Niagara, American Indians at Lewiston, Niagara Town, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence, Montreal, Quebec, Lake Champlain, &c. The whole is given in a series of twenty letters, and the narrative is greatly enriched by copious notes at the foot of the page, into which our Author has transferred such materials as, while they subserve the purposes of illustration, could not have been incorporated in the text or body of his work, without rendering it, what many books of travels are, diffuse and desultory. Many of these notes, however, are uncommonly interesting to us, such for instance as that which occurs in Vol. I. p. 128-132, respecting the late Professor Fisher, who found an untimely grave in the Bay of Kinsale, Ireland, on the morning of the 22nd of April, 1822, being one of about fifty persons who perished in the wreck of the Albion, of New York. He was Professor of Mathe

Except the Travels of President Dwight, which have lately been reprinted in this country, we have seen no work of the kind that comprises so much information respecting the existing state of American literature and the arts, as

the volumes before us. The account of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale colleges; of the Seminary at Andover; the numerous Lancasterian and Sabbath schools with which the country every where abounds, are noticed and dwelt upon with a copiousness of detail corresponding to their rank and importance. But there is one topic, which unhappily is considered beneath the regard of travellers in general, that has obtained from Mr. Duncan a very commendable share of attention; and it is this that has conferred upon his book a peculiar degree of interest with us. In all the principal towns that he visited, he seems to have been particularly attentive to the state of religion among the inhabitants. He attended their places of worship; enumerates the sects and parties into which the profession of Christianity is divided; gives us some interesting accounts of the preachers he heard, and characterizes their qualities of style and doctrine, so as to enable us to form a tolerable estimate of the state of religion among them. As our confined limits will not admit of our multiplying extracts, we shall lay before our readers his account of the state of religion in New York, or at least so much of it as we can make room for. After a copious detail of the Presbyterian and Episcopalian congregations, Mr. Duncan thus proceeds,

"I have only happened to hear two specimens of Methodist preaching, and these both in the same evening and in the same place. Disappointed in getting admission to another church, I agreed to the suggestion of a friend that we should follow a crowd who were flocking into a Methodist church, or rather a kind of subterraneous place of meeting under the chapel. The first preacher addressed the audience from the words, "Cleanse your hands ye sinners, purify your hearts ye double-minded." So far as bodily exertion went, this was the most powerful discourse I ever heard. The preacher wrought himself up to the most extravagant degree of vehemence, and vociferated for about an hour till he

absolutely gasped for breath. Sitting down, apparently from total inability to go on, a second took it up, and setting out with the observation, that "many a good sermon was lost for want of self application by the hearers," he proceeded to enforce what his associate had advanced, and toiled himself into almost an equal degree of noisiness and exhaustion. The whole amount of both addresses was, "The way

of escape from hell and damnation is, draw nigh to God, draw nigh to God-abstain from drinking, swearing, theatres, balls, extravagance of living and furniture, cry aloud for mercy, walk in the paths of true piety, and live a life of godliness and devotion." Neither the one nor the other ever stated, directly or indirectly, that Jesus died for sinners, and rose again for their justification. I do not offer this as by any means ascertaining the general character of Methodist preaching or doctrine in this country; I have reason to hope that many, even of their own body, would have disapproved of the specimen as decidedly as I did; at the same time I suspect that a still greater number would be found who would as decidedly applaud

it.

rank next in order. They have seven "The Baptists, in number of churches, places of worship in the city; I am not aware whether they have any for blacks. These are all agreed, as to worship and church government, with the particular Baptists of England, but there is also a small congregation conducted upon the principles of the Scottish Baptists. I attended at different times in three of these places of worship; they are large and which 1 heard were, with one exception, numerously attended, and the discourses characterized by piety and good sense.

"The Baptists are the most numerous denomination in the United States; it is said that their churches amount altogether to nearly 3000. They obtained a footing first in Rhode Island, where they have a very respectable academical institution called Brown College, at which about seventy or eighty students in general study; they have also a theological academy at Philadelphia. Their great strength however is in the southern and western States, where they continue to increase rapidly. They have a Missionary Society at Philadelphia which supports, as you know from the reports, missions to Bombay and the Birman Empire.

"Besides the churches which I have enumerated, there are three Quaker's. meeting-houses, one German Reformed church, one Evangelical Lutheran, two Romish, one Universalist, and one Jewish synagogue.

"The ministers of the various denominations are supported chiefly by the proceeds of pew rents and voluntary contributions. The salaries of those of the larger congregations vary from about 2000 to 4000 dollars; £450 to 900 sterling. I am not, however, sure that any of them actually reach the latter sum. Pews are in general private property; but, in addition to the large amount of their first cost, they are burdened with a very heavy annual

[ocr errors]

REVIEW OF DUNCAN'S TRAVELS.

assessment. In some churches the more
desirable pews, capable of accommodating
six or eight sitters, will occasionally sell
for as much as a thousand dollars, about
£220; and the annual assessment is con-
siderably higher than the usual amount of
seat rents in Glasgow. The original pur-
chase money goes to the erection and sup-.
port of the building, the subsequent pay-
ments to the support of the minister.

"A part of the ministers' emoluments arises from marriages; on which happy occasions the clergyman is always compensated for his assistance with bank notes. The sum usually presented varies from five to twenty dollars, but those who can afford to be munificent sometimes go the length of one hundred, £22. 10s. Another item might perhaps be added, the linen scarfs which are presented at funerals, each of them will make a shirt, and some ministers get a great many every year. This, however, is in every respect a very censurable custom, and ought by all means to be discouraged.

"In country places the minister's salary is greatly lower; sometimes it is raised by penny a week associations; frequently it is paid in kind, and very often is of no stipulated amount, but depends entirely upon the state of the times, and the incumbent's popularity.

"During the time of public worship, it is quite common in the more narrow streets of New York to find a chain extended completely across from one post to another, to prevent the passage of carriages. This we should think with us a very glaring infringement on the liberty of the subject.

"The collections are usually made, not at the door of the church, but in plates which are handed into every pew, immediately on the conclusion of the sermon. This is a very efficient way of levying contributions from those who are not accustomed to the fashion, but frequent use renders people quite callous to the craving platter. In Philadelphia they use a little black velvet bag, projected at the end of a long pole; this is unceremoniously thrust out to every one in the pew; but it is so far convenient, that those who choose to be parsimonous escape detection, for it is impossible to discover the amount of their deposite.

81 America. Tea gardens are open here on the Sabbath evening; and I have seen in Broadway, opposite the entrance to one of them, a large lantern suspended over the foot-walk, inviting visitors; there are however no pastry-cooks' shops open, as in London and other parts of England. With regard to the consistent observance of the Sabbath among professedly religious people, I scarcely know what general statement to make. I have known some individuals, whom in the judgment of charity I could not but regard as Christians, who would yet spend the Sabbath in travelling, when there was not, so far as I could judge, any necessary occasion for it; but I have also met with others, who most scrupulously abstained from what most would have considered works of necessity or mercy, and most conscientiously spent the whole day in the duties of public and private devotion. The majority of the religious world, however, I have reason to think might be said, as among ourselves, to steer a middle course; and while they acted under a conviction of the duty of setting apart the first day of the week to the worship of God and medi tation on eternal things, were at the same time not unmindful that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

66

Evening sermons are numerous here; were I required to give my opinion on the subject, I should be inclined to say that there is perhaps an undue importance attached to them, and that many attend church who would be more usefully employed in the duties of family instruction. Perhaps, however, the circumstances in which I have happened to be placed, occasioned me to see more of the one than the other. A wayfaring man has not the best opportunity of correct information on subjects of a domestic nature.

"The efforts which are made by the inhabitants of this city to communicate religious instruction to their destitute fellow creatures, both among themselves and in distant regions, merit honourable mention. Bible, Missionary, Tract, and Sunday School Societies, are I think quite as numerous as among ourselves. Some of them indeed are comparatively of modern institution; but we have all been too remiss in such matters to be entitled to censure the conduct of others."

"The Sabbath is, upon the whole, decorously observed at New York. In large cities, and particularly sea ports, there is always in a considerable proportion of the population, a great degree of indifference to the solemnities, and even to the quiet-ject ness of the day of rest; but I do not think that in this respect New York would suffer much in a comparison with those of our native country. I must say, however, that what difference exists, is against

VOL. X.

readers may be interested in the subAs it may happen that some of our

of Emigration, we shall lay before them Mr. Duncan's sentiments on that point.

"On the subject of emigration to America, and the eligibility of the country for a place of residence, much has been

M

already written, by those who have seen more of the interior than I have; yet it is a subject respecting which so much interest has been excited in my native country, that it should not perhaps be passed over in silence. The prudence or imprudence of emigration must of course depend upon individual and contingent circumstances, but a few general principles ought to regulate the decision. A kind of America-mania has possessed many of our countrymen; who seemed to think that the land flowed so abundantly with good things, that they needed only to open their mouths and let them have entrance. I need hardly say that this is a gross delusion. Whoever would prosper in America must work for it, and work hard too; and in many cases struggle with obstacles which are unknown at home.

profitable branch of industry; and if the emigrant has not something better than this peradventure to depend upon, the chance is that he will be grievously disappointed.

"With some of both classes political discontent is the moving cause. The individual wishes to find himself in a country where he can hold up his head in haughty independence, and say," My rank is equal to that of any man around me, and there is not an office in the state to which I am precluded from aspiring." To be sure in America he may say all this, at least his son may, if he is born in the country; but what the better is he?-not a carman in the street but may say the same, and he will find himself as far from the top of the tree as ever. If he has not taxes to pay in one shape, he will find that he will not escape from them in another; and let him growl as much and as loud as he pleases, he will find his individual influence, in getting the laws amended, to be quite as little in America as in Britain.

"In a word, my advice would be-If you are enjoying a moderate degree of prosperity at home, do not think of quitting it. Your success in America is at best problematical; while the difference of customs, manner of living, and climate, is what many will find it very difficult to endure. Of those who emigrate, there are certainly many who prosper, and some who accumulate fortunes; but how many are there at home who are equally successful, who have never stirred from their native city? Hundreds have come to America who bitterly lament their folly; and who have found, to their dear-bought experience, that gold neither paves the streets, nor grows upon the trees.

"There cannot be a doubt, however, that the United States are a rapidly rising nation. There is much in their political and social system that may need improvement; but there is also much in both from which the older hemisphere might profitably take instruction. They know nothing of the feudal barbarisms, which yet in a thousand ways obstruct the progress of knowledge and improvement even in Britain. There are no close corporations to prevent an ingenious man from reaping the reward of his skill, in any branch to which he may direct it. At home, were I to discover an improved way of baking a loaf, or a more expeditions and durable way of constructing a shoe, I could not practise my invention. Both are chartered crafts; in the one of which I should have to purchase my freedom, and in the other I could not purchase it at all. No such exclusive privileges exist here.

Discovery in arts and sciences have

"Some come out with the intention of clearing and cultivating land. To the difficulties with which these have to struggle, I have already alluded. If a man's mind, however, is made up to penetrate into the back woods, and fell trees, shoot bears and panthers, kill rattlesnakes, eat, sleep and die, a stranger to almost all the comforts of social life, but content to suffer every privation, if he can reasonably hope that his children or grand-children will be better off-the probability is, if his days are not cut short by the inseparable hardships of such a life, that he will attain the object of his ambition. The land is doubtless productive, and he will find no difficulty in ordinary seasons of raising plentiful crops; he may occasionally be unable, however, to procure a remunerating price for his produce; and many prevented for want of this from paying the purchase money of their lands, have seen them sold by a sheriff's warrant, after years of labour have been expended on them, and the whole proceeds swept off to the United States' treasury. I do not, however, mean to insinuate, that this is any thing else than an exception to the general rule; and doubtless, in many cases of its occurrence, indolence and dissipation have been as much its causes as unavoidable misfortune. "Others come out with the purpose of settling in the cities, to prosecute their various handicrafts and trades, by which perhaps they were able to live tolerably well at home, but not to get so speedily rich as they had desired; here they think

there will be a wider field, and less com

petition. Let such think twice before
starting. Americans are a shrewd, enter-
prizing, speculating race, and he would
need to have both wit and industry, who
enters into rivalry with them. Not many
nooks will be found, in any of their con-
siderable towns, where there is not as
much competition as at home, in every 66

83 of late years as "the healer of the breach," which the poet lamented. We rejoice to perceive that the two counand more sensible of the advantages tries appear to become every year more that must result to each of them, from pursuing that line of conduct which has a tendency to draw them closer together in the bonds of amity and mutual regard. It is certainly high time that the irritation and ill blood excited by a war which all must deplore, should subside, and the best possible understanding be cultivated on both sides; and the real friends of each country must rejoice to realized in this respect by recent facts. see their fondest wishes begin to be On the whole, the public are much indebted to Mr. Duncan for laying before

46

a liberty

Unsung by poets, and by senators unprais'd;

Of earth and bell confederate take away!"

Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers them the result of his observations and enquiries during the two years he passed in the United States. He has evidently bestowed great care and pains upon the publication; and the typographical neatness with which the work is executed, renders it worthy of a place in every gentleman's library. As a specimen of correct and beautiful printing it does honour to the University Press of Glasgow, of which the Author is one of the proprietors.

PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF WM. COWPER, ESQ.

already made rapid progress in America, and in all probability will continue to do so. There is an elasticity in the national character, which makes them in some measure discontented with beaten tracks; all are aiming at something new; and when all are aiming, some must be successful.

"Of their future destiny and influence we can say nothing; but he is not a friend to his species, who does not wish well to the United States. A grand experiment in politics and religion is there going forward-an experiment which, if successful, will be productive of unestimated happiness to the human race; and whether successful or not, will, we know, be one in that chain of events, which is to issue in diffusing over the whole earth,

the

66

as

In taking leave of these volumes, we must be allowed to bear our testimony to the ability which the Author has displayed in the composition of them. The Americans themselves, we are persuaded, will bear testimony to his candour and impartiality. We have no caricatures for the purpose of exciting the reader's risibility on the one hand, nor any affected panegyrics upon glories of a democratical form of government. We believe he speaks of the country and its inhabitants just as they are; and he has furnished a fund of interesting information on a subject that can never be indifferent to a Briton. "I consider England and America," says the amiable poet Cowper,* once one country. They were so, in respect of interest, intercourse and affinity. A great earthquake has made a partition, and now the Atlantic ocean flows between them. He that can drain the ocean, and shove the two shores together, so as to make them aptly coincide, and meet each other in every part, can unite them again. But this is a work for Omnipotence, and nothing less than Omnipotence can heal the breach between us. This dispensation is evidently a scourge to England; but is it a blessing to America?" It is out of our province to answer the Poet's question; but may we not be allowed to congratulate both England and America, that He who has the hearts of all men in his hand, and who turns them as the rivers of water, has manifestly appeared

Private Correspondence of William Cowper, Esq. with several of his most intimate Friends. Now first published from the Originals in the possession of his Kinsman, JOHN JOHNSON, L.L.D. Rector of Yaxham with Welborne in Norfolk. In 2 vols. with Portraits of Cowper and Mrs. Unwin. London, Colburn; and Simpkin and Marshall; pr. 28s. bds. 1824.

ABOUT twenty years ago, Mr. Hayley, the Painter, favoured the public with the Life and Letters of the amiable Cowper, in four octavo volumes, a work which has been universally read and admired. The plan which Mr. Hayley adopted in conducting the biography of his friend, was somewhat singular; for, instead of throwing the letters into an Appendix to the Life, as is customary, he chose to intersperse them throughout the narrative, classing them under each sucessive year. Mr. Hayley, no doubt was well aware, that had he presented us with all the Poet's letters which he had access to, the historical

* Private Correspondence, Vol. I. p. 201. See our next article.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »