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There is a numerous set of people in this country who, having grown inordinately rich under its protecting shield, while the rest of the civilized world lay exposed to the ravages of war, are become feverish and discontented, because the return of peace has not instantaneously, and, as it were by magic, shaken from their shoulders the burdens necessarily created by that protracted state of hostility to which their fortune is mainly due. Too selfish to endure any reduction of their extravagant profits, or to await the relief which the re-establishment of tranquillity must gradually effect, they leave their country to support its burdens as it can, and are already on the wing, with their multitudinous acquisitions, for a foreign shore. Among others of this description, forty families, principally resident, we believe, in the neighbourhood of Southwark, gaily formed themselves into an emigrating party to the United States— Cedere namdue foro jam nec tibi deterius quam Esquilias a ferventi migrare Suburrá– —to transfer their allegiance and their affections to another government sits as lightly upon them as to remove, in the fashionable season, from the Ward of Farringdon Without to Margate or Rotting Dean. The feeling which ennobled the citizens of Sparta and Athens, and stood them in the stead of many virtues, the love of country, once the peculiar pride and boast of Englishmen, has no residence in the bosom of these persons. The endearing charities of life, the ties of blood, of society, of early friendships, of kindred habits, are all sacrificed by them to one sordid passion, while, rudely trampling over the graves of their forefathers, they rush in crouds to deposit their wealth where it may be safe from the claims of their native land. Had the amiable con-fraternity of whom we are speaking been agriculturists, they would have transported themselves at once, and blindly plunged into the insatiable gulf which has already swallowed up so many thousands of their countrymen: but they were traders—cold-blooded, calculating men, who, in their own language, deemed it prudent to look before they leaped, and, in the usual mode of business, to send out one of their members as a kind of Rider, to examine the country, and select the most favourable spot for settling, before they trusted themselves, with their accumulations, to the winds. The person fixed upon for this purpose was Mr. Henry Fearon:—and as there was an evident solicitude in the party to procure a favourable report from the United States, the choice could not have fallen upon a fitter agent. A democrat fieffé, Mr. Feaon joined to a sovereign contempt for the civil and religious institutions of England, of which he knew little, a blind and sottish admiration admiration of those of America, of which he knew nothing at aff. With the gullibility common to the party, he appears to have swallowed all the rancorous abuse of this country, and all the outrageous panegyrics on America, which he found in Cobbett, and Wooler, and Sherwin, with equal avidity and delight. Thus happily qualified for an impartial speculator, and furnished with “letters of introduction by Mr. Alderman Wood,” he commences his narrative and his voyage on the 4th of June, 1817. The re
sults of his travels are contained in “Eight Reports’; transmitted,
as occasion offered, to the persons by whom he was deputed.
Mr. Fearon would have thought he offered an injury to “the
land of liberty,’ had he disembarked on it from the polluted at
mosphere of an English ship; he therefore took his passage on board an American vessel, called the Washington; and, as the
eabin passengers were Americans, and one of them was a i. man in office, undoubtedly anticipated ‘high converse’ on the imperishable beauty of Isocracy; and Symposia, at which the legislators of Sparta and Athens might have sat and listened with profit and delight. Such, however, is the frail texture of human affairs, that these reasonable expectations, we lament to say, proved altogether fallacious. Mr. Fearon's sublime idea of American republicanism received a check at the very outset of the voyage. “Of the nineteen cabin passengers,’ he assures his friends that they “will be somewhat surprised to learn that Mr. George Washington Adams (eldest son of the HoNo URABLE John Quincey Adams, according to American etiquette) and himself were the only warm friends of political liberty:’—and still more so when, on the anniversary of American independence, kept on board, he has to inform them that ‘ the toasts were but indifferent.”—“I was not gratified, he adds, “with even an approach to the old English' (modern Whig) “sentiment of “Civil and Religious Liberty all over the world.” The steerage passengers, amounting to thirteen, had almost as little relish, it would seem, for Liberty as their betters in the cabin. There was, however, a Mr. Davis among them, “an ingenious clever man,’ who organized a debating society, which was held twice a week in a sort of dog-hole, “weather permitting.”—On one occasion the question was—‘Which is the best form of government, a democracy or a monarchy?" After a strong contest, it was determined in favour of the former by the casting vote of the chairman, “who was seated in presidential state on a water cask.” And we almost tremble while we state the alarming fact—that for this narrow escape of Democracy being left in a minority, she was solely indebted to the attendance of ‘young master Adams' and Mr. Fearon, who left the cabin for
that purpose. The
The first landing at New York however was calculated to imPress our author with better hopes. A lad having called a hackney-coach was liberally rewarded, as Mr. Fearon thought, with the offer of a shilling, which the young republican however refused to take, ‘for as how, (said he) I guess, it is not of value; I have been slick in going to the stand right away. The tone of independence (impudence—for which Mr. Fearon would probably have longed to kick a poor water-man in Farringdon Ward Without) with which this was uttered, though somewhat displeasing to Mr. Fearon's pride, was not so, he tells us, to his judgment, more especially on observing that “there was no sense of having received a favour in the boy's countenance or manner, when Mr. Adams gave him half a dollar.' Our traveller, however, is in some dilemma in making up his mind to this first essay of republican independence, and is disposed to think that a simple “I thank you, Sir, would not derogate from a freeman's dignity: yet, “after all,” he concludes, “even cold independence is preferable to warm servility.” Here, as every where else, he is the dupe of words: the question, with his leave, is not between cold independence and warm servility, but between downright impudence and courtesy: for, surely, ‘I thank you' has nothing servile in it. In fact, Mr. Fearon's pride peeps out through the holes of his ragged republicanism. He was evidently mortified. The first observation made by our author on the quay of Ne York was, that the labouring class were not better clothed than men of the same condition in England, “but more erect in their posture; less care-worn in their countenances'— and that among them there were no beggars.”—Mr. Fearon, we suspect, would not look for beggars on the quays of London.—The next was, that the “mercantile and genteel orders wore large straw hats, that trowsers were universal, and that the general costume of these classes was inferior to men in the same rank of life in England.”—“Their whole appearance was loose, slovenly, careless, and not remarkable for cleanliness.” One striking feature of the street population consisted in the multitude of blacks. The white men, women, and children were all sallow, and Mr. Fearon soon learned that ‘to have colour in the cheeks is an infallible criterion by which to be discovered as an Englishman.’ The people here (he says) seem all of one family, “and though not quite “a drab-coloured creation,” the feelings they excite are not many degrees removed from the uninteresting sensations generated by that expression.” Old men are rarely to be seen. The streets are narrow and dirty, and much infested with pigs—circumstances which, to our author, seemed to indicate a lax police. “Upon the whole, a walk through New York will diaro o Eng1Sh mall . lishman: there is, on the surface of society, a carelessness, a laziness,” (what is become of the erect posture of the people, which so edified Mr. Fearon a few lines above ) “an unsocial indifference, which freezes the blood and disgusts the judgment. An evening stroll along Broadway when the lamps are alight, will please more than one at noon-day. The shops then look rather better, though their proprietors, of course, remain the same: their cold indifference may, by themselves, be mistaken for independence, but no person of thought and observation will ever concede to them that they have selected a wise mode of exhibiting that dignified feeling:'—this, however, is precisely the mistake which Mr. Fearon made in the case of the young gentleman who called
the coach.-‘ I disapprove most decidedly of the obsequious servility of
many London shopkeepers,' (the London shopkeepers are infinitely obliged to Mr. Fearon)—‘ but I am not prepared to go the length of those in New York, who stand with their hats on, or sit or lie along
their counters, smoking segars, and spitting in every direction, to a de
gree offensive to any man of decent feelings.’—p. 11. o
Mr. Fearon went, as strangers usually do, to a boarding-house. He occupied a small room in the attic story with two small beds in it, which he shared with the rats and musquitoes. The furniture consisted of two old chairs, as many temporary bedsteads, a mattress, cottom sheets and coverlid—no bell in the room, which indeed (says he) would be useless, as ‘the attendance of servants is perfectly unattainable.”—For these splendid accommodations, he paid something more than four guineas a week—this, however, he gaily adds, “troubles me but little. If there be but a good government, a healthy and fertile country, and an enlightened people, I for one, and I am sure you all will join with me, shall be contented and happy.” He was somewhat staggered, however, in his preconceived ideas as to the ‘good government,’ on hearing, at the dinner table, a conversation between Commodore Decatur, who is a member of the Navy Board, and a gentleman of the town, respecting favouritism in disposing of the government contracts. The policy of giving away good things to the supporters of government was stoutly defended by one person, and assented to partially by Commodore Decatur, while another complained, with some feeling, of jobs and peculation. ‘These,’ says Mr. Fearon, with the simplicity of a sucking child, ‘were terms which I had âmagined were unknown in the language of the United States; I had hoped that this refined order of things would never be imported from our great but oppressed country to this land, at the emancipation of which from tyranny and taxation every free mind throughout the world joined in exultation and triumph.” For a man so utterly ignorant of the history of both countries as Mr. Fearon, the intrepidity with which he delivers his judgment is anything but laudable. America was subjected to no tyranny be- - - fore fore the era of her rebellion; and she certainly has not been emancipated from taxation since. The “triumph' of this gentleman and his friends therefore, if not premature is, at least, unwarranted. Another circumstance that surprised our simple traveller was, the great number of black slaves in this ‘free state.” The boarding house was full of them—‘female blacks (he says) often obstructed my passage up and down stairs; they lie about clinging to the boards as though that had been the spot on which they had vegetated. Soon after landing he had an excellent practical specimen of that “liberty and equality’ which he had so fondly anticipated in ‘the land of promise.’ He called at a hair-dresser’s, shop; the man within was a negro. A black man, very respectably dressed, came into the shop and sat down. On the black shaver inquiring what he wanted, the reply was, he wished to have his hair cut—the rest of the scene is excellent.
“My man turned upon his heel, and with the greatest contempt, muttered in a tone of proud importance, “We do not cut coloured men here, Sir.” The poor fellow walked out without replying, exhibiting in his countenance confusion, humiliation, and mortification. I immediately requested that if the refusal was on account of my being present, he might be called back. The hair-dresser was astonished: “You cannot be in earnest, Sir?” he said. I assured him that I was so, and that I was much concerned in witnessing the refusal from no other cause than that his skin was of a darker tinge than my own. He stopped the motion of his scissars; and after a pause of some seconds, in which his eyes were fixed upon my face, he said, “Why, I guess as how, Sir, what you say is mighty elegant, and you're an elegant man; but I guess you are not of these parts.”—“I am from England,” said I, “where we have neither so cheap nor so enlightened a government as your's, but we have no slaves.”—“Ay, I guessed you were not raised here; you salt-water people are mighty grand to coloured people; you are not so proud, and I guess you have more to be proud, of; now I reckon you do not know that my boss would not have a single ugly or clever gentleman come to his store, if he cut coloured men; now my boss, I guess, ordered me to turn out every coloured man from the store right away, and if I did not, he would send me off slick; for the slimmest gentleman in York would not come to his store if coloured men were let in; but you know all that, Sir, I guess, without my telling you; you are an elegant gentleman too, Sir.” I assured him that I was ignorant of the fact which he stated; but which, from the earnestness of his manner, I concluded must be true. “And you come all the way right away from England. Well! I would not have supposed, I guess, that you come from there from your tongue; you have no hardness like, I guess, in your speaking; you talk almost as well as we do, and that is what I never see, I guess, in a gentleman so lately from England. I guess that your talk, is within a grade as good as ours. You are a mighty elegant gentleman, and if you will tell me where you keep, I will bring some of my coloured friends to visit
WOL. xxi. NO. XLI. I you.