Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

“All. What majority upon the whole election, friend, will you advise us to give?"' “Fr. You must be cautious in your majorities. We do not know how Beaver and Dauphin may turn out.—Mind! save yourselves.—If you find Billy going down, take up Sour Kraut.”—p. 141, 142. What our readers will think of this we know not, but Mr. Fearon, who sought (as he says) to obtain an insight into the character and mind of this people, by observing how they acted in their political capacity, is not afraid to intimate that there is much to lament in it. True it is that he instantly qualifies his temerity by a palliative which never occurred to him in England— namely, that “we should recollect, after all, that in the political as in the natural world, we must endure evils in order to insure a preponderance of good.'—p. 149. Certainly, it must be a traveller's own fault, if he visits America without improvement. From the triumph of “political purity, Mr. Fearon instantly proceeds, with a master boot-maker, to witness that of ‘personal liberty,’ the deplorable want of which in England troubled his conscience and drove him to seek peace for it beyond the Atlantic. The brig Bubona had just arrived at Philadelphia from the Texel with a cargo of those deluded wretches known by the name of redemptioners—i.e. ‘Europeans who sell themselves to the captain of an American ship, to procure a passage to the tand of liberty, and, on their arrival in it, are immediately sold again for the profit of their worthy conductor, and his no less worthy employers. Mr. Fearon explains the term with somewhat more tenderness. “A redemptioner,’ he says, “is a European who emigrates without money, and pays for his passage by binding himself to the captain, who receives the produce of his labour for a certain number of years.’ The meaning, as Sir Hugh observes, is just the same, save and ercept that the phrase is a Hittle variations.

‘As we ascended (Mr. Fearon says) the side of this hulk, a most revolting scene of want and misery presented itself. The eye involuntarily turned for some relief from the horrible picture of human suffering, which this living sepulchre afforded. Mr. — inquired if there were any shoe-makers on board. The captain advanced : his appearance bespoke his office; he is an American, tall, determined, and with an eye that flashes with Algerine cruelty. He called in the Dutch language for shoe-makers, and never can I forget the scene which followed. The poor fellows came running up with unspeakable delight, no doubt anticipating a relief from their loathsome dungeon. Their clothes, if rags deserve that denomination, actually perfumed the air. Some were without shirts, others had this article of dress, but of a quality as coarse as the worst packing cloth. I inquired of several if they could spew' English. They smiled, and gabbled, “No Engly, no Engly,–one

WOL. x XI. N 0. XLI. R

[ocr errors]

gly talk ship.” The deck was filthy. The cooking, washing, and

necessary departments were close together. Such is the mercenary

barbarity of the Americans who are engaged in this trade, that they crammed into one of those vessels, 500 passengers, 80 of whom died on the passage.”—p. 150.

Mr. Fearon's statement as to the number of these unfortunate creatures taken into one ship would seem to be far beneath the truth. It was asserted in Congress, that in one instance, a single

vessel had taken on board 1287 passengers; that 400 of them had died before she got out of the North Sea, and 300 more previously to her arrival at Philadelphia; and that many of the remainder shortly afterwards died of fever and debility : finally,

that of 5000 persons who had embarked at Antwerp in the course of the year 1817, one fifth had died on the passage. This infa

mous traffic is confined, exclusively, to American vessels. But Mr. Fearon never retains his anger long against these exquisite upholders of equal rights. He turns, in the very next

sentence, to ‘the illustrious house of Orange,’ and accuses it of

being the fons et origo of the whole evil. ‘From my heart,” he says, “I execrate the European cause,’ &c. Had a NATHAN been at hand, how would the daring eye have sunk, how would the hypocritical lip have quivered, while the prophet looked him sternly in the face, and pronounced the awful words—THou ART THE MAN | There is no subterfuge for Mr. Fearon. These poor wretches are the very persons whom he is principally solicitous to entice from their country: first, by filling them with discontent, and next, by perverting their understanding by flattering promises, by fallacies and lies. ‘The class of British society’ (he says) ‘who would be primarily benefited by emigrating to America, is that large and much injured body of men who are here chained to the country and the political system, which oppresses and grinds them to the earth—I mean THE EXTREME Pook' (and he marks the words that they may not be overlooked,)—“they would not be in America a week before they would experience a rapid advance in the scale of being.’ p. 445. That is—and Mr. Fearon knows it cannot be otherwise—they would rise, from labourers in their own country, to “redemptioners’ on board a pestilential hulk, and, if they survived the passage, soar to a state of

slavery in the free soil of Kentucky or Virginia. From the hustings and the white-slave hulks, Mr. Fearon proceeded (such is the abundance of entertainment provided in Philadelphia) ‘to the churches, as all houses of religious assembly are denominated.’ He first visited the African church, in which were none but blacks, and, in the course of the same evening, * Ebenezer church, in which were only whites.” The scene which - Mr.

Mr. Fearon witnessed at the latter, is of a very extraordinary kind,

[ocr errors]

- and must be told in his own words; none that we could substi

tute would do it adequate justice.

“As the latter (Ebenezer church) possessed all the characteristics of the former, with considerable additions of its own, to that only is it necessary that I should call your attention. I went at eight o'clock in the evening. The door was locked; but the windows being open, I placed myself at one of them, and saw that the church within was crowded almost to suffocation. The preacher indulged in long pauses, and occasional loud elevations of voice, which were always answered by the audience with deep groans. When the prayer which followed the sermon had ended, the minister descended from the pulpit, the doors were thrown open, and a considerable number of the audience departed. Understanding however that something was yet to follow, with considerable difficulty I obtained admission. The minister had departed, the doors were again closed, but about four hundred persons remained. One (apparently) of the leading members gave out a hymn, then a brother was called upon to pray: he roared and ranted like a maniac; the male part of the audience groaned, the female shrieked ; a man sitting next to me shouted; a youth standing before me continued for half an hour bawling, “Oh Jesus! come down, come down, Jesus! my dear Jesus, I see you ! bless me, Jesus! Oh! oh! oh! Come down, Jesus!” A small space farther on, a girl about eleven years of age was in convulsions: an old woman, who I concluded was her mother, stood on the seat, holding her up in her arms, that her extasies might be visible to the whole assembly. In another place there was a convocation of holy sisters, sending forth most awful yells. A brother now stood forward, stating, that “although numbers had gone, he trusted the Lord would that night work some signal favours among his dear lambs.” Two sisters advanced towards him, refusing to be comforted, “for the Lord was with them:” another brother prayed—and another. “Brother Macfaddin” was now called upon, and he addressed them with a voice which might almost rival a peal of thunder, the whole congregation occasionally joining responsive to his notes. The madness now became threefold increased, and such a scene presented itself as I could never have pictured to my imagination, and as I trust, for the honour of true religion and of human nature, I shall never see again. Had the inhabitants of Bedlam been let loose, they could not have exceeded it. From forty to fifty were praying aloud and extemporaneously at the same moment of time: some were kicking, many jumping, all clapping their hands and crying out in chorus, “ Glory! glory ! glory! Jesus Christ is a very good friend! Jesus Christ is a very good friend! Oh . God! oh Jesus! come down! Glory! glory! glory! thank you Jesus! thank you God! Oh glory! glory ! glory!!!" Mere exhaustion of bodily strength produced a cessation of madness for a few minutes. A hymn was given out and sung; praying then recommenced; the scene of madness was again acted, with, if possible, increased efforts on the part of the performers. One of the brothers prayed to be kept from enthusiasm f A girl of six years of age became the next object of attenK 2 tlosi,

tion. A reverend brother proclaimed that she “had just received a

visit from the Lord, and was in awful convulsions—so hard was the working of the spirit !” This scene continued for some time; but the audience gradually lessened, so that by ten o'clock the field of active operations was considerably contracted. The women, however, forming a compact column at the most distant corner of the church, conti

nued their shriekings with but little abatement. Feeling disposed to

get a nearer sight of the beings who sent forth such terrifying yells, I endeavoured to approach them, but was stopped by several of the brethren, who would not allow of a near approach towards the holy sister

hood. The novelty of this exhibition had, at first sight, rendered it a

subject of amusement and interest; but all such feelings soon gave way to an emotion of melancholy horror, when I considered the gloomy picture it represented of human nature, and called to mind that these maniacal fanatics were blaspheming the holy name of Christianity.

Notwithstanding my warm love of liberty, I felt that, were I an abso

lute lawgiver, I would certainly punish and restrain men who thus degraded their nature, who set so wicked an example of religious blasphemy, and so foully libelled the name and character of revelation.”— p. 163–6.

Alas! alas! it was ‘the want of religious liberty' which drove Mr. Fearon from the land of his fathers; and he is no sooner arrived in the only place where it is to be found in full perfection,

than he quarrels with it! It is happy for mankind that our new Solon is not possessed of absolute power. He knows not of what : manner of spirit he is; and his judgment unluckily is as deficient as

his experience. He would make woeful work with his “restraints

and his punishments; and would act more wisely for himself, and far more safely for others, by trusting to the rational piety and

practical knowledge of the great founders of the institutes of his country, than by promulgating, in the confidence of blind ignorance, theories, which check him at every step, and attempts to define the boundaries of that liberty of which he comprehends neither the nature nor the extent in a single instance.

On the whole, religion appears to be at a lower ebb in Phila

delphia than at New York—and it threatened no inundation there. ‘Whatever degree of religious information exists,' Mr. Fearon says, is confined to the clergy, who perhaps have lost nothing by the abolition of a state religion.”—p. 168. Such is the triumphant conclusion of this wretched reasoner on the spectacle before him. He sees religion made a jest, and the churches filled by famatics, hypocrites and buffoons; and yet persists to exult in the thought that, amidst the general defection, the clergy still acknowledge some fealty to their Creator, and have perhaps lost nothing by the abolition of a state religion. This is the phantom that haunts the brain of our traveller, and ‘frights him from his

propriety.”

propriety.” The clergy have lost nothing!—but what have the laity gained? We could answer from a full heart;-did not every page of Mr. Fearon's book, successively, anticipate us. After what he has seen, the reader must be fully prepared for our traveller's conclusion. “Philadelphia, he says, “has done much towards raising America in my estimation.” It did not however enable him to make even an approach towards a decision on the main question of emigration. He found all the comforts and many of the necessaries of life to be exorbitantly dear; articles of wearing apparel, and almost every thing used in domestic economy, were of British manufacture, and from 25 to 100 per cent. dearer than in London. The prices and wages are given in ample detail for the information of those who are interested in such matters; but neither of them are such as to induce, for their sake alone, any description of men to emigrate, though he seems to think that a brewer and a London shopkeeper with good capitals might succeed. Lawyers, doctors, clerks, shopmen, literary men, artists and schoolmasters, would, to use an American phrase, ‘come to a bad market.’ The “Fifth Report' is dated from Shawnee town in the Illinois territory; and embraces observations and occurrences along the line between that place and Philadelphia. Passengers on foot, on horseback, and in waggons, crowded the road in their way to the Western country. They travelled generally in companies, in order to assist one another in getting the waggons over the rugged and steep mountains; and the progress was so slow and painful, that Mr. Fearon says he generally preferred walking; this too afforded him an opportunity of entering into the views and little histories of his fellow-travellers. He found the women the most communicative. ‘The first I conversed with was sitting upon a log, which served for the double purpose of a seat and a fire; their waggon had broken down the day before ; her husband was with it at a distant blacksmith's: she had been seated there all night: (thermometer from 26° to 22° below the freezing point!) her last words went to my heart: “Ah! Sir, I wish to God we had never left home.”’ (p. 193.) In these elevated regions of the Alleghany chain, log houses are the only habitations; and the character of the mountaineers, contrary to that of the same description and condition in the countries of Europe, ‘appears cold, friendless, unfeeling, callous and selfish.” Mr. Fearon says all the emigrants complain of the enormous charges of the log-taverns; from the following extract we should suppose they have something more serious to complain of. * At five o'clock in the evening we reached the top of the Alleganies.

Our stage was far behind. This day I had walked about sixteen miles'; K 3 and,

« AnteriorContinuar »