Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

WE PRAISE AND BLAME: MR. W. BLAMES ONLY. 351

of blame in America, without any express reference to parallel cases in England, or any invidious comparisons. Their books we have criticised just as we should have done those of any other country; and in speaking more generally of their literature and manners, we have rather brought them into competition with those of Europe in general, than those of our own country in particular. — When we have made any comparative estimate of our own advantages and theirs, we can say with confidence, that it has been far oftener in their favour than against them; and, after repeatedly noticing their preferable condition. as to taxes, elections, sufficiency of employment, public economy, freedom of publication, and many other points of paramount importance, it surely was but fair that we should notice, in their turn, those merits or advantages which might reasonably be claimed for ourselves, and bring into view our superiority in eminent authors, and the extinction and annihilation of slavery in every part of our realm.

We would also remark, that while we have thus praised America far more than we have blamed herand reproached ourselves far more bitterly than we have ever reproached her, Mr. W., while he affects to be merely following our example, has heaped abuse on us without one grain of commendation-and praised his own country extravagantly, without ad aitting one fault or imperfection. Now, this is not a fair way of retorting the proceedings, even of the Quarterly; for they have occasionally given some prise to America, and have constantly spoken ill enough of the paupers, and Radicals, and Reformers of Englan d. But as to us, and the great body of the nation which think with us, it is a proceeding without the colour of justice or the shadow of apology—and is not a less flagr: ant indication of impatience or bad humour, than the r aarvellous assumption which runs through the whole a rgument, that it is an unpardonable insult and an injury to find any fault with anything in America,-must ne cessarily proceed from national spite and animosity, and 1 affords, whether true or false, sufficient reason for er deavouring to excite a corresponding animosity against, our nation. Such, how

[ocr errors]

352

NO FAULTS TO BE FOUND IN AMERICA.

ever, is the scope and plan of Mr. W.'s whole work. Whenever he thinks that his country has been erroneously accused, he points out the error with sufficient keenness and asperity;-but when he is aware that the imputation is just and unanswerable, instead of joining his rebuke or regret to those of her foreign censors, he turns fiercely and vindictively on the parallel infirmities of this country-as if those also had not been marked with reprobation, and without admitting that the censure was merited, or hoping that it might work amendment, complains in the bitterest terms of malignity, and rouses his country to revenge!

Which, then, we would ask, is the most fair and reasonable, or which the most truly patriotic ?-We, who, admitting our own manifold faults and corruptions, testifying loudly against them, and feeling grateful to any foreign auxiliary who will help us to reason, to rail, or to shame our countrymen out of them, are willing occasionally to lend a similar assistance to others, and speak freely and fairly of what appear to us to be the faults and errors, as well as the virtues and merits, of all who may be in any way affected by our observations -or Mr. Walsh, who will admit no faults in his own country, and no good qualities in ours-sets down the mere extension of our domestic censures to their corresponding objects abroad, to the score of national rancour and partiality; and can find no better use for those mutual admonition, which should lead to mutual amendment or generous emulation, than to improve them into occasions of mutual animosity and deliberate hatred?

This extreme impatience, even of merited blame from the mouth of a stran ger-this still more extraordinary abstinence from any hint or acknowledgment of error on the part of her int elligent defender, is a trait too remarkable not to call for some observation;-and we think we can see in it one of the worst and most unfortunate consequences of a republican government. It is the misfortune of Sovereigns in general, that they are fed with flattery till they loathe the wholesome truth, and come to resent, as the bitterest of all offences, any insinuation of their erro rs, or intimation of their dangers.

SOVEREIGN PEOPLE MUST HAVE GROSS FLATTERY. 353

But of all sovereigns, the Sovereign People is most obnoxious to this corruption, and most fatally injured by its prevalence. In America, everything depends on their suffrages, and their favour and support; and accordingly it would appear, that they are pampered with constant adulation, from the rival suitors for their favour-so that no one will venture to tell them of their faults: and moralists, even of the austere character of Mr. W., dare not venture to whisper a syllable to their prejudice. It is thus, and thus only, that we can account for the strange sensitiveness which seems to prevail among them on the lightest sound of disapprobation, and for the acrimony with which, what would pass anywhere else for very mild admonitions, are repelled and resented. It is obvious, however, that nothing can be so injurious to the character either of an individual or a nation, as this constant and paltry cockering of praise; and that the want of any native censor, makes it more a duty for the moralists of other countries to take them under their charge, and let them know now and then what other people think and say of them.

We are anxious to part with Mr. W. in good humour; - but we must say that we rather wish he would not go on with the work he has begun-at least if it is to be pursued in the spirit which breathes in the part now before us. Nor is it so much to his polemic and vindictive tone that we object, as this tendency to adulation, this passionate, vapouring, rhetorical style of amplifying and exaggerating the felicities of his country. In point of talent, and knowledge, and industry, we have no doubt that he is eminently qualified for the task-(though we must tell him that he does not write so well now as when he left England)- but no man will ever write a book of authority on the institutions and resources of his country, who does not add some of the virtues of a Censor to those of a Patriot or rather, who does not feel, that the noblest, as well as the most difficult part of patriotism, is that which prefers his country's Good to its Favour, and is more directed to reform its vices, than to cherish the pride of its virtues. With foreign nations,

VOL. III.

A A

354

too, this tone of fondness and self-admiration is always suspected; and most commonly ridiculous - while calm and steady claims of merit, interspersed with acknowledgments of faults, are sure to obtain credit, and to raise the estimation both of the writer and of his country. The ridicule, too, which naturally attaches to this vehement self-laudation, must insensibly contract a darker shade of contempt, when it comes to be suspected that it does not proceed from mere honest vanity, but from a poor fear of giving offence to power-sheer want of courage, in short (in the wiser part at least of the population), to let their foolish AHMOZ know what in their hearts they think of him.

AMERICANS AFRAID TO OWN FAULTS.

And now we must at length close this very long article the very length and earnestness of which, we hope, will go some way to satisfy our American brethren of the importance we attach to their good opinion, and the anxiety we feel to prevent any national repulsion from being aggravated by a misapprehension of our sentiments, or rather of those of that great body of the English nation of which we are here the organ. In what we have now written, there may be much that requires explanation—and much, we fear, that is liable to misconstruction. The spirit in which it is written however, cannot, we think, be misunderstood. We cannot descend to little cavils and altercations; and have no leisure to maintain a controversy about words and phrases. We have an unfeigned respect and affection for the free people of America; and we mean honestly to pledge ourselves for that of the better part of our own country. We are very proud of the extensive circulation of our Journal in that great country, and the importance that is there attached to it. But we should be undeserving of this favour, if we could submit to seek it by any mean practices, either of flattery or of dissimulation; and feel persuaded that we shall not only best deserve, but most surely obtain, the confidence and respect of Mr. W. and his countrymen, by speaking freely what we sincerely think of them, -and treating them exactly as we treat that nation to which we are here accused of being too favourable.

[ocr errors]

BRACEBRIDGE HALL.

355

(NOVEMBER, 1822.)

Bracebridge Hall; or, the Humorists. By GEOFFREY CRAYON, Gent. Author of "The Sketch Book," &c. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 800. Murray. London: 1822.*

WE have received so much pleasure from this book, that we think ourselves bound in gratitude, as well as justice, to make a public acknowledgment of it, — and seek to repay, by a little kind notice, the great obligations we shall ever feel to the author. These amiable sentiments, however, we fear, will scarcely furnish us with materials for an interesting article; — and we suspect we have not much else to say, that has not already occurred to most of our readers—or, indeed, been said by ourselves with reference to his former publication. For nothing in the world can be so complete as the identity of the author in these two productions - identity not of style merely and character, but of merit also, both in kind and degree, and in the sort and extent of popularity which that merit has created-not merely the same good sense and the same good humour directed to the same good ends, and with the same happy selection and limited variety, but the same proportion of things that seem scarcely to depend on the individual - the same luck, as well as the same labour, and an equal share of felicities, to enhance the fair returns of judicious industry. There are few things, we imagine, so rare as this sustained level of excellence in the works of a popular writer-or, at least,

My heart is still so much in the subject of the preceding paper, that I am tempted to add this to it; chiefly for the sake of the powerful backing which my English exhortation to amity among brethren, is there shown to have received from the most amiable and elegant of American writers. I had said nearly the same things in a previous review of "The Sketch Book," and should have reprinted that article also, had it not been made up chiefly of extracts, with which I do not think it quite fair to fill up this publication.

« AnteriorContinuar »