« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
and repelled the younger generation by an asceticism which made absurd and uncandid distinctions between things lawful and things profane. The stage," says Dr. Nichols, was held in holy horror. Yet pious people, who would have thought it sinful to go to the theatre to see a play of Shakspeare, would crowd the circus, just as I saw, some years later, Puritanical people flocking to Niblo's to see vaudevilles and the ballet, because the theatre was called a garden. Even clergymen went, with pious ladies, to see the most objectionable performances of the modern stage, so long as the place where they were given was not called a theatre. It was a sin to dance, or even to play a dancing tune, but right enough to play marches. A quick step would pass muster, but not a hornpipe or jig." The Methodists were the first to soften the harshness of the religious system of New England.
An amusing incident is related of the religious demonstrations once common among the factory-girls of Lowell, who asserted the doctrine of woman's rights" in a very practical way. It was usual in the churches of that town to see as many as a thousand girls, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, neatly dressed, and only some two or three score of the male sex, wofully seated apart in some sombre corner. In these congregations, the "fair" being in an unquestioned majority, insisted upon their claim to vote in the election of the clergyman; and as they paid his salary, this was but just. Disagreeable clerics were ruthlessly deposed, and married ones not at all in request; but the doctrine of handsome young fellows, under thirty, well bearded, was generally found orthodox and edifying. Sometimes these girls "struck" for higher wages, and no confederacy of employers was ever known successfully to resist the battery of their eloquence. They held public meetings, and their oratory was overpowering.
There is no more amusing chapter of Dr. Nichols' book than that in which the eccentricities of Yankeedom are pourtrayed. The stage American does not, we think, come up to the real article. The native idioms are only imperfectly acquired by foreign players, to whom mostly
parts of the kind fall. A Yankee, the author affirms, never swears: he has mean and cowardly ways of whipping the devil round the stump." He says, "I vum, I swon, I swow, I vow, darn it, gaul darn your picter, by golly, golly crimus," and so on. These are the eastern Yankees; the Western have more rhetoric in their exclamations. The Yankee is content to describe himself, in certain conditions, as a gone sucker;" but the Western, under similar circumstances, is “ catawampously chawed up." AYankee has a "kinder sneakin' notion arter" a girl; the Western describes a plain lass to be as homely as a hedge-fence." The real genuine Yankee boasts that "he is a hull team and a hoss to let. You can't tucker him eout. It beats all natur' heow he can go it when he gets his dander up. He has got his eye-teeth out, true as preachin'." The exaggerations of the Western partake more of poetry. He laughs like a hyæna over a dead nigger. He walks through a fence like a falling tree through a cobweb. A fellow he has a contempt for is so poor and thin that he has to lean up again' a saplin' to cuss. His own powers are so vast, that he can drink the Mississippi, and out-holler thunder. For some of his oddest terms there is a respectable derivation; as, for example, absquatulate is from a or ab, privative, and squat, the western for settle. But the ne plus ultra of vulgar Southern extravagances is to escape quickly by vamoosin quicker'n greased lightnin' down a peeled hickory."
The writer, who finds so few things to praise in America, is still enthusiastic upon the beauty of the women of the Northern States. Europeans have not been accustomed to accord to the Western ladies this proud distinction. But in truth their beauty is singularly evanescent. At the New York balls, numbers of delicate and lovely forms may be seen; but these graceful dancers are all between fifteen and twenty-five. They seem also to want strength. After twentyfive, they rapidly fade. This " gift of beauty," however, is said to be as rare west of the Alleghanies as in north-western Europe. "But along
the whole coast of the Atlantic and the Gulf, and in all the country settled for more than a century, it is com
Of the literature of America there is little new to be said. Its newspapers, for mischievous extravagance, as well as for their number, are paralleled by the press of no other country. In the present crisis, the Longfellows, Bryants, Holmeses, Bancrofts-authors grave and gay, poet and historian alike are condemned to silence. The people have too much on hands to listen to these preachers for the hours of recreation. It is to be hoped, however, that the workers are not idle, for dark as the clouds are, there is surely a good time coming." Dr. Nichols, at least, thinks So. "When this red leaf in the history of America," he says, "is turned over, there will begin a new era in American literature-a better, brighter, nobler one than we can point to in the past. It may be that the earnest, true life of the nation, or the natives, of the future is now to begin." Others may not divine the future in so sanguine a spirit, but every "Britisher" wishes America well, and would gladly see two things that our people think necessary to the peace, moral progress, and wholesome prosperity of the Western Continent, happen-namely, the admission that the South has achieved its independence; and the re-establishment of the Northern Constitution on some improved basis. Speaking of Bancroft-who was described by an English writer as the Hume of America, whose volumes are characterized by singular ease in composition"-our author dispels the idea of the historian's fluency and expertness. Bancroft, it appears, is a very laborious writer. Here is his process: First of all, having studied his authorities and arranged his facts, he writes out his narrative. This he goes over repeatedly, interlining, erasing, and correcting, until the sheets are a labyrinth of blotted hieroglyphics. His secretary then makes a clean copy, taking care, however, to leave large spaces between the lines for further intricate feats of
One of the weakest of those delusions that have from time to time reigned in America is Spiritualism; and even yet it is not exploded. The war, in fact, has given it a stimulus. The "mediums" are regularly consulted by mothers and by wives, who have husbands or sons in action. They profess to receive information which time and events have strangely corroborated-so strong is the force of fanaticism. In "Peculiar" the Spirits figure largely; and Mr. William Howitt, who edits the tale, paints their performances, of course, in the richest colours. He converts Spiritualism, in fact, into an important political instrument. The unseen tablerappers have assured the initiated that the cause of the South is a bad cause, which cannot ultimately prosper. The same Spirits, moreover, have endorsed the policy of Mr. Lincoln, and are busy canvassing for him in their own way, in prospect of the next Presidential election. liar" is a story written in the interest of the dominant party at Washington, and characterized by all its extravagances. To some it might seem a somewhat exaggerated statement of them, but the proof of its general correctness is to be found in these "Forty Years of American Life." Dr. Nichols writes the bare truth, but it is really "stranger than fiction." The latter author's mind is in suspension as to the truth of the phenomena he has witnessed
"I have heard several so-called speaking mediums, who were supposed to speak in a 'circle' or to address public assemblies, either
in a state of trance or under spiritual influ
ence. I heard a cadaverous-looking personage with long hair spout poetry, or something in rhyme and metre, in Memphis. In Springfield, Illinois, the home of President Lincoln, I listened an hour to a speech of what Americans call 'highfalutin' eloquence,
froth and rainbows. I heard Miss Hardinge, once an English actress, deliver a very imposing oration to more than 1,000 persons, in a splendid lecture-room at St. Louis.
I have heard the pretty, doll-like Mrs. Cora
Hatch in New York. In none of these cases did I see the least evidence of spiritual or supernatural influence. The speakers shut their eyes, but anyone can do that. They may have looked inspired, but I did not see it. The improvisatore was a clever one, if honest; but improvisatori are not necessarily supernatural; and if spirits spoke through Miss Hardinge or Mrs. Cora Hatch, they either came direct from the father of lies, or were absurdly ignorant of the commonest facts of history. It is fair to say that I heard a plain-looking middle-aged Quaker woman in Cincinnati talking metaphysics for two hours, as if she had been possessed by the spirits of Hegel or Herbart; and I have also, in one or two instances, heard so-called mediums, in private discoursing of matters of which in their usual state they appeared to have no knowledge. But where we are to draw the line between what is called the inspiration of the poet, and a supernatural obsession, or possession, or illumination, may be somewhat difficult to determine.
"The arguments against the existence of spiritual phenomena are abundant; but then it must be confessed that one wellestablished fact is worth a great many arguments. If we say the things alleged to be done are impossible, we are told that they are true. After all, it is very difficult to say what is or is not possible. Life and the universe are mysteries."
The writer humorously adds
"The spirits of physicians often prescribe for mediums and those who consult them; but it is remarkable that doctors continue to disagree in the other world, just as they always have done in this. Hahnemann gives high dilutions-Abernethy and Rush stick to their gallipots, and Preissnitz wraps in the wet sheet or deluges with the douche."
According to Dr. Nichols, the Irish who have entered the Northern service fight for the pay, the glory, or the mere excitement of fighting. It is very rare, he says, to find an Irish Abolitionist. The Roman Catholic priests as well as people are all proslavery in sentiment. The best written defence of slavery extant is the composition of an Irish bishop. Mr. Seward, indeed, made a political alliance with the late Archbishop Hughes with the object of furthering recruiting among the flock of the latter, and the project succeeded well after the war broke out; but the American
Celts have got tired of arms. Irishmen last drafted to the Army of the Potomac are supposed to be those "labourers" whom the 600 dollars bounty continues to allure from Ireland. With respect to the proportion of the foreign populations to the older American race, Dr. Nichols makes interesting and suggestive remarks.
"There is one characteristic of the foreign population of the United States which deserves to be considered with reference to the future. There is a continuous influx of immigration, larger at some periods than at others, but always a stream of immense magnitude. Ireland, Germany, and Belgium pour out their surplus or poverty-stricken populations. These people, transplanted to a new soil, and surrounded with unwonted plenty, are wonderfully prolific. The Irish and Germans in America increase with much greater rapidity than the Americans of an older stock. So remarkably is this the case, that there must, in a few years, be an Irish majority even in such old states as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. By a natural process and without counting on conversions, there must also be Roman Catholic majorities in several states. nativist party, with its secret organization, was a futile effort to meet this danger, by attempting to extend the period during which foreigners must reside in the country before exercising the right of suffrage. It failed, because neither of the great parties could afford to lose the foreign vote. It is now too late for such constitutional changes. The foreign element is too strong and too conscious of its power."
he has seen it," the same author In a chapter describing slavery "as speaks with manifest candour of the state of Southern society. The picture is by no means of the "UncleTom" description. The contrast is very marked between the limning of the "Peculiar Institution "in these pages and in the political novel of Epes Sargent. Having read, we may say, all that has been written on American affairs since the war began, whether by English or Transatlantic pens, we can confidently affirm that Dr. Nichols is by far the most intelligent and trustworthy, because the most temperate, frank, and impartial of those writers. Negro labour may be divided into two categories, that of household servants and the workers on the plantation. The former, including cooks, waiters, laundresses, coachmen, and gardeners, are in all respects better
treated, generally speaking, than free servants. They have no fear of losing their places, and from being under no necessity of thinking of the morrow, are singularly contented and cheerful. There is more meaning than the negro intended in the answer of the black cook when asked, "Do you belong to the Wades ?" "Yes, sar,"
he replied, "I belongs to them, and they belongs to me." It is only on the small plantation of the poorer order of proprietor that the slave is ever overworked. On the larger properties, the system is to work the negro regularly and to keep him at it during the allotted hours; but "slave-driving" is uncommon, because it would be unprofitable. The presence of the overseer, with a whip in his hand, which often falls on female shoulders, is, however, a reproach upon the Southern planter. Dr. Nichols disproves the assertion so often reiterated, that the war had origin in Slavery. The fact, now wellknown, is, that after it had broken out, the Lincoln party seized the Abolition cry as a political instrument. Among many new things to be learned from the same source, it is satisfactory to know, that a large number of the American newspapers were on the side of moderation when the conflict began. In England, our notions of the American press are mainly derived from the New York journals, and their course has been dictated from the outset by "party" motives in the lowest sense. The Democratic papers, after a vain struggle against public opinion, finding that their party would be extinguished if it took up an anti-war position, determined to swim with the stream; and to remove all suspicion of their honesty became more the ministers of
carnage than the natural organs of the Lincolnites. Throughout there has been a Peace party, numerically strong; but, in the whirl and excitement of the struggle, its_voice_has not been heard effectively. Its leaders, too, have cowered before the despotic courses of procedure daringly resorted to by Mr. Seward and his colleagues. Dr. Nichols, in the performance of his duty as a journalist, with solemn eloquence protested against the war three years ago, ere it had begun, warning his countrymen, with a prophetic instinct, that when oceans of blood had been shed, and untold miseries passed through, there would remain, ultimately, not one Union -not harmony, reconstruction, or peace, but two "rival military despotisms,' with loads of debt and a wasted country burdened with taxation."
We have lived to witness this dreadful consummation. Whether still greater horrors are not to precede the exhaustion of the combatants, who can say? The campaign of 1864 has been opened already with vaster proportions and more desperate energy on both sides. As Mr. Lincoln must face the nation for re-election at no distant date, the grand effort of his party will this year be to provide him with the hustings' argument of military success. Thus the war will be pressed forward hotly. But the Federals have begun badly by a great failure in the states of Florida and Alabama; and the Confederates will no doubt contest every foot of ground as valiantly as last year. The contest will probably proceed as before with wavering fortune. It is in dismay and helplessness that Europe inquires when shall the end be?
THE welcome given to General Garibaldi in the metropolis of our country ranks with the most remarkable, we had almost written_romantic, incidents of the times. The universality and majesty of the demonstration have excited the wonder, and rather awakened the suspicions, of foreigners. In France, especially, these scenes have struck politicians with surprise, and filled the people with jealousy. There is an uneasy consciousness among the latter that the working men of Paris would not be permitted to meet and march, one hundred thousand strong, under similar circumstances, the peace of a great city confidently entrusted to their good-feeling and loyal respect for existing institutions. They see in this how far behind England they still are, with all their pomp and pride of influence and achievement. The Ministers of reactionary Europe seem, for their part, perplexed by the spontaneousness of an occurrence that constitutes for them so emphatic a reproach, and would fain depreciate the event, and avert the attention of their depressed subjects from the
moral which it conveys, by hinting a careful organization beforehand, and some deep political motive. No less has the honest enthusiasm of the reception startled that minority amongst ourselves to whom the name of Garibaldi is offensive, from his impartial resistance to despotism in all its forms. But let who might, at home or abroad, take offence, the British people could not but follow the leading of their instincts, and meet Garibaldi with open heart and hand. It is nearly two centuries now since our fathers delivered their testimony for civil and religious liberty all the world over, by welcoming to England its first largehearted champion. Since then there has been full time to put those principles to the proof. They have grown with the growth of our nation. They are rooted like our oaks. To appeal to our sympathies in this direction, is to arouse our strongest, deepest feelings. Anarchy, indeed, we hate. Insurrection is a word we hardly understand the meaning of. But we acknowledge the right, the duty, and the blessing of constitutional revolution. We should
"Garibaldi and Italian Unity." By Lieut.-Col. Chambers. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.
"Garibaldi at Caprera." By Colonel Vecchj. Translated from the Italian. With Preface by Mrs. Gaskell. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co.
66 Italy under Victor Emmanuel. A Personal Narrative." By Count Charles Arri
vabene. Two vols. London: Hurst and Blackett.
"Reminiscences of the Life and Character of Count Cavour." By William de la Rive. Translated from the French by Edward Romilly. London: Longmans.
VOL. LXIII.-NO. CCCLXXVII.