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But there is still something worse than this. Understanding that the most considerable persons in the chief cities of America, were their opulent merchants, we conjectured that their society was probably much of the same description with that of Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow:--And does Mr. W. really think there is any disparagement in this? - Does he not know that these places have been graced, for generations, by some of the most deserving and enlightened citizens, and some of the most learned and accomplished men that have ever adorned our nation? Does he not know that Adam Smith, and Reid and Miller, spent their happiest days in Glasgow; that Roscoe and Currie illustrated the society of Liverpool and Priestley and Ferriar and Darwin that of Manchester? The wealth and skill and enterprise of all the places is equally indisputable-and we confess we are yet to learn in which of the elements of respectability they can be imagined to be inferior to New York, or Baltimore, or Philadelphia.
But there is yet another passage in the Review which Mr. W. has quoted as insulting and vituperative-for such a construction of which we confess ourselves still less able to di. vine a reason. It is part of an honest and very earnest attempt to overcome the high monarchical prejudices of a part of our own country against the Americans, and notices this objection to their manners only collaterally and hypothetical. ly. Mr. W. needs not be told that all courtiers and zealots of monarchy impute rudeness and vulgarity to republicans. The French used to describe an inelegant person as having Les manieres d'un Suisse, En Hollande civilise;'--and the court faction among ourselves did not omit this reproach when we went to war with the Americans. To expose the absurdity of such an attack, we expressed ourselves in 1814 as follows:
• The complaint respecting America is, that there are no people of fashion,--that their column still wants its Corin
thian capital, or, in other words, that those who are rich and idle, have not yet existed so long, or in such numbers, as to have brought to full perfection that system of ingenious trifling and elegant dissipation, by means of which it has been discovered that wealth and leisure may be most agreeably disposed of. Admitting the fact to be so, and in a country where there is no court, no nobility, and no monument or tradition of chivalrous usages,-and where, moreover, the greatest number of those who are rich and powerful have raised themselves to that eminence by mercantile industry, we really do not see how it could well be otherwise; we could still submit, that this is no lawful cause either for national contempt or for national hostility. It is a peculiarity in the structure of society among that people, which, we take it, can only give offence to their visiting acquaintance; and, while it does us no sort of harm while it subsists, promises, we think, very soon to disappear altogether, and no longer to afflict even our imagination. The number of individuals born to the enjoyment of hereditary wealth is, or at least was, daily increasing in that country; and it is impossible that their multiplication (with all the models of European refinement before them, and all the advantages resulting from a free government and a general system of a good education) should fail, within a very short period, to give birth to a better tone of conversation and society, and to manners more dignified and refined, Unless we are very much misinformed, indeed, the symptoms of such a change may already be traced in their cities. Their youths of fortune already travel over all the countries of Europe for their improvement; and specimens are occasionally met with, even in these islands, which, with all our prejudices, we must admit, would do no discredit to the best blood of the land from which they originally sprung.'
Now, is there really any matter of offence in this? - In the first place, is it not substantially true?—in the next place, is it not mildly and respectfully stated? Is it not true, that the greater part of those who compose the higher society of the American cities, have raised themselves to opulence by commercial pursuits?—and is it to be imagined that, in America alone, this is not to produce its usual effects upon the style and tone of society? As families become old, and hereditary wealth comes to be the portion of many, it cannot but happen that a change of manners will take place;—and is it an insult to suppose that this change will be an improvement? Surely they cannot be perfect, both as they are, and as they are to be; and, while it seems impossible to doubt that a considerable change is inevitable, the offence seems to be, that it is expected to be for the better! It is impossible, we think, that Mr. W. can seriously imagine that the manners of any country upon earth can be so dignified and refined-or their tone of conversation and society so good, when the most figuring persons come into company from the desk and the counting-house, as when they pass only from one assembly to another, and have had no other study or employment from their youth up, than to render society agreeable, and to cul. tivate all those talents and manners which give its charm to polite conversation. If there are any persons in America who seriously dispute the accuracy of these opinions, we are pretty confident that they will turn out to be those whom the rest of the country would refer to in illustration of their truth. The truly polite, we are persuaded, will admit the case to be pretty much as we have stated it. The
upstarts alone will contend for their present perfection. If we have really been so unfortunate as to give any offence by our observations, we suspect that offence will be greater at New Orleans than at New York,
-and not quite so slight at New York as at Philadelphia.
But we have no desire to pursue this topic any furthernor any interest indeed to convince those who may not be already satisfied. If Mr. W. really thinks us wrong in the
opinions we have now expressed, we are willing for the present to be thought so: But surely we have said enough to show that we had plausible grounds for those opinions; and surely, if we did entertain them, it was impossible to express them in a manner less offensive. We did not even recur to the topic spontaneously—but occasionally took it up in a controversy on behalf of America, with a party of our own countrymen. What we said was not addressed to Americabut said of her; and, most indisputably, with friendly intentions to the people of both countries.
But we have. dwelt too long on this subject. The manners of fashionable life, and the rivalry of bon ton between one country and another, is, after all, but a poor affair to occupy the attention of philosophers, or affect the peace of nations.-Of what real consequence is it to the happiness or glory of a country, how a few thousand idle people-probably neither very virtuous nor very useful-pass their time, or divert the ennui of their inactivity?--And men must really have a great propensity to hate each other, when it is thought a reasonable ground of quarrel, that the rich desæuvres of one country are accused of not knowing how to get through their day so cleverly as those of another. Manners alter from age to age and from country to country; and much is at all times arbitrary and conventional in that which is esteemed the best. What pleases and amuses each people the most, is the best for that people: And, where states are tolerably equal in power and wealth, a great and irreconcileable diversity is often maintained with suitable arrogance and inflexibility, and no common standard recognised or dreamed of. The bon ton of Pekin has no sort of affinity, we suppose, with the bon ton of Paris—and that of Constantinople but little resemblance to either. The difference, to be sure, is not so complete within the limits of Europe; but it is sufficiently great, to show the folly of being dogmatical or intolerant upon a subject so incapable of being reduced to principle. The French accuse us of coldness and formality, and we accuse them of monkey tricks and impertinence. The good company of Rome would be much at a loss for amusement at Amsterdam; and that of Brussels at Madrid. The manners of America, then, are probably the best for America: But, for that very reason, they are not the best for us: And when we hinted that they probably might be improved, we spoke with reference to the European standard, and to the feelings and judgment of strangers, to whom that standard alone was familiar. When their circumstances, and the structure of their society, come to be more like those of Europe, their manners will be more like and they will suit better with those altered circumstances. When the fabric has reached its utmost elevation, the Corinthian capital may be added: For the present, the Doric is perhaps more suitable; and, if the style be kept pure, we are certain it will be equally graceful.
4. It only remains to notice what is said with regard to Negro slavery;-and on this we shall be very short. We have no doubt spoken very warmly on the subject in one of our late numbers;—but Mr. W. must have read what we there said with a jaundiced eye indeed, if he did not see that our warmth proceeded, not from any animosity against the people among whom this miserable institution existed, but against the institution itself—and was mainly excited by the contrast that it presented to the freedom and prosperity upon which it was so strangely engrafted;-thus appearing
Like a stain upon a Vestal's robe,
Accordingly we do not call upon other nations to hate and despise America for this practice; but upon the Americans themselves to wipe away this foul blot from their character. We have a hundred times used the same language to our own countrymen--and repeatedly on the subject of the slave