Page images
PDF
EPUB

on a window, the panes of which were chequered, like Harlequin's coat, with all the colours of the rainbow!

After my visit to Richmond and its envi . rons, I sailed to Deptford to see its dockyard, and then walked to Greenwich hospital, which contains about 2500 disabled seamen. In the vicinity of this magnificent edifice, is the Naval Asylum, destined to the education of the children of the royal navy seamen,

The boys are received at 7 years of age,

and at 14, they are sent to sea if they choose that way

of life; but if they are not partial to the “navim jactantibus austris," they are bound apprentices to different trades.

The prospect from the Observatory and the one tree hill is very fine. The projection is so bold (says a popular writer,) that you do not look down upon a gradually falling slope or flat enclosures, but at once upon

of branching trees, which grow in knots and clumps out of deep hollows and embrowning dells. The cattle feeding on the lawns, which appear in breaks among them, seem moving in a region of fairy land. A thousand natural openings among the branches of the trees break upon little picturesque views of the swelling turf, which, when illumined by the sun, have an effect, pleasing beyond the power of fancy to exhibit. This is the foreground of the landscape; a little further, the eye falls on the noble hospital in the midst of an amphitheatre of wood; then the two reaches of the

the tops

river make that beautiful serpentine which forms the Isle of Dogs, and presents the floating commerce of the Thames.

The “rural life” in England has been lav. ishly Chaunted by poets, and eulogized by prosers who took their ideas, not from what they saw, but from the inflated descriptions of bards; without reflecting on the Horatian privilege given to the tuneful tribe. Our countryman, Irving, outstrips the warmest enthusiasts of England, in his nauseous panegyrics of the “ fast anchored isle;" indeed, one cannot help observing that he is more of a John Bull than an American in his politics and feelings. English scenery is too monotonously pretty to give pleasure to the real admirer of Natureit is not unlike the style of the Sketch Book, which is sometimes “ loathsome in its own deliciousness”-To believe Irving, the English have studied nature intently, and discover an exquisite sense of her beautiful forms and harmonious combinations; all the labourers, milkmaids, &c. are perfect Arcadians; the rudest habitation is a little paradise, and so on. Now, if he had been a little more sincere, he would have said that the nobility and gentry indeed have it in their power to enjoy in the country " all that beauty all that wealth can give”but that the lower classes of the rural population are any thing but independent or happy. No where have the rich so many enjoyments, no where have the ambitious so fair a field, no where has fashion so despotic a sway as in

England: but the helots are overlooked; the multitude equally “noble in reason," equally “ infinite in faculties,” equally made for innmortality-are sacrificed, body and soul, to the destructive caprices of the “curled darlings” of the country. The peasants sweat and toil, in order to add to the pleasures of a race of fox-hunters; their own little property is ground with taxes-the air they breathe—the windows which let in the light of heaven into their poor cabins the food that nourishes them, and the physic that kills them*-all are heavily taxed. In our dear country, the laws are humane, the taxes are scarcely felt-no tithes, sinecures and standing armies exist, and every peasant cultivates his own little“ modus agri:”

“ It is his own he sees; bis master's eye
Peers not about, some secret fault to spy;
Nor voice severe is there, nor censure known,

Hope, profit, pleasure they are all his own." The earth expands her fruitful bosom, and lavishes treasures among those happy people who cultivate it for themselves. She seems to smile and be enlivened at the sweet aspect of liberty. On the contrary, the melancholy ruins, the weeds and brambles that cover a desert country, proclaim from afar that it is un

* The dying Englishman, pouring out bis medicine, which has paid 7 per cent, into a spoon which has paid 15 per cent., flings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid 22 per cent. makes his will upon an 8d. stamp, and expires in the arms of an apotbecary, who has paid a license of 100l. for the privilege of putting bim to death!! Ed. Rev. 1820.

der the tyranny of an absent lord, and that it yields grudgingly a scanty produce to slaves who reap no advantage from it.

The grim phantom of Taxation does not haunt our dwellings, or dispel the pleasures of our harvest festivals, or guard the door of our manufactories, with his herd of dungeon villains; our citizens can walk in the streets without fear of being pressed on board of government ships, and our liberty is not at the mercy of ministers or mobs. The following brilliant effusion of Curran, may be as truly applied to America, as it was erroneously to Britain-by substituting the former for the latter, with what grace would it not have come from the mouth of an American orator!" I speak in the spirit of our law, which makes liberty commensurate with, and inseparable from the Ainerican soil, which proclaims, even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he Sets his fout upon American earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation! No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of America, the altar and the god sink together in the dust;

his soul walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains, that burst from around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of Universal Emancipation!"

Whatever natural beauties England possesses, are surpassed by our country, so various in soil, climate and surface. Like Scotland and Switzerland, it is the land of the mountain and the flood;" in the south it is warmed with an ever smiling sun; in the north, the air is bracing to the nerves, and nature appears with all the sublime and glorious scenery which, in some countries, has ever been enthusiastically admired. The most beautiful “ scattered lo. 'vers of the feathered kind,” the most remarka. ble productions of prodigal nature seem to have chosen our “ liberal air” and soil, to sport in dalliance. Where, in England, or in any other country, will you find, for instance,

“ The winglet of the fairy humming bird

Like atoms of the rainbow fluttering round?” But why give further proofs of the vast superiority of America? Even her enemies are aware of her unrivalled magnificence, her moral and intellectual energy, her wisdom in peace and valour in war-they are conscious that England would shrink from all compari. son with her—but they are afraid to let the world know their thoughts-like the devils,

they believe and tremble.”

« PreviousContinue »