Page images

language, signifies "silent men "-—a waggish appellation, since shortened into the familiar epithet of Yankees, which they retain unto the present day;"*

The enterprise of the Yankees is provertnal. Many of the lower class drive into the southern and western States, small waggons laden with wooden clocks, looking-glasses, &c.; and as some of these pedlars are great rogues, or at least have the character of being such, numerous good stories are told of the tricks played off by them, such as selling wooden nutmegs, wooden cucumber seeds, &c. The western and southern Americans assign this reason for pretending to undervalue all the New Englanders, though the real reason of their dislike is their knowledge of the vast superiority of their rivals, in industry, education and morality.

Nothing is more common in New England, than for a farmer to cut down the trees on hia land, build a small schooner in the nearest river, freight it with the produce of his industry, and assisted only by one or two of his sons, and perhaps one seaman, to set off with his little cargo for New Orleans or the West. Indies. The people who navigate these vessels, are often unable to take any observations, but run down the longitude, and trust to meeting sonic ship in which the sailors are more learned than themselves. Accordingly, as soon as they see a vessel, they come along side, and commence their inquiries with "Hallo, Mister, * Knickerbocker's New York; Book -3.; !i •

whatte the latitude? &c." When they have obtained the requisite information, they shout out a few thanks, and are off again. .'!...: > <

No kind of produce or commodity escapes''tfhe speculation of the New Englanders. For instance, small quick sailing schooners are freighted with ice for the West Indies. Just on entering the harbour, the master makes known his cargo by signal, and the moment he lands, disposes of the whole by auction or private sale. He then returns home with a cargo of turtle, pineapples, melons, &c., articles esteemed luxuries in Great Britain, but in consequence of this trade quite common in New England. I bought a very large pine-apple at Boston for ten cents, (about five-pence sterling,) and I was told that they are often to be had much cheaper. Before even the leaves begin to appear in the northern States, the inhabitants are supplied with plenty of fruit, green peas; &c., from the West Indies and the Southern States. I am surprised none of these Yankee schooners have paid us a visit; as the time required for a voyage from the West Indies to Boston, is not much less than to England, particularly if the prevalence of the westerly winds be taken into consideration. I should think few cargoes would sell better at the port of London, than one of turtles and pine-apples. At any rate they have sometimes carried out far more extraordinary cargoes; for the people of Charleston, South Carolina, were made very angry, when the Yellow fever was raging there, by the arrival of some Yankee schooners, laden with nests of wooden coffins, which had been sent out upon speculation for the reception of the sick Carolinians. ••.'•• .•i • •i: . ' i

The New Englanders are the best seamen in the United States, and perhaps in the world. The sea indeed appears to be their element, and all the towns on the coast are actively engaged in com* merce of different kinds. Many of their vessels go every year on whaling expeditions into the Pacific. They think nothing of a voyage round Cape Horn, and often sail up the North West coast even to Behring's Strait.

Nantucket, a small island on the coast of Massachusetts, is inhabited entirely by persons engaged in the Whale fishery, some of whom have nmassed considerable wealth. It is said that at their balls, no one can ask a young woman to dance, who has not, with his own hand, driven the harpoon into a whale.

"Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis's Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the Arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of the poles. We know that while some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea that is not vexed by their fisheries; no climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France* nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hard industry to the extent to which it has been pllshed by this recent people—a people who are still as it were in the gristle, and hot yet hardened into the bone of manhood." *

This splendid eulogium on the enterprise of the New Ehglanders is not undeserved $ ahd paints in glowing colours that activity, which since the time of Burke has continued to increase, and which so strongly characterises the people of those States.

* Burke's speech on conciliation with America.



There is nothing that is more worthy the attention of a traveller than the system of education pursued in the whole of the United States, and particularly in New England. Classical learning may perhaps be rather too much neglected, though this is much better than the exclusive attention that is paid to it in the public Schools of England; for I am sure I do not exaggerate, when I say, that out of ten boys leaving Eton, not more than one, in my time, could solve the simplest question in the rule of three, and many not even a sum in compound multiplication.

Dr. Franklin has very properly observed, that classical learning should be taught when the mind is more mature, and when this learning can be obtained at half the labour usually bestowed upon it. Our English system is a remnant of the venerable old Monkish Institutions: for when the English supposed that Latin was the only language which the Almighty understood, it was of course proper for every good Christian to be able at least to read it. But times have altered strangely; "nous avons change tout cela ;" and the Deity condescends now to pay just as much attention to our prayers as ever, although we may address him in the unclassical dialects of Yorkshire or Somerset.

« PreviousContinue »