Page images

offence. Here is a teacher of the nations! Not a line written without deliberation and examination !

Captain Marryal's information is not in a state to hold a stout battle against any communications from third persons, however extraordinary. He has a weak point, besides, in not having the heart to reject any thing which came in the shape of a good story. His means of information, too, being so confined, he had to make the most of what he got. Under these circumstances, it was not for him, we must say, to reprove Dr Reed for crediting the marvels related to him of Temperance Societies; or to giggle at the boaxes played off upon Miss Martineau, unless, when his turn came, he meant to be wonderfully upon bis guard. But no such thing. Wbether it is the re-appearance of Pontoppidon's sea-serpent to hundreds of respectable people; or an ascertained faci,' that the bears to the east and west of the Mississippi migrate every autumn in opposite directions; or the taking in earnest a mock dispute of newspaper drollers, on the true reading, in the Kentucky dialect, of absquatiated or absyuatalized ;--in all these cases, and many others, he appears to have been as much ashamed of the scepticism of research, as the élown was in the Winter's Tale, when he hung back from suspecting Autolycus of carrying about lies. Captain Marryat, after minute enquiry,' discovered the causes of the frequent fires at New York. The cause which he last mentions is, .con• flagrations of houses not insured, effected by agents employed

by the fire insurance companies, as a punishment to some and a warning to others who have neglected to take out policies.' The audacity of this experiment upon a stranger's credulity, was proved to be a point beyond what Captain Marryat even could stand. Half awaking, on this occasion, to the suspicion that he had been drugged with lies, he concludes with the gravity of Mathews in his “at homes,'—I cannot vouch for the truth of the last, although I feel bound to mention it.'

Were there no other way of explaining a conversation concerning Miss Martineau, wbich passed between Captain Marryat and Mr Clay, we should infinitely prefer believing that the statesman of Kentucky had condescended to amuse himself, like his obscurer countrymen, with hoaxing the Captain, than that angry feelings towards Miss Martineau, for speaking of the homely' Clay, had provoked him to trespass upon the truth. But we are morally certain that there inust be some mistake somewhere. This supposition is so natural, that we feel no deeper explanation need be resorted to, in answer to the imputation that Miss Martineau visited the southern states under false colours. At the period in question, such an affectation upon her part would

[ocr errors]

So great is the advantage of being acquainted with the subject upon which one has to write. The American navy employs about 85,000 scamen; of these, 30,000 are Englishmen. It is the English portion of her navy to which alone America has had 10 trust for the manning of her ships of war in past hostilities; and it is to the same that she would have to trust at present, were hostilities to be renewed 10-morrow. Therefore, in a naval war with America, whichever flag may triumph (the red cross or the stars), it is, in the strictest sense of the words, one naturalborn Englishman who beats another. Captain Marryat should know, and he assures us, that there is no character so devoid of principle as the British sailor and soldier; if they can get

bigher wages, they never consider the justice of the cause, or whom they fight for. In the last campaign, our soldiers, when in America, went over by picquets. Better pay is at the bottom of all desertions from our national service. With regard to the navy, not a year ought to be lost by the Trinity House, the Admiralty, and the Legislature, in attending to Captain Marryat's judicious suggestions. The duties upon tonnage should be so altered, as to remove the encouragement to bad shipbuilding. Faster and more frequent voyages would give better freights; better freights could afford higher wages. The rate of sailors' pensions ought also to be revised, with the same view. Our suspended negotiations concerning the Right of Search, for the purpose of recovering our subjects from out of American ships; and also our whole practice of impressment, are part of the same considerations. Few questions are more important than the taking away all possible grounds of dissatisfaction between the two countries. For peace between England and America is the interest not only of England and America, but of mankind.

We are afraid Captain Marryat will not think that we are entitled to ask a favour of him. But, as his own fame is as much concerned in it as our personal gratification, we venture, in conclusion, to suggest to him the desirableness of his returning to his ancient track of original and humorous composition. There he must always amuse. But we much question, on considering the lighter parts of the present volumes, whether he could ever write a good book of ordinary Travels. The only descriptions of scenery which he has introduced, are of waterfalls: they are poor and tawdry. His descriptions of manners, which in one sense are so much better, are in another worse. Besides being intemperate and capricious, they frequently too much resemble the trilling of a schoolboy, who cannot help running away from his business, 10 laugh over an idle story, or play with a tricksy

word as a kitten with its tail. A grave and philosophical subject, we are sure, he could never fathom. It is a pity that he should not rest content with the goodly heritage that nature has assigned to him. His lot was marked out by the original diversity of human talents; and its boundary has since been still more strongly drawn by the division of intellectual labour which that diversity creates. It lies in a pleasant land. Smollet has made a sorry figure by continuing the History of England. Hume would probably have made no better, had he yielded to the temptation of continuing Roderick Random. In case the reflection is any comfort to him, let Captain Marryat picture to himself M. de Tocqueville engaged upon a second part of Peter Simple.? M. de Tocqueville's mistake in adventuring upon a sea-novel, would, in all likelihood, be as great as that of Captain Marryat in philosophizing upon the democracy of America. Greater, in our opinion, it cannot be.


« PreviousContinue »