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an annual interest of 2 millions. The income of this State was, in 1840, 131 millions of dollars, and is probably at this time not less than 150 millions: a net revenue of only 1 per cent. would produce the 2 millions required. So that the price of national character in Pennsylvania is 11⁄2 per cent. on the net income; and if this market price of morals were established here, a gentleman of a thousand a year would deliberately and publicly submit to infamy for £15 per annum; and a poor man, who by laborious industry had saved one hundred a year, would incur general disgrace and opprobrium for thirty shillings by the year. There really should be lunatic asylums for nations as well as for individuals.
But they begin to feel all this: their tone is changed; they talk with bated breath and whispering apology, and allay with some cold drops of modesty their skipping spirit. They strutted into this miserable history, and begin to think of sneaking out.
And then the subdolous press of America contends that the English under similar circumstances would act with their own debt in the same manner; but there are many English constituencies where are thousands not worth a shilling, and no such idea has been broached among them, nor has any petition to such effect been presented to the legislature. But what if they did act in such a manner, would it be a conduct less wicked than that of the Americans? Is there not one immutable law of justice? —is it not written in the book? Does it not beat in the heart? are the great guide-marks of life to be concealed by such nonsense as this? I deny the fact on which the reasoning is founded; and if the facts were true, the reasoning would be false.
I never meet a Pennsylvanian at a London dinner without feeling a disposition to seize and divide him;—to allot his beaver to one sufferer and his coat to another-to appropriate his pockethandkerchief to the orphan, and to comfort the widow with his silver watch, Broadway rings, and the London Guide, which he always carries in his pockets. How such a man can set himself down at an English table without feeling that he owes two or three pounds to every man in company I am at a loss to conceive: he has no more right to eat with honest men than a leper has to eat with clean men. If he has a particle of honour in his composition he should shut himself up, and say, "I cannot mingle with
you, I belong to a degraded people—I must hide myself — I am a plunderer from Pennsylvania.”
Figure to yourself a Pennsylvanian receiving foreigners in his own country, walking over the public works with them, and showing them Larcenous Lake, Swindling Swamp, Crafty Canal, and Rogues' Railway, and other dishonest works. "This swamp we gained," says the patriotic borrower, "by the repudiated loan of 1828. Our canal robbery was in 1830; we pocketed your good people's money for the railroad only last year." All this may seem very smart to the Americans; but if I had the misfortnne to be born among such a people, the land of my fathers should not retain me a single moment after the act of repudiation. I would appeal from my fathers to my forefathers. I would fly to Newgate for greater purity of thought, and seek in the prisons of England for better rules of life.
This new and vain people can never forgive us for having preceded them 300 years in civilization. They are prepared to enter into the most bloody wars in England, not on account of Oregon, or boundaries, or right of search, but because our clothes and carriages are better made, and because Bond Street beats Broadway. Wise Webster does all he can to convince the people that these are not lawful causes of war; but wars, and long wars, they will one day or another produce; and this, perhaps, is the only advantage of repudiation. The Americans cannot gratify their avarice and ambition at once; they cannot cheat and conquer at the same time. The warlike power of every country depends on their Three per cents. If Cæsar were to reappear upon earth, Wettenhall's List would be more important than his Commentaries; Rothschild would open and shut the temple of Janus; Thomas Baring, or Bates, would probably command the Tenth Legion, and the soldiers would march to battle with loud cries of Scrip and Omnium reduced, Consols and Cæsar! Now, the Americans have cut themselves off from all resources of credit. Having been as dishonest as they can be, they are prevented from being as foolish as they wish to be. In the whole habitable globe they cannot borrow a guinea, and they cannot draw the sword because they have not money to buy it.
If I were an American of any of the honest States, I would never rest till I had compelled Pennsylvania to be as honest as
myself. The bad faith of that State brings disgrace on all; just as common snakes are killed because vipers are dangerous. I have a general feeling, that by that breed of men I have been robbed and ruined, and I shudder and keep aloof. The pecuniary credit of every State is affected by Pennsylvania. Ohio pays; but with such a bold bankruptcy before their eyes, how long will Ohio pay? The truth is, that the eyes of all capitalists are averted from the United States. The finest commercial understandings will have nothing to do with them. Men rigidly just, who penetrate boldly into the dealings of nations, and work with vigour and virtue for honourable wealth-great and high-minded merchants—will loathe, and are now loathing, the name of America: it is becoming, since its fall, the common-shore of Europe, and the native home of the needy villain.
And now, drab-coloured men of Pennsylvania, there is yet a moment left: the eyes of all Europe are anchored upon you
Surrexit mundus justis furiis:"
start up from that trance of dishonesty into which you are plunged; don't think of the flesh which walls about your life, but of that sin which has hurled you from the heaven of character, which hangs over you like a devouring pestilence, and makes good men sad, and ruffians dance and sing. It is not for Gin Sling and Sherry Cobler alone that man is to live, but for those great principles against which no argument can be listened to-principles which give to every power a double power above their functions and their offices, which are the books, the arts, the academies that teach, lift up, and nourish the world—principles (I am quite serious in what I say) above cash, superior to cotton, higher than currency-principles, without which it is better to die than to live which every servant of God, over every sea and in all lands, should cherish―usque ad abdita spiramenta animæ.
NOVEMBER 3, 1843.
To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle:
SIR Having been unwell for some days past, I have had no opportunity of paying my respects to General Duff Green, who
A FABLE FROM PILPAY.
(whatever be his other merits) has certainly not shown himself a Washington in defence of his country. The General demands, with a beautiful simplicity," Whence this morbid hatred of America?" But this question, all-affecting as it is, is stolen from Pilpay's fables. "A fox," says Pilpay, "caught by the leg in a trap near the farm-yard, uttered the most piercing cries of distress; forthwith all the birds of the yard gathered round him, and seemed to delight in his misfortune; hens chuckled, geese hissed, ducks quacked, and chanticleer with shrill cockadoodles rent the air. Whence,' said the fox, stepping forward with infinite gravity, 'whence this morbid hatred of the fox? What have I done? Whom have I injured? I am overwhelmed with astonishment at these symptoms of aversion.' 'Oh, you old villain,' the poultry exclaimed, 'Where are our ducklings? Where are our goslings? Did not I see you running away yesterday with my mother in your mouth? Did you not eat up all my relations last week? You ought to die the worst of deaths—to be pecked into a thousand pieces." Now hence, General Green, comes the morbid hatred of America, as you term it—because her conduct has been predatory-because she has ruined so many helpless children, so many miserable women, so many aged men—because she has disturbed the order of the world, and rifled those sacred treasures which human virtue had hoarded for human misery. Why is such hatred morbid? Why, is it not just, inevitable, innate? Why, is it not disgraceful to want it? Why, is it not honourable to feel it?
Hate America!!! I have loved and honoured America all my life; and in the Edinburgh Review, and at all opportunities which my trumpery sphere of action has afforded, I have never ceased to praise and defend the United States; and to every American to whom I have had the good fortune to be introduced, I have proffered all the hospitality in my power. But I cannot shut my eyes to enormous dishonesty; nor, remembering their former state, can I restrain myself from calling on them (though I copy Satan) to spring up from the gulf of infamy in which they are rolling
I am astonished that the honest States of America do not draw a cordon sanitaire round their unpaying brethren-that the truly
mercantile New-Yorkers, and the thoroughly honest people of Massachusetts, do not in their European visits wear a uniform with "S. S., or Solvent States," worked in gold letters upon the coat, and receipts in full of all demands tamboured on the waistcoats, and " our own property" figured on their pantaloons. But the General seems shocked that I should say the Americans cannot go to war without money: but what do I mean by war? Not irruptions into Canada-not the embodying of militia in Oregon; but a long, tedious, maritime war of four or five years' duration. Is any man so foolish as to suppose that Rothschild has nothing to do with such wars as these? And that a bankrupt State, without the power of borrowing a shilling in the world, may not be crippled in such a contest? We all know that the Americans can fight. Nobody doubts their courage. I see now in my mind's eye a whole army on the plains of Pennsylvania in battle array, immense corps of insolvent light infantry, regiments of heavy horse debtors, battalions of repudiators, brigades of bankrupts, with Vivre sans payer, ou mourir, on their banners, and ære alieno on their trumpets: all these desperate debtors would fight to the death for their country, and probably drive into the sea their invading creditors. Of their courage, I repeat again, I have no doubt. I wish I had the same confidence in their wisdom. But I believe they will become intoxicated by the flattery of unprincipled orators; and, instead of entering with us into a noble competition in making calico (the great object for which the Anglo-Saxon race appears to have been created) they will waste their happiness and their money (if they can get any) in years of silly, bloody, foolish, and accursed war, to prove to the world that Perkins is a real fine gentleman, and that the carronades of the Washington steamer will carry farther than those of the Britisher Victoria, or the Robert Peel vessel-of-war.
I am accused of applying the epithet repudiation to States which have not repudiated. Perhaps so; but then these latter States have not paid. But what is the difference between a man who says, "I don't owe you anything, and will not pay you,” and another who says, "I do owe you a sum," and who, having admitted the debt, never pays it? There seems in the first to be some slight colour of right; but the second is broad, blazing, refulgent, meridian fraud.