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LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.—No. 275.—25 AUGUST, 1849.
From the Quarterly Review. elementary acquaintance with this new philosoA Second Visit to the United States, in the Years phy. If on the other grave questions with which
1845–6. By Sir CHARLES LYELL. 2 vols. Sir Charles Lyell, in the strong curiosity of an 1849. [This is reprinted by Messrs. Harper, active and ardent mind, delights to grapple, his New York.)
judgments do not always obtain our assent, they This is very pleasant and at the same time very command our respect for their honesty, calmness, instructive reading. Sir Charles Lyell ranges, and moderation. If from the natural bias of his with great ease, liveliness, and rapidity, over an mind, predisposed and kindled by the wonderful infinite variety of subjects, religious, scientific, revelations of his own science to the utmost specpolitical, social—from the most profound inqui- ulative freedom and boldness, from gratitude for ries into the structure of the immense continent the more than generous hospitality which he everyof North America, and the institutions, the re- where met with, from the honor paid to his phisources, the destiny of the mighty nation which is losophical pursuits, the universal acceptance which spreading over it with such unexampled activity, he encountered in all parts of the land, he is indown to the lightest touches of Transatlantic char-clined to take a favorable view of American instiacter and manners. Now we are discussing the tutions and American life—to look forward with grooves and indentations which the icebergs have sanguine hope to the future of this great unpreceleft, as they grated over the rocks, when great dented experiment in political society ; there is, part of Canada and the United States formed the nevertheless, no blind flattery, no courteous retibottom of an unfathomed ocean ; we are taking cence of that which is socially dangerous or dismeasure of the enormous coal-fields, as large as agreeable, if not worse, in the result of those most European kingdoms, which promise to be institutions or in the prevailing character of that the wealth and strength of this great federation ; life. The work may at once enlighten and renor we are calculating the thousands of years before der us more just and fair on our side of the man became an inhabitant of our planet, when the Atlantic ; on the other side, by the strong predomMississippi began to accumulate its Delta. We inance of good will, by the total absence of acriare now amusing ourselves among the every-day mony, though now and then there is a touch of topics of American steamboats and railroads, with sly, perhaps involuntary satire, (in some of the incidental anecdotes of the language, habits, modes quiet anecdotes there is a singular force and poigof feeling in the various races and classes or con- nancy,) it may afford matter for serious reflection ditions of American citizens; we may almost see to the thoughtful and dispassionate, and force or the growth of cities springing into existence, we win some to sober thought who are in danger of trust under happier auspices, as in a more genial surrendering themselves to the unsafe guidance of clime, but hardly less rapidly, than that which passion, jealousy, or national vanity.
We cannot Milton describes as “ rising like an exhalation.” but hail with satisfaction anything which may tend We are discussing the exhausted Oregon question, to promote the mutual harmony and good will of the inexhaustible slavery question ; even to the the great Anglo-Saxon race, on whom, at present Millerites, a set of fanatic impostors and dupes, at least, seems to depend the cause of order, civilwho sat up in their winding-sheets, or in more be- ization, and religion. coming white robes, awaiting, on the night of Oc We write with fear and trembling when, amid tober 23, 1844, the dissolution of this world and this universal breaking up of the fountains of huall its geology. Sir Charles Lyell's present vol- man affairs, we dwell on the stability of any poumes will command the interest of the ordinary litical institutions. The Almighty might seem to reader in a much higher degree than his former have written on the crystal arch of the all-seen valuable Tour, which we take some shame to our heavens, or rather on the crumbling walls of earthselves for not having reviewed in this journal.* ly palaces, for all mankind to read, the simple Not only do the author's peculiar pursuits occupy apostolic axiom, “Be not high-minded, but fear.” in proportion much less space, but the scientific It is in no spirit of boasting, therefore, but in humpart, without being condescendingly popular, from ble gratitude to the Supreme Disposer of all things, his perfect mastery of his topics and the lively that we refuse to close our eyes upon this inevitaperspicuity of his style, has the rare merit of ble fact. So far as the world as yet has shown, making the most abstruse discussions intelligible, -partly, perhaps, from some innate national idiowe cannot but think even attractive, if not to the syncrasy, but far more from its slow and gradual absolutely uninitiate, to those who have but slight training, its widely ramified and universal scheme * The former tour was made in 1841-2, and the account
of self-government, the growth of its laws and polof it (2 vols.) published in 1945. This ought to be at ity out of its character, the strengthening of its hand while one reads the new book.
character in congeniality and in attachment to its 22
laws and polity-the Anglo-Saxon race alone, the lawless armed bands in Monte Video or Paraseems gifted with the power of building up for guay, which rise one day to power and have disduration free institutions in the two majestic forms appeared the next-the great system of education of an ancient constitutional monarchy and of a new established in Massachusetts, where the whole federal republic. To each its station has mani- community cheerfully submits to a very heavy festly been appointed by irrepealable laws, and by taxation to secure the intellectual and religious the force of uncontrollable circumstances. Eng- advancement of every order, even the lowest of land, in the nature of ngs, could no more have the citizens, with the anarchy of Peru and Mexibecome—could no more become—a flourishing co, where, to judge from some recent travellers, republic, than America could have started as a dig- (Mr. Buxton in Mexico, or Dr. Von Tchudi in nified monarchy. England could no more, with Peru,) the land would hardly lose in peacefulness, safety, without endangering all that is her pride, or in intelligence and cultivation, if it were reher glory, and her strength, even her existence—sumed by the Indian tribes. We might with deep without hazarding her wealth, her culture, her and reverential sorrow acknowledge the truth of place among the nations-break with the Past, Bishop Berkeley's famous prophecy as to the westsweep away her throne, her aristocracy and her ern course of empire and civilization-a prophecy church ; dismantle her Windsor, demolish her which we will not believe so long as our throne Alnwicks, and Chatsworths, and Belvoirs, and and our three estates maintain their ancient auBlenheims, and Hatfields ; break up her cathe-thority. drals into congregational churches-than America, Enough, perhaps too much of this : more eswhen the inevitable day of her independence was pecially since, while we attend our accomplished come, could have vested her presidency in an traveller in his wanderings over almost the whole hereditary line of sovereigns, or attempted to cre- continent of North America, we shall be perpetuate an aristocracy without descent, wealth, tradi- ally reminded at once of those points of kindred tionary names, or those great professional fortunes and sympathy which arise out of our common deand distinctions, or fortunes and distinctions from scent—of the contrasts and differences which spring public services, which are the popular element from the different forms taken by institutions priconstantly renewing our aristocracy. This sub- marily of the same origin, but developed under ject—"this great much-injured name"—the aris- different auspices—when we shall behold the tocracy of England, with its influence, we have strange, striking and amusing juxta-position of long wished to see treated with the fulness, the the European life of Boston or New-York, with freedom, the philosophic impartiality of M. de the savage squattings in the far West ; the inflexTocqueville's celebrated work on the Democracy ible law, which the sovereign people, even while of America ; but we confess that among the most we write, are vindicating against a furious mob profound as among the most empiric or ignorant by the right royal argument of files of soldiers continental writers, including among the former and discharges of musket-balls—to the law of M. de Tocqueville himself—even among the most Judge Lynch, which the Borderers assured Sir enlightened Americans—there seems com- Charles he would duly respect as his best, his plete an incapacity of comprehending its real na- necessary protection, if he were to settle among ture and bearings, that we almost despair of the themselves. This consummation, indeed, they fufilment of our earnest desire. Yet, so long as seemed to consider the necessary consequence, as such a work is wanting—a work developing and it could be the sole object, of travelling so far illustrating worthily the profound and real mean-westward. ing of a phrase which with most writers conveys Sir C. Lyell left England as far back as Sept. but a vulgar and utterly erroneous reproach—we 4, 1845, in one of those magnificent steam-ships take the freedom to say that no political writer which have, as it were, bridged the Atlantic; and can judge, with the least justice, the absolute ne- have brought Halifax, and even Boston, almost as cessity of our present institutions to our political much within the reach of London as Dublin was and social well being ; nay, the fact, that while in the earlier part of this century. We have the slow, and gradual, and inevitable expansion heard a retired home secretary of the old school of those institutions in their own spirit and in their say, that in his active days, between the transown principles is their one safeguard, a revolution mission of a despatch and an answer received which should shatter them to the earth would, in from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, owing to Europe at least, throw back for ages the civiliza- adverse winds on both sides of the channel, severlion, the order, the social happiness of mankind. al weeks had been known to elapse. The average We might then seek in far western realms old passage to Boston is now fourteen days. Here is English institutions under totally different circum- something still more startling : stances, growing out into the laws and usages of orderly and of happy republics ; we might find
In September, 1848, one of my London friends our laws, our language, our letters renewing their sent a message by telegraph, to Liverpool, which
reached Boston by mail-steamer viâ Halifax in youth under new social forms. As we may now, twelve days, and was sent on immediately by elecwe might perhaps for centuries contrast North tric telegraph to New Orleans in one day, the America with South America—the grave legisla- answer returning to Boston the day after. Three tive assemblies of New York or Pennsylvania with days were then lost in waiting for the steam-packet,
which conveyed the message back to England in ungrateful soil. “ The tickets were given gratu-
and to repeat in the evening the lecture of the
morning. Among my hearers were persons of Another singular contrast suggests itself to Sir both sexes, of every station in society—from the Charles : his noble vessel, the Britannia, was of most affluent and eminent in the various learned 1200 tons burthen ; the first discoverers of America professions, to the humblest mechanics—all wellcommitted themselves to the unknown ocean in dressed, and observing the utmost decorum.” barks, one not above 15 ; Frobisher in two vessels (First Tour, vol. i., p. 108.) The scientific of 20 or 25 tons ; Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in one traveller, indeed, enjoys peculiar advantages. of 10 tons only. Sir Charles had the great good Throughout the civilized world he is welcomed fortune—a good fortune which can only be duly at once by persons of kindred minds and congenial appreciated by those who know how important a pursuits—these being in Europe sometimes of the part the glacier theory fills in modern geology, highest rank and position—everywhere of superior to behold, and at safe distance, one of those gigan- education and intelligence. The man of science tic icebergs which warp slowly down the Atlantic ; may be but a man of science—his entire mind narhe could judge, to a certain extent, by ocular rowed to one study—his conversation on one subdemonstration, how far those mighty masses, ject; the whole talk of a zoologer may be of
voyaging in the greatness of their strength,” mammalia and mollusks--of ornithorhynchi paramight achieve all the wonders now assigned to doxi, and the last of the dodos ; the botanist may them—the transport of enormous boulders, the be but a “culler of simples ;” even the geologist furrowing of the hardest rocks, the transplantation may have such a mole-like vision for that which of the seeds of Arctic or Antartic vegetation. On is under the earth as to see nothing upon ithe his return home he had the advantage of a nearer may seem to despise everything not pre-Adamitic view, and detected a huge iceberg, the base of -his vocabulary may not go beyond greywacke, which towards the steamer covered 600 feet, ac
eocene and meiocene, ichthyosauri and plesiosauri. tually conveying two pieces of rock, not indeed of But these are the rare exceptions—the hermits any very great dimensions, to be deposited some and devotees of an exclusive study. Far more where at the bottom of the sea, a long way to the usually men of science are not merely under the south. Yet, after all, modern philosophers are strong desire, almost the necessity, of extending prudent and unenthusiastic compared to those of their knowledge to kindred branches of natural old. He who
philosophy ; but they are likewise men of keen ardentem frigidus Ætnam
observation, quickened intelligence, extensive inInsiluit,
formation on all general subjects. It must be of is said to have been urged to his awful leap, either inestimable use to the traveller to be thrown at by the desire of knowing more, or despair at his once under the guidance of such persons; instead knowing nothing, of the causes of volcanic action. of being entirely dependent, at best, on chance We do not read of Sir Charles Lyell, nor do we letters of introduction, on the casual acquaintance hear of any other more self-devoted geologist, of the steamboat, the railway-carriage, or the table desiring to be left, as some melancholy bears some- d'hôte (though, of course, much that is amusing times are, on one of these majestically-moving and and characteristic may be gleaned by the clever tardily-melting islands, as on an exploring voyage and communicative tourist from these sources, to test the powers and follow out the slow work- and, well weighed and winnowed, may assist ings of these great geological agents.
in judgments on graver subjects)—or, last and Sir Charles was no stranger in Boston-though worst of all, on the professional guide or lacqueyBoston, from its great improvement in handsome de-place. Nor is it only in cities like Boston, in buil ings during but three years, was in some meetings held in that capital of American geolodegree new to him. Before his first journey to gists, that Sir Charles Lyell finds a zealous interthe United States, an invitation to read a course est in his own inquiries, as well as society calcuof lectures in that city had happily fallen in with lated to give him sound views on the state and his own desire to explore the geology of North prospects of the country. It is remarkable that America. One of those munificent donations for in the most remote and untravelled quarters of the the promotion of intellectual culture, to their honor spacious land-on the edge of the wilderness now becoming of frequent occurrence-particularly even within the primeval forest, where men have in the northern States—had excited the laudable just hewn themselves out room for a few dwellambition of the conductors of the “ Lowell Insti- ings—he encounters persons familiar with his own tute,” to obtain aid from some of the most dis- works, who are delighted to accompany him on his tinguished philosophers in Europe ; and if we may expeditions, and to make an honorable exchange judge from the eager curiosity, as well as from the of their own local observations for the more prointelligent behavior, of the audiences which as- found and comprehensive theories, the larger and sembled to hear the author of the “Principles of universal knowledge, of a great European master Geology," this munificence is not wasted on an of the science. Of course now and then he will
fall in with admirers of his science rather solicit- and national peculiarities are equally striking; ous to turn it to practical than to philosophical and give at once the interest of that which is naadvantage-men who would not be sorry to have tive and familiar, and the freshness of a strange the name of the famous geologist as at least en- and untrodden land. “ It is an agreeable novelty couraging the hope of finding coal or valuable min- to a naturalist to combine the speed of a railway erals on certain lands, the value of which would and the luxury of good inns with the sight of the rise thereby in the market with the rapidity once native forest; the advantages of civilization with possessed by railway shares. A geological Dous- the beauty of unreclaimed nature—no hedges, few terswivel would find plenty of victims—or Face ploughed fields, the wild plants, trees, birds, and would be content to agree with Subtle for a full animals undisturbed." This is a slight and casual share in the vast profits of such “smart” transac- illustration of our travelling in a Transatlantic Engtions. We have heard of advances of this kind, land. But the affinity and the difference extend only prevented from becoming more explicit, only much further. England is circumscribed within crushed in the bud, by certain unmistakable signs two comparatively small islands—the United of impracticability, of an unapproachable dignity States stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, of honor and honesty, which even awed such men. from the St. Lawrence to the Bay of- Mexico. But-besides and beyond the facilities thus afforded England, with colonies and dependencies almost to Sir C. Lyell for his more complete geological as vast as America itself, but distant, scattered survey of the land—our knowledge of the intimate over remote regions, in every continent — America, footing on which he stood with the intellectual aris- swallowing up, as if already not spacious enongh, tocracy of the United States, his opportunities, of bordering territories, but those territories only dividwhich he seems constantly to have availed himself, ed by mountain ranges or uncultivated provinces; of gathering information from those most trust- England, therefore, with an excessive population worthy authorities, gives far greater weight to his pent within her narrow pale, is finding a vent only at statements on these more general subjects. We great cost and with great difficulty, and is ever threatare hearing, through him, educated and accom-ened by explosion from its accumulation in crowded plished Americans speaking of themselves and of quarters—America is spreading freely, and
year their own country; while at the same time the after year adding almost new states to her Union ; pursuits of the geologist, leading him alınost over making highways of rivers which but a short time the whole vast area of the United States, to its before were rarely broken by the canoe of the Inwildest and most untravelled regions, are constant- dian, but are now daily and nightly foaming up ly setting him down in the strangest quarters, bring- before the prow and the paddles of the huge steaming him into contact with every gradation of wild boat; exemplifying Cooper's famous sentence, as well as of civilized life. He is among aboli- quoted by Sir Charles Lyell, that Heaven itself tionists and slave-holders—people of color, and of would have no charm for the backwoodsman if he every shade and hue of color ; he is lodging in a heard of any place further west. England proper splendid hotel, or in a log-hut ; travelling smoothly has long completely amalgamated her earlier races in well-appointed railroad carriages, in splendid -the Briton, the Saxon, the Dane, and the Norfloating hotels on the great rivers, or jolting over man for centuries have been merged undistinguishcorduroy roads in cars or in stage-coaches, which ably into the Englishman ; we may say nearly the might seem to be making their own road as they same as to Scotland; yet England has her Celtic proceed ; on Sundays he is listening to Dr. Chan- population in Ireland-either from her impolitic ning-to Dr. Hawkes, or some other of our clo- and haughty exclusiveness, or the stubborn averquent Episcopalian divines-or to a black Baptist sion on the other part, or what may almost seem preacher, himself the only white man in a large a natural and inextinguishable oppugnancy, a mucongregation.
tual repulsion-still lying on the outside of her We return to our traveller at Boston-admon- higher civilization, a separate, unmingling nation. ishing the reader that we are about to dwell far America has the not less dangerous black races, more on these general topics than on the author's apparently repelled by a more indelible aversion, scientific inquiries. To geologists his work will in a state of actual slaveryof which we wish not want our commendation ; his name, and if that we could foresee some safe and speedy termore than his name were wanting, his former mination. England from her remote youth has volumes, his masterly account of Niagara, his de- slowly and gradually built up her history, her scription of the organic remains discovered in laws, her constitution, her cities, her wealth, her various parts of the continent, as well as his other arts, her letters, her commerce, her conquests :papers on the geology of the New World, will at America, in some respects born old, is starting at once command their attention. Our first impres- the point where most nations terminate, with all sion, not only at Boston, but throughout the ex- the elements of European civilization, to be emtensive journeys on which we accompany Sir ployed, quickened it may be and sharpened by her Charles Lyell, is that we are travelling in a own busy acuteness and restless activity ; with a Transatlantic England; yet we can never forget complete literature, in which it might almost seem that it is Transatlantic; the points of resemblance impossible to find place for any great genius, should and dissimilitude—of kindred, and of departure such arise among our American sons, in its highest from the original stock—of national sympathies branches—at least of poetry and inventive fiction ;
with English books in every cottage: with the eral, and by no means light taxation for the pur · English Bible the book of her religion. She is re- poses of public education. We have before us, ceiving with every packet all the products of our besides Sir Charles Lyell's volumes, a report of mind—and we must not deny making some valu- the Massachusetts Board of Education, and an able relurns in the writings of her Prescotts, Ir- eloquent speech of the late most highly respected vings, Bancrofts, Channings; America, in short, is minister of the United States in England, Mr. an England almost without a past- a past at the Everett, for a short time the President of Harvard furthest but of a few centuries; if calculated from College, near Boston. In the main facts they her Declaration of Independence, a past not of one fully agree :century—though assuredly, if it had but given birth 10 Washington, no inglorious past. But she chusetts in 1845-6, for a population of 800,000 souls,
The number of public or free schools in Massahas, it must seem, a future (and this is the conclu- was about 500, which would allow a teacher for sion from Sir Charles Lyell's book) which, if there each twenty-five or thirty children, as many as they be any calculation to be formed on all the elements can well attend to. The sum raised by direct taxof power, wealth, greatness, happiness—if we ation for the wages and board of the tutors and for have not fondly esteemed more highly than we
fuel for the schools is upwards of 600,000 dollars, ought the precious inheritance of our old English | for 1848 at 754,000 dollars,] but this is exclusiv
or 120,000 guineas, (Mr. Everett states the annount institutions, and the peculiar social development of all expenditure for school-houses, libraries, and which may counteract and correct, at least for a apparatus, for which other funds are appropriated, long period, the dangers inseparable from repub- and every year a great number of newer and finer lican polities—a future which might almost tempt buildings are erected. Upon the whole, about one us to the sanguine presumption of supposing, in million of dollars is spent in teaching a population favor of this Transatlantic England, an exception of 800,000 souls, independently of the sums expended to the great mysterious law of Providence
on private instruction, which in the city of Boston
is supposed to be equal to the money levied by laxes Prudens futuri temporis exitum
for the free schools, or 260,000 dollars (55,0001.) Caliginosâ nocte premit Deus.
If we were to impose a school-rate in Great Britain, Boston itself forces upon us, in more than one
bearing the same proportion to our population of
twenty-eight millions, the tax would amount anpoint, the analogy and the divergence of England nually to more than seven millions sterling, and and America. America is an England without a would then be far less effective, owing to the higher capital, without a London. A London she could cost of living and the comparative average standard not have had without a king, without an aristoc- of income among professional and official men.racy, without a strong central government, without Vol. i., p. 190. a central legislature, central courts of law, without The State of New York, it appears, is not behind a court, without an hereditary peerage, we may Massachusetts ; the population in 1845 was 2,604,well add, without a St. Paul's and a Westminster 495. The schools 11,000. The children in the Abbey. It is singular, but it is both significant schools for the whole or part of the year 807,200, and intelligible, that Washington is the only city being almost one third ; and of these only 31,240 in America which has not grown with rapidity : in private schools. The expenditure, chiefly raised
In spite of some new public edifices built in a by rates, 1,191,697 dollars, equal to about 250,000 handsome style of Greek architecture, we are struck pounds. with the small progress made in three years since Sir Charles Lyell discusses at some length the we were last here. The vacant spaces are not fill-causes which have led to this universal acquiesing up with private houses, so that the would-be cence in the duty and even the necessity of prometropolis wears still the air of some projected viding, at so large a cost to the whole State, this scheme which has failed.-Vol. i., p. 265.
system of popular education :The cities of America answer to our great
During my first visit to the New England States, modern commercial towns, Liverpool, Manchester, I was greatly at a loss to comprehend by what Birmingham. Many of these English towns have means so large a population had been brought to boasted and may still boast of scientific and liter- unite great earnestness of religious feeling with so ary circles, to which have belonged men not equal much real toleration. In seeking for the cause, we perhaps to those of whom Boston is now proud, must go further back than the common schools, but still —notwithstanding the natural flow of the or at least the present improved state of popular life-blood to the heart, the gravitation which draws How could such schools be maintained by the State,
education ; for we are still met with the questionall the more eminent talent to London—of deserved or by compulsory assessments, on so liberal a footname and estimation. Yet Boston, New York, ing, in spite of the fanaticism and sectarian prejudices perhaps Philadelphia and Baltimore, (New Orleans of the vulgar? When we call to mind the enthuseems to stand by itself, with some faint kindred siasm of the early Puritans-how these religionists, with Paris,) are, though not the capitals of the who did not hesitate to condemn several citizens to Federation, the capitals of States. Boston in one
be publicly whipped for denying that the Jewish respect, as likewise the province of Massachusetts, and who were fully persuaded that they alone were
code was obligatory on Christians as a rule of life, and, indeed, the New England States in general, the chosen people of God, should bequeath to their may glory in one distinction, of which we cannot immediate posterity such a philosophical spirit as boast, the cheerful, unreluctant submission to gen- must precede the organization by the whole people